2023-05-08 – hiking in Canet and our return to La Musclera beach

plane trees in bloom on the avenue leading to the Sanctuary of our Lady of Sorrows in Canet de Mar

Last Updated on 29 April 2024 by gerry

With two full days left, we opted to spend a bit of each day on a couple of our favourite beaches. I voted for La Musclera beach for today’s sunbathing, nestled between Caldes d’Estrac and Arenys de Mar. It’s a beach we first spent some proper sunbathing time on my birthday (31 March) and to our surprise we haven’t really been back to that particular stretch of sand. First though, we set off to hike up through Canet de Mar to Castell de Santa Fiorentina. It is the one remaining Catalan Game of Thrones location we have yet to see – it was used in the TV series as House Tarly.

As we made our way up through Canet de Mar, we had a strange encounter with a local man, who was walking in the same direction. “Turistas?” he asked us. The word has a slightly pejorative connotation, though his tone was neutral enough. We said “Si” back to him and then I said in Catalan “viatgers, estrangers” (travellers, foreigners). When he responded with a sentence or two of Spanish, I interjected. “No entenc Castellà – Català o anglès?” (I don’t understand Spanish – Catalan or English?). That got him dialled up to ninety. “I am Spain – never Catalan. Always Castellano.” And that was that, he was off.

We were happy at that point to dive into the shop BonÀrea to get some snacks for our hike and divert ourselves from this rather unpleasant individual. I was looking forward to seeing the beautiful avenue that leads to the Sanctuary of our Lady of Sorrows at the top of the town. When got there, it was looking glorious (pictured top). In March the trees had been bald, but now they all had a full head of hair. Well, you know, leaves.

how the trees looked in early March, Canet de Mar
how the same trees looked in early March

The route we were on is actually stage 12 of the GR-5, where GR stands for Gran Recorregut meaning Grand Tour and this explains why we saw a GR signpost for Canet de Mar in faraway Sitges. It was just before noon and the day was shaping up to be quite a scorcher, so I was relieved to find a drinking water tap near the Santuary of our Lady of Sorrows to refill a bottle of water in case we’ll need the refreshment on the hike ahead.

Can Gallina, Canet de Mar
Can Gallina, Canet de Mar – one site of historical interest we could see from the road

The Castell de Santa Fiorentina was much closer that we first thought and we reached it after just a few minutes more walking, only to find that it was shut on Mondays. We probably knew this from previous research but in all the wine-tour plans and rearranged plans that bit of info had fallen through the cracks. The castle is well protected from casual viewing from the path outside its gates, so could only catch the faintest of glimpses of the modernist building designed by famous architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner, who had very strong links to Canet.

information board outside the Castell de Santa Fiorentina (House Tarly) in Canet de Mar
information board outside the Castell de Santa Fiorentina (House Tarly) in Canet de Mar

The castle is situated in serene woodlands that just get better and better once you pass under the motorway flyover of the Autopista del Maresme. We didn’t have the energy nor water and snacks to keep climbing too far on this path in the heat. At the top of the hill we would have found La Creu de Canet (the Canet cross), but we made do with climbing far enough about the trees to get a view over the woodland to the town and the ocean below.

Once we had descended back down into the center of Canet de Mar, we paid one last visit to L’hostalet de Canet for a rest and some refreshment. It is worth appreciating the amazing value you get at bars and cafes here before we head home. One coffee and a glass of wine: just €4.40.

a sign near La Musclera beach
a sign near La Musclera beach

Our next destination was La Musclera beach which needed just two stops along the R1 line southbound: Arenys de Mar and Caldes d’Estrac. We approached the beach from a new perspective picking up where we left off last Tuesday at Guingueta Melé. Heading past this xiringuito along Passeig de la Musclera it was easier to access the beach than our route along the road last time. We were hoping for the same spot at the end of the beach, so we could check this out via the carpark, stepping across the railway tracks and clambering over some rocks. We were in luck – although the beach was relatively busy close to this end, there was room for us to setup just where we wanted.

our spot at the end of La Musclera beach between Arenys de Mar and Caldes d'Estrac
our spot at the end of La Musclera beach between Arenys de Mar and Caldes d’Estrac

Such a difference in sea temperature from our last visit on 31 March, when it was too cold to stay in for too long. There was another difference in the swimming experience though and not a positive one. There was a fair amount of litter floating in the water adjacent to our spot and there was spring blossom on the water surface making it a bit unpleasant for swimming. Both of us had a wee dip all the same. None of the other beach users today were going in the water here as far as we could see. As a lovely treat, we had brought the sparkling rosé from Alta Alella with us to toast our penultimate full day in Catalonia. It was well after 6pm by the time we headed home.

the R1 train comes very close to our spot on La Musclera beach
the R1 train comes very close to our spot on La Musclera beach
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