Winter weather here can be perfect with cold nights turning into warm clear days which is what we took advantage of today with a bike ride around some of the small villages between Banyoles
The Romanesque period (Xth to XIIth Century) left some wonderful examples in the churches of this area and these tiny towns are frequently a handful of houses gathered around the church and little else, normally on a hilltop to be able to spot any roving brigands and where the church bells fulfilled an important warning system.
At one stage we cycled along the pilgrim route more famous now as the Camino de Santiago which the Catalans are marking as the route which goes from the French border to the Monastery of Montserrat and across to Lleida before joining the better known part in Navarra and then on finally to Santiago de Compostela some 800 km's away. On the front of Santa Maria de Vilamari church is a statue from 1787 which clearly shows the pilgrim surrounded by the symbolic scallop shell and holding his walking staff and water gourd.
These old churches have a lot of charm and after all these centuries have blended into the scenery as much as the rolling countryside, fields planted with winter wheat and the oak tree forests.
Posted via email from gironaJ
Banyoles is only 20kms from Girona and is surrounded by wooded hills and rolling countryside but the outstanding feature is the large spring fed lake. This is where the rowing events were held for the ’92 olympics and rowing is still important today with lanes and bouys a permanent feature.
Other sports have joined the mix including cycling, running, triathlon and swimming which is allowed in certain designated areas and makes Banyoles a bit of a training mecca for many athletes.
The colour of the clear water and the scenic boathouses built during the early 1900′s make for pleasant strolls or bike rides around the lake, a distance of some 8kms.
On sundays the terraces are packed with families relaxing or cooling off with a “granitzat de limon” (iced lemon drink) so why not join them?
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A very pleasant way to pass a few hours with friends is to find a perfect location such as San Bartomeu, a country house near Banyoles, and have Linda give a tasting of Spanish wines.
We started as the sun was going down but the weather was balmy and sitting outside around a big table with a glass in our hands and Linda explaining about the various regions, styles and grape varieties was a wonderful experience.
We tasted 6 wines in all starting with an Albariño white and moving on to 5 reds all from different regions. These included classic areas like Rioja and Ribera, up and coming Priorat and unknowns such as Jumilla and Empordà. Complemented with some local cheeses , bread and olive oil and there was little need for the BBQ programmed afterwards.
Labels: Albariño, Banyoles, Empordà, Jumilla, Rioja, Spanish wine, Wine, winetasting