All posts filed under: Costa Brava

The paradise of bays – Calella de Palafrugell

The bikini season has finally begun – the sun shines every day – Let’s go to the beach!
But which one? With so many options, the decision is usually difficult. We often choose the easy way: The beach just around the corner which we have already visited numerous times..

Wanna try something new? Maybe visit a place that offers not only one single beautiful beach, but several ones? I guess that Calella de Palafrugell should be your next beach destination then!

The paradise of bays

In search of the most beautiful bay of the Costa Brava, we repeatedly found Calella de Palafrugell – Now we understand why!

beach bay costa brava views sea

A beach to fall in love with..

Located on a rocky coast, the former fishing village impresses with numerous small bays.. one more beautiful than the other! Gravel beaches provide an unique color of the sea – reminds me of the perfect bays of Ibiza .. Wow!

In addition, the town is ideal for a hike – the perfect opportunity to visit two other breathtaking bays: Llafranc and Tamariu!

Calella de Palafrugell – a very special place..

Whether you would like to do a hike using the Camí de Ronda or just spend a nice day on the beach – Calella de Palafrugell will definitely not disappoint you!

Butterfly Park Empuriabrava

The perfect trip for the cold season!

Costa Brava - Empuriabrava - Butterfly Park

Welcome to the jungle..

Sometimes – but very rarely – the weather can also be quite bad on the Costa Brava. Instead of a sunny beach day, you spend the day in front of the TV on the couch…

But wait – Do you really have to stay at home? Aren‘t there some interesting places that are perfect for a cloudy day? – Of course! Numerous museums and parks turn even dark days into something special. And so does the Butterfly Park near Empuriabrava!

Between butterflies, parrots and iguanas

Anyone who loves animals and insects of all kinds, found the perfect place to visit: The Butterfly Park not only convinces with an impressive variety of different bird and butterfly species, but also with many surprising inhabitants!

Parrot - Empuriabrava - Butterfly Park

A very photogenic parrot!

In a large indoor and a slightly smaller outdoor area you start your journey through the jungle. You can discover iguanas, bats, turtles, Indian deer, many colorful parrots and other tropical birds in different sizes and colors …

And of course: butterflies! These can be observed in their different phases of life: still wrapped in their cocoons, during hatching or already fluttering through the park.

Moth - butterfly - Park - Costa Brava

The world’s largest moth.. Impressive!

Highlights of the Butterfly Park

Our new friend 🙂

Nevertheless – unlike the name suggests – the focus is on the trusting colorful birds, who love to be fed by their visitors! We have also won a small and extremely talkative parrot as a new friend.

Another highlight – the two bat caves: the little animals were very close, practically right above our heads taking a little nap .. It’s quite rare to get so close to these sweet animals!

 

 

Do you want to see them yourself? Then it’s time to pay a visit to the sweet inhabitants of the Butterfly Park Empuriabrava!

Opening times: Every day from 10am till one hour before sunset
Ticket prices: 9,50€ Adults, 7,50€ Children
How to get there: Carrer Santa Clara, 0, 17486 Castelló d’Empúries, Girona

Christmas sweets

Can you imagine the best time of the year without any Christmas treats? Me neither!
A few weeks before Christmas Eve, we fill our shopping trolleys with flour, sugar and eggs and unpack the cookie cutters. With the most colourful cookie recipes, we dulcify the cold season and keep us warm with some extra kilos.
Our favourites this year: Cinnamon stars, panellets and butter biscuits – Hungry? Then let yourself be inspired by our recipes.
Enjoy your cookies!
The Costa Live Team
PS: We can still work on our summer body next year 😉

 

Cinnamon Stars

250g ground almond
200g icing sugar
2 egg whites
2-3 tsp vanilla sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon

Preparation
Beat the egg whites until peaks form.  Add the powdered sugar and the cinnamon. Beat for another minute. Reserve 3-4 heaping tablespoons of the egg mixture in a small bowl for the frosting. Add the nuts and the vanilla sugar. Beat until the mixture is combined and comes together in a fairly stiff but pliable mass.

