Sea Glass

Post by Charlie: A few years ago, when we were at a beach house with my sister in California, we learned about looking for sea glass (broken pieces of glass bottles that have been smoothed by the surf). It can be hard to find in California because lots of people like to collect it. Apparently searching for sea glass is not common in Cadaques. Wynette was collecting some and a young boy, aged about 10, wanted to see what she was picking up and got all excited when she showed it to him. Next year there won’t be any left. Added by Wynette: The two of us collected the sea glass in the photo below in about 40 minutes.  The next day we went back and found about the same amount in about the same amount of time.

Stone Walls

Around Cadaques all the walls are made of flat stone like this. They are all along the walkways as well as on steep mountain sides, used to create tiers for orchards of olive trees and other farming.

I assume these are traditional walls. There is a lot of rock like this all around. It must be easier to make walls out of rock like this that breaks into flat pieces. We saw one under construction. These days it looks like the stones are used just for show, like brick facing on houses. The real wall is concrete blocks with rebar.

If you look through pictures we took around Cadaques in other posts, you’ll spot many more of these walls.

Eating at the Rocamar

We walked out to the Hotel Racamar on the other side of the bay, up on the hill, the other three star hotel in town, very nice.

You always know a place is good when lots of locals eat there:

Okay, we were there at the ridiculously early lunch hour of 1:30 so no one else was there yet. The restaurant was amazingly good, much better than we expected, and not really that expensive. We ate there twice. We had some lovely dishes, including razor clams that were served on a rock, one of the stones they use for building the walls. Before:

After:

Dessert was a traditional dish with bread soaked in wine, with the foam that seems to come on things:

 

 

Cadaques

Post by Charlie: Cadaques was my favorite place on this trip. It is picturesque to the max.

Everything is perfect. It is on this peninsula along the Costa Brava above Barcelona about half the way to France. It is only accessible by bus over a narrow two-lane, windy mountain road so it is pretty isolated. As the guide books say, it has managed to retain its charm. The town is all white and situated on a beautiful bay with boats moored in it. There was a perfect, small sailboat moored there the whole time. We thought maybe the Cadaques chamber of commerce owned it and just kept it there for show. It did add charm to the bay.

No real local fishing is done here any more, of course, although the locals come out with rod and reel and fish the bay from the shore.

You can walk along both sides of the bay and it is rocky and amazingly beautiful on both sides. One side has a little island that you could go out to on a little bridge and it was so charming and pretty you could hardly believe it.

And one end of the little island was a sea monster of some sort:

The bridge did have a barrier and a sign from the local police saying something along the lines of “forbidden” in Catalan but everyone, including us, just ignored that and crossed over and walked around the island anyway.

The city itself has the requisite winding little lanes and is also picturesque to a fault. The local building material is this flat stone that makes up all the walls and (do I repeat myself?) is picturesque.

Out hotel was on one side of the old town, on the water. Our room had “no view” as they said when we reserved it, but it had a little balcony with a table that looked out over some nearby gardens. We had breakfast on it every day, and sangria in the evenings and it was great.

 

Paella and Sangria

Paella and sangria seem to be the main food and drink associated with Spain. In Barcelona, the Ramblas is probably the most touristy place in all of Spain. A big wide boulevard with cafes, stalls, human statues, etc. You walk down and every place offers paella on these signs that are all the same. You see people sitting at the cafes with large goblets of sangria.

I guess I am a bit of a tourist snob because I continue to be amazed that people would sit at a cafe along the Ramblas and order sangria and paella. You know they are going to be overpriced and of dubious quality.

We did, ourselves, order sangria at a tapas cafe in Toledo and it was pretty good actually. In another tapas bar ordered English cider. I don’t know where that places me.

In Cadaques we got some cheap sangria at a supermarket, which, by the way, are not that big in Spanish cities. A bit outside the cities they have supermarkets like we are used to. Anyway, we bought some oranges and plums and cut them up into little pieces and made sangria in our room a couple of nights and it was very nice.

We finally had some paella in the market in Madrid. We are less interested in rice dishes these days so that was an issue. We were sitting at the market and this young English couple was sitting across from us having paella and we got to talking. They said it was good so we had it the next night. It was pretty good, not great.

This English couple were very nice, we chatted a while. There were from outside London and in Madrid for four days. I think they said the round trip air fare was about 40 pounds (about $65 I think). They came for some nice weather. It was clear but pretty cold yesterday in Madrid so they were a bit disappointed.

Hotel Technology

In Madrid we are staying in a four star business hotel but over the weekend so the rates are pretty low (80 euro a night). It has hard-wired ethernet but none of our devices can use it. The wireless is 10 euro a day, the typical pattern, the No-Tell Motel has free wireless but the fancy hotels charge for it.

The interesting thing is that it has phones by the toilet. I’m not sure when that was big but I imagine very few business travelers use the room phone these days.

Our hotel in Girona was also a four star hotel and it had phones in the bathroom as well as Sony entertainment system in the room that seemed like it was from the 1990s. No iPod connection. I guess you have to be careful about technology as it can become outdated so quickly.

Differences in ideas of personal responsibility

Post by Wynette the day after we got back: This blog has some stunning photos of Spain: Photos from Spain by Mike Randolph

This photo from his blog, posted on March 17, 2012, has the following caption:

Definitely not in Kansas anymore: A pathway along the Noguera Ribagorzana river, which separates Aragon and Catalunya in northern Spain, has no guardrails and no wire banister to hang on to. A single small sign at the trailhead tells hikers to watch their step, highlighting the difference between between Spain and places like the United States when it comes to ideas of personal responsibility.

Reminded me of the scary stairs down to the water that we saw, our photos posted April 12 and 17  with comment that I’m pretty sure in the States they’d be railed off and marked “Danger”.

I just realized, I don’t remember seeing a single sign with the word Peligrosa (Dangerous), but did see a number of things that would have been marked as such in the States.

Cadaques catch up

Post by Wynette: I know we are confusing people by jumping back and forth from place to place, out of order from how we visited them.  But, I have a few more pictures I wanted to post from Cadaques even though we are now in Madrid.

I loved these strangely pruned trees (they were all over the place):

We found a restaurant at the Hotel Rocamar named Sa Conca that we ate at twice because the food was so good.  It was a long walk to the restaurant as the hotel was on the far end of town.  This picture was taken on the walk back from the restaurant our last day in Cadaques:

And here is one dish we ate there, both visits.  Fresh peas with ham: