Advantages Sea, Mountains, Astonishing light, Everything beautiful
Long before I started to travel I could always be found with my head inside a travel book. From a very small child I have always been a dreamer and an escapist. Patrick Leigh Fermour was the very first travel writer I read over 35 years ago. How I loved his stories of walking across Central Europe, sleeping in barns and ditches and sometimes if he was lucky in a castle belonging to the gentry. Then I fell in love with Spain and the Iberian peninsula and had to read every book about this area. It was at the time when people were exploring the interior, the sierras and the lands beyond the coast. I was always intrigued by Spain, with it's olive skinned people who sleep in the day and play late into the night, it's barbaric customs and age-old traditions. Travelling from UK through Spain into Portugal many times gave me an insight into the diversity of its landscape and compared to Portugal just how large and panoramic a country it is.My favourite region is the Costa Brava which actually means Wild Coast, mainly because of the rugged coves and sandy beaches, high, top winding roads which have sheer drops into the sea. We all know Barcelona is a superb city with beautiful parks and eccentric Gaudiesque architecture but sometimes it is exhilirating to drive out of the city and head to the penisula of Cap de Creuse. The drive is very picturesque and when you arrive you will think you have driven to the end of the earth and found paradise otherwise known as the sleepy village of Cadaques.
Without sounding petentious I was drawn to this village because of it's rich artists' heritage connection and it's quality of light. Salvador Dali who was born in Figueras not far away also owned a house in Port Lligat which is in an a sheltered bay next to Cadaques. His house is now a museum and open to the public. He wasn't the only artist to realise and appreciate the serenity and beauty of the village. Picasso, Miro and Maurice Boitel to name but a few spent time here. Apart from the light and inspirational beauty of the sea, mountains, coves and white washed houses the air was clean and pure. It was a haven for these artists to escape from the crowded cities where they lived life to the full, smoked too much and drank far too much absinthe.Fifteen years ago when I first visited this village it was a hidden gem tucked away on the very edge of the peninsula where the wild rocky Pyrenees crash into the Mediterranean sea. Today it has still retained that same beauty but obviously expanded and more properties have been built to accommodate second home ownership. It is a very popular tourist destination and in the Summer months the population probably increases tenfold.
The season is short lived but even when it is hectic you can always find a sheltered cove along the coast if you need to hide away from the crowds. Cadaques has always been a rugged, rocky place, sometimes inaccessible from the rest of the region. Indeed, it's fishermen have become adept at sea-faring.Originally it was a small village perched high on a hill overlooked by the church of Santa Maria. It had no connecting road until the year of 1910 and it's only streets were steep and winding. In Winter this could be one of the wildest spots due to the Traumuntana wind which always features in the travel books I love to read. I have actually spent time in the village when the wind blows. It whirls around your head and eyes and you are unable to think straight. It is a talking point for days and days. If you look at the sea when the firece wind blows you will see waves crashing against the rocks so savagely but the central part of the sea is like a vast expanse of boiling, raging water. Because of it's isolated position and geography, Cadaques has its own language which is a dialect of Catalan and is called parlat salat.
Once you have reached the peninsula and Cadaques you can take a breather, sit around, take in the scenery or stop for a bite to eat or a drink in one of the many cafes. I always head for the old town. For me it is the soul of the place - you can get a sense of the town's history. Although it isn't a huge area to cover on foot you can easily get lost as you weave through the steep alleyways filled with art galleries, craft shops, tapas bars and sea food restaurants. I recommend you try seafood rice washed down with a bottle of cold, crisp wine from Catalunya or even a glass of Cava. Squid cooked many ways but usually with rice is a favourite delicacy of Cadaques. Unfortunately I am not a fan of this prehistoric looking sea creature. Or if you prefer mediterranean food; bright, colourful, soaked in olive oil and flavoured with basil and rosemary then try the restaurant Don Quijote which you can find on the Avenida Serinyana.If shoppping or eating doesn't appeal to you there are many beautiful walks along the peninsula which is a nature reserve. There are spectacular views from both the North and South of the peninsula and you can see over to France.
Around the bay at Port Ligat lies Salvador Dali's house where he lived with his wife Gala. The situation of the house which was originally an old fisherman's house has spectacular views over the bay. Over the years Dali transformed the house into several other fisherman's houses making the whole building into a labyrinth. I would thoroughly recommend a visit even if you are not a fan of the great surrealist if only to see the unique style the house has been furnished in. If you are a Dali fan then you will of course want to see his eclectic collection of work and possessions.As the bay of Cadaques is very pretty especially early morning and evening I suggest you rent a boat for a couple of hours so you can take in the views around the headland and smaller coves. There are companies in the town where you will be able to arrange this. Here is one link: firstname.lastname@example.org
For visitors who wish to stay for more than a day ther are plenty of accommodation options. My personal recommendation is the Hotel Tarangeta. It is situated in the old town amongst the reatuarants and cafes but at the same time golden sand and sea is about 3 mintes walkaway. Pricewise the hotel is in the budget bracket but offers good, clean accommodation in an attractive setting.E-mail email@example.com
FinallySalvador Dali once said way back in 1920, 'I have spent a delightful Summer, as always in the perfect and dreamy town of Cadaques. There alongside, the Latin sea, I have been quenched by light and colour.'
Today the town isn't as sleepy due to the tourist invasion but the astonishing white light and amazing colour of the azure sea still quenches my thirst for beauty.Next time you find yourself in the North eastern part of Spain steer away from Barcelona - head on to Cadaques and the Cap de Creus Peninsula.!
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