Our group was fortunate to spend a half-day e-biking through medieval villages we might otherwise not have considered in Catalunya’s Baix Empordà.
E-biking through medieval villages gives you an unanticipated perspective. You can go fast enough – with an electric boost for inclines and lengthy distances – to visit several villages in a short period of time. You can go slow enough to wind your way through narrow street corridors, taking note of special details. In the Baix Empordà region of Catalunya, you’ll be gratified by sweeping vistas across a landscape that is reminiscent of rural Tuscany or other more well-known Mediterranean locations, but far less crowded.
A full one-third of the entire Baix Empordà is protected under a Natural Interest Areas Plan. What this means to the cyclist or e-biker is a great opportunity to design a route that takes advantage of rural scenery, and the castles, Romanesque churches, archeological sites, monasteries and other medieval monuments scattered throughout its coastal plain.
The Baix Empordà’s signposted cycle touring network indicates suitable low-traffic routes which cyclists can share with regular traffic. Our group was guided through a 20+ kilometer route consisting of a series of dirt pathways, rocky roads dating from medieval times and modern blacktop. This made for an up close and personal half day of e-biking through medieval villages we might not have otherwise considered.
Our electric bikes were dubbed “burricletas” – a combination of the words for “burro” and “bicycle.” They were equipped with deep saddlebag-like baskets big enough for all kinds of essentials: water bottles, sweater or jacket, purse or small backpack, camera, phone, etc. Usually when I’m biking, I don’t carry a lot of stuff along because I’m going under my own power, so this was great!
We chose our bike helmets from an attractive selection, and after a quick lesson in how to operate our burricletas, we were off.
I was proud that I managed to avoid a couple of minor mishaps that occurred in our group. The only time I wound up sitting on the ground was when I wanted to pose for this photo!
Many tourists of history to this region only visit the Gothic Quarter of Pals, which was one of the first to be restored after being declared an official Cultural Asset of National Importance in 1949. The village of Pals boasts a cultural museum, medieval tombs, a 9th century castle with Romanesque tower, the imposing Churches of Sant Pere and Sant Fructuós, and sweeping views of the coastal plain. Pals is a rightful standalone destination. Add great shopping and you might want to make more than a day of it.
Compared with the smaller villages we visited, though, Pals was a little too “Disney-fied” for me personally. I better enjoyed the smaller villages, where my voyeuristic tendencies confirmed that daily life goes on at an unhurried pace.
After our day of e-biking through medieval villages, I was convinced I could poke around the Baix Empordà’s inland communities for weeks on end, take thousands of photos in any season, dine and drink in innumerable establishments located in refurbished vintage buildings, and still see something new all the time.
Burricleta Centre Baix Empordà in Gualta, tel. 972 75 50 82, also offers Segway tours for adults and children, a laser combat range and motorized mini-quad(for children) rentals. Advance reservations required and professional historian guides available.
Disclosure: Members of our group were the guests of Burricleta Centre Baix Empordà and Costa Brava TurismeTurisme for this experience. All opinions are our own.