DREAM LOOP AROUND THE PYRENEES, BEGINNING AND ENDING IN BARCELONA:
Barcelona-Girona-Figueres-Cadaquès-Collioure-Ceret-Prades-Mont Louis-Llivia-Mirepoix-Toulouse-Pau-Sauveterre de Bearn-Navarrenx-Saint Jean Pied de Port-Ainhoa-Fuenterrabia-Pasajes de San Juan-San Sebastian-Pamplona-Tudela-Barcelona.
Recently convinced to guide some friends around the Pyrenees, that is crossing only around the eastern and western ends of the cordillera that separates the Iberian Penunsula from the rest of the European continent, we began this trek from Barcelona, a half dozen friends in an ample van. Beginning and ending in Barcelona, we hit the main spots in between - Girona, Toulouse, San Sebastian, Pamplona - all in a few days: minumum four, maximum a week to a lifetime. .
Starting north from Barcelona along the northern Catalonian coast, the first stop would be Girona to explore the lovely medieval Jewish quarter Europe's largest. (For Dining Cal Ros, Cort Reial 9, 972/217379, for lodging Bellmirall, Carrer Bellmirall 3, 972/204009).
Nearby are Figueres and the Dalí museum (Hotel Durán for dining and lodging: 972/501250, fax 972/502609), and thirty minutes east past Roses home of Ferran Adrià's famous restaurant El Bullí (972/150457), is Dalí's whitewashed hideout in Port Lligat, next to Cadaqués (Llané Petit:972/258050, fax 972/258778) --right on a sweet little beach-- or Rocamora:972/258150, fax 972/258650) for lodging, Can Pelayo for dining, Marítimo for hanging).
Don't miss a look at Spain's easternmost point at Cap de Creus where thereis a lighthouse/inn run by a brilliant Briton, Chris Little:phone/fax -972/199005, and then continue north up the coast to become part of the Fauvistes' fit of color and canvas in the French fishing village of Collioure (Les Templiers: 04-68-98-31-10, fax 04-68-98-01-24) for dining and lodging...don't miss the bar in the form of a boat with the barebreasted mermaid-prow).
Picasso and his cronies Derain, Leger and Braques left a stunning collection of paintings at sweet Céret (Les Feuillants:04-68-87-27-76 for dining), a Pyrenean village in April all abloom in cherry blossoms. Moving west up the Têt valley into the Pyrenees Orientales, Prades the home of Pau Casals' summer cello festival and music school as well as the nearby pre-Romanesque abbey and cloister (part of which is now part of New York's Cloisters Museum) at Sant Miquel de Cuxà. .
Farther west, turn south for the mountain abbey-retreat at San Martin Canigou featuring . . .