With only a few hours until midnight on la Nochevieja, as New Year’s Eve is called in Spain, you’d think it would be easy to find a suitable restaurant in the packed alleyways around Seville Cathedral, but it wasn’t. Even when we found one with an available table, we were usually disappointed to discover once again that they were operating on a menú fin (set menu) basis at a cool €60 per person. Or else it was too bar-like. Or too smoky. Or loud. Or not Minecrafty enough for the kids, I don’t know. We pressed on. We tried down here, we tried down there. No luck.
The day started bright and clear as we headed north into the foothills of the Pyrenees stoping at Sant Joan de les Abadesses for lunch and a quick look at its famous bridge. Then up through the mountain pass to Puigcerda and the French border.
|View of the town from the Fort|
|Chapel at Fort Liberia|
After our stay in the mountains it was time to hit the coast and the trendy French resort town of Collioure.
A beautiful town full of lovely houses, pebbly beaches, piers, castles, lighthouses and surrounded by hilltop forts. Full of restaurants, cafes and shops we enjoyed exploring the coves, visiting the local art gallery and living the café lifestyle.
This town was popular with the fauvist painters and there is an art trail that you can follow. It was ridiculously picturesque and full of little bays and coves to expore.
And that was our whirlwind tour of French catalonia. Now it was time to head south back into Spain.
|The town of Vic|
I first found out about L’Avenc when I picked up ‘A Castle in Spain’ in the Library. I’d never heard of Matthew Parris but when I took the book home R recognised the name. He’s a fairly well known journalist over in England.
It’s a great book about his family’s (very) long journey to restore this 13th century house in a truly breathtaking setting.
We arrived mid-week and for most of our stay we were the only ones there. We had bracing walks each morning before our breakfast and then recovered in the huge indoor heated pool.
|No they haven’t been sucking on lemons, the strange faces are due to an extremely strong and cold wind|
Our first walk was up the hill behind the house and out to a rocky ledge with sweeping views down the cloud filled valley. It was gorgeous to watch the clouds slowly disappear as the sun got hotter.
The next morning was an easier and less muddy tramp through the cliffside fields full of wildflowers.
We also did a short drive to the town of Rupit for lunch. The old town has been wonderfully preserved partly due to it’s inaccessibility -it’s a long way from anywhere. Apparently on the weekends its full of Barcelonians getting away for the weekend and enjoying its delicious restaurants. As it was a weekday we had the place pretty much to ourselves.
Anyway, we’re back and it was the best holiday yet. I imagine the main reason is that the boys are older so, theoretically, each future holiday should be better than the last. Now that’s something to look forward to. If I thought that them going to the toilet alone and feeding themselves was liberating imagine when they are old enough to navigate when R is driving and I can have nanna naps in the back seat.
|Born, with Santa Maria del Mar in the background|
|Just before he ran over a family of ducks (just joking!)|
We did lots of other touristy things are well : modernista architecture, La Sagrada Familia, La Rambla, Placa Reial, the Cathedral and of course a visit to Zara, Desigual and Mango.
Barcelona in a nutshell. Next stop L’Avenc de Tavertet.