Cadaques: Where I Left My Worries Behind The Mountains.

Cap de Creus

Onboard the Sant Isidre

This is a guest post by Ash Clark, one of our bloggers on our recent “blog trip” to Cadaques and the Costa Brava.

Seeing as I arrived at night, it wasn’t until the next day that I really got to appreciate the unique location that Cadaqués is set in.

When I woke the next morning, I got to see what it is that has made this sleepy fishing village grow into a popular summer holiday spot.

Walking from my villa through the cobbled lanes that wind around the town’s whitewashed buildings and villas, I had no doubt in my mind that I was on the Mediterranean.

Cadaques

A typical street of Cadaques

I was lucky enough to spend my first day sailing on a ‘laüt’, a traditional Catalan fishing vessel. While I generally find most sailing experiences rather memorable, this particular one especially stood out as we sailed along the coastline of the Cap de Creus National Park. The unique perspective offered from the decks of our boat really allowed me to appreciate how spectacular the natural landscape is in this part of Spain.

While the coastline that Cadaqués sits on is without a doubt its main draw card, it was the mountains around the town that drew a lot of my attention.

The vast majority of the hillsides around Cadaqués have terrace levels, made from stack-stone retaining walls.

It doesn’t take one long to realise that most of these impressive walls are rather aged and that the incredible amounts of manual labour it would of taken to construct them was originally completed to serve a specific purpose.

The blank terraced hillsides that dominate the area today haven’t always been that way. I soon learned that Cadaqués was once a major producer of wine and olive oil. Unfortunately the wineries and olive farms that once thrived here were completely wiped out after an outbreak of a plant virus that destroyed the plants.

Today, wineries in the region are making a come back, offering some high quality drops of both red and white which, like almost every aspect of Catalan, have their own unique flare to them.

Cadaques

A little bay along the Cap de Creus

As the local saying goes, “When you come to Cadaqués, you leave your worries behind the mountains.” The natural scenery, food, art and culture on display in this fascinating town really do play true to those words for those who visit.

 

About the Author: Ash Clark is a travel writer and photographer from Sydney, Australia. With a strong curiosity, he never manages to stay in one place for too long. To keep up to date with his current travels you can follow his personal travel blog at www.themostalive.com and on twitter @themostalive.

Cala Guillola, Cap de Creus, Cadaques

 

Cala Guillola

Cala Guillola, Cap de Creus, Cadaques

If hidden little coves and bays are your thing then look no further than Cala Guillola, roughly half way between Cadaques and Cap de Creus.

It can be a little difficult to find (you won’t see any signs pointing you where to go) and a little difficult actually getting there but your efforts will well be worth it.

Cala Guillola

Cala Guillola, close to Cadaques

We chanced upon the cove on a bright and fresh January morning with no other people in sight. Talk about idyllic, the temptation to try out the crystal clear water was very strong but the fact that we were in the middle of winter ensured sanity prevailed.

Aiguablava beach Begur

Aiguablava beach, Begur

Aiguablava, Begur, Costa Brava

One of the prettiest beaches along the whole Costa Brava, Aiguablava is a popular beach for holiday makers and locals alike.

At around 150m in length Aiguablava (Blue Water in Catalan) and due to its popularity the beach can become pretty crowded during the peak months of July and August.

Aiguablava Costa Brava

The empty beach of Aiguablava close to Begur

 

During the high season there are two or three small bars/restaurants and shops that open but it is not as commercialised such as somewhat larger beaches like Sa Riera or Tamariu.

The photographs posted here were taken on a slightly overcast windy February day.

Aiguablava

Aiguablava, Costa Brava

Banyoles lake and market

A view of Banyoles lake along a jetty

A view of Banyoles lake just after sunrise

Banyoles, a medium sized town close to Girona is famed for its lake. Scene of the 1992 Barcelona Olympic rowing events the lake serves as the central hub and focus of the town and is a popular training location for rowing teams from around Europe. With the increased popularity of triathlons Banyoles is also becoming one of the main locations for triathlons in Europe with the world cup being held here in 2012.

However one does not need to be an Olympic rower or triathlete to enjoy the charms of the lake. At around 2kms long and with a perimeter of just over 6kms the lake makes for the perfect mid morning or afternoon stroll. It is also possible to hire canoes and bikes.

Banyoles lake

Sunrise over Banyoles lake

If you are planning a day trip to Banyoles a good idea would be to do this on a Wednesday when the weekly market is spread out between “Placa Major” and the large “Placa de Rodes” which is close to the lake. The market mainly consists of fruit and vegetables, cured meats and cheeses with many of the stalls offering local and organic products. The market starts early at around 08.00am and starts closing up around 13.00

Banyoles

Some recommended restaurants in Banyoles include;

Famed for its seafood Gils is a popular lunchtime destination for locals. Located close to the lake. http://www.marisqueriagils.com/

La Magrana (The Pomegranate) is a small family run restaurant in the old quarter of the town offering a modern twist on traditional Catalan dishes using fresh seasonal produce. http://www.restaurantlamagrana.cat/restaurant-banyoles/

Can Xabanet is another family ran restaurant located just between Placa de Rodes and the lake. Traditional flavoursome dishes in a friendly atmospheric  setting. http://www.canxabanet.cat/ca/