Walking the Vias Verdes in Catalonia, Spain
There once was a railway line in Catalonia that stretched from Olot to Girona and then finally toward the sea. The railway shuttled villagers, some of whom had never had access to the ocean, from deep within the region to the Costa Brava. But as Spain's economy began to boom in the 1970s, so did car sales. Train travel was no longer in vogue and eventually the old railway service was quietly put down. Years went by and weeds grew up around the abandoned railroad tracks. And then someone got an idea: hiking and biking trails. Today, you can walk the old route, sleeping and eating in villages along the way. I did this two years ago and was able to get a glimpse of a side of Catalonia few Barcelona-bound tourists rarely see.