Friday, March 30, 2012

CATALONIA: MIRAVET AND PAS DE LA BARCA

Miravet is a lovely village located near Costa Daurada and Delta de l'Ebre you will love at first sight. From the top of the hill, the castle watches over the town and the river. It is worth seeing how the old houses and the old church rise from the river to the castle.

Miravet Castle reflected in Ebre river 
The castle of Miravet reflected in the Ebre river from El Pas de la Barca before crossing it 

The best way to get Miravet is by El Pas de la Barca, the last river ferry that crosses the Ebre river using only the force of water without engine, capable of carrying cars, light vehicles and people. I enjoyed a fantastic panoramic view of Miravet, the castle and surrounding hills, as well as a quiet and relaxing trip. Crossing the river by ferry or raft is a unique experience, which allowed us to remember what sailing along the Ebre was like in times gone by.

Although almost all the regional villages had a Pas de Barca (river crossing) until the 1960s, they disappeared due to better roads, road transport and the building of bridges in some of the most important villages. In fact, nowadays there are only two: one in Flix and another in Miravet. The Flix "raft" is electric, but the one in Miravet makes use of the water currents. 

Pas de la Barca in Miravet


Pas de la Barca near Miravet 
El Pas de la Barca near Miravet

Pas de la Barca near Miravet
El Pas de la Barca near Miravet allows to cross the Ebre river between Miravet and the C-12 road. It has been working without engine for centuries. In order to fight the current of the river and maintain stability, the structure is tied to both shores with a metallic cable


Pas de la Barca near Miravet

El Pas de la Barca near Miravet takes the power of water to cross from one side to the other of the river. The ferry is made out of two or more llaguts (small traditional kinds of boats), over which is placed a wooden platform

   
Pas de la Barca near Miravet
El Pas de la Barca from the other side of the Ebre river. A mobile footbridge - which adapted to the water level of the river - gave the villagers access

Miravet


Castle of Miravet
Another view of the castle of Miravet. As you will see, the views from the castle are fantastic

  Waiting for the last car which was still crossing the river

Castle of Miravet

Impressing view of Miravet where you can see the Ebre river, the old church and the castle. It is worth seeing how the old houses and the old church rise from the river to the castle (picture obtained from wikipedia and taken by Jaume Meneses)


 Castle of Miravet
Entering the castle of Miravet 

Old church of Miravet 
The old church of Miravet from the castle

Castle of Miravet
Visiting the castle of Miravet

Ebre river from the castle of Miravet 
From this point of the castle of Miravet I enjoyed a fantastic view of the Ebre river and the old church of Miravet

 Castle of Miravet
Parade ground of Miravet castle. The chapter house, refectory, the tank, the winery and the silos, the chancery, the cloister and the Romanesque church are located around the parade ground

Church inside the castle of Miravet
Inside the romanesque church of the castle of Miravet

Beautiful view of the Ebre river from the castle of Miravet
  
I spent a fantastic sunday morning visiting the castle of Miravet and enjoying the views of the Ebre river under a lovely day

 
Another view of the Ebre river from the castle of Miravet


In addition to the lovely village of Miravet, I strongly recommend visiting in la  Costa Daurada  the following beautiful places:



Besides, If you like medieval villages like Miravet or medieval architecture, clicking on the next links you will find more beautiful villages and other fantastic medieval monasteries in  Catalonia:

- Medieval villages

- Medieval Monasteries



Friday, March 23, 2012

CATALONIA COSTA DAURADA: L'AMETLLA DE MAR

The 16 km long coastline of the beautiful village of l'Ametlla de Mar is one of the most charming and unspoiled landscapes of Costa Daurada and the Mediterranean coast.

The profile is abrupt, with beautiful cliffs giving way to a series of beaches and coves, each one with different characteristics surrounded by Mediterranean vegetation.


L' Ametlla de Mar
L'Ametlla de Mar, a lovely village of Costa Daurada, from its harbour

Next you can see pictures of the areas we walk along under a lovely saturday morning:

  • L'Ametlla de Mar from its harbour
  • Alguer beach
  • The Promenade
  • The coast of l'Ametlla de Mar


Harbour

Harbour of L' Ametlla de Mar 
Nice view of the harbour of l'Ametlla de Mar

Harbour of L' Ametlla de Mar
Taking pictures of some boats in the harbour of l'Ametlla de Mar

Boats on the shore of L'Ametlla de Mar in Costa Dorada
Boats on the shore of L'Ametlla de Mar in Costa Dorada

Promenade of L' Ametlla de Mar 
Palms along the promenade beside the harbour of l'Ametlla de Mar

L' Ametlla de Mar 
I really liked the view of l'Ametlla de Mar from this point of the harbour

