A Travellerspoint blog

This blog is published chronologically. Go straight to the most recent post.

Arlanda - Barcelona - Vilopriu


View Trail ride in Catalonia on bejjan's travel map.

I arrived at Arlanda just before 9 am and got in line to the check-in. It was already a queue even though the check-in hadn’t opened yet. My fellow traveler showed up 15 minutes later and we decided to buy breakfast right away after we had checked in our baggage. Said and done… when we cleared security check we bought something to eat. The flight to Barcelona departed at 11.10 am slightly delayed.
The flight to Barcelona took 3 hours and 35 minutes and during the last hours of the flight we had to listen to two young children that absolutely didn’t want to fly anymore. They sat on the row behind us but on the other side of the aisle, so we were pretty close to them. The children were screaming, nagging and arguing and the parents didn’t seem to care at all that their kids actually bothered everyone else onboard… Oh my God, I almost had a psychiatric breakdown before arriving in Spain. But after some turbulence in the air, a lot of children screaming and beer drinking seniors we finally arrived at El Prat outside Barcelona.

We arrived just before 3 pm and it was nice to stretch the legs. We got to the airport a little early and our transfer was picking us up at 6.30 pm. So we had to kill some time at the airport. We went to buy some food at Caffe Di Fiore and tried to order hamburgers without nachos but with French fries instead. They had a picture displaying the menu (hamburger with nachos) and we pointed at that and asked for French fries instead… the total lack of English knowledge (the man working there) didn’t help the conversation at all. But eventually we got a hamburger each with both nachos and French fries. We though; Well, well, at least we got what we asked for. But you may think that all personal at an international airport shall speak a little English at least… even in Spain. When we bought bottles of water we were met by the same reserved attitude and totally no interest of making conversation in English. But eventually in a candy shop at the airport we were greeted with a nice Hola and a Thank you on our way out.

We waited for two hours inside the airport at the official meeting point as the travel agency had decided for us, before our third Swedish fellow traveler showed up. We got to know each other for a short while before I noticed a short-grown man with grey hair walking towards us with a sign saying Can Jou. I immediately recognized the name and nodded at him. When he had crossed our names of his list we followed him and gathered with the rest of the group. It was a real mix of nationalities in our group… people from Norway, Finland, Germany, Switzerland, Netherlands, Great Britain, USA (Texas) and us three girls from Sweden. So a total of 18 persons embarked the transfer bus in Barcelona. At 6.30 pm we finally drove off and we had 2 more hours of traveling ahead of us. We passed high peaked mountains with beautiful monasteries and buildings along the mountain slopes. The sunset had begun far away in the horizon and the dark quickly came upon. Along the way we made a stop at Girona Airport to pick up another two passengers who joined our group.

We eventually arrived at Can Muní (the new place where the horses had been transferred to) that was beautifully situated in the great natural beauty lowland l’Empordà, only 2 km away from the picturesque village Vilopriu. When we had disembarked the transfer bus we were informed that only the riders participating in the Discovery group were staying at Can Muní and the rest of us were staying somewhere else. Oh no! Weren’t we there yet??? Time was 8.30 pm, we were hungry and tired after all that traveling and at least I was losing my temper. The rest of us were driven in two Land Rovers continuing on to our staying for the night. The road to our staying was a winding and steep graveled road so it felt pretty safe being in a 4WD Land Rover. We later found out that the week before had been so rainy that the transfer bus had got stuck in the mud – why they had rented these Land Rovers for us to avoid the same this week.

5-Rummet_p__Can_Sort.jpg 4-Rummet_p__Can_Sort.jpg

We were driven to Can Sort, an older traditional Catalan farmer house called “masia”, which had been tastefully renovated and decorated with antique and appropriate furniture. Can Sort is situated upon a hill just outside the village Vilopriu, in between the Pyrenees and Costa Brava and surrounded by woods and tilled land. When my friend and I got our double room we through our baggage inside and rushed to the dinner that was served at 9 pm. A buffet with salad and lasagna was served among others and for dessert we got to choose from either ice cream or cheese cake.

After we all had finished our dinner we gathered to discuss what type of horses we wanted during the week. Most of us chose an active horse but not too active. We also got divided in two groups of eight people since one group of total sixteen riders is way too many for trail riding. Tired but with satisfied hungers we all went to bed to get some sleep, all curious and excited about what horses we would get tomorrow.

