Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Photo Post: Bummed Out in Besalú, Spain

Besalú, Spain
Pont de Besalú
The small Spanish village of Besalú first entered my imagination almost five years ago when a fellow language assistant went on a travel blogger retreat here and, naturally, posted glamorous photos of this charming medieval town, complete with a striking bridge and stereotypical moat!

Later, the hit TV series Game of Thrones would use Besalú as a filming location for a recent season, and while I’ve never watched the show before, it felt like the world was telling me to check out this tiny town before my time in Spain was up.

Besalú, Spain
With a portcullis and everything

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Empúries: Greek & Roman Ruins on the Costa Brava

Whenever I’m on a trip that involves taking a lot of public transit, I often think about how many “layers deep” I am in connections that have brought me where I currently am. A Travel Inception, if you will.

Empúries ruins, Spain
Greek ruins + the Mediterranean
As part of my exploration of northeast Spain two years ago, I left my initial base in the Gràcia neighborhood (1) of Barcelona up to Girona (2), and from Girona I daytripped to Figueres (3), going further north from Figueres that same day to the tiny coastal resort of L’Escala (4).

I was seven layers deep, counting the shuttle to the airport in Santiago de Compostela (5), the flight from Santiago to Barcelona (6), and the commuter train ride into central Barcelona (7).

But if you also count one of the most ancient ruins in Spain as a time travel machine, it adds up to eight.

What is Empúries?

Empúries ruins, Spain
Mosaic scene in the museum
If the name Empúries reminds you of a Victorian-era emporium, you’d be right on the money, as these ruins started as a Greek trading post in the 6th century BCE. Pronounced in modern Catalan as “um-POOR-ree-us” [əmˈpu.ɾi.əs], the archaeological site consists of a lost Paleopolis (older Greek settlement), a haphazard Neapolis (newer Greek settlement), and a rectangular Roman city. Although the oldest part of Empúries is today occupied by the village of Sant Martí d’Empúries, the Greek Neapolis and the Roman town have both been excavated and are open for time travel visits.
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