Flors i Violes: Celebrating Spring in Palafrugell

Like a child in a candy store, I found myself stopping at every stall in the crowded market, following my nose more often than my sight. The aroma of freshly baked bread beckoned and I stopped to contemplate which of the different breads I wanted to try. In the end, I walked away distracted by the bright pop of color at a neighboring stall selling licorice and cotton candy. I put away the map that I’d been given by our guide Marta; I would not need it here. For the next few hours, I was going to get wonderfully lost in Palafrugell, a small coastal town in Costa Brava.

Palafrugell

Palafrugell

Palafrugell

The Sunday market was bustling with families and tourists enjoying the festive atmosphere of Flors i Violes, a time of celebration that transforms the courtyards and plazas around town into little music and theater venues. Beautiful flower, paper and other artistic decorations adorned the streets, stalls and shops, each one decorated distinctly to represent its product.

The fresh golden croissants at a corner stall seemed to attract more onlookers than buyers, perhaps due to their massive size. The strong smell of herbs stoked my curiosity and led me to a herbal medicine stall. Its little sacks of dry herbs offered cures for everything from diabetes to bronchitis. From pickled varieties of olives, ham, cheese to surprisingly giant-sized vegetables and little flower stalls, the market was full of surprises. Giving into my love of unique locally crafted jewelry, I picked up a pretty necklace of multicolored woven threads to take a closer look. In less than two minutes, I had parted with 10 Euros and was making my way around again.

Palafrugell

Palafrugell

I’d never seen tomatoes like this before!

Palafrugell

Pickled olives

Palafrugell

Palafrugell

Massive croissants!

Palafrugell

A herb for every ailment

Palafrugell

Palafrugell

Looking around the market, I realized I’d lost the rest of the group but I didn’t mind, I had a couple of hours before we were to meet for lunch. Then, I met Marissa of MAD Travel Diaries and after wandering around the market for a while, we sat down for a cup of coffee, talking about all things travel, as you do.

We stepped out of the café to the sound of beating drums. A group of bandana clad drummers was slowly making its way through the narrow market streets to the center of the square Pl. Nova. The energy was palpable as the smiling drummers played to the crowd that had gathered around to enjoy the music.

Palafrugell

Palafrugell

Here is a video of the drumming.

[youtube width=”640″ height=”480″]https://youtu.be/SHB1cYiToqg[/youtube]

Next, we headed to the Pl. de Can Mario, home to the Museu del Suro, the biggest cork museum in the world and the Can Mario Modernist Water Tank. Here are some photos from the museum shop. I didn’t go inside because I’m really not a museum person and when I have the choice, I usually pick open spaces such as gardens, squares or trails over museums.

Palafrugell

Pl de Can Mario

Palafrugell

Museo del Suro store

Palafrugell

He’s made of cork!

Just across from the museum is the Contemporary Sculpture Museum of Can Mario (Vila Casas Foundation) featuring the work of different artists in the region.

Palafrugell

Walking along the garden of the Vila Casas Foundation, we arrived at the Can Marino Water Tank and Tower. The Can Marino Modernist Water Tank, completed in 1905 is a modernist structure that is an important remnant of Catalan industrial heritage in the region. Inside the dark interior, an exhibition of photographs traces the history of the conception, design and construction of the tank.

Palafrugell

Interior of the Can Marino Tank

Palafrugell

Can Marino Water Tower

We climbed up the narrow steps all the way up the 35-metre tall tower and were rewarded with a beautiful panoramic view of the town. The town looked like a painting, with the sky the perfect shade of blue and the buildings in tangerine, mustard, pink or white with red roofs, some turned brown with age.

Palafrugell

View of Palafrugell from the top

After enjoying the fantastic view for a few minutes, we made our way to the restaurant where we were supposed to meet the rest of our group for lunch. We arrived to a long table that had been set up in a quaint alley just outside the restaurant. We would be dining al fresco at a table for almost a hundred people!

Local families began to arrive and soon so did our first course. The communal lunch was a springtime Sunday tradition in the town. The fare was typically Catalan with a modern twist and more food than we had expected slowly began to make its way to the table. Conversation flowed to the mellow notes of the musicians, as did the wine, and before we had realized, it had been over two hours. We would have been perfectly content to sit there for another two, considering how pleasantly lazy the afternoon was.

