Layover maximus Spanish-style: 48 hours in Catalonia

One of the perks of constantly traveling between the US and Israel is that between the two countries there is so much to discover in Europe.

As I traveled back to Israel from Boston I applied my recently discovered travel hack (see this article) to save a bit of money on flights and take an extended layover in the Catalonia region of Spain.

I met my friend Jucinara at the Barcelona airport and we hopped into a rental car and headed east.

I was heavily anticipating our first stop, Girona, as it was the filming location for several scenes from season 6 of Game of Thrones. The beautiful architecture, bridges, and stonework in the paths and walls certainly made me feel like I was walking through King’s Landing. The Cathedral de Santa Maria de Gerona stood in for the Great Sept of Balor, and the footbridges were dressed as the floating market of Braavos. (If you have no idea what I’m talking about, I suggest you start at season 1, episode 1. Trust me, it is worth it!)

We climbed the spiral stone staircases along a fortress wall and got a view of the whole city below. The August heat was heavy in the air and we quickly retreated to find ice cream in one of the many small shops in the lower part of the city.

We stayed in the incredibly small Medieval town of Peratellada. This self-contained mini-city/fortress has small inns as well as some fancier boutique spots to stay the night. Peratellada also boasts a plethora of restaurants within its walls. We settled into our bed and breakfast, showered the day’s dust away and then walked the streets, eating a delicious dinner at a quiet restaurant.

In the morning, we were treated to a home-cooked breakfast of fresh fruit, coffee, cured meats, and traditional Pa amb tomàquet (pan con tomate). This Spanish-style toast with tomato is made of a really good homemade bread toasted and spread with a zesty tomato sauce shmear.

We drove down winding and steep roads towards the emerald sea, finally arriving at a picturesque rocky beach that was nestled into an inlet. The beach was filled with people of all ages, mostly nude, sunbathing and swimming in the cold but refreshing ocean.

We stopped again at a beach town called Tossa de Mar. Here we found a more traditional beach setting and a more bustling and urban environment. We walked along the sand as the sun set and then continued to the Airbnb we had booked for the night.

The next morning, almost exactly 48 hours later, we returned to the BCN airport, having acquired another adventure, spent quality time together, and taken some new photos too.

As I’ve said before — if you can swing it, go where you know locals during your layovers. Take a day — or take two — and go see something new!