Sprinkle a non-stick surface with powdered sugar or ground almond and roll it to a width of about a 1/3 inch. Cut stars out of the dough and transfer them to a lined cookie sheet. Use a pastry brush to brush on the egg white mixture. Bake in an oven preheated to 150 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

 

Panellets

1 sweet potato
250 g almond flour
250 g sugar
grated lemon rind
2 egg whites
1 egg
200 g pine nuts / alternatively coconut flakes or sunflower seeds

Preparation
Roast the sweet potato. Peel and push through a food mill.
While hot, add the ground almonds, the sugar and the lemon rind. Mix well to blend all the ingredients together. Place in a covered bowl and leave to stand in the fridge for a few hours.
Sugar - sweets - christmas - deliciousForm balls of about 25 grams, dip in diluted egg white and then in the pine nuts, pressing lightly so they stick. Arrange on an oven tray, brush with beaten egg and bake in a hot oven for about ten minutes. Once cooked, leave to cool and store in an airtight container.

 

Butter biscuits 

Ingredients:
500 g flour
200 g sugar
1 package of vanilla sugar
350 g butter
2 egg yolks
1 egg
grated lemon zest
1 pinch of salt

Preparation
Put the flour in a bowl and add the sugar and vanilla sugar and mix. Add butter, egg yolk, egg, lemon zest and salt and mix into a stiff dough. Knead gently until dough is smooth. Put the dough into a covered bowl and chill in the fridge for at least an hour.

Roll out onto a floured surface and cut out biscuits. Place on baking tray covered with baking paper. Brush with egg yolk and decorate. Place in oven at 175° C for about 10-12 minutes.

Winter - Christmas - Baking - Sweets - Delicious

Merry Christmas!

Girona: City with History

Just arrived in Girona, quickly collected your baggage and immediately heading to Barcelona? Wait!
Far too often, the charming city Girona is clouded by the Catalan capital Barcelona, which is larger, but also flooded by tourists. Not only is the beautiful medieval old town of Girona worth visiting – there are many more places to see.

The famous river Onyar and the colourful houses…

The church Sant Feliu

On a sunny morning, we decide to finally visit the city we had heard so many things about. Stepping out of the car, we realize that our car park is only a stone’s throw away from the church Sant Feliu. The perfect opportunity to visit the oldest church of Girona first! A very impressing building both from the outside and the inside, which combines different styles in a beautiful way.

       

The Cathedral of Santa Maria

The next monumental attraction is just around the corner: The Cathedral of Santa Maria. Probably the most popular selfie spot in town! We can’t resist, either.. The result: Far too many pictures of the building from every conceivable perspective.. Too bad that we left our selfie stick at home!

Game of Thrones - Girona - Costa Brava - Catalunya

Also a filming location from Game of Thrones!

Once you’ve climbed the stairs with a total of 90 steps and entered the cathedral, you’ll definitely be overwhelmed by the size and, above all, the beauty of the interior. Again, a very impressive combination of different architectural styles  – Romanesque, Gothic, Baroque.

Pont de les Peixateries Velles

While strolling through the Christmassy old town and store hopping through some sweet boutiques, we reach the next popular picture spot faster than expected: The red steel bridge Pont de les Peixateries Velles, which connects the old town of Girona to the modern part and was created by Gustave Eiffel. It offers a wonderful view to the river Onyar, the colourful facades and the impressive cathedral.

       

Passeig de la Muralla

It’s time to make our way to the last tourist spot: the city wall of Girona. What a view! The steep climb is rewarded with an impressive panoramic view of the old town, the cathedral, the Jewish quarter, the church and the Pyrenees.

Girona - Costa Brava - Catalunya

This impressive view is totally worth it!

Christmas shopping in Girona

Enough sightseeing, we are in the mood for shopping! Many small shops and boutiques make it quite easy for us to find the perfect Christmas gifts for our loved ones. The city center is decorated with many colorful fairy lights and lovingly placed Christmas accessories – Oh, I can’t wait for Christmas!

Beautiful, isn’t it?

Rambla de la Llibertat

All these highlights and still no food! Luckily, Girona is brimming with restaurants that are waiting for hungry tourists to pass by! Following the smell of food, we walk to the Rambla de la Llibertat and pick a nice place in the shadow of a tree. With all the presents we bought, we are ready for the best time of the year – Merry Christmas!

 

 

 

Hike in paradise: Cadaqués – Cap de Creus

A hike through Catalonia’s beautiful nature: Starting from the residence of Spain’s most eccentric artist up to the easternmost part of the Iberian Peninsula

Distance: 14,6 km

Duration: approx. 4 h

Level of difficulty: medium

Starting point: Cadaqués

hike cadaques

Costa Brava’s “pearl”

Our promising trail starts in the region’s most popular fishing village: in Cadaqués. The small village is often called „the pearl of Costa Brava“ and those who have already payed a visit to Cadaqués understand perfectly why. The polished, snow-white houses together with the blue of the Mediterranean are dazzlingly beautiful. But because we don’t want to lose too much time, we’re not staying long in „the pearl“.

