All posts filed under: Catalonia

Besalú – Medieval charm

The back country of the Costa Brava is filled with treasures. Where overcrowded cities and beaches take a back seat, the focus is on rural tranquility and medieval beauty. In quiet, car-free old towns with beautiful, lovingly restored buildings, you start a journey into another time.
Destination: The most beautiful medieval villages of Catalonia. One of them – Besalú.

Besalú - Pyrenees

The beauty of the Costa Brava, right in front of you!

Enchanted by Besalú

Starting point of our little journey through Besalú: The gigantic, perfectly restored bridge Pont Vell. The view of the beautiful bridge, its two majestic towers, the river Fluvià, the picturesque old town with numerous medieval stone houses and the foothills of the Pyrenees is simply overwhelming. Nobody can resist here: Taking pictures of this view is a must!

Besalu - old town - medieval

Impressive, isn’t it?

Back to the past

Unleashed from everyday life, we enter a place far away from stress and worries. Small, narrow streets lead to the village square, the Plaça Llibertat with lively little restaurants and cafés. The Monastery of Sant Pere leaves you very stunned. Our thoughts wander far into the past. Our next stop: the Church of Sant Vicente – also an impressive Romanesque building.

 

Definitely a highlight

In the former Jewish quarter, a very special highlight awaits us: a Jewish ritual bath. Only four of these species have survived across Europe – Wow! You cannot miss that. Such a magical place ..

A perfect walk..

A true masterpiece – Besalú

From the bank of the river Fluvià, we enjoy the unique view of the majestic bridge and the medieval work of art Besalú for the last time. While listening to the lapping of the river, we feel the passing time and the history surrounding this magical place.

 

 

 

pals medieval village

Pals – Medieval Catalan beauty

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

medieval village pals

Hidden corners in the medieval village

Medieval idyll

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Time travel in the Catalan village

pals medieval village

Medieval time travel in Pals

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

Torre de les Hores – the town’s landmark

medieval pals

Torre de les Hores in medieval Pals

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

 

 

medieval pals

Green idyll in Pals

 

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

 

 

 

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

In the mood for a hike: Camino de Ronda

Admire one stunning bay after another and having the wonderful, turquoise blue sea continuously right in front of you? Going for a swim, relaxing in the sun and afterwards putting your hiking boots back on? In between, snacking a small treat in a restaurant with spectacular views to the sea and sipping a cool mojito later at sunset?

That sounds great to you? Well then, you will love the famous coastal path of the Costa Brava which has, for the most parts, been left in its natural state.

 

Camino de Ronda

With a length of approx. 45 km, the so-called Camino the Ronda offers infinite possibilities to enjoy the beauty of the Costa Brava with all of your senses. Whether you like to take a chance on the whole path within 2 days – like a professional hiker – or prefer walking only a small section on a sunny afternoon – it’s your choice. But I guarantee you won’t regret a single step!

 

 

 

Insider Tip: Cala Calitjàs

On a warm day of summer, we decided to visit the bay called “Cala Calitjàs“ in Roses, which persuades with a gravel beach and spectacular views to the light blue sea. On a holiday with perfect weather for bathing in middle of high season, I expected the beach to be overcrowded without air to breathe. I was quite surprised noticing that we had to share the spacious gravel area with less than 25 persons. Definitely an insider tip!

 

 

Next Bay: Cala Pelosa

After taking a refreshing bath in the cool salt water, we enjoyed the sun for a while – listening to the soft sound of the sea. Until our rumbling stomachs finally reminded us that it was already siesta time! Fortunately, we had organized a table in the famous restaurant called “Chiringuito La Pelosa“ before. The idea of a juicy paella with fresh seafood motivated us to leave the comfortable beach and hike to the next bay, the so-called “Cala Pelosa“, using the Camino de Ronda.

 

 

Hiking with spectacular views

Having walked only a few meters, I already understood why so many fans of Spain decide to walk the whole path: the views were continuously spectacular! Permanently, I had to stop to take some pictures of the dream scenery.

You can’t get enough of these wonderful views!

But I have to admit that I’ve been a little torn: On the one hand, I had to concentrate not to loose my footing and fall into the enormous cacti and on the other hand, I couldn’t help but admire  the crystal clear water, which sparkled in the sun and was decorated with numerous, luxurious boats and yachts. It’s better holding on for a minute now and again, otherwise it could get quite dangerous!

Restaurant “Chiringuito La Pelosa“

While we made our way through the prickly pears and palms, some passengers of boats in the distance seemed to have a lot of fun – boat party ahoy!

By the way, the restaurant has a boat service that delivers the paella!

