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Port Bou, Platja de Garbet, Vilanova de la Muga

you are what we were, we are what you will be - commonly found in graveyards

Portbou

is not now the prettiest of destinations (there's a lot of competition on the Costa Brava), despite being 'the most beautiful place' Hannah Arendt had ever seen in 1940. However, it is home to one of the most impactful monuments i have ever seen, that to the German philosopher, Walter Benjamin. I won't spoil it here by showing you the monument - it needs the context. Definitely worth the visit. 

There is a

Walter Benjamin route

but there's little information, so better read up a little before visiting. Suffice to say, Benjamin died in the Hotel in Portbou while fleeing France at the beginning of the War. He was trying to cross Spain to get to Portugal but his party was held up at the border. The hotel is still standing.

We had lunch in town, but it being New Year's Eve, the choice was limited.

On the way back we stopped at the

Platja (beach) de Garbet

.

Then a visit to the 10th-12th Century Sant Eulalia Church In

Vilanova de la Muga

(just outside Figueres). The painted apse is 13th century. It's a beautiful

Romanesque church

.

Here there is a '

Ruta dels Estanys

', an attractive walk, taking in both sides of the Muga river.

Rosas Routes

These routes and the information is taken from this website 

http://visit.roses.cat/en

Roses beach is popular with people from the Garrotxa area (Olot) because it is one of the nearest for them and because it is artificial, it is easy to get in and out of the water for those with difficulty moving. It is shallow and many catalans have mentioned to me that they like the sand because it isn't 'dirty'. It's like the eskimo thing about snow - here the quality of the sand affects your beach experience and choice!

Historic Centre of Roses/Rosas

(12th – 20th century)

Stroll along the narrow, uneven, streets in the centre round the church. They all run parallel to the sea and are full of restaurants and small shops where you can enjoy the Mediterranean atmosphere. If you decide to visit Santa Maria Church , you will discover the ancient temple built in 1796 whose apse, transept and dome are still preserved, The rest of the nave, the side chapels and the façade are neo-classical works from 1853 by the architect Martí Sureda I Deulovol. In the Plaça de Catalunya you will find examples of Modernist architecture, like the Casa Mallol, which is the present Town Hall.

Between Trinitat and Escorxadors streets you will find Plaça de la Pau, which is dedicated to the historical memory of the Spanish Civil War. The remodelling of the area, which consists of a sculpture by artist Ció Abellí, was inaugurated in 2006. The sculpture reflects on the irrationality of war and the value of life. In the square there is a bomb shelter built between 1937-1938. It follows the general rules and technical guidelines drafted by the Board of Passive Defence of Catalonia from the period of the republican government.

The Citadel

(4th century BC – 19th ce

ntury) The walk around the site of La Ciutadella is essential for anyone visiting Roses. Declared a historical and artistic centre in 1961, the citadel contains vestiges of various occupations of the last thirteen centuries. The military fortification, with its monumental Sea Gate, is a Renaissance-style enclosure of 131,480 m² built in 1543. The important archaeological site which lies within the fortification consists of :

- the remains of the Hellenistic district within the Greek settlement of Rhode, which enjoyed its period of greatest prosperity in the 4th and 3rd century BC

- the Roman villa, dating back to 2nd century BC and 6th century AD.

- the paleochristian necropolis.

- several Visigothic buildings.

- the Lombard Romanesque monastery of Santa Maria, dating back to the 11th century and the remains of the fortified medieval town.

- the remains of several military buildings dating back to 16th century.

- the Museum which provides an insight into the history and heritage of Roses, from prehistory to modern times.

- the Exhibition Hall.

A guided tour of the Citadel is a history master class concentrated in a unique area of seventeen hectares where you can enjoy a complete itinerary, totally signposted including a lot of information.

Trinity Castle

Trinity Castle crowns th

e Poncella point above the lighthouse of Roses. The military construction, which dates from 1544, was erected under the reign of Emperor Charles I, as an essential complement to the Citadel. It has the shape of a five-pointed star, with pronounced angular corners for defence against enemy projectiles. It is built on a grand scale with two-metre thick walls. It had three terraces for batteries of cannons, howitzers and mortars, set at different heights, to defend the port and the coast, It had a garrison of up to two hundred men. The building remains an extraordinary example of coastal artillery fortress.

Visigothic Fortress

(6th-8th Century) The remains of the mid-seventh-century Visigothic Fortress is one of the most special, hidden and unknown sites in Roses. Although the fortress is located atop a strategic hill overlooking the old town of Rhodes-Roses, the bay and the access to the port, it remains hidden from the sea by Puig Rom. It was inhabited between the seventh and the eighth centuries AD and some archaeological homes, silos and streets still remain today.

