All posts filed under: excursion

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!

camí de ronda

Camí de Ronda: From Sa Tuna to Sa Riera

The travel bug has bitten us again. My uncle is visiting me at the moment and we decide to go on a hike on parts of the camí de ronda, from Sa Tuna (Begur) in the direction of Sa Riera. Let’s see where the way will lead us to. When arriving in Sa Tuna, we are welcomed with rain. So we stay seated and wait. We are lucky and the rain stops after a while.

 

camí de ronda sa tuna

Sailing boats in Sa Tuna

Finally, we can start our tour in the bay of Sa Tuna. Despite of the cloudy sky, the only restaurant of the small place is crowded. The small bay impresses with loads of different boats and small, charming fishing houses. Would be a good place for spending vacations in one of them…After a few photos and some day dreaming, we leave Sa Tuna behind and head towards the next bay.

Climbing up steep stairs

camí de ronda stairs

Steep stone stairs

The different rocks and rough cliffs look amazing. Every now and then, some delicate flower sticks out between the stones. The sea shines in all different shades of blue. We get to the Cala Aiguafreda. Here, you can find a small bar and a couple of fishing boats. Some children are playing in the water. Others are sitting and apparently waiting for the sun to come out. And then the sky gets brighter and the sun indeed comes out. Accompanied by warm sunshine, we continue our route. Now the way gets steeper and we have to climb up the stairs to the Cap Sa Sal.

Camí de Ronda: always a spectacular view of the sea

camí de ronda hotel

Beautifully situated hotel

On the top, there is a hotel and restaurant with spectacular sea views. From there, we continue our walk on the road while passing luxury villas. Curious as we are, we look through the fence and catch a glimpse of somebody swimming in a pool. We hear loud laughter and music. Somebody is having a nice pool party. Now we would really like to join them and jump into their pool. Sweaty we go on. Between the villas, there is a stair going downwards and leading to the actual hiking trail, which goes now along the cliff.

High above the Mediterranean

camí de ronda rocks Breathtaking sea views open up in front of us. Gigantic and bizarre looking rocks stick out of the sea. Here, we take a short break and enjoy the panorama. After some time, we walk on and discover a small fishing boat between the rocks in the water. The couple in love on board obviously feels unnoticed.

camí de ronda colours

Blaze of colours on Camí de Ronda

camí de ronda sea

Turquoise sea

Amused we follow the path. Meanwhile, it is getting late and I really want to take a bath in the turquoise water. We decide to make a stop at a wild, rocky bay. We are not alone there, a few people a snorkeling in the sea. Before we make our way back to the car, I go swimming. Luckily, we brought a pair of swimming shoes because the only way into the water is by climbing above some rocks in the water. Finally, I’m in the sea! What a wonderful day!

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?

CAC

Weekend trip to Valencia

I’ve already heard a lot about Valencia and I’ve always wanted to visit “Barcelona’s little sister“. Finally, on a weekend in June I arranged a meeting with my friends there. My journey began on Thursday evening.

Arriving in Valencia

From Figueres, you can easily go by train to Valencia, with a change in Barcelona. After about 5 hours, you arrive at the train station Estació del Nord in Valencia. This strain station was built in 1917 by Demetrio Ribes in a modernist style. The beautiful decoration and ornaments draw attention. Next to the train station, you can also find the bullring. Walking towards the city centre, I get impressed by wonderful city houses with little towers and big statues. At a typical Spanish tapas bar we rest from the journey, with sangria, of course. Then we go to our accommodation, nearby the underground station Turia. From there, we start our weekend tour through the city, on Friday morning.

Valencia Estaciò Nord

If you look carefully, you can find small oranges on the façade of the building.

Food paradise

The first sight on our list is the Botanical Garden. We get astonished by all kinds of orchids, succulents, cacti and agaves – all of them in full bloom. Then, we head towards the old city, through the Torres de Quart, one of Valencia’s old town gates. We get to the Mercat Central, an old market hall, and find ourselves in a food paradise. Fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, bread, sweets, juices, wine,… it’s like heaven on earth for us. Market stand after stand we taste as much as we can. Simply delicious! Of course, we also try a little bit of vino tinto, because we are in Spain! Fortified and heavily loaded with ham, cherries, salami and sweet pastries we continue our tour through the old city.

Cactus with flower

Cactus, agaves,… everything is flourishing right now in the Botanical Garden of Valencia.

