All posts filed under: tips

Shopping Queen of Figueres

Figueres, a small town 140km north of Barcelona and not far away from the French border, is not only the seat of the Dalí Museum but also a good address for shopping, I was told. Charming, and twisting alleys which mostly lead to the Rambla or the Plaça de l‘Ajuntament, full of many little boutiques, shops and Desigual-stores leave their mark on the city.

Figueres-Frozen-Yoghurt

Near to the Dalí Museum, we came across a frozen yoghurt shop which sold the new fashioned ice-cream as well as toppings lie fruit, chocolate and cocos. We had to have a try. Enjoying the delicious ice-cream, we strolled along little bars which already had some guests in the early evening who were enjoying their first cerveza.

Figueres-Bars

Bershka and Mango were attracting us then, but also those labels like Pull&Bear and Stradivrius, mostly wanted by the Germans because they aren’t represented in Germany. Having filled bags but quite empty wallets, we got back home in the evening. By 28-31 August, visiting the Festival Acústica, we will be back at the latest.

Figueres-Rambla-bye

Let the Adventure Begin!

Gaining practical experience abroad in a country for its culture and mentality I have always been delighted by. These were roughly summarized my expectations and ideas, before the plane took me to the Spanish Costa Brava.

While packing, one or the other sorrowful thought had bruised next to the flip flops and bikinis that filled my suitcase, but was quickly overwhelmed by the enthusiasm and joy that I felt for the upcoming period.
From now on, I would leave my accustomed environment, my family, and friends for the next months, meaning to fully dedicate myself to the internship that lies ahead at the Costa Live Magazine.

Klippe-Cap-de-Creus

I neither expected nor imagined that this chance could directly turn out to be such an exciting and valuable time after the first few days of our arrival. I am still overwhelmed by the people who have welcomed me so friendly, the sun, which manfully makes its way through the clouds to light up our mind, the sea, which seems to expand my horizons and not forgetting the environment that offers me a landscape, which not only seems to hypnotize my thoughts but makes me more and more familiar with the country, which I call „My Home“ for the next two months.

The first day of my internship seemed to intensify my first impressions while we were up to discover the northern Costa Brava of Catalonia. The first destination to visit was Cadaqués, a small fishing village with its own bay and of course, residence of the Spanish-Catalan artist Dalí.

There were these narrow, busy streets, full of people enjoying the sun, beaches, covered with colorful sunshades, and an outstanding architecture. Well, more or less, this always has been my impression of the spanish cities I have already visited. But Cadaqués was different – surrounded by an impressive nature park which is called “Cap de Creus”, a beautiful impression after another flooded my mind. I was astonished by the tight-pass road which leads to the village and also included a panoramic view on the Pyrenean peaks. Everything seemed so impressive and overwhelming at the same time: the wideness of nature, the shining turquoise bays that extend below the cliffs, and a totally unaffected nature which is spreading out right in front of our feet.

Möwe-Cap-de-Creus

“Amazed by the beauty of nature” as I always tend to say, but nevertheless we were equipped with our photo cameras and notepads to document our experiences. We wanted to grab everything: The typical Spanish vegetation, meter-high stone walls, as well as the depths of the bright blue bays to capture our impressions of this beautiful nature reserve. But our little road trip should go even further and thus, that eventful day brought even more surprises to us.

Cadaqués stretched up before us with white roofs that shone in competition with the sun, lively promenades and small beach sections that invited the tourists and the locals to enjoy in the sun as well as refreshing themselves in the water. Now we could unterstand very well the rush of tourists, during the summer months which spend unforgettable holidays there.

Filled with memorable impressions and a big smile on my face, we took the way home which lead through the mountains again and gave me a sense of freedom. My mind wandered again – I was exited about the upcoming impressions that might await me during the upcoming months.

Tijana-Bucht-Cap-de-Creus

Tijana

The Smell of Freedom

4 months of Spain that lie ahead between loudly Catalan-speaking and wildly gesticulating Spanish people and my fear not to speak Spanish good enough to be understood. Those were my first thoughts when I got the permission to work as an intern for the Costa Live International Magazine in Empuriabrava. But quickly, excited anticipation of the endless shining sun and the work as a journalist, who is always curious to pick up new stories, was rising. I am still amazed by all those lovely people who received me and of those who patiently talk Castellano to me instad of their beloved Catalan.


