towns

Sunset in Cadaqués, Costa Brava (Spain)

I grew up in a fishing town. I guess that explains a lot about my fixation on jumping into a bikini and having fresh fish as soon as I get home for holidays.

That’s why I knew I would like Cadaqués.

Cadaqués is a small fishing village with around 2.500 permanent residents placed in the Alt Empordà of Catalonia, Spain. It is a lovely bay in the middle of the Cap de Creus Península, the easternmost point of Spain. It may at first seem like a typical mediterranean fisher village – but you soon realize there’s something special about it.

Cadaqués, Costa Brava (Spain)

It is charming.

I am not the first one to fall for its purely white buildings with blue windows and doors – Cadaqués has been host of amazing artists such as Matisse, Picasso and Joan Miró – not to mention one of my favourites: Salvador Dalí, who kept his home just around the corner of Cadaqués, in Port Lligat.

Cadaqués, Costa Brava (Spain)

Cadaqués, Costa Brava (Spain)

It’s landmark – Little fishing boats resting in the bay with a white and blue Village in the background – has been subject of poetry, paintings and books. For instance, there’s this one: a painting of Port Alguer by Salvador Dalí.

Sunset in Cadaqués, Costa Brava (Spain)

Sunset in Cadaqués, Costa Brava (Spain)

Now, Cadaqués attracts a large number of tourists each year – 10 folding its regular resident number. While its obvious that it is less secluded than my favourite beach in Catalonia, I am glad that it has managed to maintain its charm.

Have you ever been to Cadaqués? Which is your favourite fisher village?

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Sheep Avalanche, Girona (Spain) As anticipated a few weeks back, my time in glorious Barcelona has now come to an end. Or rather a break. I prefer to use the word break when it comes to the sad action of leaving a place you have grown to love so much – it seems much less dramatic.

After leaving the city of Gaudí behind, I had planned a one-week road trip to explore Girona – one of Catalonia’s other autonomous communities, placed between Barcelona and France.

Having grown up in Spain, I am ashamed to admit how little I had seen of Catalonia until a few months ago. I am guilty of underestimating what I’ve got close by and idealizing faraway places with exotic names (and even more exotic visa and vaccination requirements). I was biased believing that the grass was always greener on the other side of the fence.

This road trip shook my focusing bias off my head – Spain has the beauty and charm that many other countries wish they had!

Peratallada, Girona (Spain)

One of the things I adore about Catalonia is its medieval towns. There are many of them (ranging a variety of sizes) all across Spain, however, the ones in Catalonia are even more captivating because of their great conservation.

Peratallada is a tiny town with about 400 habitants in Forallac, Girona which still maintains a proper Middle Age atmosphere – Cobblestone streets, arcs, balconies made of wood and stone and a dim light illuminating only parts of its otherwise dark passageways.

The town breathes peace and quietness, only occasionally interrupted by toasting wine glasses and gentle conversations in the village’s bars and restaurants. Even though Peratallada is among the most well-known medieval towns, you won’t feel overwhelmed by gift shops and tourist herds – It remains authentic.

Peratallada, Girona (Spain)

Have you visited Peratallada or other medieval towns in Europe?

PS: In case you were wondering – we survived the sheep avalanche. Sort of. The car had a few bumps (oops!).

In all the time I’ve been living here, I’ve hardly ever been in the old town during daylight. Having been the address of Lausanne’s University for centuries (up until the 1970s, when it moved to Dorigny), it is no wonder that, still today, one can find many student bars in its narrow stone streets.

Things are quite different on a sunday afternoon – it’s peaceful, quiet, and there are hardly any people on the streets. The calmness makes one put more attention on the details, and this is what I found.

Details of he Lausanne’s Cathedral, which is considered Switzerland’s finest gothic building.
Many charming buildings, covered with climbing plants.
A castle dating back to the XIV century!
Individual wrought iron signs for hairdressers, restaurants, theaters and shops.
Beautiful fountains with drinkable water.

