This coincides with Girona Fiestas (Fires de Sant Narcis - the week or 10 days around the 29th October). The Castanyada (chestnut eating) is celebrated in Catalonia mainly on All Saints' Day. In Occitania, the similar festival Castanhada is celebrated, but not on All Saints' Day as in Catalonia. Like Halloween or the Celtic Samhain, its origins are in an ancient ritual festival of the dead.
In Catalonia it consists of a meal of chestnuts, 'panellets' (sweets made from marzipan and pine nuts), sweet potato and preserved fruits, typically with moscatell to drink. It seems that the tradition of eating these foods comes from the fact that during All Saints' night, the night before All Souls' Day in the Christian tradition, bell ringers would ring bells in commemoration of the dead into the early morning. The festival is usually depicted with the figure of a castanyera: an old lady, dressed in peasant's clothing and wearing a headscarf, sat behind a table, roasting chestnuts for street sale. 
castañas - chestnuts

Calçots - Catalan Marmite

Calçotada in 2007 01.JPGPersonally, i love'em. Just don't wear white. Mainly an excuse for a barbecue in March. Or February. Or April. A 'Calçot' pronounced 'calsot' is a type of scallion or green onion from Lleida. The calçot from Valls, Tarragona is a registered EU Protected Geographical Indication. Calçots are milder and less bulbous than onions. The Calçotada is an annual event from Tarragona, now celebrated all over Catalonia. They are grilled on high fire, wrapped up in newspaper, served on terra cotta tiles and eaten after peeling with bare hands by dipping one by one in romesco sauce along with an accompaniment of red wine and bread. This is followed by barbecued lamb chops and sausage and white beans.


It's taken us a while to get round to trying this one. We arrived at 2pm on a Thursday afternoon and it was quite empty until 3 ish. Now Girona is on the map, at least half the lunchers were Brits but it was not a tourist menu or atmosphere. The food, service and ambience was great and it deserves its' popularity. The dishes are to share and are very generous - we shared 'els escalivats'  (goats' cheese and roasted vegetable tart with a pile of interesting salad stuffs) between us, having seen our neighbours' arrive and then a 'mini dessert' and we were satisfied and mellow.  A little bit of Led Zeppelin on low in the background never hurt anyone either. Next time  the levee breaks i fancy the 'rap' (monkfish) with caramelised onion and potato, thank you very much. Deciding what you'll be having next time, before leaving the restaurant is always a good sign..
15€ per person with a glass of wine.

Christmas 2014 Activities review

“Our stay in Girona”
We had a wonderful stay at this large and modern apartment. The listing description was completely accurate, the photos accurately reflect the appearance and amenities. The property was extremely well cleaned and maintained. The owner was very helpful answering questions and providing local information. She had two binders full of brochures with everything from the best local restaurants to a variety of sightseeing and beach opportunities.
Thanks for an amazing stay!
I would most definitely recommend this property to anyone! It was within walking distance, 15 min of the heart of Girona's old city. There were wonderful bakeries and a fruit store within a 2 minute walk. We bought our breakfast back to the apartment each morning and made delicious coffee using the fully stocked kitchen.
(July 2014) (USA)

Family from Ireland Recommendation

"I stayed in Liza's apartment in Girona in May 2014. We had a wonderful time and the apartment is very comfortable, so convenient from the bus station and fantastic location for shops, restaurants and sites. This is my second time to stay there in 2 years and I would highly recommend it for a visit. It is very spacious, clean and comfortable with everything you need for your stay and Liza is very accommodating and helpful. Great place for families, couples, girls trip and Girona is a beautiful city."
(Ireland, May 2014)

Thankyou very much J. 

Ron Cremat - while listening to Havaneres in Calella de Palafrugell

Recepta d'un cremat
per a vuit persones:

En una cassola de terrissa, s'hi aboca el contingut d'una ampolla de Rom (3/4 de litre), s'hi afegeixen 50 grams de sucre, un bocí de canyella i la pell de mitja llimona.
De seguida s'encén, acostant-hi un llumí, i es remena contínuament amb un cullerot fins que en restin les dues terceres parts aproximadament.
Per apagar-lo, s'hi afegeix un raig de cafè o bé es tapa la cassola.

Burnt Rum
Bottle of Rum
50gs sugar
cinnamon stick
lemon peel

All in a clay pot. On the beach. Set light to it until a third has evaporated, douse flame with a small slug of coffee. Drink. First Saturday in July tradition, even if you're not in Calella...

