The fairytale town of Pals was now in our rearview mirror and, within 15 minute’s drive south, our little tour group was in the ruggedly picturesque town of Calella de Palafrugell on the Costa Brava. Calella, Llafranc and Tamariu are the three fishing villages that comprise the municipality of Palafrugell in the province of Girona on the northeastern tip of Spain.
Costa Brava means “wild coast” in Spanish. In sharp contrast to the calmer shores of Tarragona and Sitges Roman Ruins of a Day that I’d experienced the day before, the Costa Brava is a rugged stretch of coastline graced with dramatic cliffs and craggy terrain. It’s often compared to Big Sur in California, but for me, it was reminiscent of the coast of Maine where I spent my childhood.
As on the previous day, we arrived at our final destination right at the height of lunchtime, around 2:30 pm. But in sharp contrast to my experience at Sitges, there were few tourists, probably because it was a Monday in December.
Our guide, Lydia, walked us down a car-free promenade to the beach and gave us a brief introduction to what we would find in the town, including some recommendations for restaurants. Then we were on our own for two hours.
Calella de Palafrugell is a popular vacation spot for Europeans. Whitewashed hotels and houses flow all the way down to the beach. There are many rentals available within easy steps to the ocean. Long stretches of beach, popular with Spanish and Catalan families, are lined with pastel-colored restaurants and cafes with graceful white arches on the front.
The first restaurant I chose was able to seat me immediately at an outside table under one of these arches. I had enough time to enjoy some tapas and the beautiful view before I explored the town.
After lunch, I strolled along the beach passed little fishing boats on the sand. I walked along a covered promenade with more arches and around a promontory that overlooked a beach on an adjacent cove.
Under a canopy of pine trees, I followed a rugged path along a cliff that led around the headland to Llafranc. The walk usually takes about 15 minutes. There were absolutely no other humans around. I navigated the craggy path slowly being careful to not to slip. I only had time to get about halfway around before I needed to meet the group back at the tour van. Someday, I hope to return to the town to spend more time there. It was low tide, and I could only imagine how spectacular it must be at high tide with the surf pounding on the rocks.
By the time we headed back to Barcelona, it was dark and we were all exhausted in a relaxed, satisfied way. Conversation drifted off to sweet contentment. Lydia turned on a radio station that played American pop music. I could hear her singing oh, so softly under the music. I wanted to sing, too. Then the horns in the opening strains of the uber sexy song “You Can Leave Your Hat On” woke up the wild women in us. Lydia and I burst into joyful song together, just as we hit rush hour traffic in Barcelona.