Mosaic / October 9, 2008

Catalan Chronicle: The Costa Brava excursion

We met at nine on Saturday morning at the UB. None of us were very sure where we were headed. Pack your bathing suits, a nice pair of clothes (no jeans) and get on a bus. We will be heading to Lloret de Mar and Tossa de Mar, along the Costa Brava.

The bus took us along the coast. There were simply built houses and castles, cactus and red earth. We passed vineyards with so many shades of greens and browns, people working and laughing. As we drove on we found the cities are dense, bundled up apartments that have been ushered into the valleys by mountains. Getting closer to Lloret we saw a couple McDonalds, a mini golf course, and hotels.

The hotel we stayed at sat on what seemed to be a small mountain with a long staircase leading to the street below. The hotel was spacious and had pictures of boats. The rooms were difficult to get into, but inside were tiny turquoise furniture, which we found quite delightful, and Spanish cable. * The pool was cold, as was the air, so sunbathers lounged on the deck overlooking the coast.

We left the hotel and took a glass-bottomed boat from Lloret to Tossa, pulling into a beach of blue waters, and the relics of a sun bleached castle to our left.

This was the Vilavella, the older part of the city surrounded by a wall built during the twelfth century, knows as the muralles; and seven towers, or torres in Spanish, built to ward off pirates. Nearby Castle Llers was built during this time; it was one of the largest in the area and had a history of vampires. However, it was severely damaged during the Spanish civil war in an aerial attack.

A few of us went off exploring the muralles and remains of the castle, walking up to the top of the mountain over-looking the city, and posing for photos with the statue of actress Ava Gardner. Gardner came to Spain in 1957 to become friends with writer Ernest Hemingway and developed a passion for bullfighting (and bullfighters.)

After exploring the murrales we wandered into old town, commenting on how it looked like the stereotypical European city, with its tiny stands and narrow windy streets. Rambling around, we found tourism was one of the main sources of income for the city, though in the past it had been based on agriculture and wine cork production.

After the walk we sat down for a bottle of red wine at ice cream shop/café near the beach.

The ice cream shop, or heladería in Spanish, had beautifully crafted ice cream and many variations including a sundae with paper butterflies fluttering out of the scoops.

I almost felt as though I shouldn’t be there. It was so serene, the blue water, the kissing couples, the vestiges of a castle, the beach, it was almost too perfect.

To end the afternoon many of us rested on the pebbled Tossa beach (Platja Gran), basking in the cool autumn sun. Tossa beach was speckled with a few boats and sat between the murralles on one side, and a castle tower on the other. After resting, we hopped aboard our boat and headed back to our hotel at Lloret.

Lloret de Mar is almost mistakable for Florida with its fast food restaurants, nearby beaches, and many elderly visitors. I headed off the main thoroughfare of Lloret, but still could not escape the stores aimed at tourists and carrying more or less the same things: cheap shoes and jewelry, souvenirs with Lloret or Costa Brava scrawled on them, piercings, and plastic toys.

That night we had dinner together at the hotel with an eccentric waiter. We then retired to our rooms. Some wanted to go out, but the night was cold and our hotel cut off from the coastal side of the town by a horrible, narrow, steep, and long flight of stairs that no one dared venture down, especially at night. Instead we stayed in and had a slumber party, watched the Barce game, and bonded.

*Barce won.

Klayr Valentine-Fossum


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