A good day/bad day bike tour
Travel days were outstanding, if a little strenuous for older bikers. Non-travel days (when we stayed at the same hotel more than one night) were not good. The first biking day was, for the most part, horrible. There was much walking of bikes on unrideable paths. The extra day in Amer was horrible. Amer should not be an overnight stop on this tour
This is a great 4 day bike trip but not a great 6 day trip.
Cycling along Via Verde to the Sea
The bike company: Bikes arrived a little late and in poor shape. Some tires were woefully underinflated. Bike sizing appeared to be random. We had to wait another hour while a taller bike was fetched from the next town, tires pumped by hand, etc. There was no briefing (little English), just a handful of narrative directions and 3 or 4 maps printed from computer screen. Map scale was not appropriate so maps were not very useful. Narrative directions were mostly adequate but they didn’t fit on the “map” holders on the bikes so we had to stop to read them. Bike odometer readings and distances on the directions mostly didn’t match (oddly, for some stretches they were very close, for other stretches they were vastly different) so we couldn’t judge our location relative to the directions using distance travelled.
The trip: This is a great 4 day bike trip but not a great 6 day trip. We found the extra days in Olot and Amer to be not very enjoyable.
The loop trip(s) offered in Olot were partly mountain bike terrain, certainly not the “family” terrain mentioned in the description. We didn’t enjoy it. Perhaps we should have visited the town of Olot that day instead. We stayed in
the very pleasant Hotel Con Blanc on the outskirts of Olot. The Restaurante la Deu nearby was delightful, we ate there both nights.
The trip from Olot to Amer was the main event! There was an uphill slog of a few miles miles, all modest railroad grades but still a long pedal. We stopped for refreshment at a café near the high point and then pedaled and pushed the final uphill ~kilometer (steeper, not RR grades).
THEN… we coasted downhill for miles and miles to Amer. One member of our not-too-ambitious party was upset about the uphill but by the end of the day she had recovered pretty well.
Amer was a disappointment. The hotel was clean, friendly and very basic. (When was the last time your hotel room opened with a skeleton key?) The hotel restaurant and outdoor seating area were local favorites: on soccer night the loud noise died down at 1:00AM. Water pressure and temperature were erratic. Breakfast was offered in generous portions with good variety but this is not a resort. Amer has a quaint square and not much else to offer the tourist. The second day loop trail options involved a lot of hill climbs. We did a little biking in the morning and went back to the hotel to look for ways to spend the day. We didn’t find much, a wasted day in our opinion. It is not surprising that Amer doesn’t have a modern hotel. It’s a small town kind off the beaten path (but it does have some high tech industry). The hotel would be OK as a one night stopover but not as a two night stay.
The ride to Girona was enjoyable. Hotel Costabella in Girona was modern, pleasant and enjoyed. The city of Girona offers a sizeable and interesting old town with city walls, churches, a university, many shops and restaurants. We could have spent another day here exploring the city. Park the bikes and walk the city.
The ride from Girona to St. Felieu was largely more RR grades, pleasant enough and fairly easy. St. Felieu is a delightful tourist beach town. We parked the bikes and explored on foot: lots of shops, restaurants and beautiful scenery. The Hotel Hostal Del Solwas great, older and a bit quirky but great. The new owner was eager to please and eager to share his future hopes for the hotel. We were there near the end of their season so things were a bit quieter than at midsummer and we found that quite pleasant.
The four days on the trail were delightful biking. The two “loop” days were just filler: ways to extend the tour for the benefit of the hotels and tour operator. This would be a dynamite vacation if the two “extra” days were spent in Girona and St. Felieu with bikes optional on those days.
PS: Be very careful with valuables on busses to and within Barcelona. Our party of 4 experienced two costly and troublesome losses to pickpockets, both from backpacks.
A pleasant rail-trail in Spain
This tour is mostly a rail-trail on the beds of two old narrow-gauge railways between Olot and Girona and Girona and Sant Feliu de Guixols, called El Carrilet. The trail surfaces are good for a hybrid or mountain bike and the trail is well signed with green signs. These green signs were our main means of navigation as the distances in the detailed trip notes were poorly matched to the distances that our rented bike odometers were recording (typically a difference of 1 km in 7or 8 km of travel). We also used a Garmin GPS loaded with European maps and Maps.me on a smart phone for back-up navigation, both of which were helpful at times. The trail is mostly fairly flat rail grades, but there are a few steep sections where the trail deviates from the old rail bed (about 1 km between Olot and Amer and a few km between Amer and the River Ter, where there is an alternate 2% route on the highway shoulder). We did our own bike tour around Olot, visiting the excellent Volcano Museum, the Montsacopa volcanic crater, and the old parts of Olot, rather than following the hilly recommended ride into the countryside. We found that two nights in Amer was too long in this small town, as the recommended ride up the River Ter was not very appealing beyond the first kilometre off the highway, and half of the ride was the same as the route to Girona the next day. We recommend one night in Amer and two nights in Girona, which has much to see. We were pretty much ignoring the trip notes as we approached Girona, which caused us to miss a key turn just past Bescano, which resulted in our entering Girona by the urban area of Salt, but our GPS guided us to our hotel.
Fantastic way to see a beautiful part of Spain
Was a wonderful trip. Great accomodation, countryside and we were lucky - the weather was perfect. Thoroughly recommend.