Short detour to Casa Dalí

hike dalí

Dalí’s art

Once we have climbed the first steep hill, we’re making a small detour to Cala de Portlligat. In an extraordinarily picturesque bay we come across Dalí’s famous residence. Even though it is hard, today we’re only stopping to admire the Casa-Museu Salvador Dalí from the outside – we still have a lot (of walking) ahead of us!

A hike through Catalonia’s nature

hike catalonia

Olives everywhere!

Our hiking route continues and leads us from the beach up the hill past seemingly endless olive groves. Slowly I’m beginning to understand why olive oil tourism is booming in Catalonia! For a couple of minutes we’re walking in the shade of the olive trees, after that we’re continuing our way under the bright blue heaven between pine trees, cacti and other typically Mediterranean vegetation.

hike olive tree

Walking in the shadow of the trees

hike trail

Our beautiful hiking trail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nature everywhere

While we’re following our trail, we still get to feel the quite strong autumn sun. With the Mediterranean to our right, the route is meandering along the rocky coast. Up and down, we make our way through the beautiful Catalan nature and enjoy the numerous breathtaking views.

 

hike cap de creus

Almost there!

Soon I catch a first glimpse of our final destination in the distance! The lighthouse shines bright like a diamond on the highest point of the Cap de Creus Natural Park and provides us with the necessary motivation for the last part of our hike. With the destination so close and the thought of a well-deserved ice cold Cerveza, the last couple of kilometres really fly by.

A well-deserved break from our hike

hike cap de creus

The dreamiest bay

Meanwhile, the sun is getting stronger and stronger while the sea is getting more tempting with every minute passing by. As it happens, we find the most beautiful bay of the whole hiking trail shortly before our last ascent. Crystal clear, turquoise water surrounded by cragged rocks and the picturesque lighthouse in the background…

 

hike seagulls

Even the seagulls are enjoying the beautiful scenery!

Is this a dream? Naturally, after walking 7 kilometres in the bright sun, we seize the opportunity and cool down in this breathtaking scenery. Definitely a pleasure you don’t come across every day! We let the sun dry our bodies and after a couple of minutes relaxing on the beach, we take on the last part of our hike.

Ultimate hike destination: the light house

cap de creus hike light house

The iconic light house

After finally reaching the top, a breathtaking and incomparable view awaits us. Surrounded by steep cliffs and the deep blue Mediterranean, the beautiful light house towers above our heads.

hike cap de creus

Rocks and the deep blue sea

Next door, we find the charming restaurant and our long-awaited ice cold Cerveza. With the sunshine in our faces, we enjoy our well-deserved break for the next hour.

hike cap de creus

Magnificent view from the charming restaurant

I have to stop one last time and enjoy the amazing view!

hike cap de creus

Captivating view!

Refreshed and relaxed, we make our way back to Cadaqués where the evening sky is already showing off all of its beautiful colours. A day to remember…

cadaqués dalí

Dalí in Cadaqués!

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.

 

 

 

Costa Brava’s white paradise – Cadaqués

 I’d already heard quite a lot of things about the former fishing village – the typical Cadaqués style, the unique location and the views to numerous snow white houses made me feel very excited. Let’s see whether the white town of Dalí can sweep me off my feet ..

Stunning views

Spectacular views accompany you on your way to Cadaqués!

The rather twisting road on our way to Cadaqués already turned the car ride into a small experience: gliding from left to right and admiring one stunning view after another – I guess I could already imagine what the city has to offer. I couldn’t lay my phone aside for as much as 2 minutes before having to take way too many pictures of the wonderful bays and harbours again.

But heads up! Be careful and don’t let your phone drop out of the car – you wouldn’t be able to get it back …

White paradise

After a car ride of about 15 minutes and 25 new pictures in my camera roll, we finally arrived: I had a small paradise right in front of me! Whether it is possible that absolutely every house in a village is painted white? So it seems. Whether it may be forbidden to build a house of a different colour here? I’d love to find out … Maybe I’ll know soon if I keep visiting and talking to locals!

Definitely worth visiting..

I have to admit, I was speechless: numerous snow white houses, green pine-trees, a beautiful church that attracts the views because of its height, the mountains behind it and the light blue sea with lots of white boats in front of Cadaqués. A stunning village! You have to visit once you are staying in Catalonia!

