Visiting Besalú & Banyoles #InCostaBrava

“This is the kind of place my parents would like immediately.” – “I have to bring my family here one day”, I keep repeating, quite mesmerized, to my new friends from Catalonia. They are visibly pleased by my enthusiasm over their home country (“Catalonia is not Spain!” – but more about this in my next blog post 😉 ) and I have to say, Besalú & Banyoles are places not to be missed on your next trip to Costa Brava. Take pretty Banyoles for instance: Slightly inland from the Mediterranean Coast, it is only some twenty minutes’ drive from the capital city Girona. Apart from its magnificent lake, called “l’estany de Banyoles”, the small town benefits from surprisingly green and undulating surroundings, hinting at its proximity to the mighty Pyrenees. A beautiful spot, to say the least, at the transition of the sunny Mediterranean to a slightly higher altitude climate. As an Austrian, I must say I immediately like it here: The place really bears a faint reminiscence of my own hill & mountain backyard.

 

“You have never been to Besalú?!” My Catalonian friends and I are on our third glass of wine and I am smiling at the sound of the town’s name: Beautiful Besalú! – “Elena, you must go.”

Seriously now. “We will take you there!” Albert, Núria & Gemma exclaim merrily. To this day, I am honoured by the all-encompassing sense of hospitality of the Catalan people. They will go out of their way to make sure you have an enjoyable experience here in Catalonia. They absolutely love to show you around, from #winelover visits to beach time by the sea in a place called l’Escala, Platja de Montgó

 

Beautiful Besalú, in any case, is a place not to be missed. It is on most travellers’ itineraries when touring the interior of Costa Brava – and rightly so.

When I first lay eyes on Besalú, a fortified small town whose history spans several millennia, I remember being enchanted almost instantly. Its unique, picturesque location just has you fall in love with it- and become curious in the process: Who is it that lived here? What is the history of this place? Why is there so much interest from visitors today? “The next tour taking us around Besalú starts at 12.00 midday”, Albert says, turning to us happily. During the main summer season, Besalú city tours are offered at several times and in several languages throughout the day.

Beautiful Besalú ...

Beautiful Besalú …

 

… is a fortified city that has been lived in by Roman, Jewish, Christian people over time ...

… is a fortified city that has been lived in by Roman, Jewish, Christian and many more people over time.

 

Today, it owes much of its charm to the fact ...

Today, it owes much of its charm to a wealth of well-maintained, ancient house facades …

 

… such as this one - door or window, what do you think?

… such as this one – door or window, what do you think?

 

As part of the guided visit, we stop for a cool break in the city's old Jewish baths ...

As part of the guided visit, we stop for a cool break in the city’s old Jewish baths …

 

… taking a refreshing break ourselves after visiting the city's miniature museum: Merci, my dear Albert, Núria & Gemma for joining me on this trip!

… taking a refreshing break ourselves after visiting the city’s miniature museum: Merci, my dear Albert, Núria & Gemma for joining me on this trip!

 

If you are looking for a great place for lunch – one that easily invites you to linger in the Catalan fashion of taking hours and hours for it – head to Banyoles’ “Vora Estany” restaurant.

“14 Euros for a two-course lunch meal, with many delicious starters and main courses to choose from, including water, wine, bread & coffee?! Sounds perfect to me!” My Catalan friends are not as hugely impressed as I am, but I still think it’s great value for money. Especially as Vora Estany restaurant is right by the lake of Banyoles, overlooking the crystal-clear waters of this popular holiday destination #InCostaBrava. Taking a walk by the lake after lunch, despite all of its reminiscence of Austria, you definitely realize you are in the Mediterranean when all, literally all of the ducks around can be seen sleeping. After all, they are on Siesta. At five in the afternoon. It’s what you do around here, right? 🙂

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“Bon profit!” – Enjoy your meal!

 

Lunch at Banyoles ...

Lunch at Banyoles …

 

… has you rest and take in the beautiful surroundings ...

… has you rest and take in the beautiful surroundings …

 

… ducks on Siesta ...

… ducks on Siesta …

 

… people chillaxing ...

… people chillaxing …

 

… and cute little houses that are being renovated from former fishing huts by the lake.

… and cute little houses that are being renovated after serving as fishing huts by the lake: This is Banyoles.

 

Why & how we ended up in this spot, just a short drive away from the main lake at Banyoles, is the focus of my next article for you, talking about the culture (and the wit) of the Catalan people … stay tuned !!

Why & how we ended up in this spot, just a short drive away from the main lake at Banyoles, is the focus of my next article for you, talking about the culture (and the wit) of the Catalan people … stay tuned !!

 

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