Author: Ksenia

Butterfly Park Empuriabrava

The perfect trip for the cold season!

Costa Brava - Empuriabrava - Butterfly Park

Welcome to the jungle..

Sometimes – but very rarely – the weather can also be quite bad on the Costa Brava. Instead of a sunny beach day, you spend the day in front of the TV on the couch…

But wait – Do you really have to stay at home? Aren‘t there some interesting places that are perfect for a cloudy day? – Of course! Numerous museums and parks turn even dark days into something special. And so does the Butterfly Park near Empuriabrava!

Between butterflies, parrots and iguanas

Anyone who loves animals and insects of all kinds, found the perfect place to visit: The Butterfly Park not only convinces with an impressive variety of different bird and butterfly species, but also with many surprising inhabitants!

Parrot - Empuriabrava - Butterfly Park

A very photogenic parrot!

In a large indoor and a slightly smaller outdoor area you start your journey through the jungle. You can discover iguanas, bats, turtles, Indian deer, many colorful parrots and other tropical birds in different sizes and colors …

And of course: butterflies! These can be observed in their different phases of life: still wrapped in their cocoons, during hatching or already fluttering through the park.

Moth - butterfly - Park - Costa Brava

The world’s largest moth.. Impressive!

Highlights of the Butterfly Park

Our new friend 🙂

Nevertheless – unlike the name suggests – the focus is on the trusting colorful birds, who love to be fed by their visitors! We have also won a small and extremely talkative parrot as a new friend.

Another highlight – the two bat caves: the little animals were very close, practically right above our heads taking a little nap .. It’s quite rare to get so close to these sweet animals!

 

 

Do you want to see them yourself? Then it’s time to pay a visit to the sweet inhabitants of the Butterfly Park Empuriabrava!

Opening times: Every day from 10am till one hour before sunset
Ticket prices: 9,50€ Adults, 7,50€ Children
How to get there: Carrer Santa Clara, 0, 17486 Castelló d’Empúries, Girona

Christmas sweets

Can you imagine the best time of the year without any Christmas treats? Me neither!
A few weeks before Christmas Eve, we fill our shopping trolleys with flour, sugar and eggs and unpack the cookie cutters. With the most colourful cookie recipes, we dulcify the cold season and keep us warm with some extra kilos.
Our favourites this year: Cinnamon stars, panellets and butter biscuits – Hungry? Then let yourself be inspired by our recipes.
Enjoy your cookies!
The Costa Live Team
PS: We can still work on our summer body next year 😉

 

Cinnamon Stars

250g ground almond
200g icing sugar
2 egg whites
2-3 tsp vanilla sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon

Preparation
Beat the egg whites until peaks form.  Add the powdered sugar and the cinnamon. Beat for another minute. Reserve 3-4 heaping tablespoons of the egg mixture in a small bowl for the frosting. Add the nuts and the vanilla sugar. Beat until the mixture is combined and comes together in a fairly stiff but pliable mass.

Sprinkle a non-stick surface with powdered sugar or ground almond and roll it to a width of about a 1/3 inch. Cut stars out of the dough and transfer them to a lined cookie sheet. Use a pastry brush to brush on the egg white mixture. Bake in an oven preheated to 150 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

 

Panellets

1 sweet potato
250 g almond flour
250 g sugar
grated lemon rind
2 egg whites
1 egg
200 g pine nuts / alternatively coconut flakes or sunflower seeds

Preparation
Roast the sweet potato. Peel and push through a food mill.
While hot, add the ground almonds, the sugar and the lemon rind. Mix well to blend all the ingredients together. Place in a covered bowl and leave to stand in the fridge for a few hours.
Sugar - sweets - christmas - deliciousForm balls of about 25 grams, dip in diluted egg white and then in the pine nuts, pressing lightly so they stick. Arrange on an oven tray, brush with beaten egg and bake in a hot oven for about ten minutes. Once cooked, leave to cool and store in an airtight container.

 

Butter biscuits 

Ingredients:
500 g flour
200 g sugar
1 package of vanilla sugar
350 g butter
2 egg yolks
1 egg
grated lemon zest
1 pinch of salt

Preparation
Put the flour in a bowl and add the sugar and vanilla sugar and mix. Add butter, egg yolk, egg, lemon zest and salt and mix into a stiff dough. Knead gently until dough is smooth. Put the dough into a covered bowl and chill in the fridge for at least an hour.