Bufalaranya Castle

(8th-14th centuries) If you like wild places and walking we suggest climbing to Bufalaranya Castle, which was built in the eighth century when the territory of Roses was integrated in the Carolingian Mark. Standing on a hill with difficult access its fortified perimeter has the characteristic of opus spicatum. An air of mystery shrouds the charming remains.

Seaside route between Almadrava and Cala Montjoi

5 hours (there & back)

The seaside path follows a narrow path at the water’s level between Almadrava beach and Cala Montjoi cove, bordering cliffs and sheer rock faces interspersed with pine groves and typical Mediterranean shrubs. It’s an ideal route for refreshing yourself in any of the coves and beaches along the way, taking a dip in the sea in the summertime. The seaside path begins at the last house on Carrer Gauguin in Almadrava, which is also where the Cap de Creus Natural Park begins.

About 1 km into the route you will reach Punta Falconera (“Falcon’s Point”), so named because of the presence of falcons some years ago. This point was occupied by the military until the 1990s because of its interest as a strategic enclave, as it offers a view that dominates the Bay of Roses. As a result of the military use of the area, there is a network of underground galleries and walkways that are connected to the surface through bunkers with artillery batteries and slits through which the mouths of the artillery pieces once projected.

Past Punta Falconera, the path rises and drops with the sharp coastline, crossing through pine groves and cliffs along the sea, along with a number of well-defined coves. The first of these is Cala Lladó. The quarry, still visible, was used to extract marble, which was then transported by sea to Roses. The ramp and the landing stage where the marble was taken down to the boats at sea level can still be seen today.

After Cap Trencat (literally, “Broken Cape”), which owes its name to the rocks that have broken off over time and fallen into the water, you reach Cala Murtra (a cove where nudism is allowed), named after the Mediterranean myrtle (“murtra” in Catalan), the area’s predominant vegetation. Beyond Cala Murtra lies Cala Rostella, the two coves separated by the Cap Blanc cape.

There are numerous shoals along this section of the coast, dangerous rock formations lurking just below the surface of the water that for centuries had caused shipwrecks. The area is now popular among scuba divers.

Finally, the seaside path reaches the beach at Cala Montjoi. Here, looking towards the end of the valley of the same name, you can distinguish two buildings: Mas de Montjoi de Baix and Mas de Montjoi de Dalt, two farmhouses that gave life to this area in the past.

For those who wish to enjoy the landscape even further, the seaside path continues to wind along the coast. The return route is along the same seaside path to Almadrava beach. Seaside route between Roses lighthouse and Almadrava Beach

Seaside route between Roses lighthouse and Almadrava beach

2 hours 30 minutes (there & back)

The “camins de ronda” (literally, “patrol roads”) owe their name to the traditional patrols bordering the coastline to watch out for smuggling and coastal maritime traffic.

The route follows a section of this seaside path from the Roses lighthouse, which was built during the reign of Isabel II in 1864, located 24 metres above sea level and facing southwards, to the Canyelles Grosses or Almadrava beach.

The lighthouse, which was electrified in 1921 with a 500-watt incandescent lamp, is located just below Trinitat castle, which was recently restored and will be open to visitors.

Throughout the entire route, all the way to Canyelles Petites beach, you can enjoy the unique outcroppings with veined white marble, which are very interesting from a geological perspective.

Right before Canyelles Petites beach there is an islet made up of various rocks, called Els Brancs, which is a resting spot for birds like the cormorant, which can be seen drying off with its wings stretched out and facing the sun.

Continuing along the route past the first beach, the seaside path continues winding along the coast. Between Canyelles and Almadrava beaches, there are two rocky outcroppings that are frequently used by fishermen: Punta de l’Omella and Punta de l’Ullastrell.

Finally, you reach Almadrava beach, whose name comes from the type of fishing with nets strategically placed to drive the fish landward from the end of the cove, until they were finally caught.

You return to the starting point via the same route, but you can take advantage of any of the beaches or rock formations to take a refreshing dip in the sea.

Route through Megalithic History

2 hours 30 minutes

The route starts at the highway from Roses to Montjoi, taking a path with sett paving that leads directly to one of Catalonia’s biggest dolmens, the Creu d’en Cobertella (3000-2700 BC). This dolmen, which features a large gallery grave covered by a stone slab weighing four tons, was declared a historic-artistic monument in 1964.

Continuing along the path, you pass by a string of dry stone walls that divide the different properties and criss-cross the terraced land in every direction. For hundreds of years, these walls made the task of tending the vines less tedious.

The livestock tracks, which are lined with dry stone walls, cut straight across the land. These tracks were used to move the herds to greener pastures.

At various points you will see – and, in fact, visit – a number of stone sheds that were used by the shepherds for shelter or to store farming tools.

