Last month I’ve been on a trip through the region of Catalonia, Spain. I’ve been positively surprised. Spain remains so charming. And it breathes ‘the good life’ vibes. I’ve been to Barcelona before (and Málaga, Granada) but the region out of Barcelona is even more stunning. When you are traveling low budget to Barcelona, you usually land on Girona airport and travel straight to Barcelona. Few people know that Girona itself also a beautiful city, and that there is an even more beautiful countryside around it, full of charming medieval villages. It’s worth it to rent a car and explore the area. From Girona I explore the environment: Baix Émporda, Banyoles, Garrotxa Volcanic National Park, the coastal path in Calella de Palafrugell, Begur, Santa Pau and La Vall D’en Bas.
The flower festival (Temps de Flor) takes place when I arrive here. This week is dedicated to flowers. There are beautiful works of art made of flowers placed on monuments throughout the city. I get a warm feeling inside, looking at all these colorful flowers. A stroll around the city brings me along beautiful squares with lovely outdoor cafes, impressive churches and I am touched by the Jewish quarter. This turns out to be one of the most beautiful and largest of Europe. It is a sandy colored medieval fairy tale with beautiful buildings, alleys and an amazing view of the city. From here you can see how the city is walled and you are able to walk this former defensive wall. Girona is centuries old, and breathes an historic atmosphere. In the distance I discover the snowy peaks of the Alps, and this image appears to show almost anywhere in Catalonia. The hanging houses of the river Onyar are impressive. Catalonia is a country in a country, says the local who is showing me around. “I am not Spanish, I am Catalan!”, he says full of passion. His proud gaze met mine. I get that pride though. The next few days I discover that Catalonia is more than beautiful.
Baix Émporda and the Lake of Banyoles
I continue my way..on a segway. I’m not kidding. And I can assure you it is hilarious. Those monsters go fast, by the way. I make a tour with my new best friend though the vineyards, olive groves and villages in the area of the Baix Émporda, and it is truly beautiful. It’s like I go back in time. The wind blows through my hair, the snowy peaks of the Alps are glancing in the distance and beautiful bridges (with rail carts!), castles, historic buildings and fields full of flowers dominate this ride. (I found myself searching Marketplace for a segway later on…but those things are damn expensive). I fall more and more in love with this region, this so called ‘country within a country’ in Spain. I want a Volvo Amazon with a suitcase on the roof and a tent in the trunk, drive around and set up the tent in the most idyllic spots. For example, next to the Lake of Banyoles, where I enjoy a bike ride and where I am surprised by the blue water. It is the only natural lake in Catalonia. I see Catalans picnicking and fishermen take their place at the many historic fishing cottages along the lake. Pure rest is blowing in my face and it makes me calm and happy. I almost feel like a proud Catalan: I feel it too.
h6>coastal path Callela de Palafrugell
After a delicious lunch at El Far de Sant Sebastià I walk the well known coastal path to Callela de Palafrugell. A heavy but frenzied walk along winding paths, stone steps, picturesque bays and up again – you walk high above the blue sea. From above you can see the blue shades of the sea sparkle, and the view is beautiful. It’s still quiet. High season has not yet begun, and the many beautiful seaside homes are empty. A lost Catalan walks behind his dog, who leaves ferme footprints in the sand. A few dare to enjoy the sun on the beach, and in the quietness I only hear breaking waves. Colored boats lie in the sand, waiting for the local fishing community. It’s like the environment here is not touched by tourism, but the contrary is already proven during the summer months. It gets busy here. The coast here is amazing.
The next few days I discover the Garrotxa Volcanic National Park, Begur, Santa Pau and La Vall D’en Bas. Catalonia part two is coming, I am still reminiscing. Please let me show you what I saw through my lens.
Kustpad Callela de Palafrugell