Roll out onto a floured surface and cut out biscuits. Place on baking tray covered with baking paper. Brush with egg yolk and decorate. Place in oven at 175° C for about 10-12 minutes.

Winter - Christmas - Baking - Sweets - Delicious

Merry Christmas!

Girona: City with History

Just arrived in Girona, quickly collected your baggage and immediately heading to Barcelona? Wait!
Far too often, the charming city Girona is clouded by the Catalan capital Barcelona, which is larger, but also flooded by tourists. Not only is the beautiful medieval old town of Girona worth visiting – there are many more places to see.

The famous river Onyar and the colourful houses…

The church Sant Feliu

On a sunny morning, we decide to finally visit the city we had heard so many things about. Stepping out of the car, we realize that our car park is only a stone’s throw away from the church Sant Feliu. The perfect opportunity to visit the oldest church of Girona first! A very impressing building both from the outside and the inside, which combines different styles in a beautiful way.

       

The Cathedral of Santa Maria

The next monumental attraction is just around the corner: The Cathedral of Santa Maria. Probably the most popular selfie spot in town! We can’t resist, either.. The result: Far too many pictures of the building from every conceivable perspective.. Too bad that we left our selfie stick at home!

Game of Thrones - Girona - Costa Brava - Catalunya

Also a filming location from Game of Thrones!

Once you’ve climbed the stairs with a total of 90 steps and entered the cathedral, you’ll definitely be overwhelmed by the size and, above all, the beauty of the interior. Again, a very impressive combination of different architectural styles  – Romanesque, Gothic, Baroque.

Pont de les Peixateries Velles

While strolling through the Christmassy old town and store hopping through some sweet boutiques, we reach the next popular picture spot faster than expected: The red steel bridge Pont de les Peixateries Velles, which connects the old town of Girona to the modern part and was created by Gustave Eiffel. It offers a wonderful view to the river Onyar, the colourful facades and the impressive cathedral.

       

Passeig de la Muralla

It’s time to make our way to the last tourist spot: the city wall of Girona. What a view! The steep climb is rewarded with an impressive panoramic view of the old town, the cathedral, the Jewish quarter, the church and the Pyrenees.

Girona - Costa Brava - Catalunya

This impressive view is totally worth it!

Christmas shopping in Girona

Enough sightseeing, we are in the mood for shopping! Many small shops and boutiques make it quite easy for us to find the perfect Christmas gifts for our loved ones. The city center is decorated with many colorful fairy lights and lovingly placed Christmas accessories – Oh, I can’t wait for Christmas!

Beautiful, isn’t it?

Rambla de la Llibertat

All these highlights and still no food! Luckily, Girona is brimming with restaurants that are waiting for hungry tourists to pass by! Following the smell of food, we walk to the Rambla de la Llibertat and pick a nice place in the shadow of a tree. With all the presents we bought, we are ready for the best time of the year – Merry Christmas!

 

 

 

Besalú – Medieval charm

The back country of the Costa Brava is filled with treasures. Where overcrowded cities and beaches take a back seat, the focus is on rural tranquility and medieval beauty. In quiet, car-free old towns with beautiful, lovingly restored buildings, you start a journey into another time.
Destination: The most beautiful medieval villages of Catalonia. One of them – Besalú.

Besalú - Pyrenees

The beauty of the Costa Brava, right in front of you!

Enchanted by Besalú

Starting point of our little journey through Besalú: The gigantic, perfectly restored bridge Pont Vell. The view of the beautiful bridge, its two majestic towers, the river Fluvià, the picturesque old town with numerous medieval stone houses and the foothills of the Pyrenees is simply overwhelming. Nobody can resist here: Taking pictures of this view is a must!

Besalu - old town - medieval

Impressive, isn’t it?

Back to the past

Unleashed from everyday life, we enter a place far away from stress and worries. Small, narrow streets lead to the village square, the Plaça Llibertat with lively little restaurants and cafés. The Monastery of Sant Pere leaves you very stunned. Our thoughts wander far into the past. Our next stop: the Church of Sant Vicente – also an impressive Romanesque building.

