Author: Birgit Liebscher

L’Escala: Sports, traditions and a unique cliff line


– a small town close to the Golf of Roses, was once known for its sardines and for anchovy fishing. Today, tourism has become the town’s main economic factor.

Nice sand beach close to L'Escala

Beautiful view of the bay of L’Escala

The Club Nautic L’Escala

The Club Nautic L’Escala is a regular host of international contests and regattas. For example, there was a regatta from July 2nd to July 7th in the bay of l’Escala. The regatta was part of the European Championship (Class: Europe), and L’Escala became a meeting point for the international sailing scene. Costa:Live had been invited to participate and experience the regatta firsthand. Using the VIP Yacht, which is usually reserved for hosts and sponsors, we jetted to through the bay and towards the regatta’s starting line, where the unpredictable winds led to delays. Our skipper and director of sports (Director Esportui) of the Club Nautico, Xavier Lopez, used this time efficiently.

Sailboat on the water

Sailboat in the bay of L’Escala

He pointed out his most beloved parts of the Spanish coast line, which are both beautiful and wild. Being a passionate sailor, he has often participated in the Spanish Championships and been a participant of the Olympic Games twice. He has sailed all the Mediterranean coasts and knows a great deal about them.

Cala Montgó

We pass the fishery harbour and bizarre rocks. Finally, we reach Cala Montgó. Beautiful mansions are enthroned upon the cliffs. Every now and then, we see a mansion that can be bought from agency Selected Property. Unfortunately, he also tells us that these estates have to be paid through one’s nose. There are some mansions available for less then a million Euros. They, however, are located two or three rows away from the coastline.

Rocky coast of L'Escala

Beautiful mansions are enthroned upon the cliffs

The cliffs plunge down into the crystal clear sea. Gulls bathe in the sun. In Cala Montgó, small and huge yachts lie at anchor. Sailboats bob up and down on the water. We are heading for L’Estratit now. To our side, the massif of Montgrí rises up into the air. Within ages, the sea has formed the rocks; it has created breaks and caves.

Rock sculpture on the coast of L'Escala

Rocks tower out of the water on the coast of L’Escala

The Roca Foradada (riddled rock) is especially impressing: the tunnel can be passed through by boat. We do not dare cross it with our yacht, but we watch some smaller boats doing it. The bay of Cala Farriola owes its fame to this natural place of interest. We would like to take a closer look at the famous islands of Medes, but now we are running short of time: We have been told that the regatta is about to begin. We drive back to L’Escala, fast as possible, with the water foaming and surging all around us.

Rocky coast of L'Escala

Roca Foradada: the tunnel can be passed through by boat

The people waiting for the starting signal on the Golf of Roses are real professionals

On the way, our captain stops to say hello to a friend of his. Dr. Nando Muñoz has been sailing all around the world for several times. He participated in the famous Volvo Ocean Race. The Volvo Ocean Race is (formerly known as The Whitbread Round the World Race) first took place in 1973. It has been taking place once in four years ever since. It is a regatta leading around the entire world. It usually begins in autumn, with the participants starting in Europe. Then, they follow the route through the Atlantic and around Africa; they cross the South Pacific and reach America, until they eventually return to Europe. The circumstances regarding winds and weather are oftentimes very harsh, especially in the South Pacific. Wave heights of 30 metres and more, and wind speeds of 110 km/h are considered normal. The regatta is known for being one of the most challenging routes. All in all, the sailors cover a distance of about 45.000 km. Thus, the people waiting for the starting signal on the Golf of Roses are real professionals.

The port of L'Escala

Boats in the port of L’Escala

European Championship

Our rapid journey to the buoy that marks the starting point continues. All the participants of the Europe Class have gathered here for the next lap. After the signal has been given, the small, light boats lean into the winds. Soon, different positions become apparent. The regatta consists of many laps. It often takes days until there is a winner. The winner is the sailor who has gathered more medals throughout the regatta than anyone else. We drive back to the harbour and take a walk along the esplanade close to the sea, in order to visit the city’s Old Town, which still holds much of the charm typical for Mediterranean fishing villages. The small, steep alleys with their white houses and their wrought-iron balconies and terraces still look like they did many years ago. Traditions and fiestas have been kept alive, too. For example, there is the Festa del Carme on July 16th. The mermaid’s procession to the church of Sant Pere is a yearly highlight for inhabitants and tourists alike.

Sailboats on the water

The small, light boats lean into the winds

Places to dine

In L’Escala, there are many places to dine. The cuisine is traditional, and fish is a major component of most dishes. After our long time out on the boat, we decide to have a late lunch. We especially like the lunch served in the Hotel and Res­taurant el Roser, which can be found close to the Carrer Església, and the view from the Terrasse des 1869. Good places to eat can also be found in the fishery harbour. On weekdays, the menu is available for 8,50 €. On Thursday s, an excellent Paella is part of the menu. L’Escala is always worth a visit.