Girona Modernist Route - Masó

This is a very enjoyable little stroll around the centre of Girona....looking up. It's a route hinted at on the Casa Masó website, but which they couldn't be bothered to explain properly, that or they are very reluctant to give out information without obliging you to pay a guide. Even if you're not into architecture, it's a relaxing way of seeing the town. I am devoting my blogging life to exposing the secrets of Girona. 
Here is a list of the buildings (there are more, but maybe not so interesting to look at), built by Masó in the Modernist and 'Noucentista' style and in a different order to that presented on the Casa Masó site. I've added information to help with finding it and a couple of photos. The route can start anywhere really, though the route i suggest is probably the most efficient from the apartment.  Back with a map soon!
Masó Modernist Route

Apt block Salieti 1914
C / de la Neu,1
Don’t know yet why it’s called Snow Street. Between c/Ciudans and c/ Mercaders and now belonging to Neus apparently!

Galeria de bells oficis 1919
C / dels Germans Busquets, 2
Snicket off the top of the Rambla by ‘Imaginarium’ and in front of the tourist office. Look inside.
didn't find this one first time round
Farmacia masó-puig (saguer) 1908
C / Argenteria, 29
Just next to the bridge over to Plaça Independencia, a gem – go inside and buy something

Apt block Ribas Crehuet 1927
C / de la Força, 6
A bit further down from the ‘Via Augusta’ restaurant, on the other side of the road

Casa masó 1910-19
C / Ballesteries
Next door to ‘Terra’ café/bar (and don’t miss the entrance way on the opposite side of the street, containing the remains of a roman tower (3rd C).
This is the back - from the river bridge, it's the big white and blue building with orange shutters.

Apt block Cots 1924-28
C /  Santa Clara, 53
‘Nespresso’, don’t join the queue to buy anything.

Apt block batlle 1909
C / Fontanilles, 2
Off c/ Nou, on the corner in front of the Claustre Art Gallery. Bat man lives here!
Casa corominas 1927
Plaça Marques de Camps, 2
Soon! Haven’t finished, I do other things you know!
 to be honest this is as far as i've got...back next week
Casa gispert saüch 1921
C / Jaume I, 66
YOU find it!

Casa colomer 1927
C / Barcelona, 7

Farinera i casa d'Alfons Teixidor 1910
C/ Santa Eugenia, 42
Marvellous, not to be missed façade, and the café’s great too. On Wednesday mornings, expats meet here –all visitors

La punxa apt block 1918-22
C / Santa Eugenia, 19
This is on the opposite side of the road, to the right as you leave no 11.

Casa encesa 1913-32
C / Barcelona, 68
Watch this space!

Tanca del cementiri 1917-19
C / Sant Feliu de Guixols, 17
Too far on foot, you need a car to drive towards Quart or Sant Feliu

More photos -

double bedroom with window onto terrace

New fireproof mattresses, freshly laundered linen

all bedrooms have inbuilt spacious cupboards

Wide selection of DVD's in 4 languages,
talking books, music
while you're waiting for the others
to finish getting ready....

holiday reading

parking available (not vans or 4x4s)

a couple of shops in the same street

Devesa Pool photos

piscina municipal de la devesa Girona (13 minutes' walk from the apartment)
Prices 2013:

- child 4,90 €
- Adult 6,85 €
- Pensioner 3,40 €

Port Bou, Platja de Garbet, Vilanova de la Muga

you are what we were, we are what you will be - commonly found in graveyards
 Portbou is not now the prettiest of destinations (there's a lot of competition on the Costa Brava), despite being 'the most beautiful place' Hannah Arendt had ever seen in 1940. However, it is home to one of the most impactful monuments i have ever seen, that to the German philosopher, Walter Benjamin. I won't spoil it here by showing you the monument - it needs the context. Definitely worth the visit. 

There is a Walter Benjamin route but there's little information, so better read up a little before visiting. Suffice to say, Benjamin died in the Hotel in Portbou while fleeing France at the beginning of the War. He was trying to cross Spain to get to Portugal but his party was held up at the border. The hotel is still standing.
We had lunch in town, but it being New Year's Eve, the choice was limited.

On the way back we stopped at the Platja (beach) de Garbet.

 Then a visit to the 10th-12th Century Sant Eulalia Church In Vilanova de la Muga (just outside Figueres). The painted apse is 13th century. It's a beautiful Romanesque church.

 Here there is a 'Ruta dels Estanys', an attractive walk, taking in both sides of the Muga river.

Pedralbes Monastery and around