Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Barcelona…and Beyond

Barcelona…and BeyondOne of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe, Barcelona has something to offer even the most discerning tourist. From beautiful beaches to the vibrant street life of the Ramblas, from architecture to football, Barcelona truly is a city for everyone. But what if the unthinkable happens, and you get bored of Barcelona? What if Gaudi’s masterpieces hold no interest for you? What if the thought of going to the Nou Camp makes your heart sink? What if you just can’t deal with one more piece of street theatre, or one more smiling face trying to sell you beer as you walk down the street? The answer is simple. Set on the beautiful east coast of Spain, Barcelona sits in the middle of stunning country, within easy reach of some of Spain’s hidden treasures.
Hire a car (try http://www.easycar.com), and set about exploring the depths of Catalonia. There are many different self drive routes to make the most of your time in Spain. But to make the most of your time, try leaving Barcelona and driving up the Costa Brava to La Gavina (available at http://www.hotelnet.co.uk), one of Spain’s most beautiful hotels and the only Five-Star Grand Luxe resort hotel in Catalonia, just 120km northeast of Barcelona.
Even if La Gavina is somewhat outside your price range, S’Agaro itself has a huge amount to offer, with beautiful beaches, tranquillity and a relaxed pace of life that is almost impossible to find in bustling Barcelona.
From S’Agaro, carry on north to Figueres, the home town of Salvador Dali. Figueres houses the famous Teatre Museu Dali (Dali Museum), a true spectacle which contains not only the largest single collection of the Dali’s work, but maybe even the spirit of the surrealist himself, as he is buried within his Museum.
A short drive from Figueres lies Girona, an ancient walled city with a wealth of history and culture. Alternatively, drive inland towards Cardona, set deep in the mountains. Cardona is a beautiful town, a real ‘find’ off the beaten track, sitting on a hill almost surrounded by the river Cardoner and boasting an imposing citadel set high on a hill – the Parador, which is now a hotel with luxury accommodation and unbelievable views.
Tired yet? For the hardcore tourist, why not make one final stop on the way back, with a day trip to the monastery at Montserrat – destination of thousands of pilgrims every year, hoping to touch the famous black Virgin Mary (La Maroneta).
After all this excitement, you may well be ready to head back to Barcelona for a couple of days recuperation (and souvenir shopping!) before returning your hire car and heading home, with a wealth of experiences and memories that could never have been accumulated in one place. Barcelona is a fantastic city – but the rest of Spain’s pretty lovely too, and definitely worth setting out to explore.

About the author:Rebecca is a freelance travel writer, writing articles for a range of online and offline resources. Although travel is her first love, she occasionally gets distracted by exciting ideas and theories, which more often than not lead to new writing outside the travel sector.

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