I don’t think either Paul or I anticipated being so captivated by the beauty of Spain. Such a deep, intimate feeling we now have for the place. Spain made us feel welcome wherever we traveled and we absorbed what we could. Running on trails, cycling and hiking brought us closer to it’s natural elements. Dining out, shopping and visiting cities we enjoyed it’s culture and festivals. All this made it difficult to leave. We decided to do a few short stays on our way out.
First we went to Berga where there was a camp ground that had a spa. Perfect for relaxing after the marathon in Barcelona and a nice place to stay for 2 nights. I loved swimming in the pool and the spa was enjoyable. The campground was almost totally filled with caravans yet also almost totally deserted, probably because people rent plots for the year. Still, quiet and mountains in the distance. Next we climbed up a bit more into the mountains to Sant Llorenc de Morunys. We park at an aire in this sleepy mountain town. We are the only ones there.
But look at our free view.
We spend two nights and explore the trails around town. One epic run!!
Now we head East to a campsite outside Olot called La Fageda. I cycle 30 miles of the journey and enjoy the quiet mountain roads. The campsite has a restaurant where we have an early dinner. Paul orders pig’s feet by accident because the menu is in Catalan. Pretty funny.
Its a really cozy, family campsite near trails and a Beech Tree forest. We go for a long run/hike on trails through old village, forest, and farms in this volcanic region. Sleep well for two nights.
Next to the east shore and Roses. Perfectly normal beach campsite, Camping Salata, that is busier than we have seen recently but not unpleasant. They even offer us free welcome drinks.
Here we find lovely coastal trails and also bike paths that wind through marsh lands. Many waterways to navigate. Costa Brava is a popular beach destination but March is still quiet. I only saw a few brave people swimming.
On our departure day we decided to visit Dali’s casa in Port Lligat. Very steep climb in the van but so worth the trip. You can see where Dali got all his inspiration from. The coastline with crazy rock formations and the Mediterranean Sea with its changing light values. The casa was so personal with both Gala and Dali’s belongings.
I couldn’t pass up the chance to see some of Gaudi’s work while in Barcelona. I needed to stop by the marathon expo anyways so Paul and I drove the van into Barcelona. I wouldn’t suggest doing this if you are not a experienced driver. There were so many one way streets and nowhere to park. We finally found a place way up on a hill and had to cycle back into town. After the expo, which was nice but not that alluring we headed to Casa Mila, “La Pedrera”. I loved how Gaudi made even the rooftop a magical setting. The exhibit showed some of his design ideas and all the organic forms which came directly from nature. The apartment looked charming and modern enough to live in today. (which people do)
Barcelona has no good camper parks so Paul and I found an aire on the edge of the city in Colonia Guell. Totally free with dumping and fresh agua. The best part is it was a stones throw from Gaudi’s crypt!
I woke bright and early and got there before all the other tourists. I had a whole half hour of alone time in this inspiring place of worship. You could see Gaudi was really playing with many of the ideas that went into Sagrada Familia. It is a shame it was never finished because of funding and family issues. This was my favorite place of Gaudi’s to visit.
I walked around the charming town of Colonia Guell which has many modernist buildings created by different architects in the time of Gaudi. There is a castle on the outskirts called Torre Salvana built in the 12th century. Now it is in major disrepair but graffiti artists are enjoying the space.
You can imagine it being a majestic palace with royalty possibly residing there.
Our last day in Barcelona was comprised mostly of the marathon. I signed up the week before and figured it would be fun. I took a train in the morning from Colonia Guell which filled quickly with runners. I was a bit nervous but found it comforting that I was probably not the only one. We got into out perspective corrals for estimated time. I tried to follow the 3:30 pacers most of the way but it was a little ambitious. I thoroughly enjoyed running in the sea of humanity past all the famous sites. The crowds cheered you on the whole way and I had Nick and Paul cheering me too. Afterwards, a shower at the Olympic pool and a massive amount of Indian food and of course, cervesa!
