On the road again…Vacation to L’Estartit, Costa Brava (Day 1-3)

On Saturday, we headed off on another whirlwind adventure here in Spain, this time to L’Estartit in Costa Brava, about 2 hours from us in Barcelona. L’Estartit is a beach town and for those in the know, know that we LOVE the beach. Yes, there is a beach in Barcelona – several of them in fact… but they are city beaches, not nice country ones. We decided to take the scenic route to get to L’Estartit since we couldn’t check into our apartment til 4 and we had the rental car starting at 9. We’d heard the coastal drive was amazing from friends and figured this was a good opportunity to see it for ourselves.

However, within a ½ hour of being in the car and a little too much stop and go, Liam puked. Ah the joys of parenthood. The good thing is that he got very little on the car or the car seat and more on him and his pal, Neigh (thankfully we had spare Neigh with us). And as much as we tried to enjoy the rest of the drive, we were paranoid regardless and about every 5 minutes asked him if he was feeling ok. At least 3 times he told us he was going to throw up and we raced the car to the side of the road… he never actually threw up again after the first time – thank god!

Most of the drive was uneventful though. The beach towns were beautiful and the coast amazing. As we got closer to L’Estartit, the windiness of the road reminded me of Maui’s road to Hana. We weaved in and out of the mountains and followed their natural curves along to the beach towns and then back again into the mountains, catching glimpses at regular intervals between the mountains of the stunning turquoise waters far below. Unlike the road to Hana, these roads actually had guardrails and we didn’t come across any one lane bridges – I’m thankful for the little things!

An example of some of the views we had during our drive to L’Estartit

As we approached L’Estartit, we saw three mountains side by side – and on top of the middle one I saw a castle. Aidan was incredibly excited to see it though was bored when I looked up it’s history and tried to explain it to him. But it’s actually the Montgri Castle which was built in the 12th century. Supposedly it takes about an hour to climb to the top to get to it but looking at the mountain and then at my two small children, I beg to differ… perhaps on another vacation (years from now!).

We finally arrived in L’Estartit around 3 (after stopping for a luxurious lunch at McDonalds). I just have to say, the town is breathtaking. As you approach the main part of the town you immediately come upon the beach at the end of the road. In front of us stood the Illes Medes, which comprise of 7 magnificent islands of rock that jut out from the Mediterranean. Have no doubt I took many pictures of those while here. And for those interested, this is a big scuba diving area – I wish we’d researched in more before coming since Josh was an avid diver but has let his certification run out since the kids were born – I think he would have enjoyed that part of the trip if he could have gone on a dive or two.

We were early to check in to our apartment so I took the boys along the marina while Josh went grocery shopping. Because there is never a dull moment with children, you can probably guess what happened next right? Yes, Liam hurt himself. How he managed to fall off a stone bench onto a brick path when he was in the process of climbing off the bench, is beyond me. But he managed to cut up the entire right side of his face and had a huge egg on his forehead. Not a good start to vacation! The poor bug was not a happy camper!

However, it got better once we got to the apartment. As we had seen from pictures (but it’s never the same as in person), the apartment (which belongs to a friend of mine) has amazing views of the water and the mountains across from us. We were just a street away from where everything is happening so it was easy access to the town center yet off the beaten path so it wasn’t loud or crowded.

View from the apartment of the harbor and of the mountain next to us
Aidan staking his claim… sorry pal, you’ve got to share with your brother!

We kept a low profile after unpacking and just relaxed on the huge terrace, reading books, kids playing with toys and just enjoying the fruits of our long drive up here. We did an easy dinner of pizza at a place right down the street and took a stroll along the boardwalk. We were pleased to see that there is a fair in town that’s currently residing in the beach parking lot. We promised the kids if they were on good behavior we could do that on our second night (it’s not open during the daytime). And keeping in the nature of living in Spain, we found a random festival going on that we all enjoyed watching!

Out for some gelato
Liam felt the need to take a big bite out of the ice cream seat!
Festival of giants…we sat around for a while waiting for something to happen and when nothing did, we kept walking…
Goofy kids!
Checking out some of the shops by us
Apparently if we had waited a little longer we would have realized that this would turn into a parade… I have to say the “lady” on the right could use a little shave 😉

DAY 2

This was our first full day and so we headed to the beach of course. The beach was a perfect sandy beach (of which we seem to have brought a lot back to the apt after!) with just enough waves for Aidan who is so into body surfing and riding the waves this year. We got there at 9 so it was empty since most people I think are still sleeping at 9 here (or really anywhere if they don’t have small kids, right?). By the time we left at 12:30 it was packed! Josh bought the kids a paddleball set and they had a lot of fun playing with that in the water and then he got them a small boat float to take them further out over the waves. Liam was not so crazy about this part! However, Aidan was in his element!