L' Ametlla de Mar in Costa Daurada 
 The bell tower is a reference in l'Ametlla de Mar you can see from the harbour


 
Fishermans fixing a net in the harbour of l'Ametlla de Mar


Alguer Beach

Alguer beach in L' Ametlla de Mar
Alguer beach, a fine white sand beach in l'Ametlla de Mar

Alguer beach in L' Ametlla de Mar
Another view of Alguer beach

 Alguer beach in L' Ametlla de Mar
The promenade of l'Ametlla de Mar from Alguer beach

Alguer beach in L' Ametlla de Mar 
A beautiful image of Mediterranean sea reflecting sunlight


Promenade

Promenade of L' Ametlla de Mar
Taking pictures of l'Ametlla de Mar from its promenade

Promenade of L' Ametlla de Mar
I really enjoy this walk along the promenade of l'Ametlla de Mar under a lovely day

Coast 

Wild coast of L' Ametlla de Mar 
Abrupt profile of the coast of l'Ametlla de Mar


Other beautiful beaches and places I didn't have time to visit in l'Ametlla de Mar are:

  • Estany beach
  • Xelin beach
  • Sant Jordi beach
  • Pixavaques beach
  • Castle of Sant Jordi d'Alfama
  • Long distance footpath GR92 along the coast


Besides clicking on the next link you will find more information about these beaches of l'Ametlla de Mar.

In addition to the lovely village of l'Ametlla de Mar, I strongly recommend visiting in la Costa Daurada the following beautiful places:

Finally, clicking on the next link you will find more links to other beautiful places in Catalonia, among them, more interesting villages, beaches and landscapes along the Costa Daurada, like Salou or Delta de l'Ebre.

Friday, March 16, 2012

ANDORRA: GRANDVALIRA GRAU ROIG

Recently we spent a fantastic day in Grandvalira Grau Roig ski resort in Andorra. We enjoyed a guided forest trail with snowshoes and a mushing activity under a lovely day.

Snowshoes is ideal for individuals and groups, with or without a guide, and does not require you to be very physically fit since the difficulty level depends on the route chosen and the pace. It is ideal for non-skiers who would like to discover nature, enjoy the snow and the mountains without risks, or for skiers who would maybe like to try new experiences.


Grandvalira - Grau Roig ski resort in Andorra
One of the ski slopes in Grandvalira - Grau Roig, a large ski resort in Andorra

Grandvalira - Grau Roig ski resort in Andorra
A snowy mountain near the Grau Roig ski resort in Andorra

Grandvalira - Grau Roig ski resort in Andorra
Before beginning the snowshoes activity we went for a walk to enjoy these fantastic landscapes of Andorra

Grandvalira - Grau Roig ski resort in Andorra
Snowy landscape in Grau Roig ski resort in Andorra


Grandvalira - Grau Roig ski resort in Andorra
The woods of Grandvalira - Grau Roig ski resort are the perfect backdrop for a snow motorbike race

Me and the sun reflected in sunglasses



Snowshoes


I strongly recommend discovering Grandvalira with this unusual activity, walking round the snowy paths and icy lakes on showshoes, following the easy stage paths and itineraries, accompanied at all times by one of our guides. Besides, equipment is available for hire.



Grandvalira - Grau Roig ski resort in Andorra
Our nearly two-hour snowshoes route began in this slope

Grandvalira - Grau Roig ski resort in Andorra
Ready with the snowshoes. The large size of the snowshoes lets you walk on the soft snow with ease and they have spikes to avoid slipping on compacted snow

Grandvalira - Grau Roig ski resort in Andorra
In addition to snowshoes, you only should wear appropriate mountaineering footwear in order to keep the feet warm


Mushing


Mushing is an ideal activity for dog lovers and those who enjoy spectacular scenery in unique surroundings: dog sledding through the snow covered forests of Grandvalira. The sleds are all two-seaters and are driven by a guide.



Grandvalira - Grau Roig ski resort in Andorra
Sled and dogs running through the snow covered forests of Grandvalira in Andorra

The dogs I liked the most

Grandvalira - Grau Roig ski resort in Andorra
Two of the dogs and the sled in GrandValira ski resort in Andorra

Grandvalira - Grau Roig ski resort in Andorra
Sitting on the sled. Shame that this experience was too short, just five minutes, but it was really worth

Grandvalira - Grau Roig ski resort in Andorra
A last picture in Grandvalira Grau Roig with the sled and the dogs


In Andorra you can enjoy a snowshoes activity in the following ski resorts:
  • Grandvalira (www.grandvalira.com)
  • Naturlandia (www.naturlandia.ad)
  • Vallnord (www.vallnord.com)
Finally, if you liked these landscapes, clicking on the next links you will find links to other fantastic places in the Pyrenees of Andorra, France and Catalonia, like:


- Andorra: