Love from Besalu and Catalonia

Here’s part two of my trip to Catalonia’s medieval coast, following on from my post the other day showing the wacky world of Salvador Dalí’s house and gardens. Walking down the hilly streets from Portlligat, we spent an afternoon in the coastal town of Cadaqués, a popular holiday resort for locals. Many winding backstreets had beautiful stonework, cobbles and climbing plants, as well as shady palm-filled courtyards and a good number of resident sunbathing cats. In fact, there is a town house owned by a lady who has turned it into a cat sanctuary, providing a home looking after many feline friends. She has a collection pot on the windowsill if you wish to support the Cats of Cadaqués <3

Just off the bay area, our little group had booked a table at the Compartir restaurant – our friend from Barcelona wanted us to experience the best of Catalan cuisine, and this place with its emphasis on providing sharing dishes was a delicious delight! It is Michelin-standard food in a really relaxed garden courtyard setting, for an unbelievably reasonable price. None of us could help taking pictures of our food before digging in!

We left the town in the evening – passing back by Dalí’s house in a strangely surreal twilight that seemed fitting – and headed back to our base. We stayed in the medieval town of Besalú, on the edge of La Garrotxa volcanic park region by the Spanish Pyrenees. It was a fortress town where two rivers meet, with the famous and much-photographed bridge at its entrance, and is very much at the heart of the Catalan identity. You will find the yellow independence ribbons, ‘Libertat’ and ‘Sí’ signs, and poster protests at every turn. It’s so interesting to base yourself in the heart of a town so that you can wander the streets at different hours, and really get the feel of what it’s like living as a local. In the morning, we picked and ate sweet fresh figs from the tree in the garden of our property; we were able to walk into the main market square where there was a book festival with exclusively Catalan translations of a wide variety of books.

Later on we paid a visit to the twin villages of Rupit and Pruit – accessed via a hanging foot bridge (for someone with a bridge phobia, it was something of a personal triumph to successfully make it across!). The pretty, hilly streets are built into the rock of the mountainside. The journey there takes a little effort as the road twists along the hills, spectacular wide views opening up with the increase in altitude. It was hard to imagine living here in the winter with its steep slippery cobbles and remote location.

Our trip ended as we headed back towards the airport at Barcelona. I had one last night to see a little of the city and the Gaudi architecture which I’ve loved for a long time. Casa Batlló, the dragon house, has always been my favourite of Gaudí’s creations but I’d never been inside – well worth seeing, either by booking in advance to avoid the long snaking queues, or buy a Gold ticket from the window for a few more Euro but instant access indoors. Antoni Gaudí’s imaginative design really inspires me. I could have spent many hours observing the meticulous detail of this town house. The absolute highlight is access to the roof, and seeing – in close proximity – the curving spine of the dragon and its scaly roof tiles.

It was more than 20 years since my last visit to Catalonia, but I am very fond of its unique vibe and distinct identity. There is so much to explore and such a variety of landscape – I’d heartily recommend a trip.

cadaqués restaurante compartir sharing menu catalonian cuisinelights and stonework in the courtyard restaurant of compartir cadaquésdetails of the menu at compartirfriends gathered for food and chat at cadaqués restaurant garden courtyard dining compartirdetails from compartir sharing menu restaurant cadaquéshoney air foam and fried accompaniment at restaurant cadaquésdetails of compartir restaurant cadaquésyellow ribbons symbol of catalonia independence movementdetails from fishing town of cadaquésdetails of cadaqués heart of the catalonian independence movementwinding street in the town of cadaqués catalonia catalunyascenes by the cat house of cadaquéscadaqués is a town with a healthy cat population sleeping ginger cat in flower potevening on the bay at Cadaqués cataloniastreet library in a stone alcove Cadaqués cataloniastreets with mopeds and Dali statue at Cadaqués hidden corners in the streets of Cadaqués with palms and climbing plantstraditionally in the Catalan region the climbing plants have their stems knotted as they growstrange light at evening over Portlligat and Dali's housefringes on a curtain in Cataloniacacti and succulents in a Catalonian garden

garden of airbnb property besalu catalonia with freshwater pond and fig tree

freshly picked figs in a garden in Catalonia Catalonian flag in a street in Besaluthe medieval town of Besalu in Catalonia Catalonian book festival in Besalucampaign to release political prisoners Cataloniaone of the squares in the medieval town of Besalustone archway architecture in Besaluarchitecture of backstreets in Besaluthe medieval and much-photographed bridge at Besalu Cataloniatown perched on a cliff edge in Cataloniaa visit to the hanging bridge town of Rupit in the Spanish pyrenees rupit and pruit backstreet in sunlightreligious stonework icon in rupit and pruitview of a sunlit street in rupit catalonia

town of rupit built into the rock of the mountain side La Garrotxa Catalonia

Iglesia de Sant Miquel church in Rupit medieval village nestled in hillsidesupport for catalonian independence in a backstreet of rupit pruitsleeping cat in catalonia rupittwo cafe owners dance in the street in rupit pruit cataloniaa view of barcelona towards la pedrera casa mila and the sea from the rooftop bar at casa fuster hotelcasa fuster hotel staircase architecture art deco

art deco window casa fuster barcelona

la pedrera casa mila gaudi architecture of barcelonainterior meringue ceiling of casa mila la pedrerathe dragon house of barcelona casa batllo gaudigaudi architecture and design of barcelonadragon skull balconies of casa batllo barcelonamosaic effect walls and ceilings with feature chandelier casa batllo gaudistained glass details to interior doors gaudistained glass feature windows interior at casa batllomosaic details of antoni gaudilooking upward at undulating balconies casa batllo gaudiinterior wooden details of antoni gaudiinterior skylight corridor details at casa batllo barcelonaholographic image of washing line underwear displayed at casa batllo barcelonaribcage-like interior leading to roof terrace at casa batllo barcelonamosaic chimneys at the dragon roof of casa batllo barcelonaspine of the dragon casa batllo roofcasa batllo mosaic roof and turret spine and scales of the dragongaudi chimney mosaic detailsinterior staircase gaudi shades of blue tilescasa battlo at twilight barcelona antoni gaudi dragon house

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