Category Archives: costa brava

My Year in Travel – 2013

This year was a great year of travel for me, hitting some brand new destinations and revisiting some of my old favorites. BUT, for me, the VERY BEST thing about this year in travel are all the wonderful people who I met or was reunited with in various locations around the world. My travels wouldn’t be anything without the people on my journey.

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January saw me in NYC and meeting friends old and new – who knew how important they’d all become in my life over the course of this year. I count my blessings for you.



In January I also skied in Verbier, Switzerland and absolutely loved my time with the legendary Warren Smith. I truly hope to see him again in 2014.


Rounding out January, I went to Copenhagen for the very first time and got to reconnect with a travel friend, Christoffer. I loved the cool capital city of Denmark.

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February saw me catching up with a dear travel buddy, Anita, in Montreal, Canada for the very first time. We had a ball doing all kinds of wintery fun things like staying in an Ice Hotel and going to Igloofest.

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March was my month for Barcelona & Costa Brava, Spain. I was thrilled to meet up with a fellow traveler, Brian, in Barcelona and was lucky enough to see him again in London in November.

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Going to Costa Brava was an incredible experience. I love that area of Spain and really cannot get enough, especially of the coast. But, the people on this trip really made it the very best. I can’t imagine a more fun press trip.

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April found me in back in NYC. I always love my NYC trips because I get to catch up with very special friends like Jeff & Craig – 2 of my favorites!!

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May saw me in my favorite, Miami. I cannot get enough of this city. While I had my usual fun of beach, pool, dinner, drinks and dancing, I particularly enjoyed working with the fantastic luxe swimwear company, Orchid Boutique, during this trip. Talk about a great collection as well as a staff of kindred spirits!

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June was an incredible month chalked full of fun things. Kicking off in Toronto for a conference with so many of my favorite fellow travelers, I actually wonder if we’ll ever be able to beat our #RWTBEX time here. I love you all so much!

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I also got to spend a bit of time with one of my most lovely traveling partners, Mrs. O, Ana. I was able to show her a bit of Americana in the amazing seaside town of Newport, Rhode Island. We had a ball doing Newport the luxe way.

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Wrapping up my June, I had an incredible visit to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. What a great girls weekend we had there and our host, the Bahia Hotel and Carlos, made my trip 100% amazing. Cannot wait to return.

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July found me back in Euroland – one of Lola’s favorites. Although, this was a “repeat” journey of sorts, I did manage to do a few new things. One of which was going to the Henley Royal Regatta.


Post-UK was a return visit to Prague and Budapest. Two of my favorites that I’ve never visited in the summertime. Absolutely stunning! So was hanging out with friends made on a previous trip. Always nice to share a beer with good people.

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August took me back to Montreal once again and NYC. This trip was extra special because of the time well spent with lifelong friends and a last visit with a friend that would soon depart. Anita, Montreal will always make me think of you fondly. I love you and that city so much.



September took me to two cities I wanted to know better. First was Seattle with my newly found soul mate, Erin. There is nowhere I wouldn’t go with this girl. And we both wanted to celebrate happy moments, like our dear friends, Captain & Clark’s wedding!

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Toward the end of September, Erin and I were reunited again in the city of brotherly love, Philadelphia. I like to think of it as the city of sisterly love! We had a blast discovering different neighborhoods of Philly & laughing with each other all the while.

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October I was lucky enough to be reunited with 2 of my favorite traveling partners again, Ana & Mary Anne along with Mary Anne’s BFF Maxine, for a GLAM LA girls weekend.

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November was a busy fun month with a visit back to the UK for a conference and reconnecting with so many fun friends from around the world. I’m so glad our paths cross from time to time.

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Followed up by a quick jaunt to France and Amsterdam for more girlfriend fun. I wouldn’t choose to travel any other way. Traveling with Ashley, Ana & Mary Anne was the very best.

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And I managed to squeeze in a last minute trip back to NYC with my girlfriends and once again be reunited with some of my favorite people.

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In December I finished off my year of travel back in Miami to celebrate Erin’s birthday. I cannot think of a better place to end my year. It is my happy spot and it was made so much better being there, laughing and enjoying life, with two of my travel besties, Erin & Esther.

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Maybe you see some common themes in my travels. Repeat places, repeat friends, repeated silliness and smiles. Traveling is my lifeline and a huge part of my heart as are all the people I meet along the way. My world is better for all of you. Here’s to many more reunions on the road and good times ahead in 2014! Happy travels…

XO – Lola


Filed under amsterdam, barcelona, budapest, cabo san lucas, copenhagen, costa brava, henley-on-thames, london, los angeles, miami, montreal, new york, newport, philadelphia, prague, seattle, toronto, travel, verbier

going local in Costa Brava – Spain

Lola loves Costa Brava

Cadaques - i love it!