Farther ahead, turn right to reach two more milestones along this megalithic route, the first being the remains of the burnt house, which is the name given to two of the most important menhirs in the area ? the Casa Cremada I and Casa Cremada II menhirs. There is also a kist bearing the same name; like the dolmens, its use was for funerary purposes.

Along the same route you will also visit two well-preserved dolmens: the Llit de la Generala (3200 BC) and the Cap de l’Home dolmens.

On the way back, which will take you to the dolmen where you started, you can enjoy the breathtaking vistas of the Bay of Roses and admire up close the network of walled terraces.

Route between Cap de Creus and the bay of Roses

2 hours 30 minutes

As you go down the highway joining Roses with Cadaqués, take the turn-off to the right that leads to the El Pení air base (E.V.A. 4). Two km from this turn-off, and after having left your vehicle behind in a small embankment used as a car park, take the dirt track that climbs gently up to the Roses wind farm.

A new path branches off to the left some 200 metres after taking the dirt track. Follow this path a few metres to enjoy a magnificent view of Cap Norfeu in all its majesty. The site is catalogued as a natural reserve of the Cap de Creus Natural Park, and it is characterised by a great richness of flora and fauna, both on land and underwater. You will also come across the remains of a cremation site built by Indo-European tribes in the 8th century BC.

Return to the initial track and take it up to Puig Alt, a peak whose surrounding landscape is dominated by the turbines of the Roses wind farm. From this location you can also enjoy one of the site’s most beautiful views: the Bay of Roses on one side, and the Cala Montjoi cove on the other.

The route continues bordering the Puig Alt and then makes a turn of almost 360 degrees to arrive at the Font de la Bich, with a water fountain and a drinking trough for animals. Beyond the fountain, you will discover a magnificent vista of the town of Roses before the path takes you to the crossing of Pla de Can Caussa, in honour of the farmhouse which gives its name to this plain. This is a good spot to stop and rest a bit and have a bite to eat.

From here on, the site you will see is the exact opposite view of the Bay of Roses, namely the northern edge of the Cap de Creus with the waters of the Mar d’Amunt in the background.

A little farther ahead you reach a little hollow with a grove of trees that gives its name to the nearby building: the Mas dels Arbres (literally, the “Trees Farmhouse”).

Finally, you return to the starting point, where you left your vehicle, after having taken a route that has shown you views to the north and south of Cap de Creus, with all its splendorous beauty laid out before your eyes.

Calella de Palafrugell

Calella - Llafranc is 15 minutes on foot on the coastal path.

Calella  - Cap Roig Gardens, heading south, takes about an hour. 

You can walk to the beach at Castell, passing other beaches and Iberian settlements nestled among the pines. To Castell takes about 2 hours and a bit going leisurely. 

Famous for the singing of 'Havaneres' in July, when you definitely won't find a spare rock to sit on. This blogsite has some lovely music, postcards and photos of Calella.

http://calelladepalafrugellileshavaneres.blogspot.com.es/

At the same time as listening to them, you should be burning rum on the beach (alas, no space). 

Here's a look at the festival of music and dance in summer, held at the Cap Roig Gardens

http://www.caproigfestival.com/en/

Here is information about visiting the gardens

http://obrasocial.lacaixa.es/StaticFiles/StaticFiles/8408c7f863741310VgnVCM200000128cf10aRCRD/es/los_jardines_de_cap_roig_es.pdf

Palamos

From the front at Palamos you can walk along the promenade all the way to Cap de Roques Planes and back. 

As a daily morning constitutional it'll keep you out of trouble.

The afternoon can be spent idling on the beach and the evening is too short, with the shops closing at 8pm, aperitifs to be drunk, tapas to be tried, supper de be decided and the mandatory promenade around the port looking at the fishing boats as the sun goes down.

Palamos - Palafrugell cycle route 6km

It follows the old railway track connecting Girona to Palamos via La Bisbal d'Empordà. 

www.viesverdes.org

Another popular bike ride, somewhat longer and steeper, is up to Romanyà de la Selva.

The next little bay north of Palamos is La Fosca, very pretty, though the walk isn't, unfortunately, though it doesn't take long. However, from La Fosca the walk of less than an hour to the beach at Castell, more than makes up for it, with Iberian settlements to boot.

Dali Day Out 6

First stop is usually the

Dali museum

in Figueres, followed by his house in

Port Lligat

(Cadaques). This last has to be booked online and the museum ought to be also, to avoid queues. Added to these is the medieval

Púbol Castle

(near Flaça, and on the fantastic medieval villages cycle route), where Gala lived in the 1970's. 

To this i would add 2 more 'sites'!

Els Angels

Mountain Sanctuary just outside Girona, again a popular cycle route, where the couple got married late in their relationship and last but not least,

Can Manolo's Restaurant

, in Girona, where they held their reception. Make sure you ask to be in the old part of the restaurant to get the full atmosphere (though the food is equally wonderful in the extension looking over the river).

