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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?

Warm winters? Celebrating the heat of colours & traditions #InCostaBrava, Catalonia.

Some 30+ people have gathered around me. They are chanting-cheering, hitting a large piece of wood in our middle with thin long sticks. It is covered in a grey blanket and slightly lifted from the ground at one end, creating a small space underneath. El Tió. The Tió brings Christmas presents to the Catalan children, who have renounced Father Christmas, Baby Jesus or Reindeer Rudolph in favour of … tree trunks.

“Tió, Tió … Caga Turró … D’avetllana i de pinyo … Si no et donarem un cop de bastó …”. The (not politically correct) translation: “Tió, Tió … Shit us Turró … Of hazelnut and pines … If not we’ll hit you with a stick.!”

“But … Even the small children already sing, ‘shit’ and ‘hit’ all the time?!” My mum, slightly incredulous at the ubiquitous use of “cagar” & “caganers” “shitting” in a Catalan Christmas. “Ah, yes”, Marc and his Catalan family proudly respond with a wink. “It’s not so strong here and after all, everybody uses it without even thinking. Just natural, don’t you think?!”

Completely natural. You must love Catalonia and all the weird and wonderful things Catalan people do, setting them apart from the rest of Spain. Have a look at this.

My Catalan Christmas experience ...

My Catalan Christmas experience …

 

… is diving into a world full of weird, warm wonders ...

… is diving into a world full of weird, warm wonders …

 

… where children have to sing, then hit a so-called "Tió" piece of wood with sticks in order to receive some Christmas presents ...

… where children have to sing, then hit a so-called “Tió” piece of wood with sticks in order to receive some Christmas presents …

 

… which, of course, are also dressed up in the Catalan style: An olive pot covered by a typical "Barret" hat!

… which, of course, are also dressed up in the Catalan style: An olive pot covered by a typical “Barretina” hat!

 

I am starting to think we are really different - quiet, I guess? - up here in the "north".! Sweet family Christmas from home.

I am starting to think we are really different – quiet, I guess? – up here in the “north”.! Sweet family Christmas @home.

 

Besides all the Christmas frenzy, winter in Catalonia is pure heaven on Earth. Days of more than 20°C in the (seemingly endless) sunshine, beaches devoid of any tourists whatsoever, culinary delights to die for.

“Oh, what’s this?”, I exclaim, browsing through a book called The Colours of Sitges. A town located some thirty minutes drive south of Barcelona, it is famous for its “Xató” dish, a one-of-a-kind salad salsa made from almond crumbs, pepper essence, lots and lots of excellent olive oil, bread with red wine vinegar, and roasted garlic. This Xató salsa is then served on top of a bed of lettuce and mixed with black and green olives, tuna, codfish and anchovies from l’Escala, the sweet little seaside-town I’ve already told you about here. Heavenly delicious! Bon profit!

Being with the Catalan family ...

Being with the Catalan family …

 

… means easily gaining a kilo or two: Xató salsa on a salad bed of a kind!

… means easily gaining a kilo or two: Xató salsa on a salad bed of a kind!

 

For dessert, try home-made "Bunyols" made from a dough similar to Churros, dipped and served in crystal sugar.

For dessert, try home-made “Bunyols” (Bunyols de l’Empordà, in this case), a sweet seduction made from a dough similar to Churros, dipped and served in crystal sugar.

 

To walk off some calories ...

To walk off some calories, it pays to join children & dogs …

 

… taking you to magic places ...

… taking you to magic places …

 

… at the heart of the Costa Brava Coast, the gulf of Roses as in this case.

… at the heart of the Costa Brava Coast, the gulf of Roses as in this case.

 

And did you know that rosemary is flowering at this stage here in Catalonia?!

And did you know that rosemary is flowering at this stage here in Catalonia?! I already miss its fresh smell again.

 

As well as the magic sunsets #InCostaBrava over the Pyrenees here ...

As well as the magic sunsets #InCostaBrava over the Pyrenees here …

 

Would you go for a swim? Easily. On winter’s New Year, that is!

Places like Sitges beach or the Costa Brava’s many little coves tucked away along the coastline are perfect (and tempting) to go for a swim, even now in winter’s time. At the heat of midday, the sun may well warm up to over 20°C, and the Mediterranean Sea is not as cold as I had imagined. Hm! Would you dare?

Sitges beach, on Christmas day, is tempting me under its bright daylight ...

Sitges beach, on Christmas day, is tempting me under its bright daylight …

 

… or how about Sa Tuna, near the more northern town of Begur?

… or how about Sa Tuna, near the more northern town of Begur?

 

You can try your hand at jump-throwing flat stones into the sea ...

You can try your hand at jump-throwing flat stones into the sea …

 

… or actually venture in yourself!

… or actually venture in yourself!

 

Always with the added benefit that there are hardly any other people in sight … but the endless, ever so blue Mediterranean Sea.

Always with the added benefit that there are hardly any other people in sight … but the endless, ever so blue Mediterranean Sea.

 

And of course, the local Catalan Nativity Scene has to be on a beach as well!

And of course, the local Catalan Nativity Scene has to be on a beach with fishing boats as well!

 

Love it.

Love it.

 

Bye Bye and see you next year #InCostaBrava Catalonia!

Bye Bye and see you next year #InCostaBrava Catalonia!

 

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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!
Xmas & The Creative Traveler's Handbook: Time to say THANK YOU!
Active in Winter: Fun Travel Tips around Hotel Althof Retz in Lower Austria.

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