La traversía de la Costa Brava – Day 1

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TGV from Paris to Barcelona

And so, on May 21st, 2019, I arrived in Blanes by train from Paris, via Barcelona Sants. A very easy journey with the 10 am TGV from the Gare de Lyon after the short trip from home into the city (to the same station). The change in Barcelona was pretty easy – up an escalator, ticket bought from a machine, then down another escalator to wait for the slow train to Blanes where the footpath begins. The 90-minute journey north from Barcelona was uneventful – the city suburbs, then the ugly outskirts of modern coastal towns. On arriving, Blanes was no better than the rest: the station is on the edge of the town, surrounded by modern commercial developments and housing blocks. A fairly easy walk uphill and then down led me to my hotel for the first night, around 100 metres from the beach.

The following morning, in glorious sunshine and beneath a clear blue sky, I arrived on the Blanes beachfront promenade with my 13-kilo pack (3 litres of water as it would be scarce all along the trail)  and saw the first challenge awaiting me – the 173-metre climb up to the Castell de Sant Joan at the far end of the beach beyond the Sa Palomera rocks that mark the official start of the Travesia (and the first signpost).

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View from the start of the trail in Blanes

After the seafront, I headed into the old centre and then began the climb up the various flights of steps leading to the Castell and its glorious view back over the town.

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View over Blanes from Castell de Sant Joan

Such views would be a regular occurence over the next twelve days – I would frequently be able to look back and see the route covered. That can give you a real sense of achievement at times.

From the Castello, the trail stayed inland, following footpaths and quiet roads, until returning to the sea at the beautiful Sa Boadella beach where I took a break for an hour or so.

I had stupidly thought that a coastal walk would be an easy thing, just a pleasant stroll along paths overlooking the sea, with an occasional beach thrown in. I hadn’t reckoned on the headlands between the bays or the fact that the trail would climb inland from time to time. The first day alone had a total of 750 metres in positive ascents. And as I came straight to the trail from an intense period of work, I hadn’t really trained for it. But the days are long at that time of year and too bad if it took me an hour or so more than planned the first few days.

At times, especially on the first three days, there were well-maintained stretches of the trail that followed the coast closely, such as the one just below. A real joy to walk.

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Cala Banys, just before Lloret de Mar

However, fairly often, these charming paths gave way to steep, exhausting climbs up from the sea to reach higher paths on the clifftops.

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One of the steep flights of steps above the coast

Basically, it was up and down all day and, apart from one day on the trail, this would be the standard for the next twelve days. I found this tough at first, but I was used to it by the fourth day, when another problem kicked in, but more of that later.

The least said about Lloret de Mar the better. One of the largest resorts in Spain with, according to the hiking guide, the highest concentration of hotels in the Mediterranean, it really wasn’t my kind of place, despite being well-contained between two headlands, with the hotels stretching inland and so mostly invisible from the seafront promenade that I followed. The kilometre or so of beachfront was covered without stopping (and without knowing that I’d see a much uglier place in a couple of days). One thing to be said for Lloret though was the prevalence of free toilets and showers all along the beach.

After a brief rest at the end of the promenade near the Castell d’en Plaja, I followed the trail along clifftop paths before it veered inland, returning briefly to the coast at Playa de Canyelles. It was not an especially inspiring section, particularly as one part was at the side of the main road between Lloret and Tossa. However, once it left the road to head down into Tossa, things got much better with a very pleasant wooded trail, albeit with dangerous chickens at times…

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Sign near el Xalet Vermeil

Tossa turned out to be a pleasant little town with a quaint pedestrian centre. My first stop, after a long, pretty hot day, was for a cooling beer, before heading to the hotel, the very comfortable Hotel Windsor with a great receptionist who recommended a good place for dinner just a short walk away. For 13 euros, the menu del dia offered red peppers stuffed with seafood, cod with beans, and cheesecake, plus a quarter litre of wine, bread and olives. Absolutely delicious and incredible value.Too bad I can’t remember the name of the place or find it on the map almost a year later. After that, I was ready for a great night’s sleep.

 

 

 

 

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