One of the loveliest parts of traveling with kids is connecting with other families. We were fortunate to find a wonderful place to stay on airbnb.com, about an hour and a half Northwest of Barcelona. It was off the beaten path from where we were driving, but after taking a look at the listing online, we decided it was well-worth the side trip!
And, oh, it was!! It felt as if we were staying the night with long-time friends, and we enjoyed learning from them about Northern Spain, the Catalan language, and the works! Their home is a gorgeous restored 18th Century farm in the Garrotxa Volcanic Area National Park—near Olot, Spain.
Our hosts, Agata and Xavi, were a lovely duo with 2 adorable girls, and the best hospitality we’ve ever experienced in a airbnb.com stay!
Have you heard of airbnb.com?! If not–you’re missing out!! It is a place where individuals can rent out an extra bed, room, private apartment, or even a home! It has been our best “hotel” resource while traveling through Europe!
We learned all sorts of things about Northeastern Spain, the area of “Catalonia.” For example, I had no idea that Catalonians want to be separate from the rest of Spain! They’ve been fighting for this for years, and the pride is evident–as we predominantly saw Catalonian flags, not Spanish flags in the area. Also, the official language in this area is Catalan, not Spanish. Catalan is spoken and taught in the schools, whereas Spanish is learned as a second language through media exposure, etc. Catalan is a unique language that sounds like a mix between French and Spanish. I could understand some things, but not others! Our host, Agata, is fluent in French, Spanish, Catalan, and English!
Our hosts did their homework…and had tracked down our blog and knew all about us before we arrived. “Oh no, is it that easy to connect my name with my blog?!” I asked. I try to keep my personal life separate from my business life (most clients don’t know we’re traveling the world). “Yes, it was pretty easy,” she admitted. She had even already noted my preference for vegan food, etc. Kind of funny!
Agata’s hubby, Xavi, is the master designer of their home, and he did an exquisite job with what I would have imagined to be a very overwhelming remodel. Their old volcanic rock ruins of the 18th Century Farm they inherited had to be gutted, and then they rebuilt a completely modern interior, while keeping the outer walls in tact.
Check out the inscription above their front door…1769…and the name of the original home designer!
In the morning we passed through the nearby village Santa Pau (close to Olot). It’s an old Medieval village, in a perfectly picturesque location. In fact, the whole drive back Southeast to Barcelona was exquisite…definitely the most beautiful vistas of Spain we have seen!
The village streets…
Due to its location in the national park, about 81% of this municipality is protected. The area has some AWESOME hiking we would have loved to do (had it not been raining…and had we not had our children who hate to walk in tow…)!! Other activities include horseback riding, 4×4’s, hot air balloon flights, biking, etc.
If you’re looking for an inexpensive hotel in the Gironia or Barcelona area…you may want to consider a jaunt over to Santa Pau, and visit this lovely family’s home. The lush green mountains should be enough to allure you, too!