 

Sooner than I expected, we reached the beautiful beach “Cala Pelosa“. At a distance, we already heard the chaos of different voices, clacking crockery and the clangour of glasses – the restaurant was at its peak. Whether we had to wait in spite of reserving? Unfortunately, yes. Whether it’s worth it? Definitely!

But the waiting period could be much worse: Chilling in a bar with comfortable seats and views to the sea – even the most impatient of you guys would survive this!

 

 

Paella – we’re coming!

After 1-2 cool refreshments, our names were called and we were brought to our table – with a great anticipation of our delicious meal. It didn’t take us more than 5 minutes to decide what to eat: a big paella with seafood and a few starters, to that of course a wine. As quickly as the starters arrived, they were gone again: A tuna fish tatar, salad, calamari, bread – well, that was tasty!

    

After resting a while, there was enough space in our stomachs for what we had been waiting for the whole time: The paella! Mhh smells delicious … I’ve never eaten paella before – a big mistake as I recognized. I’ve rarely tasted something so special! The Spanish people know exactly how to spoil their guests.

A very special taste experience..

A final selfie before leaving..

Finally some cocktails..

Satisfied and sated, we walked over to the bar to treat ourselves with some mojitos. After taking a few last pictures, we set off back home. Why don’t we spend every day like that? I’d love that!

camí de ronda

Camí de Ronda: From Sa Tuna to Sa Riera

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

 

camí de ronda sa tuna

Sailing boats in Sa Tuna

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

Climbing up steep stairs

camí de ronda stairs

Steep stone stairs

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

Camí de Ronda: always a spectacular view of the sea

camí de ronda hotel

Beautifully situated hotel

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

High above the Mediterranean

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

camí de ronda colours

Blaze of colours on Camí de Ronda

camí de ronda sea

Turquoise sea

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

Idyll Made of Stone – Peratallada

The back country of the Costa Brava, not far away from Girona, is cut from a very different cloth. Here, you can find the most beautiful medieval villages of Catalonia. These seem to send you into another time, if it weren’t for the tourists running around with the latest camera technology.

       

Peratallada – is one of those magical places full of history! Hardly any other village surprises with such an authentic, medieval charm.

Peratallada - stone houses - Costa Brava

Beautiful stone houses to discover in Peratallada …

Peratallada – “carved stone”

Peratallada — derived from “pedra tallada”, meaning “carved stone” — lives up to its name. Surrounded by a moat and a gigantic fortification wall, the place carries a medieval charm and rural silence hidden behind stone walls.

       

Far from the crowded beaches

The streets, the towers, the houses, the archways, even the church and the castle – everything is made out of natural stone and has been renovated with lots of love in the past few years. Numerous coffee bars, restaurants and hotels create a friendly atmosphere far away from the crowded beaches. Some small boutiques with souvenirs, ceramic and clothes tempt you to go shopping.

shops - peratallada - costa brava

Welcoming shops in the centre

Majestic church Sant Esteve

Having left the village over the fortress bridge after a relaxing walk through the shaded alleys, you’ll see another medieval jewel: The gigantic Roman church Sant Esteve, dating back to the 13th century, majestically rises just outside the doors of the village and forms a popular photo scene.

Church - Peratallada - medieval village

Beautiful, gigantic church Sant Esteve

Time to pay a visit to Peratallada!

Peratallada is on the toplist of the 10 most beautiful villages of Catalonia and is definitely worth visiting …

First time: Costa Brava

Until now, I’ve only been to Mallorca a few times. The island manages to fascinate me all over again every time. The Spanish continent – especially the Costa Brava – is virgin territory to me. During my internship, I would love to explore the other part of Spain – or rather of Catalonia.
At the very beginning of my internship, we took our first exploratory trip – with the Costa Live in the trunk.

Costa Brava - Begur - views to the sea

Fantastic sea view – Costa Brava

First stop: L’Estartit

Our first destination was the small resort L’Estartit near to Torroella de Montgrí.
On our way there, the views were already spectacular: The combination of sea and mountains was simply overwhelming. On site, a beautiful beach, small bustling shopping streets, a manageable yacht harbour and many welcoming coffee shops and restaurants with sea view amazed me. The place wasn’t flooded by mass tourism at all.

Costa Brava - Harbour - L'Estartit

L’Estartit Harbour

A tiny coffee shop between beach and harbour drew us to quietly enjoy the panorama of boats and water while sipping a refresher. The beach wasn’t overcrowded at all and the water was quite calm – although the waves were raging in many places this day.

After that, we made a little walk along the new promenade until the end of the town to admire the small islands “Illes Medes“ – the landmark of L’Estartit – from there. Wild waves were crashing against rock faces which were steeply rising out of the sea. The power of the open sea – we had it right in front of us.

