A walk in the Maderanertal, a rough valley that has been shaped by glaciers: Sunday

On  Saturday and Sunday, August 17th/18th 2019, we went for a two day photo excursion to the Maderanertal.  It is Sunday now, where we captured impressions from the early morning and from walking around the lake.

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Early Sunday morning: The moon is in the west

I get up shortly after six in the morning. The sky is clear. It is almost full moon.

While it is dawning, the fountain in front of the Windgällehütte atrracts me.

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The mountain peaks start to be touched by the sun

Some red clouds in the west have appeared above what I think is the Susten. The Galenstock shines fully in the sun.

Also what I think is the Oberalpstock above the Maderanertal starts to glow.

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The sun rises

The sun takes its time and I feel cold. Shortly after seven o’clock, the sun appears above the glacier Hüfi Firn, just for a moment, disappears again and reappears in the next gap of the rock to accompany us for the rest of the day.

Now, we enjoy the excellent breakfast of the Windgällen hut, even with fresh yoghurt. By the way, the Windgällenhütte  is not an SAC hut, but it is owned by the AACZ which is the Academic Alpine Club of Zurich, as I have learnt in the meantime.

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Saying good-bye to “our” hut and walking down to the Golzeren lake

The family that had slept in the same room with us, is starting for the geology excursion provided by the Windgällenhütte. A documentation hangs around the neck of the husband. He hopes to find some crystals on the way. Back at home I take out my “Die Geologie der Alpen aus der Luft” by Kurt Rüwe and Ruedi Homberger (Weishaupt Verlag 2011) and find a chapter about the Windgällen massif (p. 246/47). The book explains that the top of the Chli Windgälle is made from (older) crystalline basement (kristallines Grundgebirge) and neighbouring Gross Windgälle from (younger) mesozoic sediments. At the Chli Windgälle, the (older) chrystalline basement layer is above the mesozoic (younger) layer. This must be a fascinating excursion.

We say good-bye to the family and to the Windgälllen hut and descend to the Golzeren Lake. It is a pretty walk. While my friend takes photos, I eat blueberries – the first ones I find this year.

We reach the forest and can see the lake Golzeren and the village Seewen below us.

In Seewen we meet many Sunday tourists that have come up by cable car from Golzern Tal. We join them and walk to the lake.

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Surrounding the romantic Golzeren lake

A panel explains to the tourists that the Golzeren lake originated by filling the depression, where the retreating glacier left a block of ice that melted later. The village Seewen is located on the end moraine. The lake contains dead wood which provides the habitat for fish and other water creatures. The lake is a paradise for anglers, as young fish are put out regularly, trout and perch, recently also crayfish that eat carrion.

I first focus on mountains and trees reflecting in the lake. This is the Oberalpstock with the stone in the foreground,…

… with the little duck…

… and with some plants. There is a slight wind that changes the image of the reflections.

We reach the eastern shore, amidst swimmers and sunbathers that enjoy the small beach. Great idea to take a swim here. I enjoy the view towards Susten, also reflecting in the lake.

Next I turn to “water games”. There are pebbles,…

… a dead tree (hard to see, yes),…

… a dead wood log that looks like a dog to me (a small rhyme)…

… some water plants and…

… the bear’s breech that is visited by beetles.

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Saying good-bye to the Golzeren lake and walking down to Golzern Tal

I take a foto of the Chli Windgälle with its (older) crystalline peak above the (younger) mesozoic layers,…

… look back east to the Maderanertal, where we have been…

… and a look ahead west, where a very steep descent down to Golzern Tal is expecting us… we will be zigzagging down some 500 or 600m.

When we arrive in the valley, I feel my legs – perhaps we should have taken the small red cable car that shuttled up and down above our heads.

While waiting for the bus, I have a bowl of blueberry ice cream, freshly made by the Alpenkiosk. With many other Sunday tourists we take the bus to Flüelen and change trains twice to reach Basel. We have experienced two dry and mostly sunny days with great photo spots and a friendly hut. When back at home, I see a very bright lightning around ten at night – with it two days of rain are ahead of us.

