The brisk November wind howls eerily as it channels through the alleyways of Cadaques. Legend has it that it is this very same wind that has driven men insane over the centuries, its numbing hum drowning out all sense of….. reality.
It is in fact very easy to lose track of time and reality as you walk up and around the labyrinth that is downtown Cadaques. The seaside town is nestled along the Costa Brava (rugged coast) of Spain, facing the Mediterranean Sea. During the summertime, this charming corner of the world is a magnet to tourists flocking to its picturesque beaches, rugged hiking trails, and breathtaking architecture. As the autumn fog settles in, however, you will have the winding roads all to yourself, often walking for hours before any soul crosses your path. There could not be a better way of exploring!
As soon as the oversized passenger bus takes its last turn around the surrounding mountains that lead into town, the terraced olive trees will greet you with their swaying arms. As you take in the sight – quaint white stuccoed buildings with terra-cotta roof tops and the blue-gray sea violently crashing against the seaside roads, you will understand why this jewel of a town has attracted many artists over the last century, from Salvador Dalí to Pablo Picasso and Joan Miró. All of them making their pilgrimage to the land of Cap de Creu’s jagged terrain to light the fire of their imaginations. The bus drops off passengers at the only bus station located right at the entrance of town. From there, the small low-season crowd disperses to all directions.
The eccentricities of one of Spain’s most iconic artists, Dalí, are showcased as you take a tour of his former home and art studio. The now museum enjoys a phenomenal view of the sea along with the serene soundtrack of the crashing waves nearby. The journey from downtown Cadaques to Dali’s home/museum must be taken on foot in order to take in the landscapes that inspired so many of Dali’s works of art.
A walk along these streets and the hiking trails of Cadaques will take you back to a simpler time. And when it’s finally time to return to reality, it’s easy to find a delicious mediterranean meal worthy of grand epicurean praise. Seafood is freshly caught everyday by local fishermen and any restaurant you walk into will feature a traditional catalan seafood dish on the menu. Arrocerias, or restaurants specializing in rice dishes (think paella) are abundant in this region of Spain. You will enjoy a traditional meal of seafood paella and a bucket of mussels steamed in Catalan tomato broth at Ix, a hole-in-the-wall family run restaurant located steps away from the beach . A traditional meal in Cadaques will include a bottle of table wine and of course, a never-ending bread basket!
While you are spending time along the Mediterranean coast, take the opportunity to enjoy grilled sardines, a staple of the region often making an appearance as the “catch of the day” in most Cadaques menus. Casa Nun offers a grilled sardine dish accompanied by a colorful array of grilled seasonal veggies.
You can’t go wrong if you follow your nose towards your next dinner spot! As soon as the sun sets, you will be able to smell the subtle seafood aroma on the grill from the many restaurants that do remain open year round. It will surely be a meal that will never be forgotten!