Royal drink

Moreover, in Valencia you absolutely have to try a freshly made, cool horchata de chufa (orxata de xufa in Catalan), preferably from the famous Horchatería Santa Catalina, where already Isabella, Princess of Asturias, was guest. The drink is made with the so-called earth almond or tiger nut, a crop of the sedge family and has an unique taste. Especially on hot days, it serves as a tasty refreshment. It is also very healthy. Afterwards, we have a look inside the Cathedral of Valencia, go past the archdiocese of Valencia, the Basílica de la Mare, the Plaça del Manises through the Torres de Serranos and along the Turia park back home for a siesta.

Old city gate

On our way home, we walk through one of the old city gates of Valencia.

Party all night long

At night, we stroll along the trendy district Russafa. In the Cafecito, our new famous bar in Valencia, we enjoy some homemade sangría and agua de valencia (alcoholic cocktail with vodka, gin, prosecco and orange juice). In a good mood, we take a taxi to the most famous club of the town, MYA, in the Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències. We party until the next morning.

Sangría Cafecito

In our new favourite bar Cafecito we enjoy some homemade sangría. What a difference to the one from the supermarket!

City in a city

The next day, our aim is the Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències. The “City of Arts and Sciences“ is a modern complex of scientific and artistic facilities and impresses with an extraordinary, modern architecture. An IMAX 3D cinema, a natural science museum, Europe’s biggest aquarium – the “Oceanogràfic“ and an opera house belong to the city made out of glass and white metal structures, surrounded by turquoise water. Later, we go shopping in the old city, buy some souvenirs and relax with tapas and cool drinks. Valencia is definitively worth a visit! Away from mass tourism you can find loads of interesting corners and Spanish originality.

Ciutat de les Arts Ciències

In the Ciutat de les Arts Ciències we make a break and relax at the turquoise water surrounding the modern buildings.

Sea vie at the Botanical Garden

Green oases at the Mediterranean Sea – Botanical Gardens

“The true paradises are the paradises that we have lost.”, Marcel Proust knew.
“You are a happy man, Le Nôtre.“, King Louis XIV of France once said to his gardener in Versailles. The omnipotent monarch and ruler of all kinds of luxury envied his gardener of all people. Gardens and parks are still a promise of happiness for a lot of people. Each garden – if it’s wildly grown, exactly planned, well-tended, with a lot of twists or exotic – is an echo to paradise and a try of the answer to our dream of it.

Wonders of nature

Gardens reflect the philosophy of its designer and his longing for beauty. Nature, however, keeps creating space for surprises and all kinds of wonders. André Heller – poet, artist and garden designer noticed: “Out here there is only truth. There is no orchid and no daisy that lies.“
Gardens are honest places of peace, silence, joy and delight. Spring is here and plants and flowers are blossoming. At the Costa Brava, there are four botanical gardens you can visit. Now is the best time! Each of them is an unique spectacle of nature with stunning Mediterranean Sea views.

Cliffs of the Costa Brava

Especially the Marimurtra garden surprises with breathtaking sea views.

Back in time

In Lloret de Mar you can find the gardens of Santa Clotilde with their big variety of plants and countless shades of green. The creator of the neoclassicist designed gardens was Nicolau-Maria Rubió i Tudurí, the most famous Catalan landscape architect. The gardens are structured by stairs overgrown with ivy and crossing paths. Highlights are the constantly appearing Italian Renaissance-like busts. While listening to the splashing of the fountains, you can find romantic viewpoints and shady benches. Fantastic sea views may fascinate here and then. Between huge cypresses, cedars and pines you can spend a nice siesta in the cool shade. However, the palace garden-like park is most impressive in June, when its landmark, the Agapanthus flower, will be blooming.

Bust framed by greens

In the Garden of Santa Clotilde you can notice the creator’s love for details.

Prickly friends

In the botanical garden of Pinya de Rosa, between Blanes and Lloret de Mar, things are pricklier. Here, visitors get surprised by bizarre cacti an tropical plants. Especially, the giant agave flowers and human-sized cacti seem impressive. Unfortunately, this actually beautifully designed garden now appears a little bit neglected and not as well-tended as it used to be.

Human-sized cacti

In the Pinya de Rosa garden, Cacti bigger than ourselves quite astonish us.

