We recently traveled to Sort, Catalonia, Spain. Here, we put down roots for about 2.5 weeks while our kids trained and competed in the 2019 Freestyle Kayaking World Championships. After spending 3 days in Barcelona, Sort was a welcome change of pace. Where Barcelona is fast paced, chaotic and the people are less than friendly, Sort, is slow, enjoyable and the locals are fun, kind and charismatic. Just what you want when you are traveling with 9 rowdy kids! 🙂
Sort, Catalonia, Spain Sort is the capital of the comarca of Pallars Sobirà, in the province of Lleida, Catalonia, in the country of Spain. It is located about 2000′ above the sea, (692 metres). The Noguera Pallaresa rivers runs through the town and is a great spot to beat the heat! The population of Sort is 2,113. The word sort is Catalan for “luck” and it is indeed lucky, as more lottery winning tickets are sold in Sort than anywhere else in Spain!
Sort is a magical place. Where locals and visitors mix seamlessly. In Sort, everyone speaks either Catalan or a variation of French. One local we befriended, explained that most would prefer you struggle to talk to them in French, rather than broken Spanish. I once told a local shop owner, No Hablo Espagnole, she hollered back that she didn’t speak Spanish either, just Catalan.
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It’s been a wildly different experience being in Sort with our family, rather than say, Colorado. The local people here are incredibly fun-loving and family oriented. They don’t have that air of privilege that you find nearly everywhere in the US. They don’t expect to not hear kids, they don’t expect to be in the water at the pool and not get splashed, they don’t sit on their laurels and demand to not be annoyed. In fact, they don’t expect anything, and still manage to get on with their own days and lives.
Our kids were smiled at, their hair was toussled, they were given funny faces, and had tongues stuck out at them. It was such a welcome experience, as we are more often than not treated like pirannha … The difference is how kids are viewed and it’s never more obvious than when you have a big family.
While in Sort, the locals showed us Americans how privileged and over-regulated we really are. Fire Crackers went off for two weeks prior to and a few days after the great celebration of John the Baptist. Kayakers partied HARD at the local bar and most defnitely interrupted the sleep of the Sort locals. Not a word was said, (until some idiots tried to ride a local farmers donkey). But even then, the people who reside in Sort, Catalonia, Spain were so welcoming, they made Sort a wonderful place to be.
Not typically a section in a KelloggShow blog, but very very applicable to Sort, Cataluna, Spain. Everything is accessible via a short walk, regardless of where you stay. I loved this aspect of Sort. There are beatiful alleys upon alleys with local shops, bakeries and gadgets.
From Farmer’s Markets right outside Hotel Pessets every Tuesday morning to the Dia (supermarket), about 1/4 mile away, fresh produce is readily accessible. As are tons of other mom and pop stores. Candy stores, toy stores, bakeries, kayak shops, jewelry, fashion … the shopping was quaint and intriguing. I enjoyed wandering with a few Euros and purchasing little items here and there.
Ok, now I’m not going to lie, I’m not a fan of Catalan food. I was hard-pressed to even find a restaurant that I wanted to return to. So instead, to feed myself and my family, Dan signed up for a free Amazon.SP account and ordered a pressure cooker – they don’t have Instant Pots out here. 🙂
However, what I am a fan of is the pastry’s and coffee every am. We found the best bar/cafe that I frequented every morning. We bought deux cafe con leche and either a chocolate filled croissant or a ham and cheese croissant. But, the best thing, by far, at this cafe was the fresh squeezed orange juice. To die for. And the prices of food was insane cheap! Like, literally blow your mind cheap!
No locale is KelloggShow worthy unless it has adventure. Sort, y’all has adventure … tons of it. Of course, it has a world class whitewater park. I say of course, because that is why we were there to begin with. While we only brought 3 kayaks due to the great expense of shipping just the three. So, instead of kayaking, we rented 3 duckies and a bunch of helmets and PFD’s from Kayak Sort and hit the local river run. It was such a welcome break from the heat wave that was plaguing all of Europe!
It was a fast paced and fun adventure, for all skill levels, really. The top half is the fun, wild section and the bottom half is where the cliff jump is and the fun (Class III+) ride over the dam. Cardy, Rowdy and Maddy borrowed Kady, Kenny and Dally’s Jackson 4.0’s and got a taste for what the 4.0 can do. They loved how comfortable the boats are, as well as how fast they are on waves!!
Hiking in Sort
There are a plethora of hiking trails in Sort, Catalonia, Spain. Trails for experts to beginners, trails that take a couple hours to complete to trails that take half a day or more.
Since we were in Sort during the 2019 European Heat Wave that was sweeping literally all of Europe with 104+ degree weather, we opted for a short hike. We walked to the Battliu Vineyard. It was nothing like hikes in the US. We walked past old stone walls, there were few signs leading the way, and common sense was expected as you navigted the hills of the Valley.
At the end, it was slightly anti-climactic as the winery wasn’t open and we couldn’t buy a bottle or 4 of local wine. We did, however, meet 2 of the sweetest dogs who led us down the mountain into town. Dan and Kady had to run them halfway back up the hike in order to allow the kids and I to get back to town.
During one of the hotter afternoons, we took a drive around the Valley in order to get a reprieve. A/C is not a common thing in Europe and certainly not in Hotel Pessets apartments in Sort. We drove through Olp, Castellviny, Pujalt, Enviny, Llarvin, Montardit de Dalt, and others. ALL these towns were jaw droppingly beautiful and a population of less than 50!
When you imagine these towns, imagine quaint, flower boxes on all the windows, a stunning stone church in each village, views for days. And super super quiet. I don’t think children live in these towns. There was zero evidence of any youth. And we were walking around them around 8 or so and there wasn’t a soul in sight.
Canyoning, or canyoneering as we call it back home, is a big thing here. We chose to go with Explorer Guies. Turns out this is the exact same company Grady and Brody went canyoning with in 2014 when they were in Sort for the World Cup! In fact, one of the guides remembered them and mentioned KelloggShowKids! What a small world, eh?
At any rate, canyoning was incredible! Explora Guies didn’t flinch when we brought along Coby and Elly and in fact, our guides, Alphonso and Gerard were blown away by their athleticism and bravery. No lie. They rappelled 70+’ without blinking, they slid into the unknown abyss more times than I can count. They cliff jumped 30’+ and never complained either during the 45 minute uphill climb or the entire duration of the trip.
We had a blast canyoneering in Sort. We highly recommend this trip! It’s definitely the highlight of our adventures in Sort, Spain.