Author: Leni

pals medieval village

Pals – Medieval Catalan beauty

Travelling through medieval times.  The Spanish region Catalonia is known for many things. Breathtaking scenery, similar to Italy’s Tuscany, the impressive coast with its steep cliffs and the seemingly endless Mediterranean… and of course a number of charming villages captivating with their history.

medieval village pals

Hidden corners in the medieval village

Medieval idyll

With its 2500 inhabitants, the small and historical town Pals is classified as one of the ten most beautiful Catalan villages. After a visit on an early autumnal but sunny afternoon in September, I now understand perfectly why.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Situated on a small hill, Pals’ name derives from the Latin word “palus” meaning marsh. As the name already insinuates it was once surrounded by lakes and moors. These days the village is lined by trees in all shades of green and paddy fields where the typical Spanish paella rice is produced. Arriving at the villages entrance, we abandon our car and continue by foot – the only way you should be passing these hilly, narrow streets!

Time travel in the Catalan village

pals medieval village

Medieval time travel in Pals

After taking a few steps we reach Pals’ gates and feel as if we’re transferred to a different era. Those who are expecting even a touch of modernity are searching in vain. Thanks to an impeccable restauration the whole villages medieval basic structure is still well-preserved. You can almost hear the horse’s hooves on the bumpy cobblestone of Pals’ narrow streets and our thoughts wander… What life must have been like here in earlier times?

Torre de les Hores – the town’s landmark

medieval pals

Torre de les Hores in medieval Pals

We continue our path along the old stone walls covered with picturesque ivory and reach the town’s landmark. The “Torre de les Hores” – a Romanesque tower – sits majestically on top of the hill characterising the townscape. Moving further you find yourself on a little square with a viewing platform overlooking the beautiful surroundings and the dark blue sea. On clear days you’ll even be able to see the Medes Isles.

 

 

medieval pals

Green idyll in Pals

 

After enjoying the panoramic view for a while, we stroll down the old stone steps to the centre of the village. For those looking for a refreshment or a bite to eat, Pals offers a nice selection of cafés and restaurants considering the villages rather low number of inhabitants. One definitely doesn’t have to starve in Pals!

 

 

 

After this first travel through time to the Middle Ages one thing is for sure: we are excited to see what the other nine villages have to offer!

Figueres Dalí museum

Figueres: artistic flair guaranteed!

 

church figueres

Església de Sant Pere in Figueres

Figueres – small town charm. Those who are looking for a bit of variety and urban feeling – even if it’s just on a small scale – should give the charming town Figueres a go. The relaxing atmosphere is perfect for a stroll through the town and some window-shopping – I’m sure your wallet won’t stay put for long! From charming, classy boutiques to bigger fashion chains – Figueres has it all. The city also has a range of culinary treasures to offer to its visitors. For those who are looking for restaurants in a beautiful ambiance, the square in front of the town’s church is the place to be. Lean back and watch the colorful life of the city.

Dalí everywhere!

figueres dalí sculpture

Dalís impressive sculptures!

But now moving on to a man who gave Figueres its artistic flair and made the town known around the world. Yes, you guessed right: Salvador Dalí! Because what would be an article about Figueres without mentioning Catalonia’s most prestigious artist? Exactly: simply incomplete and not capturing the town’s character. Strolling through the Catalan streets, stumbling upon Dalís works of art over and over, you can definitely tell: Figueres takes immense pride in the surrealist.

 

Teatre-Museu Dalí – Figueres pride and joy

figueres dali museum

The famous facade with its colossal eggs

His most impressive and noticeable work would be the Teatre-Museu Dalí in the city centre. The matte red facade with its oversized eggs representing love and hope, the enormous dome-shaped roof and the strikingly beautiful front with its countless details that alone take up a couple of minutes to observe, give a first hint of what’s hiding behind the old walls of Figueres’ former municipal theatre.