Stunning sea views

At the outskirts of Blanes, there is Marimurtra, with local plants, blooming flowerbeds, characteristic viewpoint pavilion and exotic plants from all over the world. The creator of the Marimurtra garden at the Sant-Joan cliff in Blanes was the German botanist Karl Faust. Here, the paths wind along the steep coastline, through wonderful arrangements of cacti, succulents and flowers from different continents to the famous pavilion, where you have a breathtaking view to the sea and cliffs and the convent of Blanes. This botanical garden is our personal favourite and definitely worth a visit. Especially, during the start of summer it offers flourishing floral diversity together with unique sea views.

View point pavilion

The pavilion at the background is characteristic for the Marimurta Garden.

Music in the garden

In the gardens of Cap Roig in Calella de Palafrugell you’ll be walking in the shade of trees and plants from five different continents. The gardens were completed in 1974, by Colonel Woevodsky and Dorothy Webster, and also provide, apart from unique flower splendour, exhibitions and sculptures of famous artists. Moreover, the international music festival Jardins de Cap Roig takes place here every summer. Enjoy a wonderful spectacle of nature, best views and the impressive game of light and shade. Don’t forget your camera! Gardens make you happy, you do not even have to own them!

Blossoming tree

Even the trees surprise us with their colourful flowers.

Sea view with flowers

From Calella de Palafrugell to Tamariu

An old German song about trekking more or less says “The water never sleeps, it keeps always moving.“ Hiking is fun. Also composer Franz Schubert already knew that. On a warm and sunny morning we set out for a walk along the Costa Brava. The camí de ronda leads us along the impressive “wild coast“, past picturesque fishing villages and beautiful bays with fine, golden sand, to Tamariu.

Busy fishing village

We start our tour in Calella de Palafrugell, a small fishing village. In a street café we rapidly eat some bocadillos and have a café con leche, before we finally can start walking. The route leads us through the huge round arches of the Port Bo square and past the beach of Canadell. It’s Sunday lunchtime and the restaurants are full of tourists and locals. Also on the beach, we can’t find an empty space. A quick selfie, then we are relieved to leave all the hustle and bustle behind us.

Pink flowers at the side of the path

At the coastline, everything is blossoming.

And up we go

Below an ancient watchtower, we go around a headland and arrive in Llafranc in almost no time. After a short break for drinking some water and taking a couple of photos, we climb up a few stairs at the harbour and get to a curvy street. Winding our way upwards we pass luxurious villas. At the top we come across the lighthouse of Sant Sebastiá, which is the most powerful Spanish lighthouse with a headlight range of 100 km. Here, you can also find a restaurant with a great view of Llafranc and the surrounding cliffs. We pass the lighthouse and an old watchtower dating back to the 15th century. After the climb at midday heat, we have to rest for a while and fortify ourselves with some sandwiches.

View of the coastline

What a view! The camí de ronda keeps surprising us with stunning sea views like this.

Colourful sea water

Fortified, we continue the final part of our route, leading us through forests and meadows, past a couple of isolated private plots, downwards to the Cala Pedrosa. In this remote rocky bay we find a small fishing hut offering some snacks for the small appetite. Fascinated by the game of the colourful waves – dark blue, turquoise, light green shining in the sun – we take a small break on a big rock at the sea. There is a lot of coming and going and we can’t find peace. So we put our drinking bottles back in our backpacks and leave the bay behind us. Shortly afterwards, we enjoy the aromatic smell and the cool air in a pine wood. Every now and then the blue sea shines through the trees. Excited what’s waiting for us after the forest, we follow the path now going along the coastline, passing small rocky bays with turquoise water.

Dream of paradise

The turquoise-greenish colour of the sea water is like heaven on earth.

Arriving at Tamariu

About 45 minutes afterwards we finally get to the beach of Tamariu. Crystal-clear, Caribbean-blue water and a red-golden sandy beach await us. We take off our shoes, climb over a few rocks separating the path from the beach. The sand is giving us a nice massage and the cool salt water refreshes our skin. Exhausted, we sit down on a bench at the promenade and rest there for a while. The small coastal town is very busy. You can find sangria, beer and white wine on the restaurant tables. Hikers, tourists, locals and sun worshippers come together here. Before we go back, we eat some tasty ice cream and enjoy the sea view. Above us the seagulls, making their rounds in the sky. A light breeze blows the hair out of our faces. Simply wonderful! The sun is slowly going down and it’s time to go back.

Arriving at Tamariu

Exhausted, we finally get to Tamariu. We can’t wait to feel cool salt water on our tired feet.