Thank you for having taken me out to this valley that I had not known before!

 

A walk in the Maderanertal, a rough valley that has been shaped by glaciers: Saturday

A good friend of mine, Swiss with Hawaiian background, proposed a photo excursion to the Maderanertal. I had never been there before and I was impressed by the beauty of this steep valley in the canton Uri.

On Saturday, we started at Golzern Tal (about 800m, lower left hand corner of the map), followed the creek Chärstelenbach to Balmenegg, climbed up to Tritt (1744m, upper right hand corner of the map) and continued to the Windgällenhütte (hut at 2031m), where we stayed overnight. On Sunday, we walked down to the romantic Golzerensee (lake, 1411m) and descended to Golzern Tal. In all we walked about 18km, up and down about 1250m .

Source: Schweiz Mobil

The most impressive places for photos I found, when crossing the waterfalls on the way to Tritt, when staying at the Windgällenhütte (sunset and sunrise) and when surrounding the lake Golzeren.

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Starting along the Chärstelenbach

We started our walk in the valley strolling along the Chärstelenbach. I am not sure, whether this wooden gangway really carries two tons…

The wildly churning Chärstelenbach offered the first opportunities for taking photos.

We reach Alp Stössi and see Balmenegg still far away in front of us.

Now I have zoomed in Balmenegg, which is a hotel-restaurant surrounded by trees.

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Crossing many, many soothing waterfalls on the way to Tritt

After having reached Balmenegg, we climb up to Tritt. It is very, very noisy from the soothing waterfalls on both sides of the valley. I do like the sound of soothing waterfalls.

We cross one waterfall…

… after the next. Here I stand on a metallic bridge. The rocks are polished above the bridge…

… and below the bridge.

Sometimes the water rests before continuing its way down.

We steeply climb up to Tritt and look back into the Maderanertal. I think of my mum who was a geologist – has she ever seen this valley shaped by glaciers?

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Arriving at the Windgällenhütte, with all sorts of animals

The Windgällenhütte is an SAC mountain hut (Swiss Alpine Club). It is a very busy weekend that the hut team manages with a friendly smile in their faces. I had a delicious home-made chocolate ice cream to recover from the ascent.

The hut  is located at the foot of the Windgällen massif and above this swamp. Cows are grazing,…

… accompanied by some joyful alpacas.

Water enters the swamp and creates puddles.

A huge spider has woven its elaborate cobweb in front of the window.

We have dinner – delicious spaghetti with various sauces and the best nut cake that I have ever eaten.

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The setting sun illuminates the clouds

After dinner,  we watch the sun set. The sun is hidden by clouds. It illuminates patches of some mountain slopes…

… and makes the clouds glow. I recognize the Galenstock which is the left-most peak in the background. I know it from a ski tour, many years ago.

The clouds appear as stripes above the Chli Windgälle….

… and glow intensely farther west,…

… where the sun is setting.

It is soon dark and we go inside. In the hut library, I find a book about the history of the Gotthard Pass during the Napoleon wars. Well written, with an objective view of the facts. Unfortunately, I have not written down the title. The book describes the historical events adding the viewpoint of the people from the mountains that suffered during the war around 1800. After having been successful in Italy, Suworow crossed the Gotthard in 1799, arrived too late in Altdorf, because Napoleon had already defeated the Austrians near Zurich. Suworow had to evade, crossed the Chinzig, the Pragel and the Panixer Pass and, with part of his army, he succeeded to return to Russia. In the book I found a black and white copy of Surikow’s painting – here is my photo of the original in the Russian Museum of Petersburg. Swiss mobile suggests the Via Suworow, an eleven day hike following the route of Suworow from Airolo to Ilanz. Perhaps this would be an idea for another hike?

Good-night! Until Sunday morning!

 

Léoncel near Valence – Romanesque church

On Wednesday, 5th of June 2019, we drive back to Switzerland, with a break in Léoncel in the Vercors mountains.

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Approaching the Vercors mountains

After an overnight stay in the practical IBIS hotel of Valencia, we cross the Rhone valley and the Vercors mountains are ahead of us.