The sea in front of L'Escala

View from the restaurants of the open sea

Festa de la sal: Salt – Gold of the seas
The fishers’ life in the XVIII century and how salt used to be transported

A few years ago, the Platja de les Bargues in l’Escala was turned into a place that might have fitted very well into a time now long gone by – and has been turned into this place annually ever since. When the fishers’ life in the XVIII century and the transport of salt are retold in living pictures, being at the beach suddenly feels like having walked into the set of a cloak-and-sword film. The many press photographers and television presenters add to this feeling as they gather on the sandy beach. The scenes are truly worthy of making a movie about them. There are the fishers’ women, all in long skirts, repairing the nets and grilling anchovies on huge grids, while their children pile up empty fishing baskets.

Fisher festival in L'Escala

The fishers’ women, all in long skirts, are repairing the nets

Old fishing boats

Old fishing boats – such as Les barques Rafael (1920), Sant Isidre (1925) and some Latin sailing boats (vela llatina) bob up and down on the sea, all of them carrying their load of salt. Once the first boat has reached the harbour, all the fishers come hurrying along, clad in traditional clothes. Together, they pull the boat ashore and help to unload the salt, which was used as a means of preserving anchovy a long time ago. The entire village is said to have been living solely of fishery and selling their special anchovies.

The beach of L'Escala

Together, they pull the boat ashore and help to unload the salt

Anxoves (Catalan) – anchoa (Spanish) – or anchovies are the most typical product of the region

Until today, the way anchovies are preserved has not changed much and is still considered to be traditionally linked to L’Escala. Anxoves (Catalan) – anchoa (Spanish) – or anchovies are the most typical product of the region around L’Escala and are loved well beyond the borders of said region. Furthermore, they are a delicious souvenir. Ever since the 18th century, fresh anchovies have been preserved in salt.

Anchovies preserved in salt

The popular anchovies of L’Escala

Last year, a museum was dedicated to the anchovies of L’Escala, presenting historical photographs and apparatuses, as well as an old fishing boat, and several old barrels, which were used for storing the salted fishes. Due to the salt, the fishes were not only preserved; they also began a slow process of fermentation, which added quality and taste. Back then, the salt was brought to L’Escala on the sea route.

An old fisher boat in the museum of L'Escala

Insight into the Anchovy and Salt Museum

The transport of salt

Huge sailing ships brought the precious salt from the salt mines of Torrevieja (located close to Alicante) to L’Escala. The fishers used their very small boats to meet the big sailing ships at sea and filled their small boats with chunks of salt, in order to bring them to the shore. At the beach of les Barques, their load was packed into sacks, and eventually brought to the storage. The historical staging takes place in September and is accompanied by traditional music and dances.
At the evening of the festival, everyone gathers for a common dinner, which includes Suquet, Crebat, and songs of Habaneres.

Early in the morning on a fishing boat

Fishing on the Costa Brava

The fisherman, the sea, and us

The fishermen on the Costa Brava have chosen a difficult profession: they have to take their boats out to the sea almost every day and regardless of the weather. In the late afternoon the fish they caught is auctioned in the harbour. On some days you don’t catch much of anything – other days the nets are full to the point of bursting. A little luck is of the essence. If you join the fishermen for a few hours, you can learn a lot about their hard life. You have to get up early, though.

deep blue water in the port of Roses

The fishing port of Roses in the early morning

Roses, six o’clock in the morning. It’s still pitch dark. The sea is calm. Otherwise they would not have taken us. A trip with the fishing boat can only be arranged spontaneously. You are told only the night before if the weather is going to be good enough and, thus, if you are going to be taken out to the sea. But we are spontaneous and ready anytime for an adventure. In August, we finally got the call and were able to ride out with a fisherman.

Fishing boat in the port of Roses

We put to sea with the small fishing boat called Pescatron

The captain, teacher and storyteller on our trip: Joan Piris

The fisherman from Sant Pere Pescador awaits us already with his small fishing boat in the port of Roses. Joan took up the profession of his ancestors only a few years ago and bought a small fishing boat. One can only become an independent fisherman if one inherits or buys a fishing license. Places are limited and hard to get. The life of a fisherman is a constant struggle for survival, combined with a particular sensation of liberty. The myth of adventure, freedom and strength, however, can be deceptive. The bank wants the monthly rate for the boat and the family must be able to live on the income throughout the year. Diesel is expensive and the sea is ill-tempered, it is hard work and out on the sea the fisherman is all on his own confronting the universe – alone with storms, the sun and the waves.

Fisherman steers a fishing boat

The fisherman Joan Piris on his fishing boat

We entrust ourselves to Joan Piris, his boat and the universe for a few hours. Slowly, the sun rises out of the water and breaks through morning fog and clouds. This spectacle alone was worth getting up early.
Wind in our hair, freedom in our hearts and a romantic panorama in front of our eyes – feelings of happiness and puré adrenaline!

