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    • Day 840

      Vic, Spanish Catalonia

      September 23, 2019 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

      After spending time in the French Pyrenees, we wanted to explore some of the Spanish Pyrenees and rendezvous with Dutch friends, Hans and Mireille, who were staying in a campsite in Taradell, about 50 miles north of Barcelona.

      This area is in the heart of Catalonia, where passions run deep concerning the desire to separate from the rest of Spain and become independent. Everywhere you turn, you can see yellow ribbons, flags and banners supporting independence and it does take a little while to get used to it. The people here speak Catalan, as well as Spanish, which shares many similarities to Portuguese. Everyone uses the Portuguese "Bom dia" to say hello rather than the Spanish "buenos dias".

      Just a 15 minute ride away is the town of Vic, with medieval streets, Roman ruins and Plaça Major, the largest, unpaved square in Catalonia, where the market is held twice a week. As we wandered around the market, our gaze was constantly lifting up to the medieval and baroque buildings that surrounded it, all painted in ochre and red. You could be mistaken for being in Sicily. From the square, the narrow streets of the old town snake out and make for a lovely walk.

      We came across a 1st-century Roman temple that had been restored during the 19th and 20th centuries but a short film gave us an insight to its history. It is the only surviving building of the city dating from Roman times.

      We had to stay in the cathedral a little longer than we had anticipated as a film crew from Barcelona were filming in the square in front but it gave us a chance to try and work out some of the colourful World War II frescoes depicting the Stations of the Cross. Unfortunately, the extra time didn't help.

      The Queralt Bridge, was the only way into the city from Barcelona until 1274 when the King diverted the road. It is one of Vic's most recognisable landmarks and was featured on the five pesata note in 1954. The bridge is adjacent to the tanneries district, which is now in disrepair but from the Middle Ages until the mid-20th century this was the place where leather tanning was carried out.

      To finish off our visit, we bought some Llonganissa, a local cured sausage produced in various towns on the Vic Plain, made from lean pork, diced bacon fat and seasoned with salt and pepper. Lots of shops sell them and even have them on display outside. Judging from the queues in the shops, we were not the only ones who enjoyed them!
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    • Day 846

      Summer is over, it's official

      September 29, 2019 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 29 °C

      To mark the official end of summer in Catalonia (last weekend of September), towns and villages host a festival which involves 5m-high giants that are paraded through the streets. Here in Taradell, several villages joined together and provided us with a fun parade. The giants tend to come in male & female pairs, such as a medieval King and Queen, accompanied by grotesque dwarfs and traditional music.

      Catalonia may think that summer is over but we do not believe it yet.
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