Posted by bejjan 16:00 Archived in Spain Tagged horseback_riding Comments (0)

Vilopriu – l’Escala


View Trail ride in Catalonia on bejjan's travel map.

1-Can_Sort.jpg

We got up at 8 am packing our baggage and getting ready for breakfast at 9 am. During the night (around 3 am) we had woken up hearing the rooster’s crow like crazy, even though the sunrise hadn’t began and it was still dark outside. We stated that the roosters were lucky we only had to stay here for one night… otherwise we probably would have chopped the rooster’s heads off.

The Land Rover’s came and picked us up at 10 am and took us to Can Muní and the stable where the horses were. Today we met our guide for our group, a cute and petit Spanish woman named Elia. We gathered around a table and Elia told us about our trail ride we were heading for, rules and how to take care of their horses, the horse equipment and style of riding. She actually spoke English darn well even though she spoke fast (like Spanish people tend to do) you could easily understand her.

38-D_na.jpg 44-D_na.jpg

Then we finally got to meet our horses. All horses participating in the trail ride were tied up along a fence and Elia pointed out which rider had which horse. My horse was Dána, a 15 year old mare, dark bay without a single white sign. Her breed was difficult to guess, some kind of cross breeding with Andalusian, Arabian and Percheron maybe? We all got our own grooming kit that we were responsible for bringing with us during the week. After grooming we tacked our horses. The most horses had Spanish saddles which are bigger and heavier and distribute the riders weight a different way than the English saddles. For me not being used to the Spanish saddle it felt strange putting the saddle so far behind the withers, but Elia ensured me the saddle was placed just where it should be. After attaching the saddle bags, packing the grooming kit, water bottles and part of our picnic lunch I bridled Dána and waited for all the others to get ready before we could mount and ride off.

The sun was high up in the sky and warmed us during the trail ride. We rode by woods, tilled land and green meadows and I was having a hard time trying to photograph the nature at the same time keeping an eye on Dána. We also rode by an area suffered from forest fires only few months earlier. When we passed we could still smell the fire and ashes. Elia told us when the fires were ravaging they spread around at a speed of 7 km per hour.

64-Maaren_..ller_Donkey.jpg

Just before our picnic lunch, we passed a small village with stone houses, in the middle of nowhere. In the end of the village there was a pasture with a donkey stallion. When we rode by the donkey followed us inside the fence. We trotted for a while but the donkey still followed us. When we tried cantering the donkey actually tried to jump the fence, but he got entangled in the wires. We quickly stopped and Elia dismounted her horse to chase the donkey back into the pasture. We all got a little scared that he tried to run through the fence. When Elia had mounted her horse we tried trotting again. But suddenly the last riders in out group shouted that the donkey were out of the pasture. We had to stop again and Elia rushed to chase the donkey. But once outside the pasture the donkey wasn’t so friendly any more. He attacked our horses and tried to bite them. Elia threw both rocks and sticks towards the donkey but he just avoided the objects and kept himself out of reach. Now it started to get creepy. The donkey was very aggressive and the more stuff we threw at him the angrier he got. Eventually Elia told us to dismount the horses since the donkey didn’t seem to attack when we riders were on the ground. After a while Elia called the guide in the other group that had to come and help us. When the donkey finally had been captured inside his pasture again we all could relax again.

We tied up our horses in the shadows, un-tacked and fed them. Then we could enjoy our picnic lunch we had brought with us, still a little chocked but we could laugh at the whole situation now. Of course “the killer donkey” was the big topic and we all had to talk about it. For picnic lunch we had a cold buffet, cheese, crackers and oranges with wine or water to drink. We finished the picnic with chocolate bars.

52-Utsikt_mot_Pyren_erna.jpg

We tacked the horses and kept on riding east towards Mediterranean and the coastal area Sant Martí d’Empuries. We rode by several villages with Roman churches that yet hadn’t been exploited by the tourism. The Gerona province in Catalonia is well-known for its beautiful unspoiled countryside, architectural and cultural heritage. We rode among tilled land and agricultures with alpha-alpha, pomegranate, apples and pears. In the end of the day you could start smelling the salt water in the air, that’s how close to the ocean we were. After totally 5 hours of horseback riding we arrived at the horse’s overnight camp. We un-tacked the horses and fed them while grooming them. We riders walked for 5 minutes and got to our hotel for the night, Hotel Riomar. Our suitcases had been transported by car and were already there when we arrived.