Cadaques – i love it!

i’ll be honest, i think i’m more of a hotel travel girl than a house rental gal. having said that, there have been many occasions where it made more sense to rent a house. whether it was the economics of the situation or the options available, it was THE WAY to go. this definitely seems to be the case with Costa Brava, Spain as well.

while there are hotels in the various beach towns and medieval villages there are many amazing villa options to choose from and my guess is it’s also a more economical way to go for a longer stay, using the property as a home base from which to explore.


gorgeous Besalu

there are other brilliant benefits to staying in villa beyond economics. for me, number ONE is the fact that you are forced to have a more local experience and i think this is awesome! because you have a kitchen, you will have to go to the market or if you choose to not always cook then you will dine out amongst the townspeople. another option that i’ve had the good fortune to experience is bringing in local chefs to prepare meals. with a home stay, one is able to have all these options and i really recommend this combination if you have the opportunity.

during my Costa Brava tour i stayed at three different properties, in different towns and had three wonderful and different experiences! let me tell you more about them to give you a picture of what staying in a private home can be like with Charming Villas Catalonia.


Sa Costa

Sa Costa

Sa Costa is a gorgeous seaside villa i stayed in while visiting Cadaques, Spain. located right on the sea, Sa Costa has direct beach access and views across the water to the stunning small fishing village with just over 2,500 year round inhabitants. in the summertime the population can grow to upwards of 25,000.

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things found at Dali’s home turned museum

1 hour from Girona and 2 hours from Barcelona, Cadaques is in the middle of the Cap de Creus peninsula and has a famous history with many artists, most importantly Salvador Dali, whose home turned museum is nearby. another famous sight worth seeing is the unique 17th century sea-faring church, Santa Maria. i particularly enjoyed the sailors & ships mixed in with the traditional symbols of Christianity. as for local charms, having dinner in town at MOS and dancing with one of the owners was definitely a highlight.

Celler Martin Faixo

Celler Martin Faixo

AND the Mayor of Cadaques joined the dinner party during my final meal at the outstanding Compartir, started by 3 El Bulli veterans. (now closed, El Bulli was once the #1 restaurant in the world). other local treats were bringing private chef Lee Pennington to Sa Costa to cook dinner and a family lunch at the vineyard home of Celler Martin Faixo. two things i will never forget. Sa Costa has 6 beds & baths and can accommodate 12. this wonderfully appointed villa has floor to ceiling windows to take in the sea views, a private pool and its own sea pier for boating activities.

Sant Mori

Castell de Rocaberti

Castell de Rocaberti

Castell de Rocaberti is a 15th century castle located in the heart of the small Catalan village. the charming village of Sant Mori is halfway between Girona & Figueres, each about 20 minutes away. with its 15 bedrooms and 13 baths, Castell de Rocaberti can accommodate up to 30 guests and is truly ideal for a family reunion or professional retreat. over the years the Castle has welcomed royals such as Fernando the Catholic, who would marry Isabel and sponsor Christopher Columbus’ voyage where he discovered America. pretty amazing to be able to stay within the walls of such a historic place with all of today’s modern amenities.

my Girona

my Girona

daytrips from Sant Mori to Girona and Empuriabrava were easy for further exploration of these areas. in the Empuriabrava area you can find one of the largest marinas in the world, a medieval village complete with an impressive gothic church and prison, and a gorgeous wild life reserve, Aiguamolis, for the nature lovers out there. in Girona, known as the capital of Costa Brava, you’ll find a bigger bustling city that still has a medieval feel. things to see & do there include the ‘Old Town’ and Cathedral.

El Celler de Can Roca

El Celler de Can Roca

i was lucky enough to tour the now #1 restaurant in the world, El Celler de Can Roca in Girona, and have an outstanding lunch at La Calendula where the owner tailor-made a menu for the day. another local experience was the evening a chef was brought in to prepare paella and the castle owner remained and dined as well. i got to hear stories of his family and the castle that has been a part of their heritage since the 15th century. so fascinating and fun!