Info:

Route: Calella – Llafranc – Far de Sant Sebastiá – Cala Pedrosa – Tamariu
Walking time: In total about 2 1/2 hours
Don’t forget suncream and water bottles!

Traditionelles Dorfhaus

The road to silence – excursion

On an early morning in April, we hit the road to silence. You can find it only a few kilometres away from the beaches of the Cost Brava, in the small medieval villages of the Empordà area. There, time passes slower.

Less speed is more

In an old Mercedes we make our way through wide meadows and olive groves and even pass a grazing flock of sheep. Above us, the blue infinity of the southern sky. Today’s motto: less speed is more: more impression, more experience, more enjoyment. Always online, always available – today we are not. The world turns faster every day, times of peace are rare. Therefore, it’s important to discover silence in a new way. Deceleration is today’s programme. Yesterday, breathless through space and time. Today, we walk slowly, intentionally, through the quiet alleys, deserted landscapes and spend the siesta between ancient walls of romantic, medieval places.

Alley with archway

The nice spring sun is playing tricks with light and shade.

Idyllic country life

One of these places on our journey is Vulpellac. Here, you can find a stone castle, built between the 13th and 16th century, looking over the crooked roofs of the houses. The church connected to the castle was once the castle’s chapel. We admire tendrils and huge lemon trees. A cat scurries through an archway.The small alleys around the castle absorb us and the sunlight for one moment, and then release us a few minutes later. The village is covered in silence. An old friendly man greets us. We don’t remain unnoticed. At this time of year there are no foreigners here. Immediately we get exposed as foreign tourists and people are observing us. Whether our camera is able to capture the magic of this place? Better if you look for yourself.

Ancient building

Castle of Vulpellac, dating back to the 13th century.

Let’s keep unwinding

Not far away, you can find the place Canapost with its beautiful Romanesque church, dedicated to Saint Steven. From here, we go to Peratallada. This village is considered a jewel and is visited by many people during summer. Also today, we are not alone in this village surrounded by walls, impressing with traditional medieval structure. At the car park, we still don’t have to pay a charge and we easily find a place between the few hired cars of the first tourists. Peratallada is dominated by its castle and the Romanesque church Sant Esteve. We stroll through the crooked alleys and delightful squares. In the old town centre you can find many small restaurants, located in charmingly renovated historic stone houses. Almost all of the boutiques and small shops are still closed right now. We find a free table on one of the terraces between the arcades of the Plaça de Les Voltes. It’s time for some tapas and a glass of cold white wine. Relaxed, we are looking at the square. A nervous dog moves back and forth, hoping for a dropped down bite. Unfortunately, he has bad luck, as his owner calls him back. The owner from one of the restaurants in front of us is looking desperately for some guests. So far, only a few people came here for having lunch. When the season starts, they will fight for free tables. But today, the locals still enjoy the slowness. Also, our waiter is very relaxed and serves his few guests on the sun-drenched terrace without any stress. We wanted deceleration, so don’t complain and keep unwinding. The moment is wonderful and the day still has a lot to offer.

Café Peratallada

Sitting in a restaurant, we enjoy the view over the lovely square.

Back to reality

After another walk through the town, we decide to visit Pals. Here, we are back in commercialism. A few coaches just have parked in front of the medieval place. If we hurry, we might can get rid of the tourist masses. But then, deceleration and peace is over. The one way or the other. Nevertheless, a look a the Medes Islands and a short round through the picturesque village is a must. Finally, we are lucky and find a small hidden café, away from the hustle and bustle, where we finish our trip with a café con leche. Slowly, the sky turns pink and the sun disappears behind the mountains on the horizon. It’s time to go back into reality. Hopefully, there will be time for more moments of deceleration.

View over Pals

One last view, then it’s time to go back to real life.

 

Houses at the river

Girona – love at first sight

For a lot of people Girona is only a stop along the way to the Costa Brava or Barcelona, but Girona has more than a few things to offer and is definitely worth a visit. Already during my first visit I fell in love with this delightful, vivid and colourful town.


Bottom kissing

We start our tour at the bridge named Pont de San Feliu. From here you have the best view over the colourfully painted houses at the river Onyar. Orange, yellow, red…reflected in the small waves of the river, a lovely photo motif. We continue our walk, past the lion statue La LLeona at the Plaça de Sant Feliu and head towards old town. It is said that you can’t be a proper citizen of Girona without having kissed the bottom of the lion at least once. For visitors, the kiss promises a soon return to Girona. I forgo this custom, because l am certain of coming back anyway.

