Is it really a traffic jam if there are only two cars involved? It might be if one is filled with grapes. Bah-dum-bum. Get it? Grape jam?
Please forgive me, I’ve been on vacation from my vacation this week and I’m starting to get a little stir crazy.
We’ve been staying in a wonderful rental house* in the small town of Garriguella, taking part in what the Spaniards call rural tourism for a relaxing week in Costa Brava, at the far northeast corner of Spain. This is where city folks can rent a place in the country, usually with a large family group, to enjoy some quiet time and get some fresh air. Our place, Niu de l’Albera, has large enclosed yard, with space for soccer – erm, football, ping pong and basketball (and gymnastics, if you’re so inclined), as well as a pool. An outdoor kitchen and dining area make this a perfect summer retreat. There’s space for at least 10 people, with 5 bedrooms and bathrooms, and plenty of space for everyone to spread out.
The town is clean, well-kept, and quiet, with a couple of small markets for essentials and a couple of bars and restaurants for the times you don’t want to cook. Most importantly for us, the town is a 20-minute drive from several beaches, parks, and museums.
The lovely beach towns of Roses, Cadaques, and Port de La Selva drew our interest, and we drove a very winding mountain road to get to the latter two. But what a treat! Both were really picturesque white seaside villages with small beaches next to that legendary green Mediterranean Sea. The vistas and the light on the mountains and sea make it clear why so many artists called this area home. Salvador and Gala Dali’s house in Cadaques is said to be stunning; we arrived too late in the day to tour it.
Instead we took a trip to Figueres to see the Dali Museum, a colorful showcase for many of his works. It was really impressive to see so much of his work exhibited together, to see just how far his talents and interests could take him. He experimented so much with optical tricks in his work, and really used the technology available to him to push his work farther. I had forgotten that he lived such a long life; so long that one of his later works is a hologram of Alice Cooper.
We took advantage of some cooler weather to hike around the Cap de Creus park, where the mountains meet the sea. Magnolia and I loved the rocky, sometimes treacherous paths, but Calla was not a fan. We managed to make the circuit of the Cap in just a few hours, and saw the Devil’s Cove, behind a tunnel carved by the waves. Ended with a very civilized drink and snack at the cafe at the top of the mountain by the lighthouse.
One day, we followed a small tractor pulling a load of grapes behind him to the the town’s agricultural collective, where local farmers bring their grapes and olives to be made into wines and oils. The operation is slick and modern, but the interaction is human. Walk into the retail side of the collective and you’ll be offered a tasting of wines and oils, which you can buy by the liter. In fact, the process is quite similar to buying gas, complete with nozzle and plastic jug. The flavor is much better, however.
*with the generous support of the Costa Brava Tourism Board