Wednesday, 31 July 2013

The costa brava - an unexpected success

As we have just recently bought a roof box for our car for our Switzerland holiday we decided that it would be a good idea to test it out on a shorter journey. I was very keen on going to San Sebastián on the Spanish Atlantic coast, which is meant to be lovely. We wanted to discuss the idea with James parents as well as check out the weather so left it until last week. Unfortunately there was not much accommodation left plus the weather forecast wasn't that flash so we decided to head to the other Spanish coast. We did a bit of research and James fond a nice apartment in a town called L'Estartit (just south of Roses where we went at Christmas time). I was feeling a little sad as had really wanted to go to San Sebastián but decided that we can always go there another time. We just booked two nights so didn't have much luggage but were pleased with the way our 7 seater espace plus the roof box fitted everything for the 7of us in.

We headed off on Sunday morning and decided to have lunch at Collioure on route. Unfortunately due to the fact it is summer and there is limited parking we could not find anywhere to park so David and Sue had to be satisfied with photos of this gorgeous town from the viewing platform on the side of the road. We carried on around the coast to the next little town, Port Vendres, and easily got a park and had our packed lunch looking out at the fishing boats. We also were unlucky enough to use some of the worse toilets in France. They were clean but the lights weren't working and there was no natural light so it was pitch black with the door shut. Penelope had to hold the door open for me and I was very thankful no one came in! Plus no toilet paper or hand basin (maybe there was and I just couldn't see it).

Anyway we jumped back into the car with the debate of who sits where as the DVD player in the back wasn't working so we had to do a bit of negotiation! We carried on to L'Estartit being guided along by Ken - the GPS. We arrived at our destination and Ken had us going down these very narrow cobbled streets looking for our hotel. We went down one street that was so narrow that the little French lady sitting outside her house had to tuck her feet under her chair just to let us pass - she wasn't that thrilled to do it either! We got to the end of the street only to discover that it had a sharp right turn and James had to do about a 20 point turn Just to get around the corner without swiping the side of the car. At this point we were wondering just accurate Ken was! I looked up the address on my phone and discovered we were in the wrong town and that L'Estartit was still 6km away - phew! We headed onwards and found the Pierre & Vacances apartments easily! Our apartment was lovely - 3 bedrooms plus a fold out bed in the lounge, great kitchen and a lovely balcony. Perfect for all 7 of us and would recommend to anyone and would go back again!

The view from our balcony.

The kids were a bit hot and bothered so decided to go for a swim in the pool. Sue and I went to check out the town with the task of finding somewhere for dinner. We found a nice place that we all later went back to. We wandered down the mall among the souviner shops and I got a few birthday presents for NZ family as well as a hat.

James and David had taken the kids to the beach and Sue and I set off to find them - which wasn't that easy as the beach was so crowded!!! We eventually found them thanks to Sue spotting James and Hannah getting out of the water. We had a bit of a relax and a play on the beach before heading back to the hotel to get changed for dinner.

We had a great meal out and introduced Sue and David to Sangria ( a Spanish drink made with red wine, lemon, lime, oranges, brandy, sugar and ginger ale). They had a great seafood paella and James and I shared Tapas while the kids had chicken and chips!

The restaurant we went to is the one in the middle.

After dinner we wandered back up the shopping street which was now very busy and bought more hats and watched people pay to put their feet into a tank full of small fish!

The next day we decided to walk around the coast to the viewing area but unfortunately only got as far as the End of the town as the path was fenced off due to rockfall.

We had seen ticket booths for boat and snorkelling trips so James, Jasper and David decided they would like to go on one. Sue and I were both a bit anxious it might be rough so didn't want to risk getting sea sick - the boys said we made the right choice! Also, Hannah wasn't herself and did not seem well. We had a coffee and an icecream at a little cafe on the pier and then went back to the hotel for lunch.

The boys had a great boat trip. It was one hour and 45 minutes including a 15 minute swim.

Meanwhile back at the hotel Hannah had crashed big time and had a fever and was very unwell. I went and got some Pamol for her and she perked up a bit but hated taking it!

When the boys got back they looked after Hannah and Sue, Penelope and I went for a walk along the beach and Penelope found some sand dunes to slide down. We had nachos at home for dinner and then Sue very kindly looked after Hannah and the rest of us went out for icecream and then down to the beach. Jasper and Pen had a blast making a sand castle and enjoying having the beach pretty much to themselves (quite unusual for the costa brava I think). We decided to take advantage of the bars on the beach and while the kids played David, James and I enjoyed a pitcher of Sangria.

Tuesday was our last day and thankfully Hannah was much better. James had a work phone call at 9.30 so we packed up and headed to the beach while James worked and then he met us. UnFortunately in Hannah's enthusiasm to get into the water she dropped her glasses only for them never to be seen again! Thankfully our lovely friend Vanessa had found her other set of glasses when she had done exactly the same thing the week before at the water slide park! You would think I would learn and get her to give them to me before she gets anywhere near the water! So we no longer have a spare set!

It was beautiful on the beach and as we had arrived early we got a great spot and we all had a lovely time relaxing swimming and building sand castles.

Reluctantly we left the beach as we had to check out by midday. We wanted to check out some more of the coast so headed south stopping at Pals on the way. Pals was a beautiful medieval village on a hill with lots of little narrow streets, gorgeous shops and wonderful historic buildings.

We found a quirky little cafe for lunch with a great view and average food, Sue's asparagus and shrimp omelette was a bit strange although Jasper got rabbit and chips which was very tasty.

We left Pal and headed to the coastal town of Sa Riera. We headed down to the village past parked cars then back up the other side with nowhere to park and heading away from the sea! Oh well! We decided to change plans and head to Sa Tuna instead. We wound down the hillside among the trees and terracotta roofed houses and found a parking area. We paid €2 to park then walked down the hill to the small, beautiful stone beach. James, Jasper and Hannah went for a swim and when they came out said that the water was full of fish.

Jasper desperately wanted to go back to the car and get his snorkel gear but we managed to convince him against it! After a final swim with the fishes and an ice cream we headed back to the car and home.

A wonderful three days and a great precursor to our Swiss holiday!

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