Barcelona is one of the most popular cruise ports in the world with good reason. But the entire region of Catalonia has much to offer. Costa Brava (Wild Coast) north of Barcelona offers dramatic coastal views and cultural attractions. Palamos and Roses have recently attracted the cruise lines who want to spend a little more time in Catalonia.
(See Comment about Catalonia unrest below.)
Palamos is situated on one of the longest stretches of beach in the area and it had that post-Summer resort feel. Many store and restaurants were closed and the beaches were sparsely populated. There were several excellent para-sailing athletes providing entertainment when we stopped for a drink after our long day.
The cruise lines offered tours focusing on Dali (the Dali Museum in Figueres or the Dali Castle plus some other hilltop towns and castles), food (Fish Museum in Palamos, a local farm tour, rice farms in Pais and a winery) and Girona, the historic regional capital of the area. We decided to do our own private tour and stayed in town. North of the beach is the old town built on a finger peninsula with narrow streets and a lovely church – Santa Maria del Mar. Traffic was light and sadly nearly all the stores were closed. I love traveling to places when they are quiet, but the downside is that stores and restaurants are often closed.
Once we got to the north side of the peninsula we had a striking view of a large marina and Cap Gros, the next peninsula which looked like a challenging climb from a distance. At this point Donna and I discussed the difference between a walk and a hike. I had worn my hiking boots, so I was ready. Donna said she was only interested in a walk, not a hike. We continued. The area was residential with coastal apartments facing the water and large houses high on the rocks with paths down to tiny beaches. There was a large fancy campground on the slope of Cap Gros. The end of the peninsula was a park with striking views of Palamos to the south and more of Costa Brava to the north. This was when the hike started so Donna didn’t climb the last part of the hill and I got to see one of the area’s most popular beaches, Platja Fosca as well as Castell de la Fosca in the far distance. We had done the first part of a three hour hike along the rocky coast north of the city. If you are a hiker, this is a beautiful walk (or hike).
We walked back and had our drink on the beach and watched the para-sailing.
When we got back I heard from others that the Fish Museum tour was fascinating. They got to see the fish auction, here about the local catch and each some of the super-fresh product. For those who enjoy fish, sounds like a fun tour.
Away from the hustle of Barcelona, Palamos is a nice daytime stop for a cruise.
(Political turmoil in Catalonia: We visited Catalonia about 10 days after the elected leadership of the Community of Catalonia declared independence and the government of Spain responded by removing that leadership. It was not certain we would go there with the political uncertainty. Despite the dramatic events, there were no acts of violence by the rebels or the government, so our cruise made three stops in Catalonia – in Palamos, Tarragona and Barcelona. The only evidence we saw of the revolt were many flags waiving from windows and locals handing out leaflets at the ports. We did not see increased security anywhere. We did not spend much time in Barcelona, so we may have missed some stronger evidence of the troubles. Nonetheless, the Catalans seem to be maintaining a vocal, but peaceful stance. It is unclear from all that I have read if the rebels have the support of the majority in the region. Hopefully Catalonia will continue to remain peaceful.)