 

figueres dali

Night at the museum

figueres dalí museum outside

Impressive facade of the Teatre-Museu Dalí

Every summer the museum offers its art-loving visitors a special treat: exclusive nighttime tours including a glass of champagne! But beware: the tours that take place between 10pm and 1 am are extremely popular. Get your tickets early enough and I guarantee you won’t be sorry! The short period of waiting doesn’t bother us because now in the evening time a light breeze is blowing in front of the museum and you don’t feel like melting in the sun anymore like one of Dalís famous clocks.

 

 

Figueres entrance museum

Beautiful details at the entrance

Entering the Teatre-Museu Dalí we immediately get goose bumps all over our bodies. In the semicircular inner courtyard where all of the different figures and sculptures are magically displayed with spot lights shining on them, our eyes wander directly to the giant glass dome. Especially at night the outside area of the museum spreads a special charm because now the stars are shining – almost kitschy – above our heads.

Figueres glass dome museum

The sparkling glass dome at the museum

Figueres’ famous museum – fascinating and multi-faceted

Figueres museum dalí

Much more than just the famous clocks!

We continue our visit through the different rooms and notice in amazement: Dalís works of art were extremely multi-faceted. There is so much more to the artist than just the „Melting Clocks“. You could spend hours studying and interpreting every little detail of his art work. Dalí once said to his friend (and rival) Picasso: „Picasso es un genio, yo también“ meaning “Picasso is a genius but so am I“. Well, he wasn’t particularly humble…but he also didn’t have any reason to be!

 

 

 

Surrealistic dream

figueres dalí artwork

Dalís huge artwork

Those who still haven’t had enough after a couple of hours in the surrealistic museum, now have the chance to stock up on souvenirs from the gift shop. And if you developed a certain fascination with the artists life and motivation like I did, grab yourself a copy of Dalís autobiography “The Secret Life of Salvador Dalí“ and start reading!

 

 

 

 

 

 

pirate

Yo ho, yo ho – pirates in l’Estartit

„Yo-ho, yo-ho a pirates life for me“ Jack’s Sparrow was humming with a wild grin on his face as he puts out to sea with his beloved ship. Plundering, capturing, throwing all manners overboard and knocking back barrels of rum… Oh, the sweet life of a pirate!

 Back in time – pirates in l’Estartit

pirate life estartit

Pirates in l’Estartit!

 

Of course, life for commoners wasn’t always easy during that period. Especially the citizens of the former fishing village l’Estartit had a hard time. In the 16th century, the Medes Islands – now uninhabited – were jam-packed with pirates, corsairs and rapscallions of all sorts. The poor villagers were victims of the pirate’s attacks more than once.

The pirates are coming!

Even though l’Estartit’s past is still engraved in the citizens memory, nowadays they take it a lot more lightly – as I could see for myself at the pirate’s celebration in l’Estartit! Having arrived at the village, I immediately felt the changed atmosphere of the usually quiet holiday destination: thrilled anticipation and hundreds of voices excitingly chattering. Boat trips to the Medes Islands, workshops, exhibitions and artisan markets are organised during the day. But now, at night time, when the sun has already sunken and the moon is up in the sky, the scene changes. It’s getting dangerous and loud… the pirates are coming!

pirates beach

Pirates on the beach of l’Estartit

Fire dancers and sword fighters

pirate fire torch

Playing with fire

In the course of the next two hours, l’Estartit offers its visitors a spectacular show. Torchlight processions accompanied by traditional musicians as well as dancers performing incredible acts with fire and realistic sword fights are thrilling the audience. The best is yet to come, though. I let my eyes wander over the dark blue sea and in the distance – far away from the show – my eyes catch a glimpse of something big. Something big that’s coming closer and closer. A giant pirate ship packed with pugnacious barbarians loudly roaring while swinging their swords. Not only the kids jaws are dropping – mine is too! The first pirates are already jumping overboard and screaming furiously while running towards us. The fierce fighting that follows couldn’t be more thrilling.

