Friday, 28 March 2014

The secluded Catalan

Many of you probably recognize this white silhouette. It is Cadaqués, the easternmost town of Spain on the peninsula of Cap de Creus in Catalonia. Even if you hadn’t visited the place you may remember it thanks to Salvador Dalí who spent his childhood summers there and later created his main residence just outside the town.

Stairway not to heaven but to the town hall.

Cadaqués is another former Catalan fishing village that now relies on tourism. Much thanks to Dalí and the many other artists who are known to have spent time there tourists have been pouring in since the 1960s. Yet the town’s present outline is delightfully unspoiled. The hotels have been built a bit further away to preserve the authenticity of the place.

The picturesque old town with its stairways and archways and its narrow paved allies of slate and cobble called rastells is very much the same it has been for centuries.

House of Serinyana or the Blue House.

The glazed earthenware jug on the lady's head is a local specialty called doll.

But something has changed having brought further unique features to the townscape. In the early 20th century, a large number of inhabitants emigrated from Cadaqués to Cuba, Haiti, Argentina, Mexico and New York. According to some estimates as many as 400 left from the village of some 1200 people. The luckiest ones made a fortune and returned showing their wealth by building luxurious ornate houses for themselves to live in. The modernist houses with Cuban style characteristics still embellish the seafront.

Cadaqués is located only some 35km from the town of Figueres where Dalí was born. However, the rough mountains on the peninsula kept the village isolated from the rest of the mainland for centuries, perhaps even longer. The secluded bay was practically like an island where all the Mediterranean seafarers have taken refuge at one time or another. Sardinians, Etruscans and Egyptians visited, Greeks and Romans came to stay for quite some time. Furthermore, because of the unprotected location of the village pirates used to be a constant threat.

On the sunny afternoon two years ago in early May, nothing could have been more distant from our minds than ferocious pirates. I bet the few hours our group of four couples and a bebé spent by the pebble beach was exactly the place to be at that moment for each and every one of us.

The little snow we had a couple of weeks ago is now gone. Normally, there would be some for several more weeks. At about this time, we would generally be busy preparing for our Mediterranean break. This season, however, there is so much to do at home we are skipping the spring holiday. Instead, I will continue posting on the two earlier ones I’ve very much neglected here. There are so many great moments to think back to it might be possible to stay happy without actually travelling anywhere.

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