Sant Ferriol

Sant Ferriol

Sant Ferriol is an incredible 18th century farmhouse that has been lovingly restored and furnished with gorgeous country antiques. don’t misunderstand though, this is not a stuffy home – rather a very comfy one that you will wish to never leave. Sant Ferriol has all the modern amenities you could imagine with all the charm of a rustic farmhouse. sleeping up to 26, the villa has 12 beds and baths. i particularly loved the huge pool and pool house with its own cooking and eating area – perfect for outdoor entertaining. the natural outdoor surroundings make you feel miles away from things, yet it’s located 5 minutes from the lively medieval village of Besalu and 25 minutes from Girona.

calcots & paella - mmm

calcots & paella – mmm

during my quick day & a half at Sant Ferriol, some local things i was able to enjoy was the chance to go up in a hot air balloon with Vol de Coloms – very popular for this volcanic region of Costa Brava. sadly, it was too windy to actually take flight. while taking in the outdoor space at the villa, i was served a traditional meal of Calcots, which are a variety of large scallions that are absolutely delicious when charcoal grilled. in the evening another local chef, Jordi, from I cook It came to the house to make more Catalan specialties like fish soup & paella – YUM! the villa of Sant Ferriol has caretakers on property as well in their own annexed cottage. so wonderful to know someone is there to assist with any of your needs and spending time with them over dinner my last night was even more charming than the farmhouse.

i was the very fortunate invited guest of Charming Villas Catalonia and could not picture a better sampling of what they offer in homes and villa rentals. Charming Villas specializes in top quality rentals with a personal touch from start to finish and offers assistance in trip planning & arrangements as well. i will definitely rent with them in my future travels to Costa Brava, to be sure, as they are completely Lola Approved!



Filed under costa brava, spain, travel

18 things that i LOVE about Costa Brava + 1 minus

need i say more? hot pink lips! hello!!!

need i say more? hot pink lips! hello!!!

COSTA BRAVA – what’s not to AMOR about it?

i was so excited to return to Spain and especially Costa Brava. i adore the fact that it’s a wild coastline, not commercialized like France’s. i adore that it’s filled with little medieval villages dotting the region. i adore its history. i adore that it is part of the proud Catalonian culture. i adore its local seafood fare. i ADORE! here’s more reasons…


let’s start with this. the region begins at Barcelona. one of my favorite places. i don’t think i could tire of it. i arrived a day & a half before my Costa Brava tour to get a small taste of the best of Barcelona and SI, did i!

out at a club in Barca just like the locals do, SI SI

out at a club in Barca just like the locals do, SI SI


maybe you know this, maybe you don’t. i’m a seaside girl. so…Costa Brava speaks to me when it comes to the sea!

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HOLA. seaside – love it!


i also love the lore of Costa Brava. so much history in so many ways. part of their history is tied to piracy. i’m infatuated with pirates so visiting this region and playing pirate for the afternoon was my dream!

c'mon say ARG! i'm commandeering this boat.

c’mon say ARG! i’m commandeering this boat.


but really…who couldn’t love this awesome house i stayed in right on the ocean in Cadaques?! i mean WOW!

that's right! gorgeous seaside villa. i'm seriously in LOVE!

that’s right! gorgeous seaside villa. i’m seriously in LOVE!


OR how about a sail around the coast of Cap de Creus on Sant Isidre – a charter fishing vessel that is stunning!

YES. that's what i thought. who wouldn't want to get on the open water here?!

YES. that’s what i thought. who wouldn’t want to get on the open water here?!


how about visiting a town with a really cool mayor? Cadaques may have the *best* mayor in the whole world. not only is he an amazing tour guide but also a gracious host!

anyone who can handle a bunch of bloggers is A-OK in my book!

MAYOR = back & center. anyone who can handle a bunch of bloggers is A-OK in my book!


NOW! let’s be serious for a moment. not that the Mayor of Cadaques isn’t!! how about the spirits of Costa Brava?! that’s right. i’m talking local libations.

wine, cava, beer - all locally sourced. i endorse this 100%

wine, cava, beer – all locally sourced. i endorse this 100%


OK. i do sometimes fancy myself a princess. c’mon let me believe for a minute. Charming Villas did. so how would like to stay in a castle in a medieval village?

the biggest structure there in the village of

the biggest structure there in the village of St. Mori is the CASTLE. i thought you’d like that!


when you stay in these amazing villas (or a castle :P) you can bring in a chef to make you unbelievable local fare. we did! and i even helped (HAHAHA)

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BUT i have to say one of the most fun things about visiting Costa Brava was going to Dali’s house which is now a museum. what an interesting perverted dude. i can appreciate his eccentric side. i can see how he was inspired by his surroundings. inspirational indeed.

channeling my inner Dali!

channeling my inner Dali!