Fireworks on the beach

pirate firework

Giant firework over the sea

The spectacular show on the beach ends with a a giant firework over the sea.

pirate firework

Sparkling firework at the beach

Grand Finale on the church square

pirates estartit fire-breather

Fire-breather on l’Estartit’s church square

But that wasn’t all. The whole gang of pirates persists in roaming the streets of the village – and we are of course close behind! Finally, all pirates and corsairs come together on l’Estartit’s church square to celebrate the end of the spectacular show. For many visitors this was only the beginning of a wild night. The next barrel of rum is already open – that’s the way real pirates live! And we say: drink up me ‘earties, yo ho!

 

 

sea

Camí de Ronda – Walking between rugged rocks and the deep blue sea

 

sea colours

Sea: play of colours on the Camí de Ronda

Sea, sun and hiking boots: With a length of 200 km, the Spanish coastal trail reaches from Portbou near the French boarder to Blanes in the South. If you decided to take on the whole trail you would definitely be en route for quite some time. Ranging from 140 km in 8 days to 43 km in 2 days – everything is possible.

 

First stop on the coastal trail: Pals

beach

Broad sandy beach of Pals

We decided to take a more moderate route – at least for now. One beautiful summer afternoon – the sun is high in the sky but doesn’t burn down as strongly anymore and a gentle breeze is coming from the sea – we tie up our hiking boots and start our tour in Pals. Having arrived at the beach, we can’t help ourselves… We have to indulge our sweet tooth and get an ice cream. Don’t be too hard on us though, we did our fair share of walking afterwards!

Away from the hustle and bustle

We start our hike on the wide sandy beach of Pals where the waves are towering up today. Walking up a small staircase we reach the first part of our trail and all of the sudden we find ourselves away from the hustle and bustle of the beach. The waves splashing against the rocks, almost reaching us, captivate us. The power of the Mediterranean on the Catalan coast is definitely not to be underestimated!

waves

Splashing waves on the Camí de Ronda

Playa Illsa Roja – tropical feeling on the Costa Brava

 

Tropical feeling on the Playa Illa Roja

We move along between the rugged rocks and the deep blue sea to the next small – but charming – bay. With its huge lump of rock rising from the sea and the almost tropical looking rock face covered with trees, Playa Illa Roja reminds us slightly of Thailands famous beaches. Once again the waves are towering up in front of us making us wanting to jump in!

 

 

atmosphere

Dreamlike atmosphere at the Playa Illa Roja

High above the Playa Illa Roja

After capturing the atmosphere of this magnificent little bay with our camera, we take on the steepest part of our hike – only to discover a spectacular view of the Costa Brava.  We are looking at broad parts of the coast and the seemingly endless dark blue sea and think to ourselves: „How rewarding hiking can be!“

 

 

 

Enjoying the peak and the turquoise sea

After a short moment of enjoying the view, we continue our walk on a beautifully paved way to our next and at the same time last stop. The view is once again heavenly and the many seaside mansions that are surrounding us, make us (slightly enviously) dream.

rock

Lump of rock at the Plaja Illa Roja

Last bay: Sa Riera

sea

Almost there: Sa Riera

While the sun is slowly setting behind the mountain, the last part of the path leads us through a small group of trees appearing almost mystical in the dim evening light. One last step around the corner and we have almost reached the last stop of our tour: Sa Riera in the small coastal town Begur. Sailing ships are gently floating in the turquoise water and the last swimmers of the day are jumping in the waves. Situated directly at the beach of Sa Riera, a few charming little cafés offer us refreshments including a beautiful view of the sea.

sea

Sailing ships in Sa Riera

Only the beginning…

sea rocks

Camí de Ronda – between rugged rocks and the sea

We are sure: this small part of the Spanish coastal trail was only the beginning. And that is also one of the big advantages of the Camí de Ronda – you can choose and adapt your route however you like. Young or old, fit as a fiddle or rather slow-moving – everyone has the chance to make their way through the Spanish nature at their own pace. And what could be more relaxing than to ditch your car for once and discover Catalonias beauty by hiking along the coast?

