All posts filed under: cities and villages

Houses at the river

Girona – love at first sight

For a lot of people Girona is only a stop along the way to the Costa Brava or Barcelona, but Girona has more than a few things to offer and is definitely worth a visit. Already during my first visit I fell in love with this delightful, vivid and colourful town.


Bottom kissing

We start our tour at the bridge named Pont de San Feliu. From here you have the best view over the colourfully painted houses at the river Onyar. Orange, yellow, red…reflected in the small waves of the river, a lovely photo motif. We continue our walk, past the lion statue La LLeona at the Plaça de Sant Feliu and head towards old town. It is said that you can’t be a proper citizen of Girona without having kissed the bottom of the lion at least once. For visitors, the kiss promises a soon return to Girona. I forgo this custom, because l am certain of coming back anyway.

Lion statue

There is always a big crowd in front of the lion statue, waiting for their turn to kiss the lion’s backside.

Historic Baths dating back to 1194

Walking on the Carrer dels Calderers, we get to a small street called Pujada de Sant Feliu, which leads upwards. Here you can find a nice place for having a coffee or something to eat. Fortified, we pass by the Basílica Sant Feliu and go to the Arabic Baths. The entrance only costs 2 € (students only pay the half), so indeed a true bargain.

Ancient Baths

Inside the Arabic Baths, we are impressed by the unique architecture.

Witch hunting

Later, we follow the stairs up to the part behind the Cathedral of Girona. The view from there over the city is fascinating. We stroll along the small alleys up to the Jardins de la Francesa, a small garden, where you can find beautiful blue benches inviting you to have a seat and just relax. At the façade, there is an interesting detail to observe: a gargoyle shaped like a woman, called the witch. According to the legend, there was a woman throwing stones against the processions, until she herself got fossilized. In the garden you can also start the city wall-tour, which we postpone until later.

Having a break

Let’s have a short break in the shade.

Game of Thrones in Girona

Now it’s time to leave the garden and go to the place in front of the Cathedral. The Cathedral of Girona was built in various phases during the 14th, 15th and 17th century and has the widest Gothic nave in the world. From the Cathedral there are 90 stairs going downwards. This outside staircase is the biggest baroque staircase and even was the scene for the famous TV series Game of  Thrones. They even offer GOT tours around the city with stops at the various scenes.

Cathedral of Girona

Not only from outside, but also from inside the cathedral looks impressive.

Travelling through time

Downstairs, we walk on the Carrer de la Força (street of force) towards the old city and the Jewish quarter. Narrow, dark alleys are waiting for us and we now realize why Girona was serving as a medieval film set. We ourselves feel like back in time. The street of force was between 889 and 1492, so 600 (!!!) years, part of the Jewish quarter, also called Call.

Narrow alley in Girona

Walking through the dark and narrow alleys in the old town, we feel like back in the Middle Ages.

Time for shopping

Always straight ahead, passing tapas bars and restaurants, we arrive at the Plaça del Vi, turn right and go over the the bridge Pont de Pedra to the other side of the town. We turn right again into the Carrer de Santa Clara, following the street until we arrive at the next bridge. Of course, we can’t go past the shops without taking a look inside. In Girona there are so many small and adorable shops and boutiques, a paradise for all who love to shop.

Small supermarket

What we love most about Girona are the small and lovely shops.

Eiffel bridge

Passing trees with gorgeous pink blossoms, we walk over the Pont de les Peixeteries and return to the other city side. Girona has a large number of bridges, connecting both sides of the town, which are separated by the river Onyar. The Pont de les Peixeteries is a special highlight as it was constructed by Gustave Eiffel. The impressive metal structure leads us to the Rambla de la Llibertat. There is a lot going on here.

La Rambla de Girona

The Rambla de la Llibertad is an avenue with huge trees providing enough shade from the warm spring sun.

