In the dregs of summer, Costa Brava feels weird. The only other people holidaying there are elderly French folks, wrinkled and crispy from lifetimes spent in the sun. Peak-season promotional banners announcing "Kids Eat Free!" linger at roundabouts, flapping at the corners in the strengthening wind, and 32-person villas, which at this time of year rent individual rooms out separately, are resoundingly empty.
Driving between places, the highways and major roads are sort of repulsive. You can play spotto for Intermarche and McDonalds outlets. Parts of the coastline - those most inaccessible - are quaint and pristine, while other parts - those near large ports and hosting sandy stretches - are commercial and dated. They're purpose built for package holiday tourists. Far up in the northern pocket of Spain, the town of Roses is case in point; yet, wind your way to the other side of the mountain and you're in the charming old port village of Cadaqués and, just further around, Portlligat, where Salvador Dali lived and worked for some five decades. You have to sort your way through things here.
The images shared below were taken during a one week period driving along this coast - the "wild" or "rugged" coast, as it's translated from Catalan. In sorting through all the old school three star beachfront hotels and nature farms and jet ski hire stores, at first I found it hard to understand how Costa Brava got its name. And then I visited the Cap de Creus; a national park where the roads narrow and then simply end, where jagged rocks and native succulents abound, where what look like tiny pristine bays from cliffs above prove to be insect-ridden and ice-cold from down below. There's only one place to eat on the cape - a simple seafood restaurant, right out on the headland with a patio overlooking the water - and it's like dining at the end of the world. Before the tourists came, before any of this other stuff was built, the whole coastline would have been like this. Rocky, dry, rugged and wild.