A trip to Terra Alta / Priorat
It was good to spend a few days with my partner in the Terra Alta / Priorat region of Catalonia. It has been on my 'to do list' for some time and the opportunity came for us to stay with friends in Gratallops - near Montsant Natural Park. It is a lovely village with great views of the mountains & vineyards and an ideal base to explore the area. It is easy to reach this part of Catalonia if you have a car but we went by train with Luna our dog. There are about four trains a day, with great views, and friends met us at Marca-Falset - about two hours after we had set out from our home in Sitges. It was not long before we were hiking the slopes of the Sierra del Montsantand exploring the Carthusian Monastery 'Santa Maria of Escaladei'which dates from 1163 ! Later that night we were drinking local Montsant wine in the town square next to the Sant Pere church just steps away from our home for the night.
The following day we were fortunate to have a tour by car down to Gandesa, Corbere d'Ebre and lovely Miravet on the Ebro river. As most people will know this area has strong links with the Spanish Civil War and the 'battle of Ebro' - the longest and biggest battle of the war which was taking place exactly 80 years ago (July - November 1938). Our first stop was Gandesa where we visited the 'Museu Memorial - Batalla de l'Ebre' something I have wanted to do for many years since I got interested in Spanish Civil War history and the connection with the Welsh volunteers who came to Spain to join the fight against fascism. We also had time to look at a Gaudi like Cooperative wine cellar. This was followed by a 4 course lunch with wine (12 Eur each !) at Sibarites on Placa de la Farola. We moved on to Corbere d'Ebre and the ruins of a bombed medieval villageleft as it was in 1938 to remind us of a barbaric act during the war. The visit was the most poignant and moving of a magical day where we were able to walk as a group through what is left of the village and discuss the futility of war.
To cheer ourselves up it was back into the car and on to the beautiful Miravet village - with the impressive Castle overlooking a bend in the river Ebro. The weather was a hot 32C so it was a very welcome stop enjoying a rest by the river before moving on, by a very scenic river ferry, to the train station for our journey back to Sitges