The Vercors mountains belong to the Western Pre-Alps. Their highest peak reaches 2341m. The mountains consist of four districts that are separated by cliffs and canyons. These rough mountains were one of the strongholds of French resistance in the Second World War. Now it is a natural reserve that tourists come to for hiking, climbing, cross country skiing and skiing.

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Looking back into the Rhone valley around Valence

Our car climbs uphill, hairpin bend by hairpin bend. We look back down to the Rhone valley around Valence…

… hiding behind grass and blue flowers.

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Reaching the high lands of the Vercors

We definitively leave the Rhone valley at the Col des Limouches – at 1086m above sea level.

We are now in the Vercors. Meadows around us and in the background more steep mountains.

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Approaching Léoncel

In these secluded and rough mountains, the Cistercians founded a monastery in the 12th century.

Donkeys and horses welcome us on the meadow in front of the church.

The well-kept garden with yellow lilies leads to the entry gate.

We enter the church.

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Inside the church of Léoncel

As it is typical for the Cistercians, the church is sober inside. Five ribbed vaults in the nave. Some adornments on the chapters of the columns. The oculus above the choir symbolizes God. Or, as the panel in the church says, it is to remind us that we adore one single God. The arch that partially hides the oculus, remains from the former one nave church that ended there.

In front there is a modern ambo that has been selected with care. A panel explains that the stone comes from Tavel. Engraved is a curved cross, giving it a dynamic aspect.

An octagonal cupola covers the crossing.

We find some artefacts such as this icon of the Madonna and her Son.

In the church we had noticed the tomb slab of an abbot that froze in the cold winter of the Vercors. Indeed, the Cistercians have selected a rough place for their monastery.

Near the entry I find this religious panel written in French. It is difficult to translate the elegance of the French language.

Let me try nevertheless:

What did you come to see in Léoncel?
A lost place wiped by the wind?
Well, what did you come to see?
Stones placed harmoniously
on top of one another?
But much more than stones!
Will you be able to hear them breathe
conveying the singing and silence of a thousand years?
Will you be able to find the praying and the belief of the men
hidden in each of them?
Will you try to detect which Presence lives in them?
Will you not drink from the source of the Word of God?
If you would like to understand,
it is this Word that the stones testify.

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Leaving Léoncel

The sun enlightens the pentagonal central apsis, the two smaller apsides and the tower from the south east – it is still morning.

I walk around…

… and uphill.

I say good-bye to this church that has withstood the obstacles of the Vercors mountains for a thousand years.

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Driving home with one last lunch stop in Voiron

We continue driving north and have our last lunch stop in Voiron (Département Isère). The Rossignol skis are produced in Voiron, as I learn. We have a light meal – salad with fish – in the Café de l’Europe. The friendly servant says that the manager speaks German and does not like to write menu cards – that is why they do not have any… and indeed, the manager comes from the Black Forest and has lived here in France for many years.

We spend one last night with our friends in Monthey in the Valais – and then, after more than five weeks, we are back at home to unpack, to wash and to meet neighbours and friends.

Empordá with its rich heritage from the past

Monday, June 5th 2019, our quiet days on the sunny balcony with the view of the Mediterranean sea are over. From Hospitalet, we head north towards Switzerland, with two breaks, the first in the Empordá (still in Spain or, more precisely, in Catalonia) and the second in Valence (France). Let me start with the Empordá region.

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Romanesque churches – there are many, many of them in Northern Catalonia and also here in the Empordá 

The publication “Routen der Romanik in Katalonien” (edited by the Generalitat de Catalunya) promises three Romanesque churches around Bisbal, in Cruilles, in Canapost and in Sant Julià de Boada. We find another one in Peratallada.

Our first target is Cruilles with the church Sant Miquel, located amidst fertile wheat fields.

It is a former Benedictine monastery from the 11th century built in Lombardic style.

We continue our route through fields surrounded by poppies,…

… have lunch in La Bisbal de Empordà and continue to Peratallada, where we find another Romanesque church, Sant Esteve with this “wall” belfry, where the bells hang side by side.

