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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?

#Winelover Trip #InCostaBrava: ‘Enocaiac’ in the Empordà Wine Region


Creative Travel, Gourmet Travel, Travel With Locals, Europe, Spain, Travel Blog , 0

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“Enocaiac”, “Herbocaiac”, “Ornithocaiac”. The team around Pau and his local kayak company SK Kayak are not only charming and professional, but also very innovative in their approach to promoting adventure travel #InCostaBrava. Just over a month ago, I have been fortunate enough to join one of their first ever “Herbocaiac” trips, a guided sea algae tasting trip kayaking the beautiful coastline near the port city of Llançà, in northern Catalonia. Evarist, our nature guide that day, even holds a position of being a culinary counsellor to the world’s best restaurant, “El Celler de Can Roca” in Girona! So when I heard that SK Kayak was offering an “enocaiac” trip, I just knew I had to go.

 

A wine tasting of the local Empordà wine region paired with an afternoon sea kayaking trip? Count me in!

 

In my mind, I was imagining peaceful paddling, stunning sea views and sipping wonderful wines right by the beach of Llançà in northern Catalonia. What else, I wondered, could possibly get in the way of that …?

 

“Tramuntana Republik.”

While “Tramuntana Republik” actually refers to a local fashion label, the so-called “Tramuntana” is a powerful wind that blows down from the Pyrenees to the Mediterranean Sea in northern Costa Brava, sweeping up everything along its way: People, kayaks, and certainly peaceful wine tasting events by a suddenly rather stormy sea. Even so, the locals choose to celebrate “Tramuntana” by proudly wearing T-Shirts with the name “Tramuntana Republik“! As much as Catalan people are clever at developing successful business strategies, they are also very inventive when it comes to quick-fix solutions: “Let’s just have the wine tasting at the wine grower’s cellar instead of at the beach, right?” Sure. Let’s go!

Tramuntana winds are looming at the horizon ahead of our kayak trip in Llançà ...

Tramuntana storm winds are looming at the horizon ahead of our kayak trip in Llançà …

 

… the brave kayaking group still entering the waters, but only for a slight tasting. Then, the "enocaiac" excursion is called off due to severe weather warnings and transferred to ...

… the brave kayaking group still entering the waters, but only for a short while. Then, the “enocaiac” excursion is called off due to severe weather warnings and transferred to …

 

… the wine cellar directly, "Celler Hugas de Batlle" in Colera just north of ...

… the wine cellar directly, “Celler Hugas de Batlle” in Colera just north of Llançà.

 

Here, we get an overview of the extensive terrain of L'Alta Empordà wine region ...

Here, we get an overview of the extensive terrain of L’Alta Empordà wine region …

 

… marked by typical red wine varieties, such as "Garrotxa".

… marked by typical red wine varieties, such as the autochthonous “Garrotxa” grape variety.

 

After the tasting ...

After the tasting …

 

… we are even invited to try this dessert wine that has not even been released to the market, faintly reminding me of the Port wines on the other side of the Iberian peninsula.

… we are even invited to try this dessert wine that has not yet been released to the market, faintly reminding me of the Port wines on the other side of the Iberian peninsula.

 

Waking up from the “Enocaiac” kayak trip is best achieved by an “Ornithocaiac” excursion, focusing on nature, peace and birdwatching in the Empordà (wine) region, in northern Costa Brava.

“We meet at seven in the morning”, Olga chirps away happily ahead of the “ornithocaiac” kayak trip focused on watching sea birds, “els ocells de l’Empordà”. Olga, who also works for SK Kayak, is a trained biologist with a huge wealth of knowledge on all things local birds and nature. She takes me and my friends, a group of nine people, on a kayaking trip down the river Flúvia, right where it meets the sea at the Gulf de Roses. It is at this moment that I am ultimately convinced of getting up at 6.30 a.m. on a Sunday morning. Even, or especially, on your holiday. For the birds. For the nature. The peace. And the magic. Check this out.

Sunrise in Llançà, at the start of our early morning "ornithocaiac" trip ...

Sunrise in Llançà, at the start of our early morning “ornithocaiac” trip …

 

… we take to the river Flúvia shortly after ...

… we take to the river Flúvia shortly after …

 

… where a night after the strong "Tramuntana" winds, we are greeted to peace and quiet ...

… where a night after the strong “Tramuntana” winds, we are greeted to peace and quiet …

 

… out on the river watching birds and nature around us.

… out on the river watching birds and nature around us.

 

Reaching the sea on our kayaks ...

Reaching the sea on our kayaks …

 

… definitely is one of my highlights of this trip: Good morning from Gulf de Roses, overlooking pretty little L'Escala on the horizon to the south.

… definitely is one of my highlights of this trip: Good morning from Gulf de Roses, overlooking pretty little L’Escala on the horizon to the south.

 

Last but not least, I welcome you to head a little further inland, visiting “El Celler de la Vinyeta” some 20 minutes’ drive from Figueres – the home of Dalí in northern Costa Brava.

If a #winelover tasting trip on sea kayaks is too adventurous for you and / or you simply prefer a more classic wine tasting option, head to El Celler de la Vinyeta. The team around local wine maker Josep is charming indeed and enjoys to welcome you to their 60+ hectares property, large even for local standards. “We started with planting vines in an area where no wine has ever grown before- risky, to say the least. At the same time though, we saw it as a great opportunity”, Josep starts out by talking about his background on our walk through the family vineyards. “Then, as time moved on, we kept adding ideas to the business: Farming the ancient olive trees. Raising sheep to keep the grass at bay, then harvesting the milk for our own cheese production. Then came the honey. And the vineyard accommodation …!” Smiling, Josep continues. Our group follows, quite mesmerized and eager for the wine tasting, including six different varieties and a special type of vinegar.

“We’re different”, Josep concludes the visit, proud to share the fruits of his work and family wine estate with us, “in the sense that we do lots of things as one family, one brand. Many Catalan families choose to do one thing, like growing wine or making cheese or running accommodation. We have enjoyed diversifying our family business over time.”

"La Vinyeta" wine estate, at the foothills of the Pyrenees ...

“La Vinyeta” wine estate, at the foothills of the Pyrenees …

 

… is known for its ancient olive trees ...

… is known for farming olives …

 

… as well as wine, of course, as shown here: Harvest starts in the middle of August.

… as well as wine, of course, as shown here: Harvest is about to start now, at the middle of August.

 

If you've had too much wine, you can chillax at the local accommodation ...

If you’ve had too much wine, you are welcome to chillax at the local vineyard accommodation …

 

… or follow the wine grower Josep for a interesting tasting into the cellar ...

… or follow the wine grower Josep for an interesting tasting into the cellar …

 

… concluded by a final tasting of white and red wine grape varieties.

… concluded by a final tasting of white and red wine grape varieties.

 

Really like the !

Really like the “Heus Blanc” as a refreshingly aromatic, light summer wine …

 

… and do not miss taking a bottle of "Llavors" home with you!

… and do not miss taking a bottle of “Llavors” home with you! …

 

And / or signing up for the tasting of all local wines available ...

… and / or signing up for the tasting of all local wines available …

 

Or how about a vinegar tasting ..?

… or how about a vinegar tasting at “La Vinyeta” ..?

 

Definitely say Yes to coming back: Thanks for taking me out, my dear Catalan friends & family !!

Definitely say Yes to coming back: Thanks for taking me out, my dear Catalan friends & family !!

 

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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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