Calafell, Spain – a popular European travel destination for people from all over the world. Statistics show that the yearly number of tourists is around 45 million. But where do all these tourists go? Barcelona, Madrid and Valencia are among the most popular, especially during the summer.
Unfortunately, the crowds of tourists attract street vendors who will nag you until you buy something, and as soon as you get rid of one, another will pop right up. Plus half of these tourists are students looking to get drunk and make some noise all through the night. So this is why, when choosing a city in Spain, a group of friends and I opted for Calafell, a little town about 25 miles south of big and boisterous Barcelona.
Calafell, situated in the Catalonian province of Tarragona, is a quiet town perfect for a calm relaxing vacation. Being used to crowded beaches where you have to step over people to get to the sea which has more sun screen than salt water, I was surprised by how few people there were. Our first there day, June 1st 2011, we only saw a few dozen families, quite a few runners and a bunch of children from a class trip.
The atmosphere was really peaceful and we couldn’t resist spending the whole day working on our tans and enjoying the many waves from a sand bank about 40 meters into the sea. As the week progressed there were a couple of busier days, where people rented speed-boats and sailboats from a dock about 2 miles from our hotel, but there was always a relaxed air about the beach.
Our apartment-style hotel, Costa d’Or, very reasonably priced at 700 euros for a room with two double-bed rooms, a living area, a bathroom with a bathtub, a kitchen with a spacious fridge and gas stove and a balcony for a whole week. The staff was friendly and helpful but had poor English, though they were patient when communicating with and aiding us.
Additionally, the reception is open 24/7 so you can come and go as you want and you can always leave the keys there if you don’t want to risk losing them. There is also a beautiful outdoor pool that unfortunately gets little sunlight: but this shouldn’t bother you too much since the hotel is less than 55 yards from the beach. It is also walking distance from many stores, small supermarkets and even the train station.
Although there is a kitchen in the hotel, it’s still nice to eat out every once in a while. Near the breathtaking Esglesia de la Santa Creu, Calafell’s most famous landmark, I found a modest little restaurant where I got a tuna sandwich and sangria. The cheap sangria was only average-tasting yet still refreshing and ridiculously simple sandwich containing only bread with the best tuna that I’ve ever tasted. I also had dinner at a tapas bar, whose name I don’t remember, near Costa d’Or; the food and sangria were amazing and the prices were good, but we were unfortunate with a mean-spirited waiter.
Calafell is a nice town filled with friendly locals (one even let my friend come inside his apartment on the top floor of a nearby building and showed her a unique view of the town and told her the entire history). There are things to do other than swimming, like nordic walking and other group activities. No street vendors will disturb your peace on your way to the store or on the beach. But best of all, if you get bored of the tranquility of the town, you can buy cheap train tickets from the centrally-located station and go to one of the neighbor towns like Tarragona and Sitges. There’s Barcelona too of course, just 40 minutes away. I will definitely return to Calafell again someday, and who knows, I might even run into you there!