My first day of work was supposed to be a roadtrip which I won’t forget that fast. Starting at Empuriabrava, we were heading towards Roses, a little city at the sea, which attracts thousands of tourists in summer. On our way we drove through small alleys which were crowded and full of pushing mopeds, and continually stopping cars driven by tourists. Having a Spanish car, grumbling and pushing the accelerator was silently permitted for us, and so we also made our way through the crowd. We only took a quick look at the promenade which was surrounded by little bars, which already had many customers. The turquoise and blue glittering sea already had to stand children who were happily shrieking and playing in the water. Now I know why the Spanish people lovingly call August “the time of the terrorists“.

Marie-Porta-Falconera-Costa-Brava

Leaving Roses, we took some lost streets which were crawling up the mountains but didn’t keep us from driving about 43.5 mph and singing along to the loud music we were listening to. Reaching Punta Falconera, a „typical tourist viewpoint“, the view took away my breath. Standing between cactuses and wild olive trees, the vastness of the sea lay in front of me and the clouds hanging in front of the pyrenees could only gave me a hint of where the horizon was. If I had done one more step, I would have fallen down the cliffs and into the sea. A feeling of freedom and happiness came over me and I really liked to take pictures to catch this moment so I could show it to my beloved ones at home. But I have to permit that such a vastness and beauty of nature can only be caught by the naked eye, so that the heart can really feel it.

Cap-de-Creus-Steinblick

We went along a busy mountain pass for Cadaqués and passed by sharp slopes. A donkey was enjoying his loneliness and ate dry grass with dedication. An eagle was gliding through the sky without having to strike with his wings, and the feeling of freedom didn’t want to depart from me. Even out of the window, my view from the foothills of the pyrenees and the sea to France was spectacular and I forgot about place and time. Only now and then I could see some small houses placed at the slopes. Sometimes, small taverns which were overgrown by climbing plants and moss, located at a crossroad, were inviting us for a break. But the Cap de Creus, engl.: cap of believers, the most northerly point of Spain, was waiting for us. On our way there, we were passing by an observatory, located on top of the biggest mountain and definitely knowing that this wasn’t only one of the most beautiful places on earth but also in the whole universe. The landscape reaching the Cap de Creus suddenly changed- no more olive trees and cactuses covered it but stones of volcano and seldom dry plants. This is how fast the flora adjusts to the mountain’s height.

Cap-de-Creus-Distel

On our way to Cadaqués we, for example, we passed by the former residence of Salvador Dalí, a world-famous surrealistic artist. He died in 1989 and so today, his residence is the Casa Salvador Dalí Museum in Portlligat. In this surroundings, also residences of well-known managers can be found and again it became clear to me how popular the Costa Brava is- both with tourists and experts. I came back with many impressions and ideas, and I am looking forward to hiking in the pyrenees and to visiting small, covered bays and other centres of cultural interest. I will write more about this soon.

Marie

Angels shop in Garriguella.

Second sketch – the antique dealer Angel

In the middle of the sleepy village of Garriguella has the restorer and antiques dealer Angel opened his shop – behind old barn doors are two halls filled to the bursting with curiosity and antique pieces. What kind of person makes all these beautiful things sparkle and shine again?

What were you dreaming of, when you where a child?
Oh, I‘ve had many dreams. I was mostly dreaming of sport, because I was playing basketball for Barcelona.

Are you more a person of memory or of hope?
Memory.

Which dream have you already forgotten?
Sports.

One thing you should stop and one thing you should start?
I should stop working and start living my second youth.

What‘s more important in life? Rationality or unreason?
Rationality.

Would you have liked to live in a diffrent era?
No.

What‘s the first thing you would do if you could be 16 again?
I would meet my wife.

Which is the most beautiful place you’ve ever been?
Barcelona.

Which bar would you recommend us?
La sirena in Roses.

One thing that you would take to a lonley island?
My wife.

Are changes a good thing or a bad thing?
Something good!

What else does the world need??
More mental health.

What wouldn‘t the world be missing?
Wars.

What is the good thing about growing up?
You make your experiences – no matter whether they‘re good or bad.

One thing that you have learned from life?
Honor and love the animals. Especially dogs and horses.

How important is time for you? Do you sometimes like wasting it?
Time means living and stop living. And yes, I love wasting it and I‘m doing it alot.

Do you have a motto?
It is a sentence of Pep Guardiola: „When we get up early and work hard, we are an unstoppable nation.“

Angels shop in Garriguella.

Information: Angels shop is located at the church square of Garriguella. It‘s worth a visit!

Blooming flowers next to the ocean.

