A few days into a trip around Catalonia and it’s fair to say that the expectations I had beforehand have not only been exceeded, they’ve been smashed to smithereens. I reckoned on finding good food, enchanting scenery and proud traditions. What has had me reeling like an ecstatic drunk has been a thriller of an F1 experience; Barcelona’s version of The Italian Job, ice covered lakes, a squabbling squadron of vultures and lots of quaffable wine in a location where the term idyllic simply seems too mundane.
Here’s a Catalan taster to snack on.
The Spanish F1
Formula one cars screaming around the Barcelona track so fast that they could make your head spin (literally) is a big enough buzz as it is, but the warp-speed pit changes were something else. By the time you raised your camera, the cars are in, wheels changed and gone, baby, gone. The ultimate in team effort.
La Boqueria Market
You’ve just got to visit Barcelona’s most famous market. It’s simply a foodie’s paradise even if there’s a danger of entering as a size M and exiting as a size L.
Gaudí’s architectural masterpieces have a feel-good quality that bring out a childlike wonder in me. Maybe I should be enjoying their artistic qualities but exploring the roof top labyrinth of ancient warriors’ helmets at Casa La Perdera is a lot of fun and the late afternoon light just adds to the magic.
Vulture’s in Catalonia
Catalonia’s version of bird-watching courtesy of Photo Logistics is more like a mix of an extreme sport and a Steven Spielberg flick. Huge shadows of a hungry, circling army create a delicious feeling of nervous anticipation that is completely nuked when the vultures decide to descend as one. You may expect something like this in Africa but in Catalonia… WOW.
Barcelona Maritime Museum
Located on a great old boat with oodles of character and a surprising amount of below deck space. Viewing Barcelona from the sea lends the city a different perspective – not something that is common for the floating museum as it’s normally moored up in the harbour.
Wine & Dine in Catalonia
The countryside around Lleida is spellbinding at the best of times, viewed from the organic Castell d’Encus with a selection of their finest wines accompanied by the best of local products it’s a miracle tonic for the soul… and the taste-buds. Describing hospitality as merely generous when you have four different drinks in front of you just doesn’t cut the mustard.
Peaks & Pines in the Pyrenees
Aigüestortes I Estany de Sant Maurici National Park in the Pyrenees. SIGH – I already wish I was back there hoofing it up and down trails whilst high as a kite on a scenery overdose.