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Wandering a Wild Coast

Updated: May 27

To mark our big year, Mark, who has been a close friend since kindergarten and his wife Mary, joined us for a ramble along the Costa Brava, the "Wild Coast" of Spain, north of Barcelona. This was a unique step for me in a travel sense in that it marked the second time in my travel career that I hadn't done all of the travel planning myself. I've never been on a cruise. I've never been on a packaged vacation of any type. I do the research. I book the transportation and hotels and plan the routes. This time, I would entrust all of that to a travel company. (The only other time, wasn't exactly what you would call packaged travel. It was 1991, and we joined an overland trip in Africa. Four months and 5500 miles, riding in a British Army Truck across 13 countries and some pretty forbidding landscapes. I wasn't going to take that one on by myself. You can read about that adventure here when I publish Chapter 6 in June.

 

Fortunately, friend of the blog Peter K. had done two trips with this outfit already and he assured me we would not be disappointed. So I took some powerful sedatives (mostly just because that's so fun), relinquished control (not fun), and hit "Book It."

 

It was great.

 

I won’t give you the blow-by-blow details. This isn’t that kind of travel blog (though there are several good travel blogs out there that do detail hiking this magnificent coastline). I’ll just share some photos, which are worth 1000— well, maybe 500—words, each.



As you can see, it was spectacular, and certainly something I would recommend for anyone who likes a good tramp through some rugged and inspiring terrain, combined with the usual eating and drinking pleasures of the Continent. Each morning was a delightful breakfast at the hotel followed by a walk/hike of 7 to 10 miles, some flat, some mountainous, all extraordinarily beautiful. We saw fields of wildflowers, wild flamingos on their annual migration to Africa, Ancient Greek and Roman cities, medieval monasteries and castles, cathedrals, and sparkling Mediterranean coves.


By mid-afternoon each day, we were in a new little town, our luggage waiting in the hotel lobby, ready for a siesta, and then later cocktails on the balcony followed by dinner at some little local gem. The hotels were generally modest but delightful.

 

Here is the website for Catalan Adventures if you’re intrigued (and tell them I sent you), or feel free to send me your questions.


As for the food on this adventure, well, here I will reiterate a point familiar to those who read the blog. Cultural preference is a matter of taste. For example: the Brits play baseball with wide bats and wickets, people from Wisconsin wear cheese wedges on their heads during football games, etc. To-may-to, To-mah-to.


That said...


Eating and drinking in Europe is way better than in the U.S. Full-stop.


The menus are more innovative, the quality is superior, and the service is friendlier. Of course, for all of that, you do have to pay a lot more.


Ha ha, I'm kidding. It's much less expensive than in the U.S. The menu prices are lower and there is no tipping because they already pay their servers a living wage. Maybe best of all, they run your credit card right at the table, saving all the back-and-forth nonsense.


As a small trifle of evidence, this is truffle butter, with a wick set alight by our waiter to better soften it before we spread it onto our freshly baked loaf of heaven.


As good as sex (at least with someone less skilled than myself). And that was just the first miracle performed that evening at SoleVida in the little town of Palau-Selvedera, all for half of what you would pay on our side of the pond. And I'll die on that hill.


It was time for Mark and Mary to return home to proper jobs and responsibilities. But not us. It was time to Ramble On.


Next episode: La Rambla Rolls On!

 

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