A Memorable Place A town with character and characters...

PERSONAL JOURNEYS

July 07, 2002|By Special to the Sun

A Memorable Place

A town with character and characters

By Julia Heiner

SPECIAL TO THE SUN

I have always felt the best vacations include a beach, cultural attractions and interactions with local people.

My friend and I took a 90-minute bus ride from Barcelona, Spain, north to Cadaques, a beach resort on the Mediterranean. We found a charming town hugging the Mediterranean coast.

The hotel van met us at the bus station, and the drive to our hotel was about four blocks down the beach. Our room had a balcony overlooking the sea with plenty of room for a table and chairs.

Every night we had a late picnic supper with fresh produce bought from the local grocery store -- fruits, cheeses and French bread.

Because France is so close, the bread in Cadaques is better than in many other Spanish towns, and most of the other tourists in town were French. For midday meals, we ate Spanish-style, at 2:30 p.m., and ordered the special of the day, a value-priced meal called el menu del dia, which included an entree, bottle of wine and dessert.

Restaurant specialties included wonderful seafood -- the prawns were huge, and fresh from the Mediterranean. One rainy day, we strolled to a restaurant at the far end of the beach. We are still chuckling about the hostess who would not seat us until we put our wet umbrellas in a ceramic container near the door -- even as we noticed that inside were big, wet dogs under tables with their European families.

We were fortunate to be in town for the annual "art crawl," when local artists open their studios to the public. One woman had her studio in her home -- a second-floor apartment with heavy wooden furniture, tall ceilings and piles of magazines on a bench in front of the fireplace. Her work was abstract and looked like leaves or boats.

Another artist whose studio / shop we stumbled upon -- it wasn't on the tour -- was an American who spends half the year in Cadaques and half in Hawaii. She said she came to Cadaques 20 years ago and never wanted to leave.

The most famous watercolor of Cadaques is by hometown hero Salvador Dali. In the center of town is a bronze statue of Dali. His residence, which he flamboyantly decorated and where he lived with his wife, Gala, is located near the town and is maintained as it was in his lifetime. Tours are given daily.

Although most people are impressed with the surrealistic furniture and phallic-shaped swimming pool, I most enjoyed seeing Dali's paints, easel and the window-framed view of the Mediterranean from his studio. You feel as though he'd just left home and walked to town to pick up some supplies.

I vowed to return to Cadaques with my watercolors.

Julia Heiner lives in Columbia.

My Best Shot

Romanian monastery

Andrew Manzardo, Baltimore

"This picture was taken in front of the Sinaia Monastery in the Transylvanian Alps of Romania. The monastery was founded in 1695 and named for Mount Sinai, where Moses received the Ten Commandments. I was there the week before Easter. Sinaia is also one of Romania's biggest tourist spots and best ski resorts."

READERS RECOMMEND

Pikes Peak, Colo.

Judy and Stuart Oser, Owings Mills

"We went to Pikes Peak -- 14,110 feet above sea level -- where the view served as the inspiration for the song America the Beautiful after Katharine Lee Bates went to the top of the mountain in 1893. A commemorative plaque has the words to the song. We thought it was a stunning display of American beauty and patriotism. It is comforting to know that there is still peace, natural beauty and a strong American spirit in our country today."

Mount Etna, Sicily

Bennard Perlman and Jill Myers, Pikesville

"To celebrate the one-year anniversary of last summer's eruption of Mount Etna in Sicily, we drove near the top of the 10,902-foot volcano, the highest and most active volcano in Europe. Ninety percent of the time, the peak is encompassed by clouds. A minute after we snapped this photo, the clouds moved back in."

Let Us Hear From You

We want to know about your travels, your experiences, your pictures. Here's how to participate in this page:

My Best Shot: Send us a terrific travel photo with a description of when and where you took it. (Cash value: $50.)

A Memorable Place: In 500 words or less, tell us about a travel experience that has changed you; the nostalgia a special place evokes; the power of a favorite beach, the mountains, a city cafe. (Cash value: $150.)

Readers Recommend: Briefly tell us about places you've recently visited that you'd recommend to other readers. (Photos are welcome.)

Readers Respond: Send a brief reply to our current question: Where is the vacation spot you can't wait to visit again? Selected answers may appear in a future issue. (Photos are welcome.)

Because of the volume of submissions, photos and manuscripts cannot be acknowledged or returned.

Send by fax to 410-783-2519, or write to Travel Department, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, MD 21278, or send by e-mail to travel@baltsun.com. Be sure to include your name and phone number.

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