A Spanish Roadtrip: Mountains, Wine, and Beach (Weeks 33-34, May 13-26, 2019)
We left Valencia on a Monday afternoon. It’s always hard to pack up after a month. It starts out fine, we have so much space! We’re giving away so many things! And then partway through it gets grim. We do not have so much space. Our suitcases are getting full and they are very heavy. Are they always this heavy?
We were a bit nervous about the upcoming two week stretch. We had planned a road trip through Aragón, along the Pyrenees, then down through Priorat wine country, ending up at the beach. It was the kind of plan that you say to someone without a toddler and they’re like – “Yeah!” and that would possibly end in disaster for us.
We timed everything carefully – we plotted destinations based on drive times and planned the longer ones for during WP’s afternoon naps. We tried to alternate towns and countryside and to choose hikes where WP could get out of the backpack to run around a bit partway through.
Overall, the stretch of the trip was a great success. It felt amazing to be in the countryside after six weeks of Spanish cities and mostly urban experiences in Morocco before that. We splurged on a hiking backpack in the hopes that we could enjoy some proper nature and WP ended up liking it better than the car seat or the stroller (this is not saying much, but it was important to our experience).
We spent our first night in Albarricín which was tiny and charming. We did an easy hike to see cave drawings the following morning and then drove during WP’s nap to a working sheep farm where we stayed two nights. We met the sheep, and then had the best lamb meal of our lives.
We did a truly unique hike through a bioparc containing a dozen animals in various states of semi-confinement from buffalo who could cross your path to bears and lynx you peered at from a platform. The mountains in the background were stunning.
We then went to Torla at the edge of a national park, and did an awesome hike to see three waterfalls. WP fell asleep on the way back to the start and woke up while we were eating broken eggs and sausage sandwiches.
We spent two nights at a lovely b&b with an incredible restaurant in Buera, one of the ghost towns of Spain, with only 76 residents. As we were walking through the town the afternoon we arrived a man called from his balcony to ask where we were from, they didn’t hear the sound of children in these streets much anymore. When I said we were from the US he cursed with surprise.
We stayed in the small town of Falset, famous for its vermouth, and visited a couple of wineries, and did one more hike to some pre-historic ruins. Finally we drove to the beach.
We picked Salou because it was cheap and conveniently located, and while it was a bit generic and I don’t imagine we’ll ever go back there, the beach was nice with plenty of amenities, if a bit windy. We were also a short drive from Tarragona, where I managed to hit a longtime sightseeing goal: the castillos, or human towers.
Watching the intergenerational team of men, women, girls, and boys shimmy up and down one another to build a human structure four or five levels tall was absolutely thrilling, better than I imagined. The atmosphere was convivial and electric. And this was just a practice. I hope to get to see the castilleros again one day!
We finally returned the car in Barcelona. Happy to not be driving a boat around anymore (small cars do not fit our luggage, a sad state of affairs) but also a bit wistful for the countryside already.