All posts filed under: Highlights

Spontaneous vacation — I took a flight to Ibiza

Four months on the Costa Brava – the light blue sea on your doorstep, impressive cities and beaches just next door, summer temperature on a daily basis, nothing but fantastic views of beautiful landscapes and endless possibilities to do something unforgettable.

 

 

What could be missing? Now and then a short trip to other Spanish regions! There are plenty of possibilities to explore the country and many places can easily be reached from Barcelona. This is why I decided to spend an unforgettable weekend in Ibiza! I’d love to tell you everything about it..

 

 

SHOPPING IN IBIZA CITY

Just got out of the plane, inhaled the fresh Ibiza air and there they are: my friends are welcoming me to the beautiful island: We’re more than happy about the reunion! Big plans were made for these 3 days together – from now on, we won’t waste any time.

Ibiza - Port - Party

The harbour of Ibiza and the shopping streets next door!

First item on our agenda: Shopping in Ibiza city! Only 2 minutes are necessary to reach the shopping paradise from the harbour. Once arrived, you won’t be able to leave without buying way too many things: Ibiza city offers numerous fashion stores, boutiques, souvenir shops and much more. I guess I won’t be able to resist either..

IT’S POOL TIME!

Sun Ibiza Summer Perfect

The perfect place to enjoy the sun!

 

Now it’s time to relax and enjoy the fantastic pool with views to the sea! What more could you ask for? Our motto for the rest of the day: Put our bikinis on and jump into the cool water! After hours of sunbathing and swimming, the first day in Ibiza comes to an end. What’s still missing? Exactly: “One night in Ibiza!“

 

 

PARTY – PLAYA D’EN BOSSA

And off we go to the nightlife district, the Playa d’en Bossa, which welcomes us with a free round of shots! Couldn’t it always be like that? From bar to bar, the level of fun and alcohol is rising – sober? Not in Ibiza! The bars are crowded with people and the good mood is spreading – we wanna party!

Ibiza offers numerous clubs to suit every taste – the most popular of course: the USHUAÏA. The greatest DJs in the world guarantee a once in a lifetime party experience. To a night we’ll never forget!

Clubbing Ibiza Ushuaia

Definitely one of the best clubs in the world!

SUNSET ON THE BEACH – CALA COMTE

After a night like this, there’s only one absolute priority: Sleeping. And bathing in the sun. And sleeping more.
Just kidding: it’s beach day! Destination: Cala Comte. Definitely one of the most beautiful beaches of Ibiza: Crystal clear water and breathtaking views of the small islands just off the coast. Also one of the most popular spots to enjoy the impressive colours of the sunset. Very romantic.

The later it gets, the more people arrive to say goodbye to the sun: They clap, whistle and cheer – what a wonderful atmosphere! Something you will probably only experience in Ibiza.

Breathtaking views.. even without the sun!

COCKTAILS – BAR KM5

Our next stop: A very special and glamorous bar called KM5, which impresses with a stylish and luxurious atmosphere. Actually, the term bar does not really do justice to the KM5: Not only does it have an open-air area, but also a restaurant, a club and an own boutique.

Cozy, isn’t it? 🙂

 

We decide to pick a nice spot in the outside area next to a radiant heater and enjoy the evening snuggled up in a brown leather couch and drinking delicious cocktails. Later, two women dressed in white come by to offer us a head massage – made us feel like queens!
Following the motto: „I’ll have one glass or two or three..“, the second evening ends very comfortably.

 

 

CALA D’HORT – RESTAURANT EL CARMEN

On my last day in Ibiza, we decide to enjoy the wonderful weather on the beach Cala D’Hort: as well one of the most beautiful beaches, including a unique view to the magical rock “Es Vedra”.

The magnificent weather makes it quite easy to forget about the time. Oh, it’s already this late? Time to head to the restaurant El Carmen, which is located less than 10 steps from the sandy beach. With an excellent paella and views to the sea, we say goodbye to Ibiza.

Spanish food - Ibiza Restaurant

The Spanish cuisine – nobody could ever resist ..

After that, we make our way to the airport. An incredible weekend that I will definitely never forget: Viva Ibiza!

Traditionally dressed brotherhood with drums

Easter in Catalonia: religion, tolerance and big fuss

Spring is here and Easter is just around the corner. Easter in Catalonia means celebrating light and darkness – with music, colours and big emotions. An event for all senses, between grief, tradition, spookiness and party. Easter (Semana Santa in Spanish) is the most important and oldest feast of the Christians. The Resurrection of Christ symbolizes the victory of life over death. On Good Friday, catholics and protestants remember the crucifixion of Jesus. The Easter processions take place during the night in many towns in Spain.

Dancing skeletons at midnight

The hooded figures may make you shudder when walking through the medieval streets of Girona during Easter time. Especially in Verges, in the hinterland of the Costa Brava, it can get very spooky on Maundy Thursday, at midnight. There, people come together for one of the country’s oldest processions, the Dance of Death, first documented in 1666. Every year, in the flickering light of torches, this bizarre formation walks through the streets of Verges, around midnight. Five skeletons are dancing to the rhythm of the kettledrum. People seem very interested. Afterwards, there is a big party. All night long the bars and pubs are overcrowded.

