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Cabanes Als Arbres
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Tren dels Llacs
While a box of chocolates or a bouquet of flowers can often do the trick, we take a look at some more unusual options available here for saying “I love you”.
SLEEP IN THE TREES
Just imagine: you awake to the chirping chorus of birds, the room still sweetly fragranced from the aromatic candles of the night before. As you pull back the bedsheets, you can see the morning sun glistening over the Pyrenees and the only sign of life is the busying of the woodland creatures below. No wailing children, no traffic noise coming in the window, no phones ringing; just the sounds of Mother Nature. Stepping onto the balcony, the country air chills your cheeks as you take in the pure tranquility of one of Catalunya’s finest romantic paradises. Below you, an organic food basket is waiting to be pulled up to your treehouse. That’s right—your treehouse.
Cabanes Als Arbres is an idyllic hideaway in the treetops of Girona, in the picturesque Sant Hilari Sacalm forest. It offers couples a luxury retreat from their busy working lifestyles with eco-friendly, peaceful accommodation where they can enjoy the joys of nature close-up. Savour the pleasures of being able to disconnect yourself and sleep amongst the branches of a majestic tree in a cabin suspended above the ground. The treehouses have no electricity, running water or phone coverage, making them the ideal location for that much-needed romantic break.
There are 10 treehouse cabañas to choose from, each with a different colour scheme and unique rustic style but every one as cosy as the last. A series of romantic essentials are available to help you satisfy your relaxing requirements, from a bottle of cava (€8) to a massage kit (€35). What is perhaps most striking about the cabañas is the way in which they engage with the natural surroundings and contribute to an environmentally-friendly ideal. They are made entirely from untreated natural wood while the chestnut exterior and douglas fir fiber assure total insulation.
Guests can use the facilities at the nearby Masia Vileta, a 14th-century Catalan guesthouse, which is equipped with a restaurant, bar, lounge with WiFi, showers, swimming pool and garden. Bikes can be hired from reception (€5) for those who want to venture along the winding country lanes or take a trip to one of the nearby attractions. Guests at Cabanes Als Arbres are elegible for a €2 discount at the Parque de la Selva de l’Aventura where there are an array of adrenaline-filled obstacle courses and tree-swinging activities, allowing you to step into the roles of Tarzan and Jane. For those who simply want to kick back and relax, take a trip to the Font Vella Spa Hotel where you can enjoy a wide range of natural treatments and therapeutic remedies. Both of these options are within a 10-minute journey from the cabins.
CREATE YOUR OWN CAVA
If you’re looking for a special gift for your loved one, then why not whisk them off to a vineyard to create personalised bottles of Catalunya’s favourite bubbly? Lifestyle Barcelona offers this unique experience at Masia Can Battle in the Alt Penedès region for just €30 per person. For that price, you can enjoy a guided tour of the winery with an in-depth explanation about how cava is made. Following this, there’ll be a tasting session, so you can select the ones you want to use for your own creation. Based on your preferences in colour, taste and texture, you can each choose some of your favourites to blend and create the unique bottles of cava to take home with you (one per person). Combined with the stunning scenery and the blue skies above Catalunya’s famed wine-making spot in the Penedès region, this makes for a special romantic outing. And if this experience gets you in the mood for vinification à deux, at Can Battle, for around €1,000 you could make a cellar of 100 bottles of your own cava together, going through the entire process, starting with grape-picking.
MAKE IT STEAMY
For those of you who have yet to explore the natural beauty of the Catalan landscape, an excellent way to do it in romantic style is with the ‘Tren dels Llacs’ (Train of the Lakes) route in the Lleida and pre-Pyrenees region. This is one of Spain’s most picturesque and nostalgic journeys, and is one that can be taken on certain days of the year on a classic steam or diesel locomotive.
The route, which runs from Lleida to La Pobla de Segur, opened in February 1924 and snakes through the Catalan countryside, giving spectacular panoramas of its lakes and rock formations. The first two lakes you’ll see are Sant Llorenç de Montgai and Camarassa, which become visible as the train chugs past the La Mitjana Park, opening up into a blossoming wildlife nature reserve to reveal impressive gorges.
Going past the salt mines of Vilanova de la Sal towards the town of Cellers, the open waters of Terradets await as do the lammergiers and vultures who anxiously linger to prey upon any fish who dare rise to the surface.
The final stage of the journey approaches the El Pallars Jussá region, passing through some of Catalunya’s most ancient rural villages and heading towards the Sant Antoni lake, the largest surface of fresh water in the province. Springs, waterfalls and natural beaches produce a beautiful montage of the local scenery as the train ends its journey at La Pobla de Segur, perhaps best known nowadays as the birthplace of the admirable FC Barcelona captain, Carles Puyol.
The train journey takes just under two hours, but if you want to make it last longer, the lakes are popular spots for kayaking, so once you’ve enjoyed them from a distance, you could also spend some time paddling around them.
The Tren dels Llacs route operates with normal trains throughout the year, so you can take your loved one there this month. However, if you can wait until the spring, that’s when the historical trains start running, making this a truly romantic trip.
Cabanes Als Arbres—average nightly rate for a double room for two adults is €107. www.cabanesalsarbres.com
Masia Can Batlle: Artcava—www.artcava.com
Tren dels Llacs—www.trendelsllacs.cat. Advance booking for the historic trains is necessary; go to Espai Provença at Provença FGC station (Balmes with Rosselló), tel. 93 366 4553. Tickets are priced at €24 for adults (€12.40 for the normal service), €13.20 for children 4-13 and under-fours are free. At the time of writing, the 2012 timetable for these trains was not available but in 2011, started in April.