After my visit of the fascinating Sakya Tashi Ling Tibetan monastery, I head further north, driving through Barcelona. I am on my way to Cadaqués, sitting on the eastern side of a peninsula in northern Catalonia. Just before reaching Cadaqués, I see a beautiful sunset over the hills and the sea. The contrast with the town cannot be greater. The narrow streets of the Catalonian settlement are overflowing with tourists, all restaurant tables are full, there is noise everywhere, there are queues, and even at the enormous parking lot at the entrance of Cadaqués, it is not easy to find a place to park. I am starving, so I work my way through the crowds, am lucky to find a table at a restaurant where I have a tasty dinner, and then head back to the carpark again. I had looked into staying overnight in Cadaqués, but prices for accommodation were absurd, even for a basic room. My plan is to wake up early, so I don't feel like splurging on a room. I drive to Cap de Creus, find a parking at the foot of the lighthouse, and decide this is the perfect place to stay overnight. The seat of my car turns out to go down far, and even the regular passing of the beam of light does not disturb my sleep.
The big advantage is that the next morning, I am right where I want to be. I am up when it is still dark, and walk down towards the east. The sun rises majestically above the Mediterranean, shedding its soft light on the rugged rocks that define the Cap. Just under the lighthouse, I enjoy spectacular views of the bays and beaches - the coastline with Cadaqués in the distance. Back at my car, I get water and food, and am off for a long hike. I head west to what is supposed to be the most spectacular landscape of Cap de Creus Natural Park. After following the road for a short while, I follow a trail through the rocky landscape. It meanders down to the coast, and I reach two tiny beaches: Platja Gran de Culip and es Gentils. I feel the water and continue walking. A little higher up, the trail suddenly turns into a concrete path. It now looks like a serious undertaking, with explanatory signboards and all. To my surprise, I do not see anyone else. I start to see peculiar rock formations, in which I try to see animals, heads, or just fantasy figures. At some places, I notice there are metal strips in the path pointing to particular formations. These are some of the rock formations that inspired Salvador Dalí for his paintings. Even though many of them are surrealistic, I now realize that they are, after all, based on reality. A reality of quirky shapes that he found right here, on the coast of Cap de Creus natural park. He walked here regularly, and many of his fantastic paintings have their roots here.
Take this rock which looks like it is upside down. It inspired Dalí to paint The Great Masturbator: a bright painting with yellow, blue and white. Of course, with many curious details. Blue branches, a kissing couple, eye lashes, a weird creature sticking its tongue out, subtle streams of blood on legs, a giant grasshopper. On my way to Pla de Tudela, I see formations like the Eagle and the Camel, as well as many others. In one spot, I see a minuscule beach below me. I am hot enough to need to cool off, climb down, undress, and dip in the sea, avoiding the jellyfish. Further on, I reach a viewpoint on the rocks just above the sea. In the 1960s, Club Med constructed a holiday park here, but it was deconstructed in around 2005. Looking at the landscape, it is hard to imagine that this was the location of a holiday village, although there are still some leftovers to be seen. A little higher up, I see rusty metal cubes from which I have a great view over the Pla de Tudela. From there, I continue walking, all the way to Cadaqués. I am back in the tourist crowd because I hope to visit the Dalí museum and garden, but it turns to be fully booked for the next days. I decide I will be back in the low season, and hike the trail to Cap de Creus lighthouse. Again, I am surprised to find only a few others on the trail, a sharp contrast with the endless stream of tourists I found in Cadaqués. I pass several small bays and beaches - the ones I have seen from near the lighthouse in the morning. Back at my car, I eat fruits, drink water, and set off for the drive back to Barcelona. It is time to fly home.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Cap de Creus natural park (Spain). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Cap de Creus natural park. Read more about this site.