 

Definitely a highlight

In the former Jewish quarter, a very special highlight awaits us: a Jewish ritual bath. Only four of these species have survived across Europe – Wow! You cannot miss that. Such a magical place ..

A perfect walk..

A true masterpiece – Besalú

From the bank of the river Fluvià, we enjoy the unique view of the majestic bridge and the medieval work of art Besalú for the last time. While listening to the lapping of the river, we feel the passing time and the history surrounding this magical place.

 

 

 

Costa Brava’s white paradise – Cadaqués

 I’d already heard quite a lot of things about the former fishing village – the typical Cadaqués style, the unique location and the views to numerous snow white houses made me feel very excited. Let’s see whether the white town of Dalí can sweep me off my feet ..

Stunning views

Spectacular views accompany you on your way to Cadaqués!

The rather twisting road on our way to Cadaqués already turned the car ride into a small experience: gliding from left to right and admiring one stunning view after another – I guess I could already imagine what the city has to offer. I couldn’t lay my phone aside for as much as 2 minutes before having to take way too many pictures of the wonderful bays and harbours again.

But heads up! Be careful and don’t let your phone drop out of the car – you wouldn’t be able to get it back …

White paradise

After a car ride of about 15 minutes and 25 new pictures in my camera roll, we finally arrived: I had a small paradise right in front of me! Whether it is possible that absolutely every house in a village is painted white? So it seems. Whether it may be forbidden to build a house of a different colour here? I’d love to find out … Maybe I’ll know soon if I keep visiting and talking to locals!

Definitely worth visiting..

I have to admit, I was speechless: numerous snow white houses, green pine-trees, a beautiful church that attracts the views because of its height, the mountains behind it and the light blue sea with lots of white boats in front of Cadaqués. A stunning village! You have to visit once you are staying in Catalonia!

Restaurant Cap de Creus

But the car ride wasn’t over yet – again through the mountains! My phone’s camera had a busy day ..

Our destination was the restaurant Cap de Creus right next to the light house of Cadaqués. I could describe the evening in this stunning restaurant with one single word: WOW! I was and still am really impressed. It doesn’t matter where you’re sitting, the views are spectacular everywhere. In addition, a live band starts playing beautiful music just before sunset which brings the atmosphere to a maximum.

Chilling in a restaurant with a live band at the top of the mountains, holding a cold drink in your hand and watching the fantastic sunset – I don’t know if there’s something that could possibly be better than this!

Dinner in Cadaqués

After having extended my photo albums by more than 50 pictures and videos, it was time to return to the city centre of Cadaqués. In situ, we spent some time drinking a beer in front of a crowded bar next to the beach and went to the pizzeria Plaza after that: the only restaurant that could offer a table for 12 persons at nine in the evening without a reservation – the peak season was quite noticeable. After a delicious dinner including pizza, mussels, pasta and a free round of shots, we kept going.

Bar Boia Nit

The ultimate destination was the popular bar Boia Nit, which is very famous for its stunning cocktails. Of course I had to check whether they are really that good.

So, I ordered a piña colada and was quite surprised to watch my cocktail arriving in a pineapple-shaped cup! But not just that: decorated with many small fruits, sipping the cocktail turned into a unique flavour experience! Get over there and try it. You won’t be disappointed!

Beautiful cocktail that tastes fantastic!

Not the last time..

Finally, we finished our special cocktails and spent some time talking and relaxing before heading back home. But: Cadaqués, I’ll be back soon!

In the mood for a hike: Camino de Ronda

Admire one stunning bay after another and having the wonderful, turquoise blue sea continuously right in front of you? Going for a swim, relaxing in the sun and afterwards putting your hiking boots back on? In between, snacking a small treat in a restaurant with spectacular views to the sea and sipping a cool mojito later at sunset?

That sounds great to you? Well then, you will love the famous coastal path of the Costa Brava which has, for the most parts, been left in its natural state.

 

Camino de Ronda

With a length of approx. 45 km, the so-called Camino the Ronda offers infinite possibilities to enjoy the beauty of the Costa Brava with all of your senses. Whether you like to take a chance on the whole path within 2 days – like a professional hiker – or prefer walking only a small section on a sunny afternoon – it’s your choice. But I guarantee you won’t regret a single step!

