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You wouldn't be here if you weren't curious.*

Hi! I'm Elena! Welcome to my travel blog Creativelena.com.
For me, it is all about “life-seeing instead of sightseeing”: Join me as I create, eat & live my way around the world. Curious?

*Check out my book, “The Creative Traveler’s Handbook”, for learning more about what we mean by creative travel. Travelling means the world to me, makes me fit for everday life and sometimes, I trust, also calmer on the inside. Read this blog with a smile, share what you love and remember to check back regularly: After all, when was the last time you did something for the first time?

#CreativeTravel #inPyrenees : Create your own, handcrafted souvenirs together with the locals.

The backcountry of any popular travel destination, such as Costa Brava, northern Catalonia in this case, is where the real magic happens. Countless creative travel experiences have led me to believe so. Or did you know you can become “a medieval travel writer” in the Pyrenees? Make your own organic paper to suit, in the popular lakeside town of Banyoles? Dance with Giants and paint with glass, all in one day if you wish …?

 

Now if that’s not magic, I don’t know what is. And the people, fairy-tale like smiles on their faces, certainly add to all of it.

Navata. Nowhere near well-known, this tiny little town is tucked away on the outskirts of “Dalí’s town Figueres”, a hotspot for arts & culture I have already shared with you here. Driving for about fifteen minutes from downtown Figueres, you will reach the “magical world of Ventura & Hosta“, themselves builders of giant cardboard figures called “Els Gegants” or “Capsgrossos”. I love meeting Neus & David, who proudly share their passion of made-to-measure giants, saints, or other fantastic figures with me. During my visit, I even get to dance with a dark-skinned giant, something I have never deemed possible or even imagined in my whole life!

Welcome to Navata, Ventura & Hosta Workshop: "Please come in", this one giant in the door seems to say ...

Welcome to Navata, Ventura & Hosta Workshop: “Please come in”, this one giant in the door seems to say …

 

... welcome to a world full of wonders, where I meet Neus Hosta & David Ventura ...

… welcome to a world full of wonders, where I meet this charming artist couple Neus Hosta & David Ventura, commissioned to produce lots and lots of artwork used in the many festivities of Catalonia …

 

... who have me dance with this Giant ...

… who even have me dance with this Giant, as in slipping under this lady’s frock (!) and sway to the sound of typical Catalan music! More about this in my video at the end of this article.

 

A little further up the road, traditional "Sardana Dances" take place in the mountain town of Ripoll.

A little further up the road, real “Sardana Dances” take place in the mountain town of Ripoll.

 

Ripoll, about an hour’s drive west of Navata, and further into the Pyrenees, is home to an attraction of a kind: The ancient Scriptorium & Ethnographic Museum of Ripoll.

It is from charming Maria, in the course of a private tour through the museum as well as our subsequent calligraphy workshop, that I learn just why this museum is so special: “Its collections about pastoral life in the Pyrenees were gathered when these very traditions were still alive, many of the artefacts you can see around here donated from people dear to the museum. In the writing workshops at our Scriptorium, we want to give you a chance to experience the art of ancient book writing yourself”, she tells me with a wink.

Benvinguts - Welcome to Ripoll!

Benvinguts a Ripoll – Welcome to Ripoll in the spring!

 

Received by Maria ...

Received by Maria …

 

... at the local, modern Ethnographic Museum of Ripoll ...

… at the local Ethnographic Museum of Ripoll …

 

... I really enjoy the writing workshop that follows ...

… I really enjoy the writing workshop that follows …

 

... have you actually ever tried to do something similar?!

… have you actually ever tried to do something similar?! It’s not as hard as it looks, I have to say. Thank you, dear Maria, for your patience in bearing with me through the creative process!

 

Ripoll, certainly a place I would come back to visit any time !

Ripoll in the Pyrenees, certainly a place I would come back to visit any time !

 

Now what about not only a “medieval writer’s workshop”, but crafting the actual paper to put your pen down on it ..?

This, too, is possible #inPyrenees. Told you it’s all about magic! And to complete my experience with the “Paper Tailors of Banyoles” (Els Sastres Paperes: Check out their fantastic English homepage!), they even gift me with a bunch of paper sheets full of small seeds, out of which mint leaves are said to grow! Love it. Check this out.

Making paper ...

Making paper …

 

Making paper, is magic also for the location of the workshop: The Molí de la Farga in Banyoles ...

… is magic also for the location of the workshop: The Molí de la Farga in Banyoles …

 

... has me experience with the traditional art of paper making,

… has me experience with the traditional art of paper making, a workshop I have once experienced back in my own home country Waldviertel, Lower Austria too!

 

Thank you, paper making magicians ...

Thank you, paper making magicians …

 

... for more travel tips about Banyoles and its wonderful lake, have a look at my most recent foodie post here.

… for more travel tips about Banyoles and its wonderful lake, have a look at my most recent foodie post here.

 

Near Olot then, the provincial capital of La Garrotxa, I strike up a lasting friendship with the sweet, sweet artist couple Ariadna Guasch & Jordi Traveria …

… both known to me for their passion of sharing, be it life stories, ideas for networking, local area development, travel and tourism, as well as, of course, the fine glass art they are known for. They run regular courses for groups from two to eight people, and I am fascinated by what we are able to achieve in just a short time!

Even way after my creative workshop with them, we meet again for drinks in the town of Olot, what with Ariadna & Jordi even making a point of hand-delivering my own piece of fine glass art to Girona a few days later!

Now I have met many talented, welcoming, and utterly charming artists #inCostaBrava and #inPyrenees, but none of them have touched my heart quite as Ariadna and Jordi have. Thank you, Social Media, for allowing us to keep the connection going, and to arrange for our next meeting upon my return (I have to return to, and point out the very charming, luxurious countryside accommodation Masia El Puig for that … Trust me, you won’t be disappointed!).

Beautiful Olot ...

Beautiful Olot …

 

Making my way to Ariadna & Jordi's countryside studio ...

… where I am making my way to Ariadna & Jordi’s countryside studio …

 

... we dive right in ...

… diving right in …

 

... envisaging the creative process ...

… envisaging the creative process …

 

... and "dreaming" these results:

… and “dreaming” these results: Thank you so much, dear Jordi, for hand-delivering my finished piece to me over our coffee meeting in Girona!

 

Want to know even more about the process involved in making your own souvenir like this? All of the above workshops & experiences are also featured in my latest travel video edit about Costa Brava & Pyrenees, explaining more about my creative travel adventures and the wonderful, wonderful people I’ve met:

 

Enjoy with sound : The song “Camins” I have chosen to go with the video, performed by local band Sopa de Cabra, will make every Catalan cry with emotion, I am told ..! 😀

 

There’s more here, too, browsing through my colourful image gallery on Flickr:

 

See you soon #inPyrenees!

 

Disclaimer: I have been supported on this trip by Costa Brava Tourism Board. All opinions are my own.

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Written by Elena

Elena writes about creative destinations, shares her personal travel stories and brings inspiring photography & interesting news updates home to you. Her mission is: "Continue to be amazed at this world, one creative travel experience at a time."

Ready for learning even more about creative travel?

Elena has recently published "The Creative Traveler's Handbook". Chock full of inspiratinal stories, travel tips and advice, it offers everything you need for planning and managing your next creative escape, addressing beginners and experienced travelers alike. Here's how to get your hands on it now!
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