Palafrugell

Communal lunch

Palafrugell

But Marta had other plans for us, and we were dropped off to begin a coastal walk in Calella de Palafrugell, a quiet fishing village along the coast. This was my first encounter with the rugged beauty of Costa Brava, having spent the last few days in Barcelona and at the conference events at TBEX Europe 2015, and I was absolutely wowed by the views of hidden coves along the path. We began the hike at Els Canyers, walking along the coast, going up and down sets of stairs and through the town of Calella. Here are some photos of the gorgeous views.

Palafrugell

Coastal view from Calella

Palafrugell

Palafrugell

Palafrugell

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Palafrugell

Palafrugell

The towns of Palafrugell and Calella are quieter than other resort or party towns in Costa Brava and retain much of their authenticity even though tourism is the main driver of the local economy. I still can’t decide what my favorite part of the day was- I LOVED everything about the town; the busy market streets, the festive drumming. the al fresco communal lunch and the coastal walk in Calella. For anyone looking to experience nature, culture and hike along the beautiful Spanish coast, Palafrugell is a lovely town to base yourself in for a few days.

Thanks to Marta Moreno and Visit Palafrugell for introducing me to the lovely town.

For general information to help you plan your travels to Spain and suggested itineraries (including off-the-beaten-path places like Girona and Cap De Creus), check out my Spain Travel Blog. Alternatively, just get straight to the point and find out where to go for the best chocolate in Barcelona 😉

 

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Palafrugell

24 Comments

  • Omg those chocolate croissants had me drooling! I loved all you photos. I spent time in Costa Brava many years ago and I thought it was a really cool place. It seemed to have something for everyone!

    • thebohochica says:

      It definitely does have something for everyone, it’s just about finding the right towns on the coast 🙂

  • Tami says:

    What an interesting little town…and the coastal views were amazing. Love the shot with the boat parked on the beach!

  • I love going to markets. There are always such amazing things to smell and buy. Those tomatoes look amazing. They are so pretty not sure I would have issues cooking with it.

    Also, I really dislike when the sign up for a newsletter button is pre-checked. I report the emails as spam when I receive miss the checkbox and receive them. (Feel free to edit this part out when approving)

    • thebohochica says:

      Thanks for letting me know Jennifer, I didn’t realize that my settings were like that. It’s not something that I like myself and I’ve changed it now 🙂

  • Oh my gosh, those croissants look so amazing. I’ve also never seen tomatoes that look like that, but they look amazing as well. I can imagine it was difficult choosing what to try around there. I’d want to try everything!

  • Haha tomatoes looks like they come from some cartoon 🙂

  • Mags says:

    I’m so upset that I missed Tbex Europe this year. You’re photos are really rubbing it in! lol

    • thebohochica says:

      You should definitely come to the next one in Stockholm in July 2016. I’ll be there and I hope to see you!

  • anna says:

    Those street markets! They all look so lively and colorful! Really shows off the culture and vibe of a place. Beautiful photos!

  • Dariece says:

    What a gorgeous part of the world!! You had the right idea in putting down the map and getting wonderfully lost 🙂 How much did you end up spending on jewelry in the end?! I too love locally made bracelets, earrings and necklaces. Thanks for sharing, it looks like I’ll have to add Palafrugell to my never ending list of places to see.

    Cheers.

    • thebohochica says:

      I spent about 10 Euros on the necklace and 3 bracelets. I’d definitely recommend Palafrugell if you find yourself in Costa Brava 🙂 Thanks for stopping by Dariece!

  • I’ve only been to Spain once, but was enamored with it. Little towns like this are the reason I travel. It looks like you had an amazing time at the market! I need to visit Dubai too. Thanks for this!

    • thebohochica says:

      I did! I love markets and I could spend hours just walking around in them 🙂 Feel free to reach out to me for Dubai related travel tips.

  • That table is unreal. Wow. What an amazing experience to share with so many others. I have been to both Girona and Lloret de Mar but never visited Palafrugell. It looks a lot less touristy than other places in Costa Brava. Definately worth a visit.

  • I still need to pinch myself when I think of all the opportunities we had during the Costa Brava trips. What a beautiful destination as your lovely photos confirm. I wanted to go to the top of the tower at the cork museum, but we didn’t have time-wow-I missed quite a view. Palafrugall is indeed and authentic and gorgeous town. I hope i’ll get the chance to spend more time and really explore it!

    • thebohochica says:

      I hope so too Alison, I’d love to go back and stay at Calella, at one of the apartments facing the sea 🙂

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