Every single day I see or encounter something that takes my breath away here in Spain. Whether it's an unusual piece of architecture, a spectacular sunset, a delicious lunch menu or a wooly European puppy trotting down a cobblestone street... there's always something new to admire.
Sometimes though, we stumble upon a place or situation that is so extraordinary I honestly feel I may have to pinch myself to make sure it's real.
This happened again recently when Señor Aventura and I had the blessing of a two night getaway.
Our beloved Abuelos Extraordinarios (my husband's fabulous mother and stepfather) have returned to enjoy a European adventure of their own... bicycling in the south of France.
Stopping in Barcelona to stay with us along their journey, they lovingly and generously took care of the three Aventura children for a full weekend so that my husband and I could spend time alone together for the first time since October! (THANK YOU!! We love you and appreciated it so much!!!)
For our getaway, my favorite guy had the notion of heading north to Cadaques, as I've never seen it before and he wanted to show me its beauties. As it turned out though, there were no hotels or AirBNBs available in that lovely town for the entire weekend!
Once again, we'd waited too long to book our reservations... and in Spain, this is a real thing. If you don't make your plans in advance, you will find no vacancy anywhere!
After a flurry of last-minute searching I located an AirBNB just outside of the Costa Brava town of Calella de Palafrugell. This is a coastal 'pueblo' south of Cadaques... it's actually south of Tamariu as well. The little town sits closer to Barcelona, but still along the exquisite Mediterranean sea.
"It's a small apartment," I told my husband, "and it's apparently a 20 minute walk downhill into town. That said, the place gets good reviews and has an ocean view. Since we're so last minute on this, I think it's the best we're going to do."
"What's the cost?" he asked.
"Pretty reasonable... about 89 euro a night."
(This is about $100 USD, roughly the cost of a Motel 6 in San Diego, California.)
"All right," he agreed. "Let's do it."
The children barely noticed that we were leaving, they were so delighted to spend time with their grandparents Los Extraordinarios.
"Bye Mom, have a good time," encouraged The Scientist.
"See you on Sunday!" Little Angel added cheerily as the three of them walked out the door to meet the school bus on Friday morning.
"I can't wait to play fútbol tomorrow with Grandma there," confided Soccer Dude, who had already moved on in his head to the next great thing.
"We love you! We'll miss you!" I called after my three favorite small people.
Soon our bags were packed and Chico Suave was gassed up and ready to roll.
"Have a great trip," smiled Abuela Extraordinaria warmly. "You two have fun. We'll be fine here."
"Have a good time," agreed Abuelo Extraordinario.
Off we went! The drive from Barcelona to Calella de Palafrugell felt almost too easy. From our apartment in Sarrià it took less than 90 minutes door-to-door, most of which time we spent cruising along a very well constructed, wide-open freeway with little to zero traffic.
My husband and I amused ourselves by talking and noticing beautiful things as we passed them... and we also reflected on the incredible year we've had.
"I can't believe we've been here ten months already," I exclaimed. "It feels like we arrived yesterday."
'Yeah, it's hard to believe how fast the time has flown by," Señor Aventura agreed.
"I'm so glad we decided to stay an extra year. I can't imagine what it would feel like to be packing up to go back to the United States right now. There's so much left to see!"
"Soon we'll need to work on renewing our visa. There's a lot of paperwork to get together for that."
"We should begin the process before we head to Italy in June."
"I'm so proud of the kids," I added. "They're finishing their first full year of school in Spain! They've learned so much... and it definitely hasn't always been easy."
"Nope," he said, "Especially in the beginning. But they are doing a great job with their Spanish now, all of them. Even Little Angel is finally speaking and reading in Spanish."
"Her teacher told me that her comprehension in Spanish is equal to all of the other students now," I smiled. "She can finally do the same work as everyone else in her class without special instruction!"
Happily we thought about how far our kids have come in less than a year... from uncomfortable English-only transplants who couldn't speak a word of Spanish or Catalan to comfortable, successful students taking and acing their end-of-year exams in Spanish, Catalan and even Chinese and German.
They're also playing the violin, flute and cello... trying out for the CP Sarrià fútbol club and enjoying many wonderful, special friendships!
"Moving to Spain was possibly the best parenting decision we've ever made for them," I confided.
"I agree," my husband nodded. "This experience is changing them for the better."
On that note, we arrived in Calella de Palafrugell. Unlike the full sun we'd enjoyed in Barcelona, the Calella weather was overcast and a bit gray that Friday. We parked our car along a side street and decided to have lunch down near the water before driving up the hill to our AirBNB, wherever it might be.