Dancing skeletons

The procession of the “Danza de la Muerte” indeed seems a little bit spooky.

The magic of the night

Everywhere in Spain, the ritual of the penitents is like the amen in the church. Eternal damnation? Atonement without any words? Doing penance with powerful images? As a traditional celebration or today’s reality? The processions of Semana Santa definitely raise some questions. Impressive but scary, fascinating and mysterious at the same time, the magic of the processions stays undenied. Darkness and light. Medieval sceneries. A crowd full of expectation. Powerful images.

Cofradía Semana Santa

Every now and then, you get to recognize children underneath the cowls participating in the Easter processions.

Saints as superstars

Paso (huge statues of saints on an altar, carried by people of different brotherhoods) for paso is passing us every year. The procession is headed by the Crucified, followed by the Virgin Mary. The life-sized figures are framed by a magnificent floral decoration. A floral scent mixed with incense is tickling our noses. People are filming and taking photographs. In the age of Instagram and Facebook, the whole world can watch the saints leaving the churches and taking a bath in the crowd. The digitalized saints seem like superstars. Until today, the processions of Semana Santa are an expressionist event you have to part of. Sadness and desperation together with enjoyment and happiness, emotions have never been closer. Even tough you might not believe in redemption and resurrection, now you get an idea of eternity.

Jesus statue

The huge Saint statues are often beautifully decorated with flowers in all imaginable colours.

Tradition and party

In Girona, the doors of the cathedral’s mighty portal open at 10 pm. Slowly, the hooded figures, organized by the corresponding colours of their brotherhoods, are walking down the stairs towards the big square in front of the cathedral. Here, the procession will start with the shouldering of the pasos. After all, Semana Santa is not a deadly serious matter of faith. The big crowd formed by curious onlookers is in a good mood. Semana Santa is also a street party. Bars and cafés are busy, people are celebrating. You need to be lucky to find a free table. It is already past midnight when we get our first glass of Cava (Spanish sparkling wine). Salud, cheers and happy Easter!

Purple capes of Semana Santa

During the processions of Semana Santa you can watch different brotherhoods with their colourful traditional costumes.

Curious people in Girona

During the Easter processions, the Rambla in Girona gets filled with hundreds of curious people.

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

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.

 

 

 

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

pirates estartit fire-breather

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!

 

 

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!

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.

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:

 

 

 

 

Pink rockstars in Roses

Carnival in Roses 2017: colourful, loud, cheerful

Hot rhythms and tight costumes

Samba and hot disco rhythms, that is the motto of carnival at the Costa Brava.
People are having wild parties in Roses, L’Escala, Empuriabrava, Platja d’Aro and other places along the coast of Catalonia.

Dancing all night long

Rising temperatures make it easy to have a street party while dressed in short costumes. Salsa rhythms are roaring from the decorated carriages. At the promenade, people are in party mood. Garishly dressed, people are dancing all night long.

Dancing in the street

In Roses, people know how to make party.

The beat booms far out to the sea

Golden knights waiting for their battles, coloured masks laughing into the crowd: the beat is roaring over the sea. People applaud when  the festive carriages, going from Plaça Catalunya to Plaça Frederic Rahola, pass by. There is a lot of dancing, flirting and singing going on.

Gentlemen of Freixenet

The noble guys from Freixenet know too how to celebrate.

The square in front of the harbour

This year, there have been 62 creatively decorated carriages and lots of marvellous costumes to admire. The mayoress gave the keys of the town to king carnival, who would be in charge for the town during carnival time. At the end of carnival, on Monday before Lent, she got back the keys and power.

Lions partying at carnival

A little party never killed nobody.

Funeral of the sardine

The end of carnival is near when weirdly dressed figures wander through the town of Roses on Monday before Lent (in other parts of Spain this would be Ash Wednesday). After the funeral of the sardine, carnival is officially over. There is big fireworks when the locals set fire to the sardine. In some places, the burning sardine gets carried to the open sea. The legend says that something has to be destroyed for something new to arise…

Partying dragon in Roses

The last party people are walking through the town.

This unique tradition has many explanations:

1. The custom is supposed to originate from 19th-century Madrid. At Ash Wednesday, Lent starts. The townspeople went to the countryside, in order to symbolically bury something. Because during Lent they did not consume any meat, they buried pork ribs, which were called “cerdina“. Over time, while passing on the legend, some mistake happened and “cerdina“ turned into “sardina“ – sardine.

2. In the 19th century, a group of students organized a funeral procession, in order to celebrate carnival one more time and symbolically start Lent.

3. King Charles III. of Spain (1716 – 1788) prohibited to eat meat at Ash Wednesday, instead people were supposed to eat sardines. At Ash Wednesday, temperatures were unusually rising and it got too hot for the sardines and they turned inedible. The smell was unbearable. Therefore, they organized a funeral. This spontaneous procession then became tradition and a party.

4. Other legends tell that the sacrificial offering was part of praying for a large fishing.

Nowadays, it is impossible to truly discover the origin of this tradition. The only certain thing is that the custom terminates carnival with big fuss, before starting again next year.