The sun rise slowly over the bay of Roses

From the fishing boat we can admire the dreamlike sunrise

The hard work of a fisherman

While the sun is rising, we have a little time to chat. However, when we reach the first buoy where Joan laid his lines the night before, concentration is required and the hard work begins: to get the fish and seafood out of the water needs a lot of strength. Joan Piris uses the traditional method of longline fishing (“palangre” in Catalan). The «peix de palangre» is considered especially delicious and is highly sought after in the restaurants of the region. Joan has specialized in gilthead. Today, a particularly large one swims on the hook. Unfortunately, the monster seems to have deterred his fellows. In total, the catch is a bit disappointing. This is not a rare thing; therefore, many fishermen now take tourists on their boats from time to time, to make some extra money.

The fisherman caught a big gilthead

The biggest catch of the day – a magnificent gilthead

Joan Piris also has decided to sometimes go fishing with company. If the weather cooperates, he can take some tourists with him on his adventurous work trips to the sea.

We are supporting the fisherman

We are happy about our first fish in the net

Escorted by screaming gulls: Krah! Kraaah! – like in Alfred Hitchcock’s «The Birds» – we end up again in the port of Roses at noon. We would love to take the fresh fish home with us. Unfortunately this is not possible because, according to regulations, the total catch must be auctioned. The adventure has made us hungry and it’s time for a hearty breakfast on the beach – without fish!

Fish in the net

The fisherman Joan Piris at work

Experience a day of fishing in first person!

1.  The life and art of the fishermen of Roses:
Embark throughout the day in a trawling boat, from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. you will get to see the fishermen’s daily routine, sharing the typical fisherman’s communal lunch.

2.  Embark one morning in a small-scale fishing boat, from 6 am to 1pm. You will share the fisherman’s daily routine in a very up-close and personal way following the coastline.

3.  Get close to a traditional fishing boat to observe how fishermen work, from 7 am to 11 am.

Information and reservations:
650 27 24 27 /
Per person from 140 euros. Excursion to 30 September possible.

Nice view over the sea with boats

Costa Brava: Punta Falconera > Cala Montjoi > Cala Joncols

Cap de Creus – the most eastern point of the Iberian Peninsula

As a Natural Park, the land and sea of Cap de Creus have been protected since 1998. The park has about 11,000 hectares of land as well as about 3,000 hectares of sea. The region is biologically and geologically of interest and creates enthusiasm for the scenic beauty which is hard to fit on a postcard. However, we have decided to capture the exquisite monumental appeal in pictures both from the land and from the seaside.

Nice countryside of Punta Falconera

Punta Falconera – the most southern part of Cap de Creus

Punta Falconera

Today we’re on the way in the Jeep. The first destination is Punta Falconera at Cap de Norfeu just behind Roses. We wind our way on the small asphalt road toward Cala Montjoi. Our first stop is at an abandoned farmhouse with ruins remaining from a tower. Dream weather. Azure blue sky. Little white clouds in the wind. Lush green. Majestic agave blooms stick out in the horizon. The Mediterranean sea sparkles deep blue under us. Groups of white boats separate, leaving foam across the blue bay of Roses. In the background are the houses of Roses, Empuriabrava, Sant Pere Pescador and L’Escala. The Medes Islands close to L’Estartit poke out sharply from the ripples. Today the former pirate islands are almost close enough to touch.

great view from Punta Falconera

At Punta Falconera you can observe passing boats

We take the unpaved road on the right down to Punto Falconera. Here we meet with the old patrol path along the coastline. In former times the historical patrol paths were used for the battle against smuggling and for the surveillance of the coastal shipping.
To explore the coast on foot takes about 5 hours there and back for the route Roses bay of Almadrava, Punta Falconera, bunker, Cala Lladó, Cala Murtra, Cala Rostella, Cap Trencat, Cap Blanc, El Calis, Cala Montjoi, Mas de Montjoi de Baix, Mas de Montjoi de Dalt, cliffs, Cap Norfeu.

Old tree at the patrol path at Punta Falconera

The patrol paths along the coast offer a fantastic view of the deep blue sea

Today we only drive around Punta Falconera. Here blossoming agaves tower into the blue sky. Our photos say more than 1000 words. Have your own look. We have picture book weather.

blossoming agaves on the horizon

Majestic agaves rise into the blue sky

Cala Montjoi

We soon continue driving to the bay Cala Montjoi. The small beach is well-attended. Here the building of El Bulli is waiting for its revival. The El Bulli has been chosen as the world’s best restaurant five times. Headcook Ferran Adrià – awarded with three Michelin stars – is said to be one of the best chefs of the present time. He closed the El Bulli in 2011 and founded the El Bulli Foundation. A think tank for creative gastronomy which is planned to be resettled from Barcelona to the bay.

Boats in the bay Cala Montjoi

The former restaurant El Bulli in the bay of Cala Montjoi

Actually Adrià teaches at the Harvard University and he is honorary doctor of the universities of Barcelona, Aberdeen and Valencia. Furthermore his aim is to leave the encyclopaedia of cooking as a legacy – creative innovative – from the beginnings to the present with all facets of preparation and the origin of food. He also wants to find out the champagne code together with the cellarman of Dom Pérignon Richard Geoffroy. Ferran Adrià – co-founder of the molecular cuisine – is always good for a surprise. In his stead we had never left the paradise Cala Montjoi!

Bathing fun for old and young people - beach of Cala Montjoi

Beach of Cala Montjoi in quiet location

Today it is our own for a moment. Time for a short cooling-down in the sea. The water sparkles clean and pure. Moments of a dream with a view into endless width. In front of us small yachts are rocking at the horizon. Pure summer feeling!

boats in the bay of Cala Montjoi

The clear and clean water in the bay of Cala Montjoi invite to take a bath

Cala Joncols

Today our real destination is the last bay which is reachable by car on this side of Cape de Creus: the Cala Joncols. The small Cala in the middle of nowhere is very popular among divers as a pure idyll. Even in high season there are only a few tourists who risk to go over seven mountains to reach the sea.

Cala Joncols with hotel and beach bar

The small bay Cala Joncols offers the best diving spots at Cap de Creus

The underwater world with corals and seaweed beds is considered to be something very special: wild, manifold and been protected. Dark cliffs shaped by the wind surround the blue shining sea.
Further up the mountain is a recently planted vineyard. The inaugural ceremony at Cala Joncols took place only just at the 3rd of July 2015. The vinticulture lied fallow for many years and it will be revived with a local type of grape.
The small beach bar Chiringuito Cala Joncols invites to stay for a while with a cafe con leche on ice, sitting on creative rocking chairs built out of steel frames and fishing nets under shading pines. At this place you also can order paellas, fideua, crayfish or fresh grilled fish until the 15th of September.

comfortable bar with creative suites

Beach bar Chiringuito Cala Joncols

Having our legs on driftwood we took a rest at the beach. The siesta is ours and a dream of infinity and paradise. A jump into the sea brings us back to reality. We drive back to daily live. The trip is recommended to people who want to forget everything for a while.
Also with a boat it is an indescribable experience!

The beach of Roses at night

Costa Brava – Coasts and beaches

As big and simple is the world at the beach nothing but wind and cloud, nothing but sea and sand.

© Dr. Carl Peter Fröhling

Beach Hopping

There are plenty of beaches to explore in Catalonia. But every beach is different and provides its very own magic. Just in time for summer month of August we present our top list of the most beautiful and exceptional bays and beaches of the Costa Brava. Let us invite you to our Beach Hopping Tour 2015!

A lot of yachts in the bay of Garbet

Boats tarry in the bay of Garbet

Begur: Aiguablava – A bay like painted!

Turquoise Green, crystal clear water, a fine sand beach and bizarre rocks as only nature can create them. Yes, we are still at the Costa Brava and not in the Caribbean ! However, if you are visiting the Aiguablava Bay for the first time, you might think of an exotic remote paradise.

As the southernmost beach of the picturesque town of Begur, the romantic little bay attracts many bathers in the summer.

Among the Catalans the Aiguablava Bay with its shallow waters, the unique rock formations and lush green vegetation is considered as the most beautiful bay at the Costa Brava. It is even said to be the most beautiful bay in Spain. A wide range of water sports, the proximity to restaurants and shops, as well as existing parking areas make it especially attractive for visitors.

Bay with fine sand and clear water

Bay of Aiguablava is like paradise

Sant Martí d’Empúries – L’Escala:
Platja Portitxol – Antique and flair

The Platja Portitxol between Sant Martí d’Empúries and L’Escala was already popular with the Romans and the ancient Greeks. This is shown by the roman and greek remains of Empúries. Empúries is an important archaeological site in the Iberian Peninsula.

Where about 2,600 years ago, the Greeks once entered Iberian mainland, it is today a paradise for sun worshippers where you can relax under parasols while dreaming away or watching the waves of the sea.

Platja Portitxol between Sant Marti d'Empúries and L'Escala

The fine sandy beach Portitxol

Sant Pere Pescador: A fresh breeze for everyone

What a pity that you can not embrace the Gulf of Roses. But here, approximately in the middle of the most northeastern bay on the Catalan coast of Spain, one feels like embracing the world. The arms are wide open so the fingertips can cover the brightly painted houses on the mountain slopes of Roses. In the south, the silhouettes of the seaside resort of L’Escala disappear, leaving only a pale blue sky:

A magnificent view of the Mediterranean Sea! The wide, white sandy beach with a length of approx 6.3 kilometres lets every vacationer’s heart beat faster. It is the longest beach along the bay of Roses. Young and old, families, kiters, surfers and nudists feel comfortable here at the beach of Sant Pere Pescador. Whether it is enjoying a fresh breeze while watching the play of waves, wind surfing or simply relaxing – there is something there for everyone! The tramuntana is a welcome refreshment on hot summer days. But the north wind means also pure adrenaline for the water sports.