New ADAC guide book Catalonia

Especially in autumn and spring we want to discover the picturesque countryside of the Costa Brava – the lazy beach days can wait until summer. Whether you get lost in the rough Pyrenees, enjoy the ocean view from Cap de Creus or collect mushrooms in the colorful forests. Once you‘ve started, the excursions are going to make you addicted.

Autum landscape on the coast.

All the better, that ADAC just published a new guidebook about Catalonia, which not only creates an appetite for more, but also saves you from getting lost. You can find detailed maps, route descriptions as well as numerous travel tips in the practical book. A must-have for everyone, who wants to discover more of the region.

ADAC Wanderführer Katalonien Jenseits der Costa Brava – Katalonien zu Fuß entdecken. Art.Nr.: 9783862070756

Julia Masetplana, Bodega.

First draft – Julia Masetplana

Julia Masetplana was already dreaming of taking over the family business, when he was a little child – today, the 27 – year old is owner of a wine – trade and produces delicious olive oil. It‘s worth an excursion to his fabric, which is located in the scenic Empordà near Garriguella – you can inspect all kinds of machinery and you won‘t leave with empty pockets.

Julia Masetplana, Bodega.

What were you dreaming of, when you were a child?
I was dreaming of taking over our family business and of sucess. When I was really young, I wanted to become a astronaut or firefighter.

Who are you representing in your dreams?
I don‘t think, that I‘m representing certain person – I‘m doing, what I‘m doing.

Are you a person of memory or of hope?
Hope is more important than memory.

Which dream have you already forgotten?
A forgotten dream…none occurs to me.

One thing you should quit and one thing you should start?
I should probably quit smoking. And I really want to study – maybe something like business studies.

What‘s more important in life? Rationality or unreason?
Rationality.

What‘s the most beautiful place, you‘ve ever been to?
I actually really like it here in Empordà.

What‘s the saddest place, you‘ve ever been to?
That was also here, when everything got destroyed by the fire last year.

One thing you would take to a lonley island?
Wine.

Would you like to meet the Spanish president?
I‘m not interested in meeting him.

What would you say to him, if you would still meet him?
There‘s nothing to be said to the Spanish president anymore, the people have already told him everything. If I would meet the Catalan president, I would advise him to be more realistic.

Are changes a good thing or a bad thing?
Generally, they are good.

What else does the world need?
A little bit more sense of reality and modesty.

What wouldn‘t the world be missing?
Corrupt politicans.

What‘s good about growing – up?
You have freedom and it‘s easier to make decisions. Also, you can try diffrent things and make your own experiences.

What means time to you? Do you enjoy wasting it sometimes?
Time is very important for me. But I‘m actually always to busy to waste it.

One thing, you learned from life?
A lie has no legs.

Information:
Where: Paratge dels Pedreguers, s/n 17780 – Garriguella
Contact: info@masaplana.com

www.masetplana.com

Die Kirche in Torroella de Fluvià.

Small places, big partys!

Last sunday wasn‘t a good day. It was not because of the grey sky ( I really can‘t blame the sun for not having done a great job so far) and it was not because every sunday the bell of the church awakes the whole, sleepy village at 8 o‘clock, so that even the people, who never enter the church, can‘t stay in bed any longer.Thanks to my head, that I had such a bad day – you couldn‘t even call it a hangover, it was more like a circus. The good thing about those hangoverish days is, that they normally suggest that you had a great night before.The past weekend showed me once again, that you neither need a big city, nor clubs, nor expensive cocktails, nor famous DJ‘s to organize a good party – my feet are still sore from dancing all night at the village square.

Die Kirche in Torroella de Fluvià.

August and september seem to be the celebration months along the coast. There‘s hardly ever a weekend without a village holding it‘s Fiesta Mayor and inviting inhabitants and visitors to participate and have fun. My first village party was overdue, that‘s why I decided to spend my saturday night in Torroella de Fluvià. The place seemed like a buzzing beehive all day – tables were carried, a stage was build up, boxes where placed. Even I felt a little bit of excitement, when we walked towards the stage after sunset, where they were just announcing the band.

My first Fiesta Mayor.

The atmosphere was amusing, absurdly and absolutly nice – it couldn‘t have been any better. Children were playing around their drinking parents, visibly happy, that they were allowed to stay up all night. The teenagers of the village were already in front of the stage, cigarettes and bottles in their hands, the older inhabitants made way for the younger people and sat with smiling faces on folding chairs.In summary: This was probably the most variegated crowd, I‘ve ever seen – in Berlin, they sometimes send you away, because you‘re not wearing the right shoes and my grandmother would be out of the place in one of the nightclubs there.There was plenty of beer, which was served in plastic cups by the mayor, who raised his glass whenever someone ordered another drink.

