A Walk Through Ulldemolins - World Class Academy

A Walk Through Ulldemolins

As TCA wraps up Q3 in Spain, specifically in TCA’s home-away-from-home, Ulldemolins, I wanted to revisit a blog post from first semester, written by sophomore Addy Kreidel. She captures the vibes of The Climbing Academy as well as this quiet, small Spanish town.

The Climbing Academy, despite its name, isn’t solely about climbing. We learn and grow not only on the rock, as climbers, but in the classroom, as students. Perhaps the most important thing we learn at TCA is how to be global citizens through travel and exposure to different cultures. Walk with me through the streets of Ulldemolins, one of TCA’s many classrooms for global citizenship. 

It’s a quaint little town of about 400 people living relatively close together in a centralized town. The cobbled streets create a maze between the tall, continuous buildings, and walking around for too long can be quite disorienting for a non-resident. The town siestas in the afternoon: window shutters close, business doors lock, and the town lies silent. It’s peaceful here.

In the early evening, TCA arrives back from the crag. Our vans pull into the parking spots in front of the church. People pile out, as do all of the precariously stacked bags, spilling out as we open the trunks. The sun sets on the far horizon, casting a beautiful, elegant glow over the rooftops of the town that we have called home for the past few weeks. The light lands on the church behind us, illuminating the intricately painted designs on the outer walls and the aging metal bell that has hung above the town for centuries. Long shadows walk along the cobbled streets, and tired legs struggle to walk in a straight line. Despite the fatigue plastered on everyone’s faces and the frequent sighs of exhaustion from the group, there’s an excited chatter in the air.

As people scatter into their respective housings, setting aside their crag bags until the next climbing day, the chatter slows to a stop. Exhausted and hungry, everyone preps for dinner. Some choose to wear their button-downs and a pair of clean jeans. Some choose a comfier route: sweatpants and a hoodie. Some, returning late from the crag, show up in their chalk, covered crag pants. Whatever they choose to wear, they always show up with a smile on their face. 

Ding! “Dinner at Toldra Fonda @ 7:30” flashes across everyone’s phone screens. If we leave a few minutes early, we can take the scenic route, hooking left to the plaza that sits in front of the clock tower. The tower chimes a high tone every 15 minutes, and a deeper tone on the hour, keeping the movement of this busy little town right on schedule. During the day, the tower stands out amongst the flat-roofed homes that surround it. In the evening, it is the last to remain illuminated by the setting sun and the warm light enhances the naturally orange-ish stone with which the tower was built. Also lit up by the sun, is a weathered Catalunyan flag that flutters in the cool breeze. Truly a beautiful sight to behold.

If we take a left from the plaza, the road will lead us to a footpath that winds through the valley for miles; between vineyards going over and around the rolling hills. If you head there at the right time of night, just as the sun touches the horizon, you will see the most spectacular sight in all of Ulldemolins. But to get to dinner, we’ll turn right. Past the little shops that voices are floating out of, past the bustling restaurants and cafes, past the locals out for their nightly strolls. 

“Hola!” with a smile and quick wave.


Though some of us are limited in our knowledge of Spanish and Catalan languages, the little bit of interaction that we can get in passing is crucial to TCA’s relationship with its hosts. It’s also crucial to our growth as global citizens that we get to experience new places, meet new people, and do our best to learn other languages and cultures. As we near the restaurant where we all will meet for dinner, a delicious scent wafts into the air, mixing with the usual scent of the cool night-time air.  It smells of grilled meat, seasoned with everything imaginable, and, though it’s hard to pick out amongst the variety of smells swirling in the air, freshly baked bread. This dinner will be a good one, they always are. The chime of the bells that hang on the front door indicates our arrival to the chefs, who happily greet us and point us to the large tables in the back. In small groups, students and staff arrive at the restaurant, take their seats, and begin conversations about their day at the crag. As the appetizers are served, you can hear talk of the sends of the day, the biggest whips, the sketchy belays, the funny locals, or whatever else happened that day that is fit for a dinner table story.

The night ends with smiles, laughs, and satisfied stomachs. We disperse once more to our housing, walking the streets lit by glowing yellow lampposts. Curtains close in windows, and lights flick off. The town sleeps once more.

Thanks for another great visit, Ulldemolins! Until next year!

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