Michelle already did a great job in her last post about her impressions as an outsider of my home town, Llançà. A great location on the Costa Brava (Spain) for culture, food, sport, history and relaxed experiences for all budgets.
Now it’s my turn to add my insider tips. Ready? Steady? Go!
I have to admit that traveling with Michelle back home so many times has given me the chance to see and appreciate the village where I was born through other eyes. I had never imagined how different it would be to visit home as a kind of… tourist 🙂
But let’s start from the beginning.
Two mother tongues
As said by Michelle, Llançà is almost on the border between Spain and France, on the Mediterranean side. As in any other border town in that area, the transit of people and goods for years back and forth between Spain and France has produced a rather special combination of cultures, traditions and especially languages.
Due to its geographical location, French is a common language in the area surrounding border passes in the South of the Pyrenees. For its geopolitical situation, Spanish and Catalan are official languages in Catalonia and both considered mother tongues for many. Add the fact that tourists from all over Europe and America have been visiting Llança since the early 1960’s, and you will easily have a couple of generations speaking 3 or 4 languages fluently in that area!
Ah… the Sea, of course
After spending over 10 years living away from Llançà and coming back only for short periods of holidays, the sea is what I miss the most after my family, friends and food (in this order:) ). To those of you born close to the ocean or living by the coast, I am sure you can understand me. The smell, the breeze, the sound of the waves, the beach, the all-season availability of fresh seafood, the sunrise on the smooth horizon, the reddish sunsets… All that can be found in Llançà!.
Diving and snorkeling are also awesome all along the Costa Brava, and Llançà is no exception. Even if waters are normally on the cold side until well into Summer, I cannot recommend enough to grab you mask, snorkel and flippers and jump into the water in the early morning for a relaxed experience with lots of marine underwater life to see.
Commercial fishing is an important activity for the economy of the village. Therefore, if you happen to find the water way too cold for your taste, you can always go and visit the daily fish sale at the “Llotja” of the harbor when the fishermen boats arrive in the afternoon.
Where the Pyrenees meet the sea
If you are more of the trekking type, that area of the Costa Brava happens to be just where the Pyrenees meet the Mediterranean sea. And even if those mountains have suffered several bush fires in the past decades, they still have so much to display. In fact, one of my favourite activities when I am back home is to go trekking with my dad while he stops every two steps to draw my attention to a plant, a tree, an old construction… He happens to have an encyclopaedic knowledge of those mountains and I admire him for that. Michelle and I call it the “Papa F. effect”, with all the love of the world, of course :). And sometimes, after so many stops we even make it to the monastery of St. Pere de Rodes and back in some 12 hours!.
More on Catalan food
It is no secret that eating and drinking is a very popular activity in Spain. Tapas and sangria are known and loved worldwide! Michelle already noted this fact and presented to you some of her favourites here.
The region of Alt Empordà, with Llança to its north, has several other typical dishes worth a try ,with recipes kept deep into the cookbook of every grandma of the area. Here is my selection of mains for you guys!:
- Escudella. A quite filling soup with chicken, pork and veal broth with cabbage, rice and small noodles common on every Christmas table.
- Mongetes amb butifarra. A tipically catalan sausage (“butifarra”), barbecued and with a side of boiled or salted white bean dressed with olive oil.
- Bacallà amb xanfaina. Fried cod fish cooked in a sauce with pepper, onion and tomato.
If you are still hungry, what about a dessert?
- Pomes rellenes. Oven-backed whole apples with removed core and stuffed with the filling of choice.
- Coca de Llardons. This one is more an any-time snack ;). Milfeulle pastry with crunchy friend pork fat (“llardons”). Gemma at Cinamon Girl has a whole post on this desert with recipe here, just in case you feel adventurous and want to try.
- Brunyols. Doghnut-like type of pastry fried and covered in sugar.
And I could go on an on and on… In any case, those diet-conscious out there please proceed with caution :).
In summer time, it is not rare to see full local families preparing paella (another recommendable dish with as many variations as cooks) by the sea or in the woods. Celebrations in Spain happen in big groups of family and friends, also in Llançà. And that can get noisy, believe me :). I can remember the first time Michelle spent a Christmas in Llançà, and being surprised to see how everybody was understanding each other even if multiple loud conversations where going on hahaha. That’s one of the things I didn’t realize until she came with me to my home town. Since then, I find it hilarious!
Do you want to know more? Did I miss anything? Just hit the ‘Leave a Comment’ link at the top of the page and let me know!
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