The most gorgeous bridge

Walking down the Rambla, we come to the Pont de Sant Agustí and to the Plaça de la Independència. Under the round arches, it’s finally time to enjoy a café con leche while watching the busy life at the square, one of my favourite things to do. After our short coffee break, we walk past the Plaça de la Independència and over the Pont d’en Gómez, in my opinion the most beautiful bridge of Girona.

Most beautiful bridge in Girona

At the Pont d’en Gómez you have some wonderful views to the colourful houses at the river Onyar.

Above the rooftops of Girona

Back at our starting point, we are now going to explore part of the old city wall. From there you have a stunning view over the rest of the popular sights, like for example the Basílica Sant Feliu, the Església de Sant Nicolau, the monastery of Sant Pere de Galligants and the small gardens and parks between.                                                                                                                                      There are so many different possibilities to discover this unique town. The best thing to do is to follow your hunch. Countless stairs promise secret surprises, for sure.

High above the rooftops of Girona

Climbing up the many stairs was totally worth it. What a view!

What you definitely have to try:

Tapas at Zanpanzar

Ice cream at Rocambolesc

Flower festival Girona 2017

Temps de Flors – Girona spring scented

Sometimes carnival like, other times tastefully and minimalist, every now and then poetically or just hopelessly romantic – there’s such a diversity in the installations of “Temps de Flors“ 2017.

Rebellion against Franco

There are many myths around the history of the flower festival. According to some sources, the festival was a symbol of resistance against the Franco dictatorship. However, the flower show was officially opened in 1954 for the first time, that’s a fact.

Decorated stairs with flowers

The stairs in front of the Sant Feliu church are lovely decorated with arches and flowers in bright colours.

Kitsch and art

This year, the colourful festival takes place for the 62nd time in the old town of Girona. You can argue about the artistic value, but not about the entertaining quality. The lines between kitsch and art become blurred. Year after year in May, the Temps de Flors festival is a major attraction and works perfectly as marketing element for the city.

Bags filled with water

Bags filled with water hanging down from a tree, interesting decoration, we think.

Everyone is participating

The spring festival is also proof for the sense of community the locals of Girona have. Everyone does his bit, whether it is a small bouquet of flowers at the entrance, opulent tendrils at the front of a window, or hundreds of flowerpots in an old bathtub in a historic patio – everybody wants to be part of it.

Huge onion

While walking through the old town, we suddenly find this huge onion consisting of loads of small onions.

Food with flowers and a cappella music

In cafés you can try flower cakes, boutiques present flower dresses, a flowerbed decorates a furniture shop’s window, restaurants serve flower menus and the A Capella Festival provides the perfect music to all of this.
Every year, we stroll curiously along the alleys and let the city cast its spell over us. Girona shows how beautiful community and province life can be.

Peonies in a cupcake store

We can’t walk by this lovely decorated shop window of an even lovelier cupcakes store. They have arranged peonies, my favourite flowers!

Above Barcelona's roofs

Barcelona – two days in the Catalonian metropolis

Saturday morning at the train station in Barcelona. Here, Barbara is waiting for her boyfriend, who will come here directly from the airport. Their aim on this weekend: Exploring Barcelona and getting a first impression of the city between the mountains and the sea.

Arriving an adapting

Two days will never be enough for visiting all the sights, recommended restaurants and bars, museums and popular districts of the Catalonian capital, but nothing ventured, nothing gained. Therefore, the two set out for their little adventure, a little bit blind and disoriented, Barbara admits. The most important thing is the right direction: they focus on their hostel for leaving their luggage. Just following their nose, the couple goes by metro to the city centre, as their accommodation is located in front of the Universitat de Barcelona, close to Plaça Catalunya. However, they already change their plan during their metro journey, get off at the next station, look for a café and, in a more organized way, make a new weekend plan, while enjoying a café con leche and delicious croissants.

Blick über Barcelona

Where to start?

