|Subject: Spain Trip, Day 5, Part 3|
Our decision to end the day's traveling in Collioure was truly a fortuitous
one. This small seaside town is a gem. The town surrounds a medium size
bay that is divided into two parts by the Château Royal, a castle which
has a history dating back to Phoenician traders of the 6th century B.C.
In the same manner of all the towns along this coast the village grew
around the small port and up into the surrounding hills. Because of its
trading importance coupled with the siting of the castle the town was
fortified by its various occupiers. This is evident not only in the Château
Royal but also in the Église Notre-Dame-des-Anges, and Fort Miradou on
the hill overlooking the Old Quarter.
When we first drove into Collioure we made our way to the beach along the Port D'Avall the southern half of the bay. This afforded us a great sunset view looking past the Château Royal across the bay to the northern half of the bay, Port D'Amont, with the Notre-Dame-des-Anges separating its two beaches, Plage Boramar and Plage St.-Vincent. After receiving directions to the closest ATM we struck out along the seaside promenade beside the Château Royal. As we walked we encountered sculptures of picture frames placed so as to frame the particular view immortalized by the Fauves a group of painters (including Derain, Braque, &Matisse) of the early 20th century who captured the unique light and color of this wonderful town on canvas. As we passed the castle and made our way into the center of the village we encountered some of the uniquely colorful Catalan fishing boats tied to the quayside. Across the inlet from these boats and stored within a gated compound of the castle were some military-gray kayaks that we later learned belonged to an elite commando force which was headquartered in Fort Miradou above the Old Quarter. We observed these commandos training in the waters off the town, as well as, exercising on runs through the steep hills between the fort and village.
After acquiring a couple of days worth of francs we walked into the Old Quarter to find a room for the night. We rejected one hotel that seemed a bit pricey at approximately $50. Continuing deeper into the neighborhood we came across an apartment advertising chambres. Following the directions to an adjacent street we roused the landlady who kindly led us back to show us the room. On the second story with full bath en suite and our own small courtyard patio we jumped at it for a cost of only $32. The landlady accepted our cash and gave us the two keys for our evening's abode. My communication skills were really being tested. After five days in Spain my brain had become hardwired to thinking in Spanish. Now I had to try and push that aside while I dug deeper into my memory for the French vocabulary and grammar lurking there from three years college classes from the distant past. Surprisingly it slowly began to surface and I became comfortable communicating just in time to head back into Spain.
While Sara settled into the room I made my way back to the Renault and drove it back near our room. We took advantage of the clothesline in the courtyard to do a little laundry. Afterwards we made our way to Le Brasero a restaurant which had been recommended by Susie (fellow Ziner from Newton, Mass.). As the name implies grilled dishes were the specialties of this two-man operation. A very small operation with about eight tables and a bar along one wall. Colorfully decorated with a tropical motif, the bar being covered with palm fronds in the manner of a palapa in Mexico. We had arrived to find a couple of tables still vacant but they were filling fast. Dinner included an appetizer of fried artichokes, green salad topped with foie gras, broiled gambas (large shrimp), a grilled meat assortment, and for dessert a chocolate gateau. The two young men operating the restaurant did an admirable job with one in the kitchen and the other doing a nicely choreographed ballet around the tightly placed tables. Dinner came to $50 and was well worth it (When compared to the cost of our accommodations it is apparent where our priorities lie).
After dinner we took a stroll around the town looking in the shop windows and making plans for the next day's sightseeing in Collioure.
I've uploaded a photo to the Travelzine website which is relevant to this day of our trip. You can see it at http://www.egroups.com/files/TheTravelzine/.
John Rule San Diego, CA