It’s been a week I’ve been back home from my first ever visit to Costa Brava and I finally found a way to tell what was my takeaway from the visit. I could go on and tell in detail what I learned during TBEX (which was a lot!), but I’ve decided to talk about my experience in 5 main things I learned during my 6 days there.
1) How to be a host
The people of Catalunya, where Costa Brava is located, is simply amazing. They know how to be hosts and to make you feel welcome. The smiles I received everywhere I went, the goodwill people had in helping by giving directions or personal recommendations and the pure joy of making you feel at home, be it at the hotel or during TBEX or simply by going to a shop or restaurant taught me a thing or two about the art of being a host. I can’t put into words how welcome and happy and comfortable to be there I felt thanks to the art of hosting people I’ve never experienced before. It is beyond being polite, it is being genuine. And that’s what make the people of Costa Brava the perfect hosts.
2) We have the concept of siesta all wrong
Apart from being in Costa Brava for TBEX, I was also there to explore a little the region for a project I have (more details to come soon!) and thanks to the amazing Jaume Marin, he put me in contact with Anna Barcelló and she, along with her team, put together a FAM trip for me and my cousin who joined me in the last minute for this adventure. One of the first things we did was a walking tour of Girona with Margarita, a fantastic local guide who not only is extremely knowledgeable about Girona’s and Costa Brava’s history, but she gives a master class on the Catalan way of life. Talking about what we all understand siesta to be, Margarita patiently explained that siesta is not about going home to take a nap but it is about family time. During the siesta time, families cook and have lunch together, something we could also call quality of life!!!
So from now on let’s remember: siesta = family time = quality of life !!!
3) Family is the base of it all
During our FAM trips as well as in general interactions we noticed that there are a lot of family businesses in Costa Brava where many generations work together. During our visits, we had the pleasure of visiting Celler Martín Faixó and the Restaurant Can Rafa; the head of the family, Mr. Rafa and his wife Mrs. Carmen work with their children. We met Ester at Celler Martín Faixó, at the top of Cap de Creus in their Sa Perafita property (more details to come later) and then were invited to lunch at Can Rafa in Cadaqués by Mr. Rafa himself and met Mrs. Carmen. It was the best meal of my life.
Then we moved onto Mollet de Peralada to visit *La Vinyeta. The history of this place, which is literally the labor of love and simplicity of Josep and Marta (unfortunately Marta was not there during our visit), is simply amazing and evolving and everything about that place and it’s history breathes not only family but respect for the land, for the village where it is situated and for family (more details to come later).
These experiences just validated to me the importance of family and the relations across generations in the Catalan culture (as it should be in every other culture).
4) I will never be able to enjoy food outside of Costa Brava again
Remember what I said before about respect for the land? Think about the whole concept of eating locally grown and bred food? Think about having a just caught fish for lunch? That happened to me while having lunch at Can Rafa!
And that seemed to be the case everywhere I went in Costa Brava. The food was simply delicious, you could taste quality at every bite. I even joked with Josep during our visit to *La Vinyeta that he spoiled us with such great quality olive oil (and wine!!!) that I would never be able to enjoy food elsewhere again (thankfully I brought a bottle of olive oil from *La Vinyeta and I treat it as gold here!!!).
Add to it all the love for the art of cooking and you will have the best meals of your life in Costa Brava – and it will be hard to find that flavor elsewhere.
5) There is a beautiful side to being proud
Sometimes being proud has a negative connotation, but not in Costa Brava. There you find a lot of proud people: proud about their culture, their heritage, their food, their land, their people… and that is pure beauty!!!
And that beautiful pride is what makes one want to go back to Costa Brava. And that is why I thought so much about the quote by Maya Angelou in the beginning of this post: I will never forget how every single person I met in Costa Brava made me feel. And that is why I want to go back!