Goose, paella and the sea

Leaving their mystery tour-tactics behind, they both decide to go for a walk through the Barri Gòtic, the oldest district of the town. Their travel guide proposes a very interesting route with passing all the important sights. So perfect for tourists like them who don’t have much time. Starting at the Gothic cathedral “La Catedral de la Santa Creu i Santa Eulàlia“ with goose entertaining its visitors, Barbara and her boyfriend walk to the “Palau de la Generalitat“ where the Catalonian government has its seat, until the “Puente del Bisbe“, they visit all the famous Gothic buildings of Barcelona. At the same time, they get closer to the sea and make a break in the afternoon, at Spanish lunchtime, in the warm spring sun while having a tasty paella and a cold beer.

Palm trees in the cloister

Apart from the goose, there are also palm trees and other plants decorating the cathedral’s cloister.

Event location and leisure time spot

After the couple finally has left the luggage at their hostel, they make their way towards the local mountain, called Montjuïc, which has a height of 173 meters. The Montjuïc serves as a perfect event location, but also without anything planned, attracts as many tourists as locals. Whether the rests of the world exhibition in 1929, like the German pavilion constructed by Mies van der Rohe, the Font Màgica (magic fountain), the parks around the mountain or the impressive castle at the highest point of Montjuïc, there is a lot to see. From the castle, you have a beautiful view over the whole city and the Olympic site behind (In 1992, the Summer Olympics took place in Barcelona) with its huge TV mast provides enough space for a few quiet minutes, before they go back to the hustle and bustle.

Magic fountain

Montjuïc impresses with size and architecture.

Fascinating show and culinary diversity

Soon afterwards, Barbara and her boyfriend sit at the crowded stairs in front of the Font Màgica, waiting impatiently for the light show to begin. At 7 pm, water fountains will be shooting up into the air, accompanied by music and colourful lights. After the show, it’s time for dinner and they are spoilt for choice: the streets are endlessly filled with restaurants and tapas bars, especially in the trendy districts. The two look around next to Eixample and finally find a place for having something to eat.

Magic fountain during night

Both of them are impressed by all the different colours and formations of the lights.

Gaudí’s masterpieces

On Sunday, they planned to visit Barcelona’s highlights: the Sagrada Família and the Casa Milà, both constructed by the famous architect Antoni Gaudí. In a good mood and full of anticipation, they make their way towards the Sagrada. Arriving there, they get extremely disappointed. Of course, they didn’t reserve our tickets online in advance, which would have been a good idea. A big mistake regarding the huge queue of people already waiting since 9 am to get in. So, the two join the queue and are lucky: as one of the last people they still get tickets for the entrance at 1pm. Both of them appreciate the unexpected free time in the morning and visit the art nouveau Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau, close to the Sagrada. Afterwards, they continue their Gaudí tour and walk around the roof terrace and the exhibition spaces of the Casa Milà, while listening to an audioguide. People also call it “La Pedrera“ (engl. quarry), because the residents of Barcelona were not very amused by the building with its curved façade and the many projections. Barbara and her boyfriend, however, are astonished at Gaudí’s innovative architecture and have to tear theirselves away, in order to not miss the admission for Gaudí’s most famous building: the Sagrada Familia, which he dedicated his life to. So, in a way, they follow the course of his productive years chronologically.

La Pedrera

With its curvy façade, “La Pedrera” captivates all of its visitors.

Barcelona’s landmark

From the outside, the two are not very impressed as the building is not finished yet and a great deal of construction cranes shape the usual image. Therefore, they don’t really get why this church is supposed to be so special and unique, besides the many cranes, towers and other elements observed from the outside. As they enter the church, their opinions suddenly change. Amazed by the modern construction and the big luminous interior, both agree that the Sagrada Família is something special, indeed. Not only because of its history (they started to build it already 130 years ago!!!), but also because of its unusual looks, making it not a typical church. And that’s probably the reason for its incomparable uniqueness.

Barcelona's landmark

Long queues and huge cranes are part of the usual picture of the Sagrada Familia.

Tow days, hundreds of impressions, one certainty

Still fascinated by the architecture of Gaudí, Barbara and her boyfriend have to pack their things, because their time in Barcelona is coming to an end. Arrived with few ideas and plans, they leave with much more impressions and memories. They’re sure, this won’t be their last trip to the vivid metropolis at the Mediterranean Sea. Barcelona put a spell on them and still has a lot more to offer…let’s see where they will end up next.

