Via Verde with children: Terra Alta
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Travelling with children: trips, accommodation and activity tips
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e-zine nº 35

August 12 yo 26, 2009

Let's bike!

Via Verde with children: Terra Alta
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The trip: The Via Verde from Horta de Sant Joan to Pinell de Brai

Ciclotourism

Horta de Sant Joan, Terra Alta

Suitable age:

From 1 onwards

By bike
foto

About the place:

If you think that it is impossible to enjoy of the mountains with the kids on two wheels you have not tried the Vía Verde of the Terra Alta.

Following the route of the old railroad tracks to Tortosa, you’ll pass by bridges and tunnels enjoying of the spectacular mountains of Els Ports. You’ll have your dose of adventure when passing by the dark tunnels between the old stations of Horta de Sant Joan, Bot and Pinell de Brai. Halfway you must stop at the Sanctuary of Fontcalda, the former residence of the Templars dependening of Miravet. It has a source where you can soak your feet. The crystal clear water that maintains all year round the temperature of 24 º C, has medicinal properties. A nice stop next to the river Canaletes, among the majestic mountains of the Mola of Fusta and Crestall.

A great trip to enjoy of the landscape by bike in together with the kids.

Direction tips:

The route starts in Horta de Sant Joan. If you take your own bikes, you can leave your car at the old station of Horta de Sant Joan, located at between Bot and Horta de Sant Joan at the T334, km 4.

If you have to rent the bikes, you can do so at Estació de Benifallet’s shop in the Sant Miquel street, a street that next to the Plaza Catalunya, heart of Horta de Sant Joan. You can park your car at the Catalunya Square between 7:00 and 17:00 in front of the information office. To reach the Horta de Sant Joan’s station, the start point of the itinerary, you have to cross the Plaza Catalunya and take the street parallel to the T334, which is a steep downhill. When you reach the first fork, you should take the road to the right following the signs for the Via Verde. A few minutes later you have to cross a bridge. Once over the bridge you must turn left to reach the Via Verde. On the right you will see the old station of Horta de Sant Joan and to the left, passing under the bridge you’ll find the start point of the Via Verde between Horta and Pinell de Brai.

Throughout the tour you will find several picnic places. At the station of Bot(after 9.1 km Horta) and Prat de Comte (13.9 km Horta past) you will find a picnic area with tables, a playground and coverage for mobile phones. After 14.8 km from Horta and approximately 1 km after passing from the station of El Prat de Comte, just after a tunnel you’ll find on your left side in a curve a path with a strong slope that takes you to the Sanctuary of Fontcalda. Here you will find a restaurant (open only in summer), a picnic area with barbecues, tables, sources and WC. You can swim in the river Canaletes or soak your feet in the source. After 4.3 km of the sanctuary, you’ll arrive to the picnic area of Pinell de Brai, endpoint of the route, where you will be pick up by a van of Esgambi (in case you requested the transport service).

Foto: © ExploraTgn.cat

Timetable:

Between 16/01 and 14/11 there is a pick-up service. Esgambi’s Opening Hours: 9:30 to 13:30. No service between 15/11 and 15/01 with the exception of the booked transport services.

The best season:

autumn, summer, spring

Lunch tips:

You can have lunch at one of the various picnic areas that you will find along the road. At the station of Bot(after 9.1 km Horta), Prat de Comte (13.9 km Horta past) and Pinell de Brai (19.1 km Horta) you will find a playground with tables, an area with children's games and cover for mobile phones. If you prefer a restaurant with Catalan cuisine, make a stop at the restaurant of the resort of La Fontcalda (14.8 km from Horta). Here we also find a playground with tables, barbecues, a fountain and WC.

More info:

Difficulty: low
Type: linear route
Distance: 19.1 km (one way)
Duration: approx. 2 ½ hours (without stops)
Accessibility: paved path with a slope until the La Fontcalda. From here there is a small section (approx. 1 km) with a few gentle rises.
Recommendations: take flashlights for the tunnels. In summer: take water, a picnic, sunscreen and hat with you. In spring and autumn: use warm clothes because it is a windy area.

You can rent bicycles, kid’s chairs, bikes for children and small cart at Estació de Benifallet; Tel: 652 940 703 (Vicent) o 689 293 766 (Miquel), C / Sant Miquel, 7 in Horta de Sant Joan. Shop’s Opening Hours: 9:30 to 13:30 between 16/01 and 14/11.

