Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Costa Brava Saga

Three years ago, a few days after my arrival in Barcelona, you may remember that Nicole and I went up to Costa Brava with some new friends to run a 9K race. It was one of those perfect days (aside from the 9K race part): new friends, a beautiful beach, perfect weather, and an absolutely incredible restaurant.

Since that time, I´ve made many return visits to the seaside village of Calella de Palafrugell and to one of my favorite restaurants in the world, Tragamar. No matter what time of year, it´s always beautiful and perfect.

So it´s only fitting that, for the past year and a half that Frenchy and I have been together, I have longed to share this place with him. I mean, he loves the beach and he gleefully ingests food... what´s not to like?

But it´s also only fitting that, given our track record, something would always come in the way of our fabled Tragamar lunch. The first such incident was the day after my graduation, late April 2007. We piled my parents, my sister, my uncle and aunt, and Frenchy into two cars and drove what should have been a quick trip to Costa Brava. Something about a holiday weekend which we failed to account for.... it took us four hours to get to Calella and when we finally got there, it was 3:58pm. The kitchen had just closed. Crushed and starving, I fell into a dramatic heap on the steps leading to the sand while my gallant boyfriend did everything he could (including BRIBERY) to convince them to serve just one more meal. Even money couldn´t convince them, and Frenchy came back muttering, "Ugh, lazy jerks." Or actually, something much worse that I won´t admit to.

Because you can only eat during very particular hours in Spain, the only option was a quickie pizza joint. My romantic post-graduation, Costa Brava family plans were dashed, but I kept hope alive for another chance...

And that chance came about a year later, Easter weekend of this year. Frenchy and I planned a trip up to Cadaques, further north, and agreed to stop en route at Tragamar for lunch. The weather was awful that day - lashing rain, freezing wind, dark cloudy sky. Not really beach weather. So imagine my dismay when we got to Tragamar around 2pm and were told we needed a reservation. The beach was desolate, but apparently the restaurant was full. This time, even the pizza place was closed, and we ended up at some truck stop eating really nasty spaghetti because there wouldn´t be another place to stop for a few hours.

So on Wednesday, on our way back to Barcelona from our mini roadtrip, we were discussing driving to Costa Brava the following day, since we still had another day on our car reservation. It was 9pm and I decided that if we were to have lunch at Tragamar the following day, I´d do everything in my power to be sure we weren´t cast away. I googled the restaurant right there in the car and called and made a reservation for 2pm the following day.

Early Thursday morning, Frenchy and I packed our roadbikes in the car and headed up toward Calella. We did a hellish hourlong ride in the hills (beautiful views, though!) and made it to Tragamar at 2:03. I know this because I was ridiculously stressed out for the final 20 minutes of the trip that we'd be slightly late and some German family would steal our table. But we made it. And there was even a table for two free on the terrace overlooking the beach. I nearly cried. And then I ate more seafood than should be legally permitted. And it was SO WORTH IT.

I told Frenchy, "Okay, we´ve been here. Three years to the day after my first visit. You´ve eaten here. The circle has closed. Now we can move to France." Which, incidentally, is a different story altogether.

On the way back home to Barcelona that night, we passed that spaghetti truckstop and laughed. Then we had to stop laughing because our stomachs hurt.


Melina said...

I seee I seee now. You and Tanya are blogging buddies! Thats great :)

Xavi said...

Noelle, you are a such good story writer ! You should write a book and I would be the 2nd French to get it personally signed by you... Love your style... meanwhile, check my blog sometimes, so you can see the style of a french guy writing in English !


wild iris said...

I love travelling, and though I haven't travelled much till now, reading your blog makes me think I'm actually in the places you describe! Nice work :)

NoellieBellie said...

Thanks for the compliments everyone! I really appreciate it! Very encouraging. :)

Joe Micarelli said...

My wife, two kids and I just got back from our first trip to Spain, where my wife's sister lives (in Begur). They took us for lunch at Tragamar. This place is the most magically perfect little spot I've ever been to in my 57 years. I thought I might be over-reacting, but I'm glad to see you feel as I do about it. I would (and I will) make the jet-lagged economy-class trip from the USA all over again just to experience those few moments again. Good luck!