There’s a lot of parking-spaces just behind the beach and a separate bicycle path. A place close to heaven and easy to reach by bicycle!

Gulf of Roses

Wide beach of Sant Pere Pescador on the Gulf of Roses

Roses: Platja de l’Almadrava – the perfect place for the whole family

The Platja de l’Almadrava, also known as Canyelles Grosses, is one of the most popular beaches in Roses. With a length of 500 meters and a width of 25 meters, the Platja de l’Almadrava invites you to relaxing walks under the sun of the Costa Brava. This sheltered beach has got a current certification for good water quality and it offers everything you need for a perfect day at the beach: fine sand, clear water, showers, toilets, kiosks, beach bars and easy parking.

fine sand and clear water at the beach of Almadrava

The fantastic beach Almadrava

Roses: Platja de Canyelles –
the little sister of the Almadrava Bay

Surrounded by opulent nature and only about 3km from the center of Roses, there is the beach Platja de Canyelles. The Platja de Canyelles is one of the most beautiful and quietest beaches of Roses. Located in the last built-up area on the northern coast of Roses, this beach is only limited by the unspoiled mountainous landscape of the Natural Park of Cap de Creus.

The fine golden sandy beach provides all the comforts for an unforgettable stay: beach bars, restaurants, beach chairs and umbrellas, pedal boats and rafts. Anyone who has ever dreamed of a maritime shipping can book a touristic sailing cruise. If you’re looking for peace, harmony, leisure activities, relaxation and excellent water quality then Platja de Canyelles could be your favourite beach.

Natural beach Canyelles near Roses

Surrounded by nature the beach Canyelles extends not far from Roses

Colera – Llança Platja Garbet –
the gourmet beach at Cap Ras

Choosing the Platja Garbet in Llanca for a beach day, not only offers the possibility to refresh in the sea but also to be be indulged with culinary delights. Here, where the landscape of the northern Costa Brava becomes clearly rougher you will find framed by green vineyards one of the most exclusive gourmet restaurants right at the seashore. At first sight it seems to look like any other beach bar of this area but don’t let yourself be fooled! The Garbet is recommended by the prestigious Michelin guide and is known for its delicious paella and fish dishes. The guests can dine royally while putting their feet in the sand. After a delicious meal it is time for siesta! If you are a really serious power lounger you may want to bring your own beach chairs for a nap at the beach.

Beach Garbet with restaurant

The gourmet restaurant Garbet is directly situated on the beach

And if you now got the desire to jump into the cool waters of the Mediterranean sea, then do not hesitate any longer! We are sure that you have already discovered your own personal favorite bay at the Costa Brava . We appreciate tips and suggestions from you!

Clear water at the beach La Rubina

Windsurfer at the beach la Rubina in Empuriabrava

Semana Santa – Easter in Spain

Images, emotions, incense

Pictures provoke emotions. Pictures are catchy. Pictures are powerful messages.
The media’s flood of images increases over the years and nearly turns into the Flood. Those among you, who like live images or taking a selfie in front of an imposing scenery, must not miss the Semana Santa (Eastern) in Spain.

Verges Easterprozession Spain
The rulers of the Catholic Church have been operating with picture language since the 16th century and invented “preaching through pictures“ by introducing the Easter processions. Those who could not read or write were converted by moving images and touching sceneries. Although most of today’s visitors are able to read, rousing pictures accompanied by drum roll and choral singings, surrounded by a tiny breath of incense, still move the crowds the most. Every year, hounders of processions to do penance attract their visitors to come and so they do in Catalonia. Even famous dignitaries hide under their tapered hoods. Being a member of brotherhoods (Confraries) is an honor and can only be passed on to somebody.

Castello d'Empuries setamana santa
The motto is not only “repentance“ but also love and hope, humanity and compassion are topics which the processions dedicate themselves to. After having marched for miles, people then dance, laugh, and celebrate within the streets. Mysticism and religion go along with cheerful exuberance. Restaurants and bars are opened in many villages until late into the night. Even the Easter procession in Girona no more appears like a gloomy story from the Middle Ages but like a big baroque fair.

Eastern in Spain
The beautiful Madonna carved out of wood and decorated with a magnificent floral decoration appears at night and is the superstar. Being the Christian Virgin, the Goddess, and the heavenly beauty queen, she is the centre of the frenzy of flashing cameras. The „Paso de Christo“ glides through the fascinated crowd, carried unsteadily by strong men.
The mysticism of the scenery – Girona’s beautiful old town being the perfect backdrop – is an experience for your senses which you definitely should not miss.