91-Alfa-alfa_odling.jpg

Hotel Riomar is located in l’Escala, the heart of the Costa Brava just by the beach. We brought our baggage up on our room and showered. The room standard was ok (I’ve seen worse). After a relatively long day in the saddle our bodies were aching all over. Dinner was served at 8.30pm and we had fish, fish and fish… sort of. It was shellfish, calamari and eel in both the starter and main course. So when the dessert was served and I realized that it was melon and pineapple, I got very happy… since I eat neither fish nor shellfish.
After all that riding the most of us probably fell into sleep pretty un-rocked that night.

Posted by bejjan 16:00 Archived in Spain Tagged horseback_riding Comments (0)

l’Escala – Castelló d’Empúries


View Trail ride in Catalonia on bejjan's travel map.

Breakfast at 7.30 am (which is considered being early in Spain) before we walked the 5 minute-way back to our horses where they had stayed for the night. We groomed and tacked them for our ride today that started at the beach just nearby. Elia wanted me to switch the Spanish saddle I had yesterday to an English saddle, since the Spanish saddle apparently didn’t fit my horse Dána properly. The English saddle doesn’t weight as much as the Spanish, but when comparing the comfort the Spanish saddle has superior quality.

2-Elia__mot_stranden.jpg 18-Stranden.jpg

We walked for about 10 minutes before getting to the beach at the Gulf of Roses, which is 16 km long and a part of Costa Brava in the northeast Catalonia. Three rivers have their outlets in the Gulf of Roses, one of them is the river Fluviá. These rivers main task is to drain the melting water running down from the Pyrenees. Elia gathered us and told us it’s important to ride just at the water’s edge and not in the dry sand (especially during canter) for the horse’s sake. She also warned two of the riders in the group that their horses liked to either take a swim or roll in the sand. I was happy that Dána wasn’t one of those horses. After the brief information we walked down to the water’s edge. Not a single cloud up in the sky and the sun was shining its best. The warm wind coming from the ocean with a slightly salty scent made it perfect for a ride at the beach. We trotted for a short while before cantering. The hooves clip-clopping in the wet sand and giving the reins to the horses cantering was wonderful. Occasionally the waves washed up underneath the horses and the ocean water splashed upon all of us. When passing by a fisherman on the beach we had to walk by and at one place we passed a couple of surf boards. My horse Dána thought they were SOOOO scary and refused to pass them. But when all the other horses had walked by and she got all alone she passed them in a hurry (horses can be so silly sometimes)…

32-Jag_o_D_na.jpg 33-Ridg_nget.jpg

After about 3 km we stopped for taking photos. We gathered all 8 riders on their horses. Elia took all of our cameras and snapped pictures of us. One group photo and some individual photos as well. Elias pictures of me and Dána turned out really great. Then we kept cantering for another 3 km and we saw Cap de Creus ahead of us, a peninsula with its own nature reserve and varying landscape which she recommended us to visit during our afternoon off. And just as we were walking on the beach one of the horses just folded his legs and rolled over in the sand. The same horse Elia had been warning about. Lucky though the rider managed to get off just in time and didn’t get stuck in a stirrup-iron or something. But the horse had just lain down without any warning signs at all. I'm just glad nobody got hurt. Now it was time to leave the beach and ride into the lowland again. I got a little disappointed we didn’t get to ride more at the beach, and I wasn’t the only one with that opinion. Everyone I spoke to thought the same…

41-Fluv_a.jpg 70-Utsikt_mot_Pyren_erna.jpg

We kept on riding along the river Fluviá and into a bird reserve where migrating birds makes a stop between Africa and Europe. There wasn’t many birds there today though but Elia pointed out some of the birds we saw swimming in the river (unfortunately I can’t remember any of the names). We rode along the edges of tilled land and agricultures with both apples and rice. About 1 pm we arrived at Castelló d’Empúries, our destination for today. We rode outside of the city and suddenly we came to a traffic light. It must have been the only traffic light in the entire city and it just didn’t fit in with all the idyllic stone houses all around. We shortly arrived to the horses overnight pasture and our lunch was already served on the table when we had un-tacked our horses.

