Medieval towns of Pals and Peratallada

Having the scooter allowed us to discover Llafranc neighborhood even further, so we headed inland from Aiguablava beach, to see the medieval towns.
First view spot was outside the little town of Begur, with its 16th century castle. This time we just had a look at the town´s scenery from afar.

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While the road along the coast, travelling from one beach to another was rather hilly, but quiet, then going slightly inland it turned rather highway-like and less scooter-friendly. Away from the coast the typical Spanish dryness had settled in, turning most of the nature desertly yellow.

Our first destination was Pals. Its medievalness dates back quite a few centuries, namely to 11th century, with its town walls and four square towers dating back even further, to the 4th century. During our visit on the Sunday morning, the town seemed to be abandoned ghost town. Everything was well in tact, but very few people were wandering along the cobbled streets of the medieval quarters.
My favourite spot in town was a small boutique/café Bazara, that combined casual boho clothing and accessories shop with stylish coffee corner. Just for this shop I´d like to live there, or maybe rather “transport” the same kind of boutique to my neighborhood. 🙂

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About 10km from Pals there is another medieval town, Peratallada – famous for its Medieval festival in October. Most of the buildings in Peratallada are built from stone carved from the moat which still encircles parts of the small fortified medieval town. The castle from 11th century, in the middle of the town has been turned into luxury hotel. Its beautiful stone buildings, narrow passages and cobbled streets were very charming indeed.

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Spanish nature is just so unbelievable and totally different from the rest of Europe! The air changes as soon as you cross the border at the Pyrenees. The ground is desert-like yellowish, rather than black, the plants are different, with large selection of cacti, and of course the heat. I just love it!

Cruising North from Llafranc, Tamariu and Aiguablava beaches

If you have some time to spend at Llafranc and are not up for spending your full day on the beach(at least not on the same one), it is a great idea to rent a scooter and visit some nearby beaches. We headed off discovering Northwards.

Scooter really is a great way to travel in the neighborhood and still be able to enjoy the nature(more than inside a car), provided you have a good driver. The road gets much hillier to the North from Llafranc, going by foot it is quite a hike. On a scooter, however it was a very picturesque experience with pine smell and smooth sea breeze, looking down at the green forests and gorgeous sea-scenery, following the steep winding road up and down the hill.

First stop up the hill was Sant Sebastià lighthouse, built in the 19th century. There is also a lovely outdoor restaurant to enjoy the view with some music.
The scenery from the viewpoint is just unbelievable! I could have just stayed there for ages!(I think I did spend at least half an hour taking in the view). A real “happy place”.

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Driving on, we took a turn at a mysterious little sign of “Cala de Cau”(that is not even on the Google map). We were looking for little creeks off the tourist trail. Following the path, it lead through the forest, climbing steeply down the rocky hill. Quite a climb, without really knowing where we´re going. However, at the bottom there was a tiny little windowless shedon the small stony beach. Very secretive and exclusive, nice private discovery.

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Driving on, up and down the hills, the road lead to Tamariu beach. A former small fishing village, as they all tend to be. Despite the crowds, the beach has managed to retain its amazingly clear water.

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Further on North, we got to Aiguablava beach down the steep descent. The rather small beach is surrounded by  high wall of rocks and cliffs that most probably move a bit during the stormy season. Before heading downhill, we were welcomed by again a magnificent scenery from the top of the hill.

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There are many more little coves and beaches, worth your discovery!

Hike to Cap Roig botanic gardens

Southwards from Llafranc goes is a picturesque hiking trail. The aromatic pine trees surround the walking trail going along the coast, built on the side of the rocks. Just about a quarter of an hour walk away is the neighbor town of Calella de Palafrugell (that of course if you dare to rush past the charming scenery and sights of the most beautiful neon and teal blue water, otherwise it will take longer).

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Calella de Palafrugell is known for its July music festival – The Cap Roig Garden Festival that has been featuring really big names, for such a small relaxed spot.

Calella with its several little coves and beach spots is a great place to stop over for a dip in the sea and also to stock up on water and snacks(or eat at one of their numerous restaurants). This is quite crucial, as moving on there won´t be options to get food along the way and even at the Cap Roig botanic gardens is just a lonely vending machine, in case you get hungry.

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However, moving on along the rocky sides of the coast, the hiking trail gets rather narrow and wild and oh so beautiful, with a few tunnels going straight through the rocks. Reminded me a little of Cinque Terre hiking trail in Italy.

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Cap Roig botanic gardens may take a few GPS skills to find(as it is situated not straight at the end of the hike), but are easily reachable by foot.

Cap Roig botanic garden is one of a kind along the Catalonian coast and holds nearly 1000 botanical species from all over the world and sculptures by renowned Spanish and international artists. It is here where the July Music Festival really takes place.
Back in 1927 the Russian colonel Nicolai Woevodski, lover of drawing and architecture, and his wife, English aristocrat and decorator Dorothy Webster started building their dream. The works continued up to 1974.  The castle and its gardens are today their legacy.

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All in all (together with swim breaks and snack stops) took us 8 hours to hike from Llafranc to Cap Roig and back. It takes about 1.5h to have a proper look around the botanic gardens.

Quietly picturesque Llafranc

Next stop after Figueres and our base-camp over the next few days was the picturesque little town of Llafranc. Early September when the kids had returned to school and most of the tourists finished their holidays, the season was winding down and coming to an end. This was a perfect opportunity to  avoid the crowds.

Llafranc is a small costal town on Costa Brava, adjacent to Girona that has managed to retain its cute low-rise 2-3 floor houses and avoid getting the high skyline, so sadly destroying the natural beauty of several Spanish resorts.

Frequented by film stars and artists of the 20th century, Dali himself used to stay often at the Hotel Llafranc. The artfulness of the town is reflected even on the meter boxes that sometimes appeared covered with paintings.

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Surrounded by the hilly coastline, the little cove offers calm getaway to kick back and unwind. With sweet pine smell in the air, combined with the sea breeze cooling your skin in the hot sunshine, this is a great place for relaxation.

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As gastronomy  makes up a great part of the holiday, from my experience I would recommend La Sirena restaurant for a dinner directly on the beach – great ambiance and good food. I am usually not big fan of calamari rings, as they often tend to taste like rubber bands. However the ones I had at La Sirena were really eye-opening for me, making me realise they can actually taste amazing, if cooked properly!

For the dessert the place to go is restaurant Jani, for the best coconut flan in the world!

However I would not recommend getting a paella at the Hotel Llafranc restaurant – my great hopes were bitterly(or should I say “saltily”) disappointed.