All posts filed under: excursion

Road Trip to the French Border

Curious about what the Pyrenees might look like from the other side, we start out on a road trip with direction to France. The sun is shining through the open hood of our car and the nothern wind Tramuntana causes the leaves to dance. Our journey takes us through the countryside, passing by numerous little villages of the Empordà which provide a view at the mountains and the sea.

We cross the Aiguamolls at Castelló d’Empúries. In the midst of the marsh land which is a nature conservation a swarm of storks stops us. The huge birds strut around sociably among cows.

We go uphill to reach Vilajuïga where the mineral water’s source of the “Aigua de Vilajuïga“ is located. We know the water from the supermarket. The inhabitants of Vilajuïga are allowed to draw the water from the source’s public tap for free. The water is said to have magic powers, so we need to try it.

Next, we follow the signpostings to Sant Pere de Rodes, taking the pass up to the foothills of the nature park Cap de Creus. We stop high up at Mas Ventós and enjoy the breath-taking view over the Empordà’s vastness up to the sea. The Pyrenees’ white peaks mark the horizon.

We go onwards to Sant Pere de Rodes. The former Benedictine monastery thrones illustriously upon a rock. The road steeply leads down to the sea from here. The view down at the coastal town El Port de la Selva and Llança is enchanting. We go further through vineyards and cliffs until we reach Colera. The sleepy little village just before the French border attracts us to take a break and to drink a coffee nearby the sea.

Portbou is our last stop before we cross the border. We visit the memorial of Walter Benjamin. The Israeli sculptor Dani Karavan has created an impressive accessable memorial by creating “Passages“ – a tunnel made of rusty steel leads the visitors many stairs down the cliff and nearly meets the sea. A glass screen on which one of Benjamin’s quotes are engraved bolts the access to the horizon.

The last Pyrenees’ foothills dive into the Mediterranean Sea between France and Spain. We take the winding road up to the neighbouring country. O

nly the deserted border houses, now covered with graffiti, remind of the formerly guarded French border. Everybody is now able to pass in both directions.

Time and time again, wars create limits which were many people’s undoing. Today, we are happy to live in a united Europe and are able to detect – travelling freely – that the Pyrenees are as impressive as from the other side in Spain.

Keeping Tabs on Everything: Motorbike Tour Sant Feliu de Guíxols – Tossa de Mar

When we think of a road trip, most of us connect the feeling of freedom with it. The feeling of freedom means to leave behind everyday life for hundreds of kilometers, freedom means to discover new things, freedom means self-determination. Furthermore, we may think of a fully-equipped camper van, an overloaded estate or even a locally rented Fiat without air-conditioning.

However, our journey started on a sunny morning with our loaded motorbike. No wonder, because this region is well-known among motorcyclists as being one of the most exciting and beautiful regions in Europe.


Therefore I exchanged my imagination of a comfortable front passenger seat with an amount of legroom and loud radio music for weatherproof clothes, winding distances and a lot of speed. I have to admit that this was a great challenge for me, being a spoiled driver of country roads as well as for my co-driver who, beforehand, had already driven more than 1.500 km to reach the Spanish Empordà – simply an adventure.

Quickly, it became clear us, that every kilometer of the long journey here and bearing some stressing circumstances have been worth it. The Suzuki purred in its most beautiful sounds and not only the full tank caused good humor – it was the most famous panoramic road between Sant Feliu de Guíxols to Tossa de Mar which lay in front of our visors.


We took the C-31 in direction to Begur to have our first break in one of the nearby bays. From here, a small, adventurous street led us to the peaceful fishing village called Tamariu which wins over with its azure-blue water and its fine sand. Only with difficulty, we could turn away from this beautiful view and our pleasant ice-cream but the thought of the approaching distance let our anticipation grow endlessly.


Further on, the country road led us, accompanied by the well-known droning of the motorbike, to Sant Feliu de Guíxols. It is a city which, with its hills and its rocky coast landscape, seems to tower over the Baix Empordà and the Comarca La Selva. Reverentially, the upcoming distance was now coming to my mind.