Verges holy maria Costa Brava

On Maundy Thursday, all bars in Verges are opened throughout the night. The spot vibrates. The dance of death called “Dansa de la mort“ takes place in this medieval spot, located between Figueres and La Bisbal. ( The spectacle dates back to 1666 and catches the visitor’s fascination every year. First, scenes of the Passion of Christ are reconstructed on the market square at 10 pm. At midnight, the crowd forms up into a procession through the small alleys of Verges, led by people dressed like skeletons. Dropping candle wax marks the path. This bizarre spectacle, accompanied by the rhythm of drums, is considered to be one of the most eldest manifestations of church art. Muffled drumbeats, the rattling of chains, strokes of a whip and many visitors characterize the scenery. The backdrop, being the medieval façades of the spot, emphasizes the drama. But even here, people are going to celebrate later on. In the garden of Mas Pi, located in the old town, they will have a drink together.

Blumenschau in Girona

Temps de Flor: Girona 2014

Vom 24. Juni bis zum 7. Juli 1995 erregte Christo gemeinsam mit seiner Frau Jeanne-Claude mit der Verhüllung des Berliner Reichstags weltweit große Aufmerksamkeit. Spektakulär waren auch die Verhüllung der berühmten Brücke Pont-Neuf im Herzen von Paris 1985, der Vorhang durch ein ganzes Felstal 1972 in Colorado und Tausende von gelben sowie blauen Schirmen, die 1991 alle am gleichen Tag geöffnet wurden. Und 1999 ließ Christo im Oberhausener Gasometer 13 000 smartiebunte Fässer zu „The Wall“ aufstapeln.

Ganz so spektakulär geht es in Girona nicht zur Sache. Trotzdem war ich ein wenig an die Philosophie des weltberühmten Künstlers erinnert. Denn auch in Girona wird jedes Jahr um Pfingsten verhüllt, installiert und der Frühling mit einem bunten Blütenfest gefeiert.
Genau wie bei Christo geht es den Anwohnern und Künstlern in Girona nicht um das Verstecken sondern um das Hervorheben.
Christo erwartet von seiner Kunst eine „aufregende Ablenkung von den trivialen Sorgen des Alltags“ und einen neuen Blick auf die Dinge, die uns umgeben. Seine Projekte, die nur für kurze Zeit bestehen, sind alle fröhlich und erzeugen eine gute Stimmung.
Dieses Motto gilt auch eine Woche lang jedes Jahr von Neuem im Mai in Girona: In den Gassen schweben weißer Bänder, florale Teppiche durchbrechen klassische Architektur und ein Park hängt voller Wäschestücke aus Moos. Weiße Stoffbahnen umhüllen Stufen und Wege, zur Kathedrale führt ein Blütenteppich. Bunte Ballons brechen strenge Steinarchitektur auf. Nicht jede Installation hat künstlerischen Anspruch, manches ist Kitsch, aber insgesamt wirkt das gesamte Stadtbild sehr fröhlich und überraschend anders als im Alltag sonst.

Nach einer Woche bleibt nichts davon als die Erinnerung – die Eindrücke in den Seelen, im Gedächtnis der Besucher. Genau wie Christo.

Temps de Flors ist ein temporäres Erlebnis von Form und Farbe im öffentlichen Raum. Verfremdetes Stadtbild voller Optimismus und Bewegung. Wer sich aufmerksam durch den Trubel treiben lässt, entdeckt ganz besondere Blickwinkel und abstrakte neue Bilder. Einige haben wir mit der Kamera eingefangen. Denn bei Temps de Flor ist Fotografieren erlaubt. Christo hingegen besitzt für seine Installationen das alleinige Copyright für Bild und Ton.



Nice and old buildings in Peralada

Peralada – pearl of the Empordà


The pearl of the Empordà

Peralada offers medieval air, combined with modern luxury, culture, game and sports. Gently stroked by the golden light of the Mediterranean sun the fairy tale castle, the old churches, the cloister, the urban palaces and the labyrinthine alles and places could be the scenery for a historical film. Like jewels, antique details are waiting to be discovered.Nice and old buildings in Peralada
About 500 B.C. Iberians built the first walled village where today is located the town of Peralada. But it’s in 9th century that Peralada becomes one of the main capitals of the Empordà. It won’t lose its importance throughout the Medieval Age and a lot of buildings and monuments are left from these splendid times.
The Romanesque cloister of the convent Sant Domenèc dates back to 11th century and is the oldest building of Peralada. Behind its walls one can find the tourist information centre and a museum, showing a multimedia presentation about the town’s history and culture.
Saint Martin Church is a construction from 18th century, with Romanesque remains and a Gothic belfry.
Carme’s convent, which was built in 14th century, is the seat of the castle’s museum, containing one of Catalonia’s most important private art collections, the collection Suqué-Mateu. A library with around 80.000 volumes, including more than 1000 editions of El Quijote and antique treasures of erotic literature, is another appeal of this visit. In the cloister’s church are exposed wooden sculptures originating from St Pere de Rodes and Besalú.
The Glass Museum disposes of one of the world’s best and biggest collections, while the Wine Museum informs about the wine culture of Peralada.