Costa Brava - L'Estartit - View - rocks

Pretty view in L’Estartit

Tapas in Begur

Next, we made our way to Begur, a popular resort which has a lot to offer. Whether you like to go shopping, make a trip to the beautiful bays or enjoy the fascinating views from the castle hill over city, countryside and sea – Begur’s got it all.

Church and restaurants in Begur

Meanwhile, it was siesta time and our stomachs were growling. So we struck off to the town centre to eat a little something. Fortunately, we found a free table in the shadow of an olive tree in the famous restaurant “El Tapas de Begur“, which seduces with a lot of little treats. Without having to wait for the waiter to take the order, you can take the tapas yourself from the bar. It is important to keep the sticks which grace the tapas and not to throw them away! They are necessary for cashing up. Until then, this practical system, which is perfectly simple and is based on trust, wasn’t familiar to me. The tapas were very delicious and are definitely recommendable.

 

Shopping & Sightseeing

Nice boutiques in Begur

As the restaurant is located in the heart of the city, we had already spotted some nice boutiques next door while eating that we had to visit afterwards. Especially if you’re a big fan of pastel colours and Ibiza-style summer clothes, guaranteed you will fall in love with some pieces!

 

Fantastic view – Begur

Later, we couldn’t miss the chance to enjoy the view from the top of the castle. The steep ascent is rewarded with an unique view over the coast of the Costa Brava up until the Pyrenees. Time to take some pictures! Instantly, I had found a bay that I have to visit in the next couple of weeks: The bay Sa Riera!

 

Medieval charm

Stone houses of Pals

Finally, it led us to Pals: a perfectly restored medieval village, which had been build on a hill. As the old town from Pals is car-free, I would recommend you to leave your car beneath the historical centre and enjoy the walk.

 

 

Having reached the top, I understood why Pals is considered one of the most beautiful medieval villages of the Costa Brava: narrow streets, charming stone houses which are build closely to each other and again an unbelievable view of the surroundings from the Mirador de Josep Pla. In the distance, we could also spot the islands “Illes Medes“ which I mentioned before. If you want to drink a coffee or buy a small souvenir before leaving, the alleys of Pals will not disappoint you.

Diversity of the Costa Brava

The Costa Brava swept me off my feet on the very first trip: there is so much more to see and explore than I had expected! I’m very curious about what lies ahead in the next couple of months …

Codfish in blue mold

Bacallà amb verdures – Codfish with vegetables

Inspired again by the Catalan kitchen, this time we want to the the following recipe codfish with vegetables. Codfish is dried fish and was essential food for sailors and soldiers. Because of its preservation, it is non-perishable. Try it out and enjoy your meal!

Ingredients:

800 g of cod
1 lemo
100 g of flour
olive oil
1 red pepper
1 yellow pepper
2 small eggplants
2 small courgettes
2 onions
2 big tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic
salt and pepper
1 branch of rosemary

Colourful vegetables

After washing, cut the vegetables into small pieces.

Preparation:

Squeeze a little bit of lemon juice on the codfish (fresh or well watered) and then roll it in flour. Fry from all sides in hot olive oil.

Codfish in olive oil

Fry the filets in hot olive oil.

Cut the vegetables into small cubes. Heat olive oil in a wok. Sauté onions and peppers. Then, add the rest of the vegetables and the garlic. Let it cook for 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Fill the vegetables in an ovenproof dish and put the fish with rosemary on top of it. Let it cook in the oven at 180°C for 10 minutes until firm to bite.


Traditionally, the vegetables ragout is served on top of the codfish. However, we do it the other way round and put the fish on top of the vegetables.

Plate ready to eat

The meal is served. Enjoy!

Looking through a window in Portlligat

New Dalí-documentation “The secret life of Portlligat”

On July 1st, the new documentation about the extraordinary artist Salvador Dalí and his life in Portlligat premiered in the Sala Art i Joia in Cadaqués. The film was produced by the Dalí Foundation and directed by David Pujol.

Dalí – great painter and architect

You can say whatever you want about Salvador Dalí, whether he was a genius or simply insane, but he definitely had a great talent. The extroverted artist loved to provoke and to be always centre stage. His work is not only well known in Europe, but also in the US he was very successful. In 1936, with only 32 years, he already appeared on the Time Magazine’s cover. He created most of his work in the only studio in his house in Portlligat, close to Cadaqués. Dalí himself built the house by assembling various fishing huts.

Bay of Portlligat

With the old fishing boats, the bay of Portlligat looks very charming.

Polar bear in the house

Today, his house is a museum giving a great insight in the life of the famous painter. For example, you can find a huge stuffed polar bear, stuffed swans and other birds and bizarre decoration. On the roof you can see the famous white eggs, which are also on the roof of the museum in Figueres. The egg is one of Dalí’s favourite and often used symbol in his work. From the terrace you have a beautiful view to Portlligat and its hilly surrounding. Apart from the unusual decoration, as a visitor you get intimate insights in the private life of Dalí. You can even have a look in his bedroom and bathroom.

