By Regina Winkle-Bryan
Part of our No Car Needed series on The Scoop. These are towns to keep in mind for a weekend getaway easily reached by train.
Is this one of Catalonia’s best kept secrets? I’m I spoiling it all by telling you, dear Scoop readers, about it? Maybe, but I think you should know! I heard about La Garriga through a friend, and local, who grew up in Barcelona and summers in the lush mountains that surround La Garriga. The village’s main draw is its spring water which has been used since Roman times to cure that which ails you. Currently there are two spas in the center of town offering soaks in this magical liquid as well as massage and other treatments.
We stayed at Balneario Blancafort (my mother and I) because they had a special offer available for a double room over the weekend. Do check the website because there are deals to be had throughout the year, especially in low-season. For about $160 we got an enormous double room, a lavish breakfast, a couple glasses of cava and entrance into the water works pool area. It was worth every penny and I believe this offer is on until the end of March so have at it!
The hotel also had an outdoor pool and heated Jacuzzi pool plus three restaurants and a bar. It’s a nice place, in the center of town, and easily reached from the train. Apart from some billing issues with the receptionist at the end of our stay, the whole experience was a Scoopometer 9. Yes, it was that good!
And there’s more. The main drag through town, c/ dels Banys, is hopping with shops selling artisan cheeses, fish, wine, fruit and wonderful cakes. Along the same street and off it on the village’s small plazas are bars and cafes where residents sip beers and kids play soccer. Every Saturday there’s a food and goods market on Pl. de les Oliveres in the center of town worth seeing from 8am to 2pm.
A couple streets up from c/ dels Banys is El Passeig which is a sort of Rambla for strolling. Along this 12-block strip magnificent Modernista homes were built in the early 1900s. Walk this Passeig to the end admiring the homes, most of which have little plaques stating their construction date and the architect responsible. At the end of El Passeig you’ll come to Restes Arqueologiques Romanes, or the Roman Ruins, which are a pile of stones but interesting nonetheless.
From Barcelona to La Garriga it takes just 40 minutes and there are one or two trains an hour leaving from Pl Catalunya. This is why it’s so shocking for me that more people haven’t heard of La Garriga or visited it, in that it’s really easy to get to! A train ticket from Barcelona to La Garriga costs about $5.00.