OK. I'll just say, this is the one celebration in Barcelona that is not for me. I like the idea of beginning a party at dusk, eating pastries and drinking champagne together in the middle of the night, and then staying awake until dawn, as my Barrio did together last year around the bonfire. And I like the stories. My friend met a great guy at a San Joan party on the beach, they talked all night until the sun came up and now they're married. But the reality of fires and bottle rockets, tended by drunken civilians, sends me to hide. I choose up the coast. Way up. Here's a moon rise and a sunrise from Callela to rival the pyrotechnics!
Footpaths by the sea. Trails left by the fishermen. Followed by the watchmen. Looking for pirates. Pathways soaring above the sea. Pathways down by the sea. Pathways by villages. Pathways away from everything. I like them all. As long as I can see the water. Full frontal. So of the 260 kilometers of trails that make up the famous Camins de Ronda, here are the ones that take the best advantage of the sea, avoiding view blocking tree cover or wandering too far inland. Pick a sunny spring day and go before the summer crowds arrive!
Best panorama. The walk from Vall de Santa Creu to the Monastery St. Pere and then to the viewpoint, a ruined castle Sant Salvador de Verdera. The whole walk with open views to the sea. On top you can see to France, to the Pyrenees and to the fields of Girona and out to the far reaches of the sea.
Best diversions. A kid friendly short walk that starts in Callela. No guard rails, but lots of fun tunnels along the way to the little hidden beach at the end, great for stone skipping.
Best mix. The walk that starts near Llafranc at the San Sebastian lighthouse, then goes along steep cliffs, then meadows flowering in Spring, then to a tiny rock beach with a tiny bar only open in summer, then over a rocky outcrop with tide pools, ending at beautiful Tamariu beach. Some parts with no guardrails, uneven trail, some scrambling.
Best picnic spot. The walk from Tossa del Mar along the cliffs south of the old town. Four wooden platforms along the way with infinity views and benches. Uneven dirt trail.
Best stroll. The walk along the Promenade from Platja San Pol to Platja Sa Conca in front of the mansions of S'Agaro. Exclusive bay and beach at the end. Cliffs with no guardrails, but wide mostly paved promenade with easy sets of stairs.
Best vision. The deconstruction of Tudela at Cap de Creus. Once a huge vacation resort, the whole area now restored to its natural beauty inside a nature park. Safe trail, lots of fun rock formations. Blooming with flowers in Spring.
For more ideas, review the whole section on the Costa Brava and click on "previous" when you get to the end of the entries on the first page.
A short walk from Tossa De Mar, south along the Es Codolara Es Cards for a half hour, a welcome respite from the hectic, crowded holiday shopping in the city. Its almost a ghost town this time of year, but hey, you get the three infinity view observation decks all to yourself! Stairs with rails and sand covered dirt paths, a scramble. Just above the small cove at the back of the medieval town, head toward the white villa with the pool. Look for the tile sign "Carrer es Cars," the green trail map, and the Cami Ronda red and white symbols.
A glorious day on a sassy 45 foot sailboat! I was already in love with the Costa Brava from the shore...from the sea...what a sweetie. Here you get life-style on top of sea air, the sound of cutting, splashing, laughing water and postcard views. After a few hours of sailing past the small towns and cliffs I recognize from weekend trips and walks we anchor in Sa Tuna. Perfect. I sun on the boat mahogany deck, watch the fish from above, then travel by dingy to lunch. After a meal beach front in a shaded cafe, I swim back to my boat before the sails go up again for the return home. Thank you to our amazing skipper Dani and the lovely girl "Up To You." www.up2uglobal.com
Here's one for massive views. And a challenge. Starting at the "neighbors only" sign at the end of the road to Vall de Santa Creu, a 4-5 km climb one way, with the monastery of Sant Pere de Rodes near the finish and the abandoned castle of Sant Salvador at the tippy top. 360 degree view from mountains to sea, from Spain to France and from bay to farmland, everything. Accomplishment.
(You'll find Vall de Santa Creu, near Cap de Creus, between Port de la Selva and Llanca)
The Spanish coast. Build, build, build, bigger, better, richer. So, how cool to find Tudela, full of wierd rock formations, touching the sea, scruffy plants. And not one hotel room. Once a spot hosting 1600 a night, now brick, by brick, deconstructed and returned to nature at Cap de Creus near Cadaques. Take the road from Port Lligat to the Cap de Creus lighthouse and turn left at the sign. Fun to be here at Easter, never found the bunny, can you?
By now the stressy part of the holidays is setting into Barcelona. Crowded streets, full parking lots and packed shops. For a Christmas market that is so calm it almost doesn't have a pulse, a day trip to Begur. Combined with a quick visit to empty beaches and a long lunch at Turandot (excellent food and generous menu of the day, for only 17 euros in a cute family run place), a gulp of calm before diving back into the city's lively celebrations. www.restaurant-turandot.com
The floating heart. Tiffany adornments. In a turquoise box. Designs inspired by the surroundings, people and nature of a tiny village just north of Barcelona. One time model, long time designer, Elsa Perretti of Sant Marti Vell. Her museum. Chinese and Japanese treasures, Warhols, and memorabilia in their own jewel box, of lovingly restored stone, wood and terracota. Thank you Francesca and Sol!
A speedy visit to Girona dodging the rain big blob tour groups around every corner, but still so regal, elegant and gorgeous. Lovely shops and restaurants, a tidy preservation of ancient structures and narrow cobblestone streets, uninterrupted by contemporary mistakes.
By Maia Pay Ozguc
What it's like to live Barcelona. Impressions. Be curious. Be Barcelona!