A few urbanizations and one place name sign later, I find myself with pounding heart in the midst of a spreading distance. My grip became firmer, thanks to my excitement or my joy, and my perception became clearer. The panorama of a winding street was extending right before my feet, framed by mountains and accompanied by a vast view over the sea. A view which is so beaming and beautiful that it not only gave me the feeling of the ever longed freedom but also made the 25 km to Tossa de Mar went by quite fast. Innumerable lay-bys and a pleasant free way offered short stops and enticed to have some daydreams.


After every bend, I was again excited what would wait for me – if it was a view down to a bay, inviting for a sunbath, the view above a rocky landscape or a villa, towering on the mountains. This is how my initial respect turned into admiration and Faszination. I couldn’t stop thinking about again buying a ticket for my personal trip to this kind of attraction.


The Wild Coast – Costa Brava

Up to now we know very well that the Costa Brava – or better known as the “Wild Coast“ – keep its name fully alive: With all those steep cliffs, where the stormy sea riots, a wildly flourishing Fauna and, of course, all those picturesque bays, this romantic countryside attracts many visitors each year.


For us, not only spending a weekend at the coast, it was a free Saturday afternoon combined with a beautiful day in September, that stired up our enthusiam for a trip to the stunning beaches of the Spanish Costa Brava.

As we have been enjoying a Cocktail at those beautiful bays at Roses, visiting the inaccessible coastline below the cliffs of Cap de Creus or the extensive beaches nearby Empuriabrava so far, those small beaches around Begur should be today’s destination.


Along a windig road accompanied by shady pine forests, we passed by the medieval city Begur, that is located in the heart of the Empordà and is well known for its surrounding bays.

A beautiful coastal road connects Palafrugell with the nearby small fishing villages Tamariu, Llafranc and Calella de Palafrugell and invites to an impressive road trip along the coast – by car or on foot. We decided to spend the afternoon at the bay of Platja d`Aiguablava, a renowned place here.


The way there offered a marvelous panorama of those crystal-clear bays with its meter-high cliffs, tumbling in the mist and the specific rocky beaches created a beautiful image of the Costa Brava. I felt the sun warming up my skin, combined with the smell of sea salt and a cheeky breeze that ruffled my hair. We haven’t even arrived yet, and this place already offered me some kind of rest

small path led us down to the beach which seemed to be immersed into countless colors: Among all those colorful bath towels, there were all possible variations of blue, accompanied by the green of the forests and the noble anthracite of the mountains, that painted an amazing picture.


The bay allowed a pleasant and warm dip into the sea and also invited to a jump from the countless yachts and boats, that found a suitable berth there. In addition to a diving school, a limited number of small cafes and a beach bar were situated there, that offered drinks, including a beautiful view at the sea as well as the stimulating sound of the waves.


Although I was surrounded by this idyllic and relaxing atmosphere, the curiosity inside of me arose. Unfortunately I haven’t brought my snorkel with me but instead it was this litte mysterious path that now gathered my full attention.

Wearing my used Espadrilles, I made my way over hill and dale to the next bay, that I appointed to be my own oasis for today…


Medieval Besalú – Among Lances, Lords and Ladies

During the last weekend of August the historical center of Besalú again made its journey to the Middle Ages.
In the midst of the mountanious volcanic area of Garratoxa and close to a marvelous nature park, the panorama of one of the most beautiful medieval cities in Catalonia spread to our feet in a theatrical manner.


As we had been part of zivilisation before, a fabulous romanesque bridge from the 12th century took us to the historical center of the city a little later , which still reminds of its fortress built during the 10th century.

Countless small shops and boutiques with all kinds of ceramic, leather bags and jewelry were hiding in between those meterhigh stone walls and were accompanied by an impressive amount of booths and stands, that -due to the motto- were offering medieval costumes as well as food.


Locals as well as showmen dressed in lovingly sewn costumes created the image of an authentic medieval city. There were those rural women, preparing their breads in a stone oven, flag wavers in their colorful robe, noble damsels accompanied by those cheeky squires as well as knights in their heavy chain mails.


Along those lovely decorated stands, which let any gourmet’s heart beat faster with those roasted almonds, freshly baked bread, arabic specialities, local wine and oil as well as typical Spanish sausages and cheese, we reached the Plaza de la Iglesia, that turned out to be central meeting point of the festive games.

In the middle of wildly tilted banners, loud drum music and authentic sword fights we were wondering who would be the next squire getting his accolade or pretty damsel being asked for a dance in the ballroom…


Following The Footprints of The Pilgrim

Comfortable shoes at our feet, a map and plenty of water in our pockets, a full tank, which should take us to the twisting mountain landscape of the Pyrenees – this is how our trip started.

A small, tight road carried us onto the mountains that lay near to the highway we took before. A mile-wide landscape, surrounded by wild and flourishing vegetation and countless streams that clear their way through the mountains, spread before our feed. My view got further, swepping over the peaks of the mountains that seemed to hang in the clouds. I was bemused and banned at the same time. Besides,the feeling of freedom captured me, respectfully facing the vastness of my surrounding, which carried me to unknown dimensions.


We passed by narrow curves, meter high stone walls, and had an overwhelming view. Soon we should reach our first stop for today which was Espinavell, a small village in the middle of the mountains – a place of total isolation and intimacy.


To a certain extent we felt like intruders with backpacks and cameras, respectfully immigrated to the idyll of this peaceful, small town. We were warmly greeted by the villagers who climbed the high-pitched streets of their village, peacefully watering her vegetable garden of feeding their animals.

It was difficult for us to break loose from the peace and privacy we found there, but our trip through the mountains should carry us further and we were excited about the upcoming day. Back onto the pass, which offers an exhausting route to one or another cyclist, we rarely enjoyed the company of other vehicles. Instead there were loose cows and sheeps with their loudly ringing bells round their necks, grabbing our attention.


This is how we made our way to the small villages of Rocabruna and Beget, which quickly filled the memory cards of our cameras with beautiful pictures of their gorgeous churches and stunning façades made of stones.



Classy restaurants as well as cozy bars offered us a little breather of the never-ending impressions, that also attracted other hikers to vistit those small mountain villages.


I found my resting place. A piece of land surrounded by the majesty of the mountains, which not only opened me a totally new perspective but also time for myself.






A nature paradise.

From Sant Sebastià to Tamariu

We drive in the direction of Llafranc Tamariu up to the lighthouse of El Fra de Sant Sebastia. It was built in 1857 and is still the most strongly light tower on the Spanish Mediterranean coast. From the Sant Sebastia lighthouse you have a spectacular view over the land and sea. Deep down below you see the small boats in the harbour of Llafranc. The slice of view above is of Cape Sant Sebastià the baroque chapel of Ermita de Sant Sebastià from the 18th century. In addition, you’ll also spot the hotel and restaurant “El Far”. The breath taking view from the terrace of the iridescent Mediterranean Sea in many different shades of blue with its rocky coves bordered by pine forests and caves is fascinating. Originally, the hotel was a guard and lighthouse with a hermitage from the 15th century. In 1999 the building was renovated and turned into a small hotel. This exposed location attracts many a wedding.

From here we look to take the coastal path – camins de ronda (GR 92: red and white marking) to the Bay of Tamariu. The route is marked as 1.5 hours and starts right behind the Ermita. It’s already afternoon. The sun shines high in the sky. The glistening azure sea is below us, framed by rocks and the green of the Blue Agave. Agave flower stems project into the blue sky. Seagulls circle. After a short stretch along the cliffs and many steps, we dive into the cool of the pine forest. Good footwear is advisable. The path winds its way towards the coast from time to time, until it reappears in a clearing out of the shadows. A part of it leads along the gardens into the glistening sun. Divergent paths are marked with a cross through red and white flags and run into dead ends. After about 10 minutes our trail turns right. You can already glimpse the sunshine through the trees the sea. In the garden next to the road there are grazing ponies. Flowering thistles line the gorge.

Blooming flowers next to the ocean.

The shady path now leads steeply down into Cala Pedrosa. Solitude welcomes us the cove. Two fishermen huts stand at the edge. The sign on the cottage advertises daily refreshments and snacks in the summer or on the weekends. The bay is bordered by blank sea washed stones. The cool sea lures us. We plunge into the water. Crystal clear waves ripple among the rocks. The highest part of the cliff is called the “cavall”, the horse, and they say that the image of Stalin appears from the boat. We enjoy the refreshing tingle on the skin. In the distance there is a boat. No one else. It’s June – on a Friday afternoon before the season. Paradise. We are now ready for the climb out of the bay. Step by step over roots and stones and sharply up the cinnamon coloured cliffs. The road is wider and now runs straight up to Mirador. Here you can reach the promontory to the sea again.

Spectacular ocean view.

We continue to move in the direction of Tamariu. Before long, there is a picturesque bay in front of us. The path now leads through large rock plateaus along the sea. Here we pass a couple of sitting anglers in the afternoon sun. The colours of the rocks change from green to dark pink and ocher mud to anthracite. The blue of the sea is ever darker. The sun slowly dips. We long for a cold sparkling water or coffee on ice. Soon we reach the beach of Tamariu. Most bathers here are locals. In the beach hotel cafe there are enough free places and finally we gulp gallons of cold water. Next to us, the village pensioners sit gossiping at the coffee shop. The season is approaching- but there is still the relaxed calm before the storm. Here we want to relax and dream away the day.

The beautiful beach of Tamariu.

But the return journey is waiting for us. Up and down steep terrain for an additional 1.5 hours. We get back on track after half an hours’ break. The sinking sun has changed the colour of the bay. There is now movement in Cala Pedrosa. Grandmother, mother and child splash around in the shallow water of the bay. Grandpa has shut up the fishing cabin and set up the garden chairs in front. On Friday evening, the weekend begins operation. We chat briefly with the old man and order a refreshment. Olives we get for free. More guests he expects the next day. Since the cove has no access, the only access is via boat or on foot via a steep path.We are gearing up for the steep climb to the lighthouse. After an hour uphill back to the car we are exhausted. The light orange hue of the evening colours the bay.Conclusion: A lovely trip for which you should allow time, top conditions, a swimsuit, walking shoes and plenty of water.Gorgeous scenery and spectacular views of the sea and the rocks are well worth the effort.

Habour of Empuriabrava

A boat trip is stunning…

…especially at the Costa Brava, because the „wild“, „rough“ and „untamed“ coastline never looses its impressive character, composed by bizarre rocks, hidden bays and scenic landscape. The crystal clear water reflects in brillant blue colors the endlessness of the sky, wave froth and sea gulls speckle the ocean – it‘s a idyllic paradise. We swim towards this adventure with virtuosity.

Our friend Jutta is enjoying the sun.

Every summer, Oliver and Jutta invite us to a boat trip along the Costa Brava. Froth blows in the air, once we escape the canals of Empuriabrava and we eye up the residences along the cliff line. Sail boats bob up and down in little bays. After a refreshment in the cool waves, we‘re full of liveliness again and ready to stop for a glass of sparkling wine in one of the harbours.

The boat is taking us to Cap de Creus.

There are no pirates in sight and we can drive further towards the sinking sun. It‘s off – season and the sea seems to belong to us – we enjoy the day, the sweet idleness and we feel like the kings of the ocean. In the evening, our captain brings us back into reality safely.

Our captain Oliver.

Blooming cactus Pinya de Rosa.

Surrounded by prickly fellows – Pinya de Rosa

If cactuses would be humans, they would probably not be the most liked visitors – luckily they‘re plants and we are the ones, who are invited to look at the prickly fellows in the botanical garden of Pinya de Rosa, near Blanes.

View Pinya de Rosa

The first glance over the spacious terraces already reminds us of long summernights in the exotic outland. The tall cactuses grow towards the sky like bizarre sculptures, looking down on their tiny brothers. You‘re going to be surprised by the variety of the succulents, as well as by the extraordinary finery of their beautiful blossoms – you just have to keep your eyes peeled.

Blooming cactus Pinya de Rosa.

Further down the gravel walk, native species of plants bloom between the cactuses – purple flowers allure butterflies, the warm summer air smells of lavender. The color palette is complete, when the peacock appears, trying to bewitch the visitors with it‘s dazzling coat – you want to stay and get caught up in your wanderlust.

