As described below, Alan and I went to Arenys de Mar on sunday with out friends Matt & Elena. Known in the Middle Ages as Santa Maria d’Arenys, this town of about 9,000 inhabitants had a very important port from the 16th century onwards. It had then four shipyards and a large shipbuilding industry. After the ports of Spanish America were opened to Catalan commerce in the 18th century, Arenys quickly moved ahead to supply ships for the journey. There were 45 regular ships that travelled to America by the end of the century. The town lost much of its strength in the 19th century, with the advent of steam engine ships and the construction of the docks in Barcelona. Since then it has dedicated itself mostly to tourism and fishing.
We left Barcelona on the 10:18 train and arrived in Arenys a little after 11 AM. The town is quite pretty, spread between the mountains and the sea. We walked from the train station to the older part of town and saw our first odd sighting: bottles of cava. They were everywhere, by each door, reaps of bottles. At first we thought they had some big party on saturday night. But then we realized there were no other kind of bottle – surely if they had a party there would had been beer & wine bottles as well? Other than that, the streets were charming, with that quaint mediterranean seaside feel to it.
We continued our walk and made our way up the hill to the cemetery, which is supposed to be one of the high points of Arenys. I like cemeteries. Oddly, I can’t go to funerals -I didn’t go to any of my grandparents’ funerals, and the few funerals of strangers (usually a friend of a friend or a relative of a friend) I attended left me feeling ill. But somehow, I find cemeteries quite nice and peaceful. The one in Arenys was on top of a hill overlooking the sea and had lots of really nice monuments. I struck conversation with an old lady that was watering the flowers near her family’s grave and she was obviously very proud of the place, despite complaining that the town used to be much nicer thirty years ago. She did enlighten us on the cava bottle mystery. Apparently, in Arenys de Mar everybody puts out their cava bottles on sunday for recycling. Not any bottle, just cava bottles!
The walk up the hill opened our appetites so we walked down to the port to look for a restaurant I had heard about that serves only fresh fish and seafood. It was 1:30 pm and the Bar del Puerto was packed already! As anybody who has been to Spain before, 1:30 pm is quite early for lunch so the fact that the restaurant was already full was a good sign ;)
We had salad, calamares a la romana and boquerones en vinagre to start, a platter of mixed grilled fish and seafood as a main (it was really good!), dessert, coffee, water and wine for less than 20 euros per person. A very good meal! By the way, we ate outside, it was nice and warm and we could hardly believe it was mid January!
After lunch we spent a little while exploring the docks, before we took the 4:30 train home. I took a lot of pictures but unfortunately, I won’t have them developed until later in the week. For now I’ll leave you with a few shots I snapped with Alan’s digital (you can also see more pics on his site):
The line up at the restaurant continued all afternoon…
update: for more pictures, go here