55-Elia__C.._d_Emp_ries.jpg

When we all had finished our lunch we walked towards the centre of Castello d’Empúries. The closer we got to the city centre the more narrower the streets got. Eventually we walked in cozy alleys with cobbled stones and suddenly we came got to a small square. In one end of the square was Santa Maria de Castelló, a cathedral in the middle of the town. I must say I’m not a big fan of churches but when I see these magnificent cathedrals and how they are built I get impressed though. Today we got all these modern machines and equipment helping us to build but how did they do it before then??

79-Empuria_Brava.jpg

We arrived at Hotel Canet, our staying for the night not far away from the cathedral. The three of us from Sweden and two from Norway had decided we were splitting a cab down to the beach in the afternoon. So we checked in and took our bags up to our rooms and changed into swimsuits in case we decided to take a swim. We ordered a cab and it took about 15 minutes down to the beach Empuriabrava. Together we paid the cab driver €20 (including tip)… not too expensive. We got the cab drivers phone number so we could call him when we wanted to get back to our hotel again. It was for the best, since none of us spoke any Spanish and it would have been difficult to explain to another cab driver which hotel we were staying at… a real catastrophe ;) We walked down on the shore, sat down on our bath towels and chilled for a while. I went down to the water’s edge to feel the water temperature in the Mediterranean but it was freezing. So I just dipped my toes. Two of the others took a swim though… so hat off for those two brave souls :) Empuriabrava is one of the largest marinas originally built upon a swamp that was rebuilt in 1975 into a tourist community. In the summers up to 80000 tourists spend their holiday here every year.
After a while we craved for ice cream, so we walked down the street built on the beach. But we couldn’t find any place selling the ice cream we wanted, so we decided to call our cab driver and go back to the hotel. Fortunately they had ice cream at the hotel. It would have been nice enjoying it at the beach but we had gotten our ice cream at least! Later we walked around in the central parts of Castelló d’Empúries, along the alleys, around the cathedral and in stores.

After a while we got back at the hotel and rested for a while before dinner that was served at 8 pm downstairs at our hotel. As long as we didn’t get fish I would be happy… and thank God we didn’t. We actually got to choose from many options for starter, main course and dessert. So I chose a soup satisfying one’s hunger (maybe too much), chicken file and French fries and finished up with ice cream as dessert. With well satisfied hungers we all went to bed eager to continue the ride tomorrow.

Posted by bejjan 16:00 Archived in Spain Tagged horseback_riding Comments (0)

Castelló d’Empúries – Maçanet de Cabrenys


View Trail ride in Catalonia on bejjan's travel map.

3-Hotellfr.._med_utsikt.jpg

We got up in time for breakfast served at 9 am at the roof terrace of the hotel. It was perfect weather and not a single cloud as far as you could see. The magnificent view from the roof terrace showed the Pyrenees on one side and the Mediterranean on the other side. And with the cathedral Santa Maria de Castelló only a few blocks away I took some amazing panorama photos from up here with my cell phone.

18-Brandh_rjad_skog.jpg 8CA96685A1DB947470ACB40B463E42C9.jpg 21.jpg

The first riding hours before lunch would be more intense today, more cantering and trotting than in the afternoon. When we groomed and tacked our horses we rode off on graveled roads and later along tilled lands and agricultures. A whole lot of cantering and trotting and we even saw wild animals along the way. At one place we saw this stork that had lost his nest to another bird. The stork anxiously circled around the nest and didn’t seem to know what to do. Today one of the horses (that Elia had warned about) took a swim with the rider on. We had stopped at a watercourse for letting the horses drink water. Some of the riders did let the horses walk down into the water and one of the horses felt he needed a swim. Unfortunately it was my friend’s horse and she fell off into the water. She managed to get off the horse but that doesn’t really matter since she got all wet anyway falling into the water. Can you imagine all wet and muddy in riding pants, short chaps, shoes and even the sweater she wore… lucky though the weather was nice and at least +25 Centigrade.
The staff (who drove our bags, checked the horses overnight staying and some days cooked for us) made us lunch today and was serving at this long table. Today we got tapas with chicken and a lot of side dishes. And of course wine, water and soda. My friend who had been “taking an unintentionally swim” changed into dry clothes. But some of the clothing’s like shoes, riding pants and short chaps you don’t have double sets of during a holiday like this… so she left them out to dry in the sun during the lunch at least.

