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January on the Costa Brava

The first thing to remember is that January starts late. Up until the 6th and the arrival of the Three Kings, which is when presents are traditionally delivered here, it's still Christmas. And the long Christmas period also encourages visitors out to the mountains for a little snow fun.

However, in general January is the quietest month around the coastal parts. The shorter days and post-Christmas abstinence mean even locals take a quiet month, and even for more locals-orientated restaurants it can be a time to take an annual break.

With people working, larger towns still have restaurants and bars that are open, but it's quiet and without the lights or pre-Christmas buzz of December.

Normally January would come with itchings to get to the snowy mountains, but this year is seeing drought in Spain and Catalonia with very little rain or snow. This is in contrast to northern Europe which has had its wettest winter for a while.

We travelling down to Blanes for a weekend walk early in the month. It was the scene of floods and a railway bridge washing away for years ago in Storm Gloria. Now everything is dry, and pining for rain. The town itself was surprisingly full with plenty of visitors out for paseo along the sea front, possibly up by train from Barcelona. A number of campsites were still open for motorhomes making winter tours. So while things are quiet they aren't completely closed.

For us, the shorter days mean less walking in the evenings. We have visited Calella de Palafrugell which still has a handful of places open even on January weekdays. Llafranc and Tamariu are more closed down, but pick up at weekends for lunches for hikers.

The beaches are generally empty, so we love to make the walk to the Gola de Ter at this time of year when the light is clear and the sand feels wild - better still after a storm when there's driftwood on the beach.

At home, fires and heating are on, though the days are rarely below 10-12C and at times have reached 20C - but unusually warm for this time of year. The Traumontana north wind does blow for a couple of days and can be biting in exposed places, but we know to walk in the leeside of Gavares if it does blow.

As the month ends, the days are getting longer with posters appearing for Carnaval that comes in February. A reminder that spring and Easter are on their way.


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