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  • Day568

    Cap de Creus

    January 15, 2018 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 12 °C

    Leaving our harbour aire in Portbou we carefully wound our way up and down the mountain roads until they eventually flattened out and we were in a giant bowl of a valley, with mountains rising all around the vast, flat plain.

    One of the things we (especially Will) likes to do in different countries is to visit their supermarkets and see what products are in demand locally. The Spar we dropped in to offered a great range of olive oil and olives. They were particularly keen on stuffing anchovies into the latter. Other things that stood out were large packs of sunflower seeds in their shells and a great display of legs of ham or jamón.

    On the way out of Spar we visited a wine shop to have a nosey at what types were available and their prices. They had tapped barrels from which you could fill your own container, so after we'd put the shopping away we returned with a 1 litre plastic bottle that had contained orange and mango juice. Will had fun repurposing it to hold a different kind of 'fruit juice'!

    It was a clear day and we were suprised by the heat; when having lunch, our outside thermometer read 19°C in full sun! Continuing on, we saw a sign for Cap de Creus (Cape of the Crosses). We'd read that it was the most Easterly peninsula on the Spanish mainland and had a 'wild and rugged beauty', so we decided to go. It was 30km away and we were running low on fuel, so stopped in at the town of Cadaques to fill up. Several Catalonian and 'Sì' flags flew and a white wall was painted with the word 'independencia'. At one roundabout at the end of the main street was a "Guanyarem la llibertat" (gain freedom) banner. Yellow ribbons, a symbol of solidarity with the jailed Catalonian politicians, were fluttering from olive trees and railings.

    The streets were narrow and there were a few 'no motorhome' signs. Climbing out of the residential area we had expected to be able to continue on towards the Cape, but soon after reaching the rural road we were stopped by one such sign. Retracing our steps we returned to a patch of scrubland with one other van on it and parked up for the night. It was over 6km to the end of the peninsula so we decided to take the bike.

    There wasn't enough time for the trip that afternoon so we walked to a nearby beach at Port Lligat instead. Will took his wetsuit and snorkelling gear; he wanted to try out the neoprene hood he'd been given for Christmas. The afternoon was so warm Vicky tied her jumper round her waist as we walked. The beach was stoney to start with but had soft sand once you stepped over the dried weed and reached the waterline. It was shallow and protected from the wind and waves by a couple of small islands. The water was cold but Will really enjoyed his first snorkle of 2018. Thanks to the hood he was able to stay in for a good length of time. Vicky strolled around the bay to the small stone pier where she found dried flowers hanging from metal poles. A house in the quaint, unassuming, whitewashed village was once home to Salvador Dalì and his wife Gala. A few boats bobbed gently in the water, but most were hauled up above the tide line. While Will swam, Vicky went for a paddle and barefoot exploration of the rocks that formed the edge of the cove. Despite it being a nature reserve, there wasn't much wildlife, but Will did see two octopus tentacles protruding from underneath a rock. Apparently the Mediterranean coast of Spain has been massively over fished.

    The following morning was again sunny and warm. Will gave the tandem a last squirt of oil and off we went towards Cap de Creus; the most easterly point in mainland Spain. Knowing the road was hilly, we never expected to be able to cycle it all. We dismounted and pushed when the inclines became too steep, but were able to freewheel downhill. It was tiring but the scenery was amazing. In the distance were the majestic Pyrenees, some of them snow capped, the land was rocky, untamed and covered in cacti, sage, flowering rosemary and juniper bushes with the biggest berries we have ever seen. Early on we passed olive plantations and as the road wound its way round raised outcrops, it revealed previously hidden bays of sparkling blue and turquoise sea.

    After more than an hour we saw the lighthouse that marked the end of the road. We needed to leave the bike on the steep approach because signs prohibited pedestrians from going any further and there was no way we were going to be able to cycle up. Instead we climbed the switchback stone path that lead up the mound on which the lighthouse was perched. Reaching the top plateau we could see 270° of the Mediterranean Sea! Rocky fingers extended further out, but we were conscious that it was hot and would take us some time to get back to Poppy, so we sat in the shade and enjoyed our snacks and water. 3 hours after setting off, we gratefully gulped back some low alcohol beers from the freezer in the van and tucked into lunch. It was bizzare to think that less than a week ago we were waking up to snow!

    Despite our initial dissapointment of not being able to drive to the Cape, we really enjoyed and felt a sense of achievement cycling / walking. It was great to be under our own steam in such a beautiful landscape. The moral we have taken from this, is that with setbacks, often come opportunities.
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