A few weekends ago, Milos and I visited the volcanic area of La Garrotxa in northern Cataluña. The region is well known for its hikes, which are especially popular during autumn, when you can experience the leaves turning golden yellow. We thought that this late in the year, the second weekend of December that we would have missed the colours, but we were pleasantly surprised.
We enjoyed a weekend exploring the woods and driving to the various villages, that are peppered in between the mountains which all used be volcanoes about a million years ago. Little castles and churches cling to the slopes, and the beech forest of La Fageda d’en Jordà is especially pretty. I think we got a bit lost during our walk, and ended up on a random road which cut through an ancient lava flow. It was fascinating to see the rocks, so light and crumbly, shot through with little crystal formations, and bubbles.
We stayed at a little hotel, which I found somewhat last minute, just outside the small town of Olot. I really wanted to stay here, but the hotel was fully booked, and ours turned out to have a lovely garden, where we watched birds hopping about in the wintery trees. So alls well that ends well.
The area has it’s own speciality foods, namely various snails, and beans, all cultivated with the rich volcanic soil, and we were served both, along with some sort of tempura type potatoes. I can’t say I was a huge fan, snails in particular, weird me out, and I think I much prefer to see them alive, rolling their little stork eyes about, than on my plate, no matter the flavour.
All in all though La Garrotxa is well worth a visit, and with all the beautiful mountains, vistas, rivers, and good clean air, it’s certainly a place I could return to. There’s nothing quite like a little adventure for a weekend to feel ready for a week of work!
I hope you all had a lovely New Year. I spent mine eating far too much, and keeping warm! I’m not entirely sure I’m ready for 2013, but I am incredibly glad that 2012 was not the end of the world :)