March 11 Banyuls-sur-Mer--> Cerbère --> Cadaques --> Portlligat

As we climbed from Port-Vendre, we had a fine view of the port in early light. Our route took us south along spectacular views of the rugged and sometimes intimidating coastline and through small Mediterranean towns wedged between mountain and sea. Our last stop in France was Banyuls-sur-Mer, a pretty little coastal town whose economy, once based largely on smuggling, is now known for its diving and snorkeling. It was distinctly cool as we strolled the waterfront and checked email and voice mail at the tourist office’s WIFI hotspot. Not allowed to sit inside, we used a window ledge outside. Public art decorated the sea walk, painted tiles served as house numbers, shop fronts were understated and just opened for the day with locals gossiping at the entrance. As lovely as it was we succumbed to the rather chilly, overcast weather and headed off through Cerbère, and climbed the Pyrenees to the Spanish border. We descended into Spain, passed through the coastal town of Llançà, and drove to Cadeques, on the eastern tip of the Cap de Creus penninsula. Despite its popularity as a summer retreat, this small town huddled at the base of the Spanish Pyrenees is largely unspoiled (except for the massive multi-level parking lot at the edge of town) and is quintessentially Catalan. Climbing through a maze of alleys, too narrow and steep even for the smallest of cars, we reached a church perched atop the hill. We were crowded around by ancient stone walls and houses but the streets and alleys were virtually empty. Some of the alleys appeared hewn from living rock, some paved with time- and-wear-polished cobbles, and others paved with sharp angular flagstones set on end, like some warped surrealist file. Strong winds funnelled through the passageways snatching at my hat, and, where the wind did not reach and the sun found its way to the street, cats lounged languidly in the radiant warmth. The church, closed when we arrived, allowed only a peek-a-boo view of a magnificent guilt altar, a reminder of a once powerful religion. A small square in front of the church gave a panoramic view of jumbled ochre tiled roofs and the grey Mediterranean in the distance. The church, we later observed, provides a distinctive landmark and crowns the impressive skyline of Cadaques. A paved promenade led along the gravel beach, past small open fishing boats beached against the seawall, and beside seaside apartments. We tried to find a walking route to Portlligat where Salvador Dali had built a surrealist home and garden for himself and his wife Gala but with no map and after a few dead-ends we finally gave up and returned to the car to retrieve Kate (our GPS). The pleasant walk along the shore and beautiful views were more than adequate compensation for our failure We parked next to a small church and cemetery to stroll about the crypts and grounds. There is something peaceful and comforting about cemeteries, perhaps it is the confirmation of the cycle of life, perhaps the expression of love for the departed. In addition, this small intimate place of remembrance provided an excellent view of the incongruous Dali grounds. Much like his art, the grounds were surreal, outlandish, overstated, dramatic, and a reflection of his enormous ego, but when viewed in perspective against the people strolling about, somehow smaller and less impressive than at first glance. After seeing his ego reflected in his art and in his writings, it is difficult to reconcile this massive ego with the fact that his wife and muse Gala forbad Dali to visit (at her castle in another village) without permission so as not to have her many dalliances interrupted by a visit from her husband. From the cemetery above the Dali grounds we headed northwest, away from the coast, to a peaceful campsite set amidst gnarled deciduous trees that I have yet to identify and surrounded by pine forest, olive groves, and pasture just outside the small village of Capmany (pronounced Cap-Mine).
Looking back at Port-Vendres Sheila listens to a message from home. Cadaqués La Iglesia, Cadaqués Los Gatos, Cadaqués View from the beach, Cadaques. Dahli's home, Portlligat View from the beach, Cadaques. Banyuls-sur-Mer Banyuls-sur-Mer Southeast coast of France, east of Cerbère Cadaques Cadaques Cadaques Cadaques Cerbère, southeast France Banyuls-sur-Mer Cadaques Cadaques Cadaques
A Sense of Place:  Travel, Photography, and Photo-art
by David E. Moon
© David E. Moon, 2014  All rights reserved
Slideshow Slideshow Route Map Route Map