Stiffed polar bear in the museum

Dalí indeed had an unique taste.

La vida secreta de Portlligat. La casa de Salvador Dalí

Pujols documentation “La vida secreta de Portlligat. La casa de Salvador Dalí” as well uses these private moments. The film throws new light on the deep relationship Dalí had with the landscape of Cadaqués, Portlligat and the Cap de Creus. Also, it revolves around the relationship to Dalís father and his sister.
Director David Pujol said: “I wanted to show Dalí in his studio. The painter in his sanctum sanctorum. The man in his habitat. And Gala. (…) I wanted to capture the constant to-and-fro between everyday life and exile, between interior and exterior, between intimacy and extraversion”.

Poster of the new Dalí documentation

The new film by David Pujol promises private insights into the life of Dalí.

Flour museum in Castelló

Fira del pa – Bread fair in Castelló d’Empúries

Not far from Empuriabrava, there is the small town of Castelló d’Empúries, which used to be famous for its mills and the production of flour. When the place was the capital of the county, it had three flour mills. Only one of them remained and was transformed into a museum, explaining the process of the flour production.

The journey of the wheat grain

Designed as a tour through the different floors of the old fabric, visitors can follow the complex journey of the wheat grains and their end product flour. Divided into different stations, you get to know more about cleaning machines, conditioning machines, milling machines and the famous red mills, the heart of the Farinera. The museum is definitely worth a visit, also for kids there is a lot to explore and to try out. Visiting La Farinera will surprise you!

Grains in the museum

From the grain to flour, visitors can go on a journey and see how the process of producing flour works.

Bread fair

Also interesting is the visit of the annual bread fair in Castelló d’Empúries, which takes place every Whit Sunday. The fair is organized by the museum. Apart from guided tours through the museum, there are also workshops for the preparation of bread. Young and old can experience an old craft together, trying out different bread recipes. Who doesn’t like to knead just goes to the market. Here you can try different types of bread and take them home. Besides, you can buy regional specialities and hand-crafted products. Have a look at our photos from 2017!

 

Captivating race

Windsurf World Cup at the Costa Brava

Fluttering flags in the wind, sails in all imaginable colours speeding along in the water in front of me and loud music booming from the big loudspeakers. In between the presenter’s announcements. On the beach of Sant Pere Pescador there is a lot going on. Hot surfer boys, waiting for their turn in the race, excited fans and family members, curious tourists, big tents and lots of colourful windsurf sails and boards. The wind is howling in my ears and sand is scratching in my eyes. First, I have to get my bearings. After a few photos, I find a place between all the surfboards lying in the sand. I’ll sit down, wrapped up in a towel. Why didn’t I put on more clothes?… Well, after some time I don’t care anymore, because the windsurfers fascinate me so much I forget everything around me…

PWA World Tour Catalunya

Here in Sant Pere Pescador, on the beach of Cortal de la Devesa, which provides the perfect conditions because of the Tramontana wind, the PWA World Tour was taking place from the 23rd to 28th of May. After Korea and Japan, Catalonia was the third stop of the PWA World Cup Tour, where the male windsurfer elite comes together for the world championship of windsurfing.

Beach with sail

Surfing sail in the sand.

Once upon a time…

What started 25 yeas ago as a meeting among windsurfer friends, is today a famous competition known worldwide, organized by the PWA (Professional Windsurfers Association) with seat in Hawaii, which holds it every year under the name PWA Worldtour.
Over time, there have already been a lot of different disciplines, like for example freestyle, boarder cross and slalom. The new discipline of this year is the so called foil windsurfing, where you can see the boards floating, almost flying above the waves. The hydrofoil, more precisely, lifts not only surfboards, but also boats or ships at a certain speed out of the water.

Professional windsurfer

Albeau is making his way to the top.

What are hydrofoils?

Hydrofoils are kinds of wings, mounted on struts below the hull, or across the keels of a catamaran in a variety of boats. When increasing in speed, the boat or, in this case surfboard, equipped with a hydrofoil develops enough lift to raise the hull out of the water, which reduces hull drag. This enables an increase in speed and fuel efficiency. Foil Boarding is the latest and hottest trend in windsurfing.

Hydrofoil

With hydrofoils, windsurfers seem to fly above the water.

Winner is Albeau

On that weekend, 64 windsurfers participated in the regatta. The winner of this year’s cup is Antoine Albeau. The second and third place are occupied by Pierre Mortefon and Matteo Iachino.

French windsurfer

Antoine Albeau is this year’s winner of the PWA World Tour Catalunya.