Re-Learning a Valuable Lesson in the Costa Brava

Llafranc harbor, Costa Brava

I’ll admit that before I came to Catalonia, I had a rather bad impression of the Costa Brava. (We all have our prejudices, right?) Having lived in Germany for many years, I associated the area with mass tourism, package holidays and overdevelopment.

So you can imagine my shock as we sailed the beautiful, rocky coastline between Palamós and Llafranc past isolated coves, golden beaches, cliff-top villas, weatherworn castles, lush forest, and picturesque fishing villages. It was NOT the picture I had in my mind. And the water in those coves was like liquid glass. Pure fantasy.

Descending in Llafranc, I hiked a portion of the perfectly manicured coastal trail that runs the length of Catalonia connecting its coastal towns and villages. It was all just so Continue…

Hooked on the Via Ferrata in Vallcebre, Catalonia

As I mentioned earlier on our Facebook page, I’ve discovered a new sport… and I’m totally hooked (pun intended). While we were in Vallcebre, Catalonia Tourism introduced us to via ferratas on an outing with CercleAventura, a Catalonian adventure sports company.

A via ferrata, also known as a Klettersteig in German, is an established climbing route that follows a secured steel cable as well as carved footholds, iron stepping rungs, ladders and cable bridges. Climbers wear protective helmets and harnesses and secure themselves to the cable using absorbers with carabiners. You don’t have to be an experienced mountain climber to do a via ferrata, and there are often several routes targeting different grades of difficulty.

Oscar, our CercleAventura guide on the outing, was incredibly Continue…

Berlin Festival of Lights 2013

Berlin Festival of Lights 2013

Today marks the end of Berlin’s spectacular Festival of Lights, one of the city’s coolest annual events. Although the 12-day festival was marred by fairly rainy weather this year (that’s always a risk in October), we still managed to get some pretty cool shots. Potsdamer Platz, with its pop art projections, was the clear standout this year. Hotel de Rome’s classical art projections were also quite stunning. There seemed to be fewer animations and more still imagery on the buildings, which was a tiny bit of a disappointment. Don’t get lazy Berlin, get those animations ready for next year.

We’ve added eight additional images from this year’s festival to our Festival of Lights pictorial, so check it out.

New Options for Experiential Travelers

Photo tour with Joan Figueras

When we are asked about, we often refer to it as a blog devoted to “experiential travel.” We travel to experience new things whether that is diving with thresher sharks, eating exotic foods or discovering the world’s art and architecture. Wouldn’t it be great if there were some kind of menu offering up a virtual smorgasbord of new experiences?

So when I was introduced to the Spanish service Trip4Real, I was intrigued. Trip4Real is to experiences what AirBnB is to accommodation. It’s a virtual marketplace where individuals can offer up their own services to travelers visiting Spain. Experiences range from Continue…

La Sagrada Família and the Architecture of Gaudí

Gaudí is to Barcelona what hot fudge is to ice cream sundaes. While by no means the only visionary architect associated with this city, he remains the ultimate symbol of Catalonian genius. His pièce de résistance is the spectacular La Sagrada Família, which upon its completion in 2026, will be the world’s largest and most structurally daring church. There’s nothing like it in the world; it’s totally unique. Just as unique as the architect himself.

But beyond his sacred temple, Gaudí left a trail of architectural treasures sprinkled across Barcelona and further afield in Catalonia. People travel from far and wide to seek out his masterpieces which blend a range of Neo-Gothic, Moorish, Mudéjar, Asian, Egyptian and fellow Modernista influences into a wild mixture Continue…

Cranes Fill the Skies of Brandenburg

Cranes fill the skies of Brandenburg

The first week of October marks the beginning of one of Europe’s great spectacles as the skies of eastern Germany and western Poland fill will thousands of Eurasian cranes (Grus grus) flying from Scandinavia to North Africa. The epicenter of this natural event is Gartz, a small village on the border of Germany and Poland, which celebrates this natural wonder with its annual Crane Week (Kranichwoche in German.)

For a mere 3 Euros, local representatives of the Unteres Odertal National Park lead excursions into the surrounding countryside in search of flocks of cranes. They even provide the wildlife viewing scopes to get a good look at the cranes, which boast a 7-foot wingspan Continue…

Never Too Many Cooks in bcnKITCHEN

bcnkitchen-8 The secret to Spanish cooking is good Rais

Ever since Thomas did his cooking class in Cambodia, I’ve been looking for my own similar Food-Venture. Luckily, our stop in Barcelona included a day at bcnKITCHEN, a unique facility which offers everything from cooking classes to show-cooking to corporate bonding sessions.

When I think about it, Catalonia Tourism was probably strategically using our day at bcnKITCHEN as a type of corporate bonding session to allow our group of traveling bloggers to connect while exploring Catalan cuisine. It was a brilliant move, a recipe for success.

And the secret to this recipe, like much of Spanish cuisine, was good rice… I mean Rais Continue…