Monthly Archives: May 2016

Andalusia | Spain

THE WILD SOUTH OF SPAIN

→ Off to Cabo de Gata! Our local friend Frank – a German Spain emigrant and who has a passion for paragliding – gives us the best tips for the south of Spain and we drive to Agua Amarga, a really small coastal village in the middle of a natural reserve. It is pre-season and the atmosphere is authentic and purely relaxing, as every traveler would wish for: the beautiful beaches are nearly empty, the locals very welcoming and lively. Guests eat on the verandas and terraces of the few restaurants in town, kids play football on the local marketplace and the youth of Aqua Amarga celebrates and dances to Flamenco on the streets in front of bars and pubs. And we?…are in the middle of it all, are amazed by the life that we see and enjoy the seemingly unreal moments. We spend a few days to relax and stay in a small apartment of the hotel “Real Villas Agua Amarga”. We enjoy the sun and the Spanish cuisine and take a number of excursions around the natural reserve of Cabo da Gata – among others, we visit the beaches “Cala los Muertos” and “Cala Enmedio” and we can only highly recommend to drive along the mountain and coastal roads to the the small fishermen’s’ villages “Las Negras” and “Isleta del Moro” in the south.

On our way to our next destination Marbella, we visit our friend Frank and his girlfriend Isabella in Alhaurin El Grande that lies in the mountains and backcountry of Malaga. But before we arrive, we have a tasty lunch – catch of the day, variations of seafood and tapas – in the beach restaurant “La Sardinia” in the beach town La Herradura. Following lunch, we head toward Alhaurin along pretty steep and curvy mountain roads. We pass the beautiful white mountain village Mijas with fantastic views over Malaga, the Mediterranean and Gibraltar in the far south. In the evening, we are welcomed by Frank and Isa in their Finca in the middle of nature on a hill and a great view over the valley just outside of Alhaurin. We have some tee and beer (Jan loves beer) until late into the night and speak about life in Spain, traveling and paragliding.

Ronda

Ronda

Marbella’s charming historic center

The next day we arrive in Marbella and despite the many large hotel complexes built around the city, the old-town is charming. The beach promenade between Puente Romano Beach Club and Marbella Beach Club is definitely worth a visit. We spend some wonderful days in a small AirBnB Apartment in the heart of the really beautiful Marbella old-town. From there we explore the neighborhood and the region such as “Ronda” and “Granada” to see the world famous Alhambra fortress that was built by the Moors.

A couple of nice places for food in Marbella:

  • Restaurant Casa Tua: a small cozy restaurant in the middle of Marbella’s old town with superb Italian cuisine
  • El Estrecho: great traditional tapas bar in the old-town of Marbella, hidden in a small alley, that serves simple traditional but delicious tapas and great local wine
  • Restaurant Paella’s y mas: typical authentic Andalusian kitchen including Paella, seafood and Spanish steaks
  • Rachel´s Organic Eco Love Food at Punta Romano Resort: cute Café that serves healthy food, smoothies and refreshments right at the hotel’s pool
  • Celicioso: comfortable Café and own gluten-free bakery and tasty snacks, salads, smoothies not far from the beach
  • Organic Market & Food: Restaurant & Café with healthy and delicious meals, snacks, smoothies and small items, fruits and vegetables in an integrated organic shop

We leave Marbella with destination Portugal and drive via the most southern point of Spain that lies only miles before Africa (Morocco). The beach “Playa de los Lances Tarifa” is famous for best Kitesurfing conditions – we see hundreds of kitesurfers and are amazed about the pure action in the heavy wind and wild waves. Before heading to Portugal, we spend a couple of days in Conil de la Frontera (Cadiz) and its famous surf beach “El Palmar”.

→ Check out our next stop: West Algarve

→ Check out our next stop: West Algarve

Barcelona | Spain

THE CITY THAT SIMPLY HAS EVERYTHING TO OFFER

→ Art, culture, history, design, architecture, restaurants, bars, clubs… Barcelona has something to offer for any type of visitor.

