Say Yes: Besalú, Catalonia

In those times when I used to live more on the social media (now I don’t, and phew, what a relief :)) – I liked to post photos from my trips, even if they were the old ones. Especially on the dark autumn and winter days when I couldn’t find any inspiration in Oslo – I would go for my old pics. And the people who met me seldom would say: “You travel so much. Always photos from the trips”. But these are the old ones, people (and I wouldn’t usually hide that fact).

Today I want to share the photos from our last year’s trip to Catalonia. When we visited a small town of Besalú, hidden between hills and mountains. So that someone can say – on meeting me randomly – “But gosh, you travel so much!” 🙂

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Tarragona: Roman Flirting in Catalonia

Last Monday I posted a guessing game of doors and windows – and here is the right answer to it: a city in the South of Catalonia with a pretty name of Tarragona. I was surprised of how fast the right answers popped up in the comments – and of the smart strategies some used to find out 🙂

Tarragona got my heart and I cannot keep silent about my love. The town is only a 1,5 hour away from Barcelona and is a perfect destination for a day-trip from the Catalan capital. So when you are in Barcelona and want new horizons to explore – go to Tarragona! In a way it resembles Barcelona – but it also has its own distinct history dating back to Romans, its own style and atmosphere. So you get some kind of deja vu, but Tarragona has its own power to enchant you. Here are my reasons to visit this pretty place.

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Barcelona: Parc del Clot

My heart is very ready for spring, but the weather is still showing us its black-an-white movie. The winter didn’t think of stepping back and promises a cold week ahead with temperatures down to -15 Celsius (at night). No spring signs so far. I notice that my eyes are hungry for green so I browse Pinterest for tropical themes. My body shifts again, wanting less of heavy winter food and craving for fresh vegetables, so I need to make more green smoothies now. If you are in the same boat of green cravings, let me take you on a walk through one of the parks of Barcelona.

the windows to summer

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Winter Light: Canet del Mar

The winter sun is a seldom visitor here in Norway, thus more precious. I try to catch its few rays whenever it’s possible. While my memories take me back to a very different February. Last year we spent some weeks exploring wonderful Catalonia. While Barcelona is its jewel, there are so many more hidden treasures.

As I browse through my old pictures, I get carried away. If you want to get carried away too, follow me in this mental journey. Let’s go to a little town by the seaside which is full of light on a regular February day. Let me present to you Canet del Mar, not famous but charming little place. Let’s walk its narrow streets, take notice of its modernist details and imagine living in its small houses. If I were a painter I would come here with my painting set and study the art of Mediterranean light which is so lovely in winter.

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The neighborhood I heart: Clot

Last year I started a project of presenting the neighborhoods of Barcelona. After two posts my ambitious project went on pause (you can check it out under the tag barrios in this blog). This is so me: so many ideas, but not so much will to follow through. Does it happen to you too?

But – better late than never – I pick up that idea now. Because there are still neighborhoods for which I want to share my love. And today let me present my most hearted one, my secret pearl. In a way, I don’t want to attract too much of attention to it – but since my blog is not read by thousands of travelers (luckily, hehe), I can still share and not be afraid of mass tourism flooding that part of the city 🙂

Why do I love Clot? Because, first, whenever I stay in Barcelona my home is always there. Second, it is old and very authentic, close to the city centre but with totally different vibe. I remember my first visit to Barcelona as a tourist. My friend drew me to the beach, while I was dreaming of walking through narrow streets, looking into cafes, spotting locals and trying to feel the city’s soul. Little did I know then that I would be doing it regularly while visiting Barcelona more often than my home country Ukraine 🙂 And one of the best places to feel that local authentic life, not spoiled by tourist crowds, is Clot. The neighborhood is a mixture of old buildings and new blocks, with locals sitting on the benches of the market square, hanging on the bar terraces, walking with dogs and playing football in the park. This is where I feel the most of how Barcelona was meant to be. Before the mass tourism changed the face of the city.

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In the Middle of Catalan Situation

We happened to come to Barcelona just in the middle of the historical events. But that didn’t happen by chance. My man is Catalan and born in Barcelona, he wanted to come for voting in the referendum. There has been a long process leading to this moment, both for him and for his country.

On Saturday, a day before referendum, we went to Salou, a tourist town close to Tarragona, for the celebration of the wedding anniversary of his friend. Saturday night was spent in eating, laughing and dancing. Sunday morning the alarming reports started to leek in. The police were closing the stations. The government was closing the systems for registrations. But then it became possible to vote in any place. So we searched for a school in Salou and found a crowd of people outside, but the voting was not possible because the system was down. We got directions for another place, but decided to drive back to Barcelona and do it there.

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A dreamer in Barcelona

I was so used to call myself a dreamer through all my life. And lately I have seen so many of my dreams coming true, that I don’t know what to call myself any longer. A dream catcher? 🙂 Here I want to share my Spanish dream.

My first visit to Spain was to the city of Barcelona, six years ago. Anyone surprised? Me not :). It is definitely the most visited city in Spain (and then you discover the difference between Catalonian and Spanish mentalities, but it comes later…). My friend has been to Spain before and wanted to spend every morning on the beach – “because it is our summer vacation” (and coming from Norway where the summer weather is unpredictable, you’d better use those sunny days wisely). So our beach mornings were long, stretching over into late afternoon. Then we would take subway to get back to hotel, tired from the sun, jump (or crawl) in the shower and stroll out in the open arms of the city waiting for us. It was the time to do some sightseeing and eating tapas. Drinking sangria became a habit too (of course 🙂 ).  We did it all: walking on La Rambla and buying tickets for a flamenco show, taking pics in Parc Guell and partying in the club. In the infamous style “been there, done that”.

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a postcard from Bcn (I took this pic during that visit 6 years ago)

Honestly, I didn’t care much about the beach. We had only six days in this city and I was hungry for meeting the soul of Barcelona. I believe, that every city has its own vibe, its own soul – and I was very curious about The Great Enchantress, as they sometimes call her, Barcelona. My wish was to wander through its narrow streets, where light falls mystically from above, to look into windows of the bars, to sip coffee in a local café and listen to the locals sharing their daily life. This is my passion. I always want something more than a touristic experience, hopping on and off through the place like in the theme park. I want to get under the skin of the city, to feel its energy, to watch, hear and feel its people.Read More »