Barcelona is a huge and vibrant city but I wanted to start my trip by going somewhere more peaceful and away from chaos of crowds. After an afternoon in the city, I decided to venture away from Barcelona and explore some areas in Catalonia. My first stop was Banyoles, the hometown of my good friend (who was also my host and guide for two days). We watched the sunset at a hill near Lake Banyoles before we proceeded to the medieval town of Besalu.
I have read about Besalu before but I never thought I could actually go to the area. But, there I was in Besalu, on my first day in Spain. I was so giddy because I was excited and there were no crowds! I felt I was in another time as I walked along the cobblestone streets.
One of the most important part of the town is the 11th century Romanesque bridge over the river which features the gate that served as the entry to town. As I walk pass it, I imagined knights entering through that gate, looking so regal and intimidating. Besalu has several monuments and squares that mirrors its’ glorious past during the medieval period.
Some of the town’s significant landmarks include the Romanesque church of Sant Vicenc, the remains of a medieval synagogue and a twelfth-century Jewish bath house annexed to the synagogue ( sadly, we missed seeing this one). The synagogue, of which some parts of the wall and the doors of the prayer rooms remain used to house medieval documents from 13th century until 15th century.The next day was time to learn more about Salvador Dali. What is the better way to do that than to visit his quaint hometown of Figueres?
Aside from the Dalí Theatre and Museum, I was also planning to visit Museu del Joguet, unfortunateley it was closed that day. After a visit to the Dali Theatre and Museum, I walked around the town before going to Castell de Sant Ferran.
You could enjoy a nice walk around the town or relax in one of the cafes. There is also a mix of high-end and local boutiques if someone wants to engage to some shopping.Castell de Sant Ferran is located in a hill, just ten minutes away from the museum. This 18th century fortified castle is one of the biggest in Europe and has been erected to prevent any invasions. Nevertheless, Napoleon’s troops manage to capture the fortress around 1794 and 1808. The castle has also been used as a prison until 1997.
It took me about 30 to 45 minutes to walk around the castle and another bonus is the beautiful view of the Figueres that you could see uphillMy day ended with an evening stroll in Girona. Unfortunately, I do not have enough photos as my camera had low batteries already. The cathedral was beautiful as well as the view of the houses lined up near the Onyar river. This is another great place to visit if you want to escape city life in Barcelona.