Tuesday, July 05, 2011

by the sea, one last time

We leave the Languedoc region of France Sunday morning. Good-bye vineyards.


Hello Spain.


Cheaper gas, different language, no baguette habits. Why do bread eating styles not cross borders?

We are utter imbeciles at finding our way to the quiet little hotel (Mas Ses Vinyes) on the outskirts of Begur, Spain. (Why there? Well, it’s just a couple of hours north of Barcelona and we need to return the car early the next day. And it’s a snap to get to the sea – the Costa Brava. And the rural inn prides itself on being a quiet place. We’re still in a quiet zone in our state of being. We're bracing for Barcelona the next day.) True, there are fifty google steps to take to get to the place, but at least the last one – “drive up 300 meters to the Mas Ses Vinyes” should have been obvious enough.

We stop at the gates where there is a sign “Ses Vinyes.” No one’s around. Ring the bell, I tell Ed. Nothing. I don’t believe he pressed hard enough. Do it again. Silence. A place of real silence.

Maybe they’re out. What now?

I peer through the crack in the gates. You know, I don’t think we’re at the right address.

We retreat.

But five minutes later we do finally locate the Mas (rural inn) and are given a delightful corner room where the winds blow through and make you feel almost as if you’re in a tent (I tell Ed).


There is time for one last swim in the sea.

We drive to the nearest beaches, even though we’re told they’ll be crowded. A Sunday in July, after all.

First beach. Not too crowded at all and why should I be surprised – it’s a nippy and gray day. Any other time this little cove would draw us.


Today, we look at each other and shrug. Pretty. Very few people. Want to go? Maybe we should look at some of the others...

We snake along the rocky coast,  past Begur, up one hill, over the next...


...and it really isn't all that long -- a few kilometers, no more than that -- before the landscape flattens out and the shoreline turns into one long strip of golden sand. The beach here is crazily packed at the entrance point. But as we walk away from the road, the sandy shore thins out.

As does the attire. Nippy as it is, this Roca beach is for those who hate the encumbrance of swim suits. Nakedness is the norm. A father and son kick a soccer ball, a couple plays a sporting game of badminton, a mom and dad try to coax their little one into the water – all, or at least most are clothesless and normally I would think – oh, fantastic! Peel those layers off on this hot hot day, except that today is not a hot hot day. Indeed, I kind of am missing my sweater.

Surprisingly, the water is quite warm. I am almost tempted to go in for a swim. Almost. But the thought of coming out of the warm sea into this chilly air gives me pause and I opt instead for wading knee deep in the choppy waters of a rather agitated Mediterranean.

Ed feels the water with his toe and says – I’m going in!


No hesitation there. He emerges once with a big grin, goes back in, comes out, goes back in, diving, surfing, doing all sorts of acrobatics, happy as the dolphin that he is.

And now, one last photo from the beach...


by the sea, by the sea... And off we go, back to our corner room with the billowing winds.

The post should end with mention of great food and a sound and restful sleep, but actually, the food at our rural inn is surprisingly tame. I’ll highlight the best of the bunch – a rice and seafood dish...


Maybe it’s that we’re spoiled now, terribly terribly spoiled by a month of great pizzas, salads, ducks, shrimp and pain au chocolat. And don’t forget the mille feuille. So that a reheated this or that and a limp whatever just seems so unfortunate.

As for the sleep – well, I suppose it’s our own fault. The idea of breezes blowing through the room all night long was so alluring that we left the windows wide open. During the entire month, we’ve had no real run ins with mosquitoes. But on this night, one made it into our room and it takes only one to keep you from sleeping well. I’m not an inept bug chaser, but the tall timbered ceiling and various nooks in the room stacked the deck against me. Near five in the morning, one slap by Ed finally put an end to things, but this was only a small victory since we were by then just a couple of hours short of our wake up and get going time.

I refuse to end the post on the mosquito hunt though. Instead, let me say that even as the inn puts too little effort into the food, it surely makes up for it by having lovely flowers.

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And, finally, I do want to say that I hope your Fourth was a happy happy Fourth of July. Ours just ended, in Barcelona. Crowded, lively, noisy Barcelona. I’m sure to have more to say on that once we haul ourselves and all our olive oils, ros├ęs, mustards and jams across the ocean. Right now, it's time for us to pack up and head home.