Last view over Barcelona

One last view over the Catalonian capital.

 

Mountains covered with snow

Between Spain and France – on the way to the Pyrenees

The Pyrenees form the natural border between Spain and France and separate the Iberian Peninsula from the rest of Europe. On a warm spring day, we hit the road for exploring this no man’s land at the northern part of Catalonia and for learning what endless wideness and absolute harmony with nature really mean. 

Let’s go!

We start at Torroella de Fluvià and go towards Darnius and enter into another world. Dense cork-oak forests cover the mountainous landscape like a blanket and narrow streets, seamed by blossoming broom plants, lead us upwards towards the snowcapped peaks.

High above the valleys

Our way takes us higher and higher through the mountains.

Narrow streets and small villages

Like a thin thread the street winds upwards to the heights of the Pyrenees and passes small rivers and valleys through bridges, which seem to melt together with the subsoil. We pass Maçanet de Cabrenys and Tapis and get to the French Coustouges. If the street signs were not in French, you would not notice the difference, because time seems to pass slower there. Neighbours are having a chat at the one corner, children are playing at the other and one step further a man makes his way home with a fresh baguette. The narrow and steep alleys of the mountain villages remain silent. The natural stone houses adapt to the hillsides of the mountains and create a pleasant atmosphere.

Blue sky over pass road

Along the mountain pass our way leads us across the easter Pyrenees.

Textile manufacture in the middle of the Pyrenees

Just in time we get to Saint-Laurent-de-Cerdans. It is almost 12 o’clock and they still let us into the showroom of “Les Toiles Du Soleil“ before making their lunch break. Since the 19th century, the traditional Catalan company high up in the Pyrenees produces high quality cotton and flax textiles. We not only find ourselves in the village’s last textile manufactory, but also in a textile paradise. They use the colourfully striped materials to manufacture pillowcases, napkins, cooking aprons and much more. If you like sewing yourself, you can also take home piece goods or rests of textiles. An extensive spending spree later, we sit back in the car and continue our journey.

At the company of Les Toiles du Soleil

The firm premises of Les Toiles du Soleil.

The magic of the mountain villages

The narrow street leads us past the villages of Le Tech and Prats-de-Mollo-la-Preste back to Espinavell in Spain. The houses there seem to stick to the mountains as they are built on top of each other. Down at the river, where they drive by the horses from mountain pastures down to the valley every autumn, there is a small country hotel. There we eat delicious fresh trouts. After this unique taste experience, we head towards Molló. In the centre you can find an incredibly big Romanesque church, compared to the size of the village. We are winding up our way through the mountains, cross various times the river Ter and finally get to Camprodon. Especially the arch bridge “Pont Nou“, connecting both banks like a wooden brick, is something to remember there. Also in Sant Joan de les Abadesses you can find such a bridge. However, this small town is famous for the history of its convent dating back to the 8th century. The last stop is Ripoll with its beautiful Romanesque Benedictine monastery, the first one in Spain. Inspired by the St. Peter’s Church in Rome, the monks created a true oasis of peace.

Monastery in Ripoll

Cloister of the convent in Ripoll.

Church in Molló

Size and age of the church in Ripoll make it something unique.

Back from the mountains

With a few pieces of fresh coca (bread) and a lot of impressions we finally make our way home. Slowly we dive back into the loud and stressful daily life at the feet of the silence found up in the mountains. We leave behind the isolation of the villages, the endless expanse of the mountain range and the feeling of being able to touch the clouds at the highest point of the mountain pass.

Looking at the snowy mountains

Hasta luego and bye bye! We are sure of coming back to the mountains for experiencing peace and freedom.

 

Along the coast

At the other side of the Pyrenees

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

From Perpignan towards the Pyrenees

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

Coloured plants decorate along the coast.

Beautiful plants seam the coastline.

