Well September, always my favourite month, has been particularly exciting this year. I was lucky enough to take a trip to Empuriabrava in Spain with some of my family, to celebrate my daughter’s 40th birthday. My photos come from there. Thanks to WPC, I became obsessed with grids and spotted them everywhere in the old town!
Empuriabrava is a wonderful place, especially in Autumn, when the vast majority of foreign tourists have gone home. It is built around national parks ~ lush and green thanks to the fresh water springs, and there are magnificent views of the Pyrenees in the distance. The beautiful beaches are deserted except for fearless young windsurfers. The parks are left to local children and older folk who make good use of the play and exercise equipment freely provided. The seemingly endless footpaths are given over to dog walkers, runners and cyclists. While walking along the footpath, I was surprised and delighted by a herd of extremely well-behaved goats following a farmer. They stopped occasionally to feed or explore the hedgerow, but were easily coaxed onward by the goat at the rear with a bell round his neck. They seemed happy and even managed what looked like a smile for the camera. The wide river Muga flows along one side of the footpath on its journey from the Alberes mountains of the eastern Pyrenees to the Mediterranean Sea at the beautifully named Gulf of Roses. The bamboo, rushes and trees beside it were filled with birds and butterflies while the steps leading up to the path were dotted with sunbathing lizards. Nearer the town, the fig trees were filled with the sound of squabbling parakeets. There seemed to be masses of these bright green birds with grey breasts nesting in every palm tree, which delighted my little grandson. They are feral monk parakeets apparently and they are quite common.
The new part of Empuriabrava is often referred to as the Venice of Spain. However, it reminded me strongly of St Petersburg. There is no Hermitage, and no Palace or fort, but the whole town is criss-crossed by canals, just like St Petersburg. Many of the luxurious white houses, villas and apartments back onto the canal and have their own moorings. Sleek boats of all shapes and sizes can be seen everywhere and they can be hired quite cheaply. It is such a leisurely way to get around.
The old town of Castello d’Empuries is only about 4km from the new town and is connected to it by the footpath that we walked each day. It is so quaint that if it were possible to remove the occasional car and delivery lorry, it would be easy to imagine yourself back in the Middle Ages. There are unspoilt historical monuments, including roman baths, and a fascinating Jewish Quarter. But the most exciting place for me was the restaurant in the Gothic Portal de la Gallarda. It is sited over the Gallard gate, which was the fortified entrance to the old town. There is an ancient moat around the wonderfully conserved walls, which extend to the Basilica of Santa Maria. We had a superb meal there, contrary to negative TripAdvisors’ reviews ~ and lots of lovely Cava!
My trip was the perfect restorative holiday, and it was rounded off at the airport in Girona when the Spanish ‘Red Arrows’, known as the Patrulla Aguila (Eagle Patrol), flew in. They had been performing a display in Mataro near Barcelona at the Festa al Cel. The display team is normally based at San Javier in the Murcia region so we were very lucky to see them. This was a week earlier than usual to avoid the regional elections for the government of Catalunya which take place this Sunday. These elections are hotly contested and there were flags on many of the houses displaying their allegiances.
Fruit falls from burdened branches
September sweeps by