25-H_g_vass.jpg 30-anna_i_tunneln.jpg

After lunch we tacked our horses and started riding again. We started riding among high reeds so dense you almost couldn’t see the rider in front of you. Elia, who rode first, almost needed a machete to cut through the reed. Suddenly we came to a busy street. Fortunately there was a concrete tunnel underneath where we could pass through. Honestly I never thought the horses would step into the tunnel at all, but they just passed through. Even my horse Dána passed without problems, and I actually thought she was kind of a “look”-horse and silly about everything.

35-Pyren_erna.jpg 49-Brandh_rjad_skog.jpg

Then we rode by big cork oak forests that had suffered from the summer fires. It is kind of tragic for all the people living in these areas often suffering from forest fires. If you lose your pasturelands, agricultures and maybe even your home… that’s so hard to understand that feeling since we rarely suffer from forest fires up here in Sweden. Elia told us that all these forest fires in this area often (but not always) started by non-natural causes (like pyromaniacs and so). And that is one thing that really upsets me.

57-Pyren_erna.jpg 60-Pyren_erna.jpg

Towards the end of this riding day we got more and more up in the mountains and it got a little chilly. Eventually we got to Boadella Reservoar which meant we were close to our staying for the night. Boadella Reservoar is a reservoir supplying the whole population in the town Figueras (birth city of Salvador Dalí) and most part of Costa Brava with water. Two main rivers (Arnera and Muga) begin high up in the Pyrenees and supply the reservoir with water. Thanks to the low water level we could actually ride down in the reservoir and canter along the edge of it. Suddenly we had to stop and dismount the horses and walk them over this almost ramshackle little stone bridge. It almost felt unsafe crossing it… even though it wasn’t particularly high up or so, but the construction was ramshackle. When we all had crossed the bridge we mounted the horses again and then we had to ride uphill from the reservoir and it was pretty steep. Now we were just minutes away from the hotel according to Elia. Nice!
We left the horses in the overnight pastures and walked the short way to Hotel & Spa La Central, nearby the village Maçanet de Cabrenys. The crystal clear water in both Arnera and Muga was quietly flowing by the hotel and the green soothing garden just outside made it easy to relax, calm down and unwind. The building that now is Hotel & Spa La Central was in the beginning of the 20th century a hydroelectric power station supplying cities and villages in the area with electricity. It’s only a few hotels and resorts in Catalonia that is well-known for its architectural like this one. And I can just agree that it was a very different architectural… and if you were passing by you wouldn’t be able to guess that it was hotel and spa just by looking at it.

Some of us had booked massage at the hotel and rushed inside to change since we had run late. My friend and I changed into swimsuits and went down to the hotel pool. Next to the pool it was a salt water pool where you could do floating. Meaning there was so much salt in the water that you float. That pool wasn’t that deep, only about 20 centimeters, but it was enough since you were supposed to lie stretched out floating in the warm salty water. And if you had wounds or sunburn (like I had managed to get) it stung like hell because of the salty water. But it was cool to try out though! Even a steam sauna and a regular sauna were available for the guests. The hotel also had a game room, solarium and fitness room.
Dinner was served at 9 pm in the hotel dining room. The hotel, famous for its kitchen, was serving us a three course dinner with two options for each course to choose from. I chose croquettes as starter, fish with French fries (yeah I know, I had to choose the fish since the other option was even worse) and sorbet for dessert. Water or wine for drinks. During dinner Elia told us we were riding for 7 hours tomorrow and on top of that we had to lead the horses for a while too since we were going up in the mountains. So we all had to prepare for a tough day.

Posted by bejjan 16:00 Archived in Spain Tagged horseback_riding Comments (0)

Maçanet de Cabrenys – Parets de Dalt


View Trail ride in Catalonia on bejjan's travel map.

We woke up and got ready for breakfast at 8 am. And 45 minutes later we were walking towards the horses pastures where the horses were waiting for us as we left them yesterday. Today was going to be a tough day, 7 hours in the saddle and we had to bring our picnic-lunch with us since the car couldn’t drive where we were going to ride.