Rental price for 1 day: bike: 18 € (includes pick-up); child bike with a hook to an adult bike: 12 € (includes pick-up), kid’s seat (up to 20kg): 6 €; cart for 2 children up to approx. 5 years: 12 €.
Pick up of people and bicycles (if you do not rent the bikes: Pinell de Brai: 10 € / person; The company Esgambi has kid’s seats in the van to transport the kids in a safe way.

Photo: © ExploraTgn.cat

Accommodation: Vilar Rural d'Arnes

Rural tourism

Arnes, Terra Alta

Address:

Camí del Port

Telephone:

+34 977 435 737

Credit cards acceptedVegetable gardenFarm animalsMountainVillageRuralParkingHalf boardAnimals are allowedBreakfast
foto
Baby cotInternet accessRooms without architectonical barriersTV in the roomLiving roomHeatingPlay zoneAir-conditioningPlay zoneSwimming pool

Type:

Rural hotel

About the place:

Have you ever been in a four-star hotel where they have thought of including in daily activities the “snack time” for children at the farmhouse? It's just a sample of how all activities of the Vilar Rural de Arnes are geared to children and families.

Integrated into the fantastic landscape of Els Ports, you can find some colorful houses with rooms for up to 4 persons or connected rooms, all with terrace and full luxury equipped. The common areas such as the restaurant, the cafeteria or the hall are very modern but at the same time cozy and warm.

For the parents there is a spa and for the children, besides the play area with swings, you will find the farm house next to the vegetable garden and farm with rabbits, ducks, sheep and chickens. From 10:00 am to 22:00 you can do all kinds of family activities: feed the farm animals, hiking tours around the area, participate in the garden tasks(watering, gathering, planting ...), do handy crafts, participate in a Gymkhana, play family games such as twister, watch a film or dance.

A hotel in a rural setting where you won’t have time to be bored! (see photos)

Timetable:

Open all year (except 4/01 to 04/02).

Price:

Price per person varies depending on the season. Double room with breakfast between 45€ and 59€; halfboard between 57€ and 71€; Full Board between 69€ and 73€. Discounts for 2nd child and for single parents.

The best season:

winter, autumn, summer, spring

More info:

The hotel has a restaurant with free buffet for both lunch and dinner. People who are not staying at the hotel can also have lunch or dinner. Prices for customers outside the hotel: 11€ from Monday to Friday and 19€ on Saturdays and Sundays.

To get to the Vilar Rural de Arnes, you have to take the T320 between Horta de Sant Joan and Arnes. Between km 10 and 11 you will find a bifurcation which takes you to Arnes. Take it. At the second bifurcation on the right you will find an indicator to the Vilar Rural and the Toll del Vidre.

From the hotel you can make the following trips within a radius of 20 km:

Vía Verde de la Terra Alta
Excursion to the cave of Picasso
Walking along the river Estrets
Corretja's Corner
Horta de Sant Joan and Lo Parot

Toll del Vidre in Arnes

Photo: © ExploraTgn.cat (see more photos)

The restaurant: Balneari de la Fontcalda

Gastronomy

Gandesa, Terra Alta

Address:

Santuari de la Fontcalda, C43 entre km 10 and 11

Telephone:

977 428 306 / 977 420 854

Only cashNon smoking zoneMountainsTerraceParking
foto

Type of cuisine:

homemade cuisine

About the place:

If you like to lost places in the middle of the mountain and near a river, you will love the location of the restaurant Balneari de la Fontcalda. You’ll find the sanctuary of Fontcalda,  former residence of the Templars who depended of Miravet between the mountains of the Mola de la Fusta and Crestall. The Fontcalda, as its name suggests, refers to a source of hot water located to the left of the river Canaletes, where mineral water springs at 24-25 ° C throughout the year.

Joan Batista offers you there a Catalan simple but very tasty Catalan cuisine.  You will find, among others, toast with escalivada, 'esqueixada' cod, grilled meats or meatballs with cuttlefish.

A family restaurant in a great place where the kids can take a bath in the river or the source before eating.

The best season:

summer

Timetable:

Open every day during the summer (June 24 until August 31) from 14:00 to 17:00 and 21:00 to 23:30.

Kids average menu price:

No children's menu

Adults average menu price:

10-14 €

More info:

You can reach the resort of La Fontcalda cycling along the Bia Verde between Prat de Comte and Pinell de Brai, or by a 12-km track that starts at the C43 between km 10 and 11.

The spa has 14 rooms for 4 people with shared bathroom. (Price: 40 € / room per night) and 4 apartments with bathroom, kitchen and dining room for 4 people (price: 50 € / apartment per night). Both the apartments and rooms have towels and bedding. Open only from June 24 until August 31.

Photo: © ExploraTgn.cat

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