Sant Esteve is late Romanesque from the 13th century.

But… what we really look for is the Preromanesque church Sant Julià de Boada. Finding it requires quite some persistence. There is the villlage called Sant Julià de Boada, and there are no signs directing us to that church. We oscillate around the village, continue to Sant Feliú de Boada, turn back to the village Sant Julià de Boada – it MUST be here! The church has got the same name: Sant Julià de Boada ! We enter something that looks like a dead-end street, are about to take another turn… and – unexpectedly – I see this.

“Could it be that this is, what we are looking for?” I ask. We both hop out of our car to explore this unimposing church.

The entry door shows the form of a horseshoe pointing to the Visigoths. Inside there are more arches in horseshoe shape that Ursula carefully photographs across the mirroring glass door.

We are happy – finally we found this Preromanesque gem. And then, what a mishap, then we lose part of “our” paper “Routen der Romanik in Katalonien” published by the Generalitat de Catalunya that we take so much care of. Some kilometers away, we discover the mishap – half of “our” paper is missing. We drive back to this small Visigothic church – and there we find the other half of “our” paper on the pavement. We are happy, as we plan to visit more Romanesque churches in Northern Catalonia – we have not seen all of them so far, and “our” paper of the Generalitat is a very useful guide.

Our next Romanesque church is Sant Esteve in Canapost.

Behind the church we find the necropolis from medieval times (14/15th century). The church was built in the 9th/10th century (rectangular shape, Preromanesque) and extended in the 11th/12th century (Romanesque apsis and belfry of Lombardian style). The modest main entry (see above) is from the 18th century and remained incompleted.

There are sculptured heads above the windows of the belfry.

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Medieval small city Peratallada

Between visiting the pretty churches, we enjoy the medieval city of Peratallada that has kept its appearance from the 16th century. Peratallada may come from “pedra tailada” which means “carved stone”.

Across a deep ditch carved into the rock (7m deep), we enter the city through the Portal de la Virgen.

Narrow streets,…

… cosy restaurants,…

… this castle adorned with the Bougainvillea in full bloom…

… and there is more to see such as medieval towers, squares with vaults along narrow streets. Perhaps a little too many shops and too many restaurants. I am sure, in summer, this small town is busy with tourists that take a break from the beaches nearby.

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Sant Martí de Empúries – beaches and medieval village with many restaurants

It is late afternoon. Enough sightseeing for today. We drive to Sant Martí de Empúrias, where we have booked a room in the Hotel Riomar, north of Sant Martí. The Riomar may have been built by the friendly elderly couple that still runs it today. The pool and the garden DO welcome children, as the inflated swan illustrates.

The garden has been planted with much care. There is even a tennis court and there are ping pong tables. But they are at the brink of decay.

The rooms – and that is important to us – have been nicely refurbished and, from our room, we have a nice view of the sea .

We have a delicious dinner in the hotel Riomar. Everything cooked a la plancha (barbecued), but never before have I had such juicy and tasty grilled vegetables and fish.

We are so close to the beach that I feel like an early morning walk, when the rising sun starts to hide behind some clouds.

I am not alone. People walk their dogs along the beach.

I enjoy the symphony in blue and purple…

… and reach the small city of Sant Martí, located on a rock above the beach. This was an island that became the first Greek trading settlement in 600 BC. Later the Greek transferred their city to the main land which is now Ampurias. In the mean time nature has connected the island of Sant Martí, with the main land…

… and the medieval city of Sant Martí has replaced the first settlement of the Greeks. The Plaza Mayor is full of restaurants.

Not far from here is a famous bird reserve. This hoopoe (Wiedehopf) is currently visiting the small town. I have never seen a hoopoe before, what a beautiful bird!

I return to the beach, …

… and to the hotel Riomar. It serves breakfast in the garden – what a nice atmosphere.