Picturesque fishing villages and unspoiled bays

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

Fortified church in Collioure

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

Great view of the coast

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

Looking down to the seabed

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

A trip full of impressions

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

Torroella panorama

Dream destination south – the villages of the Empordà

In the small villages near the Costa Brava, in the Alt Empordà, one encounters the ideal mix of peace, relaxation, culture, and entertainment. The temperate Mediterranean climate with many hours of sunshine makes you simply happy and creates a perfect year-round holiday feeling. Where the Pyrenees sink into the sea, there can be found privileged golf courses, historical sites, medieval villages, picturesque coves, and beautiful beaches with white sand.

Torroella de Fluvià

The small village of Torroella de Fluvià impresses with contrasts: the charm of the centuries-old stone walls of Catalan Masias charms has led many to buy holiday homes or family residences. The charm of tradition – accentuated by stylish interior design – complemented by modern technical equipment. Tradition and modernity is the motto. The great combination of old and new shows in many places. One experiences a symphony of peace and joy. Relaxing at the pool or walking through the beautiful landscapes. The skin breathes, the body feels reborn.

Ancient castle in village

The castle was once the home of a noble family.

Paradise for surfers

From Torroellea de Fluvià, the beach of Sant Pere Pescador is only 10 minutes away! Plus point: the entire beach of Sant Pere Pescador is protected, there only some camping sites around. All construction is forbidden and it is considered a paradise by surfers and kite surfers alike. Those who live or enjoy their holidays in Torroella de Fluvià can choose freely between the hustle and bustle of the summer or the tranquillity of village life.

Red flowers

In springtime you can see many poppies in the fields nearby.

Old mansions and castles with sea view

In the small village – just a few kilometers from the Bay of Roses – one is grounded. The scent of wild herbs is in the air. The river Fluvià –which gave the village its name- flows from the Pyrenees to the sea, through green meadows and fields. The privileged already appreciated the idyllic spot already in the past, which is demonstrated by old mansions and a castle overlooking the sea.

Church Sant Cebrià

The church of Torroella de Fluvià was built in the 12th century and is called Església de Sant Cebrià.

Pure village idyll

In Torroella de Fluvià there is a little piece of paradise left. The farmers cultivate their fields. The old women meet daily in the small shop on the corner and on the village festival young and old, residents and guests, locals and international newcomers dance together to the beat of a live band in the square in front of the Ajuntament.

Grass and cereals in front of a traditional stone house

Grown cereals in front of a traditional stone house, called masia.

Aiguamolls – nature reserve

Every weekend, there is a flea market at the village square, where you can browse through the old stuff and sometimes discover a real gem or a whimsical decoration.
The village borders on the nature reserve Aiguamolls – the famous bird sanctuary at the mouth of Fluvià. The Natural Park Aiguamolls del Empordà is one of the most famous and beautiful wetlands in Catalonia. In Aiguamolls you can observe rare birds, follow the storks and herons in the sky your with eyes or simply stroll through nature until you land on deserted beaches to collect driftwood and seashells.

 

Romantic panorama of Torroella

Idyllic landscape of Torroella de Fluvià.

 

Beautiful villas in Vilacolum

In recent years, Torroella de Fluvià has expanded to include the small tourist center Vilacolum. If you prefer a small villa instead to a country house, you are in good hands there. All property offers in the village and the surrounding area can be found at www.selected-Property.com

Dalí from a different angle

One day in the life of Dalí

Exposition in the Gala Dalí Castle in Púbol

The temporary exposition in the Gala Dalí Castle in Púbol gives visitors the chance to get an impression of the private Dalí – his work in his studio and the life with his wife Gala. From March 15 until January 7, 2018, you can see photographs of both of them, made by Ricardo Sans, a Spanish photographer.

Ricardo Sans’ heritage

The Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation bought around 900 pictures from the Ricardo Sans heritage, which where taken by him during his cooperation with Dalí. Both got to know each other in 1949, through mutual friends. Since then, Sans documented them with his photographs between 1949 and 1956. The exhibition is divided into four different sections: portraits of Salvador Dalí (1949-1956), portraits of Gala (1951-1953), portraits of Salvador Dalí and Gala (1951-1954) and their everyday life in Portlligat (1950-1956). Organized by huge picture frames, the images seem like a photo album visitors can “leaf through“.

