Sundays are for exercise and this was certainly the idea when about 1,500 of us converged on the village of Vilobí (12 kms from Girona) for the "marxa popular" which has become an institution locally. These events are organised by local walking groups where as well as marking the route clearly they provide water/oranges/hot chocolate along the way and at the finish give everyone a present and a snack.These are serious events and some people choose to run but most walk and in this case there were a 10km or a longer 15km route to choose from.
The start was at 8am and since we are in january there was a frost on the ground but after an hour the sun had re established itself and by midday everyone was in shirtsleeves; the joy of a Spanish winter, cold nights followed by clear warm days. The route could not have been nicer, passing by some impressive old farmhouses (masias) some with sundials painted on their front walls and a variety of chickens and animals, not all domesticated by the sound and smell of them!
We went through two villages with impressive chapels, Salitja and Sant Dalmai, and in between the path followed a stream with weeping willows that reminded me of walks I have taken in Britain. As is typical here everyone was so busy talking that nobody paid any attention to what they were passing but all stopped at the first refuelling stop to take on hot chocolate (150kgs were made and consumed). This only had the effect of speeding up peoples tongues even more, especially since the temperature was rising quickly too.
The long route went along the top edge of the crater of an extinct volcano called La Crosa which is worth a walk in itself. After a couple hours of what can really only be described as talking while moving gently in a vaguely circular route we ended up back at the school playground where we received our present (a wooly hat with the 3 churches we passed stiched on) and the serious business of eating began.
First comes the sausage (botifarra) sandwich which is cooked over coals which were part of a bonfire which I had noticed some of the inner group of walkers huddling around in the cold dawn and had a dual purpose, clearly. On tables spread all around the playground were plates of salad, potato chips, water and the Catalan porro. This is a glass vessel for drinking wine without touching your mouth to the opening which provides hilarious results when novices attempt to catch the spouting wine in their open mouths, usually the last place that it ends up...
Just when you were thinking that this snack could possibly be lunch it"s time for dessert and black coffee with a shot of either brandy or anis (a liqueur) just to make sure you float back to your car or start the whole painless route again!
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