Monday, 17 March 2014

On the rugged coast

This time the worst scenario given in the weather report came true: on Saturday we woke up to a completely white world which is not showing any signs of disappearing yet. I am in need of another spring walk in Catalonia.

This one was made on the Costa Brava from l’Escala, a small town located on the southern end of the long and sandy Gulf of Roses, to the little village of Sant Martí d’Empúries, one of its suburbs a couple of kilometres up north along the coastline.

L’Escala used to be a fishing village and it is still known for its anchovies. Thanks to the many gorgeous sandy beaches and the rugged rocky points in between it is one of the Catalonian resorts attracting domestic holiday-makers in great numbers. It is not one of the most popular ones but I read that even there the population may rise tenfold during high season.

We were lucky to be there on a sunny afternoon in late April. The town felt pretty lively but there was plenty of space among the bikers and fellow walkers on the lovely path following the coastline. Small groups of people were scattered here and there along the shore. Only a few had ventured into the sea.

The plan was to have a late lunch at Sant Martí. However, the tiny village gave us a bit of a surprise. The small square bordered with restaurants was packed with clients and with lots of people hanging around waiting for their turn to be let it.

While the men were queuing at the bar of the chosen terrace the ladies had a stroll in the
village composed of little more than a few narrow allies and the church of Sant Martí from the early 16th century. The lunch of various local specialties (only some of which are seen in the photo above) was well worth waiting for. And we, too, did take our time when we finally had a table.

When we were returning to L’Escala the shadows had already started to grow longer. Groups of friends and families with young children were gathered on the beach to enjoy the last rays of sunshine.

When thinking back to the crowds and the bustle of the spring day I could have sworn we made the excursion on a Sunday. After consulting the calendar of 2012 I realized it was, in fact, a Monday but the eve of Labour Day. Many people had probably taken the odd day off.

The approaching national holiday must also have been the reason why the ruins of the ancient town of Empúries halfway our walk were closed. Not that we would have needed any ruins spotting to complete the day, on the contrary. The remains of the trading post founded in 575 BC by Greek colonists and later occupied by the Romans will stay there should we ever wish to return to explore their wonders. On a first visit to L’Escala, the marvels of the seaside satisfied our appetite plentifully.

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