Cactus Pinya de Rosa.

How to get there:
Jardí Botànic Tropical Paratge Pinya de Rosa
Camí de Sta Cristina s/n – 17300 Blanes (Girona)

Opening hours:
09.00 – 20.00 o’clock May – September
09.00  – 18.00 o’clock January – April/ October – Dezember 

Normal: 4 Euro
Students: 3 Euro
Groupticket (10+): 3 Euro

Erster Beuteschlag.

A look behind the scenes – one day on a fishing boat

5 o‘clock in the morning, Port of Roses. Inky darkness fills the empty streets, dim and motionless spreads the sea out in front of the harbor walls, only a few scattered flood lights illuminate the water. The whole area looks like a sleeping animal, releasing its cool breath in the air. It‘s not deniable, that the latest offer of the Estació Nàutica and Confraria de Pescadors in Roses, where you spend one day with a fisher on his boat, is nothing for the faint-hearted – but the spectacular sunrise over the sea, which you would normally miss, is absolutely alluring.

Noch versteckt sich die aufgehende Sonne hinter den Klippen.

Although the presence of the fishing industry is preceptible everywhere at the Costa Brava, the fishermen still seem to be untouchable – you think of them as those rough, bearded figures, which rarely speak a word and meet at dawn in a grim bar to discuss about the fishing areas of the day. A lonely life, enriched by the presence of the nature and the sea – that‘s the romantic idea of a fisherman.The work of the people, who bring the fish onto our plates, is a well-guarded secret – that‘s why the chance to gain some insight is even more enticing.The project was realized this summer after a three – year planning phase – fourteen boats offer the trip at the moment and you can choose between big trawlers, which take up to four people on board and smaller boats, intended for 1 – 2 people. The trip on the trawler lasts for a full day, including two meals – the served fish couldn‘t be fresher. The small boat leaves a bit earlier, but you‘ll be back around 1 pm.

Erster Beuteschlag.

Catalonia is the first region, which makes this cultural treasure accessible to visitors. It can be assumed, that more and more travellers will go on this adventure next summer. Our trip is one of the last of the season, because the weather will be too rough and mercilessy at the beginning of october. It starts again in Mai. Around half past five, tyre noise break the silence and vans roll into the parking lot. We shake hands with our fisherman between storehouses and wooden boxes in which nets are piled up – neither has our fisher a beard nor gray hair, he carries a friendly smile instead. We decided on the half day tour – for the simple reason, that we hope to hold some personal talks with the people.

Die Arbeit auf dem Meer ist kein Zuckerschlecken.

Our boat is small but roomy, the voices of other fishermen come out of two speakers on deck. They discuss the price for the day, which is too low due to the national holiday. Jokes are made, cheerful laughs and the sound of the licking waves are in the air – no sign of bad mood in the morning.While the rocking boat pushes us slowly towards the day and we crave for another cup of coffee, our fisherman and his two helpers are already dressed up in their yellow rubber suits and start the motor – we head out onto the sea and we‘re suddenly feel tingling excitement.Our fisher isn‘t sparing of words – he tells us not only about the fishing industry at the Costa Brava, but also his personal story. The fishing lies in his blood, he and his brother never wanted to do anything else. Even his great-grandfathers and fathers had this profession – the long tradition behind the fishing industry shows for a moment its wrinkled face.

Die Möwen wittern Beute.

The inseparable ties between the fisherman and the ocean resounds in each of his words. He speaks of priceless moments on the high seas and of his love for the nature, which appears in all its roughness in the face of the rocky coast. A first red strip of dawn now gapes in the night blue sky and you suddenly get an inkling of the meaning of those words.The heavy smell of salt and fish fills the air and eats into the clothes,  we let down the first net just before Roses.A few seconds later, the sea suddenly looks like a blood-red mirror, whose rippling surface is speckled with golden reflections of the rising sun . A sunrise from the beach can be breathtaking – from the boat, it feels like you‘re able to pick the light from the sky like a little diamond.

Endlich - der Sonnenaufgang naht.

