Basque Beauty

We launched a new hiking trip this spring in the Basque Country, and despite an exhausting work load to get the trip guest-ready without any noticeable major hiccups, I still found time to fall in love with the countryside. What’s not to like with all the lush, green rolling hills, the happy, free-roaming horses, sheep and cows and the spectacular Atlantic coastline. The New York Times recently published an article about the The French Side of Basque Country and equates it to ‘a little sister who didn’t get invited to the dance.’ It’s true, the Spanish side is much more well known and has some beloved wine to boot, but so much of what makes this rural part of France so alluring is that it’s not overrun with tourists and not overly touristy. Unlike Provence or Paris, it’s not high on the must-see list for a lot of foreigners, and I’m grateful for that.

The Basque people’s charm and sincere hospitality only add to the mystique of the area, and of course the food and wine, like so many places in France and Spain, is outstanding. And did I mention the delicious Gateau Basque à la Cerise? I think I must have eaten three of these buttery, dense cakes filled with ripe cherries one day on the trails. Yum. Of course, French fat-laden pastries work significantly better for endurance (and pleasure) than watery old Gatorade.

After many weeks in a row of working, I had some time off to hike on my own and enjoy the beach, and these are a few of the images I captured.  Plan your trip to this region in the spring or fall when the salt-water-seeking crowds aren’t overwhelming and make sure to bring your rain gear. All those hills don’t stay so green and lush without a significant and steady amount of rain, as much as some parts of Ireland, or so they say.

DSC05185 DSC05183DSC05165  DSC05187 DSC05214 DSC05218 DSC05225 DSC05232 DSC05238 DSC05242 photo (1) photo (2) photo (3) photo 1 (1) photo 4 photo 5

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Calella de Palafrugell, Easter Week

After almost a year away from Catalonia, my work as a hiking guide brought me back to the towns of Calella, Llafranc and Tamariu . Easter marks the start of the official tourist season; shutters get thrown open on coastal properties and winter stagnancy and dust get swept from cold floors out sunny balconies to the sea. The beach goes from being deserted to looking like a well-executed game of dominos, as bright colored towels cover every inch of available sand.

It was so lovely to be back!

And part of what made it so good was the staff at Hotel Sant Roc in Calella de Palafrugell. I didn’t think I would be endorsing a lot of hotels on my blog, but the folks who own, manage and work there are so unbelievably hospitable and lovey that the world must know! A family-run hotel, they have years of experience in making their guests feel well-attended to and perfectly at home along the gorgeous, rugged coast-line of Costa Brava. Moreover, there’s nothing better than waking up to the sunrise over the sea (make sure our request a sea-view room), the food and wine are reasonably priced and delicious, and the service is always with a smile.

Along the Cami de Ronda near Calella

Along the Cami de Ronda near Calella

Llafranc

Llafranc

Cap Roig Botanical Garden, Calella

Cap Roig Botanical Garden, Calella

Looking seaward

looking seaward