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Caldes de Malavella Spain

We drove to Girona to switch our gray VW Polo for a different VW Polo – a zippy little manual. Time to motor back to the Via Augusta.

So we drove a bit further SW to Caldes de Malavella which is know for thermal hot springs due to volcanic history.

There are many Modernist buildings when this town was rejuvenated in the 1900’s as a Spa Retreat, which it still is today.

It has been a Spa retreat for quite a few centuries, used in 1st to 4th century by the Romans.

We visited the museum as well as this outdoor archeology site of the preserved Roman Baths.

Can’t you just envision a few toga’s lounging around? How lucky for them this was on the Via Augusta!

There were small rooms along the sides surrounding the main pool…cabanas?

It was interesting to see the excavated Drainage System.

We headed out of town to the area of Romanya de la Selva. We hiked a short ways to this Menhir de la Murta, a neolithic manmade stone that aligns with the four cardinal directions.

A little further down the trail was Cova d’en Daina – a very well preserved megalith dating from around 2200 BC.

This fascinating structure of rocks is actually a large burial tomb. It is a dolmen but more complete with a full circle of menhirs surrounding it.

Fascinating to wonder how this was constructed.

The main chamber is 25 feet long by 5.5 feet across. The circle of menhirs is 36 feet in diameter.

The entry to the dolmen chamber is said to align southeast, which permits sunlight to enter at summer and winter solstice.

All the stones are granite.

Really wonderful to be able to walk around.

Excavations found numerous human bones and teeth, arrowhead flints, knife and pottery fragments as well as some necklace beads.

We retraced our steps through the cork forest – this area is sustainably harvested.

And wine corks are crafted! But unfortunately we are going to have to enjoy our wine back in the USA. Like the tramontane winds, the declaration of the WHO pandemic beckons us home.

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Dolmens and Bay of Roses

We headed north to hike the Megalithic Dolmen Route. What a view!

Dolmen de la Vinya del Rey in the Alt Emporda Region. Dolmens are basically remains of megalithic tombs.

Dolmen del Garrollar was another that looks partially collapsed but not by me! One of these top stone slab weighs 18 tons.

Dolmen de la Talaia. These megaliths are neolithic or new stone age when these people arrived about 4500 BC from North Africa.

Dolmen de les Vinyes Mortes is another prehistoric monument right at the crest of the hill.

Wait – did Henry just get younger? Is this photo from 13 years ago?!!!

Hey – is that the same jacket? Once you find a good travel jacket it is so hard to let go.

Dolmen de Puig Margall is the last one on our 4-mile steep loop hike. Time for a short break before climbing back to the car.

We followed a few more twisties up the mountain…

Romanesque Monastery St Pere de Rodes was built on site of a Roman fort. Back then this was a popular start of Camino de St James.

It has an unbelievable view of the Cap de Creus. This must be what if feels like to soar like an eagle.

Nearby Church of Santa Helena de Rodes and the medieval village of Santa Creu de Rodes housed the pilgrims as well as workers.

Are you ready to start the walk across Spain, pilgrim? Let’s storm the gate!

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Pals and L’Estartit Spain

It is so memorable to wake up to these beautiful sunrises and enjoy with some strong rich cafe!

The nearby restored medieval village of Pals was a pleasure to wander around.

Unique architectural details.

Very picturesque roads to wander.

The view from the tower of the coast and Medes Islands.

So we next drove to the coast and L’Estartit to see the islands up close.

The town has a wonderful boardwalk that makes you feel like you are on a ship deck.

A mesmerizing place to experience the sea.

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L’Escala Spain

We followed the Via Augusta North (now a modern highway!) to start our second month in Spain. This is a Roman Aqueduct near Tarragona.

Another beautiful apartment balcony over the Mediterranean! Homeaway rental – Passieg Maritim

With this panoramic view of the harbor of L’Escala.

Wendy and Stan, friends we met here 13 years ago! We had a champagne lunch at their home. Wonderful to reconnect with them!

We had Wendy and Stan over for an incredible full moon rise with tapas dinner in the living room. Tortilla, ham croquettas, cheese & crackers and Tempranillo wine!

We remembered being here over Christmas celebrations in 2006/07 and seeing the band perform in this square. Somehow they have been turned into bronze…

The Pyrenees look gorgeous with that white cap of snow!

L’Escala is a fishing village – anchovies are their specialty. It has around 10,000 population but grows to 50,000 during the summer holiday season – a lot of beauty here to appreciate.

The Barcelona Summer Olympic sailing competition was held here in 1992.

The torch for 1992 Olympics came ashore the same place the Greeks established Empuries, just North of L’Escala proper.

We had explored these Greek and Roman ruins in 2007 but unfortunately we did not get to explore this time.

The Bay of Roses (Roman Rhodes) where the first Greek and first Roman port in Iberia was established.

Heading to the South of L’Escala the coast becomes more cliff like and rocky.

The water is so incredibly clear. Stunningly beautiful. This area is also know for its scuba diving.

The Torre de Montgo was a 3-mile walk from the apartment. It has been beautifully restored.

The view from the tower is spectacular. An excellent hike through the Natural Park! Finished in time to meet up with our friends for Menu del Dia! Mmmm good and we have an appetite!