While you're in Figueres you can visit the

S

ant Ferran Castle

, where Dalí did his military service and

Plaça de la Palmera

where he had a second home. On leaving Figueres look for the

Molí de la Torre

, a property which belonged to the Pitxot family and where Dalí learned to paint.

Cadaques

Cadaques

Croissants and hot cafe con leche on the terraces on the front in winter perhaps?

            Lots of artisan jewellery, 

chic-hippy 

clothes and artist's galleries 

You can walk from Cadaques to Dali's House-Museum at Port Lligat, following the coastal path. His and Gala's house was made up of fisherman's huts bought over time. Book online.

http://www.salvador-dali.org/en_index.html

Cadaques - Puig Ferral 2 hr walk (Itinerari 5)

This leaflet i think is available in English in the area.

This is the only English description i've found of the walk but you can see the map in the catalan pdf address below.

It starts next to the petrol station, in Cadaques, on a narrow street that used to be a livestock trail to Cap de Creus. It is very visible once having crossed the roadway of el Faro, continuing up the mountain on a very narrow trail, with dry rock walls that border it on both sides. Upon reaching the Mas de la Senyora, leaving behind the walls that continued this old trail, the itinerary continues to the left on a dirt path that we will follow until reaching the equestrian centre of Mas Duran. We will pass through the middle of the property and follow the path down that brings us to the Area of Port Lligat.From here, we only have to return to the centre of Cadaqués.

http://www20.gencat.cat/docs/parcsnaturals/Home/Cap%20de%20Creus/Visitans/Equipaments%20i%20itineraris/Itineraris/05_Cadaques.pdf

Cap de Creus (Itinerari 15)

Another walk with an extremely helpful map (not) and marvellous description in catalan! Available in English i'm sure, somewhere, but the only place i've seen it was in the monastery of St Pere de Rodes, which is, anyway, definitely worth a visit, whereas it's usually too hot to do this walk.

http://www20.gencat.cat/docs/parcsnaturals/Home/Cap%20de%20Creus/Visitans/Equipaments%20i%20itineraris/Itineraris/15_Cap%20Creus.pdf

Tamariu, Llafranc and El Far de Sant Sebastià

Llafranc - El Far de San Sebastià walk

It's about 5 kms and uphill. Start at the steps by the port

and follow the road up. Have a good lunch.

Alternatively, drive up, have a good lunch and then walk between Calella annd Llafranc (15 minutes). 

When you get to Sant Sebastià Lighthouse, you are well rewarded with a magnificent view of Calella and Llafranc. There is an 18th century hermitage, the 15th century watch tower, the lighthouse, the Iberian settlement remains and the the Divine Shepherd and Saint Baldiri /Baudilus viewpoints.

Tamariu

A walk, some history and a good lunch..

There is an Ibers tribe archeological site (6th century BC) behind the hotel, showing that they were trading here with Greeks and Romans.

http://www.elfar.net/home/en

View from El Far de Sant Sebastià

Walking the coastal path between Tamariu and Llafranc takes 3 hours one way

Empuries and l'Escala

Olot Wetland Walk - Sant Marti d'Empuries Greek and Roman Ruins - L'Escala                         Day Out 2

Driving to Olot from Girona takes 45 minutes. Driving from Olot to Sant Marti d'Empuries takes 1 hour 10 minutes. It's about the same from Sant Marti to Girona.

Olot Wetland Walk - La Moixina

The short circuit is 45 minutes and the longer one, starting in the Bonavista neighbourhood and circling the Puig Jou volcano takes 2 hours.

If you wanted to walk more you could go to Montsacopa Volcano (Sant Francesc). It takes 10 minutes to get up and 20 minutes to go round the crater. The views are wonderful.

Sant Marti d'Empuries Ruins (Greek and Roman)

Sant Marti is a convenient place to park but you have to pay in season. This is a small medieval village with a good selection of places for lunching outside and a marvellous view of the sea with

palm trees. The ruins of the ancient Greek and Roman settlements are here and if you want to 'do' them properly, you really need a morning for the one and an afternoon for the other, as there is quite a lot of walking. Also you need to enter the museum precinct, so don't park in Sant Marti - better to find the Ruins entrance. 

Follow the signs for 'Ruines d'Empuries', rather than 'Sant Marti d'Empuries'.

However, from Sant Marti you can walk along the seashore, on your left, looking in on the ruins, to your right. Continuing for perhaps half an hour, you arrive in L'Escala.

L'Escala

A good place for an icecream. There are public toilets in the little harbour carpark. Buy anchovies and postcards. Walk back to Sant Marti with the pleasant sea breeze cooling you off and drying your sea-wet feet.

http://www.mac.cat/Seus/Empuries