An October 1999 trip
to Cataluna by davidx
Quote: I did not spend much time on the coast but here are two cities, Gerona and Tarragona, with fascinating histories and some almost fairytale places in the Pyrenees.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on March 23, 2002
Rambla Nova, 20
977 2637 12
Attraction | "Gerona - more than an airport"
The city of Gerona deserves to be better known. The Paseo Archeologico reached from just above the cathedral gives fine views of buildings to the left and over part of the city to the country behind it to the right. Perhaps the finest thing of all can not be photographed. This is the wonderful Creation tapestry in the Cathedral - worth the entry money every time. Heaven knows how many hours it took to do it but it is the best tapestry I have seen anywhere and it is very well-displayed with a seat to sit on if you want to stay for a good look. The other very good thing to do is to take the bus to Besalú. It is a very pleasant bit of country but Besalú itself is a knock-out with its fortified bridge and old churches. Unfortunately there would appear to be no cheap accommodations. It is also possible to get to Ripoll from Gerona or Besalú by bus, noted for its 9th century monastery and near by rail to Ribes de Frazer where a rack railway runs up the mountains to Nuria. I actually saw these places from Barcelona and I am doing a separate item on them in this travelogue.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 23, 2002
Not much further on the railway line towards the French border at Puigcerda is Ribes Fraser and there the only rack railway in Spain [privately owned] makes its way up to the mountain monastery of Nuria where a chairlift [included in ticket] starts for a very big Youth Hostel at the start of some lovely looking hikes. The day I was up there the weather was changing from rain ot sun and back again and again in virtually no time.
It would be possible and very pleasing to walk from Nuria down to the midway station.
Ripoll and Nuria
Betwwen Barcelona and Puigcerda
Attraction | "Aiguestortes Parco Nacional"
The two main towns for approaching it are La Pobla de Segur connected with Lleida by train and bus and Pont de Suert which only has a bus connection. Unfortunately there is only a bus connection between the two during a fairly brief summer season so that I have only seen the West side of the national park approached from Pont de Suert.
If you should be restricted to one approach for similar reasons or through time limits, a major plus for the Western approach is the superb valley of Boi where the natural scenery is further enhanced by the beautiful Romanesque churches.
The small town of Boi itself has a park office outside which landrover taxis start hteir trips into the national park. Payment is by the seat and htere is no problem for a singleton who wants to use the same taxi as a group as long as there is a seat available. It is not very cheap but is far from prohibitively priced and I still class it as budget in terms of value for money.
Aigues Tortes means 'Thisted Waters' and possibly refers to the numerous lochs in the park. There are numerous peaks to be seen, even from the landrover dropping off point, which are well dotted with snow in late September. The trees and rivers are particularly beautiful in their wild mountain setting and there are walks of all standards from the really flat and easy [but picturesque] up to really difficult and if that is not sufficient there are numerous opportunities for climbing.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 7, 2002
Parque Nacional de Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici
It is reached by car or bus from Pont de Suert, although outside the summer timetable you need to plan your time for the limited service.
It would be possible to take the early morning bus up to Taull and pick it up on its way back after it had toured round the ski schools - but you would be extremely fed up at having to come away so soon. The bus stop is near the church of St. Climent on the edge of Taull and the nearest bar whose name I forget is an excellent place to eat and it seemed a smashing place to stay as well- at a very good price.
In total there are 15 romanesque churches in the valley which is a Unesco registered Area of World Humanity heritage.
Many of the 13th century frescoes were removed to preserve them from the invading French and are now to be seen in the excellent museum of Catalunyan Art in Barcelona.
Boi is the venue for the Landrover taxi into the west of the National Park of Aiguestortes.
Churches of the Boi Valley
Attraction | "Tarragona, ancient and proud of it."
There are numerous Roman remains, two separate forums for a start, one divided by a main road but with a footbridge linking the parts. The two principal museums, Nuseu Arqueologic and Museu Historic are fine and the first includes a terrific section on the early development of mosaics.
The old town is full of twisting streets and steps leading up to the Cathedral, fine cloisters but far from my favourite building inside. The views out from the Passeig Arqueologic are impressive, over walls built by the British during the war of the Spanish Succession.
The new town is a smart city with good hotels and a substantial market area and is itself made to seem old by the industrial suburbs. The views out to sea are particularly good [though I was a bit surprised when someone stood beside me and said 'Italia,' pointing out to sea.]
Two places had a strong impact. One was the Necropolis with tombs from Roman to early Christian with some Visigothic remains, rare in this part of Spain. Tarragona's Christian history is old enough too, dating back to St Paul.
Last, but far from least was the Aqueduct. Even the description in my 1990 Rough Guide, 'the most remarkable [and least visited] sight,' did not prepare me for the magnificence of it - or for finding myself quite alone there. It is worth knowing that there is a standard fare on the bus and that it is a circular route so that you get back on the bus the same side of the road as where you get off. Fine as the aqueduct at Segovia is (and it is often said to be even better than this one) I must say that, for me, the solitude at this one was particularly moving.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 21, 2002
Tarragona (The Roman Ruins of Tarraco)
South of Catalonia on the NE of Spain
Todmorden, United Kingdom