“If you only have time for one stop on the Costa Brava, you can hardly do better than Cadaques.” That was all I had to read in my guide book before setting off for this whitewashed village, built around a rocky bay at the bottom of a very winding and at times somewhat frightening road. As we drove along, at times doing no more than 20km/h, Sally and I couldn’t help but reflect on how much money was spent upgrading the Sea to Sky highway. Given many of the roads we have experienced along various European coastlines, that is one expenditure we suspect most Europeans would not consider necessary.
As soon as we arrived in Cadaques we knew we had to stay for the night. With its narrow pedestrian only stone streets, many lined with shops and galleries, it felt like a fusion between Spain and a Greek island. After a brief internet search of hotels in a local café, we booked a room in the Rocamar hotel, overlooking the town. Once a very good hotel with both indoor and outdoor pools, tennis courts, mini-golf and extensive grounds, it is now a bit tired. But it exudes a certain charm, and is very popular with many of its guests, some of whom return every year. (It is Cadaques’ highest rated hotel on TripAdvisor.)
Cadaques is home to a Picasso museum and is just around the bay from Dali’s former home at Port Lligat. His parents also had a summer home at Cadaques. As a result, he spent a lot of time here, and many of the restaurants feature photos of him and other local celebrities. There is also a statue of Dali along the main street, and some of the spots from which he painted pictures are marked, sort of like a Kodak photo moment.
Many of the narrow, crooked streets are paved in patterned stonework. The buildings are all whitewashed, although many include stonework, often laid in horizontal mortar less patterns. We were therefore surprised by a large new home on a prominent waterfront site below our hotel, since it was built entirely out of stone. Sally hated it, and wondered how it ever got approvals….and for a while I thought about some of the projects going through Vancouver’s permitting process. But then I came to my senses, and focused on the wonderful setting and menus in the local restaurants.
From Cadaques, we set off for Dali’s house and then up to the French border. We probably should not have since Sally is afraid of heights, and the narrow winding road that leads into France is even more winding and at times seems more treacherous than the road leading into Cadaques. But I was glad we went, if only to see the abandoned customs station at the border. It is now falling into disrepair, and no one has bothered to remove the ‘stop sign’ painted on the road. But there is no need to stop now. How different this is from the situation at the Canada-US border.
I think the Europeans have the right idea in bringing down the borders, although not all Europeans agree. Especially those Brits who are very concerned with the increased immigration into the UK by those who want to take advantage of the free health care system and other benefits. But that’s another story.