Thursday, July 24, 2014

Tossa de Mar: Paradise, is that you?

Everyone, I have found my perfect beach town.  It is a place that I want to return to over and over to just relax and bask in its beauty.  While it doesn't have the biggest beach (unless you're willing to hike or wander for a bit, or so I've heard), the overall environment of the town itself is so relaxing and combined with the still existing fortress and thriving town weaved within the fortress...well I think I found what my definition of paradise looks like.

I always tell people that Berlin, Germany has my heart.  It's where I feel at home and feel at ease with myself.  It's one of those places where I came and instantly knew I was in the right place (more later on a Berlin-dedicated post), but Tossa de Mar is the place that accidentally captured all my attention.  It's a place I know I can't stay forever, but will always be one of a few places I imagine when I need to imagine happiness and utter unspeakable beauty.  It's a place that draws you in, from the mountains and hills to the towns to the sea, along with the warm people and  intimate feeling of the town despite its relatively flourishing tourism (I only say relatively because I don't find it as saturated and cliche touristy as other towns).

Wanting to escape the big city of Barcelona, I took a bus about 100 km north to the region of Costa Brava, famed for its "rugged coasts," but other than knowing that it was a popular destination relatively near Barcelona, I knew nothing.  So a few days before I wanted to go, I did some good old google searching to find out more about exactly where I wanted to go. I found out that most people go to Lloret de Mar as it's a bigger town with more to do, more nightlife, more hotels, etc etc, but the more I looked at it, the more underwhelmed I was with the "ruggedness" of what seemed like a resort town.  But unwilling to give up, I looked around at some more towns and stumbled on some pictures of Tossa de Mar.  Pictures of sunsets across the fortress overlooking the ocean, the crystal blue ocean itself, and the narrow streets of the town slowly drew me in until I realized that I absolutely had to go.  It seemed much less touristy and populated than Lloret de Mar (also evidenced by the fact that I could only find a few hostels compared to what I was finding in the rest of Costa Brava).  

Just from the pictures alone, I was sold.  Once in awhile, I come across something that I know instinctively is a good decision, and this was one of it.  I somehow knew that I would love every second of being there and getting lost in the winding streets and old town of the city.  It was like an impending oasis for me, a breath of fresh air from being in a city and constantly surrounded by people.  Even though I'm traveling alone and thus have no social obligations to really be social (a dream for an introvert for me....haha!), being constantly surrounded by other people isn't exhausting until I realized how excited I was to go to a smaller town.  

What was absolutely amazing to me was how the old town wasn't merely just historical, it was also in the present and very much functional.  People still live in many of the houses within the fortress, seamlessly woven into history and working it into the future.  They're blended in so well that while walking through the fortress and old town, it's easy to wander into someone's front or back yard by accident.  I bet they're used to all the tourists nearly walking into their house by now, but people just go about their daily lives while being in the center of a 500 years and running town. 

Stumbling into someone's yard....

Or how about finding a little church right smack in the middle of shops and restaurants?

On the day that I arrived, it was kind of cloudy and stormy, but the fact that I was immediately nearly overcome with how beautiful the town really says something.  Excuse the Fault in Our Stars reference (I finally just read this book, even though I won't be seeing the movie till I'm back in the US so just excuse the cliche, okay?), but this was not an example of the "slowly, and then all at once" type of falling in love; this was an example of immediate love and being continually struck by its beauty with every corner that I turned.   

However, just as I started walking up the fortress, the sun started peaking through the clouds, giving me a glimpse of how beautiful this place really was.  There's something about the way the sun hits the cobblestones on the ground and the walls of the existing fortress that washes everything in a beautiful golden glow.  It's absolutely unreal how stunning it looks.

And it gets better.

When it was sunny out the next day, I could hardly contain my excitement to just lie on the beach.  Here's the thing about Tossa de Mar - even though it's a beach town, the main beach isn't actually very big, and that's not even the beach I go to.  There's a smaller cove that is surrounded by cliffs with perfect sun exposure during the day.  I could come here every day of my life.  It's calm, lazy, and although it's a little more cluttered because of how small it is, it has a much more intimate feeling than the main beach.

I'm not sure there's anything more perfect looking than this beach.

The view from the top of the fortress overlooking all of Tossa de Mar is pretty spectacular, too....especially if you go during sunset.  Even though it's not a very far walk..well not a far walk to go anywhere, really, I found myself stopping every once in awhile and lingering just to take in the views.  I'm not sure that photos will ever really do the place justice, but all I can really say is that I've completely fallen under the spell of Tossa de Mar.

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