WHAT IF WE CHOOSE THE BEST DESTINATION?
What if we choose the Costa Daurada? Located in the southern part of Catalonia, specifically in the province of Tarragona, this is an area that stands out for its beautiful beaches. In fact, it is known by the golden color of sand when the sun hits it. Are you ready to discover it in depth? Let´s go!
When you think about disconnecting, you usually imagine leaving the asphalt and discovering mountains, forests, rivers, seas and starry skies at midnight. But if these images begin to happen in your head, the problem is served. You have to choose! Sea or mountain? Culture or leisure? Wild or civilized world? But you know what? At the Costa Daurada you do not have to throw the coin to take a decision, you can have it all. The great dream of every mortal. From a romantic night in a village lost in the Prades mountains to a family day on one of the best beaches in the Mediterranean sea. Strolling among the jewels of modernism or the vestiges of Roman civilization or enjoying the adrenaline of one of the best theme parks in the world, PortAventura World. Also at the table, this pleasant dichotomy is reproduced. Well-done meats in the interior and fish or shellfish in the coastal villages. In addition, the classic calçots (grilled onions) dipped in romesco sauce or the delicious tuna salads with xató sauce coexist with the most hipsters trends, such as the recovered vermouth culture that is added to an emblematic oenological culture, with a representation of some of the most recognized and appreciated Denominations of Origin of Catalonia. The Costa Daurada is also a paradise for kids, as it offers the possibility of enjoying the serenity of nature while participating in a myriad of fun and educational activities.
SIX MICRO-WORLDS TO BE DISCOVERED
The comarcas (counties) are our smaller territorial divisions. Geographic areas that include different municipalities with some natural or historical unity. The Costa Daurada has six of them, each with its particular style. Together, they form a mosaic worth knowing, in stages or in a single route. It´s your choice!
TARRAGONÈS: UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE
How easy for us is the county located on the equator of the Catalan coast. Every good aspect of the Mediterranean Sea has its expression here. I8t is not surprising that the Romans chose this territory to build one of the history´s most influential empires. The Pont del Diable, the Arc de Berà, the Villa Romana de Centcelles (Roman Villa in Constantí) and the Villa Romana de Els Munts (Roman Villa in Altafulla), also UNESCO World Heritage Sites, are some of the architectural remains of that time.
A mild climate, a coast that looks onto the sea, extensive fields of almond trees, olive trees and vineyards that transform into a delicious gastronomy and exquisite wines. Not to forget its capital, Tarragona, a pleasant medium-sized city, classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where the neighbors greet each other in the morning and lovers stroll along the Ramblas until they encounter the sea in Balcó del Mediterrani the Balcony of the Mediterranean Sea. The city´s old centre now draws the ancient Tarraco to modernity, with its art studios and its fashion venues. Beyond the urban life, in the north of the region, the natural areas of Els Munts of Torredembarra stand out, where added to the Castells del Gaià area, nature continues shining with all its authenticity.
BAIX CAMP: A WALK AMONG MODERNISM AND VERMOUTH
"To do things well, it is necessary: first, love, second, technique," said Antoni Gaudí, the most international Catalan architect. Reus is, after Barcelona, the city that has more modernist buildings and, therefore, a place that has successfully conjugated love and technique as the master said. The Vermouth Museum - a drink whose origin many place in this city - demonstrates this vocation of Reus to reinterpret his most recent culture. If you leave the urban environment, you will find more and more hazelnut fields, as well as Castell d'Escornalbou, a stately mansion dating from the Middle Ages and from which you can see an exceptional natural landscape. In fact, the Prades Mountains represent one of the perfect corners to get lost in and enjoy hiking trails. In the southern part of the region, a visit to the Mare de Déu de la Roca Hermitage in Mont-Roig del Camp is a must, a town that inspired the painter Joan Miró, and which we can discover thanks to the El Paisatge dels Genis. And if you prefer feeling the sea breeze of the cozy seafaring villages, we recommend a walk on the Cambrils beach or do the Cami de Ronda entre l’Hospitalet de l’Infant y Vandellòs Trail. Once there, you should never miss a visit to the Oil Museum. The lovers of good food have also some must in this area. The menjar blanc de Reus, a sweet white cream, aromatized with cinnamon, which is typical of this area, is one of these delicacies. Not to talk about the Prades potatoes, which are still cultivated in a sustainable and traditional manner, which you can taste in a typical recipe in one of the restaurants of the area.
