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  • Carol Duval

Back to the Costa Brava

Outside the Dali house at Port Lligat

It has certainly been a few years from when we took a few days out from travelling on our Eurail passes around Europe. The beaches are still the same but there's more building--though mostly much better than the ugliness that was thrown up in the '60s. Some of the older houses had wonderful colour schemes, with the cobalt blue/mustard yellow or terracotta combinations being my favourites.

The drive along the coast to Cadaqués was, as Elaine had warned me, hair-raising, especially in a right-hand drive. Thank heavens her Mini Cooper is bright red so at least highly visible except for when screaming around hairpin bends — me doing the screaming. Trying to find the hotel, the Playa del Sol, was the next challenge with the GPS taking us up, down and around the town’s many steep narrow lanes so many times before finally bringing us down to the seafront and what looked like a pedestrian path but turned out to be a narrow road that AT LAST brought us to the hotel.

It was a good choice of hotel, with a quiet pool and terraced lunch restaurant where we could spend a few hours recovering from the drive. Later that evening we’d recovered enough to go in search of somewhere for dinner and wanting to avoid the tourist trap places on the front, found a small place on a tiny square where we sat out eating the best paella we’d ever had and listening to a kind of Spanish/Blues mix. No thumping bass, no jostling crowds, no fried fillers—just the mood of Catalonia and a seaside village.

Dining at Can Pelayo restaurant

There was good walking here too, around the shoreline and up over the hill to Dali’s house. We were pleasantly surprised to see how clear the water was despite an equally surprising amount of cigarette smoking and butt disposal very close to the water’s edge. They must have a great team of beach cleaners as the sea was crystal clear wherever we looked. Some of the youthful sunbathers must have very strong hides as they seemed not to mind sitting on all those stones—though maybe that’s why their thighs looked cellulite-free—all that pummelling would surely do the trick.


Coullioure is a bit further up the coast in France and the last time we were there was in the ‘90s when we were on holiday with Dave and Diana Dawson, our Canadian friends whose son Geoff was at the American Community School in Cobham with Andy. It was just as lovely as we remembered and just as crowded, even on a non-school holiday weekday. But the crowds were cheerful, the oysters fantastic and the water again clear despite being very ‘agitated’ as the signs said with huge crashing waves with it being a windy day. It made me wonder what it must be like there in a storm.

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