To the Costa Brava

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September 10th 2017
Published: September 11th 2017
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Today we're heading to the town of Roses on Spain's Costa Brava. We're up early and I head to the breakfast room just as it opens. It's packed with members of a Japanese tour group, keen not to waste a second of the day. I think that perhaps we should take a leaf out of their books and start getting up earlier.... which is maybe why I'm now starting to feel so tired and thinking I should just go back to bed.

Issy's cold's gotten worse. It's still drizzly and gloomy as we head to the station to catch our train to Zurich airport. We pass through the town of Zug.... I'm not sure why but that name just gives me the giggles.

We arrive in Barcelona and pick up our hire car. I'm feeling very nervous. I'm reminded of a story that I was told by Sharna, the English girl that I sat next to on the bus up Mount Vesuvius. She said that her sister was married to a professional golfer. She decided to fly to Barcelona to watch him play, and hired a car at the airport. She then spent half an hour trying to get out into the traffic, all to no avail. So what did she do … she turned around and took the car back; she never got to drive it beyond the airport car park.

The glass door to the hire car office seems to be locked. I pull and push it hard, but I can't get it to budge. Issy's standing behind me yelling at me that it IS open. I wonder how she knows this; she hasn't been pushing and pulling it for the last several minutes. I then notice that the door I've been attacking is one of a pair, and that the other one of the pair is indeed wide open. Issy can't stop laughing. The people in the rental car company have unfortunately been watching the whole show, and the looks on their faces suggest that they're now having some serious reservations about handing me the keys to any of their vehicles.

We get in the car. We can't find the handbrake. We give up looking and I head back to the office to ask for help. Given the earlier charade with their glass doors I hope they don't decide to give me my money back and point me in the direction of the rental car company next door. They manage to remain polite and point me to a small button in the central console right next to the button that turns on the seat warmers. I don't think that I've ever been in car that has seat warmers before. It's 25 degrees outside, so I'm not sure we're going to need them, but I suppose it's still nice to know they're there. It's also nice to now know where the handbrake is.

Issy was looking very sick when we got off the plane, but now she can't stop smiling. She says she's going to dine out for years on the story about me trying to get through the doors of the rental car company office. I think I might need to give up dining out.

The owner of our Roses apartment has asked that we call him when we're about half an hour away. I'm driving, so this is Issy's job. It might be interesting too; his name's Gijb, and perhaps unsurprisingly she asks me how that's pronounced. I tell her that I've got no idea and that she needs to work this out for herself as payback for laughing at me constantly for the past hour.

We arrive in Roses and meet Gijb, which it seems is pronounced with a very deep throaty gutteral noise followed by "eep". I ask him if he's German. Uh oh. That was clearly a mistake. He says he's "very Dutch", and that I've now deeply offended him..... I hope we're not going to have trouble finding somewhere else to stay. But all is well; he turns out to be a very nice man. He tells us that he moved here from Holland four years ago after two major heart operations, and his health is now much improved due to the climate. He tells us that he usually lives in the apartment that we're renting. It's enormous - three bedrooms and a massive balcony right over the seafront - Gijb's surprised it's just us, he says he was expecting us to turn up with a tribe of offspring. Issy's very happy; she tells me that I can cancel the rest of the trip, and we'll just spend the rest of the time here. It's very windy, but sunny and mild.

We head off on a longish walk into town for dinner. I've been hanging out for patatas bravas since we were in Spain last year, so we find a tapas bar on the waterfront and order more food than we can possibly eat..... and the patatas bravas certainly don't disappoint.


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