 

 

 

Insider Tip: Cala Calitjàs

On a warm day of summer, we decided to visit the bay called “Cala Calitjàs“ in Roses, which persuades with a gravel beach and spectacular views to the light blue sea. On a holiday with perfect weather for bathing in middle of high season, I expected the beach to be overcrowded without air to breathe. I was quite surprised noticing that we had to share the spacious gravel area with less than 25 persons. Definitely an insider tip!

 

 

Next Bay: Cala Pelosa

After taking a refreshing bath in the cool salt water, we enjoyed the sun for a while – listening to the soft sound of the sea. Until our rumbling stomachs finally reminded us that it was already siesta time! Fortunately, we had organized a table in the famous restaurant called “Chiringuito La Pelosa“ before. The idea of a juicy paella with fresh seafood motivated us to leave the comfortable beach and hike to the next bay, the so-called “Cala Pelosa“, using the Camino de Ronda.

 

 

Hiking with spectacular views

Having walked only a few meters, I already understood why so many fans of Spain decide to walk the whole path: the views were continuously spectacular! Permanently, I had to stop to take some pictures of the dream scenery.

You can’t get enough of these wonderful views!

But I have to admit that I’ve been a little torn: On the one hand, I had to concentrate not to loose my footing and fall into the enormous cacti and on the other hand, I couldn’t help but admire  the crystal clear water, which sparkled in the sun and was decorated with numerous, luxurious boats and yachts. It’s better holding on for a minute now and again, otherwise it could get quite dangerous!

Restaurant “Chiringuito La Pelosa“

While we made our way through the prickly pears and palms, some passengers of boats in the distance seemed to have a lot of fun – boat party ahoy!

By the way, the restaurant has a boat service that delivers the paella!

 

Sooner than I expected, we reached the beautiful beach “Cala Pelosa“. At a distance, we already heard the chaos of different voices, clacking crockery and the clangour of glasses – the restaurant was at its peak. Whether we had to wait in spite of reserving? Unfortunately, yes. Whether it’s worth it? Definitely!

But the waiting period could be much worse: Chilling in a bar with comfortable seats and views to the sea – even the most impatient of you guys would survive this!

 

 

Paella – we’re coming!

After 1-2 cool refreshments, our names were called and we were brought to our table – with a great anticipation of our delicious meal. It didn’t take us more than 5 minutes to decide what to eat: a big paella with seafood and a few starters, to that of course a wine. As quickly as the starters arrived, they were gone again: A tuna fish tatar, salad, calamari, bread – well, that was tasty!

    

After resting a while, there was enough space in our stomachs for what we had been waiting for the whole time: The paella! Mhh smells delicious … I’ve never eaten paella before – a big mistake as I recognized. I’ve rarely tasted something so special! The Spanish people know exactly how to spoil their guests.

A very special taste experience..

A final selfie before leaving..

Finally some cocktails..

Satisfied and sated, we walked over to the bar to treat ourselves with some mojitos. After taking a few last pictures, we set off back home. Why don’t we spend every day like that? I’d love that!

Idyll Made of Stone – Peratallada

The back country of the Costa Brava, not far away from Girona, is cut from a very different cloth. Here, you can find the most beautiful medieval villages of Catalonia. These seem to send you into another time, if it weren’t for the tourists running around with the latest camera technology.

       

Peratallada – is one of those magical places full of history! Hardly any other village surprises with such an authentic, medieval charm.

Peratallada - stone houses - Costa Brava

Beautiful stone houses to discover in Peratallada …

Peratallada – “carved stone”

Peratallada — derived from “pedra tallada”, meaning “carved stone” — lives up to its name. Surrounded by a moat and a gigantic fortification wall, the place carries a medieval charm and rural silence hidden behind stone walls.

       

Far from the crowded beaches

The streets, the towers, the houses, the archways, even the church and the castle – everything is made out of natural stone and has been renovated with lots of love in the past few years. Numerous coffee bars, restaurants and hotels create a friendly atmosphere far away from the crowded beaches. Some small boutiques with souvenirs, ceramic and clothes tempt you to go shopping.

shops - peratallada - costa brava

Welcoming shops in the centre

Majestic church Sant Esteve

Having left the village over the fortress bridge after a relaxing walk through the shaded alleys, you’ll see another medieval jewel: The gigantic Roman church Sant Esteve, dating back to the 13th century, majestically rises just outside the doors of the village and forms a popular photo scene.

