Ribes de Freser and surroundings: discovering the north of Catalonia
A week after returning to Barcelona, we headed north to escape the heat and spent ten days in Alberg Roques Blanques, a hostel near Ribes de Freser. After more than two months in Greece, we were happy skipping crowded beaches (and expensive hotels) for some quiet time in the mountains.
Ribes de Freser is a small town in the Ripollès (in northern Catalonia) with around 2000 inhabitants. It’s mostly known for being the location of two of the stops of the Cremallera de Núria, the Vall de Núria Rack Railway, but it is also the starting point for several mountain hikes.
Towards the beginning of our trip, we took the Cremallera to go to the Vall de Núria, where we spent most of the day.
It’s a great spot for hiking, relaxing, and having a picnic on the grass. There are also loads of activities for kids.
We also visited two other towns, starting with Puigcerdà, a larger (but still small) town right on the border with France. We had lunch at Tapanyam (the food wasn’t great, but we did opt for the prix fixe menu instead of the more expensive – and likely better quality – tapas), wandered the streets, and spent most of the afternoon at the Estany de Puigcerdà, a small man-made lake that dates from around 1200.
A day or two later, we went to Ripoll, the capital of Ripollès, known mostly for the Monastery of Santa Maria de Ripoll, founded in 888 by Guifré el Pilós, an important figure for Catalan nationalism.
We spent the rest of our time doing hikes closer to Ribes de Freser, reading, and getting work done (we also watched two thunderstorms from our dorm room window). Our hostel was a bit far from Ribes (we had to walk for half an hour on a motorway to get there, which wasn’t ideal) and had a high proportion of loud families with badly behaved kids, but the food was surprisingly great and staying there was much cheaper than picking one of the nearby hotels. After ten days surrounded by nature, we felt rested and ready to return to Barcelona and start looking for our new flat.