On my whirlwind 60 hours in Costa Brava last September I visited several little, charming Medieval towns in the region. Along with Norma, my guide and new friend, we zoomed all over Emporda, making the most out of very limited time. One of my favorite stops, the town of Begur, wasn’t even on my initial itinerary but, in my experience, those oftentimes end up being the most memorable travel moments.
I admit I was dragging a bit when we first arrived and parked the car. I was running on about 4 hours of sleep for the past two nights and our earlier plane ride, bike ride and visit to Dalí’s Castle in Pubol earlier that day had me wishing for a siesta.
In need of coffee we stumbled upon In Situ. In Situ is actually several little restaurants all housed together – In Fish, In Jamon, In Dolce, In Jardi… The decor was welcoming and eclectic and Norma and I headed directly to the garden area where we sat at a high table and enjoyed a lovely cup of coffee and a chat. Early on a Sunday evening it wasn’t too crowded, just a couple of tables of friends enjoying an end of the weekend drink and chat. I can imagine the same space would be full and buzzing on a warm Saturday night. What a lovely space it would be for an event – if I ever throw a party in Costa Brava it will be at In Situ! (c/ Pi i Rallo 4, Begur)
As we sipped our coffee Norma explained a bit of the history of Begur. The town has strong ties to Cuba, an influence that can be seen in the architecture – especially in the upscale homes as well as the culture. In the 19th century about a quarter of Begur’s residents left Spain for Cuba in search of riches. Though only a handful of these emigrants were successful in their mission they are responsible for bringing Cuban influences back to Begur. Their mansions are known in the ares as Casas Indianas or, Indian Houses. These airy and ornate homes are marked with plaques and while some are still owned as private residences most have been converted to upscale hotels. But architecture isn’t the only thing the “Indianos” brought back from Cuba. They also introduced running water and other modern technologies to the area.
Energized and anxious to explore we set out to walk up the hill to Begur Castle. We meandered through the narrow cobbled streets (Norma in heels, I feel it necessary to add) stopping at a view point to take photos of the sea and again to read and translate a poem on the wall of a church. The sun set slowly, slowly. It was one of those sunsets where you think it’s almost over so you snap a bunch of photos and then it ends up sticking around a while longer. Slowly we made our way around the town and up the hill, along with a handful of other sunset seekers.
Eventually we made it to the remains of Begur Castle, an 11th century fortress. No doubt, set at the top of the hill for strategic purposes and 360º surveillance, the castle has endured several hundred years. There are no interior places to visit in the castle – the appeal isn’t even the castle itself. It’s the stunning view that it offers.
“See that row of mountains?” Norma asked me as she pointed to the north.
“Okay, not the first row, the second row.”
I nodded again.
“That’s France.” She smiled. “That’s how far you can see from here, you can see France!”
The sky glowed as we made our way back down the hill and meandered through the town. I was sad when it came time to buckle up and head to the next stop though I did feel like I got to see a good bit of Begur on my short 2 hour visit. Should you find yourself in the Costa Brava region make a point of visiting. Stay in a Casa Indiana, climb to Begur Castle to admire the sunset and enjoy a long meal at In Situ.