Places to Holiday in Spain
The northeast corner of the Iberian Peninsula is a region of Spain called the Costa Brava, which for good reason means "wild coast." To the east, it borders the warm Mediterranean. To the north, it borders the Pyrenees at the base of France. It contains one of the world's most artistically rich and vibrant cities, Barcelona. The city is known for its food, its nightlife and most important, it's art. It has had a booming tourism industry since the end of World War II, when the Franco government identified it as an ideal destination for tourists visiting the country.
Gaudi Church (http://www.sandiego.edu/lawabroad/images/aire7.jpg)
Drawn initially by the aura of Barcelona, we take the train from Paris one evening to arrive in the city by the following morning, where the friendly, bustling narrow streets of the Lower Barri Gotic and La Rambla districts greet us. We have tapas and sangria for breakfast---and lunch---and dinner at a variety of Spanish cafés around the city, trusting both our Lonely Planet Guide and our own two cents: if the tables and silverware are clean, it's probably a safe bet. And most of Barcelona is clean in all respects, especially the outdoor markets. The next afternoon we gather fresh fruit, manchego and an armful of avocados plucked earlier that day to eat with our wine that evening, as we cool our feet on the Spanish tile of our quaint hotel room balcony, watching the sun set and the streets grow slightly eerie and quiet. We visit a few small museums dedicated to Picasso and the spectacular Gaudi Church, which is worth spending at least a day exploring.
Costa Brava Highway
Tossa De Mar (http://nature.wallpaperme.com/3950-2/Tossa+de+Mar_+Spain.jpg)
After three days in Barcelona, we choose to go against our warmer instincts and head two and a half hours north via bus up the Costa Brava. It's one of the most pleasant bus rides I've ever experienced---the Mediterranean crashes against the coastal highway which runs along rugged cliffs, dotted with crumbling castle turrets built when the Moors ruled the land. Many take the bus on to Figueres, best known as the home and birthplace of Salvador Dalí---we decide to hop off in the small, but equally beautiful town of Tossa De Mar.
Tossa De Mar
It is late March, a week before the tourist season really begins, and the town of 4,000 is getting ready to swell tenfold for the spring, summer and early fall. Tossa is one of those perfect towns in which to disappear for the rest of your life---or perhaps to write that novel you've been developing in your head for decades. A wide swath of beach is the only border between the Mediterranean and the town itself, which allows a number of small hotels to have oceanfront rooms. Due to the season, we get a room with a balcony and garden for less than 30 euros a night. Fantastic paella is served nightly, believe it or not, at the oceanfront Best Western located on the beach. After a week, we consider applying for citizenship.
Hailing from Austin, Texas, Daniel Westlake has written under pen names for a myriad of publications all over the nation, ranging from national magazines to local papers. He now lives in Los Angeles, Calif. but regularly travels around the country and abroad, exploring and experiencing everything he can.