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Published: September 20th 2008
Our first B&B
We have been in Spain for 6 days now and it is time to post an update. We arrived in Barcenlona on Monday the 15th and rented our car and found our first B&B with relative ease. We stayed for 4 nights at El Moli, an agri tourisimo (a B&B on a working farm) in the tiny village of Siurana, north of Girona in the region of Catalonia. While there we enjoyed a day on the Cap de Creus which is a cape north of Roses that has many coves and villages and also a natural park. The road on the cape was narrow and winding but we had beautiful views and enjoyed hiking out on the rocky coast of the Mediterranean. We stopped in the village of Port Ligat where Salvador Dali's home is now a museum and we drove to the lighthouse on the eastern most point of mainland Spain and enjoyed cerveza (beer) and bocadillos (sandwiches) high above the sea. The next two days included visits to Greek and Roman ruins in Empuries, near L'Escala, time on the beach and drives down into some tiny resort towns tucked into coves with high cliffs on either side of the
Notice the chicken on the sheep
cove - the driving is challenging with so many hills and lots of narrow winding roads. Perhaps the biggest challenge is all of the British tourists who are not used to driving on the right hand side of the road so they poke along nervously causing back-ups. We have met several British couples as well as Australians and some Americans, from Eugene, Oregon! On our last day in Catalonia we went into Girona. This is a town where many cyclists train and Sam was interested in checking it out. Girona is an ancient walled city that has been fought over in almost every century since Roman times. We walked the wall around the old part of the city and wandered the streets past the cathedral and along the Riu Onyar. We had some lunch and gelato and then headed out of town to Banyoles, a large lake where the rowing competitions were held during the Barcelona olympics. The lake is in a beautiful setting with mountains in the distance and a path that goes along the shore for several miles. We enjoyed soaking our feet in the water and relaxing for a bit after our time in the city.
How do you say....?
On Friday we had a long day of driving - we went into France and drove through southwest France until dropping down through the Pyrenees into Spain again. There were many times when we remarked on the beauty as we passed miles of vineyards, saw chateaus and castles in the distance, went through corn and cow country and then the mountain views and finally the coastline at San Sebastian. We turned north towards the Costa Vasca (bizkzizcostavasca.com) The landscape is much like Switzerland with green mountains that jut high above narrow valleys and small villages. The farms that cling to the sides of the hills have chalet-style houses and the pastures have cows or sheep grazing. We drove through Gernika and wound up through the forest thinking that we had certainly made a wrong turn. The road is narrow with switchbacks, but with logging trucks and passenger busses that race around the corners taking up the entire road. I am always amazed when we encounter a truck or bus and manage to squeeze by without touching. We were relieved when the vague directions that we had actually brought us to our next agri tourisimo! We were welcomed by our host
and their 14 year old daughter who serves as the translator for English speaking guests. The house is a large stone farm house with thick walls and open beams of various shapes and widths. Our room is in the attic and it is lovely with a balcony that looks out to the sheep and chickens and ostriches and peacocks!
Today we drove to Elantxobe, a fishing village several kilometers from where we are staying. The town clings to the side of a cliff and cobble stone "streets" lead down to the harbor. After venturing close to the town I was able to get turned around and back up the road without having to navigate the paths they call streets. We parked and walked back into town. We headed straight up the hillside looking for the trail to Mount Ogono, at 280 meters, the highest cliff on the Basque coast. At one point we had a choice of two directions "and we took the path less traveled." It turns out that one way is a relatively easy hike while the other is a long, steep, scrambling climb up through the trees on a rough trail blazed occasionally with red and
Cap de Creus
Putting my toes in the Mediterranean
white paint blotches. It took us about 2.5 hours of hard climbing to reach the summit, but it was worth it! The views up and down the coast line are breathtaking and we took some photos by holding the camera out over the side of the sheer cliff without getting too close to the edge ourselves! We determined that if we kept going forward we might find an easier way back down and, sure enough, after an easy 2 kilometers we were back to the original decision point! While we were hiking we were passed by about 30 men, in groups of 2 or 3 who were nearly running with hiking poles, dressed in spandex shorts and hiking shoes. They didn't stop and admire the views and we decided that this must have been an endurance race that we had ended up in the middle of. It was clear that the sensible hikers take the easy route but we were satisfied that we had managed the very challenging route. I wondered why I was the only woman out there and realized later that the few women at the top had come up the gentle backside! Once back in the village
Cap de Creus
we took the zig-zagging staircase that leads down the cliff side to the harbor. We had cervezas and tapas for lunch and enjoyed relaxing, but the rest allowed our muscles to tighten up making the climb back up the staircase a slow and tiring trek.
Tomorrow we will venture out in another direction and see what we discover.
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