Relaxing Weekend w. Visits to Famous Bodegas, Spabath+ Monuments
A whole weekend away from Barcelona; to see flowers, mountains, timeless villages, the sea, and some really fascinating places; ancient monasteries, the cradle of civilization, and their stories!
We'll leave from behind Sants station after everyone has finished work on the Friday evening, take the hour-and-a-half drive up the A2 to Santa Coloma de Queralt, ancient capital of Spain, to have a bite to eat in the cooperative bar, then on to the extraordinary village of Forès, perched on top of the Sierra de Queralt, where a most comfortable "gîte"- Casa Rural, awaits us, cheap and very homely.
After a self-service breakfast, and a walk round the village to discover its amazing look-out points, we'll drive down to near Valls 35km away to visit a beautiful bodega called Nulles Cathedral of Wines; a Modernista building of one of Gaudi's pupils. The whole area is reknowned for its excellent but not expensive wines.
After lunch is a typical restaurant in Valls, on to the nearby famous Cistercian monastery of Santes Creus, an inspiring place which at a minimum, will teach us of the history of the implantation of civilization.
At the end of the afternoon, we could head for the coast nearby, passing Montferri to view an interesting church of Jujol, and as the days are lenghtening, end up on the beach for a paddle and watch the sunset from a bar on the beach that does cheap simple dishes.
After the hour's drive back to the hill-top house, it won't be dificult to keep happy.
On the Sunday morning, after a late breakfast, we can go to the nearby luxury 5* thermal baths of Rocallaura, where a 2-hour circuit of splashing pools, jets, bubbles, steam, showers and natural mineral waters will leave you floating. Afterwards, we can lunch in a restaurant nearby, or there is an alternative for lunch, which depends on the weather; as near our rural accomodation and near the baths, there is a hidden village whose philosophy is naturalist, which means that when it's hot and sunny, they may go about with no clothes on. But they do a good vegetarian paella menu for 7€ on Sundays, and it's most convivial. So if it's not hot and sunny, we could go there for lunch, or from the restaurant in Rocallaura we could go to a local beauty spot at Montblanquet overlooking the vast Conca de Barberà, and then we could go and visit Poblet Monastery near Montblanc below, the most authentic of the 3 monasteries, as still inhabited by Cistercians, who are available to explain much of its history.
Unfortunately we'll then have to head back to Barcelona, about a 2-hour drive, but it will seem like we left a long time ago.
Breakdown of possible extra costs: not included below are Saturday and Friday eve; you could either bring a sandwich and eat it with a drink on the terrace of the cooperative in Santa Coloma, or ask for one dish which with a drink won't work out much more than 10€. Included in costs is the famous wine bodega which costs 7€, but you get several glasses of wine and little tapas. Saturday's lunch near the bodega; reckoning on an all-in menu for 15€, which is about what I got 2 months ago . Also the entry into santes Creus monastery is 5€, and well worth it. The lady in Montferri who shows us the Modernista church gets 1€ per person. Also, Saturday eve on the beach; there's a tapas bar at not exagerated prices, or ask for a sandwich 3-4€ plus drink. The luxury thermal baths at Rocallaura normally cost 23€, but I have obtained a group discount making it 15€ each. Sunday lunch is extra: there are 2 alternatives, either to go to a restaurant in Rocallaura which is 17€ menu, good menu, on Sundays, or the 7€ paella menu in the naturalist sanctuary. The Gîte has 4 double bedrooms, one with a big double bed, that's for a couple if one comes, another with 2 adult-size individual beds and a smaller folding bed, another with 2 individuals side-by-side, and another downstairs on the ground floos with a double bunk bed and another moveable bed. So you'll have the chance to make good friends!
The list has spaces for 12 names, but the actual capacity of the mini-bus is 9, so the last 3 names on the list would constitute the waiting list, in case somebody has to cancel at the last moment, as has happened.
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