Wednesday, June 20, 2007

beach escape: una cala perfecta

A coupla weeks ago my roommates, their friends, and my friend Ian and I escaped to a wonderful beach about an hour south of Barcelona, just north of the small city of Tarragona. To my delight, this beach fulfilled most of my qualifications for greatness:
  • isolated location, ideally a challenge to arrive at so as to keep it real (+keep the riff raff out);
  • fine sand and crystal clear water, ideally with waves (lakes are boring);
  • a good vibe, if indeed there are others at the beach;
  • fun topography to explore, such as cliffs, rocks, dunes, or a forest;
  • to bring: a few choice beach toys, food/drink, and, of course, good company.
The Tarragona cala got high marks. You had to enter by hiking through a Mediterranean pine forest that rose above sea level as it approached the rocky coast, which itself was beautiful. The beach was of extremely fine sand that filled a roughly semicircular cove (cala) between the crescent of cliffs that surrounded it. You had to swim out about 30m to see the rest of the rocky coast unfold, but this was easy because the water remained shallow for a long way. To the south, the Cathedral of Tarragona was barely visible on top of the city’s hill, about 10km away. As an added bonus, it was mostly but not exclusively nudist. And because it required a slight hike to access, our crowd was mercifully free of those types whose bodies I would least appreciate in their natural glory.
At the beach, Ian and I ran and played like kids. I brought reading and did none of it. We threw the disc, played paddleball, walked up and down the coast and swam back along the cliffs. Ian, a wonderful guy who is also a bit too adventurous, also climbed not one but two cliffs starting from the water-- the second of which was at least 15m high and downright scary. I had never seen this done before and was relieved that Ian didn't ruin the day for all of us by falling. He came away with only a few scratches—sea-battered limestone is kind of sharp—but must have gotten quite a rush. I was unable to keep up with that but did manage to whip his ass in paddleball. Small victories, people.
All in all, a fine day trip which culminated perfectly with a little polylingual jam session and the consumption of tepid beer. Also, one of the prettiest topless girls insisted on doing handstands right in front of us. A great scene all around, and a lovely sunset as we walked back toward the cars along the longer, more popular beach further south.

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