From Brighton Station and the usual decrepit First Capital Connect trains, then Gatwick Airport and proficient EasyJet flight to Barcelona, then taxi to Estacio del Nord, and a 2h45 Sarfa bus north, through winding pyrenean roads, down to the coastal town of Cadaqués.
Cadaques just oozes serenity, waves wash against small beaches and coves, scooters whiz along the one-way beach roads whilst golden brown Spaniards light up and coolly puff their smoke into the air.
The town and cathedral sit pretty at the foot of towering mountains, the sun bakes the terracotta rooftops, whilst kids climb on the Dali statue in the centre. Open air restaurants secure the latest fishermen’s catch, and most menus include Paella.
Boats litter the bay, the wind clanging ropes against their metal masts, amongst the sound of kids sunbathing on jetties and French tourists’ camera shutters, snapping views of the cathedral Santa Maria.
We’re staying in Hotel Sol Ixent, a new build 20mins out of town. The “Gala” restaurant has photos of Dali and his wife, the reception dons art books and a piece by Joan Comella. The pool glistens turquoise, but a tip toe in reveals its true temperature. The room itself is stark, but for a painted canvas of crashing waves, and a TV that we wont turn on. Still, the shower is nice and big.
Lugging the suitcases across town was thirsty business and we gambled with the hotel restaurant on the first night. Sam had swotted up on some culture beforehand, and pre-meal she shared her knowledge, “We keep our cutlery for all courses and we have to pay for bread, water and olives”, “Most places serve Paella but few use Saffron”.
Our menu choices were conservative:
Until now I hadn’t been particular to mushrooms, their slimy texture and shrink when you cook ‘em nature rarely appealed. These were different, they were wild, fresh, and I was addicted. (Addicted to ‘shrooms on the first day of the holiday? whatever next!)