Discovering Costa Brava: Part V

The best thing for being sad…is to learn something…That’s the only thing that never fails… That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting…Learn why the world wags and what wags it…Look what a lot of things there are to learn.― Merlyn to Arthur, T. H. White, The Once and Future King 

Plunge boldly into the thick of life, and seize it where you will; it is always interesting.— Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

IMG_8555

A secret buried beneath the floor, a scene from Ghost (though first it felt more Lucille Ball than Demi Moore),dungeons and dragons, and a magical meal.  I expected beauty and adventure from Costa Brava but was surprised by Catalonia’s hidden treasures, creativity and community.

IMG_6822

When exactly St. John of Bellcaire (Sant Joan) was built is a mystery given the Roman exterior but nave’s architecture which dates earlier.  For the whole story on churches and history in the area, free lance expert Nik Duserm (below) is the guide to get.

20150504_193336

IMG_6810

IMG_6812

IMG_6821

IMG_6823

IMG_6814

IMG_6813

Beneath its floor lies the remains of a Roman temple built before Christian missionaries came to Spain. We were invited to explore the ancient base in the earth’s belly.

IMG_6820

IMG_6818

IMG_6817

IMG_6816

IMG_6819

The parking lot outside was built on a former cemetery.  Though the remains were supposed to have been moved, it is thought that human bones are mixed in the gravel.

IMG_6824

Around the corner and up the hill is the 13th century Bellcaire Castle. Within are government offices and the Parish Church.

IMG_6825

IMG_6826

Always remember, it’s simply not an adventure worth telling if there aren’t any dragons.--Sarah Ban Breathnach

War, famine, and floods once plagued the area, but proud of their survival, locals now share stories of their ancestors’ tenacity.

IMG_6830

IMG_6834

IMG_6835

Above, behind the houses of Bellcaire under fog is the Montgri castle (below). Feudal lords from both castles kept an eye on the sea and each other for attacks.

IMG_6841

IMG_6837

IMG_6836
A cannonball hole patched in the Bellcaire Castle.

At La Bisbal, capital of Emporda, Girona bishops lived and ruled. Touring the castle of a Medieval Square, tourists learn history and see education in action–children’s artwork displayed.

20150505_180116

IMG_6944

IMG_6943

IMG_6945

IMG_6941

During the Spanish Civil War, the castle was a prison. Above is the dungeon.  A region known for wine, below is where wine was made within the castle.

IMG_6947

IMG_6948

IMG_6949

IMG_8698

Where I create, there I am true.Rainer Maria Rilke

At the School of Ceramics of La Bisbal we were shown how to take a spin on a potter’s wheel.

IMG_6957

IMG_6956

IMG_6955

IMG_8540

IMG_8542

IMG_8543

IMG_6962

IMG_6961

IMG_6964

IMG_6974

ceramica 3 IMG_6976

A man practices the art of adventure when he breaks the chain of routine and renews his life through reading new books, traveling to new places, making new friends, taking up new hobbies and adopting new viewpoints. — Wilfred Peterson

Our amazing trip culminated with our last night together at Mas Masaller, a 13th century farmhouse owned by Joan and Marta, veterans in the restaurant industry. They offer half-board (European for breakfast, bed, and dinner) and picnic lunches on order. A decade ago I fell in love with agriturismos in Italy and escaped yearly, my first solo travel experiences, to a B and B called The Edgeworth Inn  in Monteagle, Tennessee.  The iron bed and quilts reminded me of their and my home.  Being at Mas Masaller with a group was fun; we watched soccer in the living room, then laughed around the huge table at dinner.

IMG_6995

IMG_6994

IMG_6993

IMG_6991

IMG_6990

IMG_6989

IMG_6988

IMG_6987

IMG_6986

IMG_6984

IMG_6983

IMG_6980

After a delicious salad, Cocina de la Tierra, greens picked from the garden that day and cooked with sausage (what we call “country sausage” in Kentucky and Tennessee), was served. Seasoned and smoky, it was the best vegetable dish I’ve had since moving abroad last August.

IMG_8701

It was so good we assumed it was the main course. When Marta (below) brought out a huge kettle of chicken and we told her, she said of her husband, Chef Joan, “Not in this house! We have to  have plenty of food.”

IMG_8706

IMG_8705

Joan also showed us how to drink the local wine properly.

IMG_8703

So Nick tried.

And then there were five…desserts.  A fitting end to a sweet trip!

IMG_8711

IMG_8709

IMG_8710

IMG_8709

IMG_8714

IMG-20150506-WA0025

IMG_8702

The closest airports to Costa Brava are Girona (GRO) or, farther south, Barcelona (BCN).  If you missed Parts I-IV of this series, check them out for more details on what Girona has to offer.

Thank you to Catalunya, Costa Brava Pirineu de Girona, and El Consell Comarcal del Baix Empordà for an amazing stay and introduction to all Costa Brava offers!  Note to readers: the opinions on this 5-Part series are all my own.  I recommend only travel experiences, destinations, services, accommodations, and restaurants I personally enjoy and would love to revisit.

Cindy McCain

A Southern Girl Gone Global, I believe God calls us to journeys to find our way home--to the person He created us to be. In 2014 I left my empty nest and flew away, too. I landed in Africa. After two years in magical Morocco and one in the Caribbean, I moved back to Nashville where I tell tales from 27 countries travelled, look forward to the next trip, teach, learn, and discover new treasures everyday in my backyard. This travel/lifestyle blog is about letting go of fear, clinging to faith, and following your heart's desires. It's a celebration of beauty, adventure, and relationship. It's about freedom found in roots and wings.

2 comments

  • Cindy…I’m glad to know you are very much alive and very much well! What a delightful adventure. Would love to chat. I don’t facebook much but I do have a page. Let’s connect. Mindy Reynolds Suttner

Submit a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s