Walking to the beach thru town
View from the playground
Dude, it’s my favorite place – THE BEACH!!!!
Illes Medes in the background
Run!
Illes Medes – beautiful isn’t it?
Liam tries to join in on the paddleball game
Liam building (and destroying) sand castles
Taking a ride out on the boat that Josh got the boys.. Aidan loved riding over the waves…
Liam…not so much

After the beach, it was another mellow afternoon – reading, watching dvds on the computer, and Liam napped.

Toasty after the beach…

Josh and I individually took a schmooze around town. I found some shopping, though sadly I was disappointed – most of the shops all sold the same old touristy, beachy goods – I really wanted to see some local stuff and while there is some, the touristy stuff far outweighs it. However, Josh found amazing cliffs that we checked out as we headed out for the evening.

View of the harbor on the way to the cliffs
Josh and Liam
I just loved this house!
View behind us going towards our apartment
Liam with Illes Medes in the background
Really, need I say anything? 😉
The start of the cliffs
Hmmmm should I be worried??
Why is it they pose perfectly with Josh but not me?  Regardless, the background is stunning!
Base of the cliffs
Full on view of the cliffs (we found out on our Nuria trip – Day 5 – that these cliffs extend a good ways up the coast starting from here)

After dinner we went to the fair by the beach. The kids had an absolute blast and Liam, who still doesn’t seem to get the concept of waiting in line would race to jump on to any ride he saw. It did not go over well when he would have to wait! Unlike in the states, or at least any fair I have been to, you can’t just buy a bundle of tickets to use on any rides. Here (I noticed this in Paris as well) you buy tickets at each individual ride in a booth set up right next to the ride. Not realizing this at first I bought 14 tickets (for 20 euro) thinking I was just buying a bunch for future rides. Turns out it was for a ride in front of me which neither child wanted to ride. I went to use the tickets at the next ride and they looked at me like I was nuts. Thankfully I went back to the original booth and she refunded me my money. So each ride ended up costing us about 3 euros. Thankfully for our wallets, there weren’t a ton of rides for them to go on!!

Grass, glorious grass!!!

While at the fair, I noticed the moon was out over the Illes Medes. So I took Liam to go take some pics and as we approached the beach, we saw people on horseback along the beach. Not something you see everyday!! Liam was ecstatic! And it was a great way to end an overall fabulous day!

DAY 3

Our 3rd day started off a little rough with the kids in moods. Aidan throwing some of his signature tantrums because we wanted to do something that he claimed he did not. In the end, he sort of won because our plan was to go on the Nuria Excursion which is a small 20 person boat that would take us up the coast and in and out of some of the caves in the area. It looked like an amazing trip and we booked it on Sunday. However, it’s windy and so they were only doing a small small portion of the trip. So we’ve rescheduled for Wednesday – fingers crossed.

So instead of doing the Nuria, we decided to go to play putt putt which we’d seen on the outskirts of town. Unfortunately for us, we got there and they don’t open til 4!! What putt putt placed doesn’t open til 4? After 7 months in spain you would think we would be used to the later hours here but yet we are still morning people… nothing here opens early just like in BCN. Ahhh Spain! So back we came to the apartment to have some lunch instead.

The day was a total lazy one which was much needed and thoroughly enjoyed. Josh and Aidan snuck out to one of the beaches while Liam was napping and checked out the hermit crab and some fish. Aidan absolutely loved that!

In the evening we went back to Joc which is a small amusement park type area and a restaurant. We played some mini golf which is an activity I definitely had missed from the States and was very happy to see much alive here in Spain (makes sense they wouldn’t have it in BCN, I’m pretty sure there isn’t any mini golf in Boston proper either!). After a pretty good dinner, we hit some of the rides – our favorite was definitely the go-karts. I think it was Liam’s first time on a real go-cart and he had a blast! Aidan loved passing myself and Liam with Josh – he thought they were super cool. I think they are super show offs 😉

Aidan receiving instructions from Josh – he totally ignored them…
This is how Liam plays putt-putt…you bring the ball right next to the hole and then tap it in… and sometimes you just drop it right into the hole directly.
View from putt putt place
Focused
At least he’s trying!
Trampolines!!  Both kids loved them!
Mini go karts … we went on the big ones too but all of us were racing on those so I couldn’t take any pics.  Liam loved both versions though I think the big ones were his favorite!
I think he went down this slide at least 10 times (they had no limit – the guy at the slide was really nice), however, he took several diggers down it and ended up in tears on his final descent.  The culprit?  He’s sitting criss cross applesauce (as they say it these days) and should instead have his knees us and feet planted on the mat.  Oh well!  He had fun!
Toddler type version of the lazy river…

Julie

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