All posts filed under: excursion

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.

 

Along the coast

At the other side of the Pyrenees

The sun shines brightly and bathes small coastal towns, the mountain range Serra de l’Albera, picturesque bays, rough rocks, traditional fishing villages and narrow streets in a golden light. Perfect conditions for our trip on a sunny day in spring.

From Perpignan towards the Pyrenees

We start our journey in Perpignan and travel back to Spain along the French Mediterranean coast. Passing salt lakes south-east of Perpignan, very popular for surfing, we get to Argelès-sur-Mer. This seaside resort connects in a way the Pyrenees with the Mediterranean Sea and impresses with its small alleys and fine sandy beaches. However, we don’t stay long and follow the street along the coast, covered with hundreds of blossoming lavender and broom plants.

Coloured plants decorate along the coast.

Beautiful plants seam the coastline.

Picturesque fishing villages and unspoiled bays

Our way southwards leads us to Collioure, an old fishing village, which attracts lots of different artists. Again and again we see their framed motifs. At the promenade, a frame shows, for example, the ancient fortified church, captured by Henri Matisse. We make a small break and take in the splendid colours and the hustle and bustle in the bay. Then we leave Collioure and its colourful alleys and soon afterwards enjoy the peace in one of the secluded and delightful bays of Port Vendres.

Fortified church in Collioure

The bay of Collioure invites coffee lovers, sun worshippers and wind surfers.

Great view of the coast

Passing Banyuls-sur-Mer, famous for its sweet wine, we finally get to the Cap Rederis. From there you have a beautiful view of the coastal landscape: from the Cap Béar to the Spanish Cap de Creus, you can enjoy a stunning panorama, framed by various illuminated flowers. Down at the water, waves with sea spray break against the rough rocks of the steep coast and through the clear, turquoise water beyond you can see to the ground.

Looking down to the seabed

Through the clear water you can see down to the bottom of the sea.

A trip full of impressions

Wonderful strong colours and idyllic small bays. Traditional fishing villages and abandoned streets along the steep coast. Clear water in all possible shades of blue and great views over the entire coast. All these impressions make a trip along the southern part of the French Mediterranean coast totally worth it.

Looking into the blue sky

La Garrotxa – A walk through autumn woods

Autumn comes, the summer is past, winter will come soon, too. The November weather on the Costa Brava was perfect for the coloured leaves: As these need low temperature in the night and high during the day as well as intensive sunlight. Rarely have we seen such a beautiful November accompanied with this vivid colours.

The Hidden Life of Trees

“The hidden life of trees”. Peter Wohlleben decrypted it, so that his book became a bestseller. Peter Wohlleben is German’s most famous forester. In his book he shares his deep love of woods and forest and appear at the top of the bestseller lists. It will intrigue readers who love a walk through the woods. Not looking for disenchantment but for the magic! In keeping with the romantics, we want to hang loose – the reason why we replace the beach walk in November with a walk in the forest: instead of shells, we collect coloured leaves and mushrooms.

Perfect autumn weather

With every coloured tree we see, we get more fascinated by nature.

The healing power of the forest

The forest relaxes and lowers blood pressure. Inhaling the scent of pines, it strengthens the immune system and leaves the thoughts calm. Rustling sound of fallen leaves. A gentle breeze. Soft moss beneath our feet. Light and shadows do a round dance. “You can communicate with trees like you do with your brothers. Forests are silent. However, they are not dumb. It doesn’t matter who is coming, they make feel everyone better,” Erich Kästner said once.
In Peter Wohlleben’s book, the readers will begin to recognize trees for what they are, told with scientific competence and fairy tale-like: This book is his declaration of love to the forest, told by trees, which communicate with each other, have feelings and a memory …

Bridge over not so troubled water

Thinking of Peter Wohlleben, we can almost feel the strong connection the trees have with each other.

La Fageda d’en Jordà

Joan Maragall (1860 – 1911), one of the most important promoters of the renewal of Catalan culture at the end of 19th century, was fascinated by the singularity of the beech grove. In his poem “La Fageda d’en Jordà“ he praises the calmness and beauty, which any visitor falls for. The lonesome walker that unconsciously starts to count and slows down his steps, sinking into the luscious green and abandoning himself to the sweet oblivion of the world; finally, becoming a prisoner of the grove…
Fageda d’en Jordà – this is not only the name of a poem of the famous Catalan poet Joan Maragall, but also of a legendary beech grove near Olot.

Falling for the beauty of the woods

We are falling in love with the beauty of the forest.

The labyrinth of trees

We get into the adventure and find ourselves already in the middle of the forest. A fabulous canopy of leaves above our heads. The dark trunks structure the green, yellow and red. Sun reflexes dance around. Grouchy boulders are scattered on the lava ground, littered with leaves. Is it behind these stones where the goblins hide themselves, protagonists of numerous legends? We prefer not to leave the red marked pathway number 1 to find out more; more than one got lost in labyrinth of trees.

The labyrinth of trees

One can get lost easily in the labyrinth of trees.

A source of inspiration

Haven’t we just listened, unconsciously, to the rhythm of our steps? Haven’t we looked up to the green tree tops for too long now? The magic of this place is undeniable. It is not surprising that this singular forest has not only inspired poets but also painters, for example Olot’s famous school of country painters. In less than an hour we perambulated the marked walking trail and, full with new impressions, get back to the car. This time, La Fageda has released us.
In La Garrotxa you can find plenty of restaurants with good regional cuisine, for example in the picturesque medieval village of Santa Pau.

The trees as an inspirational source

The magic of the woods has inspired many artists.

There is still snow on the mountains.

Trip to the Pyrenees

When God created the Earth, he was especially nice to the Catalans – or is there another explanation for the fact that they live on one of the most beautiful coasts of Europe and are, at the same time, surrounded by mountains which are perfect for skiing?

 

La Molina – Ski resort near the coast

From December the harmony between the steel-blue sea and white-glittering mountain peaks does not only enchant winter sport fans…
One of the most prestigious ski resorts, which has attracted snow lovers for more than a century, is La Molina between Castellar de n’Hug and Alp. Vast forests, peaks 2,500 metres above sea level, plenty of slopes, chairlifts and various thematic areas make the whole family perfectly happy.

Blue sky and sunshine makes us look forward to a great ski day.

Our way leads us through the beautiful landscape to the snowy mountains. We get exciting about spending a ski day in the Pyrenees.

Outdoor activities for the whole family

While the youngest ones conquer the slope by sledge, the others enjoy snow-boarding in the Snow Parc, downhill or a cosy cross-country trip. All together can explore the region by quads or even a dog sledge.
A perfect infrastructure, ski schools, equipment rental, shops, hotels and restaurants form part of the standard as well as 341 snow cannons which make the station independent of natural snowfalls.

This mountain view definitely motivates for a day outdoors.

Blue sky and slopes covered with snow provide perfect conditions for a ski day.

Ski area with sea view

Another first class resort is Vallter 2000, only 1 and a half hours by car from the Costa Brava. Those who love skiing are not only tempted by perfect slopes, but also by spectacular views over the Gulf of Roses and the romantic valley of Camprodon, next to the medieval village.

Winter fruits bring life into the wintry landscape.

Not only winter sports enthusiasts, but also green hills and shrubs bring life into the wintry landscape.

Ski resorts near Costa Brava

Vallter 2000
2000-2650 m. 50 qkm.
1 día/tag/day/journée : 22,50 €
2 días/tage/days/journée : 42,75€
3 días/tage/days/journée : 60,75€
www.vallter2000.com
972 13 60 57

Nuria
1960-2920 m. 79 qkm.
1 día/tag/day/journée 27€
Cremallera + forfet
www.valldenuria.com
972 73 20 20

La Molina
1436-2540 m. 70 qkm
1 día/tag/day/journée : 36€
2 días/tage/days/journée 68€
4 días/tage/days/journée :132 €
6 días/tage/days/journée : 190€
www.lamolina.com
972 892 031

Masella
1600-2530 m. 43 qkm.
1 día/tag/day/journée : 42€
1/2 día/tag/day/journée : 33€
www.masella.com
972 144 000

barcelona

Barcelona – The other side

Barcelona off the beaten tracks…The famous Sagrada Familia, the Rambla, the Plaça Catalunya… all of these popular sights immediately come to mind when thinking of Barcelona… But Catalonia’s capital has so much more to offer! With that in mind, I payed a visit to the Catalan student city off the beaten tracks and far away from the most popular sights.

The only way is up – Barcelonas neighbourhood to be

The young and hip district Gràcia is located in the north of the city centre, far away from the crowds of tourists that Barcelona has to deal with. This part of town is nothing like the somewhat hectic historic centre. Walking through the streets of Gràcia, you immediately feel the changed atmosphere. No flawless architecture, no brightly polished streets but variety, liveliness and above all authenticity.

barcelona

Especially in the evening, the district’s squares like the Plaça de la Virreina and the nearby Plaça de la Vila de Gràcia are full of life. „Good food, good mood“ is our motto for the evening. The Patatas Bravas are hot, our Cervezas are cold… The perfect ending to our first day in Barcelona!

 

 

 

And those who are looking for a special, non-ordinary, place to stay, should definitely check out „Mare de Déu de Montserrat“.

barcelona hostel

Mare de Déu de Montserrat – one of a kind!

barcelonabarcelona

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The youth hostel that was built in a Moorish architectural style offers an extraordinary view of Barcelona because of its location on top of a hill. Although I have to admit that reaching the hosel (by foot) leaves you a little bit out of breath, the view makes it worth every step!

barcelona architecture

Impressive architecture!

In vintage-heaven

barcelona

Barcelona’s vintage heaven!

 

Sure, the famous Rambla (and Barcelona in general) are a true shopping paradise. The most popular fashion chains can be found on every corner. But isn’t that a bit boring in the long run? Vintage and second hand stores on the other hand are full of history and personality! Who would have thought that only a couple of minutes away from the Rambla on the Carrer dels Tallers, a completely different shopping world is waiting for me?

 

 

barcelona vintage

Traveling through time – in style!

 

More than excited I rummage through every corner of every store for the next couple of hours. From beautiful 50ies dresses to old denim jackets and shirts with the craziest patterns and colours (long live the 70ies!)- there’s nothing you can’t find here! The Carrer dels Tallers? Heaven on earth.

 

 

 

 

Exploring Barcelona off the beaten tracks

barcelona hospital

The impressive Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau

barcelona Without a doubt, Gaudís grand masterpiece has to be seen once in a life time. But also off the Sagrada Familia there are dozens of things to discover. For example the impressive Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau that was built in the famous Catalan modernism style. Although the former hospital has long been replaced by a new building, the historic site still has its doors open for visitors. Part of the old building is nowadays used by the medicine faculty of the University of Barcelona – definitely not a bad spot to study!

Sunday in Barcelona: from the labyrinth…

A Sunday well spent brings a week of content! 

Anyone who devoured the book „Perfume: The Story of a Murderer“ and loved the film adaption as much as I did, definitely has to visit „Parc del Laberint d’Horta“. After all, Barcelonas oldest park is one of the movie’s most beautiful locations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The heart of the beautiful park? Its mysterious labyrinth…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

…to the beach!

barcelona beach picknick

And because its Sunday, the day of rest, I treat myself to a relaxing afternoon at the beach. While I bury my toes in the sand and watch the seagulls circle above my head, I’m already planning my next trip to the Catalan capital I fell in love with…

 

 

 

 

barcelona beach

Beach day!

Some impressions…

Fairytale scenery

Les Orgues d’Ille-sur-Têt – unique sandstone world!

Enchanted sandstone rocks

Mother nature often creates unique worlds like in Ille-sur-Têt, near Perpignan. In front of the imposing backdrop of Canigou (2784 m) sandstone sculptures protrude in front of the bright blue horizon. The landscape looks just like a fairy tale! These sugar towers that are created by erosion could have possibly inspired Antoni Gaudí when he planned his Sagrada Família. This great spectacle of nature can be reached from Costa Brava by car in about an hour. To explore the so called „Cheminées de Fées“ (‚fairy chimney‘) it takes about an half an hour walk.

 

Impressive and high sandstone figures

Fairy chimneys as a source of inspiration.

 

First we enter the amphitheater that is surrounded by a fairytale backdrop of stone. It looks marvelous! New forms arise every time it rains. The nature is here its own sculptor! The rock needles protrude up to 15 meters into the sky. With a little imagination one can recognize mythical creatures, various animal heads or models with modern hats.

 

City out of sand stones

Natural art

 

We stroll through the maze of stones. We are enjoying the view and capture beautiful moments with our camera. This is for sure a relaxing trip into another world. We decide to go back to the sea and enjoy the backdrop from there. On our way back we stop by to walk around and do some shopping in the streets of Collioure. Taking the way back along the beautiful coast after a trip to France is more than recommendable! Through the serpentines we drive back to Costa Brava. We cannot get enough of the beautiful sea-views. Green vineyards, turquoise sea, blue sky – there is beauty wherever you look! These amazing landscapes remind on paradise and are truly meditation for the soul. A trip to Orgues is definitely a great excursion tip for a mild sunny day in autumn.

 

Unique world of Ille-sur-Têt

Sandstone towers from further away

How to reach Ille-sur-Têt

– from Figueres in about 50 min
– First, motorway AP8 to Perpignan, then towards Andorra. After that exit the expressway N 116 at Ille-sur-Têt.

Alternatively:
First, take NII behind Le Boulou exit towards Thuir via D 612 to Ille-sur-Têt. Here you drive comfortably through villages along wineries. Buy Fruits at the roadside and taste delicious wine of the region in one of the wineries. A picturesque landscape framed by the massif of Canigou awaits you.

Follow the signs “Site des Orgues“ in Ille-sur-Têt until you reach the parking lot behind the place.

Buy tickets (price: 5€) at the parking lot and then follow the marked path. After about 800 meters you reach the entrance to the rock spectacle. Do not forget your camera!

 

Pyrenees and Costa Brava- Horses, Castles and monuments

Espinavell

We take a step out of the house. The first impression is simply breathtaking. Sun rises up at the sky of the Costa Brava. Pictorial Pyrenees in the background. The smell of firewood creeps into our nose. Early in the morning we start from Torroella de Fluvià towards Espinavell to experience the annual horse-drift down from the mountains. The path takes us through stunning mountain scenery and small villages high up in the Pyrenees. Passing Besalú and Olot we stop in Camprodon. Crusty bread and delicious cheese of the region get packed. A traditional Catalan ´Coca´ with a sugar hood sweetens the rest of our way. Slowly moving forward to Espinavell we cross red-colored vine. Brightly colored trees are lining the serpentines. Only a few spots are still green. Autumn is knocking on.

Tria de Mulats- the traditional horse-drift

Horses running down the hills

Horses going downhill to Espinavell

We are moving forward to Mollo- a little municipality right in the pyrenees. For those who are afraid to ride the cliffy street up to Espinavell on their own buses are made available. We follow the numerous people up to the parking lot with our own car. Mud covers the floor and makes it pretty difficult to reach the parking lot. After several attempts we finally succeed. Crowds immediately passing us to the fairground. Many locals got dressed up for this special event. Every year on the day of St. Edward – 13 October – retailers and animal lovers meet to experience the traditional horse-drift in Espinavell. The little village seems do be in a state of emergency. Families, school classes and even tourists don´t want to miss the local spectacle. After months on the meadows, high up in the Pyrenees, horses and foals now get handed over to their owners or buyers. With concentrated power herds storming down the slope. The gathered crowd gives a brawly applause to „man and beast“.

Artesania- the colorful market

Olives in Espinavell

Delicious olives on a market stand

We stroll along the many market stalls. From traditional products of animal husbandry to sweet and savory delicacies of own production- everyone is able to find something. You definitely should take a walk up to the centre of the small romantic mountain village Espinavell. You will enjoy a fantastic panoramic view up there. A warming catalan coffee is irreplaceable. Later on the most beautiful horses will be awarded by an expert jury.

Horses grazing

View down to the horses and fairground

Free wild life on the mountain meadows with delicious wild herbs is over by now. When the last snow thawed and the spring sun attracts the first flowers in the next year the horses will be back in the highlands. The festival lasts until the evening. Many take advantage of the culinary coffer to enjoy a delicious lunch at the unique restaurant of Espinavell. For us it´s time to move towards the French border.

French Impressions

The french border is only half an hour to go and we use the afternoon to visit the neighboring country. Enjoying picturesque landscapes and charming little villages with a typical French atmosphere. From Ceret over to Le Boulou the way leads us back near the coast to Collioure. Even in mid-october the small colorful artist-village is still well attended. Since Henri Matisse and his fellow artist André Derain discovered the sleepy fishing village in 1904 it is considered as a „mecca of art“. Red roof tiles. Ornate balcony railings. Blue shutters. Pastel-colored facades. Winding streets. Steep staircases. Ancient fortresses. Different kind of boats in the harbor. All that details form a picturesque backdrop and beautiful holiday memories. So, no wonder that even the kings of Majorca were huge supporters of the village and used the castle – now a museum – as their summer residence.

Castle in Collioure

Former castle of the Majorcan kings

We stroll through the small village center, browse through small boutiques and delicatessens. Enjoying a cappuccino and the view to the harbor before we go back on the road towards Spanish border. Vines now dominate the surrounding landscape.

We are in the middle of Roussillon and drive through the wine-growing region of Banyuls. A wine of Banyuls may remind you of a good port wine, characterized by intense flavors of honey, dried fruits and vanilla.

Unlimited

Further along the coast we are now back in the direction of Spain. No barrier, no fence, no border post market the crossover from France to Spain these days. Once upon a time many refugees killed themselves across the Pyrenees because they had no way out.

Memorial of Walter Benjamin

Memorial of Walter Benjamin in Portbou

We stop near Portbou to take a look at the Walter Benjamin Memorial which is called “passages”. This was designed in 1994 by the Israeli artist Dani Karavan in memory of the philosopher Walter Benjamin. “The Temporary, short duration” describes his escape from the Gestapo in an impressive way and which ended tragically. The quote of Benjamin at the end of the tunnel high above the sea is even more relevant: „It is heavier to honor the memory of the nameless than the famous. The memory of the nameless is therefor dedicated by the historical construction.“

Thoughtfully we continue towards Figueres.  The contrasts of mountains and rugged coastline captivates us. Flora and fauna show themselves in their most beautiful way. Winter seems still far away. But the first migratory birds already landed on the Mediterranean. The last tourists soon leave the beaches. Hibernation is coming.

The many impressions of today will be with us for a long time…

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 /info@enroses.com
Per person from 140 euros. Excursion to 30 September possible.