16 April 2018

Cruisin' in Catalonia

It's weird - I never knew that the Pyrenees are SO close to the Mediterranean.
Or - that we - in the Canal du Midi - are so close.
In fact, on a good day, you can see both - the Pyrenees AND the Mediterranean - from a small hilltop in our village.

Apparently, much of the area between us and Barcelona - is part of Catalonia.

Stan on the hunt for morning coffee.
Catalonia - or Catalunya, in Catalan. 
Some say it means "Land of Castles". I like that.

At one point in history, a long time ago, it was part of France. 

Despite last year's impassioned bid for Catalan independence, it's still considered an "autonomous community" in Spain. Not independent, at least for now. The issue is contentious.
But Catalonia is not only in Spain.

There's French Catalonia, too. 
It stretches across the Pyrenees. 
And - Catalonia - whoever it belongs to - is beautiful.

They speak Catalan, which is similar to the old language in our area, Occitan. 

Many of the signs (and menus) are in Catalan in Spain. 
(In France, everything must be in French. Period. It's part of the way they unite the country, which used to be a fractious assembly of diverse regions and languages. -Not all that long ago.)

Winding narrow mountain roads along a beautiful "corniche", with views of high mountains.
We're totally impressed with the Pyrenees! They're SERIOUS mountains.
I've never really spent any time in the Pyrenees.
(Still haven't. It was snowing HARD there this week, so we admired them from below.)

Instead, we head to the coast.
To Collioure, just north of the Spanish border.  

Another wow - what a spectacular setting.
Neat old castle and ramparts and harbor on the Mediterranean. Even a windmill.
 I can only imagine how crowded this place must be in summer.
Glad to be here in early spring.

The capital of Catalonia - on the Spanish side - is Barcelona.
We find an evening Mozart concert in a HUGE cathedral. 

Just looking up at the incredible interior, with the music - so cool. 

Imagining HOW they built these amazing buildings - in the 1300's. 
No power tools. I know - that's such a cliché, but - still. 

And a sidewalk café. In the welcome morning sunshine. 

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