WHERE DOES A PRIVATE TOUR GUIDE WANT TO GO VISITING?
HAPPY NEW YEAR! The new year is starting and we all have our new year’s resolution lists. And as a private tour guide one of my passions is getting to know my territory deeper and more intimately. Sometimes to broaden our tour offer, but most of the time to be able to share our usual destinations with a more deeper understanding of its connections to the rest of the land.
And while you’d think that at my age I must have already been all over Catalonia, the truth is that there’s still plenty of places I still want to visit. Are you curious to see where? Today I’m sharing my 2019 bucket list with you.
In 2019 I want to visit:
An olive oil mill and a cheese factory
I’ve always thought that our offer or food and wine tours outside Barcelona isn’t complete yet. We cover the best wineries in Penedes and can take you to Priorat too if you are open to longer rides, but I’d love to mix them up with new things, and olive oil and cheese would do beautifully!
Unfortunately, there aren’t many options that are unique enough and that’s why every time I visit a small farmers market or fair I keep an eye on such opportunities. At this point I’ve heard of an olive oil mill and some cheese affineurs in Penedes, and I’m planning to use this year’s visits to my in-laws (that leave in the area) to check them out and see if they’d be a good match for our tours.
I’ve also heard of a cheese factory in the Maresme area that I’d love to visit with our tour guide Miriam (who leaves nearby), and then we’d need to find some great wine cellar in the Alella region for a wonderful day trip. Does it sound exciting?
Cartoixa d’Escaladei Ruins
I’ve always wanted to go back visiting the ruins of this Carthusian monastery since I was there with my parents as a child. I remember the impressive entrance arch, and the views from the top of a nearby hill, in a time when the structure hadn’t been restored yet.
Some years ago I organized a retreat for the ForeverBarcelona tour guides team in the Priorat region, but time was tight and their opening hours reduced, so we missed it. And since I love the area (and their wines!) I can wait to go back there and explore it at ease and learn more about its history. It’s too bad it’s almost a 3 hour drive from Barcelona and that’ll rule it out from most of our guests’ plans!
Coves de Benifallet
Caves have always fascinated me. Unfortunately, there aren’t that many that are open to the public in Catalonia (and I’m not brave enough to become an speleologist). I’ve been to those of Salnitre in Montserrat, and the Cardona Salt Mine (which is technically not a natural cave, but it looks like a really cool one).
I’ve also visited some neat ones in the Balearic Islands and France. But this year I’m adding to my bucket list the Coves de Benifallet: two fascinating caves full of stalactites and stalagmites. If I can’t make them (because they are further away from Barcelona), maybe I can do the caves at Espluga de Francolí, on my way to Priorat to see Escaladei.
Cala dels Frares
I love the beaches of the Costa Brava: cliffy, rocky and wild, with that thick sand that energetically massages my feet never sticking to my skin, and the view of the pine trees almost reaching the water level. I’d love to hike one day along the full itinerary of the Camins de Ronda a path connecting the seaside villages and that fishermen and smugglers have used for centuries.
But until I can do that, I’m happy to just explore tiny pieces of it and one that I’d really want to go to is this scenic cove with tall rocks that come out of the water with their shapes reminding you of ancient friars turned into stone.
St. Pere de Rodes Monastery
When I was a child we spent a few Summers in Port de la Selva, a quiet village not far from the border with France where the Costa Brava dies. The whitewashed houses of the village are protected by an imposing hill that rises behind the village and is crowned by an old Romanesque monastery that we visited once, but I don’t remember much of it.
I know it’s been restored since then and I’d love to take my family to the area for the Summer and visit the monastery again, this time to learn about its history and architecture and see how it connects with the other famous monasteries of Catalonia.
AND BONUS! Is there a place in Barcelona that I haven’t visited yet?
Casa Amatller by Puig i Cadafalch is one of the 3 buildings in the block of Disagreement, competing against Gaudi’s Casa Batllo and Domenech i Muntaner Casa Lleó Morera. I love taking my guests into its entrance hall to admire its decoration and the beautiful stained glass skylight, and maybe get a free sample of Amatller chocolates, but visiting the inside is still in my to-do list.
When I was just starting as a tour guide and the building wasn’t open to the public yet, I attended a training session there and we were shown some parts of it – but most of the furniture wasn’t there yet. Now that the visit includes the magnificent main floor with its original decoration, I can’t wait to go… Just need to find some free time, maybe during this low season?
Had you ever heard of such places? Which one would you like us to take you to?
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