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Ampurias – Greek and Roman settlement

“Our” Allemann (who wrote the DuMont Kunstführer) has visited Ampurias, this Greek-Roman settlement, in 1980 (Fritz René Allemann and Xenia v. Bahder, “Katalonien und Andorra”, DuMont Buchverlag Köln 1980). He tells us that not much is left and that it is difficult to imagine the former grandeur of the Greek and Roman cities. In the meantime, the Catalans have installed a video center that tells the history and they have placed explanatory panels all over that explain what may have been here before (often though, they are also not a hundert percent sure).

The Greeks founded Emporion on the former island of Sant Martí (they called it “Palaiapolis”), and later they founded Neapolis on the main land. From Neapolis, foundations are left, with this magnificent view of the Mediterranean.

Famous is the statue of Asklepios, the god of medicine. The statue is a copy, the original is in the archaeological museum of Barcelona.

Does Asklepios not have a magnificent view of the sea?

What might he think about the cities that arose around the bay and grew with the tourists. This is the view of l’Escala, taken not far away from Asklepios.

It was in Emporion, where Scipio landed in 218 BC to attack Hannibal from behind. In 195 BC, Cato started to subdue the Iberian tribes from here. And later, Caesar had the Roman city Ampuriae built above the former Greek settlement of Emporion. Retired soldiers lived here. We stroll along the remains of the Cardo and the Decumanus between the mosaics that decorated the Roman villas.

Ursula dreams of being a Roman soldier in retirement that was so lucky to be sent here with this gorgeous view of the sea.

We now say good-bye and drive north, to France. In France, we plan to stay one more night in Valence and visit another Romanesque church, Léoncel.

 

 

Hospitalet de l’Infant – larger excursions

While spending two quiet weeks in Hospitalet de l’Infant in May 2019, we go for two larger excursions, first to the Ebro Delta, then to the Roman villa Centcelles returning via Reus.

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The Ebro Delta – again worth a visit

We have visited the Ebrodelta again and again, also now we drive there early in the morning to capture  the morning sun. The rice has been seeded and has started to grow.

Ursula tells me, what she has learnt from a TV show (Arte): The ampullariidae or apple snails (Apfelschnecke in German) eat rice offsprings. In the last seven years, their population has grown strongly in the water of the irrigated rice fields. The damage was such that the farmers had to seed the rice once more. As a consequence, the farmers started to seed their rice in less or no water to make it less comfortable for the snails. In addition the glossy ibis (plegadis falcinellus) love to eat the snails and their population also grew which is help from nature to fight the snails. This is what we understood from the TV show.

With snails and Ibis in mind, we play with the light in the rice fields…

… and in the ponds of the delta.

Then we lose our orientation in this flat land with one rice field after the next and a few ponds around, end up near Ell Muntells and find some flamingos in the ponds nearby.

We have lunch in Amettla and then return to our balcony overlooking the Mediterranean in the sun.

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Centcelles – astounding Roman mosaics

Tarragona was the capital of Hispania Citerior in Roman times (since 200 BC). We have seen the city wall, the circus, the theatre, the cathedral and the archaeological museum in Tarragona some years ago. In the museum, we then noticed  the special exhibition of children’s drawings of Centcelles, the Roman villa that later was used as a Roman mausoleum. Centcelles is some kilometres northwest of Tarragona, in a small city called Constantí, and this is where we head to today.

What we see in the villa-mausoleum of Centcelles is from the 4th century AD. Perhaps Constans, the son of the Roman emperor Constantin the Great, was buried here (he died in 350 AD).

The main attraction is the hall with the cupola decorated with mosaics.

The mosaics are unique. They were redicscovered in the late 19th century and restored in the 1950s. The scenes of the mosaics have been completed by the renovators, but very discretely, just to help visitors identify the scenes. 

The lowest row of mosaics shows hunting scenes…

... near a villa that is supposed to be this villa of Centcelles.

The second level refers to the bible – a very early documentation of Christianism in the Roman Empire. The Arche Noah looks like a box.

Daniel stands in the lions ditch… the lion is full of life.

This mosaic shows the scene of Jonas being swallowed by the whale.

On another mosaic, three men can be distinguished. It is assumed that they are martyrs that denied to pray to gods and had to die in the fire (which can be seen in the right-hand lower corner).

