A WI L D AND WONDERFUL TOUR OF THE Costa Brava

Eric G. Anderson, MD, & Nancy Allen, RN

Physician's Money Digest, January31 2004, Volume 11, Issue 2

pain’s Costa Brava (literally meaning, “wild

coast”) hides itself in the northeast corner of

the country, well beyond Barcelona, and

extends to the very border of France. The

tourist office of Spain (www.okspain.org/quick

links/offices.asp) needn’t worry that visitors to Spain

might think of hopping over the border to France—

there’s just too much to see in Costa Brava.

Wonders Along the Coastline

S

American tourists not too familiar with this part

of Spain will be delighted to find great places to drive

to, including the magnificent coastline with its deep

cliffs and fascinating inlets. But those who want to

take time to savor this gracious place will be equally

pleased to find little fishing villages like Palamos,

home to the 16th-century church of Santa Eugenia

Villarroma, and a modern fishing museum, Museu

de la Pesca (www.museudelapesca.org), dedicated to

those who brave the dangers of the sea.

Tossa de Mar, another beautiful town with cobbled

streets, has seven circular towers that guard the

remains of an old church and the governor’s palace,

which dates from the 14th century. Visitors can also

see the ancient hospital of San Miguel, founded in

1773. Donations for this charity hospital came from

an emigrant, Tomas Vidal i Rey, who became

wealthy and successful in America. The plaque on its

ancient wall has a cross and a skull and crossbones.

Around the corner is the modernistic Hotel Diana

(www.diana-hotel.com), created from a Gaudiinspired

delightful private residence. Expenses on the

Costa Brava are reasonable compared with other

European locations. A double room in this hotel, for

€

to 110

€

example, runs from 66, depending on the

season. Those prices are not atypical—restaurant

charges were equally affordable. Car rentals, however,

are higher than in the United States; a 7-day rental

€

, which

is approximately $475.

Three Points of the Triangle

For many, the main pleasure in Costa Brava is

driving the Dali Triangle. Salvador Dali (www.sal

vador-dali.org), Spain’s mercurial, controversial, but

beloved artist, lived in the remote village of Portlligat

near Cadaqués. It was his workshop and home from

1930 to 1982 (www.salvador-dali.org/en_index.html).

When Gala, his wife and muse, died, he moved to the

Gothic-Renaissance castle in Pubol in 1970. During

the 2 years Dali spent there, he designed his final great

adventure: his Theatre-Museum, located in Figueres,

near Girona, in a restored 19th-century theater that

burned down in the Civil War. It’s the third leg of the

triangle and has most of Dali’s work and personality.

The exhibits in all three locations defy description:

golden thrones, stuffed animals, elephant statues,

strange sculptures like Our Lord of the Refuse, dissected

bones, large eggs on rooftops, ceramic loaves

of bread, and dozens of large reproductions of the

Oscar Academy Award statue. And on display are

quotes from Dali, such as, “I believe a man has as

much right to be insane as he has to be sane.” It’s all

there in its bizarre exuberance, and it’s glorious.

of a compact Citreon C5 will cost about 370Endless History of GironaGirona, the medieval-walled capital of the CostaBrava, is another great Spanish city (www.ajuntament.gi/turisme/ENG/entrada01.html). Situated onthe banks of the river, Onyan, with its brightly paintedtownhouses, Girona offers more than 2000 yearsof history. A walk up the riverside Rambla de laLlibertat takes you toward the city’s spiritual coreand major landmark—an impressive 11th- to 18thcenturycathedral with the widest nave inChristendom. There is also an ancient monastery andother churches with spectacular Roman, Paleochristian,Romanesque, and Baroque sepulchers.Girona has one of the largest and best conservedantique Jewish quarters in Europe; its Museum of theHistory of the Jews (34-972-21-67-61; www.ajuntament.gi/call/eng), situated on the site of a 15th-centurysynagogue, has a collection of incredibly preservedHebrew tombstones. Within the city, a cathedralmuseum displays the gorgeous 12th-century“Tapestry of Creation” and the Beautus, an illuminated10th-century set of manuscripts. Other museumsoffer Renaissance art and prehistoric archaeologicalcollections; Girona even has a museum dedicatedto the earliest days of the movies.