Peralada in the Empordà

The Castell de Peralada was built in 14th century and had been the residence of the counts of Peralada. At the end of 16th century, Philip II bestowed the title of viscount upon Francesc Jofre de Rocabertí, who transformed the castle into a residential palace.

The wines and cavas from Peralada are amongst the most popular of the country. During the 15th century the Carmelite monks already produced wine in the castle’s cellars. In 1923 Miquel Mateu Pla, a businessman from Barcelona, bought the castle and reanimated the viticultural tradition. Quality, charisma and tradition have been since then the secret of success of this unique cellar. Today the family Suqué-Mateu take credit for cons­tant investigation and development: the prestige of the wines and cavas from Castell de Peralada has placed them on the best tables of Spain and abroad.
During the months July and August takes place the famous Music Festival de Peralada in the romantic gardens of the castle, visited every year by national and international stars of the music scene.
The Casino Castell de Peralada, placed in one of the castle’s sections and offering bars, restaurants and conference rooms, is considered one of the world’s most beautiful casinos, due to its splendid decoration.

Peralada at the Costa BravaThe Golf Club Perelada captivates with its location in the wonderful landscape: only 15 km from the Mediterranean Sea it breathes the air of the Pyrenees and ancient olive trees. It offers a magnificient par-71 round of 18 holes, suitable for any type of players, a driving range, 3 putting greens, a pitch&putt course, a golf school and a Pro-shop.
The Hotel Golf Perelada promises luxurious relaxation and a different type of wellness: Europe’s only Wine Spa features wine baths. The hotel’s first-class restaurant serves regional delicatessen like canard with shrimps or lamb shoulder, accompanied by the best local wines.

To enjoy Peralada, you should take your time: take a walk through the alles, enjoying the medieval ambience; take a late breakfast in one of the cafes next to the castle; promenade through the park and greet the swan on the fountain; play some balls on the golf course; take a bath in wine; enjoy a great meal in one of the restaurants or feel the exciting experience of chance in the casino.

Panoramic views of the sea

A view on sea and mountains

When the reapers started a grim rebellion, which later became known as ”guerra dels segadors” and lasted from 1640 to 1659, parts of Catalonia became French. Both Roussillon and the northern half of Cerdanya were handed over to France as the peace of the Pyrenees came to pass. Today, the region in question is considered an area of culture – very officially so as the French city Perpignan is Catalonia’s capital of culture this year. This is a perfect opportunity to take a closer look at the region beyond the border.We leave the N II close to Le Boulou and then head for the coast along the “route des alberes”. Idyllic towns and villages,

horses on the meadows, and the perfect backdrop of the Alberes Mountains. Green wine yards, sleepy market places and inviting cafés. The trip itself is amazing. Eventually, we want to make it to Collioure, a town at the feet of the Albere Moutains, situated at a fjord-like bay. The town is also known as the pearl of Côte Vermeille and simply radiant in its romantic beauty. At the ruins of an old stronghold, we stop to take in the fantastic view on the dark blue Golfed du Lion, which is stretching out far from Cap de Creus to Toulon.Wonderful views Afoot now, we explore the Old Town and the Harbour with its colourful fishing boats – there surely is a reason why Collioure is said to be the birthplace of fauvism. The entire town shines resplendant with colours and light. Well-known artists, such as Georges Braque, Raoul Dufy, henry Matisse or Pablo Picasso were all fascinated by Collioure. As Henry Matisse put it: “The sky over France is at its most blue over Collioure.” Indeed, it was the very special light that was responsible for the coast acquiring its current name: Côte Vermeille – the purple coast.
Up to this day, artists are a common sight in Collioures as they capture moments and moods on canvas and paper, bestowing upon the city the title “City of painters”. In days gone by as well as today, the Notre-Dame-des-Agnes church and its unique cupola is the most beloved motif by far.
Strolling along the pier, we admire the Castle of Kings, which is dividing the harbour’s basin into Port d’Amont and Port d’Avall. The Château Royal is worth taking a look from the inside, too, with its battlement parapets, parade grounds and a prison dating back to the 16th century. There also is an even older chapel – built in the 13th century – and the queen’s bedchamber.
The castle’s basis was erected by the duke of Roussillon in 981. It was then conquered by Aragon, only to fall into the hands of the Majorcan kings later on. From 1242 to 1280, they rebuilt the castle completely, turning into a summer home for the king.

Trip with great sights to see

Beautiful landscape

Later on, as we walk through the old and winding alleys, we draw in every detail: picturesque staircases, houses adorned with flowers, boutiques and galleries, cafes, pubs and restaurants. We cannot resist temptation and have seafood and white wine for lunch.
The “Hôtel des Templiers” brewery does not only offer beers, but also displays a number of pictures painted by artists who dropped in for the occasional pint. Undoubtedly, brewer Rene Pous has a soft spot for painters and artists: more than once, they have left paintings rather than money.