The third level is dedicated to the seasons. The best kept mosaic here is the boy that carries grapes-  obviosly representing “autumn”.

Next to the cupola hall with the mosaics are some amenities of the Roman villa such as this bath.

Source: Barbara Bongässer: Katalonien, Kunst, Landschaft, Kultur, Könemann, Köln 2000.

Returning from Centcelles we stop over in Reus.

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Reus – a charming small town

We have visited Reus before to explore the route of modernism and the museum about Gaudí who was born here.

We now return for a short stroll through the center of this charming town starting with Plaça Prim, named after General Prim who was born here and became Prime Minister of Spain in the late 19th century.

Just round the corner we find the Xixona that sells gelats i torrons. Their selection of ice creams is extraordinary. I have ice cream made from fresh goat cheese (reminding me of the Catalan dessert mel i mato) and Ursula has lemon ice cream with little nibbles of lemon zest.

We stroll through the pedestrian area with the art nouveau buildings…

… cross the Plaça Mercadal with the townhall and the green modernist Casa Pinyol…,

… pass by the Casa Rull, another art nouveau building from 1901…

… and return to our balcony with the view of the Mediterranean.

Yes, Reus was again worth the detour.

 

 

In Hospitalet de l’Infant – relaxing

It is two quiet weeks that we spend in Hospitalet de l’Infant, end of May 2019, after our grand tour across northern Spain.

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Enjoying beach life – reading, walking…

There are various beaches in and around Hospitalet. In May they are still pretty quiet.

Dogs may need washing after a day on the beach.

The sun rises early behind the port of Hospitalet,…

… soon makes long shades…

… and then warms our balcony, where we stay during the day, sunbathing, swimming…

… and reading. Some of our topics are art and landscape in Catalonia, the history of the Iberian Peninsula and Spanish cooking and wines. In the Larousse about Spanish wines (2008), I learn more about the Txakolí wine from the Basque Country. There is a white variety called “Zuri” and a red grape called “Beltza” and the vineyards are in three areas, one of which we have seen, namely Getaria.

When back at home, I will have to try cooking the oxtail in wine sauce with chocolate. I have eaten it once, and it was delicious (Karlos Arguiñano, “1000 recetas de oro”, Barcelona 2019).

We have found these books in the library of Hospitalet. They dispose of an excellent book selection and rent them out free of cost, even to tourists (we just had to register our names).

Sometimes we have lunch in one of our favorite restaurants such as in La Becana in Ametlla where I eat steamed mussels…

… and, for dessert, a crema Catalana with the crunchy sugar.

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Small walks around Hospitalet – to the Ermita, the Punta or the Iberian village

From time to time we go for a walk around Hospitalet. One of our destinations is the Ermita de Sant Roc. A drivable road leads up to the Ermita. We walk and pick some rosemary to spice our meals.

From here the view of Hospitalet and the coast line towards Salou is magnificent.

Another small walk takes us up to Punto de los Rojales…

… with another magnificent view of the Mediterranean sea.

High above the Ebro near Tivissa, we love to walk to the Iberian settlement dating from 400 to 600 BC and to the medieval Castellet de Banyoles. The Ebro could be well controlled from this point.

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Special event at Hospitalet de l’Infant – Cursa BTT

Hospitalet is a quiet place, especially now, in May. But…  one Sunday promises to be busy. Signs announce a mountain bike race, starting at ten up to two o’clock.

On Saturday evening, the trails are ready.

On Sunday morning the bikers arrive. They take out their bikes and warm up diligently by spinning on their bikes fixed to a stand.

Then they leave in groups behind the pine trees (teenagers, young men, veterans, ladies…)

The dog of one biker couple is waiting for the masters – what may take them so long, it may ask himself.

Yes, we spend two quiet weeks in Hospitalet recovering from our grand tour across the north of Spain.

 

 

 

Back to Catalonia (Hospitalet), with two stops in the mountains

On Saturday, May 19th, we drive from Zaragoza through the mountains to Hospitalet de l’Infant, south of Tarragona in Catalonia. On the way we stop in Alcañiz and Horta de San Joan.

