Viehla and the Vall de Boi

The last trip in our car, and the last trip in Catalunya
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Autumn colours in the moutains
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The town hall in Piera
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Buildings in Piera
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Autumn is here

October in Barcelona and a great time to head out and explore, as the weather is still warm enough to go out and do things. Although the city still felt like summer, I knew it would be colder in the mountains, but that is also where you can appreciate autumn the most. A group of us decided to head north, right into the heart of the Catalan Pyrenees to Viehla, to enjoy the colours of the mountains before the snow came. Our plan was to arrive at night, having spent the day stopping off along the way and breaking up the trip, and relax in an apartment that we’d rented. The next day, we’d head off and do some hiking and then come back to cook in the rental, have a few drinks and relax. The last day would be driving home, but hopefully with something exciting along the way! My girlfriend and I packed the car, got in and headed off around 11am, with the plan to have a bit of lunch in a town somewhere before meeting up with the rest of the group. We drove until we hit the town of Piera, about halfway between home and the meeting place. With only a short break here, we sat in the square and had some sandwiches and coffee, enjoying the peace of the place as nobody was around. The village felt completely abandoned, with only the orange autumn leaves stirring in the wind. This was mainly due to Covid restrictions again, as Catalunya was seeing a rise in case numbers after summer. We walked around, loving the town hall building as well as the archways of the shops around the placa. It was a very quiet and tranquil place, but I would love to see it summer during Festa Major - the Catalan week-long party that is held in every town, and has fireworks, dancing, music and lots of beer. It wasn’t long before it was time to jump back in our little Seat and meet our friends an hour away. We had to buy some supplies at the supermarket together, dinner and lunch for the next few days, and then the long drive into the Pyrenees.

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Lleida, the 'wheat bowl' of Catalunya
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Lleida is full of towns on hilltops
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The drive to the Balconet
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The Gang

Driving through Lleida was wonderful. Apart from the warm sunny weather, the scenery was spectacular. This part of the country truly is the ‘wheat bowl’ of Catalunya, flat with fields and farms as far as the eye can see, running right up to the mountains. The clouds helped this sight look much more dramatic, big and billowing on the horizon. Between the road and the mountains there were lots of towns, most of them built around hill forts and churches, the extra height letting them look over their domain. I couldn’t name any of these places, and although they started looking the same with their orange walls matching the orange fields in the dying light of the sun, it was beautiful to see. We were headed to a place called El Balconet de Santa Linya, in the Serra del Montsec, to watch the sunset. We turned off the main paved road and hit a dirt one. It was bumpy and dusty, but we knew where we were going, so we drove slowly and carefully to avoid ditches and flat tyres. The road turned bad and started to climb a lot though, and we all got a bit worried. Once the rocks get big enough to clip the underside of the car and the divots turn into holes the depth of your wheels, you know it’s time to get out and walk the rest of the way. Either that or you’ll be walking home! As it turned out, we weren’t that far from the viewpoint and the car had done most of the hard work anyway. A brisk walk got us there with just enough time to enjoy the amazing view from the cliff’s edge – we looked right out over the Panta de Camarassa and over towards Serra del Montsec, which looked like a layered cake that had been dropped, and although it was still standing, it was all leaning to one side and all its layers exposed. The sky was turning a gorgeous shade of dusky auburn and as the sun went lower, the moon became more visible, glowing low in the sky. The water below was an unreal, green-blue colour and the clouds reflected the little light that was left. I love a good sunset! Within minutes it was over, the warmth and light gone, and we had to jog back to the car in the dark.

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Perfect timing and beautiful scenery
El Balconet panoramic view mountains
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