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Azahar Coast – Serra d’Irta

Lovely beach near apartment on a sunset stroll.

Day hike along rocky shore further North on a wave crashing sort of day.

We wondered if this is new cave was made by January’s storm Gloria.

At the North end of the Natural Park is Torre Badum and cliffs!.

Way in the distance is Alcossebre – this tower signaled to Torre Ebri many years ago. (We hiked there earlier this month)

Like 12.6 kilometers away to be more precise!

View in the other direction of the wonderful cliffs and Peniscola.

Peniscola – remember we stormed those gates earlier this month to see Papa Luna. Just ask El Cid. Link to our first blog posting.

Benicarlo Museum was showcasing these mock-ups for Fallas Festival starting next week.

Oh Baby – You are looking good!

The museum gave us a guided tour of these nearby Iberico Ruins El Puig de la Nau (pronounced more or less like: L Push Day La Now) Puig is a small hill.

A Really large town site from the 7th-4th Century BC. A massive Greek wine cup and a pottery making area as well as weaving area were discovered here.

Back to modern life and our last Wine O’Clock at Sea Experience.

We will remember all the beautiful sunrises at this peaceful Alcossebre location on Costa Azahar.

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Via Augusta to Sagunto

This felt more like a southwest sunrise! Gorgeous!

Beautiful spring day for a walk along the Mediterranean. Natural iris in full bloom.

Thinking of Zoe as we walked by this Villa.

Which came first – the Cala or the country? We were wondering how Cuba got its name.

The wildest waves we have seen yet. Very much enjoyed the crashing into the shore and the little waterfalls.

A big one splashed into this alcove.

We went to the Carnival Disco-mobile Parade which started at 10 PM. A very LOUD very SLOW moving party with lots of spectators.

Via Sagunto connected to Via Augusta which went on to Tarragona and all the way to Roma. There is also a Theater here as well as some precious other remnants.

This was a fabulous defensible site!

The Iberians were here before the Romans. This is 4th century B.C. Iberian sculpture of a bull – that is around 2,400 years old.

Time to storm the Moorish gates!

This is the largest castle we have been to. It has an incredible view in all directions.

Very nice details to explore. Lots of people visiting on this sunny spring Sunday.

A partially rebuilt Temple of Diana – the only one Hannibal managed not to destroyed. Wasn’t he the guy with the elephants? He attacked Saguntum in 218 BC starting the second Punic War and then took his elephants across the Alps to attack Italy – he probably went through this entire part of Spain and the Pyrenees as well.

A preserved and renovated old 14th century mansion with an amazing collection of artifacts.

Marble mosaic Roman floors and wall details. Not sure where exactly in town these were found.

Amphora Vessels from the Iberians (farthest away and oldest) to newer through various Roman and medieval periods.

We are always reminded we are not far from the sea. This is an intricate marble carving from 2nd or 3rd century excavated in the Plaza del Moreria.

Seriously?! We drove inland to look for the Falla sculptures so we did not have time for a long lunch: All the patisseries and groceries are closed on Sunday’s, even in a large city. But we started a trend as the place was packed with locals when we left.

We had a 3:30 (15:30) reservation for a boat ride into the longest navigable underground river in Europe, Caves in la Vall d’Uixo. Touristy, but good fun with a Phantom of the Opera music and light performance in one of the cave alcoves.

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Culla and Villafranca del Cid

We enjoyed this unique sunrise but looks like a hazy sort of day ahead.

We crossed the Greenwich Meridian again for the third or fourth time near Albocasser, heading to the Alt Maestrat region again.

An attempt to capture the twists in the road from a safe overlook.

There are a lot farms – this looks especially prosperous.

There are multiple solar farms – a huge photovoltaic array.

Of course we expect windmills in Spain – even modern wind farms!

The village of Culla is nicely situated on a defensible hill. It also has an observatory so probably a good dark sky community.

We took a break to enjoy the views and contemplate the history. If it was clear, we could see Penyagolosa – there is an annual pilgrimage from here to there.

Made it to the Tower! Can now defend the kingdom!

Knights Templar and their Interest in Culla.

Very picturesque morning.

`We continued on, almost at the border with Argon, to Villafranca del Cid.  The history of this community is raising sheep, producing wool, and selling it to Italy. They realized they should make their own textiles to became more prosperous. There are many wonderfully preserved homes/buildings.

Inside this medieval building from the 1500’s, we had a personal tour of the displays explaining “Piedra en Sec.” Buildings and walls were built dry stacking stones because they were so numerous and were readily available (free).

We were given a map to find a walking route to learn more and examine more closely the Piedra en Sec techniques. We had been fascinated with these earlier in our trip at Valltorta.

This area was very concentrated with stone walls to enclose sheep – some had little sheep openings and buildings for shelter from weather.

Buildings have different ways to have the stones steps for reaching the roof to remove chimney rock allowing a fire to be built inside and smoke to escape. Some buildings are square, some round, some a combination depending on the artistic creativeness of the builder.

Absolutely love this extraordinary gate hinge detail. A hole is created in the rock that is built into the wall to allow post of gate to go into it and allow it to pivot. You lift gate up a bit to swing it open.

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