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Alcañiz – domicile of the Calatrava order (still in Aragón)

We follow the road to Morella up to Alcañiz. Here we manoever our Audi through narrow-narrow streets, find the last parking slot near the city wall and walk to the  Iglesia de Santa Maria Mayor – baroque  from the 18th century – where we have a cafe solo.

We do not find the way out of the small town and land on top with its castle (now a parador) and this gorgeous view. This was the domicile of the order of the Calatrava.

Does our famous architect Calatrava have a relation with this order?

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Culture and lunch break in Horta de San Joan (now in Catalonia)

Horta de San Joan is a pretty small town in the mountains El Ports. Young Picasso was here twice, once as a teenager, when he stayed with the family of a friend of his and about ten years later again. This quote in Catalonian says: “Everything that I know, I have learnt at Horta”.

We visit the museum that tells the story of Picasso and Horta de San Joan. All the places that he painted are documented with fotos. When he was here the first time, he recovered from an illness. And when he was for the second time, he is said to have started his cubist way of painting.

Horta de San Joan also appears in literature. Perucho in his “Las historias naturales” described, how the scientist Montpalau (an invented figure) visited Horta de San Joan, when looking for the vampire Dip that terrorized the area in the first Carlist War, in 1840 (p. 164f): “Días más tarde… nuestras caballeros… abandaron Gandesa, en busca de la pista sangrante del vampiro… En Horta de San Juan visitaron la Plaza gótica porticada…

… y el convento de San Salvador…

… El aíre era muy frío y tuvieron que abrocharse hasta el último botón de la levita…El paisaje había cambiado ahora: Salvaje, grandioso, y como telón de fondo las altas montañas del Maestrazgo…”

(Some days later, our men left Gandesa, looking for the bloody track of the vampire… in Horta San Joan they visited the gothic square with the arches… the monastery of San Salvador… The air was very cold and they had to close their jackets up to the last button… The landscape had changed now: Wild, magnificent, and in the background the high mountains of the Maestrazgo…).

We do what  Perucho’s Montpalau has done… we visit the gothic square, enjoy the view of the wild mountains and the monastery and stroll through the narrow streets…

… adorned with Amaryllis…

… and barked at by cute little dogs,…

… until we lose our way and in the maze of streets and end up in front of this door. It is the restaurant “Gran Parrado”. It is one o’clock and we are hungry.

All tables are taken… the friendly manager offers a table in the bar. Lucky we are. We have a delicious lunch. This is the first course, cannelloni (yes, the Catalonians pciked that up in Italy) and codfish salad. My second Course is oxtail in chocolate sauce – very tasty. For dessert we choose fresh goat cheese with honey – a marvellous Catalonian specialty.

The host has a small wine cellar that he is proud of. Already Perucho’s Montpalau praised the wines from Terra Alta: “Se consumieron grandes bocoyes de vino de lágrima, finísimo al paladar…” (we drank large glasses of Lagrima wine, very fine in the palate”), p.163. I buy two bottles, one of them produced in Horta de San Joan (Els Costums made from Granatxa negra).

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Back at Hospitalet in the appartment of or friends

About one hour later we are in Hospitalet. The full moon welcomes us.

Two quiet weeks are ahead of us. Reading, swimming, going for excursions and enjoying the Mediterranean.

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Looking back at our tour that we have completed in Northern Spain

Our route through Northern Spain started with a short break in Donzenac in France and then continued to

  • Hondarribia (with excursions to Bayonne, Biaritz, St-Jean-de-Luz and Hendaye as well as San Sebastián)
  • Bilbao (visiting Getaria on the way)
  • Santillana del Mar (with excursions to Altamira, Comillas, Bárçena Mayor and the origin of the Ebro, Cabrales)
  • Oviedo (visiting Covadonga on the way)
  • León
  • Zamora (visiting Benavente on the way, excursions to El Campillo and Toro)
  • Santo Domingo de Silos (visiting Peñafiel on the way)
  • Zaragoza (or Sarragossa)
  • Back to Catalonia (visiting Alcañiz and Horta de San Joan on the way)