Travelling is like dreaming,
the difference is that not all, awakening,
remember something, while everyone keeps warm
the memory of the goal to which he returned. – Edgar Allan Poe
The warm memory is the point where my story in Costa Brava begins. It is warm not only because my Catalogna experience has just ended but because it is warm, in my head and heart. These memories and feelings are made of indescribable human warmth. A special kind of heat perceived from the first to the last place I’ve visited. The passion for the land and job. A mix of reason and instinct I learned, then, to be intrinsic in Catalan culture. Rauxa i seny, rationality and fun. Realization and instinctuality.
Catalogna: how a trip was born
I don’t like reading before leaving. The reason is I prefer not to be confused with someone’s else ideas. When I have to leave, I just do it.
And that’s what I did when I flew from Rome to Barcelona.
Of course It was not the first time, but the first I found myself welcome by who knows those places thoroughly. So, almost immediately, people, landscapes, and architectures become shards of a mosaic that I would enterely compose only in the end. Some pieces, in fact, blend right away, while others remain separate. They are waiting to be placed thanks to a dot of memory.
That’s exactly what happened again. I did not understand the value of the whole experience until I came home. And once on the couch, I started to remember.
All of the adventures from one side. My amazing trip companions, on the other one. To Irene, from Catalogna Tourism, and to Tokyobanhbao, illustrator and blogger at Tokyobanhbao.com, goes my special Thanks.
The first Catalogna’s stop at DO Alella
From El Prat Barcelona airport to Celler Can Roda farmhouse takes thirty minutes by car, more or less, through a fast and well-marked high way. So, in a short time, you will move yourself from the city famous for the Rambla and Gaudì’s, into a suspended place. Suspended because it seems to represent the link between the Tuscan countryside and what I understood later, the Catalan rurality. A classic iron gate, a tree-lined avenue and the perception of finding you in a family home. Chairs and tables made of iron. The freshly harvested vegetables on the table and the feeling we’ve already been there many times. The reason is that the place and its inhabitants represent the typical atmosphere of Sundays spent with the family. Either when we talk about the crafted table of the spacious living room or the white and blue checkered tablecloth outdoor. Under the shade of trees, we have tasted the products of that land. Very well known flavours as cheeses, served together with their local apple jam. Anchovies, deliciously proposed in almost every meal. Salami, potatoes and pumpkin soup. Known flavours, reworked and declined in unusual combinations. Sparkling and sweet as the starting wine and the red potatoes that completed the tasting.
Lost in Girona: my Catalogna’s second stage
From the familiar and carefree Celler Can Roda‘s environment, the temporal space that separates us from Girona seems to be the minimum indispensable. I do not know how long Irene drove, but I can remember myself strolling around the medieval town in a very short time. Full of history on one hand and, actuality on the other. Girona is one of the location of the lucky tv series Games of Thrones. There is a succession of streets, views and historic buildings.
It turns into night between legends,anecdotes and sagas. I would not know how many hours or minutes I was there. Perhaps only the time to savour the exact moment in which the house lights begin to reflect in the water or to shoot the sequence of spheres, bell-bells and cornices that spring from the walls.
It comes the time we go to the first hotel. If I only need to use one term to describe the Peralada Wine Spa & Golf hotel, it
is cocooning. The minimal architecture in neutral colors and soft materials, makes me immediately forget the fatigue of a long day, increasing the wish to leave the room for the curiosity of tasting dinner.
In the lounge, perfectly decored as all of the interiors, our special dinner begins. The appetizer is a tribute to olive oil. And, the succession of dishes, is a sophisticated matching of selected raw materials, prepared with a strong aesthetic sense.
From relax in an elegant place to port. Kayak trip is Catalogna experience
In Catalogna nights seem to be just a small break. Rejuvenating and restorative thanks to the silence of the place. An impeccable breakfast. And the pungent air. Just the time to savour all of these, we’re back in the car. Direction Llançà. The presence of the coast and the sea is strong in this small vilage. Crystalline water seems to call us gentle. As Ulisse attracted by the sirens’ melody, you can not resist. You just have to choose the best way to dive into the blue. We have experienced it with SK kayak. The time I do not spend on the mainland has always a special value because it is to watch things from another point of view. With the right detachment useful to recognize beauty and exclusivity. After a true loving liaison started with the sea , I get back to the earth.
From the sea to Celler La Vinyeta’s land
The Celler la Vinyeta farm is not a normal placeplace. In Mollet de Peralada, between olive trees, vineyards and architectures designed to minimize impact, it produces an excellent quality wine.
A totally family-run company able to provide, a unique quality also with their ability and savoir faire. Also for its graphic design. Below the porch, we enjoyed the typical Sunday meal among friends in Catalunya. Genuine salami, Cadaques anchovies, fromages and tomatoes.
Everything enriched with the stories of those who founded the company just twenty years ago.A kind of intuition that seems to realize the dreams of who knows what it actually does.
Reality vs fantasy: Dala-Dali’s castle
If Vinyeta is a concrete and evolving reality, what happened later is something unique and magical. Surreal in one word. Because surrealism is first of all a mental state. It allows you to experience the power of subconscious, thanks to the imagination. And for this reason, while I’m writing, I can see Gala – Dalí’s wife – going around her castle. A place that has been molded and decorated to pleasure her as a Tuscan dwelling. I can glimpse her coming out of the bathroom decorated with floral ceramics and gold taps. I can see her listening to the piano played by one of her lovers. Laying for a painting and cross, without caring, the kitchen at the ground floor.
The house of Gala Dalì at Pubol is a place that almost deserves a trip by itself. It is a journey into the surrealist Dalí’s world loaded with symbolism and unique objects. It is also a dive into the thought of an artist who has always declared not to belong to a literary current, but to be the literary current.
The difference between me and the surrealists is that I am a Surrealist – Dalì
With this love story at the limit of madness, we move on to our last night in Catalunya.
Last night during my Catalogna experience: hotel Aigua Blava
My accommodation at the Aigua Blava hotel is not an ordinary one. A unique space where the sea becomes the main wall of my suite. You can see it from the bed, from the bathroom, through an opening in the mirror, and you can hear it by the terrace. Just where the sun rises, overlooking the bays of Fornells and Aiguablava, you can see the beginning of the day.
It is not easy to leave the suite, but there is a table with a view for three on the ground floor terrace. The warmth I mentioned at the beginning, is at its apotheosis here. Our dinner lasts for hours between a good sparkling wine as a starter and an aperitif of croquettes and croutons. It looks like you have known each others for times in Catalogna.
I do not know because of wine, atmosphere or flavours mixed up so well to create something exquisite. As divined as the sunrise at 7.30 am on my terrace.
Modernist Center of Sant Pau: this is the end
After that night the trip is almost over. Only the exceptionalism of the Center of Sant Pau‘s modernist architecture, in the center of Barcelona, makes the adéu less bitter. As a slow awakening through colorful domes and public spaces, rendered graphs from unspoiled pavements to green.
This last dive in history accompanies us to lunch. A kitchen workshop that has only revealed some tricks of a universe as rich and varied as the one tried during my Catalogna experience.
You can see the video of our travel on this page, clicking on “scoprire”.