Well, hello, hello! What’s up everyone?
Today I’ll take you with me on a visual journey to the “Gateway of Costa Brava“, also known as the town of Blanes. Ready to go?
Let’s do this!
You already know from one of my previous articles that I want to see as much of Costa Brava as I can while I’m staying in Barcelona and my first discovery was wonderful Tossa de Mar a few weeks ago.
As, again, we had only one day for a trip, we decided to pick the closest town and the most easier to get to by train from Barcelona: Blanes. Basically, this is where Costa Brava starts and then stretches aaaall the way up North to the French border.
There’s a train that takes you directly from Barcelona to Blanes. I think it starts from Barcelona Sants, then stops in Placa Catalunya and then in El Clot. Probably because we have a story with lost trains, we made the rookie mistake to go to Passeig de Gracia instead, buy the ticket there, use it, get on the platform only to find out there’s no train to Blanes. So we had to take another random train to El Clot, then get off and run like crazy to catch the good train (which was on a different platform) in the last second, right when the doors were closing. So don’t be like us, inform yourself beforehand!
What to see in Blanes
Now, I’ll be honest with you: the town of Blanes itself didn’t impress me much. It doesn’t retain the chic alleyways that Tossa has; it felt more as an overly-touristic summer village, with way too many kitsch beach shops. We did spot a few buildings with beautiful architecture here and there, but overall it felt a bit depressing to walk around its streets. Add to this the worst coffee of my life and you’ll get why it didn’t leave me with pretty memories.
We decided to not let this ruin our whole day and headed towards Marimurtra Botanical Garden – the main landmark that was always popping up in my searches about Blanes. And man, was I not prepared for this!
The Marimurtra garden is an absolute wonder! From cactuses to pita trees or various flowery bushes, you walk through endless exotic paths shaded under rich palm trees, peeking views of the endless sea and rocky coastline here and there and then everything opens into a viewing point with a gorgeous promenade overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. My favourite part was the bamboo little forest: just sitting there and listening to the sound of the wind whispering through and making them sing.
I really wish I could spend more time here, but we were excited to do the hiking route by the sea from Cala de Sant Francesc towards Lloret de Mar (and a bit pressured by the short time) so we hurried there only to find it was closed! Apparently, due to trees and rocks falling off and a lack of interest into fixing it up, it became too dangerous to let it open for visitors.
Soooo…. what to do then?!
We dropped our towels right there and then on the beach and enjoyed the well-deserved sun for a couple of hours, what else?
Well, I had to try my new snorkel equipment so I also went on the adventure of a lifetime (not really, but it sounds nice, doesn’t it?) to discover the marine life around the rocky coastline. It all went peachy, I was already making friends with some cute fishes, when a white jellyfish scared the sh*t out of me and I hurried back to the safety of the sandy beach and sunshine.
Because I always get bored on the beach when there’s nothing exciting to do (I mean, how many books can you read during a beach session?!), we decided to go further and see what else we could discover on the coastline.
As the trail close to the shore was closed, we had to take the longer route. Now, if you take a look at the map, you’ll see a winding long road called Carrer de la Cala, that goes from Cala de Sant Francesc, connects to Cami de Santa Cristina, passes by Pinya de Rosa Botanical Garden (another jewel that we discovered too late to have enough time to visit) and then heads further away in the direction of Lloret de Mar. My initial ambitions were to get all the way to Cala Sa Boadella.. which never happened because the time was too short and we might have previously snorkelled and enjoyed the sun on the beach a bit too much.
Anyway, our GPS showed us the winding road as being the shortest route, doable in about 50 mins by foot. It was a hot afternoon, we were already tired and dehydrated from the beach but still we took up the challenge.
About 30 seconds into our dreadful trip and a bunch of people pop out from a bush. Hm! Interesting! We head there to take a closer look and.. ta-daaaaam! A STAIRWAY!
Luck struck us right there and then! There were 3 long stairways that cut the winding road and shortened our trip to almost half! Plus the shade of pretty smelling pine trees. And another plus in the form of the awesome views we got, like this one below:
So yeah, if you intent to walk all that way as we did, take the stairs! Don’t trust your GPS if it doesn’t show them to you, they’re there somewhere, patiently waiting for you.
Ok, once we finished with the stairs, we had to walk by the road for a while, which wasn’t that bad as we were accompanied by the fresh smell of pine trees, and then finally arrived at the entrance to Pinya de Rosa Botanical Garden.
Now, next to it there’s a closed road that heads to Cala S’Agulla. There are signs with “private property” and “no entry” but, apparently, they are there for the cars. As a pedestrian, you just have to take the small entrance on the left.
You’ll enter a wild area and walk a smooth dusty road, see tons of baby cactuses glowing in the sunlight, then when you arrive at the house (have no idea what’s with that building) you take a turn to the right and descend by a tall fence, then left again, everything seems pretty raw here, it’s quite abrupt and most of the time you just wonder what the hell you’re doing there and should you go back?
Then, suddenly, a bunch of gigantic pebbles clustered between the rocky coastline appear into view to surprise you in the form of a lovely, small and secluded beach. Oh, and the sea with its wonderful blue/ turquoise clear water brushing the shore and glittering in the warm sunset light.. the best way to end a long day!
Unfortunately, I don’t have many captures with the left side of this cala because a) it wasn’t as interesting as the right side and b) a bunch of nudists were freely roaming around in the distance, making me feel awkward to point my camera in their direction.
And this, my friends, is how our lovely day in Blanes came to an end.
If you have other recommendations from Costa Brava, comment below! I’d love to hear from you!