The New Locals:
from Belgium to Palafrugell

🕔 4 mins (total)

From Ohain in Belgium to Palafrugell in Catalunya, Spain

Tom Walsh is a complicated mix! He is Irish-American-French but now lives between the village of Ohain in Belgium and Calella de Palafrugell

Where are you originally from?

Born in Le Mans, France, dual Franco-U.S. Nationality: global citizen.

How long have you been living on La Costa Brava?

About 3 years

Why did you leave your country?

I live in Ohain, Belgium 30% of my time and 70% on the Costa Brava. Never really left my country just expanded my base.

What made you move specifically to Calella de Palafrugell?

At first, the goal was to spend more time in warmer climates and get a place on the Mediterranean that had easy access from a logistical point of view. I had come to a village called Llafranc about 30 years ago on my way to Barcelona and at that time I fell in love with the area and people. Three years ago, I decided to go back and see if I had the same feelings about the area. I found that it has changed to some degree but not that much. It’s not an overly populated area, and construction and zoning laws make for the fact that there are no high-rise buildings or condominiums. In fact, it was very similar, and still had the small fishing village charm. I decided this was the place for me and immediately rented a place in Calella de Palafrugell (the town over from Llafranc) and the rest is history.

What do you do / work at?

I work with start-up businesses in Education Technology (EdTech)

What do you like most about living on the Costa Brava?

Wow, a lot of things! People, culture, ambiance, friendships, weather, beaches, nature, local food and restaurants, local markets, vineyards, the beautiful Mediterranean, the Pyrenees, easy living and lifestyle in general and ease of getting to and from the area.

Some of Tom’s highlights about life in the Empordà

Favourite way to spend a day off?

In the morning, I will go to the farmers market in Palafrugell and buy fresh produce. This will range from seasonal vegetables, fruit, as well as a great range of seafood (enclosed seafood stalls) and whatever type of carn one, desires. I’ll stop off and have a huevos & pernil sandwich at the local stand and try to put my Catalan to work with the locals, accompanied by either a canya or an espresso.

I have great hikes from my front door, so I’ll often do one of these. My two favorites are R/T Tamariu or to Platja Castell. Sometimes, I’ll stop somewhere for lunch on my back at one of the multitudes of options along the way. If I don’t hike, often I will be swimming, from a jetty right below my apartment over to the town, and sometimes I will have lunch wherever I land, or else just swim back to my apartment. I enjoy going to the beach later in the day to meet up with friends or simply to read a good book. I am lucky in that I have great beaches close by and I can just grab my beach chair and umbrella.

When friends are in town, we will usually end the day with a nice cava toasting the sunset. If I meet up with local friends, it’s usually to finish the day on a terrace and share dinner together at a local restaurant. If I have visitors, I like to go to the Finca Bell Lloc vineyard which has a great tour of their vineyards with a beautiful terrace where you can have a lovely lunch. It’s about a 10-minute drive from my apartment.

Do you have one particular favourite place?

Hard to say. I would have to lean toward the town of Llafranc where I first discovered the area 30 years ago. They have a nice beach and good restaurants right on the seafront. I also enjoy going into Palamós and hanging out with local friends at the fisherman’s bar or a xiringuito (a beach bar/restaurant) and having some aperitifs, and then going into town for a meal. Bitácora is one of my favourite restaurants and later I often enjoy winding down at the end of the day with a pint of stout or two (!) in The Currach, a great place to play a game of darts or watch a match.

What’s your favourite food here?

I love the local dishes from the tomatoey, garlic-rubbed bread to the different squid dishes, Palamós gambas as well as the local rice dishes (paella). Usually cannot go wrong with the daily specials be it seafood or heavier meat dishes like wild boar stew in the colder seasons. I have often been pleasantly surprised by just going with the daily recommendations.

What do you like most about Catalan culture?

The simplicity and easy-going lifestyle. Although they want their independence, they are very welcoming to people from other cultures.

Are your friends here mostly Catalan or foreign?

A mix. It’s a bit of a melting pot and everyone tends to get along.

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