Lion statue

There is always a big crowd in front of the lion statue, waiting for their turn to kiss the lion’s backside.

Historic Baths dating back to 1194

Walking on the Carrer dels Calderers, we get to a small street called Pujada de Sant Feliu, which leads upwards. Here you can find a nice place for having a coffee or something to eat. Fortified, we pass by the Basílica Sant Feliu and go to the Arabic Baths. The entrance only costs 2 € (students only pay the half), so indeed a true bargain.

Ancient Baths

Inside the Arabic Baths, we are impressed by the unique architecture.

Witch hunting

Later, we follow the stairs up to the part behind the Cathedral of Girona. The view from there over the city is fascinating. We stroll along the small alleys up to the Jardins de la Francesa, a small garden, where you can find beautiful blue benches inviting you to have a seat and just relax. At the façade, there is an interesting detail to observe: a gargoyle shaped like a woman, called the witch. According to the legend, there was a woman throwing stones against the processions, until she herself got fossilized. In the garden you can also start the city wall-tour, which we postpone until later.

Having a break

Let’s have a short break in the shade.

Game of Thrones in Girona

Now it’s time to leave the garden and go to the place in front of the Cathedral. The Cathedral of Girona was built in various phases during the 14th, 15th and 17th century and has the widest Gothic nave in the world. From the Cathedral there are 90 stairs going downwards. This outside staircase is the biggest baroque staircase and even was the scene for the famous TV series Game of  Thrones. They even offer GOT tours around the city with stops at the various scenes.

Cathedral of Girona

Not only from outside, but also from inside the cathedral looks impressive.

Travelling through time

Downstairs, we walk on the Carrer de la Força (street of force) towards the old city and the Jewish quarter. Narrow, dark alleys are waiting for us and we now realize why Girona was serving as a medieval film set. We ourselves feel like back in time. The street of force was between 889 and 1492, so 600 (!!!) years, part of the Jewish quarter, also called Call.

Narrow alley in Girona

Walking through the dark and narrow alleys in the old town, we feel like back in the Middle Ages.

Time for shopping

Always straight ahead, passing tapas bars and restaurants, we arrive at the Plaça del Vi, turn right and go over the the bridge Pont de Pedra to the other side of the town. We turn right again into the Carrer de Santa Clara, following the street until we arrive at the next bridge. Of course, we can’t go past the shops without taking a look inside. In Girona there are so many small and adorable shops and boutiques, a paradise for all who love to shop.

Small supermarket

What we love most about Girona are the small and lovely shops.

Eiffel bridge

Passing trees with gorgeous pink blossoms, we walk over the Pont de les Peixeteries and return to the other city side. Girona has a large number of bridges, connecting both sides of the town, which are separated by the river Onyar. The Pont de les Peixeteries is a special highlight as it was constructed by Gustave Eiffel. The impressive metal structure leads us to the Rambla de la Llibertat. There is a lot going on here.

La Rambla de Girona

The Rambla de la Llibertad is an avenue with huge trees providing enough shade from the warm spring sun.

The most gorgeous bridge

Walking down the Rambla, we come to the Pont de Sant Agustí and to the Plaça de la Independència. Under the round arches, it’s finally time to enjoy a café con leche while watching the busy life at the square, one of my favourite things to do. After our short coffee break, we walk past the Plaça de la Independència and over the Pont d’en Gómez, in my opinion the most beautiful bridge of Girona.

Most beautiful bridge in Girona

At the Pont d’en Gómez you have some wonderful views to the colourful houses at the river Onyar.

Above the rooftops of Girona

Back at our starting point, we are now going to explore part of the old city wall. From there you have a stunning view over the rest of the popular sights, like for example the Basílica Sant Feliu, the Església de Sant Nicolau, the monastery of Sant Pere de Galligants and the small gardens and parks between.                                                                                                                                      There are so many different possibilities to discover this unique town. The best thing to do is to follow your hunch. Countless stairs promise secret surprises, for sure.

High above the rooftops of Girona

Climbing up the many stairs was totally worth it. What a view!

What you definitely have to try:

Tapas at Zanpanzar

Ice cream at Rocambolesc

Above Barcelona's roofs

Barcelona – two days in the Catalonian metropolis

Saturday morning at the train station in Barcelona. Here, Barbara is waiting for her boyfriend, who will come here directly from the airport. Their aim on this weekend: Exploring Barcelona and getting a first impression of the city between the mountains and the sea.

