23.08.2013 - 26.08.2013 26 °C
Slowly checking off the list of places and things to see in Barcelona, as my time here winds to an end! I have officially booked a one-way ticket home, to arrive on the 24th of December, just in time for Christmas with the family! But I won't get ahead of myself now, lots of interesting adventures to be had here!
The Costa Brava in Spain is a portion of Mediterranean coastline which stretches between the France/Spain border and Barcelona. It is one of the most beautiful stretches of coast in the country, and one I knew that I wanted to get to visit before leaving. After talking with some people from work, we decided to do a weekend backpacking trip from Llança (pronounced 'Yansa') through Cadaques and finally to Rosas, through the Cap de Creus (Cape of the Cross). The gang was Claudia, Albert, and Cristina from the lab, along with another friend of Claudia's. We snagged an early train from Barcelona headed north toward Llança!
After disembarking the train, we threw on hiking shoes and sun glasses and began the schlep! The trail we had elected to follow keeps the the coast for a while after Llança before heading inland and cutting across the Cap de Creus toward the furthest point of land, before curving back around toward Cadaques. The northern coast was fairly flat, which gave us some gorgeous views for the firsts part of the hike, while the inland protion was a constant uphill or downhill climb, through dry land with low-lying greenery.
I won't do too much talking about this trip, instead opting to post a bunch of photos, since, after all, it was just two solid days of hiking. Here we go!
Picture of the group, still fresh and smiling:
Left to right, Cris, Claudia, Marc, Albert, and me!
Just before heading inland, we lunched in a beautiful cove with beautiful (cold) water and a stonybeach, and then started up again with a vicious hill climb:
About 4 pm, and 6 hours of hiking in, we approached a crossroad (complete with a signpost adorned with a cattle skull)
For those of you who have hiked (or skiied, or really lived) around/with me before, I am quite stubborn when it comes to reaching a goal. I hate the idea of leaving any stone unturned. And although I respect and admire the saying about how it's all about the journey and not about the destination, I always feel that the successful completion of a goal gives that much more weight to the journey. Enough philosophy. You can imagine my consternation when, faced with the option of going to the furthest point of the cape, with its iconic lighthouse, or descend down into Cadaques and cut off maybe 3 miles, weather and sore feet forced our hand and the decision was made to take the short route down to the town. In hind sight, it was actually a really good move, since we had just sat down at a pub for tapas and drinks when the rain and thunder came. And it didn't fool around. We would have been quite wet and likely miserable. However, it did put our plans to sleep outside on the beach into question, and we had to scramble to find a hotel for the night (turns out we all crammed into a room with one double bed, and it stopped raining two hours later... but Cris was comfortable, Whew!)
Coincidentally, a friend from work is a swing-dance fanatic, who happened to have an open forum dance session in a main square of Cadaques that night! So after the rain stopped, we went to find the show and watched some impressive dance and even got a little private lession! Here is the best picture I could find of an exasperated Mireia trying to explain the steps to my tired brain and legs. Let's just say I'm not ready for the big leagues yet!
We awoke early the next morning to beautifully clear skies over the picturesque town of Cadaques. I think of all the cities and towns I have seen in Spain, for towns on the coast, Cadaques is the most beautiful. Here are a sampling of images I took in the morning before we headed toward the final stop, Rosas.
(Side note-- I never considered myself a pink sock [and pink underarmor, but that's harder to see] kinda guy, but then a new pair of dark red shorts got in with a wash of whites, and the rest is history, and evident in this photo.... But hey, when life gives you lemons!)
If the first day was gorgeous, the second was even better. The path runs right along the coast, dipping down into tiny isolated coves and back up along steep cliffs overhanging crystal blue mediterranean waters. Cris and Albert decided to cut it short due to some soreness and knee problems, so they took a bus to Rosas, but the three of us pushed on. After a few hours of hiking, we again found another cove for lunch, this one even more isolated and beautiful than the one the day before.
(We came down the trail which is barely visible just to the left of the rocky face in this photo)
Finally, after frequent stops to cool off in the water and lots of snack breaks, we rounded a point and came face to face wiht the first real civilization we had seen in hours, Rosas, bringing to a close an unbelievable weekend! Needless to say I slept well that night! (Actually, the good sleep started on the train ride home!!)
I love all of the cultural activities that Europe offers, but I have to say that a weekend getting to know the people here and enjoying landscapes absolutely unique to this part of the world is an unbelievable opportunity and has been my favorite part thus far of my travels in and around Barcelona! But speaking of culture, we'll get back on that train in the next post as a couple of weeks ago I finished my conquest of Spain, which took me on a route through Valladolid, Salamanca, Bilbao, San Sebastian and Pamplona (minus the bull-running!). See you soon!