GARRAF – A PARADISE BY THE SEA
In the county of Garraf lies a tiny but all the more charming village of the same name. Garraf’s paradise-like bay offers beautiful, clean beaches, some of the most peaceful ones in the province of Barcelona. This definitely is a relief after the hectic, noisy and tourist-filled Barceloneta.
Although in May the sea hasn’t yet sufficiently warmed up to tempt most of us to take a dip, it is almost unreal to swim in the ocean and watch the mountains rise
majestically from the turquoise sea as the sun glitters in the waves like
crystal. No wonder these parts of the country have inspired so many artists
and poets through the ages!
If you feel like staying overnight, the Hotel Garraf which is situated handily on the beach charges €55 for a double room in low season, then €59 for medium season in June and July. If you seriously fall in love with this village, you can even rent a cute little "casette" for the whole summer.
Climbing the stairs right next to the beach up to the village, takes you to the twin restaurants La Cúpula and Chiringuito which serve delicious seafood, refreshing drinks and also a view to the beach that is quite breathtaking!
Walking a few minutes further by the coastline one finds the port, which
offers an easy access to other maritime ports of the Mediterranean (Costa Brava, Barcelona, Sitges, Costa Dorada and Balearic). The port's main attraction is The Club Nàutic Garraf, which has a separate social centre with coffee bar, restaurant, swimming pool, sauna and sports facilities. This calm and cosy port is characterised, like the beach, by its cleanliness and the transparency of its waters.
In the the village itself there are only a few narrow streets that all lead
to the main square: Plaça de Baró de Güell. There one can
find a tourist information office and a typical local restaurant. From the plaça, a good option is the street “la Eglesia”, which leads to the lovely, little church of Santa María del Mar, which is protected by a gleaming white statue of the Virgin Mary with starfish on her hair.
The village's sights are just about there, but if you still are not
impressed, we recommend to check your pulse. Who could resist this
peculiar, greekish village with its small, white buildings that shine like
sugar cubes in the sun?
Still, one thing needs to be mentioned. The biggest jewel in the crown of
Garraf is Celler Güell, a house designed by Antoni Gaudí and Francesc Berenguer Mestres in 1892. You can find this beautiful example of
modernist architecture in the outskirts of the village, near the railway
station. Nowadays Celler Güell serves as a classy restaurant, Gaudí
Garraf, and it is often reserved by the locals for wedding parties,
communions and banquets. Whether you can afford to dine in the restaurant
or not, it is definitely worth checking out, as the building with its
surroundings is amazingly impressive!
NATURE PARK OF GARRAF
High on the mountains of Garraf there lies a whole different world, the vast nature park which differs starkly from the surrounding area, having its own distinctive vegetation. If you are into hiking, the park is full of marked walking paths from six to thirty kilometres. But if extreme, sweaty experiences are not your thing, however, taking a car (preferably a jeep) is strongly recommended.
The main attraction of the park is the only Buddhist monastery in Catalonia, Sakya Tashi Ling, which is open for the public on weekends and holidays.The main building, Palau Novella, was built in the19th century as a family residence for a businessman who returned from South America after making a fortune there. In 1996 the buildings were donated for the use of the Buddhist community. It is possible to book a guided tour of the monastery in English, Spanish or Catalan.
The site offers many activities for the casual visitor: firstly, there are two museums in the Palau Novella, one presenting the art and culture of Tibet, and the other, called Museo Romántico, exhibiting the artistic treasures of the buildings themselves, which were built in the Romantic era. On the site there are also a restaurant, a hostel and a shop where you can buy exotic souvenirs like incense, jewellery, clothes and Buddha statues.
If you are more interested in Buddhism, the community organizes one-off conferences every Saturday and additional seminars for those who want to study the religion more profoundly. Other activities include courses on meditation, tai chi, yoga, reflexology, qi gong, chakras and reiki. And even if you’re not looking for spiritual enlightment, the monastery on the mountains is a uplifting experience!
HOW TO GET THERE
By train (Rodalies) from Sants Estació on line 2 with direction St.
Vicenç de Calders. Garraf is the last stop before Sitges, approximately 25
minutes from Barcelona-Sants.
By car, the easiest way to get there from Barcelona is following the
motorway of Castelldefels until the A-16 or taking the Tarragona-Sitges to Costes del Garraf.
www.sakyapa.org (The Buddhist monastery)
www.vilanovageltru.com (Maps of routes, walking paths and more)