Addicted to the Sea

From bay to bay on the Costa Brava

Mediterranean Sea – The beautiful Costa Brava stretches from the north of Barcelona to the French border and reaches from the foothills of the Pyrenees near Portbou to the Tordera river estuary near Blanes.
A rugged coastline with hidden beaches meets the deep blue Mediterranean accessible by charming little harbours.

Beautiful sunset at Cap the Creus

Beautiful sea view

A boat trip on the Costa Brava pleasantly surprises with spectacular views of a dreamlike scenery. Discovering the Costa Brava from the water is a real treat. Little fishing villages like Cadaqués, Port de la Selva, Tamariu or Calella de Palafrugell are also particularly charming when you are approaching them by boat.

Small sandy beaches separated by steep cliffs and unique rock formation, surrounded by fragrant pine trees, bizarre-looking cork-oaks  and elegant acacia trees – you’ll fall in love with this picturesque region with all of your senses.

Sailing boat in Roses

“Seacret” spot

Nevertheless, the northern part of the Costa Brava is still an inside tip for many – boat lovers included! Trips along the Costa Brava are best planned during low season because then you are guaranteed enough space to anchor using the designated buoys. The best idea is to cruise from bay to bay on a cosy little sailing boat: whether it be a day trip or a two-week vacation – everything is possible on the Costa Brava.  Basking in the sun and listening to the waves – that’s what a perfect day on board looks like.

Sailing trip on the Costa Brava

From one bay to another

Crossing from one bay to another and stopping wherever you like to cool down in the crystal-clear, turquoise water – the perks of traveling by boat! Sunbathing on deck, taking a dip in the deep blue sea and hearing nothing but the gentle sound of the waves…The evenings are perfect to enjoy a romantic picnic while the sun is going down. And later, at full moon, it’s time to let the champagne corks pop – oh, how beautiful life can be!

Speed and waves – discovering the Mediterranean Sea

So, set sail for the Costa Brava and discover its romance. Simply leaning back and unwinding while enjoying the view on the ocean and gently floating on the water. What could be more relaxing?

Discovering Cadaqués and the beautiful sea

CLUB NÀUTIC COSTA BRAVA

Carretera Club Nautico, S/N, 17230 Palamós, Girona
www.cncostabrava.com
Less than an hour away from Girona, the modern marina provides an excellent infrastructure to explore the Mediterranean Sea. The harbour offers the perfect basis for discovering the beautiful bays and sandy beaches of the surrounding area.

CLUB NÀUTIC L’ESCALA

Carrer Port de la Clota, s/n, 17130 L’Escala, Girona,
www.nauticescala.com
The modern marina, Club Nautic l’Escala, consists of excellent facilities for boats and their crews. Thanks to its central location on the Costa Brava, you can easily explore the whole region.

SANT FELIU DE GUIXOLS MARINA

Escullera del Port, s/n, 17220 Sant Feliu de Guíxols, Girona,                                               www.cnsfg.cat
Marina Sant Feliu de Guixols offers great service with exceptional facilities and assistance around-the-clock. There’s even a dry dock available. In the harbour, you’ll also find an outstanding restaurant, an area for members as well as personal services. The marina is easily reachable from Girona.

PUERTO DE ROSES MARINA

Avinguda de Rhode, s/n
17480 ROSES (Girona), portroses.com
Puerto de Roses also offers a ultra-modern marina with access to the charming little town and the beautiful nature at the natural park at Cap de Creus. Full nautical service and professional staff allows stress-free stopovers during your boat trip along the Spanish coast.

MARINA D’EMPURIABRAVA

Calle Empuriabrava, 0 Edificio Nautico, 17486 Castelló d’Empúries, Girona
www.marinaempuriabrava.com
The giant Marina d’Empuriabrava offers 5.000 mooring sites surrounded by a holiday resort that promises great luxury and comfort. Easily accessible from both France and the Balearic Islands.