“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 …?
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!
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.
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.”