French and British families on vacation all around us seemed quite delighted with the Calella de Palafrugell shore despite the gray day. They dove right into the waves irregardless of surface temperature, and children raced up and down the beach collecting pebbles and shells. Summer had clearly begun for many families!
Señor Aventura and I enjoyed a lunch of fresh fish and green salad seated along the thin wooden boardwalk. My husband sipped on a glass of red wine and I took photos of the merry scene unfolding in front of us. We noticed how odd it felt to be in a town by the beach without our children.
"Wow," I remarked in disbelief. "There's nobody here I need to walk to the bathroom, or watch play on the beach, or ask to stop bickering with their sister or brother."
"Let's enjoy it!" my husband smiled and toasted my water glass.
Soon we'd finished lunch and were ready to head to the AirBNB.
This is where things got really magical. Anyone who has read this adventure travel blog for a while knows that we've had many really awesome and a few truly awful experiences with AirBNB apartments. Usually we have good luck... sometimes terrible luck.
On this day though, we had incredible luck!
As our car climbed through the hill toward the address we'd been given, we noticed that the houses around us seemed to be larger and more spread apart... less densely clustered. They had gardens and grounds, and some were clearly estates.
"I'll bet a lot of Barcelona families have summer homes around here," I said.
Before we knew it, we'd turned down the small street Carrer de Miranda where our rental was located.
"Oh my gosh, honey - wow! Look at the view!"
We pulled the car over and sat in silence as we took in the panoramic view of the Costa Brava coastline and the Mediterranean stretching into the horizon.
The apartment itself although small was charming, very clean, well-supplied and even had a local black cat who tried very hard to adopt us over the next two days!
"We really scored a win with this place," Señor Aventura grinned. "Nice work, hon!"
Once we'd gotten settled in and quickly unpacked, we were ready to explore the neighborhood!
"I'd like to go for a dip in the sea," my husband said. "Do you want to come check out the beach with me?"
"Sure, I'd love to!" I agreed. We pulled on comfortable walking shoes and packed a backpack with swimsuit, towel, goggles, water and a book for me to read while he swam.
Together we began to meander down the hill, discovering 'secret' stair pathways nestled between the houses and apartment buildings, leading down to the coast.
"This is so cool!" I exclaimed. "I feel like we're walking into a secret garden!"
"It's really well planned out," he agreed. "Let's see where this next staircase leads."
Before we knew it, we'd made our way to a coastal lookout point and we were staring out over a magnificent rocky shore.
The view was unparalleled... with craggy cliffs hovering above azure waters and no buildings to be seen.
"Should we go left or right?" he asked me.
"Let's go left today, and right tomorrow," Señor Aventura decided.
We set off along the incredible coastal walk between the cliffs below our AirBNB and Calella de Palafrugell.
Words can do no justice to this spectacular walk, which we took three days in a row... so instead, here are pictures taken along the coastal path throughout the entire weekend! Even better, the weather on Saturday and Sunday was much sunnier!
It's safe to say that out of all of the many magical adventures and experiences we've had in Spain this year, the path from Platja del Golfet to Calella de Palafrugell is at the top of the list of things that have taken my breath away with surprise and amazement.
We spent the next two days blissfully doing more of the same. Wandering the coastal paths, hanging out at the beach, swimming, eating al fresco under the stars and enjoying our charming rental apartment and black cat.
At night we gazed in wonder at the bright spotlight cast across the sea and land by the lighthouse across the way. "This place is really special," we agreed. "Wow. We need to return here. We need to bring everyone we love!"
On our final morning, we finally decided to travel the path to the right to discover and explore the small cove at Platja del Golfet.
"I think the water will be even more clear there," my husband remarked, "Because it is further outside of town and away from the boat traffic."
Platja del Golfet turned out to be the most breathtaking spot of them all.
"I feel like we've stepped into paradise," I hugged Señor Aventura.
"Yes," he agreed in Spanish. "It's definitely incredible."
We sat down in front of the water in silence, listening to waves crash gently upon the rocky shore.
We spent our last hours of vacation by the edge of the sea staring toward the blue horizon and contemplating the inescapable truth that despite all of the terrible things that do sometimes happen in our world there is still such powerful BEAUTY to be experienced!
In the end, our spontaneous getaway to Calella de Palafrugell turned out to be one of the highlights of all the adventures we've taken during our first year in Spain.
Whether you, like us, are a couple getting away on a romantic holiday - or you're a family or group of friends looking for somewhere truly special to swim, hike and explore - we recommend that you seriously consider traveling to Calella de Palafrugell.
You will never be sorry you've chosen this awe-inspiring locale!
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