Church - Peratallada - medieval village

Beautiful, gigantic church Sant Esteve

Time to pay a visit to Peratallada!

Peratallada is on the toplist of the 10 most beautiful villages of Catalonia and is definitely worth visiting …

First time: Costa Brava

Until now, I’ve only been to Mallorca a few times. The island manages to fascinate me all over again every time. The Spanish continent – especially the Costa Brava – is virgin territory to me. During my internship, I would love to explore the other part of Spain – or rather of Catalonia.
At the very beginning of my internship, we took our first exploratory trip – with the Costa Live in the trunk.

Costa Brava - Begur - views to the sea

Fantastic sea view – Costa Brava

First stop: L’Estartit

Our first destination was the small resort L’Estartit near to Torroella de Montgrí.
On our way there, the views were already spectacular: The combination of sea and mountains was simply overwhelming. On site, a beautiful beach, small bustling shopping streets, a manageable yacht harbour and many welcoming coffee shops and restaurants with sea view amazed me. The place wasn’t flooded by mass tourism at all.

Costa Brava - Harbour - L'Estartit

L’Estartit Harbour

A tiny coffee shop between beach and harbour drew us to quietly enjoy the panorama of boats and water while sipping a refresher. The beach wasn’t overcrowded at all and the water was quite calm – although the waves were raging in many places this day.

After that, we made a little walk along the new promenade until the end of the town to admire the small islands “Illes Medes“ – the landmark of L’Estartit – from there. Wild waves were crashing against rock faces which were steeply rising out of the sea. The power of the open sea – we had it right in front of us.

Costa Brava - L'Estartit - View - rocks

Pretty view in L’Estartit

Tapas in Begur

Next, we made our way to Begur, a popular resort which has a lot to offer. Whether you like to go shopping, make a trip to the beautiful bays or enjoy the fascinating views from the castle hill over city, countryside and sea – Begur’s got it all.

Church and restaurants in Begur

Meanwhile, it was siesta time and our stomachs were growling. So we struck off to the town centre to eat a little something. Fortunately, we found a free table in the shadow of an olive tree in the famous restaurant “El Tapas de Begur“, which seduces with a lot of little treats. Without having to wait for the waiter to take the order, you can take the tapas yourself from the bar. It is important to keep the sticks which grace the tapas and not to throw them away! They are necessary for cashing up. Until then, this practical system, which is perfectly simple and is based on trust, wasn’t familiar to me. The tapas were very delicious and are definitely recommendable.

 

Shopping & Sightseeing

Nice boutiques in Begur

As the restaurant is located in the heart of the city, we had already spotted some nice boutiques next door while eating that we had to visit afterwards. Especially if you’re a big fan of pastel colours and Ibiza-style summer clothes, guaranteed you will fall in love with some pieces!

 

Fantastic view – Begur

Later, we couldn’t miss the chance to enjoy the view from the top of the castle. The steep ascent is rewarded with an unique view over the coast of the Costa Brava up until the Pyrenees. Time to take some pictures! Instantly, I had found a bay that I have to visit in the next couple of weeks: The bay Sa Riera!

 

Medieval charm

Stone houses of Pals

Finally, it led us to Pals: a perfectly restored medieval village, which had been build on a hill. As the old town from Pals is car-free, I would recommend you to leave your car beneath the historical centre and enjoy the walk.

 

 

Having reached the top, I understood why Pals is considered one of the most beautiful medieval villages of the Costa Brava: narrow streets, charming stone houses which are build closely to each other and again an unbelievable view of the surroundings from the Mirador de Josep Pla. In the distance, we could also spot the islands “Illes Medes“ which I mentioned before. If you want to drink a coffee or buy a small souvenir before leaving, the alleys of Pals will not disappoint you.

Diversity of the Costa Brava

The Costa Brava swept me off my feet on the very first trip: there is so much more to see and explore than I had expected! I’m very curious about what lies ahead in the next couple of months …