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The late afternoon transfer from Barcelona to Mas Alba took about two hours and we arrived at our guesthouse in the evening. Despite it being dark, all of the lights were lit within the guesthouse and the cosy lamps lit up this unique old stone farmhouse beautifully. This was our first glimpse into all of the different guesthouses we were to stay at for the next 6 nights, each one very different, small in size and unique – all providing basic, simple accommodation, often just for our group alone!
We all got to know each other over a delicious meal of local Spanish cuisine, starting with homemade goats cheese and a choice of salamis with salad. Followed by chicken cooked in an onion stew with couscous, and it certainly set the standard for the week to come!
Our guide Nacho has lived in Spain all of his life and certainly enhanced the Spanish feel to the week with his lively stories and Spanish/English accent.
Each day was slightly different, and the terrain we covered varied greatly each day. We rode through rice fields, vine yards, meadows, farm land, forests, alongside river banks, through rivers, in the sea at the beach and also on cliff tops. However it was the medieval villages that will stay in my memories forever, as when we rode through the cobbled streets that are centuries old and are literally as wide as our horses, we saw some of the most beautiful towns I have ever seen in my life – picture postcard moments. All of this eye-candy is enhanced by the sound from your horses’ hooves on the cobble stone floor echoing all about you as you clatter through the streets.
Our days were long in the saddle between 5 and 7 hours most days, often fast in places and we would not arrive at our guesthouse accommodation until late into the evening. The riding was broken up with lovely long and relaxing lunch stops and siestas, and the picnics were fabulous using plenty of the local produce especially the cured hams and cheeses and accompanied by plenty of Cava (from this region) and wine.
The horses were all sure footed and well behaved and never tried to race each other during the long canters we enjoyed. There were forward going and knew their job really well. Throughout the week you were expected to look after your own horse by grooming, tacking and untacking them at the start and end of each day and also at lunch. As a result you ended up creating a strong bond with your trusty steed and I ended the week wishing that there was room in my suitcase to bring my beautiful Andalucian ‘Esparanzo’ home with me.
I really enjoyed my week riding the Mediterranean Trail and I would recommend this ride to anyone who is looking for a trail ride with plenty of long hours in the saddle, staying at unique guesthouses along the way.
There are other itineraries also available, such as the Coast & Wine Trail for those who would prefer shorter days riding and a little bit of down time to either relax or sightsee on foot.
Sarah, 1st October, 2011