I really wanted to spend some time right on the beach. (directly on the beach) There are not many options for camper parks where this is possible. I did some research on-line and found a place that was just opening. Camping Oasis Mar just south of Cambrils. I was ecstatic when we drove in to find all the beach front spots available. Paul and I quickly set up along the edge of the shore.
It was a pleasure to wake up each morning to a different sunrise. The one that looks red was of course not so good for the day. Red sky at night sailors delight, red sky in morning sailors warning. It was one of the windiest days we have had in the van. I didn’t sleep too well as I kept dreaming of being swept into the sea.
When the wind died down it was calm and perfect. I was able to do some swimming in my wet suit but the water was too cold to stay in long. Nick came to visit and set his tent up one night on the way to Barcelona.
Here’s me being silly with my shadow.
We could cycle to the nearest town Cambrils. They had a large selection of restaurants and we enjoyed lunch at El Pati. I bought a new pair of trail shoes at Olympus Running. The owner, Carles, was very friendly and told me about running in the Barcelona Marathon the next weekend. Hmmmm….made me think. There were some nice murals around town in all sorts of random places.
We enjoyed one last sunrise before heading toward Barcelona. A wonderful 9 days on the beach.
Although Paul and I have solar panels on top of the van, we do enjoy warm showers that camp sites offer. Especially after a long sweaty trail runs. That being said, going off road and exploring places not in the tourist guide books can be exciting. We tried a few aires in France and Nick’s friend John told us about an app called http://www.park4night.com/ . Most times you can stay for more than a night and there is a huge variety of places to stay. Nick and I decided to cycle to one such site next to a dam.
Nick’s friend John was already there and Paul beat us there in our van. Nick and I did enjoy a leisurely ride through vineyards and up mountain roads both paved and rugged. We saw another smaller dam on the way up.
The space was super quiet especially after being in a camper park for the last week. We saw a few lovers come up to park and some sporty cyclists and runners. That was about it. We were blessed with some spectacular night skies.
We took advantage of the trails around the dam to run in the mornings. Just hanging out on the dam was pretty nice too. Many small birds to watch, trains going by in the distance and lights of a mountain town at night.
The dam seems to be a failure as there is not much water. It is situated above the town of El Catllar. An oil company Repsol owns it and it is mostly a nature area now.
Nick can sleep anywhere.
Paul and I park the van in Vilanova and head to Barcelona for the night. We run 6 miles along the beach front and love seeing all the people out on Friday night exercising. We shower and then head off to see Thievery Corporation at Razzmatazz. Packed club so we hang by the sound mixer peeps. Good show, sleep at hotel and take a train back to camp the next day. Everyone is in full birthday party mode. Vanessa arrived from London plus Toby (Pat and Terry’s son) and Verity, Nick’s friend John and Jim from Bath. Paul’s Aunt Pat turns 80 years old! We celebrate with delicious food from Lynda and then relax.
Vilanova i la Getru has much to offer. Paul and I enjoy running on trails up into the mountains. There are easy buses into town where you can dine at nice restaurants or do a bit of shopping. The waterfront has a marina and on the playa you’ll find a pretty bizarre sculpture of a bull with a woman inside.
I enjoyed going to a museum, Espai Far, a lighthouse keeper’s old home. Many oddities and great old photos of how the town used to look. Near by there are wonderful coves to swim in. Nick, John and I spend an afternoon in one sunny cove.
Carnaval happens all over Spain but every town or city has their own version of the celebration. On Friday night I went to a performance with arrival of the King (and his concubines). It was a large event with fireworks, followed by a huge parade that winded through the streets. Everyone was dressed in festive costumes and each float had dancers behind it and bands playing loud music. I enjoyed a delicious sausage sandwich and a cup of vino. On Sunday, Paul and I went to Les Comparses. We rode our bikes into town and were greeted with streets filled with candy.
Really there was candy everywhere. Music and bands came out of every side street all waiting their turn to fight in the big Place de la Vila. Its a mock fight where each group has their own flag, file into plaza, throw candy at each other and the crowd, then dance!
Paul and I have never seen anything like it and thoroughly enjoyed the day.