Cadaques, Costa Brava, Spain
La dolce far niente-My mind alluded with the image of the sleepy little town of Cadaques with the mention of these euphonious words from the movie“Eat Pray Love", meaning “the sweetness of doing nothing”. For a while, my transported mind lingered in that remote town, its sedate waterfront and its meandering steep streets. It was a world away, of the beaten path from typical Spanish tourist cities.
Most of the Spain traveling amateurs at large have Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia and top 5 cliche destinations in the itinerary where each minute is soaked in the monumental tourism of visiting the plethora of cathedrals, piazzas, palazzos, and museus. The process of making most of the trip in too little time quickly becomes exhausting. It leaves a feeling of weariness, stress, and aches in toes, defeating the very purpose of vacationing to relax. Although The things that are must do’s should be done for sure, but there should be some part in everyone’s travel course where one should ditch the typical tourist trail to stop, hold, breathe, observe the local life and boast the title of “ the only tourist from my land in a foreign land”. That idea added Cadaques to my cliché itinerary of Spain.
After being done from Madrid, the self-driven road trip started early morning from Barcelona along the coast of Costa Brava past the sunflower laden fields, just as imagined from the movie “Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara. Brief stopovers at the towns of Lloret De Mar and Tossa De Mar en route were absolutely worth it. The road soon transfigured to a treacherous, rugged mountainous terrain winding and dipping wildly with deep gorges on the side.
It was almost dusk by the time I entered into the town of Cadaques and although Googling everything about the destination leaves little scope for freshness these days but somehow the golden glow of the setting sun gleaming on the waters and the reflection of stones around it felt like a field of turquoise set in gold. Traveling for me is a wonderful way to give moments, which can go down my book of “memories to behold for life”, and that one glimpse surely qualified.
The town is a good 3-hour drive from Barcelona, nestled amidst the mountains and difficult to access which prevented flocks of tourists. It was the reason that the town looked so tranquil and pure. Even the town buildings stood in the testimony being painted in the purest form of the color -white. I had booked local home stay called "Cadaques Cool Apartments", for the typical authentic feel, located in a narrow alley higher than the rest of the town for some panoramic views.
I had a very hard time trying to squeeze my rental minivan through that lane and the car got lots of scratches. I could only make it to the apartment with the help of locals who gladly offered to help a troubled tourist. Lesson learnt- always rent a small size car in a place where the roads are unfamiliar. Finally, the car was parked in the garage of the apartment and under no circumstance was I going to pull it out till the end of my stay. My planned course of action to visit places nearby ceased to exist from there and the “sweetness of doing nothing”, came into existence. I woke up the next morning to find out if there was anything at all that could be done without my car?
It was a small town with a rough beach, no monuments and no particular checklist to tick off. With no agenda in my mind, I aimlessly wandered around.
The town had arches leading into meandering narrow pathways ,the cobbled pathways merged into stairs, the Stairs advanced to the courtyard of the houses, the houses had red, green and blue windows and crawling bougainvillea in alcoves of their walls, the walls were radiating with crimson peach pink and all the hues of red. All of it just seemed like a painting, a painting so impossibly perfect that artists like Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, Matisse. came here seeking an inspiration, perhaps they understood "pure beauty is ingenuity in itself".
The town and its market had a very French feel to it. This influence could be seen in the numerous bakeries and patisseries exhibiting delicacies through the glass windows. I stopped at Es Fornet bakery to buy some burilles and taps de Cadaques for some sweet indulgences. The rest of the day was spent in breathing the salty sea air, Hearing the caws of seagulls and crashing of the waves. An afternoon went by, and nothing was accomplished.
The sky started to transform from azure to saffron. I finally decided to take a boat ride. All this while it was the town that mesmerized me and now it was the distant view of the place with its silhouette in waters changing its color with the depth. I could see the sea floor through the water that was absolutely clean and sparking. There were tiny islands perched in between where people were just twiddling thumbs, lying in the sun and did nothing at all ( not even read a book).
It seemed they must have arrived there before the sunrise and had no intention of going back even at sunset. They must have surely mastered the art of doing nothing. While coming back I was thinking that doing a whole lot of things sometimes sums up to nothing and doing nothing sometimes can be everything. And today when I leisurely write about my Spanish holiday the first place that comes in my mind are not the monuments and cities I visited but the day when I enjoyed my la dolce far niente guilt free in this quaint town of Cadaques.