All posts filed under: Catalonia

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.

 

Sea vie at the Botanical Garden

Green oases at the Mediterranean Sea – Botanical Gardens

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

Wonders of nature

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

Cliffs of the Costa Brava

Especially the Marimurtra garden surprises with breathtaking sea views.

Back in time

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

Bust framed by greens

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

Prickly friends

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

Human-sized cacti

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

Stunning sea views

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

View point pavilion

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

Music in the garden

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

Blossoming tree

Even the trees surprise us with their colourful flowers.

Sea view with flowers

From Calella de Palafrugell to Tamariu

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

Busy fishing village

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

Pink flowers at the side of the path

At the coastline, everything is blossoming.

And up we go

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

View of the coastline

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

Colourful sea water

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

Dream of paradise

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

Arriving at Tamariu

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

Arriving at Tamariu

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

Info:

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

Traditionelles Dorfhaus

The road to silence – excursion

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

Less speed is more

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

Alley with archway

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

Idyllic country life

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

Ancient building

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

Let’s keep unwinding

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

Café Peratallada

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

Back to reality

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

View over Pals

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

 

Ready to eat

Stuffed squids (Calamars Farcits)

Inspired by the Catalonian kitchen, we wanted to try stuffed squid, a traditional recipe of Catalonia. The ingredients are simple and also the preparation is very easy. Try it out!

Ingredients:

1 kg of squids
250 g minced meat
1 onion
2 small tomatoes or chopped tinned tomatoes
2 garlic cloves
1 egg
salt and pepper
herbs as you prefer (parsley, basil, thyme)
olive oil
flour
a little bit of white wine

Preparation:

Clean the squid carefully, pat it dry, remove the fin and tentacles and cut them very finely for the stuffing.
For the stuffing, finely dice the onion and the garlic and then mix it with the minced meat, chopped tentacles, salt, a little bit of pepper, egg and
chopped parsley.
Stuff the squid and secure with a toothpick. Afterwards, roll in flour.
Heat some oil in a pan. Fry the squid from all sides and add the chopped tomatoes. Add white wine and allow to simmer over low heat. Add the herbs and season well. Cover it and allow to stew. Turn them once. Remove the lid and allow the sauce to simmer.
Before serving, strew some parsley on it and serve with salad or rice. Bon appetit!