Visitors watching the phptographs

We were very interested in observing the private Dalí and Gala in the photographs.

Photographs showing the Dalís from different sides

The pictures give an insight into the private life of Dalí and make possible a better understanding of the extroverted artist. Some photos show him eating sea urchins, other while painting the Christ of Saint John of the Cross. The portraits of Gala show her mostly posing in front of the camera, with a smile on her lips. There are two photographs standing out, both of them are double exposed. The first one shows Dalí with his better half in their courtyard of their house. The second one shows Dalí hiding in the living room, typical surrealist style, showing that Salvador Dalí knew better than anyone else how to draw attention.

 

Eccentric Dalí and Gala

Dalí with the love of his life, Gala in their house in Portlligat.

Dalí as designer

The exposition is definitely worth a visit, because you can also visit the Gala Dalí Castle at the same time. In its on special way, the medieval building, which was given to Gala as a present from Dalí, gives you the possibility to immerse in their lives. Dalí himself furnished and designed the castle for Gala, the love of his life. A glass table serving as a peephole for observing their guests or a radiator covered with a painting of the exact same radiator are only a few examples for Dalí’s creativity.

Golden water tap

A very unique detail is the golden water tap in Gala’s bathroom.

 

 

Winning architects

The Pritzker Architecture Prize 2017 goes to Catalonia

Winners are  Rafael Aranda, Carme Pigem and Ramon Vilalta

The Pritzker Architecture Prize is regarded as the Nobel prize for architects. The prize is worth 100.000$ and is awarded by the Hyatt Foundation and a jury of prestigious architects, since 1979. In 2017, the award went to three Catalonian architects, Rafael Aranda, Carme Pigem and Ramon Vilalta from Olot, Girona. Since almost 30 years, the three architects have been working together under the label RCR ARQUITECTES. Through their projects, they create an interaction between space, light, shade, ambience, surrounding, colours and landscape.

“Great understanding of history, natural topography and culture”

According to the jury, their work is “powerfully connected to the surrounding landscape“, which comes from the “strong sense of place“ and the great “understanding of history, natural topography and culture“. They always intend to “highlight the natural surrounding“ through the siting of buildings, the choice of materials and the geometries and “to pull them into the building“. Their work connects past and present, just as exterior and interior, which shows their “love for both tradition and innovation“. They often use modern materials like glass, plastic and recycled steel.

Folded steel walls in vineyards

The vineyard Bell-Lloc in Palamós, dating back to 2007. Here you can see folded steel walls, integrated in the vineyards like sculptures. (photo: Hisao Suzuki)

Aiming at regional work

For the first time, three architects together are honoured with the prize. Their purpose is to tackle the local history and landscape and to work regionally. All three of them are deeply attached to their roots, preferring local life rather than a jet-set lifestyle or working with the most famous architects worldwide. However, they prove that, wherever you are in the world, with the right sense for time and space, you are able to design in a creative and modern way.
Most of their projects are realized between Girona and Barcelona, near to their office in Olot.

All of their projects provide balance. To be open minded and close to your roots is the recipe for success, according to RCR ARQUITECTES.

Plastic roof floating in Olot

Since 2011, you can find a transparent, bent plastic roof, floating between old stone walls at the restaurant Les Cols in Olot. (photo: Eugeni Pons / Hisao)

 

Here you can see some of their well-known work:

 

 

 

 

Red flowers in the grass

Spring in Empordà

The charm of country life

We are enchanted by the spring of Empordà. Nature has exploded after the long rain, for which we had been waiting wistfully for so long. Did the winter months cause us to forget how the blaze of colours intoxicates our senses in the month of May? Blossoms of oranges emit the sweetest fragrance, roses shine in bright whites, pinks, and reds. Picturesque fields of poppy, opulently colourful rims of meadows, and everywhere in between: green, green, green. Unfortunately, the gaudy gorgeousness will soon start to fade away. The first lawns have already been mowed. The cottonwood’s seeds begin to sprout due to hot southerlies.