OK OK but you know it’s Spain. they are not all perverted. they repent. they go to gorgeous churches! i went in. i came out. my skin didn’t burn off! whew!! 🙂

beautiful cathedrals anyone could love!

beautiful cathedrals anyone could amor!


so what of the food out and about?! this is a top priority for LOLA, as we all know. well, i was taken to the #2 restaurant in the world! El Celler de Can Roca. all i can say is AHHMAZING!!

a tour and a tasting. so lucky! so yummy.

a tour and a tasting. so lucky! so yummy.


and about those medieval villages…i’m sure you wanna see. well you have to wrap winding roads to get to them but that makes the reward so much sweeter! like this vista…

beautiful Besalu! you catch my drift?!

beautiful Besalu! you catch my drift?!


tell me who couldn’t be drawn to these beaches and coastline? i love sunshine & sand so Costa Brava is the perfect place for LOLA.

YES! the beaches!!!

YES! the beaches!!!


ALL of the food was so fantastic in Costa Brava. so fresh. so local. one of my favorite meals out was at La Calendula. they use herbs & flowers in everything they make. here is MINT RISOTTO, WHITE ASPARAGUS WITH NASTURTIUM FLOWERS MAYONNAISE & ELDERFLOWER SORBET. all so good and actually quite light!

look at this delicious food!

look at this delicious food! doesn’t i kinda make your mouth water?!


our final house with Charming Villas was in Besalu. it was this charming & incredible 18th century farmhouse. i could have stayed here a long, long time. one of my favorite features of this villa was the stunning pool & outdoor areas. oh, and the on site caretakers who were wonderful!

if it looks like it's out a movie set then you have the right idea!

if it looks like it’s out a movie set then you have the right idea!


i cannot forget to mention PAELLA! this is one of my favorite Spanish dishes and i was treated to it several times. SO LUCKY!




AND last, but certainly not least, THESE PEOPLE! as i always say, one of my favorite things about traveling is meeting new people. although i knew a few of these folks on the Costa Brava trip, i only knew Leah & Alex well. you know it’s a good mix when you spend most of your time laughing! GRACIAS for being amazing humans.

such a good group of people! (Leah & Mariana are not in this shot but are in the count of cool peeps)

what a group of people! (Leah & Mariana are not in this shot but are in the count of cool peeps)

NOW for my MINUS 1

the awful cold winds that can affect Costa Brava called TRAMUNTANA. no gracias!

if it looks cold, it's because it was!

if it looks cold, it’s because it was!

from Cadaques website:

During the winter months, Cadaqués and the north of Costa Brava can be subjected to Tramuntana, an impressive wind the blows off the Pyrenees in much the same way as the Mistral blows in France.

Tramuntana is a katabatic wind, which is a wind that blows off a mountain system due to the cool denser air at altitude in the mountains sinking, and funneling off into the coast. If you are looking for a relaxing beach holiday, then best to avoid Tramuntana, as this can whip things up. You should be fine in the summer months.

This is how Costa Brava, which translates as “Wild Coast” gets its name. You can be out walking in the Cap de Creus, and the Med will literally look like it is boiling. Not for the faint hearted, but it will certainly blow away the cobwebs!


thank you Charming Villas for inviting me to come find more reasons to fall in love with Costa Brava.

PS – i cannot take all the photo credit. several are from Festivalxplorer & Leah Travels as well as Charming Villas!





Filed under costa brava, spain, travel

why i will be returning to Costa Brava

DEAR COSTA BRAVA – i fell in love with you!

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i was lucky enough to attend a conference in late September in Spain. specifically in Costa Brava. i spent the first few days there attending sessions & parties and not really seeing much of the charming city of Girona. it was a wicked, wicked tease. FORTUNATELY, i had planned to stay on an extra couple of days for some blogger excursions. the excursion i was treated to through the Costa Brava Tourism office was called ‘surf & turf’ while i was only able to participate for one full day – it was enough to whet my whistle for a return trip. i’m a big fan of Southern France & the Cote d Azure but, i gotta say, the Costa Brava coastline may have surpassed my love of France’s coast. for one, it lacks the cheese factor found in France. LOVELY!

