Kris Ubach is an avid traveller, a photographer, a sports lover and an adventure seeker. Since the age of fifteen, she has worked as a professional photojournalist specialising in travel and tourism.
She’s also the author of the e-book Un viatge sensorial. Rutes culturals i del benestar per la Costa Brava [A Sensory Journey: Cultural and Wellness Routes on the Costa Brava], published by the Costa Brava Girona Tourist Board. The second volume in the collection has recently been released, called Un viatge sensorial II. Rutes culturals i del benestar per el Pirineu de Girona [A Sensory Journey II: Cultural and Wellness Routes Through the Girona Pyrenees]. Both books are strikingly visual, featuring superb photographs, and they each describe four routes. This is a unique way to get to know the Girona Pyrenees, after taking the first four routes on the Costa Brava and discovering all it has to offer. What’s especially nice about the books is that they are not at all impersonal. In fact, they are narrated in the first person. That’s what it’s all about, after all; telling a personal story, something experienced and therefore heartfelt, genuine and authentic.
In her introduction, Ubach summarises the book’s content, describing some of the experiences contained with its pages: „A slow-motion stroll. The keys to a thousand-year-old hermitage. An elderberry tea. Art made of pine cones, tree bark and charcoal. A bathtub frothing with suds. A pie and a high-altitude wine. Surprising, organic architecture. Eyes closed and deep breaths. Iberian pottery and Roman coins. Smells of pine, moss and damp earth. Vegan cuisine under the starry sky. A canopied bed…“ The author mainly draws on the senses to describe her experience.
The four proposed routes seek to reconnect visitors with the earth, allowing them to gain a renewed appreciation of their surroundings and of themselves. It’s about slowing life down, smelling the scents in the air, discovering Pyrenean plants and gaining an elder’s insight into their properties. From Meranges to Olot, from Alta Garrotxa to Puigcerdà, from Núria Valley to Alta Garrotxa and from Sant Joan de les Abadesses a Llívia, Kris Ubach and the Tourist Board invite you to take these routes and fill your senses to the brim.
The route starts at Malniu Lake, in Cerdanya, where Kris Ubach has arranged to meet the artist Laia Bedós (Bonaterra) for an art therapy session: „The idea of this workshop,“ explains Laia, „is for us to express emotions through painting and at the same time connect with nature. We don’t come to paint pretty things or to achieve an interesting aesthetic result: painting is just a tool to make things happen inside us“. The aim is to unblock our emotional expression, a release with therapeutic effects. The route also includes a meeting with Marta Mateu, from the Sèlvans Cooperative, for some forest bathing in the Pla de la Barraca, at the edge of the Headwaters of the Rivers Ter and Freser Natural Park, in a thick forest of Scots pine, a therapeutic forest. In addition to this forest for bathing, there is also the Salvador Grau Forest (Les Preses) and the Olletes Forest (La Vall d’en Bas). The next stop is at the home of the artist and yogi Misha Rusch, the Can Perramon country house, an art residence. Once in Olot, it’s essential to take a tour to discover the work of RCR Arquitectes, guided by Mireia Tresserras (EducArt): the bathing pavilion, the athletics stadium, the Pedra Tosca park and the Les Cols restaurant.
The route of silence. From Alta Garrotxa to Puigcerdà
This route focuses on silence, so that we can listen to ourselves. It begins in the Hortmoier Valley in Alta Garrotxa, one of the most pristine and little-known corners of the Girona Pyrenees, led by Beth Cobo, from Trescàlia, a true connoisseur of the region. The route then takes us to La Pinya, in La Vall d’en Bas, where Inés Puigdevall opened one of the first rural lodgings in Catalonia: Mas Garganta. And from there, a few days later, it’s back to Olot for a session of qigong with Mónica Traviesa at the Sant Roc Springs on the banks of the Fluvià River. Qigong is an ancient practice from Chinese medicine. It shares some similarities with yoga and aims to release physical and spiritual blockages. The Cerdanya Tourist Office is the next stop, the plan being to take one of the routes called Church Keys, in this case with the expert local guide Pilar Aláez. Santa Maria d’All, Santa Maria de Quadres and Sant Climent de Talltorta are the stops on this tour, which ends at the Villa Paulita Hotel, beside Puigcerdà Lake.
In the Núria Valley, Kris Ubach starts the day with a walk up to the La Creu d’en Riba viewpoint with Carlos Folguera, an experienced local guide, and then takes the Engineers‘ Path to the Coma de Vaca refuge. Gentians, Pyrenean lilies and poppies dot the way to Queralbs, and then it’s time to relax at the Resguard dels Vents rural hotel and spa in Ribes de Freser with a spa session and an essential oil massage. The next day begins at the Gombrèn Botanical Garden, run by Anna Ortega, Conxita Cortina and Lluís Borrell, who decided to create a garden of medicinal plants in their own town. When you know the plants and their properties, you use them; this would be their motto. As well as looking after the garden, they also educate others and lead workshops, for example on the therapeutic and culinary uses of their plants. Olot is the next stop, specifically for a visit to the Regional Museum of Garrotxa and a Modernisme walking tour, passing in front of Casa Solà Morales, Casa Gassiot and Casa Gaietà Vila before entering the Can Trincheria House Museum. Then it’s time to head to Mas Pineda in Oix, where Anaïs de Villasante, from Aromes al Bosc, presents the Restaurant of a Table gastronomic experience: a meal of vegetarian, organic and seasonal dishes seasoned with up to thirty wild plants.
This journey through the history of our ancestors starts in Sant Joan de les Abadesses, at the Molí Petit, where the environmental educator Xavier Bachero works. The mill is an eco-museum and is also home to the Alt Ter Environmental Education Centre. Ripoll is nearby and a visit to the monastery of Santa Maria, one of the most important monasteries in Catalonia, with its impressive portal, is not to be missed. The Ethnographic Museum is also well worth a visit. The next stop is the old Montagut Spa, located in a Modernisme-style building that is now a private home. The Montgrony sanctuary and the church of Sant Pere should also be visited, with a stay at the Montgrony guesthouse. Through the Tosses pass you reach Cerdanya and Bolvir, where you can visit Espai Ceretània, a small museum and interpretation centre dedicated to the Iberian settlement of Castellot. The last stop is at Llivins in Llívia, where the agronomists Anna Baqués and Isaac Rigau decided to bring back grape growing.