Chilling out in the Costa Brava

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After taking a little break from travelling, I decided it was time to head off on another adventure, but this time around, I’d have a little company – my girlfriend Petra! We met whilst salsa dancing on my trip to Cuba earlier this year (I think I wooed her with my moves)! We were ready to feel the sun on our backs and the sand between our toes – and I’d heard the Spanish Costa Brava was well-known for its warm climate, stunning beaches, and laid-back coastal lifestyle.

All in all, it sounded like just the place for a couple of sun-loving gecko’s to catch a few rays!

1. Beach Bum Lifestyle

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As gecko’s from the desert, we’re used to being surrounded by lots of sand, so we instantly felt at home in the Costa Brava – a place with so many gorgeous beaches you can pick a different one for every day of your holiday!

If you really want peace and privacy, head to El Golfet. It’s a quiet spot surrounded by jagged rocks and pine trees, so you feel totally secluded. Pure bliss! Although my favourite place was Pals – it’s got a beautiful 3-mile strip of beach and it’s also a great place for kitesurfing, diving and windsurfing.

I even got asked to join a game of beach volleyball while I was here, but I was too busy sipping a cocktail and snapping a selfie for my Facebook feed at the time. This globe-trotting lifestyle can be seriously exhausting sometimes!

2. Hiking at Cap de Creus National Park

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After a few chilled-out beach days, me and Petra packed our hiking boots and went for an adventure in Cap de Creus National Park.

The park is actually a nature reserve with a jagged stretch of coastal cliffs and lots of walking trails. We spent the morning hiking, scrambling down to the park’s little bays, and splashing around in rock pools – a pretty tiring morning for a pair of little geckos!

But our afternoon was much easier. We headed 1 hour inland for a wine-tasting session at the 14th-century Peralada Castle. Their medieval wine cellar has 5,500 barrels, and they’ve been making the stuff ever since the Middle Ages – which is probably why they’re so good at it.

Anyway, after a couple of glasses, my legs suddenly felt wobbly and I had to sit down for a while. Looking back, it’s probably best I tasted all that wine after hiking around all those steep coastal clifftops!

3. Gourmet Dining

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Most geckos are happy living off a classic insect-based diet, but not me. One of the perks of being an international jet setter is you get to try delicious dishes from around the world – and the food in the Costa Brava … it’s some of the best I’ve ever tasted.

My guidebook recommended a restaurant called El Celler de Can Roca which was voted number 1 in the “World’s 50 Top Restaurants” last year. But me and Petra were on a budget, so we decided to eat in lots of simple local places – which turned out to be a great decision!

Even the basic beachside shacks here do amazing food. We ended up trying paella, fresh lobster, stuffed olives, and lots of yummy grilled octopus. In fact, we tried pretty much every new dish we found.

After this gourmet experience, I took home a new love of Spanish food – and some excess holiday weight I’ve been struggling to shift it ever since. Still, totally worth it!

4. The Fantastical World of Salvador Dali

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The Costa Brava is famous for its gorgeous beaches and sunny weather, but not many people know it’s also where one of the world’s most famous ever artists lived and worked – a man called Salvador Dali.

You can see his best-known pieces at the Teatro-Museo in Figueres – although some of it is seriously weird! For instance, there’s a portrait of Dali’s wife that turns into a man called Abraham Lincoln when you see it from a different angle. Totally plays with your mind!

Next, we travelled a few miles up the coast to Dali’s old house in Portlligat. They’ve turned his house into a museum and left it just as it was when Dali lived there – you can even see all his old paint brushes left out in his studio!

We had a great time here, although a word of warning: watch out for the giant stuffed polar bear at the entrance to the house. Petra didn’t flinch, but I nearly jumped out my skin which was pretty embarrassing.

5. The Ruins of Empúries

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On our final day, we visited Empúries to see its Greco-Roman ruins. Although I’ll be honest, I initially went expecting to see an ancient site left by my ancestors. Seriously, Greco Gecko? They’re basically the same word. Still, I wasn’t disappointed because this place was incredible!

We walked around the remains of the forum, the amphitheatre, and saw lots of Roman villas which all date back thousands of years. The ruins are scattered on a beautiful cliff overlooking the Mediterranean. So, even if wandering around crumbling old buildings isn’t usually your thing, it’s still totally worth coming here to soak up the views.

Time to move on …

This Costa Brava trip was full of fantastic surprises. We came for the warm weather and beaches, but also ended up exploring national parks, ancient Roman ruins, and learning about one of the world’s most famous artists – and in between it all, I ate like a king!

Anyway, there’s another flight to catch and a new place to visit – next stop, Florida!

Published 6th January 2017

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