Catalunya

There’s Something About Cadaqués

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Traveling up and down the Catalunya coast has become a way of life over the last four years. With a coastline dotted with countless seaside towns all boasting their own little slice of heaven, there’s no shortage of weekend destinations to choose from.
While Sitges, with its unparallelled fideua, is just a short train ride to the south, the burgeoning medieval town of Tossa de Mar resting along the Carretera del Año, and a whole host of other “_____ de mar” towns all along the way, there’s simply something about Cadaqués that keeps us coming back for more. That’s why this weekend we, along with our friends Dave and Nicole, rolled out of town early Saturday morning and took to the back roads on our motos destined for Cadaqués.

Months ago I wrote about the idea of a “thin” place, those places and spaces that bring heaven and earth closer together. Places where you feel at ease and at peace with the world. For us, Cadaqués is one of those thin places. In fact, leaving Barcelona and heading north inspires a feeling of liberation, freedom from traffic, noise, grimy streets and pollution. Crowded city suburbs and tacky bulletin board adverts give way to expansive pastures and quaint hamlets. This is the moment when I feel at home, when I’m suddenly back in the southern US taking in the sights and smells of late summer fading into early fall. It feels good to be home.

Once the road splits from Roses, the final stretch into Cadaqués becomes something special, one which Jeff has dreamed of driving on a moto for years now and I have all but gotten sick over the very idea. But alas, not being one to squash a dream, I took the high road and held on tight while Jeff took to the curves with gusto. Leaning this way and that, looking ahead through the curves and silently screaming through the switchbacks, I have to say that arriving at our final destination was probably the most anticipated of all our previous visits. I couldn’t get off the bike soon enough.

The rest of our visit was a breeze. Sipping the best Sangria around at Nord Est while admiring the most picturesque view of the town was just what the doctor ordered. Swimming in the ice cold water in a secluded cove helped to wash away the stress of a new school year. Dining on local food and a few bottles of wine made for great storytelling with great company. The evening hours may have been a bit noisy, but all in all Cadaqués didn’t disappoint us. In fact, for a short time we were a little closer to heaven in our thin place.

Enjoying the scenery and Sangria
Jeff enjoying what’s left of his summer vacation

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Finding Spain Beyond Barcelona

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The old town of Peñiscola

Living in a city like Barcelona, it’s often easy to forget the world outside our city limits. And why not? We have everything we need here. Bordered by mountains and beaches, Barcelona is situated in a near perfect bubble bursting with eclectic neighborhoods, world-class restaurants, luscious parks, and a whole heap of bars and clubs to suit every taste. Now that summer is here, the city is alive…CONSTANTLY.
And while I love this city and its rhythmic, intoxicating beauty, summer is the time to make frequent escapes. As misguided tourists flood my neighborhood, I’m packing my bags and hitting the road.

This weekend’s destination was one that may have forever remained another random dot on a map of coastal Spain had it not been for a friend’s inexplicable love for an unassuming seaside town known as Peñiscola. Rolling into this town, looking not unlike any other, lacked that sense of awe when you feast your eyes on something beautiful for the first time. Peñiscola, at first glance, was simply ordinary. Beach front hotels, each dawning a slightly different color pattern, stood modestly over the terrace umbrellas of restaurant cafes down below. A walking path stretched in each direction as far as the eye could see along the beach. Looking ahead, however, the old walled city, built up high above the surf, stood majestically above the modern resort-style sprawl as if it were still claiming its name as the true Peñiscola, stone by stone. My camera and I had a date to discover its old world charm.

Ascending the cobble stoned steps revealed a town that was the epitome of Spain. White washed edifices, tiled balconies adorned with plants bursting with color, gnarled wooden doors, and the roar of laughter and good conversation had by visitors as they too were charmed by the town’s lighthearted spirit. It’s times like these when I get lost in the good vibes of tiny villages that I remember just how hectic city life can be. It’s also in these moments when I realize just how not Spanish Barcelona is. So, I lose myself in moments behind the camera, trying to capture the essence of village life. I’ll need these photos later when I’m caught up in the stress and commotion of the big city.