“Sally sells sea shells by the sea shore.” I write this on the whiteboard for my Monday morning English lesson using tongue twisters – or trabalenguas in Spanish.
“What is shore?” someone asks. “Tienda?”
“No,” I respond, “tienda is store.What does shore mean – where the water meets the land?”
“Like the bitch?” someone asks.
“Umm, well, almost. Yes, the BEACH. Or the coast,” I explain. “Orilla in spanish.”
This lead to our digressive discussion about the difference between ‘bitch’ and ‘beach’. Or between ‘pitch’ and ‘peach’ – another example I used to aid my sidetrack. However, this English lesson also lead to my reminisce about beaches and beach destinations that I’ll soon be enjoying once summer rolls back around.
Beach destinations were not exactly a top priority during our one year round the world trip. Looking back on that now, I am filled with regret. How did we not prioritize beaches? They’re like the very essence of a vacation! Well, I suppose the RTW trip wasn’t just a vacation to us. Still, we had a hell of a lot of free time during it. Time that could have been spent at beaches! As we experience our first winter in the waterless capital city of Spain (seriously, I have no idea where the water comes from), I’m convinced it’s not too early to begin a list of our top favorite beach spots thus far from our European travels!
Of course there are many beaches in Eurasia that we’d love to visit. Demre in Turkey, the coastline of Croatia, or any Spanish Island for example. We have lots of sand to visit but until then we'll break down our favorite beach destinations of the past couple years.
If you're a regular follower, it's no secret that I'm not the biggest fan of Barcelona. I'm even less of a fan of Barceloneta, one of Barcelona's main beaches. However, this is not to say that there aren't plenty of other worthwhile beaches just a few laps away from the metropolitan city. Sitges, for example, makes a great day trip for a beach excursion less than an hour south. It's not the most secluded beach in Spain, but the seaside charm of the city and the beautiful if slightly overcrowded beaches in the summer are worthy. The small city boasts 17 beaches for your picking. Some bordering right up to the city, while others meander a bit farther out. Some are family friendly and others are specifically gay friendly or clothing optional. For a breakdown of each beach click here.
Costa da Caparica, Portugal
Lisbon is another city on the Iberian peninsula that I'm not crazy in love with. However, several of my friends are quite fond of it and *gasp* even prefer it to Madrid. In this, they are wrong, though I will concede that Lisbon is still worth the visit. The absolute one thing that the city has that Madrid will never have is a gorgeous expanse if beaches. In fact, it has one my favorite stretches of sand that we've encountered in our travels to date. However, you do have to travel a bit outside the capital to get there. Head over to Costa da Caparica for a great choice of beaches along 30 km of coastline. You can take a bus from Lisbon's Praça de Espanha. During the season, a little trolly train goes along the coast to provide easy access to the many beaches. There's also a good selection of bars and restaurants along several of them. We of course didn't miss the chance to enjoy a caipirinha and recommend that you don't either.
Larvotto Beach, Monaco
Monaco is not known as a must see beach destination and Larvotto beach in Monaco does leave a lot to be desired in the way of fine sand. However, to my surprise, the smooth yet pebbly type sand it does have helps to keep it out of the crevices of everything you own (including yourself) and therefore ends up being a blessing when it’s time to leave. Though the sand may not have been my favorite part of this beach spot, the atmosphere was. Clear blues waters, plentiful restaurants sprinkling the coast, and beautiful people taking in the sun make this one of our most memorable beach visits. We also didn't find the costs to be as outrageous as we expected and so decided to dine on the beach as well. It was a very memorable experience.
This minuscule list of great beach destinations barely scratches the surface of what Europe has to offer, let alone the Mediterranean specifically. No matter, I hope my and your upcoming summer plans are filled with more beaches than bitches. Or both if that’s what you’re into.