We arrive in the evening and stay at the boutique hotel “H10 Cubik” – a pretty new and very stylish hotel in central location. The roof terrace with a pool, is the perfect place to relax in quiet atmosphere, as opposed to the vibrant city right outside the hotel – the view over Barcelona is amazing.

The next morning, we walk through the old-town of our favorite district “El Born”. There are numerous boutiques, galleries, cafés, restaurants and bars in the very old and small alleys and streets – a perfect place for a shopping-spree. I meet Sonia, the owner of the small boutique “Conpasion” and I find out that she loves surfing as much as we do. The chemistry between us is perfect and we spend a lot of time speaking about the Spanish way of living, the background of the Catalan independency-move and, of course, surfing.

We meet our local friend David in the evening for a drink and dinner in the city district “Gracia”, which is a bit less touristy with many bars and restaurants – a perfect place to go out in the evening. After a few drinks at the cocktail bar “Dos Rombos”, we have dinner that the restaurant “Taverna El Glop”, where they serve great traditional Catalan cuisine – this is where the locals go.

Sightseeing is mandatory

The next day we do some classic sightseeing including the hotspots “Sagrada Famila” and “Parque Güell”. Unfortunately, groups of tourists and long lines are inevitable, but the stunning buildings and architecture by Gaudi compensate for the exhausting tourist-program. In the evening, we get some real authentic tapas in the tapas bar “El Xampanyet” in El Born. We end the day with a drink on the roof terrace of our hotel.

After some exciting and inspiring days in Barcelona, we need a souvenir as a memory of an amazing time in a great city. Before we continue our travels, we have another walk through El Born and find the small gallery “Generos de Punta”. The artist Gaston Liberto is originally from Argentina, but has been living and working in Barcelona for many years now. His illustrations are inspired by the people and life in Barcelona and we find the perfect souvenir.

→ Check out our next stop: Andalusia

→ Check out our next stop: Andalusia

Saint-Tropez | France

GLAMPING” – WE ARE PART OF A TREND

→ We arrive the region of Saint-Tropez in the South of France and stay on one of the nicest camping sites in Europe – “Camp du Domaine” right at the ocean in the small village Bormes-les-Mimosas – 5-star deluxe camping right at the ocean (“Glamping” = glamorous camping). Since it is low season, we are lucky to get a first-row spot right at the beach with a view over a scenic bay. Our first experience sleeping in our VW California in between many hardcore campers is nicer than expected and we even decide to extend our stay at this spotless and cozy campsite.

We take a few days to explore the region and because it is low season, we see everything from its true and authentic side without any mass-tourism – Saint-Tropez is just adorable at this time of year. We walk along the harbor, drink espresso in the traditional and prominent café “Senequier” and gaze at the people walking by and the super expensive Yachts that lie along the harbor. If you are lucky, you may see the famous French actress Brigitte Bardot. We then walk through the beautiful streets and old-town with numerous boutiques. You can find really nice bikinis, men’s swimming shorts and beach towels in my favorite shop “Kiwi”. We allow ourselves some calories and have a super delicious “Tarte Tropizienne” that we enjoy at twilight on a bench on the central marketplace, where old and young locals meet to play Boule.

Jet Set not required

Our next trip takes us to the small but picturesque villages Grimaud and Ramatuelle that lie on small hills surrounded by a scenic landscape just behind Saint-Tropez. The villages are just lovely and we spend hours walking through the small streets with cozy restaurants, cafés and art galleries. On the way back, we take a short stop at the famous Vineyard “Minuty” and buy a few bottles of Rosé for comfortable evenings that lie ahead.

One unforgettable experience is our coastal hike just outside Saint-Tropez from “Plage de L’Escalet” going south-west to “Plage de Gigaro”. The path takes us along the coast through a green and rocky landscape, past white dunes and sandy beaches in small bays – it is just spectacular. After a few hours hiking, we get a well-deserved dinner at “Couleurs Jardin”, a comfortable restaurant right on the beach with superb kitchen.