Beautiful wisteria growing in Palau Sator

Palau Sator

Palau-sator and its villages

The community Palau-sator and the associated villages Sant Feliu de Boada, Fontclara, Pantaleu and Sant Julià de Boada are located near the flat banks of Darò river. They are also only a stone’s throw away from Pals. The Gavarra mountains loom against the horizon. Palau-sator is surrounded by prominent stone walls; the old tower clearly visible from afar. It is dating back to the eleventh century and with its 20 metres of total height, it is much higher than anything else in the village. The stone tower is also all that is left of a castle, which used to mark the center of the small town.

Blue sky over Peratallada Empordà

Peratallada Empordà

Some of the old stone houses have undergone diligent restoration and have been turned into small restaurants offering mostly local cuisine.

A number of farming tools and machines are on open display on one of the farms and the farms’ shop sells fresh bread even on a Sunday. The farm is also a meeting place for those who have lived here a long time and like to use Sunday afternoons for some decent gossiping.

Red poppy fields in Empordà

Poppy in Empordà

Fontclara and Sant Felui de Boada

The next village, Fontclara, also dates back to the middle Ages. For example, there is the Roman church, built in the 11th century , which used to be cloister. Another village, Sant Felui de Boada, consists of a couple of farms and houses along the winding road from Torrent to Sant Julià. The village’s church features aspects of late Gothicism. Sant Juliá de Boada is smaller still, consisting only of a few farms huddled around a Roman chapel. This small sacral building is architectonically astounding and known as one of the region’s best conserved early Roman churches. Although used as a stable for centuries, it was rediscovered in 1982. Then restored thoroughly and returned to its original state of beauty.

Traditional stone houses

Typical houses in Palau Sator

All of the above mentioned villages are at their most beautiful in spring, cradled by green meadows and red poppy, yellow colza and blue borage (Borago officinalis). It is an excursion to silence and romance, to good mood and an evening spent in a cozy restaurant. Means of travel notwithstanding – it is the journey itself that is the reward. No matter if you are walking, going by cabriole, motorbike or bicycle. Enjoy spring, enjoy the early summer in the Empordà and exercise decelaration.

Costa Brava in May – it is well worth seeing.

Blue sky over ocean waves

Picturesque views and history in Sant Martí d’Empúries

Spring in Sant Martí d’Empúries

Wisterias stand in full bloom between the old stone walls of Sant Martí d’Empúries. Sant Martí d’Empúries is one of our favourite places of the Costa Brava. The small, medieval town used to be the main city of the ancient county Empúries and until today it sits enthroned on a cliff above the sea. The shore lies in the sun of spring, a white temptress, inviting us to enjoy the year’s first rays of sunshine. All along the beach with its bays and rocks runs the Costa Brava’s most romantic esplanade, connecting Empúries and L’Escala.

 

Sea view in Sant Martí d'Empúries

Sant Martí d’Empúries

 

 

Greek settlers

It was here, where the first Greek settlers came ashore in the 6th century BC, and it is the Greek we owe thanks for the impressive ruins of Empúries.

They named the first town they arrived at – a small island indeed – Paliapolis. Today, Paliapolis is an island no more; it is now connected to the mainland and called Sant Martí d’Empúries. A little bit later, the Romans were just as enchanted as the Greek. They built a city here in the first century BC, and used it as a military base. In the times of Caesar Augustus, it formed a union with the city of Municipium Emporiae. Since both the Greek and the Romans have contributed significantly to the city’s his­tory, Empúries is archaeologically unique. The walk through the ruins of Empúries is an experience you do not want to miss: unique views of the sea, antique pillars, marvelous mosaics, Mediterranean vegetation and a feeling of what it must have been like to live here, a long time ago.

 

Beach in L'Escala

Sea view in L’Escala