April 6 Barcelona - Arnes

Having sated our appetite for city sights and lights, we headed west, skirting the foothills of the Catalan Coastal Range and heading into the mountains. It was a bright, nearly cloudless day. We avoided the toll roads, choosing instead to follow secondary roads and where we could find them Michelin scenic routes, but much of the route was an uninspiring mix of fallow fields, leafless vineyards and orchards, urban fringe, and forested hillsides. The Michelin criteria for scenic seemed to be forested hillsides.  At the Ebre valley we retraced part of the more interesting route we had taken inland from Tortosa on our return to Catalonia but had not explored due to rain. Approaching Cobera d’ Ebre a hilltop church dominated the the town. Below the church we could see the preserved ruins of buildings destroyed during the Spanish civil war. Happily, that time is past and the streets of the contemporary town were quiet and peaceful and locals socialized at a street- side bar as we passed through. I had woken with an headache, and aching joints and muscles. Without its supporting sling, my shoulder was distractingly painful, and I was not up to exploring the streets of a hill town, no matter how intriguing. By mid-day I could no longer drive and we stopped, just into the Sierra de Gúdar. After lunch and an extended nap, I was feeling better and we continued on. A short diversion to the hill village of El Pinell de Brai tempted us, but a short walk made it apparent that I did not have the energy to explore. We settled for a view from the van  and after another rest we continued on, arriving at our planned camp ground by mid afternoon. By evening, after a another sleep and dinner, I was feeling a little better, and we drove a short way back to Horta de Sant Joan, famous for beguiling both Picasso and Miro. As Spanish hill towns go, it was unremarkable; its appeal largely due to it not being an upscale, trendy retreat or tourist destination and retaining a small town atmosphere. Of course, by North American standards, it was amazing. The evening was pleasantly cool, the warm golden colours of the stone buildings in the evening sun seeming to raise the ambient temperature. Aside from a few people sitting at a local outdoor restaurant in the main square, a few more at one near the cathedral, and some residents gossiping as children played nearby, the streets were nearly empty.  Before returning to camp we explored the surrounding landscape, on one side pleasant, vineyards and orchards of olive, almond, and tree fruits. On the other side were Benet’s Rocks in the Natural Park of the Ports of Beseite. Unfortunately, Sheila began to feel unwell as well (perhaps a sympathetic reaction to me) and we returned to camp.
A Sense of Place:  Travel, Photography, and Photo-art
by David E. Moon
© David E. Moon, 2014  All rights reserved
Slideshow Slideshow Route Map Route Map
Corbera dí Ebre The streets of Corbera dí Ebre belied their violent history. El Pinell de Brai Approaching Horta de Sant Joan Residential Horta de Sant Joan
A Sense of Place:  Travel, Photography, and Photo-art
© David E. Moon, 2014  All rights reserved

April 6 Barcelona - Arnes

Having sated our appetite for city sights and lights, we headed west, skirting the foothills of the Catalan Coastal Range and heading into the mountains. It was a bright, nearly cloudless day. We avoided the toll roads, choosing instead to follow secondary roads and where we could find them Michelin scenic routes, but much of the route was an uninspiring mix of fallow fields, leafless vineyards and orchards, urban fringe, and forested hillsides. The Michelin criteria for scenic seemed to be forested hillsides.  At the Ebre valley we retraced part of the more interesting route we had taken inland from Tortosa on our return to Catalonia but had not explored due to rain. Approaching Cobera d’ Ebre a hilltop church dominated the the town. Below the church we could see the preserved ruins of buildings destroyed during the Spanish civil war. Happily, that time is past and the streets of the contemporary town were quiet and peaceful and locals socialized at a street- side bar as we passed through. I had woken with an headache, and aching joints and muscles. Without its supporting sling, my shoulder was distractingly painful, and I was not up to exploring the streets of a hill town, no matter how intriguing. By mid- day I could no longer drive and we stopped, just into the Sierra de Gúdar. After lunch and an extended nap, I was feeling better and we continued on. A short diversion to the hill village of El Pinell de Brai tempted us, but a short walk made it apparent that I did not have the energy to explore. We settled for a view from the van  and after another rest we continued on, arriving at our planned camp ground by mid afternoon. By evening, after a another sleep and dinner, I was feeling a little better, and we drove a short way back to Horta de Sant Joan, famous for beguiling both Picasso and Miro. As Spanish hill towns go, it was unremarkable; its appeal largely due to it not being an upscale, trendy retreat or tourist destination and retaining a small town atmosphere. Of course, by North American standards, it was amazing. The evening was pleasantly cool, the warm golden colours of the stone buildings in the evening sun seeming to raise the ambient temperature. Aside from a few people sitting at a local outdoor restaurant in the main square, a few more at one near the cathedral, and some residents gossiping as children played nearby, the streets were nearly empty.  Before returning to camp we explored the surrounding landscape, on one side pleasant, vineyards and orchards of olive, almond, and tree fruits. On the other side were Benet’s Rocks in the Natural Park of the Ports of Beseite. Unfortunately, Sheila began to feel unwell as well (perhaps a sympathetic reaction to me) and we returned to camp.
Slideshow Slideshow Route Map Route Map
Corbera dí Ebre El Pinell de Brai Approaching Horta de Sant Joan Residential Horta de Sant Joan