The Fiesta Mayor takes place every year.

Even if the vibe was already great, it was not until the band 7 D Rock began to play, that the whole village suddenly became alive. Neither rain nor tiredness could pollute the party mood – 15 minutes later, all feet were moving.I can‘t remember when I went home – I think I stayed longer than I actually planned at the beginning and the music was playing until dawn.Anyway, this night showed me once again, that it‘s a basic need of humans all over the world to celebrate and have fun together – no matter, how small the place is and where the party takes place. Luckily, the following weekends are going to satisfy this need.

Just to let you know – it’s well worth seeing the band 7 D Rock. They gonna play on several villages partys along the coast. 

31.08. Aitona // 07.09. Guissona // 10.09. Viladrau // 14.09. Vilafant // 29.09. Lleida

Wonderful locations at the Costa Brava

Paradisiacally: Hiking to the Platja de Castell

Paradisiacal bays and wild coasts

Reaching the Platja de Castell afoot

It said that they still exist, those calm bays of the Costa Brava. However, most of them cannot be reached by car. In June, we explored some of them afoot. We recommend starting this trip on a weekday, and as early in the morning as possible. Then you might find idyllic, blissful silence.
Equipped with hiking boots, swimming things and everything we need for a picnic, we began our way on a hot day in June. We park close to Calella de Palafrugell, just in front of the Jardins de Cap Roig. A few steps lead to a clearing, close to the park’s entrance. We pass the clearing and reach the main walking route GR 92, at the rim of the forest. It will take us about one and a half hours to make it to our goal. We follow the signs reading Poblat Ibèric and Platja de Castell. The shady path through the forest leads past a huge building with sea view.

Behind the majestic hedges, life seems to be full of privileges. Now and then, we see all-terrain vehicles. There, we usually find small paths leading down to the sea, and tiny, calm bays. Eventually, our route diverges. A steep track is leading uphill, and away from the major route GR 92. Now we have to climb, but in the end we are rewarded for our endurance. The view is amazing. This is the Costa Brava as it is presented on beautiful postcards: Pine trees, bowing in the wind, crystal clear water shining deep, deep down like a blue mirror crowned by spray. Yachts bob up and down on the water. Like lazy walruses, rocks are scattered on the shore. Wild cactuses show their fiery buds. On the horizon, there are sail boats, travelling with the wind.Trip to the Platja de Castell

Canoes enter a tunnel, which is leading into the cliff. At the other side, there is the Poblat Iberic. This Iberian settlement on Cap Sa Coberta was found in 1943 and has been archaeologically excavated during the years that followed. The settlement itself was probably built around the 6th century BC and existed until the first century BC began. Even back then, people must have loved the sea view. From the walls of the former settlement, the view onto the silent sandy bay, which is still in its natural state, is breathtaking. Between Palamós and Calella de Palafrugell a small personal paradise can be found here. The small bar close to the coast is all that gives evidence of tourism and civilisation; for now, we do not have to share sea and shore with anyone. Plunging into the cool waves is exactly what we need now, after the exhausting climb.

For the way back, we have decided to take a walk along the shore. This gets even more exhausting than we thought. The first part of the way leads us back to the steep path and to GR 92. A few metres along the way, we take a turn right though, and walk back to the cliff line. Many bays, so beautiful they seem to be from a dream, are signed out now: Cala Senià, Cala Estreta and El Crit.
Fixed steps lead to Miradors with brilliant views. The small, slightly stony bays are especially loved by those preferring to go skinny-dipping. Here, no bars disturb the silence. All is calm, and sun, and sand, and sea. We have brought our picnic and decide it is about time for a short
Siesta, which we spend partly in the sea. Unfortunately, we cannot stay here and have to leave this beautiful place all too soon. Back we go, to the steep paths leading up to the parking lot.

Our advice: If this route seems too long, or if you want to visit the Platja de Castell only, we recommend you go there by car. Take the C 225 to the exit called Camping Benelux. There, turn right, and then left after 500 metres. Here you will find a parking lot. We can also recommend the footway (20min) leading from La Fosca past an old ruin, picturesque fishers‘ cottages and a shady forest of pines. Maps and information are available from the tourist information Baix Empordà in La Bisbal.