→ Check out our next stop: Barcelona

→ Check out our next stop: Barcelona

Uzès – Provence | France

VILLAGE OF THE HERBS

→ Next stop South of France! After driving several hours through Switzerland and France, we go to a place that we’ve been before – Uzès in middle of Provence. It is the city of herbs with fascinating charm and wonderful hospitality. The historic buildings and walls from past centuries, give the city a mystical feeling and we discover new things in the numerous winding streets and alleys. We stay the night at the relatively new and cozy Boutique „Hotel Entraigues”, within a nicely restructured historic building. The hotel restaurant specializes in local cuisine with regional organic products – too bad we missed eating there, unfortunately, it is closed on Wednesdays (other guests say it is “excellent”). We decide to have a snack at “Les Terriers“, a small typical French Bistro in the center of town right at Place aux Herbes (plaza of the herbs) – this place serves small plates and sells items by providers and farmers from the region. We save some space for dessert and go straight across the plaza to “La Fabrique Giverée – Artiste Glacier“. They produce their own ice cream with own creations and products from the region – you need to try their salted caramel flavor.

A small highlight is the small and nondescript restaurant “Piano, Piano” at the edge of the town center. The friendly owners and staff offer a changing daily menus and the food is just great – we love the main course fresh seared tuna with vegetables and potato puree.

The next days we stay at the really cozy hotel “La Buissonniere” on the picturesque countryside about 15 minutes outside of Uzès. The beautiful estate has a large garden with plants from the region like lavender and olive trees. The friendly German couple Natascha and Jörg and their super speedy turtle “Rakete” (Rocket) realized a small dream by taking over this place a few years ago. As a special event, they invite their friends and guests every year to participate at their annual olive harvest (by hand!), where each guests receives a bottle of freshly pressed olive oil. The evenings at La Buissionnaire are really romantic: We enjoy amazing dinners, personally cooked by Natascha, on the patio of the hotel surrounded antique buildings and with a view on the lovely garden. We will certainly come back.

→ Check out our next stop: Saint-Tropez

→ Check out our next stop: Saint-Tropez

ZURICH | Switzerland

BIG CITY IDYLL WITH PANORAMIC ALPS

→ Our first stop takes us to Zurich, Switzerland. On a sunny day and mild temperatures around 25 degrees, we decide to enjoy the Swiss “Gemütlichkeit” (coziness) and enjoy some days to relax at the beautiful Lake Zurich. We start the day to meet some friends for a long and tasty breakfast and several cups of coffee at “Mühle Tiefenbrunn” and continue straight to lunch at “Fischers Fritz” right on the other side of the lake with breathtaking views over the water and surrounding Alps with snow-covered peaks. You need to try out: Fried “Eglis” (fish) fresh from the Lake Zurich and french fries with truffles.

We end the day on the “Zürichberg” (Zurich hill) and take a sundowner on the terraces of “Bar 21” with a beautiful view over the city, the lake and the Alps in the background. Relaxing and watching the sun set, Jan gets inspired by the cool bartender and his beard to grow his own. Let’s see how far he gets toward the end of our journey…

The next day we take a gondola up to the “Rigi-Alm“, a small mountain next to the Lake of Zug – already the ride alone is astonishing even if it’s not the cheapest experience. We take a moment to hike around the mountain and then have coffee and cake with a 360° view of various mountain peaks in the distance, the lake of Zug and the “Vierwaldstättersee” also known as the lake of Lucerne. Although it is tempting to go on hiking in the stunning scenery, we decide to save some energy for the next day when we meet our friend Oli for wakeboarding and wakesurfing on the Lake of Zurich. Despite being in the middle of the alps, it suddenly seems we are on a boat in turquoise tropical waters – apart from the water temperature! While doing water sports and riding on the lake, we see a number of peers alike on sport boats, swimmers, people on stand-up paddle boards and sailing boats cruising along the shores. After doing some activity, we all get hungry and decide to have lunch at the harbor of the small lake-town “Rapperswill” that offers a number of restaurants, cafes and places for snacks and ice cream right by the harbor. At the end of the 3 days, we ask ourselves, why would you go on holiday when you have all of this in front of your doorstep!?

→ Check out our next stop: Uzès – Provence

→ Check out our next stop: Uzès – Provence