The Garrotxa It is a Catalan region of the province of Girona that enjoys a spectacular landscape in the Pre-Pyrenees, delicious cuisine and small charming villages. That's why it is one of the favorite areas of Catalunya to get lost. During the month of July we escaped to La Garrotxa for a weekend to enjoy my 40th birthday gift. A weekend full of good gastronomy, lots of adventure and dotted with visits to medieval villages. If you wonder what can be done during a weekend in la Garrotxa don't miss what follows.
Ride a balloon and fly over the Garrotxa
The main reason for our weekend in la Garrotxa was to do a panoramic balloon flight. It was one of my biggest illusions and it was my 40th birthday gift. At seven in the morning we had to be at the facilities of Vol from Coloms. We parked and saw that the hot air balloons were already riding on the esplanade.
That morning four balloons they would cross the skies of the Garrotxa. Ours was he Besalú, a balloon 27 meters high and 26 meters in diameter and our driver Pepe, which was as fun as a veteran. Behind him accumulated more than 30 years of experience flying hot air balloons.
About eight in the morning we introduced the twelve passengers who would share the flight in the balloon basket and when we were ready, the basket began to peel off the ground. Little by little, we were taking height. In those moments it seems that the globe is barely moving and it's all very pleasant. Balloon flights are usually made early in the morning because the atmosphere is colder and therefore more stable.
We were taking height, first 1500 meters and, when we had permission from Girona airport, we climbed to 2500. At that point we joined the wind current so that the balloon was moving. Although you go at 22 kilometers per hour, you have no feeling of being in motion. It seems that you are simply floating through the air. At our feet, the unique landscape of la Garrotxa: a unique orography created by forty inactive volcanoes.
We fly over the natural park of the Volcanic zone of La Garrotxa, with the mythical Croscat volcanoes and Santa Margarida at our feet We also saw the Pyrenees and the Canigó, the Susqueda swamp and the Far sanctuary and even the Cap de Creus and Les Meles. All enlivened with a glass of pink cava And a little coca de llardons.
The hour and half that lasts the flight literally flew by and it was time to look for an area where to land. Pepe tells us that in summer it is easier to find a good place. When the fields are planted it is a bit more complicated because, obviously, it is not a matter of crushing anyone's harvest. Little by little we started to go down and, since the basket has no shock absorbers, when we were about to touch the ground we flex the knees. A van was waiting for us in the field to take us back to the facilities.
Of the twelve passengers, six we stayed at help save the globe. If it already seemed complicated to fold the camping mat in the trip to Namibia, imagine a hot air balloon of these dimensions. But pim-pam-pum, quickly the balloon was folded and everyone in the van, on the way to breakfast. The balloon had flown a distance of 21 km which by road became 50 km.
Upon arriving at the Vol de Coloms facilities, the breakfast awaited us. Breakfast pagès with products of the land: sausages accompanied by bread with tomato, sausage grilled with fèsols from Santa Pau, thereioli, wine and soda. For dessert: yogurts from La Fageda. We finished very full, and to lower the food we decided climb to the nearby Santa Margarida volcano We had seen a bird flight.
Climb an inactive volcano: Santa Margarida
Since at that time of the morning the heat tightened a lot, we decided only climb the Santa Margarida volcano, since, unlike the Croscat volcano, much of the climb has shade. We leave the car in the Santa Margarida car park (€ 4 all day) and head towards the trailhead. He trail number 1 It has a length of 11 kilometers and leaves The Fageda d'en Jordà (Olot) to tour the Santa Margarida volcano and the Croscat volcano. It usually takes about five hours and they recommended that, if so, the ideal is to start with the Croscat volcano because, as the road has no shade, it is better to ascend it before the heat squeezes.
From the parking lot to the top of the volcano are about 30 minutes during which the 700 meters high of the volcano is ascended. It is not a very exaggerated climb and can be done walking quite well. Halfway we came across a farmhouse built in 1793, next to which we found a beverage machine, very much in style Kumano Kôdo in Japan. When you reach the top of the volcano, the vegetation prevents you from seeing the bottom of the crater, but a small descent allows you to reach the bottom. There we run into the hermitage of Santa Margarida de Sacot, in Romanesque style, although what is preserved today is a reconstruction of 1865. The original was destroyed after the earthquakes that occurred in Catalonia between 1427 and 1428.
You can find more information about Path 1 of the Garrotxa Volcanic Zone: La Fageda d'en Jordà-Santa Margarida Volcano-Croscat Volcano on the web of Parcs Naturals of the Generalitat.
Visit charming villages of La Garrotxa: Santa Pau and Els Hostalets
In the area of the Garrotxa there are a lot of charming villages. Having only two days, we visited Santa Pau and Els Hostalets, but if you have more time we highly recommend walking through Besalú, Castellfollit de la Roca, Mieres, Sant Joan de les Fonts, Sant Feliu de Pallerols and Tortellà.
Castellfollit de la Roca
View to Santa Pau
Santa Pau is a singular medieval village surrounded by volcanoes where stands its arcaded square, the castle Abandoned and stone houses lining up through a tortuous network of streets. There is a parking area near the old town, but we park on the outskirts of the old town, to begin our visit to the Mirador Square. From this privileged point we can enjoy a panoramic view of the medieval town from the town, with the houses embedded in the wall, the bell tower of the church and the castle silhouette.
The next stop is the current one town hall, which stands in an old modernist building that was built in 1928, the only example of the nineteenth century found in Santa Pau. Continuing towards the old center we face Ponts Street. This street built outside the walls stands out for the encumbrances we find in its lintels that inform us about who had inhabited that abode, in what year it was built and even its trade. We cross the Romanesque bridge that crosses the river Ser. On the right we find the parking area and map with the points of interest of the town. On the left we take a steep street that will take us to the medieval town of Santa Pau.