March 11 Banyuls-sur-Mer--> Cerbère -->

Cadaques --> Portlligat

As we climbed from Port-Vendre, we had a fine view of the port in early light. Our route took us south along spectacular views of the rugged and sometimes intimidating coastline and through small Mediterranean towns wedged between mountain and sea. Our last stop in France was Banyuls-sur-Mer, a pretty little coastal town whose economy, once based largely on smuggling, is now known for its diving and snorkeling. It was distinctly cool as we strolled the waterfront and checked email and voice mail at the tourist office’s WIFI hotspot. Not allowed to sit inside, we used a window ledge outside. Public art decorated the sea walk, painted tiles served as house numbers, shop fronts were understated and just opened for the day with locals gossiping at the entrance. As lovely as it was we succumbed to the rather chilly, overcast weather and headed off through Cerbère, and climbed the Pyrenees to the Spanish border. We descended into Spain, passed through the coastal town of Llançà, and drove to Cadeques, on the eastern tip of the Cap de Creus penninsula. Despite its popularity as a summer retreat, this small town huddled at the base of the Spanish Pyrenees is largely unspoiled (except for the massive multi-level parking lot at the edge of town) and is quintessentially Catalan. Climbing through a maze of alleys, too narrow and steep even for the smallest of cars, we reached a church perched atop the hill. We were crowded around by ancient stone walls and houses but the streets and alleys were virtually empty. Some of the alleys appeared hewn from living rock, some paved with time- and-wear-polished cobbles, and others paved with sharp angular flagstones set on end, like some warped surrealist file. Strong winds funnelled through the passageways snatching at my hat, and, where the wind did not reach and the sun found its way to the street, cats lounged languidly in the radiant warmth. The church, closed when we arrived, allowed only a peek-a-boo view of a magnificent guilt altar, a reminder of a once powerful religion. A small square in front of the church gave a panoramic view of jumbled ochre tiled roofs and the grey Mediterranean in the distance. The church, we later observed, provides a distinctive landmark and crowns the impressive skyline of Cadaques. A paved promenade led along the gravel beach, past small open fishing boats beached against the seawall, and beside seaside apartments. We tried to find a walking route to Portlligat where Salvador Dali had built a surrealist home and garden for himself and his wife Gala but with no map and after a few dead-ends we finally gave up and returned to the car to retrieve Kate (our GPS). The pleasant walk along the shore and beautiful views were more than adequate compensation for our failure We parked next to a small church and cemetery to stroll about the crypts and grounds. There is something peaceful and comforting about cemeteries, perhaps it is the confirmation of the cycle of life, perhaps the expression of love for the departed. In addition, this small intimate place of remembrance provided an excellent view of the incongruous Dali grounds. Much like his art, the grounds were surreal, outlandish, overstated, dramatic, and a reflection of his enormous ego, but when viewed in perspective against the people strolling about, somehow smaller and less impressive than at first glance. After seeing his ego reflected in his art and in his writings, it is difficult to reconcile this massive ego with the fact that his wife and muse Gala forbad Dali to visit (at her castle in another village) without permission so as not to have her many dalliances interrupted by a visit from her husband. From the cemetery above the Dali grounds we headed northwest, away from the coast, to a peaceful campsite set amidst gnarled deciduous trees that I have yet to identify and surrounded by pine forest, olive groves, and pasture just outside the small village of Capmany (pronounced Cap-Mine).
Looking back at Port-Vendres Sheila listens to a message from home. Cadaqués La Iglesia, Cadaqués Los Gatos, Cadaqués Dahli's home, Portlligat View from the beach, Cadaques.
A Sense of Place:  Travel, Photography, and Photo-art
© David E. Moon, 2014  All rights reserved
Slideshow Slideshow Route Map Route Map