2-Mot_bergen.jpg

When all horses were tacked and ready we rode off and back to Boadella Reservoar and later uphill on a narrow road. We passed into Alta Garrotxa, an area in Catalonia with extreme changes of nature and landscape which had created a unique isolated vegetation, fauna and settlements and preserved an important biological manifoldness. That’s why the area has been declared as “Space of Natural Interest” and became a protected special zone for birds in year 2000 by Natural Network. The landscape Alta Garrotxa was spectacular not only because of its magnificent topography but for its forests dominated by oaks. We rode along roads and narrow trails and got on a track with traces after dirt bikes. After a while we met 4 guys on their dirt bikes but they totally respected the horses and turned off the engines and walked by real slow and calm. Very respectful of them! Then we kept going uphill and had amazing views over the Pyrenees. I got amazed by how people can live so lonely all by them self up in the mountains… sure they had an amazing view but if something would happen it's many miles to the nearest neighbor.

24-Pyren_erna.jpg

After a while we had to dismount the horses and lead them for about 30 minutes due to the steep descend and loose gravel on the trail. Even though we led the horses some of the riders actually slipped and fell… luckily I managed to stay up on my feet though. Then we mounted the horses and rode for a while before we had to dismount again, and this time due to a deep valley with a small creek at the bottom, with only a muddy track passing over the creek. We had to tie up the stirrup-leathers and reins. Then the rider passed through the valley and up on the other side while Elia held the horse. When the rider was safe on the other side of the valley, Elia let the horse go down on its own and up again to the rider who caught the horse again. It took a while for all riders and horses to pass the creek, but we all made it without any accidents.

27-Bes_k_i_vacker_by.jpg 30-Bes_k_i_vacker_by.jpg

31-Bes_k_i_vacker_by.jpg 42-Jessica_o_Anna.jpg 36-Anna_p__bron.jpg 45.jpg

We rode for another hour until we arrived in a small village (don’t remember the name) where we had some time to walk on our own. It was a beautiful village with stone houses surrounding a church. It wasn’t much to see for us as tourists visiting the village. It seemed like a rather isolated and un-exploit village protected from all tourism. It was a café that was open and those who were craving for coffee bought a cup each. It wasn’t much more than that you could do.

51-Jessica__Pyren_erna.jpg

When that hour had passed we all gathered by the horses again and rode for about 15 minutes before we stopped for picnic-lunch by a calm and quiet river. Today we had time for siesta after lunch and most riders actually did. After the siesta we mounted the horses and rode further into the mountainous landscape mixed with wide open fields. In the end of the day we rode along the foot of a mountain (can’t remember the name) and cantered along a trail in the woods. It was a little muddy so if you cantered too fast the horses slipped and that was a little scary. But it was nice to canter for as long as we did but since it was slightly uphill all the way up the horses were exhausted once we were walking again. But we weren’t too far away from the overnight pastures now and the horses seemed to know that since they increased pace a little. When we arrived at the pastures we un-tacked, groomed and fed the horses. We all thought we were supposed to stay in the building next to the pastures but they drove all of us riders to another staying.

64-Pyren_erna.jpg

We got into a minivan and 20 minutes later arrived at Hotel Masia La Palma in Parets de Dalt in the middle of absolute nowhere. But it was a cozy country place that even had an outdoor pool area. Most rooms did not have the bathroom in the room but out in the corridor. Each room still had their own bathroom (WC and shower) though in the corridor which felt strange.
Dinner was served at 8.30 pm and the cook himself came out and took our orders. We got a whole menu to choose from and I almost wasn’t able to choose what to eat. But finally I decided for Pasta Bolognese for starter and chicken and nachos as main course. For dessert we all got the same – melon. After all this great food and long day in the saddle we all went to bed early.

Posted by bejjan 16:00 Archived in Spain Tagged horseback_riding Comments (0)

Parets de Dalt - Vilopriu


View Trail ride in Catalonia on bejjan's travel map.