Arriving an adapting

Two days will never be enough for visiting all the sights, recommended restaurants and bars, museums and popular districts of the Catalonian capital, but nothing ventured, nothing gained. Therefore, the two set out for their little adventure, a little bit blind and disoriented, Barbara admits. The most important thing is the right direction: they focus on their hostel for leaving their luggage. Just following their nose, the couple goes by metro to the city centre, as their accommodation is located in front of the Universitat de Barcelona, close to Plaça Catalunya. However, they already change their plan during their metro journey, get off at the next station, look for a café and, in a more organized way, make a new weekend plan, while enjoying a café con leche and delicious croissants.

Blick über Barcelona

Where to start?

Goose, paella and the sea

Leaving their mystery tour-tactics behind, they both decide to go for a walk through the Barri Gòtic, the oldest district of the town. Their travel guide proposes a very interesting route with passing all the important sights. So perfect for tourists like them who don’t have much time. Starting at the Gothic cathedral “La Catedral de la Santa Creu i Santa Eulàlia“ with goose entertaining its visitors, Barbara and her boyfriend walk to the “Palau de la Generalitat“ where the Catalonian government has its seat, until the “Puente del Bisbe“, they visit all the famous Gothic buildings of Barcelona. At the same time, they get closer to the sea and make a break in the afternoon, at Spanish lunchtime, in the warm spring sun while having a tasty paella and a cold beer.

Palm trees in the cloister

Apart from the goose, there are also palm trees and other plants decorating the cathedral’s cloister.

Event location and leisure time spot

After the couple finally has left the luggage at their hostel, they make their way towards the local mountain, called Montjuïc, which has a height of 173 meters. The Montjuïc serves as a perfect event location, but also without anything planned, attracts as many tourists as locals. Whether the rests of the world exhibition in 1929, like the German pavilion constructed by Mies van der Rohe, the Font Màgica (magic fountain), the parks around the mountain or the impressive castle at the highest point of Montjuïc, there is a lot to see. From the castle, you have a beautiful view over the whole city and the Olympic site behind (In 1992, the Summer Olympics took place in Barcelona) with its huge TV mast provides enough space for a few quiet minutes, before they go back to the hustle and bustle.

Magic fountain

Montjuïc impresses with size and architecture.

Fascinating show and culinary diversity

Soon afterwards, Barbara and her boyfriend sit at the crowded stairs in front of the Font Màgica, waiting impatiently for the light show to begin. At 7 pm, water fountains will be shooting up into the air, accompanied by music and colourful lights. After the show, it’s time for dinner and they are spoilt for choice: the streets are endlessly filled with restaurants and tapas bars, especially in the trendy districts. The two look around next to Eixample and finally find a place for having something to eat.

Magic fountain during night

Both of them are impressed by all the different colours and formations of the lights.

Gaudí’s masterpieces

On Sunday, they planned to visit Barcelona’s highlights: the Sagrada Família and the Casa Milà, both constructed by the famous architect Antoni Gaudí. In a good mood and full of anticipation, they make their way towards the Sagrada. Arriving there, they get extremely disappointed. Of course, they didn’t reserve our tickets online in advance, which would have been a good idea. A big mistake regarding the huge queue of people already waiting since 9 am to get in. So, the two join the queue and are lucky: as one of the last people they still get tickets for the entrance at 1pm. Both of them appreciate the unexpected free time in the morning and visit the art nouveau Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau, close to the Sagrada. Afterwards, they continue their Gaudí tour and walk around the roof terrace and the exhibition spaces of the Casa Milà, while listening to an audioguide. People also call it “La Pedrera“ (engl. quarry), because the residents of Barcelona were not very amused by the building with its curved façade and the many projections. Barbara and her boyfriend, however, are astonished at Gaudí’s innovative architecture and have to tear theirselves away, in order to not miss the admission for Gaudí’s most famous building: the Sagrada Familia, which he dedicated his life to. So, in a way, they follow the course of his productive years chronologically.

La Pedrera

With its curvy façade, “La Pedrera” captivates all of its visitors.