After the spectacle, it goes to work – the three men have already begun to haul one of the nets. The talking stops for a while, concentration is required. Like nimble animals take their hands the fish out of the tight meshes of the net and throw it into the bucket of water. We see sole, seabasses and carp, from time to time a shark – like catfish or a small skate gets caught in the net, but they‘re thrown back into the water. You‘ve probably never been that close to your food – you find yourself back at the origin of a manufactoring process, which eventually ends in one of the fishrestaurants along the coast. However, it can‘t be denied that the sight of the animals is not everyones cup of tea. The tour may be interesting and exciting, but it also reminds us, that our beautiful decorated food is based on a killing process.

Der Fang variert von Netz zu Netz.

After almost an hour, the fishermen are finished with the first net. It‘s a good catch, the bucktes are full and the fishers face carries a satisfied smile. On our way to the second net, he explains us, that the fish moves trough many hands until it finally ends up on our plate. He first sells it at the daily fish-auction in Roses, but the customers are rarely the restaurants themselves. They‘re mostly large enterprises, which resell the fish to the next customer. The fishing industry does not hibernate – the boats leave the port troughout the year.Two hours later, two more nets are on deck and we slowly drive back to the port – it‘s the perfect time to return, because the slopes of the Pyrenees are already hidden behind dark clouds.  It‘s a warm goodbye on the quay – the typical clichés are hereby disproved. We‘re a bit cold and a bit damp and the whole car smells of fish on our way back – but it‘s worth it, because you‘ll hardly get any closer to a traditional profession and these moments are the ones, which make a trip unique.

The boats leave from May – September from Roses, Llança and L’escala. For bookings, contact the Ajuntament in Roses.

Nicht nur Fische werden an Deck geholt.

The mother of the village – San Juan de las Abadesas

Usually there‘s first a place and it takes a few years until the church or the monastry is built ready – with San Juan de las Abadesas it behaves the opposite way.Even if the charming, medival place at the foot of the pyrenees seems quite traditional with its stone facades, stately manor houses and the splashing fountain in a green park – it was monumental monastery of the 12th century, which breathed life into it and lent it the name. What miracle is hiding behind those heavy wooden doors?


At first glance, San Juan de las Abadesas seems with it‘s simple elegance less oppressive than other monastic buildings.Narrow stone pillars grow high like skeletons, climbing plants are weaved around them, in the middle of the cloister is a small fountain located. The air tastes of past times and you wait for the nuns and abbots to appear.When you finally reach the interior of the monastry, inky darkness envelopes you.The cool stone walls are painted by the light of some flickering candles, which brighten the wistful faces of the statues, looking down on the visitors.


It is a place of reverence and seriousness, where the smell of incense and the shadows of the past hang heavily in the air. Indeed, the changes that formed San Juan de las Abadesas over the years, can be seen everywhere – the ivory-colored, ornamental altar, the walls, sometimes decorated with pictures of exotic animals, sometimes adorned by golden frescoes and the impressive Santissimi Misteri, a wood carving from 1251, which seems so real, that you wait for the figures to blink. You will come across traces of both French and Oriental art and architecture, which give San Juan de las Abadesas its various touch – not surprising with all its different owners.

In the year 880, the Count of Barcelona founded the monastry, which served for the following years as a residence for the daughters of the richerst families in the counrty – at the same time began the colonization of the pristine valley.Gradually, more and more houses were built around the mighty edifice and the place was named after the monastry. Around 1000 , the senior abbess was deposed and the monastery passed through countless hands, which all left their fingerprints.


That‘s exactly why the place is so interesting today – it feels as if you’ve just been wandering through several eras simultaneously. After your visit, you can either enjoy coffee and cake on the sunny front yard or continue your journey and throw a few glances into the museum, which seems like a treasure chest with it‘s golden rosaries, crystal crucifix and handcrafts.

How to get there:
Plaza de la Abadía Museo s/n
17860  Sant Joan de Les Abadesses
Sant Joan de les Abadesses, Girona  (Katalonien)

Opening hours:
daily 10.00 Uhr – 14. 00 Uhr und 16.00 – 18.00

Normal: 3 Euro
Reduced: 2 Euro
Groupticket: 2 Euro
Children free entrance.