Castles, Castelleres, & Culinary Delights of Catalunya

Of lovely boat rides, the sweetest oysters, and a tradition from Spain where no one gets gored!

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Full Show Script

  • [Friendly]

  • EVO The coastline of Costa Brava --- all of coast of the Mediterranean, in fact -- is lousy with castles. Piracy was a big deal (like the Salt Stealing Pirates from Africa we mentioned on last week's show) just a few centuries ago. Fortifications to defend against attacks were built along almost literally every turn of the coastline. Amazingly, many are still visible today, in various states of ruin.

  • SHE: A few weeks ago, we took a half-day boat tour out of Blanes, Spain with a company called Charter Lloret. It was just us and six other TBEX attendees, as well as the captain and his assistant, on a leisurely boat tour up the Costa Brava shoreline. As we boated along the beach of LLoret de Mar, Evo asked about the story behind the oddly well maintained, almost brand new looking castle right on the edge of a cliff.

  • [pre made]

  • SHE How disappointing. A "fake" castle, decades, not centuries old, built just to give tourists something to take photos of.

  • EVO: But the other guests on the boat hadn't even noticed the fake castle, let alone Marcos' explanation. My turn...

  • [castle story]

  • SHE: Taking a boat tour of the coastline was a great way to see more of Costa Brava. Great views, a great guide, and great folks to chat with, and this surprise: 

  • [20 minutes on a boat]

  • SHE: Drinks? Snacks? This was shaping up to be a most excellent cruse. 

  • EVO: Unlike the poor souls we saw on that other tour boat. Clearly, they didn't have Captain Marcos at the helm, or even seem to like the people they were traveling with, as Nate from Winter Wonderlust pointed out.

  • [not as much fun on a boat] 

  • EVO: 20 minutes is apparently a relative term in the Mediterranean. And I thought that was just an English thing.

  • [two minutes five minutes ago]

  • SHE: Attending TBEX gave us lots of exposure to Catalonian, or Catalunyan, culture. During the awesome opening event on the grounds of the Hotel Santa Marta just to the west of Lloret de Mar, a troupe showed up to create human towers. 

  • [castelles]

  • EVO: They were part of a colles castellere, and building these human pyramids is, well... what they do. With the sounds of the Toc de Castells urging them on, the dozens of stocky men (usually) grasp arms shoulder to shoulder, and a slightly smaller number of slightly less-stocky men and women climb on top of them, also grasping arms at shoulder height. And then another layer is added. And then another. Until, at some point, a pre-teen wearing a safety helmet -- the only member of the troop to sport one, scampers up this living ladder until she reaches the top, just as the band reaches their crescendo.

  •  SHE: It's an impressive sight, with lots of appreciative oohs and ahhs from the crowd. And it's a lot safer than the running of the bulls, for both the tower builders themselves and spectators alike.

  •  EVO: The food in southern Spain is outstanding, but the seafood really can't be beat. If muscles and oysters are your thing, it's worth the train ride down to San Carlos de la Rápita. From there, you'll take a water taxi or charter a boat out to The Musclarium, an amazing restaurant sitting on top of the mussel beds.

  •  SHE: Apparently, the combination of warm water and nutrients from the river make the most amazing combination for these filter-feeding tasty critters.

  •  [mussels and oysters]

  •  SHE: I'm not so sure I've ever seen a ""beautiful"" oyster, but he had us intrigued with the claim of the best tasting in the whole world.

  •  EVO: These oysters are rumored to fetch between $5 and $10 each -- per oyster -- so it's not surprising they're all over them in Paris. 

  • [eat them]

  • EVO: Ha! I knew I'd find a way to work a ""that's what he said"" line in the show. Except I though it would be that's what she said, and I thought i'd be the one to say it. Thanks for staling my thunder, Gabi!

  • SHE: You're such a child. Coming up next, scenes from next week's show. But first...

  • EVO: This is out 20th show. I know. 20 shows. That's kind of a big deal. As you've heard, if you've been listening since the beginning, we've changed things up a bit, but hopefully are staying true to our mission of bringing you good audio story telling. We may not have the staff of Gimlet Media or Radiotopia, but we like to think we're producing shows that at least come close to the bar they've set. If you like what we're doing let us know. Like, right now. Pull out your phone and send us a tweet at @OppTravelers. Better yet, send a tweet telling your friends to check out our show. If you're on Facebook, tag us in a post. That works, too. And if you're on Google+, Plus mention us. Tell us what you think. We love hearing from our listeners.

  • SHE: Here's what we're working on for our next show:

  • [next week]

  • EVO: More beer. Go figure. Cheers from Costa Brava!

  • We travel the world as The Opportunistic Travelers largely because of our generous listeners.

  • EVO: People all over the world pledge as little as five bucks a month, and in return, they get a hand-written postcard from us sent from wherever opportunity has taken us, every single month. Sign up today at TheOpportunisticTravelers.com/postcards.

  • SHE: We also stay for free most of our journey. No, we’re not super-stars or anything. We eliminate hotel costs and stay in some great cities by housesitting all over the world. Get our complete list of the actual housesitting sites we use every day at TheOpportunisticTravelers.com/stayforfree, and stop spending money on hotels when you travel, too. Thanks for listening to this episode. I’m Sheila Dee.

  • EVO: And I am Evo Terra. Our theme music is "On the Ground" by Kevin MacLeod at incompetech.com. All other sounds, voices, and odd bits you hear were created by us. And this podcast is just the start of the audio, video, images, and written content we’re producing as we travel the world. Got an idea on how we could work together or a place you like for us to visit? Visit TheOpportunisticTravelers.com to get in touch. Now would be good.


New episodes of the The Opportunistic Travelers Podcast are available every Tuesday. Of course, Tuesday can be a very different thing depending on where we are in the world. Cheers!