3 Offbeat Places to visit in Spain
Barcelona is an exciting place to visit; from Gaudi’s fascinating creations for the art-lovers to FC Barcelona for football fans and the lip-smacking Paella, Tapas & sweet Sangria for the food-lovers to the beautiful beaches and the flamenco performances, Barcelona is a must-visit for all tourists.
When we decided to take a trip to Barcelona, I wanted to check out some off-beat locations around the city and explore places outside the usual tourist circuit. As I just had three days to spare, I wanted to focus on just one region and narrowed down to the Catalonia region, which is famous for its beaches. The places I finalized were Girona, Lloret de Mar, and Castellfollit de la Roca. But on the way to Castellfollit de la Roca, we made an interesting discovery of our own. We found a quaint little town from the middle ages, named Besalu. It was the absolute high-point of the trip for us.
Lloret de Mar
Lloret de Mar beach is one of the most popular beaches in the Costa Brava region. It is a pretty long beach measuring 1.5 km in length. Talk of long walks on such a pretty beach all alone with just your partner! Well, that’s what happened to us, it is early November.
But it was not too cold, a light cardigan was sufficient in the evenings and afternoons were pretty warm. It was not the ideal time of the year for beaches, so the beach was pretty empty and just the place to relax. Amazing shades of blue, a beautiful sandy beach, a view of a small castle at one of the end of the beach, and I was in heaven!
There were many Indian shopkeepers in the shops lined on the other side of the beach, who mentioned that the beaches get really crowded during summers. But I am glad that we could have a calm and serene experience, due to the off-season.
How to Reach: Take a Sarfa bus from Barcelona. It takes around 2 hours.
Next on our plan was the ancient, yet colorful city of Girona. We just roamed around the cobbled streets of the city and ate the delicious hot chestnuts sold by the street vendors. Just outside our hotel, there was a small square were people selling paintings. We spotted some fortifications around the city, which immersed us into medieval Spain. But there were better things in store ahead.
If you want to take a break from partying on the beaches of Barcelona and just want to relax, please do plan a stay in Girona.
How to Reach: Take a train or bus from Barcelona.
Castellfollit de la Roca
Castellfollit de la Roca is a very unique village because of its location. It is a village located on top of a basalt cliff, with the latter situated between two rivers. The top of the cliff is just wide enough to accommodate two rows of houses and a narrow road in between. It is one of the most picturesque locations that I have ever visited. Due to lack of time, we were unable to trek to the top of the cliff, but we got amazing views from below.
Our experience of traveling from Girona to Castellfollit de la Roca is worth mentioning. En route to the village, we discovered a medieval fortress and experienced the beautiful heart of the locals.
Before getting on the bus from Girona, I picked up a copy of the bus timetable so that we could catch the bus back at a reasonable time. When we got on the bus, we realized that there was not a single tourist. Every single person on the bus, including the driver and conductor, spoke only Spanish and were local villagers.
We were getting a little worried as to how we will manage without knowing a single word of Spanish, and going to a place which was not really touristy, when we caught a glance of this beautiful medieval fort. This was Besalu. As we circuited around the fort, we realized we just had to visit this place on our way back.
To plan our trip back, I reached into my bag to check for the time table but could not find it anywhere. I realized I might have dropped it somewhere. When we got off at Castellfollit de la Roca, there was one more local who got off with us. We tried asking him for return bus timings, and after some efforts when he realized our trouble, he took out his own copy of the time table and handed it over to us.
We were so busy soaking up on the beauty of the surroundings, the fortress, the river, the streets, and the fall colors, that we did not realize it till after a few hours that Besalu is really a town, with houses and all, and not just a big fortress.
Besalu is a town that finds its place in the Middle Ages. The town is extremely beautiful. There are lanes of old cobbled roads, leading to various shops and you can just get happily lost on those lanes. Small shops inside the fortress town sell miniature medieval knight figurines. We just went crazy walking up and down the lanes of the town and clicking pictures.
The most significant feature of the town is the bridge with a gateway at the center. There is a small river stream flowing below the bridge.
Here again, we did not find any English-speaking tourists, but we had no problems at all. I will recommend spending a day here, to fully explore the complete town.
How to Reach: Take a bus from Girona.