Costa Brava’s coastline is less well-known & therefore, more of hidden secret. my guess is prices are better too. the food is exceptional and there are plenty of luxury hotels & resorts to choose from. the day i was able to dedicate to Costa Brava was spent in Tossa del Mar and Blanes, two gorgeous coastal towns. i heard, after the fact, that the rest of the ‘surf & turf’ tour was even more breathtaking.

beautiful Cadaques - i'm smitten!

beautiful Cadaques – i’m smitten!

luckily, i was invited back to tour Costa Brava with Charming Villas, a villa rental company specializing in high quality homes in Catalonia. i knew i wanted to go back to Costa Brava, but didn’t expect it to be so soon. i’m more than psyched for many many reasons.

first, let me give you a run down of some of the things you can expect to see me doing while there. i’m not going to reveal every detail but here’s some of the highlights.

sailing around Cap de Creus headland with Charter Sant Isidre


i always say things look better from the water

visiting Dali’s home, which is now a museum Fundacio Gala – Salvador Dali


looking forward to getting to know this eccentric artist a bit better

dining amongst the vines at Cellar Martin Faixo


the gorgeous 14th century farmhouse restored by the Martin Faixo family

dinner at the newest hotspot in Cadaques, Compartir, started by 3 gents of El Bulli fame


love the bright blue details here at Compartir (which means to share!)

faux sky diving in a wind tunnel with Windoor Realfly


does this suit come in hot pink?

touring the kitchen & cellar of El Celler de Can Roca – 2nd best restaurant in the world


cellar tours of top restaurants of the world – SI – that is something i’ll drink to!

4 wheeling with Fang Aventura


this looks less intimidating than the simulated sky diving

riding in a hot air balloon with Vol de Coloms


beautiful but i’m not so sure yet…

oh, and a few chefs are coming in to our villas to cook private meals for us. yeah, not too shabby. now, i’m all for delicious Catalan meals & wine tastings galore. i also will not say no to any stunning coast shot and it looks like i’ll have plenty to ooo & ahh over. what i didn’t realize is how “adventurous” this tour was going to be. and, to be honest, i’m not sure how i feel. lola sky diving & 4 wheeling?? i’m not partial to mud & having my face look like it’s melting off. i’m not saying no, i’m just saying i’m not sold. perhaps, i can wear pink goggles to drive & dive in 😉

now, let me show you a little bit about the villas & CASTLE i’ll be staying in!

Sa Costa in Cadaques

Sa Costa in Cadaques

Castell de Rocaberti in Empuriabrava

Castell de Rocaberti in Empuriabrava

Sant Ferriol villa in Besalu

Sant Ferriol villa in Besalu

YEAH, crazy beautiful, right?! maybe i can get past my vanity & anxiety of the “adventure” aspect of this trip since i’ll be staying in the lap of luxury the entire time!

i’m very excited to be a part of the group of travel writers touring Costa Brava. Gracias to Charming Villas for inviting me and Costa Brava Tourism Board for introducing me to Costa Brava in the first place.  i hope you’ll stay tuned to my Twitter feed & Lola Facebook Page for updates daily. you can also follow the hashtags #InCostaBrava or #VisitCatalonia.


Filed under costa brava, spain, travel

Costa Brava Cocktails

plus a little food porn

pleeeease don’t cut lola off!

so you may be wondering a couple of things. one, what exactly did all these alcoholic beverages look like in Costa Brava?! i know how you love my photos of cocktails and boozy stories. don’t worry, i didn’t disappoint in my visit to Spain. i pretty much only have photos of myself enjoying the local spirits! please take a gander.

let’s just start at the beginning with local beer

then it was cava cava cava

first of maaaaannnny gin & tonics

lola interrupts this amazing cocktails photo essay for a G&T break

beer with a faux soldier – i heart his eye patch

sangria the size of my head

still more G&T cocktails – ughhhh

catalan sangria made with cava

no lunch is complete without rose


no dinner is complete without gin & tonics

the other thing i’m sure you’re thinking is why only a little food porn? i mean Spain is full of great food! well, while there was plenty of jamon for all to enjoy, lola pretty much stuck to a liquid diet. why? because i’m a dumb ass. of the food i did try, the cheese and ham were incredible.

leg of jamon anyone?

HANG ON what’s that? wine & cheese packaged together. me encanta!

AND i cannot say enough great things about the lunch and dinner i had on my blog trip in Costa Brava. delicious seafood – like the best i ever had AND wonderful paella. TO. DIE. FOR. thank you Costa Brava tourism board for making our incredible arrangements with Club Giverola & Es Blanc for the wonderful meals. they were pretty much all i ate while in Spain!

stuffed scallops, clams & mussels – Y.U.M.

XO – lola


Filed under costa brava, spain, travel