Barcelona’s landmark

From the outside, the two are not very impressed as the building is not finished yet and a great deal of construction cranes shape the usual image. Therefore, they don’t really get why this church is supposed to be so special and unique, besides the many cranes, towers and other elements observed from the outside. As they enter the church, their opinions suddenly change. Amazed by the modern construction and the big luminous interior, both agree that the Sagrada Família is something special, indeed. Not only because of its history (they started to build it already 130 years ago!!!), but also because of its unusual looks, making it not a typical church. And that’s probably the reason for its incomparable uniqueness.

Barcelona's landmark

Long queues and huge cranes are part of the usual picture of the Sagrada Familia.

Tow days, hundreds of impressions, one certainty

Still fascinated by the architecture of Gaudí, Barbara and her boyfriend have to pack their things, because their time in Barcelona is coming to an end. Arrived with few ideas and plans, they leave with much more impressions and memories. They’re sure, this won’t be their last trip to the vivid metropolis at the Mediterranean Sea. Barcelona put a spell on them and still has a lot more to offer…let’s see where they will end up next.

Last view over Barcelona

One last view over the Catalonian capital.

 

Mountains covered with snow

Between Spain and France – on the way to the Pyrenees

The Pyrenees form the natural border between Spain and France and separate the Iberian Peninsula from the rest of Europe. On a warm spring day, we hit the road for exploring this no man’s land at the northern part of Catalonia and for learning what endless wideness and absolute harmony with nature really mean. 

Let’s go!

We start at Torroella de Fluvià and go towards Darnius and enter into another world. Dense cork-oak forests cover the mountainous landscape like a blanket and narrow streets, seamed by blossoming broom plants, lead us upwards towards the snowcapped peaks.

High above the valleys

Our way takes us higher and higher through the mountains.

Narrow streets and small villages

Like a thin thread the street winds upwards to the heights of the Pyrenees and passes small rivers and valleys through bridges, which seem to melt together with the subsoil. We pass Maçanet de Cabrenys and Tapis and get to the French Coustouges. If the street signs were not in French, you would not notice the difference, because time seems to pass slower there. Neighbours are having a chat at the one corner, children are playing at the other and one step further a man makes his way home with a fresh baguette. The narrow and steep alleys of the mountain villages remain silent. The natural stone houses adapt to the hillsides of the mountains and create a pleasant atmosphere.

Blue sky over pass road

Along the mountain pass our way leads us across the easter Pyrenees.

Textile manufacture in the middle of the Pyrenees

Just in time we get to Saint-Laurent-de-Cerdans. It is almost 12 o’clock and they still let us into the showroom of “Les Toiles Du Soleil“ before making their lunch break. Since the 19th century, the traditional Catalan company high up in the Pyrenees produces high quality cotton and flax textiles. We not only find ourselves in the village’s last textile manufactory, but also in a textile paradise. They use the colourfully striped materials to manufacture pillowcases, napkins, cooking aprons and much more. If you like sewing yourself, you can also take home piece goods or rests of textiles. An extensive spending spree later, we sit back in the car and continue our journey.

At the company of Les Toiles du Soleil

The firm premises of Les Toiles du Soleil.

The magic of the mountain villages

The narrow street leads us past the villages of Le Tech and Prats-de-Mollo-la-Preste back to Espinavell in Spain. The houses there seem to stick to the mountains as they are built on top of each other. Down at the river, where they drive by the horses from mountain pastures down to the valley every autumn, there is a small country hotel. There we eat delicious fresh trouts. After this unique taste experience, we head towards Molló. In the centre you can find an incredibly big Romanesque church, compared to the size of the village. We are winding up our way through the mountains, cross various times the river Ter and finally get to Camprodon. Especially the arch bridge “Pont Nou“, connecting both banks like a wooden brick, is something to remember there. Also in Sant Joan de les Abadesses you can find such a bridge. However, this small town is famous for the history of its convent dating back to the 8th century. The last stop is Ripoll with its beautiful Romanesque Benedictine monastery, the first one in Spain. Inspired by the St. Peter’s Church in Rome, the monks created a true oasis of peace.

Monastery in Ripoll

Cloister of the convent in Ripoll.

Church in Molló

Size and age of the church in Ripoll make it something unique.

Back from the mountains

With a few pieces of fresh coca (bread) and a lot of impressions we finally make our way home. Slowly we dive back into the loud and stressful daily life at the feet of the silence found up in the mountains. We leave behind the isolation of the villages, the endless expanse of the mountain range and the feeling of being able to touch the clouds at the highest point of the mountain pass.

Looking at the snowy mountains

Hasta luego and bye bye! We are sure of coming back to the mountains for experiencing peace and freedom.