Where in the World- Cadeques, Spain

A narrow street curls around the port as waves crash ashore, bursting high along the road. The stately white washed buildings line the seaside, their bright blue doors matching the color of the water upon which they look. It was home to one of the twentieth centuries more interesting artists, a surrealist who left a mark throughout the town, the region and the world. The climate, colors and vistas attracted Pablo Picasso, Joan Miró, Richard Hamilton and other artists from time to time. You arrive following a tricky drive over a mountain, along a winding road that descends into this former fishing village. This is where the sun’s first light strikes the country, as there is no point further east. Though the architecture gives one the feel of old Cuba, that is not where we are visiting today.

Text by Kevin McGoff

The last hour of the drive from France into Catalonia is scenic, and daunting. The flat stretch of highway from Figueres gives way to the climb through the Parc Natural del Cap de Creus. The narrow switchbacks climb amidst the rugged landscape. We proceeded cautiously while native drivers tested their skills and our nerves – streaking past when an infrequent and very short ‘straightaway’ was presented. The crest gives way to a glimpse of the unique blue of the Mediterranean, the reward being dangled should one survive the descent. The port of Cadaqués awaits at the end of this over the mountain drive.

Two and one-half hours north from Barcelona in the Province of Girona, Catalonia Spain is the Cap Creus Peninsula. Jutting out along the Costa Brava, meaning wild coast, this is the easternmost point in Spain. Visitors today come for the sun, the beaches and charm of Cadaqués, an ancient fishing village built on the slope that drops into the Mediterranean.

Ancient Port Along The Trade Route

The natural harbor of Cadaqués brought visitors from Rome, Greece and Egypt as they traded throughout the Mediterranean in their day. Less friendly sorts stopped by from time to time as well, with pirates once burning the town.

The port afforded Cadaqués opportunity for trade in wine, cork and of course fishing. But as these industries struggled, residents left the region; some for the Americas and many to Cuba.

Cuban Connection

The return of some of these emigres who made their fortune in Cuba is reflected in the homes they built, influenced by the style of their adopted country, that still line the seaside. The homes those returning from the Americas were trimmed out, frequently in bright blue, and stand out against the contrast of the sea and rocky heights dwarfing Cadaqués.

Today Cadaqués is a tourist destination. Though its character as a fishing village has been cast aside, its pace is nonetheless relaxed. The 16th century church, Santa Maria, is reached via the warren of cobblestone streets of the village. The Museum of Cadaqués in the center of town focuses on Salvador Dali, the town’s most well known one time resident.

Casa Museo de Salvador Dali

As a boy, artist Salvador Dali came to Cadaqués on family vacations. He was drawn to the coast line and the contrasting colors presented by the sea and rocks. The town is featured in some of his celebrated work. Dali’s home is a primary attraction and not to be missed.

In 1930, Dali and his wife Gala purchased a small fisherman’s house in Port Lligat, on the beach a short walk from Cadaqués. The artist lived there until 1982 when Gala died and he left, never to return.

During the forty years Gala and Dali lived in the home, they added on to it multiple times. They purchased adjacent land and incorporated other small fishermans’ homes into their own house. The result is an eclectic house on a vast property containing an olive grove and a garden through which to stroll. There are several structures, one of which functions as a theater with a film devoted to Dali’s career. The grounds are also home to Dali’s art, including a skeleton fashioned from a rowboat and roofing tiles.

Anecdotes Abound

The fascinating and eccentric life of Salvador Dali is evident through the anecdotes shared by the guide. The Costa Brava is the most eastern

point in the country. Dali had a mirror set beside a window, cocked slightly toward the Mediterranean which is outside the front door. His bed was situated such that Dali could see the sun rising across the ocean east of Spain from the mirror strategically tilted to afford him the view from his pillow. Dali’s goal was to be the first person in Spain to see the sunrise everyday.

The studio faces the sea and contains some of Dali’s work, his palettes and paints. His easel included a system allowing Dali to moving the table up or down so he could paint from an easy chair. The patio is eye popping, black and white slate: the pool a long rectangular pond. The oval shaped sitting room is lined by a continuous sofa. Speaking while standing in the middle of the room, one’s voice echoes throughout the room due to the curved ceiling.

Premier Attraction

Dali is quoted as remarking that “life is too short to remain unnoticed.” A visit to the Casa de Salvador Dali affirms his commitment to fulfilling his observation. His house is the most popular attraction in the area. It has the feel of a maze, each room having a unique quality and story to accompany it. Dali’s house can only be visited on a guided tour which must

be scheduled in advance. In high season it is advisable to schedule weeks before your visit. It is limited to groups of eight given the size of the rooms. However, the tour is not rushed. Our guide provided an overview of the artist’s life and a history of his home. There was plenty of time to take pictures, ask questions and soak in the ambiance of this unusual house.

Made for a Picture Postcard

The port of Cadaqués is lined with shops and restaurants. The view of the village looking back from along the quai is fit for a postcard. The village is surrounded by rocky crags. The water of the whitecaps of the rolling Mediterranean are set against its deep blue hue. The white-washed and pastel trimmed homes, reflecting Modernista architecture, along the port are topped by the church, resting just up the hill. The views from the top of the village are equally stunning. There are steps, many quite steep, that lead to homes and vacation rentals tucked along the hillside.

The cuisine and culture of Cadaqués are worth a visit, even for those who are not Salvador Dali aficionados. Like most villages along the Mediterranean, the ambiance of Cadaqués is characterized by sea breeze and a mode de vie that will slow the visitor to its leisurely pace.

Kevin McGoffN

Kevin McGoff is a travel writer living in Indianapolis and Isle sur la Sorgue, in southern France. He is a member of The International Travel Writers & Photographers alliance. His published articles may be found at Next Stop Sur la Route travelers and to make the world a better place one trip at a time. You can contact Dede at www.designingvacations.com or dede@designingvacations.com http://surlaroutekm.com/category/articles/ or on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/surlaroutekm/

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