Breakfast was served at 8.45 pm and the transfer to the horses departure at 9.30 pm. Today we were looking forward to a 5 hour ride in the saddle with lunch and a 1 hour visit in the town Besalú in Garrotxa. Since we left the horses up in the mountains the day before, the ride before lunch was all about descending downhill and not so many canters. Today I had to switch saddle again. This time it was another horse that needed to switch to the English saddle I had on Dána so now I had to take Juviás (Elias horse) saddle. So now I was back in a Spanish saddle again…

8D2D2DE6E942F7FD64EB15788529F8BF.jpg 8D2E5182FF3153B6D3E1A0FAE44CAB2F.jpg 23.jpg

When we came down from the mountainous landscape we rode into lowland with agricultures and tilled lands. Every now and then we passed by lonely farms and dogs barking at us. The horses didn’t seem to care at all about the dogs. Back at home in Sweden the horses would get scared I can tell you… now we could increase the pace a little and trotted and cantered more and longer.

24-Odling.jpg

We passed a corn field and other opened fields with the Pyrenees in the background. The landscape really shifted with contrasts with lonely houses hidden behind leafy trees, small villages with narrow cobbled alleys, stone houses and small churches. We rode into an area with really high reed (reminded almost of bamboo) where Elia once again would have needed a machete to cut through. We felt pretty small inside the reed next to the 6 meter high straws. Lunch was already waiting for us at a long table. Catalonian sausage and pasta salad among other things was served. The sausage was pale and gray so I wasn’t expecting it to taste good… but damn I was wrong. It tasted great.

32-Lunchpaus_D_na.jpg 36-Besal_.jpg 38-Besal_.jpg

When we were finished we left the horses and walked towards the town Besalú just nearby. Besalú is most famous for the roman bridge from early 1200 century that crosses the river Fluvià. A big archway was built in the middle of the bridge during the Middle Age to protect the citizens from attacks. When you have crossed the bridge you see all these stores and souvenir shops. Elia recommended that we stopped for homemade ice cream in one of the shops. We actually did and boy was it great or what? Some of us even bought two cones… but I settled with just one ;) The cobbled streets and facades are the most characteristics for the town’s center.

45-Besal_.jpg

We walked along the narrow alleys and you could almost feel how you transferred back in time while walking there. The houses and alleys made the Middle Age spirit present and the many religious buildings as the church Sant Pere (consecrated in year 1003), the restored mikveh (a Jewish bath) from the 1100th or 1200th century and the ruins of the Middle Age synagogue created a historic flashback. All the sudden we walk out on a square. In one edge we saw a mini museum named Micromundi, where the visitors could look at things through a microscope. That was a little funny since I work with microscopes in my daily work back home in Sweden. We never visited the museum though.

56.jpg 59-Kara.jpg

After an hour we gathered at the horses, groomed and tacked them and kept on riding. Now it was more flat landscape and for the first time during our week we saw clouds up in the sky. It was nice to have some shadows too… you couldn’t help thinking about the horses as well. We passed many farmers houses and animals like cows, pigs and beautiful horses. We finished the riding today by leaving the horses at Hotel Masia La Palma… now some of you the readers might think – wasn’t that the hotel we stayed at last night? That’s right! Correct. We left the horses at Hotel Masia La Palma and all the riders was transferred to another staying since Hotel Masia La Palma was fully booked today...
When we had been in the car for a while we started to recognize the road we were driving on – we had been here before! The closer we got to the staying we more or less realized we were heading for Can Sort, the first staying for the week. Disappointed we got out of the cars and we even had the same room as the first night. We weren’t disappointed about the quality of Can Sort – not at all. But many of us had booked this trip since we were supposed to stay at different staying every night. And we soon remembered the damn roosters that were going to wake us all up in the middle of the night again.

For dinner we had… hold on… FISH! Sigh! I’m not that very fond of fish… and when they just have to put it in everything, even calamari in the salad, you get so tired of the taste.

Posted by bejjan 16:00 Archived in Spain Tagged horseback_riding Comments (0)

Vilopriu


View Trail ride in Catalonia on bejjan's travel map.

We woke up realizing that none of us had been disturbed by the roosters during the night. I guess we were all too tired and didn’t wake up because of that. Breakfast was served at 8.30 am and the transfer departure was at 9 am. We didn’t need to pack our bags today since we were staying here at Can Sort the up-coming night as well.

