So, after a couple of pleasant days mooching around Pineda De Mar and Calella, we decided to take a wee trip inland to Cava country and set our Co-Pilot Nav system to take us to Art Cava – a small Cava vineyard in Avinyo Nou , just north west of Barcelona. We have the App set to “avoid tolls where possible” rather than “always avoid tolls” BUT, on leaving Calella, it took us directly to a toll road rather than the non-toll coastal N-11 road. Being smart-arses, we ignored it and headed for the N-11 coastal road to avoid forking out the dosh. BIG MISTAKE!!! On arriving in the small, but very pretty, old town of St Pol De Mar, we found the N-11 to be closed westbound due to roadworks and the diversion took us through the town centre – past the “no motorhomes, caravans, trucks, 3.5t blah blah blah” signpost and into the ever narrowing streets. With us both muttering “Oh Dear”, or something like that, we ploughed on, ducking under the Christmas lights strung across the streets from the balconies which, I swear, were getting ever lower the more we drove on! With Roy perspiring and squirming at the wheel ever more as we crawled past the local Cop Shop, we finally managed to escape by the skin of our teeth and get back onto The Big Road! Lesson learned!! Co-Pilot is now, needless to say, Omnipotent and shall NEVER be overruled by us mere mortals! Unfortunately, I have no photos of this unfortunate event – for obvious reasons- but rest assured the town itself was lovely!
Skirting Barcelona and with its huge industrial areas, ever increasing traffic and a road system that seems even more complicated than Birmingham’s Spaghetti Junction, we finally turned off The Big Road- having paid €7 in flipping tolls- and started winding our way up to Cava country. What a fabulous drive – with the Montserrat mountains in the distance and vineyards as far as the eye could see, interspersed with ancient tiny villages, the scenery was spectacular, made all the more so by the sunshine and blue skies. We arrived at Art Cava’s free Aire in time for lunch and, surprisingly, found four other motorhomes already parked up there, their occupants all sitting out eating lunch in the sunshine. There was ample parking here and the view was breathtakingly beautiful!
We parked up, had lunch then set-off to explore the village and general area on foot. Nice wee village, decent choice of restaurants with well-priced Menu Del Dias ( €10.50/3 courses including a drink seemed to be the norm here). We found a map with several marked trails around the place so, us always being up for a good walk, decided to follow one of them down to a quaint little village called Sant Sebastia Del Gorgs with a church and former monastery dating back to 1023!
Art Cava have a great set-up and have been canny enough to offer free motorhome parking, with a free service area. no pressure at all to actually spend money with them but they do have a shop and offer tours of their vineyard – we fancied doing just this but, unfortunately, the English speaker amongst the three amigos that run the place wasn’t available the day we were there ( yes, we should have pre-booked, but we didn’t!) so there wasn’t much point in us paying out the €12 each for the tour in Spanish, BUT we did avail of their “happy hour” tasting session – two very nice free glasses of Cava each and, yes, we DID buy a very nice bottle ( for all of €9.15) which we’ll save for our Christmas morning breakfast.
Waking -up the next morning to the sight of the Montserrat mountain range being totally visible i.e not obscured by cloud, we decided that, since we were only 50km away, we would head over there and explore further – why not, we had no other real plan for the next couple of weeks!
Montserrat is a breathtakingly spectacular place and the Benedictine monastery, built some 750m up is, understandably, a UNESCO Heritage Centre – and quite rightly so! Quite HOW they managed to build the first chapels there back in the 9th century quite beggars belief but they did and the history is very interesting. Well worth the €6.50 parking fee for the day. Unfortunately, we couldn’t take the funicular up to the top since, apparently, large dogs can only travel if muzzled(!!!???!!!) and, since Harley is never muzzled, we had to walk both up and down the stretch from the monastery. A good walk though and well worth the time and trouble, especially on a clear day as the views of the snow-capped mountains of the Pyrenees were clearly visible. We weren’t able to overnight up there so we headed back down and cheekily parked on the Telecabine car park for the night – a bit noisy due to the train line being on one side and a busy road on the other but it was free so we endured the noise!
Next morning, we headed back down to the coast – still avoiding Barcelona, we headed for Sitges on the Costa Daurada – Spain’s Gold Coast – named for it’s long stretches of golden sand and it lives up to that, big time! The sun is out and all forecasts say it’s to stay out for the next few days so we’re now on a campsite, El Garrofer, just outside Sitges, for three days, with our table and chairs out, washing done and drying on the line in the warm sunshine and Sebo has been scrubbed clean to within an inch of his life both inside and out Lots of Spanish folk weekending here, with great “permanent” holiday sites – touring caravans with huge awning rooms, separate kitchen tents ( fully fitted, with microwaves, fridge freezers etc!!!), gazebos blah blah blah. We’re here in shorts and t-shirts, they are all wrapped up like Nanook of the North! Go figure! It’s 26C outside , people!!!
The Christmas Market is on here this weekend – it’s hard to think about Christmas when the weather is sooooo warm and unChristmaslike!!! Having said that, I AM going to make a Christmas cake over the next few days- try get into the spirit of it all.
We’re mooching around here until Monday and then we’ll mosey on further down the coast – depending on the weather, since Malaga has had THE most horrendous rainfall lately so we’re keeping a close eye on the weather forecast each day before deciding where we aim for.