Wonderful Mediterranean Sea

Hiking to the Platja de Castell

 

A spanish man is smoking a cigar in Cadaqués.

Sun, Sangria, Siesta – What is it about spain?

Paella, sun every day, easy life- the Spanish don‘t wake up before midday, that‘s why they have dinner, when the rest of the world is already asleep. They live on Tapas and Chorizo, they drink buckets full of Sangria, which gives normal people the worst hangover ever and they need an one hour Siesta after every effort (meals included). They‘re only on time, if they‘re going to church or to a bullfight, they bawl all the time, that‘s why Spain is such a noisy counrty. I also prepared myself for all the tanned Spanish guys, named Antonio or José, which whistle to me or immediately take out their guitar to impress me with a romantic lovesong.

Paella is a typical spanish meal.

No, I‘m exaggerating and I know, because I‘m german, how ennoying clichés can be (apparently I‘m a Dirndl – wearing fun killer, who‘s eating nothing but Sauerkraut and sausages) and that almost none of them is true.Still, Spain and Germany are diffrent, there are no two ways about this, and I‘ve got the best conditions to get to known the spanish culture while I‘m here. So, what is it about the Spanish? First I have to admid, that I still haven‘t tried any Paella, also I drank buckets of beer instead of Sangria (that‘s probably quintessentially German) and when I went on the streets early in the morning, they weren‘t empty. I also haven‘t met Antonio or José so far, even tough the Spanish are tanned, they seem to prefere a friendly greeting instead of whisteling and playing guitar.

A Spanish guy is enjoying his Siesta.

Anyway, I need to get used to some things. It seems a bit weird to me, not to start preparing the dinner until it‘s dark and closed shops in the afternoon are not useful.  Apart of that, I really enjoy the Spanish Siesta, when the streets get empty and everybody takes a little break. In Germany, it‘s hard to escape from the hectic rush without feeling guilty. In Spain, fun and freetime seem to be as important as work. Have you ever seen a German person leaving the office to spend a few hours at the lake? Spain consists of more than the sun and the beach – as soon as you get off the touristiy path to explore the counrtyside, you gonna see mountains and wide fields with apple trees and sunflowers, which are as spectacular as the oceanview.

Even tough I‘ve only been here for a week, I‘m already caught up in the relaxed atmosphere – one thing I sometimes really miss in Germany. The Spanish cities seem to be unbelievable vivid and loud (yes, this cliché is definitely true!). It‘s probably the sun that makes the Spanish so tempramental – they get a overdose of endorphines every day. Still, I‘m trying not to fulfil the clichés about Germans – I already had lots of fun, I don‘t have a Dirndl in my baggage and I decided to take it easy. Or, as the Spanish say: „No te preoccupes.“

4-meter-high giant pair of plaster

Festes del Tura in Olot

Olot – Garrotxa

The Festivals of Tura in September are the main festival of Olot to honor the patron saint of the city. They are considered one of the most important traditional festivals of Catalonia and are declared of national interest by the Department of Culture of the Generalitat of Catalonia. Since the mid-19th century people celebrate the patron saint of Olot for five days around the 8th of September with a huge city festival full of events and activities together with traditional culture.

The Mother of God of Tura is a Romanic black madonna from the 12th century. According to a legend, she was discovered by an ox. This was pawing repeatedly on the floor until the owner began to dig at that point and so discovered the figure. Tura was the regional old catalan word for ox, so that the patron saint actually is called Mother of God of Ox.

Processions and traditions

Not be missed in this town festival in honor of the Mother of God of Tura is the 4-meter-high giant pair of plaster. Dancing they draw everyone´s attention and are accompanied by the „Cap de Lligamosques“ – the head of the fly catcher – and ten animal figurines, each representing their district.

The main festival of Olot to honor the patron saint of the city

People in horse costumes gallop behind the drums and chapels.5 days Olot is celebrating the patron saint and besides the procession, there are many more traditional Catalan activities, such as the „Correfoc“ (fire run), the „Sardanas“ (folk dance), the „Correbou“ (bull run) and the „Castellers“ (human towers).
Attention: The „Turinada“ is one of the highlights of the festivities. During the nightly parade through the town, water is sprayed from the balconies. Also buckets and hoses are used. Drummers are creating a lively atmosphere. The enthusiastic crowd is dancing in a wet shower of confetti. Be warned and grab yourself a change of clothing.

Festival to honor the Mother of God of Tura