8D673FDCF0DCF6B8A138DC3F000EB76E.jpg 16.jpg 17.jpg

Today was the last day of riding and it was kind of heartbreaking (but nice at the same time) that it was the last 4 hours in the saddle. I kept thinking that now is the last time I’m grooming her, tacking her and so on. In the beginning of this ride it was a more hilly terrain and we rode in a slow pace. After a while we rode on more flat ground and passed several villages which were beautifully situated with their own church in the middle.

32-F_raherde.jpg

In the end of the ride we saw a shepherd. You know, a real shepherd, one that stands guarding his herd all day long and herding them from one pasture to another. Elia told us that one time when she had been trotting by the very same man and herd all the sheep had run after the horses and the poor shepherd had to run and hunt all the sheep. So now she always walks the horses when passing this shepherd. But the sheep actually started to follow us today as well. The shepherd managed to stop them though.

47.jpg 64.jpg 8D6F061801329961CA9A0E9183EE8F8D.jpg 57.jpg 8D715F18BBBF8CFFCBE6BC6735E5726E.jpg

Eventually we had come to the last canter. Elia shouted to all of us that this was the very last canter and then we took off for a long canter in full pace. That was great! It seemed like the horses knew that as well and that they were close to home. Maybe that’s why they were so energetic today?
The long table was set for us in the shadow once we had taken care of the horses at Can Muní, where the horses lived. The lunch was… not too surprisingly… fish, shellfish and calamari. Also in the salad. Even in the paella. But for dessert was APPLE PIE! That was just perfect! Both riding groups (all 16 of us) had collected some tip for our two guides and the helpers along the way that had been working during our stay that we gave them after dinner. Later we took farewell and took the transfer back to Can Sort for our last night. In the afternoon many of us chilled by the pool just relaxing. Dinner was served at 8.30 pm and NO fish, just a normal salad, noodles and meat pot (with carrots). For dessert we got ice dream. With satisfied hungers my friend and I went to bed with great memories and new world wide friends.

Posted by bejjan 16:00 Archived in Spain Tagged horseback_riding Comments (0)

Vilopriu - Barcelona - Arlanda


View Trail ride in Catalonia on bejjan's travel map.

Breakfast was served at 7.45 am and apparently the housekeeper thought it was early since she hadn’t changed from her sleeping outfit yet. But she had a very strong personality and didn’t seem to care even though people around her were whispering. Today we didn’t have to be transferred in Land Rovers since the mud had dried out. So the transfer bus could get all the way up to Can Sort so we could load our baggage. But all our baggage didn’t fit in the baggage department underneath the bus so some bags were placed inside the bus. Just imagine 21 gals (and 1 man) bringing both riding outfit and regular clothes for a whole week… that’s a lot of baggage! So we traveled towards Barcelona and El Prat (the airport). During those two hours we discussed everything we had been through during the week. Some of the riders were staying in Barcelona for one more night and then fly back home tomorrow. But my friend and I had our flight back home today. We spent a couple of hours at the airport before boarding the flight back home to Stockholm Arlanda at 3.20pm.

5-Ovan_molnen.jpg 9-Ovan_molnen.jpg 6-Ovan_molnen.jpg

At the terminal there were a lot of shops and stores you could visit, and real restaurants where you could buy food. And we had to buy one more ice cream before walking to the gate.

Summarizing the trip then…

  1. The information from the travel agency was over an year old when we ordered this trip and a lot had been changed during that time. The horses had been moved to another stable and the riding trail had been changed as well.
  2. And about the transfer scheduled to and from Barcelona wasn’t accurate either. According to the travel agency you couldn’t book a flight home before 1pm, but the transfer arrived at El Prat at 10.30am. Had we known that, my friend and I could have booked a much earlier flight back home.
  3. Misleading name for this trip. The travel agency had named this trip “Beach and green meadows” but since we only rode at the beach for 6 km and spent the most of our time up in the mountains we got so disappointed. Just as disappointed when it came to our staying, when we had to spend totally three nights at the same staying (we were promised to change staying every night).

But to say something positive…
  1. The horses were well taken care of. They were fed 3 times per day. During our rides we often let the horse drink water. They were minutely checking the position of the saddles on the horses several times during the days.

Posted by bejjan 16:00 Archived in Spain Tagged horseback_riding Comments (0)

(Entries 1 - 8 of 8) Page [1]