Tough one to write this.
I've been mulling (writing) this over since we arrived back late July last year (08) thinking that my disappointment was in no small part due to my view from a childs / teenagers rose tinted experience of the place.
A quick background is needed. I first went to L'Estartit when I was 14 (1985) with the family and revisited about 7 times off and on until 1995 with a one off during 2000 when I was working in Barcelona. Spain during the 1980's was amazing (even for adults), if you were there you will know what I mean... if you weren't then you really missed out but Eastern Europe (if you're quick) is a decent reflection.
The harbour front  (Passeig Maratim) was a strollers paradise of good quality restaurants serving locally caught seafood that was a revelation (it was outstanding), service was tailor made, false or not it was personal and it made punters feel special. Chuck in a couple of music bars, many, many strollers and a healthy smattering of artists on the pavement it felt exotic, hedonistic & intoxicating.
The harbour front : Dive shop is still there. Some of the old restaurants have morphed into private houses, the rest are for the most part empty. There is a chinese (why oh why?) which seems to be doing worse than the others. What's left is around 5 spanish fronted restaurants & one awful English "We show Sky Sports" dump that serve really shit food.
I'm an 'OK' cook, not great but not too bad.................... Now I love Spanish food and I especially love seafood / Tapas, which in my book is hard to bugger up.
1) Make sure it's fresh.
2) Cook it once.
Not one of these managed to do this. It was either pre-cooked and then re-heated or frozen and cooked badly. Maybe i'm being picky ..... If I ordered maybe a Cheeseburger & chips and it lobbed up overcooked with sad chips then fair enough, I'm in Spain, burger & chips is on the whole going to be a bit shit. When I ask for Gambas al Ajilo or god forbid something as difficult (it's easy) as a Paella make it as you would for your family............
........ You know why they don't? They aren't Spanish. Before you call me out as a non-equal-oportunist have a think. The owners are Spanish but the chefs are not.
Also the owners are not local (to L'Estartit) which ties up nicely with the death of the resort.
Go back to late 1980's, early 1990's and look at a photo of any hotel in L'Estartit. Chances are you'll see beach towels hanging from most balconies, windows open or people having a drink........... now in July all those hotels and apartments are 80% shuttered with no occupants. The reason ?
They were sold off to city folk in Barcelona... They come once or twice a year (bringing all their provisions - spending nothing) but for the most part the apartments are empty. I think the number is now about 85% of the old holiday apartments / rooms are now privately owned and shuttered for 11 months of the year. Nightlife is a void (Maxims is still going I think) - L'Estartit had a thriving but discrete after hours scene........ The once legendary square is a ruin, most are closed.... one really dodgy club is open and a bar (spiral?) with a nice but deaf scouse comic owner.
There simply isn't the influx of people on holiday from abroad anymore as there is not many places to stay, flights are available but package transfers are not. It's just too bloody hard to get to unless you're staying on the camp sites.
The beach is probably the best and the safest on the Costa Brava. The Medes Islands arguably offer some of the best diving in the Med, the hill walks and sea coves are legendary & the ice creams on the high st. are to die for but the magic has gone.
Maybe the L'Estartit as it was back then is a false memory and unrealistically nostalgic... now it just makes me sad.
** I'm nicely drunk, so apologies **
P.S. In 1987 we dragged 15lb carp out of the Ter... every cast. Now it's dead... I can't forgive them for that.
PPS. If anyone remembers the Fishermans Bar (down the side streets from St Anna), even better if you remember what a great looking, quiet bolt hole it was... It's gone.... Demolished, 3 storey Barcelona pad now..... nice.
I've never been to Estartit but your post reminded me of a similar topic dicussed on here quite some time ago, see the following link:-
Its a shame when resorts fall out of favour, but I guess nothing lasts forever.
As someone who made his first visit in 1987, i can vouch for what Estartit was. It was indeed a great place, and i have some real happy memories of the place from then
However, 20 odd years older ( ) and i can still enjoy the place, because of course i now enjoy it on a different level. Rather than trail from bar to bar, i enjoy what is still one of the finest campsites in Spain (if not Europe), a remarkable backdrop, great natural beauty, fantastic walks, and the best beach of the Costa Brava. See, in some respects, Estartit grew up with me
My only problem is that when things changed, they didn't at least try to keep the resort looking better than it currently does in some locations. The square for example is an embarrassment, and i bet a lot of people walking through the town will never return to Estartit due to the lack of investment they've made. Estartit has clearly made a decision that they DON'T want a return of the Brit invasion, and to be honest i can't really blame them for that ... i'm happier sometimes the less Brits i see!! However, they DO need to decide what they really want and need to position the town accordingly. Leaving certain areas looking like a bomb test zone really isn't clever!!
As for cuisine, well, you'll see restaurants full of immigrant chefs in any nation now, that isn't just an Estartit thing. Funniest thing i saw this year was a rather iffy looking restaurant called Mother India, and they had a small takeaway place outside selling Kebabs!! Mother Turkey might have been a better name
The Costa Brava is so different from 40- 45 odd years ago (well it would be) good roads, well-managed agriculture and looked so lush and green compared to southern Spain where we HAVE been going since the seventies. Fell in love with it all over again......
Going again in a couple of weeks and I'm really looking forward to it, have to agree about the square though they really need to do something about it.
We went to L'Esatartit for our honeymoon in 2000 and absolutely loved the place.
We stayed at the Hotel Medes, it was melting hot in August and recall there was a lovely little family run restaurant just around the corner (opposite our balcony, I'll use that term loosely mind ) where you went through the bar restaurant and sat out back in there garden.
However we have never been back since and always wondered what it was like now.
We loved the fact it wasn't too 'British' and that the people were so friendly can imagine what it was like in it's hay day.
We have now and again thought about going back, but feel in love with the beautiful Canary Islands and that was us hooked until last September when we returned to mainland Spain for the first time since 2000 but went to the Costa del Sol.
Have read a few 'iffy' reports elsewhere about how it was a bit of a ghost town now compared to what it was.
Never know we may well return, always looking for somewhere off the beaten track for one of our holidays.
I'm suprised the Barca set havent bought the land...
I can't remember th name now, large grounds , all overgrown now.
There were some tourist restaurants, but also a lot of typical spanish restaurants. At night it was really busy outside, lots of people walking the small shopping street, the boulevard, hardly any problems at night ....
A couple of years ago I have visited Estartit again and was a little shocked to see what was remaining of "my" holiday destination. The famous square where I have spend so many nice hours does almost not exsist anymore, only some dutch bars with just a few people inside. Harldy any nice restaurants to find ( Although I was so happy to notice that Robert's still existed, withy still the same food on the menu ) and I guess that over 50% of the hotelrooms where still empty, and we spend some time there in July, so mid summer!!!
One of the main reasons given by some locals for the fact that Estartit is not that popular anymore is that over the past years there have been lots of problems with the youth (big fights etc.) so families with young children decided not to go to estartit anymore.
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