All posts filed under: Costa Brava

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 …

sea

Camí de Ronda – Walking between rugged rocks and the deep blue sea

 

sea colours

Sea: play of colours on the Camí de Ronda

Sea, sun and hiking boots: With a length of 200 km, the Spanish coastal trail reaches from Portbou near the French boarder to Blanes in the South. If you decided to take on the whole trail you would definitely be en route for quite some time. Ranging from 140 km in 8 days to 43 km in 2 days – everything is possible.

 

First stop on the coastal trail: Pals

beach

Broad sandy beach of Pals

We decided to take a more moderate route – at least for now. One beautiful summer afternoon – the sun is high in the sky but doesn’t burn down as strongly anymore and a gentle breeze is coming from the sea – we tie up our hiking boots and start our tour in Pals. Having arrived at the beach, we can’t help ourselves… We have to indulge our sweet tooth and get an ice cream. Don’t be too hard on us though, we did our fair share of walking afterwards!

Away from the hustle and bustle

We start our hike on the wide sandy beach of Pals where the waves are towering up today. Walking up a small staircase we reach the first part of our trail and all of the sudden we find ourselves away from the hustle and bustle of the beach. The waves splashing against the rocks, almost reaching us, captivate us. The power of the Mediterranean on the Catalan coast is definitely not to be underestimated!

waves

Splashing waves on the Camí de Ronda

Playa Illsa Roja – tropical feeling on the Costa Brava

 

Tropical feeling on the Playa Illa Roja

We move along between the rugged rocks and the deep blue sea to the next small – but charming – bay. With its huge lump of rock rising from the sea and the almost tropical looking rock face covered with trees, Playa Illa Roja reminds us slightly of Thailands famous beaches. Once again the waves are towering up in front of us making us wanting to jump in!

 

 

atmosphere

Dreamlike atmosphere at the Playa Illa Roja

High above the Playa Illa Roja

After capturing the atmosphere of this magnificent little bay with our camera, we take on the steepest part of our hike – only to discover a spectacular view of the Costa Brava.  We are looking at broad parts of the coast and the seemingly endless dark blue sea and think to ourselves: „How rewarding hiking can be!“

 

 

 

Enjoying the peak and the turquoise sea

After a short moment of enjoying the view, we continue our walk on a beautifully paved way to our next and at the same time last stop. The view is once again heavenly and the many seaside mansions that are surrounding us, make us (slightly enviously) dream.

rock

Lump of rock at the Plaja Illa Roja

Last bay: Sa Riera

sea

Almost there: Sa Riera

While the sun is slowly setting behind the mountain, the last part of the path leads us through a small group of trees appearing almost mystical in the dim evening light. One last step around the corner and we have almost reached the last stop of our tour: Sa Riera in the small coastal town Begur. Sailing ships are gently floating in the turquoise water and the last swimmers of the day are jumping in the waves. Situated directly at the beach of Sa Riera, a few charming little cafés offer us refreshments including a beautiful view of the sea.

sea

Sailing ships in Sa Riera

Only the beginning…

sea rocks

Camí de Ronda – between rugged rocks and the sea

We are sure: this small part of the Spanish coastal trail was only the beginning. And that is also one of the big advantages of the Camí de Ronda – you can choose and adapt your route however you like. Young or old, fit as a fiddle or rather slow-moving – everyone has the chance to make their way through the Spanish nature at their own pace. And what could be more relaxing than to ditch your car for once and discover Catalonias beauty by hiking along the coast?

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 …

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!

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.

 

Approaching

The dream of flying

The fascination of flying is part of the human history. Ovid writes in his papers about self-made wings made out of candle wax and feathers which were used by Daedalus and Icarus for escaping from their captivity. Marco Polo speaks about manned wings with dragons. Ultimately, at the end of the 15th century, Leonardo da Vinci’s investigation about airstream and his drafts of helicopters, parachutes and other flying objects definitely prove the interest humans have in flying.

Boundless freedom above the clouds

The driving force is probably the feeling of freedom and the overcoming of gravity. Finally going beyond your own borders and achieving the impossible. Also parachutists strive for some kind of “flying“. They find happiness in controlling the free fall by repealing the laws of nature for a few seconds and then simply fly.

Up in the air

High up int the sky, parachutists show different formations, like the spiral dive.

Skydiving – a once in a lifetime experience

During his visit in Empuriabrava, Barbara’s boyfriend wants to realize his dream of skydiving too. Nevertheless, when she meets him at the airfield, he seems nervous, but of course, to jump out of a plane on 4000 m a. s. l. is not an everyday-thing. Still, he has to wait a little bit more, as it is the turn of two more groups before him. As the last group takes off, he gets called and a member of the flying school comes towards us: “Jonas?“ In a practised manner he puts him on the safety belts and disappears while saying “See you in a few minutes“.

Taking off

With this plane, Jonas is taking off.

Waiting game

Barbara watches the plane taking off and try following it with her eyes. Not only because she is in charge with taking photos, but also because she simply wants to know when and where her love comes racing down towards the ground, with a speed of 200km/h. However, because of the shining sun, this is not an easy thing to do and so she often confuses a seagull with the first parachutist jumping down to the earth.

Watching parachutists up in the sky

Seagull or parachute? Hard to tell…

Big relief and endless joy

After a few minutes, the first ones arrive in various formations with their parachutes. Still, Barbara can’t see her boyfriend. She is scanning the sky impatiently for his parachute. They keep her on tenterhooks a little bit more and then finally she sees the right parachute. Rapidly she takes her phone and follow them with her camera while taking photos, hoping some of them will turn out well. Then she goes to the airfield and welcome a happy Jonas back on the ground.

With the feet up high ready for landing

Compared to the free fall out of the plane, landing is really easy.

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: