Most of our time in Spain was spent in urban areas where we could either walk or use public transportation to get around. However, there are many great places in Spain where you can really use a car to get around. We spent a week exploring the Costa Brava region of Spain by car and used an Airbnb as our home base.
Costa Brava or “Rugged Coast” is the name given to the coast of Spain on the Northeast side of the country stretching from a little north of Barcelona to the French border. We decided to stay near the town of Lloret de Mar and use that as a home base to explore the other sights during the day.
Our Airbnb was a great one-bedroom house quite secluded on the Mediterranean coast. The house had a patio where we had a view of the sea. It also had a path that led down to the rocky shore where we had our own private little area.
On Airbnb, the house is called Casa Buddah “The House of Buddah.” Our host is Russian and practices yoga. The place is designed to be very peaceful and a place for meditation. Although it is called Casa Buddah, it looks like he tried to cover all the bases. There were pictures of Buddah, Jesus Christ, Hindu gods and who knows what else. It was very peaceful and tranquil.
Our rental car was a screaming good deal. It cost us $87 USD total for the week – including insurance! It was small by North American standards but was fantastic for just the two of us.
Lloret de Mar
This is a fair sized city of about 40,000 people and so it has a good selection of grocery stores, etc. However, it is not really our cup of tea. It is primarily a beach/party town for British and Russian tourists where you can play on the beach all day and party all night in one of the many discos. We had a nice lunch one day at a restaurant on the beach and used it as a place to buy groceries, but that was about it.
They started building Montgris Castle in 1294 and never finished. The construction took place until about 1301 but by that time the castle had lost its strategic importance so they stopped building but left it there as a symbol for the region.
When we were researching places we wanted to visit, Montgris Castle looked like a great stop. The castle has a classic style and looks like the castles you imagine in middle ages in Spain. One thing I neglected to notice in my research is that it was a 2.1 km (1.5 miles) from where you could park to the castle. Not so bad you say? I agree, except that there was a 270 meter (850 feet) elevation gain in that 2.1 km hike. So, it was little more energetic of a hike than we were expecting, but definitely worth it.
The sheer scope of how long things have been around in Spain still takes some getting used to. I grew up on the western side of Canada where the first Europeans didn’t settle until the early 1800s. The Empuries were first settled by the Greeks in 575 BC followed by the Romans in the 1st century AD.
Both the Greek city and the neighboring Roman city have been restored to some degree and there is also an indoor museum with some of the more fragile artifacts. There were a couple of guides walking around dressed as people from the Greek or Roman times, I am not up on my Greek and Roman clothing, so I don’t know who they were supposed to be.
Cadaques and the Salvador Dali House
Salvador Dali was a famous Spanish surrealist artist. For those of you who don’t know his work, probably his most well-known painting is “The Persistence of Memory” melting clocks painting. The city of Cadaques on the coast is where he lived for most of his life. We took a guided tour of the house. The tour was in Spanish and in French. Surprisingly, I understood a good deal of the Spanish tour and the tour guide also spoke a little English so I could ask for clarification anytime I needed a little help.
From the Dali house, we walked over the hill to the town center. We had a nice lunch at a seaside café. The waters of the Mediterranean were clear and you could see a lot of jelly fish right by the shore. Every once in awhile you could see some other fish swimming by.
Figueres and the Salvador Dali Museum and Theater
In the city of Figueres there is the Salvador Dali Museum. An old theater was transformed into a museum that has many of Dali’s works. This theater itself is a large surrealist object. Definitely an interesting place and worth the visit.
Like so many of the places we have visited so far, we feel like we had just begun to scratch the surface of the Costa Brava area before having to move on to our next adventure.