Feb 16

Hidden gems

Nick taking a break on the road to Fontcalda

Travelling, for me anyway, is about venturing into the unknown and discovering new things and experiences. I don’t really like guidebooks as they can ruin the surprise and the leaflets and maps that I pick up from Tourist Information Offices often end up unused in a shoebox in my Mum’s loft. This begs the question, how do you make sure you see everything of interest? Well, we probably don’t, but then what’s of interest to me may not necessarily be your cup of tea.

Here in Catalonia, we’ve not seen an open Tourist Information Office yet. I have been known to ask postcard sellers to point in the general direction of where the photos of their wares were taken, but we’ve seen none of them either. Even so, we’ve managed to find two of my favourite ever accidental finds, Fontcalda, Nick’s take on this is coming next, and Poble Vell which deserves several posts all of it’s own.

One day we got lost, this happens a lot, and we saw a hand-painted sign in six foot letters that we really couldn’t ignore. Turning off the road we spotted a car park and a picnic area and soon found a green walking route sign. These signs may have previously lead us to walk round in circles for 3.5 hours looking for a village we never found, but better the devil and all that.  Being careful not to find out too much, I did a quick google to make sure that the desttination was worth the effort and unperturbed, we decided to come back when we had more time to walk the 6+ km.

The road to Fontcalda, Catalonia We walked uphill along a tarmac road for a bit, all the way wondering why the sign hadn’t indicated the need for a car. After about twenty minutes we came to a dirt road, turned along it and walked down into a stunningly beautiful valley. We walked a bit, walked some more and eventually hit the bottom where we walked a bit more just for fun. Nick explains better why we didn’t just give up, so I’ll leave that bit to him.

We weren’t disappointed though. The font, unsurprisingly, turned out to be a river and more surprisingly it actually had water in it, beautiful clear water.

Fontcalda Catalonia

Mindful of the fact that Marley was waiting at home for us we quickly munched our lunch and headed back up the very steep path. We’d seen the hint of more further along, but decided to come back another time, with the car. The walk back up, was very long, I didn’t fancy doing it again.

The car journey was equally amazing, the rubble strewn road took us higher than we’d been on foot and the hairpin twists and turns added to the overall sense of anticipation. At the bottom we found a church, a restaurant and several other buildings all completely deserted. I’m sure that they are bustling in the summer, but seemed much better this way somehow. This last picture was taken through a tiny cross shaped window in the door, a tantalising glimpse into the gloom inside. I do hope that we get lost again soon. Inside the church at Fontcalda

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