by Sarah Wildman
Travel – NY Times
ON the small roads between Cantallops and Llançà — two names that were barely dots on our map of Catalonia in northeastern Spain — the lush mountain greenery turned quickly to farmland rolling out for miles around us and filled with sunflowers and bales of hay.
We were traveling from the interior mountains of this Spanish autonomous region to the Mediterranean. Again and again, rising up in the near distance, came fantastic, if dusty, terra-cotta-colored medieval hamlets and equally ancient churches and farmhouses. On the streets everywhere the lingua franca was Catalan, not Spanish, and amid all the tourists that descend from France and elsewhere, a local pride seemed to pervade the scene, against a backdrop that fell away suddenly, breathtakingly, into the sea.