There are journeys that you never want to end
Jana and her family in Estació de França
Views from the Camí de Ronda
Old fishermen’s houses at Cala S’Alguer cove
Jana and her family on the way to Cala Foradada cove
Jana snorkelling in Cala Foradada cove
Views of Pals Castle
Jana in the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya
Jana and her family’s lunch
Barcelona’s Gòtic quarter
Hospital de Sant Pau Art Nouveau site designed by architect Domènech i Montaner in Barcelona
Tarragona’s Roman amphitheatre
Plaça de les Peixateries Velles in Reus
An aperitif in Reus
The Deltebre wetlands
Jana and her family bird-watching in Deltebre
Jana’s parents tasting wines
Three cyclists in Montsant Nature Park
Jana and her family looking at the wildlife in the Catalan Pyrenees
A dish of vianda at the community dinner in Tírvia
Community dinner in Tírvia
Join Jana on her travels around Catalonia
Jana and her family are making the final preparations for their holiday away from Bath where they live. They’ve just packed the last items of clothing in their suitcases and everything’s ready to go. The next day they start a trip to Catalonia, her father’s homeland. They want it to be a special journey as they think it may be their last one together.
They arrive by train at Estació de França, one of the most attractive stations in Barcelona. There they rent a car to drive around Catalonia. First stop, the coves and beaches on the Costa Brava and the Camí de Ronda.
The family decides to explore some of the Costa Brava’s coves by strolling along the Camí de Ronda coastal footpath which joins Platja Gran beach in Platja d’Aro with Cala del Pi cove. This one-kilometre route can be done in about twenty minutes.
The Camí de Ronda is the prettiest way to saunter along the Costa Brava. It’s very long as it stretches from Blanes to Portbou and affords spectacular views of the coves along the way. You simply just have to stop to take a closer look at some of them and even go for a swim. This path is part of the Mediterranean Trail (GR-92) which runs along the entire Catalan coastline from north to south.
After their walk, Jana and her parents head to Palamós to visit Cala s’Alguer and Cala Foradada. S’Alguer is only 30 metres across and enthrals them. The sand mingles with the pebbles in a sea of clear turquoise green. The old fishermen’s houses with their brightly coloured doors and windows around it give it a special appeal.
Then they move on to Cala Foradada. Next to unspoilt Castell beach, it’s hard to get to as it’s nestled under a cliff. This cliff has a hole through it – hence its name – which you can swim or kayak through. They decide to snorkel across it from side to side several times.
The next stop on their route along the Costa Brava is its mediaeval towns. Peratallada and Pals are two examples which still retain their medieval architecture and spirit. Surrounded by their town walls and featuring cobbled streets and the remnants of the buildings of the period, they are the ideal spot to end a day’s sightseeing where the scenic beauty of the landscape is the star attraction.
The next stop on Jana and her family’s trip is Barcelona. They are drawn to the Mediterranean cuisine and the varied food on offer, the influence of Catalan Art Nouveau on the city’s architecture and the cultural attractions. It’s an absolute must on their journey.
They kick off the morning with a trip on the Montjuïc cable car where they get stunning views over the city. Then they call in at the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya where they explore the museum’s most iconic works of art: the collection of Romanesque and Gothic art along with paintings by Catalan artists including Rusiñol, Casas, Dalí and Miró. After all this hustle and bustle they stop for lunch and tuck into some succulent langoustine. They leave the plate empty and have even licked their fingers.
Now with fresh energy, they are ready to keep on walking and explore Barcelona. They follow the streets in the Barri Gòtic old quarter and call in at several of the Catalan Art Nouveau buildings scattered around the city. They take a peek at some of Gaudí’s masterpieces such as Casa Vicens, Torre Bellesguard and Park Güell.
Their greatest discovery is the Hospital de Sant Pau Art Nouveau site designed by architect Domènech i Montaner. They are astonished to learn that one of the city’s main hospitals was in such a building. Jana doesn’t pass up the opportunity to upload a carousel post on Instagram.
After two days on the go, they decide it’s time to chill out a bit and so they call in on Jana’s grandparents who live near Vilanova i la Geltrú. The grandparents jump at the chance to join the family trip around Catalonia.
They go for a stroll around the town’s harbour and look into doing one of the activities available in the area such as going out on a sailing boat. In the end they choose to go paddle boarding. The grandparents look on from the beach. After two hours, they are so stiff and sore that they round off the day with a drink at one of the local beach bars. The parents have decided to turn in early to be fresh for the following day. But Jana has met someone special and decides to stay out a little longer.
Jana and her parents get to Tarragona bright and early in the morning. They take a tour of the city and visit the Roman ruins. Because these ruins are so well preserved, Tarragona is the only Catalan city to have been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
They also stop off in Reus where they stroll around the town centre to take a look at its Catalan Art Nouveau buildings. They level up their visit by going on the Gaudí&Reus Catalan Art Nouveau route, as this is where the world-famous architect was born. After so much Art Nouveau, it’s time to have an aperitif and savour the famous Reus vermouth.
At lunchtime, they make their way to Deltebre. At a restaurant in the Ebro Delta’s paddies, they order a pan of local rice. They’ve followed the chef’s recommendations and absolutely love the Delta duck rice. They’ve even tried to get hold of the recipe.
Straight after lunch, the family decides to do one of the most traditional activities: observing the local birdlife. They hire a kayak in the Ebre Delta Natural Park to go bird-watching. Over 350 species live there or are passing through it. The area’s wealth of nature has turned it into a Biosphere Reserve.
Jana and her parents are determined to visit el Priorat, the area where some of the finest wines in Catalonia are made in the Priorat Qualified Designation of Origin and the Montsant Designation of Origin. El Priorat’s wines are famed the world over.
There the family call in at the Perinet winery where they taste local wines and learn how the influence of the slate soil and the work of the winegrowers make these wines so special. They also grab the chance to go cycling in Montsant Nature Park and visit Siurana, one of the most picturesque villages in the area.
After their time among the vineyards, Jana and her family have opted to spend the last few days of their journey surrounded by nature and so they’ve set off for the Catalan Pyrenees.
They get to Tírvia in the Catalan Pyrenees. A nature guide is waiting nearby to take them on an outing to observe some unique animals and wildlife. Using a telescope, they get to see some spectacular specimens of chamois.
They’ve been lucky enough to turn up when there is a community dinner in Tírvia where they can try vianda – a typical local soup made with chicken, pork, blood sausage, bacon, noodles, cabbage, potatoes, beans and pears – along with palpís and girella, other local dishes.
The grandparents think the family trip has been too short and insist on staying in the Catalan Pyrenees for a few more days. Jana is very much up for it as she wants to spend a bit more time with the special friend she has made during the trip. Because there are some journeys that you never want to end.
If you want to find out more about Catalonia, visit... Catalunya.com