Into the High Pyrenees

September 2, 2017 - Barcelona, Spain

Yet another early start today but looking forward to our tour that will take us up into the Pyrenees Mountains. We left the hotel about 7.45am to walk over to the Explore Catalunya office near the Palau de la Musica. It is becoming a familiar route along Calle Santa Ana. We thought we would choose a different place to get coffee along the way. I slipped up on the order so we ended up with regular sized coffees but I did manage to get two croissants. We walked and sipped and I nibbled at one croissant. We both agreed that the coffee was not as good as the one yesterday from Fleca Comtra. Once more, several envious fellow tourists approached us as we waited outside the tour office and we directed them to Fleca Comtra but this is Spain; if you can't find a coffee you are really not trying.

When Margaret emerged from registering our presence she asked, 'I've just been in to confirm our tour. What piece of good news could I give you now?' I was confused. Did we win an extra tour? No, Laura was to be our guide again today. She seemed to have just the right level of intensity and a passion for the subject of Catalan history.

Laura knew several of us in the tour group and introduced herself to the rest before leading her charges around to Plaça Catalunya to find our bus. Of course our bus was the furthest down the road of the three Explore Catalunya buses and the last she asked. We were introduced to Oskar our driver although he would have little to do apart from keep us safe and on time.

This time our route took us out to the north and east of the city along an Autovia to Vic. The trip didn't have much to capture our attention except for distant views of Montserrat which we had visited yesterday. Oskar dropped us off and we walked down some of the narrow streets to a roman temple where Laura told us a little about the early history of the area but failed to mention anything about the Civil War, the plaque on the wall nearby or the many bullet marks in the stone columns and façade of the temple. Then Laura led us away from there to the Cathedral of St Giles which is in Bishop Oliver Square, named after the bishop we heard about yesterday at Montserrat. Laura told us more of the story of the Madonna of Montserrat and the importance of Vic as a centre of political strength. We walked from the cathedral to the town square where there are markets every Tuesday and Saturday. Laura gave us a few hints on places to buy bread and coffee and let us loose to wander around the markets.

Margaret and I headed over to buy some bread and ended up buying a piece of rectangular flat bread about 40cm long that was a sort of pizza with some sort of sauce and cheese and with tomato, capsicum and onion topping. It smelled delicious. It came on a piece of cardboard and was slipped into a bag for us but I wasn't too sure how we would carry it around. We then went down to the next corner where there was a coffee shop and ordered ourselves some coffee and croissants. What! Again? It is just easier to get a quick fix of food and buttery energy from a croissant. Our breakfast/brunch needs satisfied we made use of their facilities and then went for a wander around the markets. There were a lot of clothes and accessories for sale but also many, many stalls with local fruit and vegetables and local cheeses. I think we both considered ourselves filled with cheese after yesterday so we bought some pears and some beautiful looking figs.

We met up with Laura at the pre-arranged spot and while the rest of the group gathered we ducked around the corner for a couple of bottles of water. We tucked away all our goodies in the day pack including standing the flat bread vertically. 'What will that look like at lunch', we thought.

Once the group had gathered Laura led us all out of the square and across to a bus stop where our bus would be allowed to stop and collect our little herd of cats. After a short wait we were soon on board and on our way to our next stop, the little town of Queralbs. Laura led us past the station and up through the town where we met some of her family. She had only recently discovered her connection to them and she told us how someone from their side recognised her surname.

We wound our way up the hill to a Romanesque Church that was dedicated in 836AD before heading back down to the cog railway and catching the train up to Nuria. Some of our group elected to do the 2 hour walk up to Nuria but most of us took the train.

At Nuria Laura gave us an introduction to the area and a few of the many possible things we could do to fill in a couple of hours and where to meet up afterward.

Margaret and I elected to take the cable car up to a lookout point even though we thought the air and the wind may be a bit fresher up there. After a brief look around we found a spot near the lookout that was in the sun and well protected from the wind. It was warm enough in the sun to remain in our shirt sleeves and eat our lunch. To our surprise our pizza whatchamacallit had remained intact through its journey and even stayed much as it had been presented originally. We shared that by tearing it in half and gnawing at it as best we could. We probably had the best spot to eat lunch, look at the view and observe the coming and going of several envious tourists.

After many photographs of the High Pyrenees we headed back down on the cable car for a look at the Chapel of St Giles and the Basilica with the Madonna of Nuria. There were many families here for picnics in the valley just enjoying the sunshine and grass, boating on the lake or taking the children on horse rides.

At 4.30pm our group all gathered together at the proclaimed meeting point and we caught the very crowded train back to Queralbs and then had a two hour bus trip back to Barcelona.

Our long day finished with beers and ensalada tamate and patatas bravas in the terrace bar.


Statue of Bishop Oliver at Vic Cathedral
The Romanesque Church at Queralbs
Riding the cable car to the mirador (lookout)
Pyrennean Ponies


Judy Crewe:
September 9, 2017
The bullet markings from the Civil War are still sensitive to many people I think. Talking of which, have you read C. J Sansom's "Winter in Madrid"?
September 9, 2017
Wow sounds like a very busy day, you sure make the most of your days, it was exhausting just reading it all.
September 11, 2017
Sounds huge! but lovely, what a wonderful thing to do :-)
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