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Photo of L'Escala, ca. 1966

The l’Escala waterfront, ca. 1966. Credit: Restaurant Cal Galan.

Last week we took a 45-minute, rather glam bus ride from Girona to the old fishing village of L’Escala on the coast of the Mediterranean. On a previous brief visit, we were captivated by the charm of the old village, the 45 miles of shoreline around the Bay of Roses, and some very intimate little restaurants that called our name.

Luckily, L’Escala has always been more about fishing (for anchovies, using small catboats) than tourism, and so remains a bit undiscovered in the off season. We bunked in at the Hotel Nieves Mar, right on the long malecón, which offered a balcony with a view of the sea, a big swimming pool, and a sumptuous breakfast – all for a mere off-season 68 euros per night. Loved it. Recommend it. We are going back.

We spent our time walking along the sea wall, bumping into a life-sized orchestra made of bronze, a statue of the proverbial seaman’s wife (and child) looking out to sea, and eventually, the charming little restaurant Cal Galan, run by two generations of family, all of whom we met over our salad and macaroni and cheese. We also popped in at the Restaurant de L’Escalenc, run by our two friends Paula and Josep, whom we had met at a neighborhood Girona eatery, quite by chance, earlier last month.

We had just stopped in to say hello, but Paula and Josep insisted we stay for a gift snack of cava, mussels, calamari, and shrimp. The place was empty at 1:00 PM, but a half-hour later it was packed. People who couldn’t get tables were getting takeout, served in metal paella pans, which I assumed they were going to bring back.

The Mediterranean is just warming up for the season. I put my feet in, of course, but can’t wait to go back when it’s warmer!

As long as they don’t make me eat the anchovies.