Two Days in Besalú, Spain
All you can eat, all you can drink. A private chef, a visit by the mayor, an amazing villa in which to stay, and being surrounded by cool people who share one common passion for travel.
Who wouldn’t want to be part of that?
I love taking pictures and for me that’s the easy part. But as anyone who runs a website knows, it’s easy to get lost in the behind-the-scenes jargon of WordPress, hashtags, social media, and acronyms like SEO. So I asked nicely when I found out about the opportunity to join up with these insanely talented travel bloggers, hoping to gain just a bit of knowledge about how to actually run a website that’s worth reading. And as luck would have it, they said yes! So off to Besalú I went.
The first thing you notice about Besalú is how absolutely drop dead gorgeous it is. Less than two hours outside of Barcelona and easily accessible by bus, Besalú has all the quaint, medieval beauty you’d hope for in small town Europe. Cobblestone streets, delicious Catalan cuisine, zero pretentiousness, and that bridge(!) all make Besalú a very worthwhile stop for anyone visiting Catalonia.
Through the good people at Charming Villas, we stayed at Casa Marcial right in the heart of town. The Villa was fantastic – the location was excellent and the building had plenty of space to spread out. We had a pool, several conference rooms, a large dining room, a robust kitchen, and easy access to the town.
The Good People of The House
So who were these fellow travelers?
These folks have been traveling, photographing, filming, and writing about it successfully for years – they’ve been all over the world, they know their stuff and they’re good at what they do. You simply can’t be in the same room as them without learning something. But I didn’t just learn from them; I learned a lot from the other attendees, too. They each have VERY good websites that you should check out if you haven’t already:
Victoria from Bridges and Balloons
Liz from Young Adventuress
Flora from Flora The Explorer
Jennifer from Jdomb’s Travels
Naomi from Anywhere But Home
Emma from Emma’s Travel Tales
Cole from Four Jandals
Bret and Erin from Our Tasty Travels & No Checked Bags
The atmosphere was laid back and everyone was easily approachable for questions and conversation about websites, travel destinations and everything in between. The pros held presentations throughout each day which covered (among other things) technical website issues, taking better photographs, and building a brand through social networking. It felt good to be in the presence of such a talented group of people.
At one point I sat down with Michael Tieso for a one on one look at my site. In mere minutes he helped me streamline things that would have taken me countless hours to figure out for myself. The guy’s a genius with WordPress and behind the scenes programming.
At night the laptops were closed, the music was turned up, and the massive Villa was put to good use well into the early hours of the morning.
I’m not a huge food connoisseur and thus I’m not great at describing all the complex subtleties of a good meal. To me there are three types of food: edible, inedible, and completely and amazingly delicious. I’ll happily eat any of the three (fried scorpion in China, “putrefied” aka rotting shark in Iceland, etc), but I prefer food that fits squarely into the “completely and amazingly delicious” category. I savored every bit of the Catalan cuisine we enjoyed in Besalú. Our private chef Lee Pennington cooked up a storm as he talked us through what he was doing. I always appreciate a meal more when I know about the work that goes into it. The following night we ate at Restaurant Pont Vell which had a great atmosphere and delicious food as well.
It was an honor to have been invited and I thoroughly enjoyed making new friends and talking about travel with like minded people. That it was in such an idyllic place as Besalú was icing on the cake. I learned a lot about creating web-worthy material that’s useful to both armchair travelers and active world explorers alike. You’re going to see some changes along with a lot of new posts around here at The Polar Route in the coming weeks, so stay tuned if you’re a fan of this site. Or subscribe to my newsletter and I’ll personally let you know!