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'Must see and/or 'hidden gems'

by vtveen Online Now Mar 25, 2013 at 6:51 AM

'We are visiting Catalunya in the first half of May with a rental car. Our itinerary is: Barcelona > Girona > Cadaqués > Figueres > Olot > Puigcerda > La Seu d'Urgell > Pont de Suert > Lleida > Reus > Barcelona.

What are must sees and or hidden gems along this route ??

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  • johnincornwall's Profile Photo

    Re: 'Must see and/or 'hidden gems'

    by johnincornwall Online Now Mar 25, 2013 at 8:35 AM

    From where I've been I could recommend:
    Girona city centre.
    Begur
    Pop down to L'Escala to see the Roman and Greek cities at Ampurias
    Besalu is on the way to Olot
    Slight detour to see the cliff houses at Castellfollit de la Roca
    Olot has volcanoes all around, including 1 right in the City which you can pop up and down before a nice coffee
    Santa Margarida is also fairly near (20 minute drive), bigger and with a chapel down in the crater
    We went right up into the Pyrenees past Castellfollitt and Oix and right up to a tine medieval village near the (forest) border - Beget. Fantastic country in the summer.
    Ripoll is worth a stop - very old monastery there where Wilfred the Hairy, founder of Catalunya, is buried disconcertingly behind a wall plaque.
    Take the high route toward Puigcerda - wonderful medieval country and cows on the road. - head on down through the Cadi tunnel.
    Puigcerda is a nice little place. Bit odd though due to it's isolation. Strange lake at the top as a water supply, clues about Carlos Ruiz Zafon's book 'El Juego Del Angel' dotted about!
    Never got as far as La Seu D'Urgell BUT if you are going down Reus way Tarragona is absolutely unmissable - great Roman and arabic city walls and great food. Down to Tortosa too if you get time, near the Ebro mouth - fantastic history. If still time down to San Carlos de la Rapita on the delta - just because it's there. Or up to the devastated civil war village of Corbera, or the Templar castle at Miravet, or........

    There are so many great places to see you will have a full 2 weeks. Very nationalistic Catalan at the moment out in the country though - most things are only written in Catalan to avoid using castillian Spanish. I speak Spanish and found they are quite happy to speak it once they knew I was English! The lady who owned our chalet tried to get me reading in Catalan but it's a challenge, so if you dont speak either I would strongly recommend a good Catalan phrase book if only for the menus!

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  • vtveen's Profile Photo

    Re: 'Must see and/or 'hidden gems'

    by vtveen Online Now Mar 25, 2013 at 8:58 AM

    Thank you so much for your answer. Very helpful !!!

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  • Belsaita's Profile Photo

    Re: 'Must see and/or 'hidden gems'

    by Belsaita Online Now Mar 25, 2013 at 10:06 AM

    Hi, as John said above there is so much to see and do!

    I can add to the Pont de Suert / La Seu d'Urgell bit. You should allow at least a couple of full days for in the Vall de Boi (Pont de Suert is its entrance point) to explore some of the Medieval churches in villages (UNESCO World Heritage): Boi, Barruera, Erill-la Vall, Tahull... and the breathtaking lansdcapes in the National Park of Aigüestortes / Sant Maurici.

    La Seu d'Urgell has an interesting cathedral, but not much else. IMHO with not much time (believe me, you have not that much time for all this route) I would just skip it.

    From El Pont de Suert, you can do a bit of detour via Alquezar (great castle there) and the Somontano, the wine county near Barbastro (some of the best wineries of Spain are there, don't tell anyone ;-))

    If you decide to include this detour to your route, a great place to stay (or just to eat) is www.laposadadelalola.com

    Then, between Lleida and Reus, do not forget to explore the "Cister Route" (Poblet, Santes Creus, Vallbona de les Monges), and the Medieval towns of Prades and Montblanc.

    If you want to stay in a really unique (and cheap) place: the monastery of Vallbona does have a kind of bed and brekfast. The rooms are newly restored, comfortable and spotless clean. You're welcome no matter your religion (or lack of) as far you're quiet and respectful. I'm not catholic but attending the afternoon prayer with the nuns was an unforgettable experience, like traveling back in time. The town itself is tiny and has very littel to do, but it has a couple of restaurants and bars where you can sample the local delicacies. It can be a great wayto experience something really local and off-the-beaten path: monestirvallbona.cat/en/host...

    Bon viatge!

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  • vtveen's Profile Photo

    Re: 'Must see and/or 'hidden gems'

    by vtveen Online Now Mar 25, 2013 at 10:48 AM

    Thanks a lot; great tips !!

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  • vtveen's Profile Photo

    Re: 'Must see and/or 'hidden gems'

    by vtveen Online Now Mar 26, 2013 at 2:15 AM

    Just another question about 'Vallbona de les Monges'.
    Can we visit only by a guided tour ??

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