Costa Brava in Spain conjures images of sunny beaches on the Mediterranean with small fishing villages and tourist towns scattered along the coast. Although the literal translation of Costa Brava is the Fierce Coast, it is anything but! The region runs from of the beautiful city of Barcelona all the way up to the foothills of the Pyrenees mountains as you approach the border to France. The whole north-eastern region of Spain is on the Mediterranean Sea and is an integral part of Catalonia (divided into smaller provinces and regions).
Here Catalan is spoke more than Spanish (although everyone does speak Spanish). Most signs are in both languages, having grown up in Quebec, I am familiar with dual languages and cultures in one country concept. When I visited, I was enchanted with the natural beauty of the cliffs and the sea as well as the Catalan history, rich culture and language. The best way to see the countryside is to rent a car. It lets you wander around and perhaps get lost. That is exactly what happened when we found ourselves in Tossa Del Mar – we were on our way to one castle and found ourselves at another.
I drove up the Mediterranean coast stopping in Blanes, Lloret de Mar, Tossa del Mar, Figuers and Roses. The countryside is full of hills and mountains (winding roads) which all eventually lead you to the sea. One of the most breathtaking views are from the sea as you look towards the cliffs and the staggered hillside residences which are perched precariously on the hills.
I stayed in a few different areas while I was there, each one having a different appeal. One of my favourites was our stay at Hotel Horitzo in Blanes in a room with a view (and a delectable breakfast). It was on a long stretch of beach and was very family friendly.
As you tour the region, you come to see that each town or village has their appeal whether it is beautiful beaches, fascinating museums, a vibrant Catalan language and culture, yummy tapas restaurants, modernist cemeteries or beautiful gardens.
If you are in Lloret de Mar, you may want to visit a few different areas: The Clotilde Garden perched high on the cliff above the sea. We had a yoga class here and the sounds of the ocean was so relaxing.
Another stop may be the modernist cemetery also perched on a hill. It was jammed pack with tombstones, mausoleums and crypts. So interesting to visit. Another highlight was the main Plaza including the Lloret de Mar Town Hall, the Maritime Museum and the Santa Roma Church located just around the corner from the plaza. These three buildings are all part of the Indianos Trail Indianos Trail that you can follow. Indianos was tge name of those that sailed to the new world to seek their fortunes in the ‘Indies’ of the Caribbean. The Maritime Museum is located right across from the beach and City Hall. It is housed what used to be Casa Garriga. The Garrigas family made a vast fortune and in 1887, they commissioned the building as the family estate in their home town, Lloret de Mar. This house, a surviving example of the indianos, together with Casa Font or Can Comadran are right in the heart of the old part of the town.
In 1981, the Lloret de Mar town council acquired the house to convert it into a local museum.
The Indianos traded in cocoa, rum, cigars and mahogany. Those that returned were called Americanos but many did not return.
It is more than a simple museum as, thanks to its central, privileged location, it has become the gateway into Lloret Open Museum (MOLL).
Thanks to new museum-based techniques and the inclusion of educational and entertaining features, visitors to the Maritime Museum can partake in an authentic trip through the history of Lloret and its links to the sea. Nine sailings into its history the route is divided into five areas: Sons of the sea, Mediterranean, The doors to the ocean, Lloret after the sailing ships and Beyond the beach. A route that goes from the coastal trading in the Mediterranean to the great deep-sea sailing across the Atlantic.
Visitors can discover a Lloret de Mar in which the shipyards worked frantically and the sand on the beach was occupied by women who repaired the fishing nets so that the men could use them to go out fishing the following day. In the golden age of the merchant navy, during the first half of the 19th century, the town was vibrant with the Caribbean aromas of products such as cigars, cocoa, rum or noble woods like mahogany, which the indianos used to decorate their houses. During the second half of the 19th century, in about 1860-70, this new prosperity fell into decadence. The inventions that came with the new century, in particular the steamboat, lead to the disappearance of the ancestral tradition of sailing in Lloret.
In the 20th century the town of Lloret de Mar returned to traditional activities of fishing and agriculture but since the mid 1950s, Lloret de Mar has dedicated all its efforts to the service and tourism industry. The fact that TBEX Costa Brava was located there in 2015, meant that there was a strong push to re-define this town from hotpot for the young to a more family friendly destination. I loved my tome in Lloret de Mar and the visit to the museum was both interestin and enlightening. I hope to retuning again one day.
Disclosure: I was a guest of the Lloret de Mar and Catalunia Tourism board as part of the TBEX Costa Brava conference in 2015. I did not receive any other compensation. All opinions are my own.