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Tuesday, May 21, 2019

April 18th: Girona El Angels Loop

I got up, unpacked my bike, and stuffed into the bike case everything I wouldn't need in Girona: the kid's clothing I brought, my air travel water bottle, pillow, and noise cancelling headphones, as well as one of my 2 sets of spare brake pads, a fool hardy gesture since all it would take is one rainy descent to kill a set of brake pads.

We then rode to Barcelona Sants to catch the train. There was a closer train station, but the bigger train station would have more services in case English speakers would have any trouble. We ended up being told at the first counter we spoke to to visit the local train counter, whereupon tickets were sold to us for about 18 Euro for the 2 hour trip.

The train was absolutely packed. We stood for the entire 2 hour train ride, and frequently cyclists would come in and not even try to find bike parking for their bikes, and just sit in the entryway. Almost everybody was headed to the coast, so as one of the folks getting off at Girona we were actually one of the early people to get off!

Once in Girona, we rode to the hotel, navigating via GPS, and then once in the hotel we were told that our rooms weren't ready, but we could park our bike in the dedicated bike room and go out and eat lunch. The bike room at Hotel Ultonia was pretty substantial, with plenty of hanging spaces for bikes, a bike wash area, and a pump and various tools as needed. Mike took the opportunity to use a real floor pump to pump up his tires. Both being hungry, we went to lunch at Placa de la Independencia, finding a restaurant with a view of the river.
After lunch, we were told that our rooms were ready, so we moved in, got dressed for cycling, and debated what to do. The local bike shop was open until 2:00pm, and it was already 1:15, so we rode out to the bike shop to see what they suggested. I had the El Angels loop already preloaded on my watch, but Mike didn't, so he spent 2.50 Euro to get it loaded, and all agreed that it was a good "first day" loop.

The first 10 miles were horrible, riding next to busy roads, with trucks and what not. I thought that I'd made a mistake coming to Girona after Mallorca! After that, though, it became much more rural and the riding became very pleasant. Just as in Mallorca, not steep enough to shift out of the middle, and with swooping turns that were very pleasant to ride and descend on.
By the time we got back to Girona, Mike had turned to me and said: "Wow, this ride has really redeemed itself, hasn't it!" Then there came the problem of finding dinner. The Spanish restaurants don't open till 8:00pm at the earliest, leaving the early pickings to the tourist-oriented restaurants, which of course we turned up our nose at.

After a few false starts, we found L'Aliga, and made a reservation for 7:00pm despite the small number of reviews on TripAdvisor. When we walked there, we realized why: it was completely off the beaten tourist track, but the man serving us was extremely friendly, and when the salad arrived I was blown away by how good it was! We gave up trying to make decisions and instead had him recommend us drinks, main dishes, and even dessert. Every dish was served to perfection, and we were blown away by the price as well as the quantity, which was enough to feed a hungry cyclist. If we had any lingering doubts that the trip to Girona was going to be disappointing after Mallorca, L'Aliga went a long way towards alleviating those!

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