Sunday, October 30, 2011

Weekend in Paradise Part Two

After much delay:

Have you ever noticed how much easier it is to wake up at a decent hour when your day’s plans don’t involve work? The morning after our spa appointment and lakeside stroll, we woke up ready and willing to start our day. We got ready and packed, and then headed down to the hotel restaurant for a wonderful breakfast—complete with mimosas! In no time we were on the road again.

Perhaps I should have taken a second look at the route I had planned on the iPhone's GPS. Again, Michigan boy here, I naturally interpreted the large green blob of land that we would have to cross as a “woodsy area” or something. This is exactly why 3D smart phones are a good idea!  A half hour later, as David cautiously navigated the tight corners of the barrier-less, cliff-side road , silence came over us as we both attempted to conceal our nerves (and in my case—outright terror). Knowing that my life was in his hands, and also knowing that any one of the numerous cyclists who kept appearing around the bend could send us over the edge, I bit my tongue, gripped my door handle and tried to admire the beauty of the expansive views.

Somehwere near the peak, we decided to pull over and check out a church. We'd been slowly climbing the mountain for about an hour, the past half hour of which was devoid of any sign of civilization. If I was impressed by the fact that someone had decided to build a church here at all, imagine how I looked at it when I found out it was built in the twelfth century!

The views were amazing, you could see all the way to the coastline. We took a few photos, and got back in the car, ecstatic to begin the trek down the other side of the mountain.

Soon, we were nearing our first destination.  The week prior, I was talking to a coworker about the trip we were planning to take.  Since he was familiar with Gerona, he offered some advice.  Based on his descriptions of each of the villages, we drew up our itinerary.  First on the route was Peratallada.  A medieval village that was tiny and compact.

The most astonishing thing about this village was how pristine and well-kept everything was!  Also, there wasn't a single building within the town limits that wasn't from the medieval era.  This combined with the scale and cleanness of it all made it very surreal to explore.  It was hard to remember that we weren't in a theme park, that this was actually the real deal!

There were so many interesting and unique things to look at!  And all with in a five-block-or-so radius!

Adding to the theme park feel were the numerous tourist-oriented business that formed the majority of Peratallada's commerce.  Most of the shops sold artisan crafts, unique artwork and souvenirs.  Glass blowing is popular in this region, so there were many shops dedicated to that.  There were also several accommodations for the size of the town, and many bars and restaurants, all which had a lot of character.

There were so many photo ops in such a small space!

I was ecstatic to see the moat!  Living in America, the only castles I had seen were Curwood's and Sleeping Beauty's, so every time I see something from this time period as iconic as a moat, it makes quite a deep impact on me!

I loved the top of the structure above.  It looks so ancient!

Next on the itinerary: Pals, which was also one of my coworker's suggestions.  As soon as he started describing it to me, I was on board.  Pals is another, larger medieval town—Gerona is just full of these gems!  The real charm of this village comes from viewing it from afar! The whole thing is nestled on a tiny a little hill in the middle of a vast plain.  I tried to get the perfect photo as we were approaching, but alas, I failed!  I suppose this means I have a reason to go back!

After having just experienced Peratallada, the initial impression of Pals wasn't quite as strong.  Imagine getting used to looking at this!

Really, it was just like that last town we saw on a larger scale.

Straight.  Out of.  FINAL.  FANTASY!

This was somebody's yard!  And that, my friends, is what dreams are made of!

We zig-zagged our way up the narrow streets and eventually made it to a lookout at the top of the hill, which provided an incredible view of these islands.  We had originally seen them from the church I mentioned at the beginning of this post.  It was here that we decided to chance our course.  They were so close and so awesome looking!  How could we not check them out!

At this point can you still believe we did all of this in one weekend?

As we descended back down the hill, I saw this father/daughter duo sitting on their balcony just observing people as they passed by.  I know that's exactly what I would spend a lot of my time doing if I lived there!

Back in the car, we reset the GPS on the David's iPhone.  Those crazy islands, which by now I had learned were called Medas Islands, had beckoned us, and we were on our way.

David became obsessed with the castle perched on top of this mountain!  Our route took us right to the foot of the mountain where there happened to be a cute little town.  We want to go back and explore this place someday!

By the time we got to L'estartit, we were parched and famished.  This coastal town was the most touristy place we'd been to all weekend, but the street we decided to eat on lined the marina and provided a decent view of the sea and the islands.  We ordered are favorite tapas and some tall beers.

While we dined, the sun finally emerged from the clouds, instantly raising the temperature at least 15 degrees, so after lunch we headed back to the car to change into our swim suits and flip flops.  Then we went and bought tickets for a mini-cruise along the Costa Brava and Medas Islands.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Costa Brava, which means "Rugged Coast" or "Wild Coast", it's the seaside strip that stretches from Blanes (an hour north of Barcelona near where I work) to the French border.

 It's named such because of the steep and rocky terrain that distinguishes it greatly from the Barcelona and Tarragona coastlines.  It is hard to believe that so much awesome is packed into one little province.  It made me feel truly lucky to live in Spain!

The boat hugged the coast, providing amazing views.  But we decided that the next time we go, we're going to rent one of these smaller boats, meant for groups of about four people.  It doesn't cost much more, and as you can see, the views must be even more intense!

On the way back towards the islands, we made our way to the bow of the boat.  We were bouncing up and down so much, it felt like my stomach was doing somersaults!  I think I was giggling more than the little boy standing next to me!  SO MUCH FUN!

The boat did a little route around the islands.  On the other side, the captain called group by group to go down to the lower level of the boat.  Large windows allowed us to observe large schools of glittering fish navigate the reef below.

When the cruise was over, we decided to get in the car and head back to Barcelona.  We had done so much, and had no trouble concluding our trip.  We'd had some serious R&R and plenty of adventure!  I've never taken so much advantage of a weekend before!


  1. Your photos are amazing! I'd love to visit the medieval towns - now I definitely want to see more of Spain

  2. Thanks, Bridey! I still have so much left to explore myself! It's amazing how much history and beauty this country has! Have you been in Spain before? If so, where did you go? If not, I definitely recommend making the trip!

  3. The photos are all so beautiful I could cry. For reals. You were right when you said that it just doesn't even seem like a real place - so much epic happening everywhere you look!!!! You truly ARE lucky to live there - it's like one long vaca that just keeps on going. Except you have to take breaks from it (because it's so epic) to go and work for a while.

    That FOOD looks so good. I want to know what everything is!
    And the shapes of some of those windows are WHAAAATTTT.
    And everything is old as F&%K! In a good way.

  4. Why is the text so small!!! Why!

  5. Megan, I will send you a map of the food after lunch :) Also... I am sorry, I accidentally changed my template and everything go screwed up. I plan on dedicating some time to revamping my blog design soon!