Spain is 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. We went to Calafell instead.
Unfortunately, the crowds of tourists attract street vendors who will nag you until you buy something. 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. This 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. I am used to crowded beaches where you have to step over people to get to the sea which has more sun screen than salt water. So I was surprised by how few people there were here. On our first day here, 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. We couldn’t resist spending the whole day working on our tans and enjoying the many waves from a sand bank. It was perfectly positioned about 40 meters into the sea. As the week progressed there were a couple of busier days. People rented speed-boats and sailboats from a dock about 2 miles from our hotel. Nevertheless, there was always a relaxed air about the beach.
Where to Stay?
Our apartment-style hotel, Costa d’Or was reasonably priced at 700 euros for a week. This included two rooms with queen-sized beds, a living area and a bathroom with a bathtub. The kitchen has a spacious fridge and gas stove. Best of all, we had a balcony perfect for people watching. The staff was friendly and helpful but had poor English. However, they were patient when communicating and aiding us.
Additionally, the reception is open 24/7 so you can come and go as you please. 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. 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.
Where to Eat Out:
Although there is a kitchen in the hotel, it’s still nice to eat out every once in a while. We found a modest little restaurant near the breathtaking Esglesia de la Santa Creu, Calafell’s most famous landmark. I ordered tuna sandwich and sangria for a great price. While, the cheap sangria was only average-tasting, it was refreshing. The sandwich was ridiculously simple, containing only bread and the best tuna that I’ve ever tasted.
We also enjoyed dinner at a tapas bar near our hotel. The food and sangria were amazing and the prices were good. We were unfortunate with a mean-spirited waiter, but the food made up for it.
Calafell is a nice town filled with friendly locals. One of them even let my friend come inside his apartment on the top floor of a nearby building. He showed her a unique view of the town, let her take some photos and told her the entire history of Calafell.
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. The station is centrally-located and can take you to one of the neighbor towns like Tarragona and Sitges. Barcelona is also just 40 minutes away. I will definitely return to Calafell again someday, and who knows, I might even run into you there!
You can find more of my articles written for IWAP’s The Bridge here.