Complimentary Stay in Empuriabrava
I have written recently about a few benefits of being a travel blogger, including medieval castle parties catered by top restaurants in the world and complimentary car rentals we used to discover the Pyrenees. Progressive players in the tourism industry are realizing that a personal story shared by bloggers with world-wide audiences
sometimes is better than a bunch of billboards placed in random places.
Costa Brava tourism board is one of those smart organizations. In addition to hosting TBEX Europe this year, they have offered bloggers multiple trips throughout the region and some bloggers were offered free accommodation at participating hotels, apartments, and bed & breakfasts. I happened to be one of those lucky bloggers and chose an apartment on the Mediterranean coast in a small town of Empuriabrava.
Empuriawhat you might ask?
Empuriabrava is a carefully designed resort town on the coast of Mediterranean. With majority of its houses built along a grid of wide canals totaling up to more than 40 kilometers/25 miles, it made me think of Venice right away (even though I have never been there yet).
The roads, the houses, the canals, and the little "ports" (aka, backyards) here and there gave the town a very distinctive feel and those who like taking photos could spend days crawling around here. I did not have that much time, but I still managed to snap a few cool shots.
Close location to the French border, the town caters mostly to French as well as German, and to some extend, Russian tourists. To be honest, I was a little disappointed with how tourist-oriented it was. In my mind, it was a tiny, slow town on the Mediterranean coast - my fault for not actually doing some research first (Cadaques to the north IS just that kind of town and I would probably spend more time there next time).
But, of course, the main attraction in town is the large beach, which I planned to make use of extensively (and even bought some sunblock for the first time in ages). The last time I was at the Mediterranean was fifteen years ago in the Spanish town of Malaga. Back then the water was so cold that we could not go for a swim. It was entirely different story this time for me. The weather apparently did not get the memo that the high season in Empuriabrava was supposed to be over so I enjoyed splashing in the warm waters and the sunny days.
Funny enough, in the two weeks prior to that, I have swam in the Atlantic at a beach in Delaware and a few days later washed my feet in Pacific while helping my sister move out to California. And now I was swimming in the "old ocean". Cool, eh?
But you know me. As nice as the beach was, I wanted to explore! And not the traditional tourist trap things like an observation tower near the port, or even somewhat original electric motorboats that can be rented to ride around the town's channels (that did seemed like fun, but I ran out of time).
Instead, grabbing a bike, I rode over to the nearby Castelló d'Empúries. Silly me, somehow I took Castello to mean castle and was a bit surprised to discover that there is not one to be found. The name actually comes from the Greco-Roman acropolis of Sant Martí d'Empúries that used to stand there.
Still, the little town did not disappoint as I mindlessly rode around the narrow medieval streets, in awe at every turn.
Salvador Dali Museum
Another "must see" in this area is Salvador Dali museum in Figueres, just a short bus ride away. The famous artist has lived in this area and there is not one, but three museums, including his house on the coast where, the rumor goes, he was the first person to see the sunrise in Spain.
Dali himself decided to use the municipal theater building for his museum and now it is quite a labyrinth of rooms, tight passages, spiral staircases all decorated with quirky sculptures, painting and other art forms that defy classification.
As I mentioned previously, while spending a few days in Empuriabrava, I stayed at Comte d'Empúries, a vacation apartment community just a block from the beach.
Besides being close to the beach, it is also located right behind the town's tourist office and right next to one of the TripAdvisor's best rated restaurants in town (Sol y Tapas). I enjoyed having the sangrias there but unfortunately was not able to taste their signature paellas as I did not have someone to split the two person min dish with.
Josep and Monica made me feel welcome there and I had a nice one bedroom apartment with a cozy living room and a fully equipped kitchenette at my disposal. The only thing I felt was lacking was WiFi access in all rooms instead of just the lobby. But that's the travel blogger for you. For the rest, it is probably a good thing, forcing you to go out and enjoy the city. :)
[message type="info"]Disclaimer: as I have mentioned at the beginning of this post, Comte d'Empúries and Costa Brava tourism board provided free accommodation during my stay in Empuriabrava, for which I am very grateful.[/message]