Restaurant Cap de Creus

But the car ride wasn’t over yet – again through the mountains! My phone’s camera had a busy day ..

Our destination was the restaurant Cap de Creus right next to the light house of Cadaqués. I could describe the evening in this stunning restaurant with one single word: WOW! I was and still am really impressed. It doesn’t matter where you’re sitting, the views are spectacular everywhere. In addition, a live band starts playing beautiful music just before sunset which brings the atmosphere to a maximum.

Chilling in a restaurant with a live band at the top of the mountains, holding a cold drink in your hand and watching the fantastic sunset – I don’t know if there’s something that could possibly be better than this!

Dinner in Cadaqués

After having extended my photo albums by more than 50 pictures and videos, it was time to return to the city centre of Cadaqués. In situ, we spent some time drinking a beer in front of a crowded bar next to the beach and went to the pizzeria Plaza after that: the only restaurant that could offer a table for 12 persons at nine in the evening without a reservation – the peak season was quite noticeable. After a delicious dinner including pizza, mussels, pasta and a free round of shots, we kept going.

Bar Boia Nit

The ultimate destination was the popular bar Boia Nit, which is very famous for its stunning cocktails. Of course I had to check whether they are really that good.

So, I ordered a piña colada and was quite surprised to watch my cocktail arriving in a pineapple-shaped cup! But not just that: decorated with many small fruits, sipping the cocktail turned into a unique flavour experience! Get over there and try it. You won’t be disappointed!

Beautiful cocktail that tastes fantastic!

Not the last time..

Finally, we finished our special cocktails and spent some time talking and relaxing before heading back home. But: Cadaqués, I’ll be back soon!

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!

pirate

Yo ho, yo ho – pirates in l’Estartit

„Yo-ho, yo-ho a pirates life for me“ Jack’s Sparrow was humming with a wild grin on his face as he puts out to sea with his beloved ship. Plundering, capturing, throwing all manners overboard and knocking back barrels of rum… Oh, the sweet life of a pirate!

 Back in time – pirates in l’Estartit

pirate life estartit

Pirates in l’Estartit!

 

Of course, life for commoners wasn’t always easy during that period. Especially the citizens of the former fishing village l’Estartit had a hard time. In the 16th century, the Medes Islands – now uninhabited – were jam-packed with pirates, corsairs and rapscallions of all sorts. The poor villagers were victims of the pirate’s attacks more than once.

The pirates are coming!

Even though l’Estartit’s past is still engraved in the citizens memory, nowadays they take it a lot more lightly – as I could see for myself at the pirate’s celebration in l’Estartit! Having arrived at the village, I immediately felt the changed atmosphere of the usually quiet holiday destination: thrilled anticipation and hundreds of voices excitingly chattering. Boat trips to the Medes Islands, workshops, exhibitions and artisan markets are organised during the day. But now, at night time, when the sun has already sunken and the moon is up in the sky, the scene changes. It’s getting dangerous and loud… the pirates are coming!

pirates beach

Pirates on the beach of l’Estartit

Fire dancers and sword fighters

pirate fire torch

Playing with fire

In the course of the next two hours, l’Estartit offers its visitors a spectacular show. Torchlight processions accompanied by traditional musicians as well as dancers performing incredible acts with fire and realistic sword fights are thrilling the audience. The best is yet to come, though. I let my eyes wander over the dark blue sea and in the distance – far away from the show – my eyes catch a glimpse of something big. Something big that’s coming closer and closer. A giant pirate ship packed with pugnacious barbarians loudly roaring while swinging their swords. Not only the kids jaws are dropping – mine is too! The first pirates are already jumping overboard and screaming furiously while running towards us. The fierce fighting that follows couldn’t be more thrilling.

Fireworks on the beach

pirate firework

Giant firework over the sea

The spectacular show on the beach ends with a a giant firework over the sea.

pirate firework

Sparkling firework at the beach

Grand Finale on the church square

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Fire-breather on l’Estartit’s church square

But that wasn’t all. The whole gang of pirates persists in roaming the streets of the village – and we are of course close behind! Finally, all pirates and corsairs come together on l’Estartit’s church square to celebrate the end of the spectacular show. For many visitors this was only the beginning of a wild night. The next barrel of rum is already open – that’s the way real pirates live! And we say: drink up me ‘earties, yo ho!

 

 

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!