Have you recently seen a familiar place from a different perspective?

When thinking of cute villages, one will probably think of La Provençe in France. Switzerland has nothing to envy the french villes – or wouldn’t you love to live in this tiny street?

It’s everything about it. Its colorful but harmonized and traditional architecture. The climbing and twining plants covering the right building. The romantic street lamps and lovely restaurant and shop signs. The cathedral appearing in the background. I took this picture on a sunday at swiss lunch time and all I could hear were clinging plates and a a kid’s laughter. It was so peaceful, so calm. I will definitely miss this.

You might have heard about the French Riviera – the French coastline that extends from around St. Tropez to the italian border and has been long known to be a playground for the rich and the famous. Ports are flooded with the World’s most expensive yachts – some of them include a heliport on the top, some simply have a huge pool on the top. During my summer in Nice – that first attempt on learning a french a couple of years back – I enjoyed my afternoons sitting at a nearby cafe and guessing which yacht belonged to Elton John or how many wives that Sheikh had on board.

But the french are not the only sophisticated ones with exclusive clientele – Switzerland also has its own Riviera. The Swiss Riviera.

Vevey, Switzerland

Switzerland’s Riviera stretches along the northern shore of Lac Léman – being Vevey and Montreux (home of the infamous jazz festival) its two largest villages. My favorite place to go wine tasting in Europe, Lavaux, also belongs to this area.

The Swiss Riviera does not have the Europe’s biggest yachts nor P. Diddy strolling along its beaches. Its exclusivity, though always latent, is rather subtle.

Old Village, Vevey, Switzerland Lac Léman and Alps, Switzerland

Its clean cozy streets and breathtaking lake and mountain scenery convinced many celebrities to spend a great part of their life in the region. Hemingway, Charles Chaplin and Freddie Mercury and only some of the personalities that have walked its paths and gazed at its unique sunsets.

Sure, Vevey is not among Europe’s top party places, which I prefer so – I don’t want to come across Paris Hilton and a bunch of paparazzi following her from one boutique to another. Life in the Swiss Riviera is relaxed – no rush and no hurry. No paparazzi.

It’s a simple life made luxurious – its vineyards overlooking the lake and the Alps, unnoticed boutiques with offering both quality and fashion as well as the finest collection of top quality restaurants hidden in tiny neighbor villages.

Vevey, Switzerland

There’s no need to say more – this is where I want to live (when I’m rich and famous), too.

Where would you live if you were one of the rich and famous?

Annecy, in the region of Savoy, is a small town of 50.000 habitants not far from Geneva. At arrival, I immediately noticed its attraction: its natural surroundings. The town is set next to Lac d’Annecy and is surrounded by mountains (Le Mont Veyrier, Le Semnoz, La Tournette and the Parmelan).

I have a weakness for villages with lakes and mountains – and Annecy is certainly no exception.

Annecy, France

Its winding cobbled streets are best to be explored with curiosity (not a map). It’s easier to navigate than Venice, where I got lost several times (with a map in my hands) – then again, I’ve already confessed my terrible sense of direction. Annecy has many passages that lead to blooming gardens, city lookouts and quiet alleys away from the more touristic centre. Keep an eye for Chemin des Remparts and L’impasse du Trippoz – two of my personal favourites.

Annecy is big enough to spend an entire day walking, eating artisan ice creams and some of the best crepes I’ve ever had (the Crepe Savoyard). A walk along the Thiou river, although usually crowded, is well worth it. For a view over Annecy, walk up the steep streets towards the Chateau. Close by, you’ll find a small path called Chemin des Remparts. Turn left into to a small lookout for a romantic view over towns’ old rooftops. The same road leads to one of the main streets in the vieux ville, Rue Perrière. Every last saturday of the month, these streets are crowded with people attracted by the vintage flea market and an art market (which mainly takes place on Vicenza Quay) going on from 8am to 5pm.

Have you been to Annecy?