BAIX PENEDÈS: BEECHES, ARTISTS AND 'XATÓ'
“Every second we live is a new and unique moment of the universe, a moment that will never come back...“said the composer of El Vendrell, Pau Casals. Possibly, he found this feeling of fullness, of being absolutely connected with the present, when he vibrated the strings of his cello. But if you do not know how to play an instrument or spin a melody, you can also enjoy these moments in a different way. How? Well, with one of your favorite hobbies: travelling. The Baix Penedès is a land with character. The vineyards and beaches form a curious symphony of colors ranging from brown to ocher, passing through the green and electric blue. The coastal towns are a usual destination for vacationers, who find on their beaches and on their camins de ronda trails an ideal place to regenerate themselves.
In addition, this area has a natural upwelling of water, specifically in Coma-ruga with therapeutic properties! In the interior of the region, nature and the cultural legacy allow Nordic walking and cycling routes of different levels. Sleeping will also be an experience in itself, since in this area there are some of the most innovative agro-tourism and wine tourism projects of the moment. Young individuals who bet on recovering the history of their grandparents without giving up the facilities of technologies or the most contemporary aesthetics. An essential recommendation: look for a charming restaurant and order the menu card. Penedès DO wine and a nice salad with a good xató sauce, yes, with Avgvstvs Vinegar, is one of the combinations with which surely you will hit.
CONCA DE BARBERÀ: MONASTERIES AND LOST VILLAGES
Everywhere in the world there are lands that are situated on the margins. They are not very north, nor very south, nor very east, nor very west. That is why, at times, they have been crossroads of cultures, and in other occasions, abandoned to their fate. The Conca de Barberà we could say that it is one of these sites. It is a paradise for lovers of hiking; they will find multiple routes, the GR175 being the most famous, which crosses mountains, monasteries and charming villages where you have the feeling of being away from the hand of man. The Santa Maria de Poblet Monastery declared a World Heritage Site, and one of the most important temples of the Cistercian Route, is the mystical axis that crowns this route. And if you are appealed by the Templar culture, do not miss the Templar castle of Barberà de la Conca. And what about its capital? Montblanc is a charming medieval town. And not only is it, but you will enjoy it with a simple glance, especially if you are lucky enough to visit it when it celebrates the Medieval Week, the local historical recreation parties. The l'Espluga de Francolí caverns represent an unknown world of rocks and underground halls that for sure will seduce the kids. The Conca de Barberà region will be delighted to allow this trip in the time that we like to do when we take a break.
ALT CAMP: THE ROOTS OF CASTELLERS AND CALÇOTS (HUMAN TOWERS AND GRILLED ONIONS)
When you think of two Catalan symbols par excellence, for sure the first thing that comes to mind are the castellers - these impossible human towers! - and someone tilting his head to swallow - making balance with the jaw - a calçot –one of these seasonal elongated onions – well dipped in romesco sauce. Well, if these images are familiar to you, you should know that these two traditions have their origin in the Alt Camp region. What better than to know the “km 0” of these cultural manifestations? This land retains the charm of rural Catalonia, with its social estates and modernist architecture. You will be able to visit the wineries and the known as Wine Cathedrals, present in many of its cities, as well as the the authenticity of the towns that converge in a cozy capital, Valls. Beyond the inhabited land that has given rise to this culture, a whole natural world exists. The Prades and Gaià mountains hide corners full of mysticism and fascinating legends. The spirituality is latent among the sequences of fields that lead us to the Santes Creus Monastery, one of the three that form the Cistercian Route. There lie the kings of the Crown of Aragon: Pere el Gran and Jaume II. That said, if you want to immerse yourself in the foundations of Catalan culture, in this region you will find the best stimuli. Breathe the roots of Catalonia!
PRIORAT: NO HURRY AND PLENTY OF WINE
The inhabitants of this region say that the Priorat is a land to discover without haste. And they are not mistaken. As most wise people know, here small things become great. Stop fighting the clock and ally with it and let the time dilate and dilate. The care for traditional crops, respect for the mountains and the great landscapes of the Montsant Natural Park, have made it an area that surrenders to the concept of sustainability and is admired by its neighboring territories. The maxim is very clear: only when you really love something can you take care of it. This is demonstrated by its people, who live mostly from the vineyard, the olive tree, the hazelnut and the almond tree. The Priorat Quality Denomination of Origin, with wines known all over the world and the increasingly emerging Montsant Denomination of Origin, together with the highly appreciated oil of the Siurana Denomination of Origin, form part of its intangible legacy. If you have a car, the best plan is to get behind the wheel and enjoy a road trip away from any speeding pace. The beautiful villages of Siurana or Albarca are obligatory stops, as well as Escaladei, a town full of charm that houses the famous Charterhouse, dating from the 12th century, which is considered the first charterhouse of the Iberian Peninsula. When you walk without looking, with any apparent direction, you will discover everything that does not appear in the guides. Family wineries, small hermitages or abandoned castles. Life is waiting for you. Yes, yes, out there!