For the way back, we decide to take the steep and narrow street D86. It feels like driving on a balcony, high above the sea. In serpentines, the road leads through forests of cork oaks and vineyards, past ruins and view points. Far above the ground, almost vertiginous with height, we finally get to see the full beauty of the bizarre, unique and diverse Côte Vermeille. The wine grown on the hills around us is called “vin doux naturel”, a very fine wine, which has to rest in barrels made of oak for at least 30 months. The region’s best wines can be tasted in the famous cellar “le cellier de Templiers“. “Banylus”, sweet and world-famous, is the colour of mahogany wood and goes along exceptionally well with chocolate. Along double bends and steep roads, we make hour way back home to the Costa Brava. One of Europe’s most beautiful roads along the coast unites France and Spain, mountains and sea.

Panoramic views of the sea


Town with the Montgrí and the castle

Torroella de Montgrí

Montgrí and the castle built on its summit dominate the scenery of Torroella de Montgrí. The hills highest point lies about 309 metres above sea level and is only six kilometers from the beach. On a nice and cool day, the walk up the hill takes approximately an hour. From up there, the view onto the bay of L’Estartit and Pals and the Isles of Medes is breathtaking.

Lovely town at the Costa BravaKing Jacob II meant to have Montgrí Castle constructed there – but his plans never came true. All that was ever built were the walls and four round lookout towers. In 1988, the castle was restored and the lookout towers are no open to the public as view points.

Town with the Montgrí and the castleThe town itself, Torroella de Montgrí, lies cradled at the mountain’s base, at the banks of Ter River. With its old palaces and medieval mansion’s, the town is well worth exploring during a morning stroll through shaded alleys. In 1273, the town was declared as kingly and was offered the right to hold markets. The Old Town is thus dating back to the Middle Ages. It used to be surrounded by a city wall and most of it Toroella de Montgrí has some architectural treats you do not want to miss. There is the gothic parish church named Sant Genís, the Can Quintana with the associated Center for Medieval Culture and the Les Bruixes tower which dates back to the 15th or 16th century. Other points of interest are the city’s gate, named after Santa Caterina and built in the 14th century and the Roman Sant Antoni Chapel on the arcade-fringed Placa Major. The El Mirador palace was constructed between the 9th and 14th century. Now used as a luxury hotel, it is situated on the Paseo de l’Esglesia. An international music festival is held in Torroella de Montgrí every year.
There is a market each Monday, but the small Old Town is a good place to go shopping any day of the week. Freshly caught fish, sun-kissed vegetables and fruit from local farms and delicious cheese and sausages can be bought in one of the many endearing dairies. And for those on the lookout for fancy dresses and accessories – there are a number of boutiques in Torroella.

Fort de Bellegarde in France

Fort de Bellegarde

Fort de Bellegarde

Fort de Bellegarde in France

What a view!

What a view! exclaimed Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban when he entered the ruins of Bellegarde for the first time. Marquis de Vauban, already in his lifetime awarded with the honorary title “Ingénieur de France“, is considered as the most important military architect of baroque. The master builder of Louis XIV is the creator of the “ceinture de fer“, the iron belt which was designed to protect the external frontiers of France. Until today, Fort Bellegarde is marked by the personal style of the famous architect, which engaged in the construction or remodelling of 160 fortifications.

Located solitarily on a rock in a height of 420 metres.Located solitarily on a rock in a height of 420 metres, the potent Fort de Bellegarde towers until today above the village of Le Perthus. After having entered over a drawbridge, one is immediately stunned by the views, just as Vauban a few centuries ago. In the South, one’s eyes travel over La Jonquera, Figueres and the vast plain of the Empordà. On the other side, mountain Canigou touches the clouds in heaven; and in the East, the mountain chain Albera extend to the Mediterranean.
Since the Treaty of the Pyrenees, signed in 1659, the powerful fortification has marked the borderline between France and Spain. During the Middle Ages the castle owners demanded tolls for crossing the mountain pass of Le Perthus and thereby financed their expensive lifestyle. Later on, there had to be paid customs duties and nowadays we are driving on toll roads.
300 years before the construction of the first highway, Vauban was aware of the strategic importance of this place. On behalf of Louis XIV, he ordered the demolition of the old castle and planned a strong fortification, which would be able to control the arterial road of the Pyrenees and demonstrate the absolute power of his king. In today’s united Europe, military border posts have, fortunately, disappeared. The renovated buildings have been transformed into museums. One of the expositions explains the history of the fort and one might also visit the fountain system of 18th century, including a well of 62 metres depth and a diameter of six metres. It was drilled into the rock and later plastered over a height of 50 metres.

The fort’s real highlight, however, has always been the panoramic view. Therefore, on clear weather days the excursion to our neighbour country is always worth it.

Museum in the Fort de Bellegarde

Expositions explains the history of the Fort