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Barcelona and Begur - a short trip report

Barcelona and Begur - a short trip report

Jun 6th, 2012, 08:19 AM
  #1  
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Barcelona and Begur - a short trip report

Ok, I said I would do (a brief) trip report, so I will stick to the highlights and any details and restaurant/hotel info that I hope will be of some use.

Thanks to everyone who helped me plan this but special thanks must go to Ekscrunchy who originally sent me the NY Times link about the Costa Brava. That link bought the beautiful costal area of northern Spain to my attention, as I had the preconceived idea It was all a bit “Brit Abroad” (I am British and to some of us the Costa Brava is a package holiday, eggs and chips type of place)

Anyway, I had used some air miles to get BA flights to Barcelona and planned an 8 night stay – arriving early evening on a Saturday night, what I didn’t realise was that it was a bank holiday weekend in Spain and this did affect some restaurant plans as many were closed on the Monday! Oh well.

D (my BF) wanted us to have a roof top pool, whilst staying in Barcelona, personally I didn’t think we had time to use it but that was a primary reason (and the good deal I got) for picking the Grand Hotel Central for 3 nights.

www.grandhotelcentral.com

Good location on Via Laientana in the Gothic area, very chic place, nice bedrooms but let down with a woefully too small restaurant for breakfast and pretty rubbish service at the rooftop bar. The rooftop pool/bar area was lovely though and we did enjoy a nice bottle of cava one night as the sun went down. I would stay in this area for sure again.

Before we left the UK I did a little bit of research ref tours. I was very surprised how expensive some tours were and then found a free walking tour company (there are a few now springing up) www.runnerbeantours.com

I pre-booked the Gaudi tour for the next morning, meeting at Placa Reial at 11am, they operate every day at 11am and 4pm you can just turn up (if you have not pre booked I would suggest you get there at about 10:45am as places do fill up quickly and they did turn people away).
This was a fantastic 2.5 hours (which incorporated a couple of trips on the metro which was handy to see how that all works!) So highly recommended we went on the Old City tour the next day.
Basically you give them whatever you think the tour was worth at the end of the tour. I saw all sorts being passed over but I would think 10/15e per person is about fair!
Our guide was Anne – Marie a bubbly girl from Ireland, who was clearly very passionate about Gaudi. I didn’t feel over loaded with info and it was hugely interesting. You do NOT go in to any of the sites, you obviously can do that later . We finished at the Sagrada Familia at about 1.30. This tour was A must do in Barcelona IMHO
Smeagol is offline  
Jun 6th, 2012, 08:29 AM
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I'm thinking of Barcelona for my next trip. Did you think 8 days was enough or would you have wanted a couple of days more. I'm planning on Barcelona & Monserrat - no other large towns/cities.
adrienne is offline  
Jun 8th, 2012, 02:54 AM
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I am SO glad that you had a great trip. I'm so eager to hear about the Begur area, in particular--hope to plan a trip to that area in the near future. What an enchanting corner of the world you just visited!!
ekscrunchy is offline  
Jun 8th, 2012, 04:29 AM
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Thank you, thank you, thank you! I was also hoping for a TR.
marigross is offline  
Jun 8th, 2012, 06:14 AM
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Thanks, good information. Looking forward to hearing about the Costa Brava portion of your trip!
WWanderer is offline  
Jun 8th, 2012, 07:09 AM
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Will try and do a bit later, been busy at work hopefully it will be of some interest, although I don't really have any restuarant reccos for Barcelona ( well 1) I'll leave that to Eks!! I do have a few for Begur though.
Thanks for the encouragement.
Smeagol is offline  
Jun 8th, 2012, 08:47 AM
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I won’t go into all the details ref the runnerbean tours as all the info you would need are found on their website. Anyway, when the tour finished Anne- Marie was happy to give us some tips and info on places to go. One of them being that we should head off to Park Guell, which originally was envisaged as a place for upmarket housing, anyway only 3 homes were built (by Gaudi) this is a fascinating place and great for an out of city walk with fabulous rooftop views of the city. However, when we got off the metro (which I think was Valcarca) we must have taken a wrong turn, so please pay attention to the very tiny signs for Park Guell (or get a cab) we met another couple too who had gotten lost. Anyway after well over 1 hour we finally stumbled upon it and it really beautiful, full of very unusual (Gaudi) architecture. It’s busy but take a picnic and enjoy the quieter spots. There is a Gaudi museum if you like that sort of thing and a gift shop. A must visit (imho) when you got to Barcelona.
It was really hot so we stopped for a beer and by this time it was early evening

Another note of caution, Anne-Marie had said we should walk to lessups station to get back, it’s a looooong walk, get a cab!

Anne-Marie had also mentioned about a food festival in her neighbourhood, so after going back to the hotel we ventured out there via the metro, needless to say we were too late and had missed it!! oh well a nice first day in Barcelona.

The next day, because we had loved the Gaudi tour so much we decided to go on the Old City tour, we met at the same place and Gorky was our guide. There were quite a few people from the day before who had the same idea, so that shows you what people think about these tours!

Anyway, it was fab and we loved going round the Barri Gothic/ el born areas. I think In hindsight we should have done this tour first, just because you go past some great areas which give you an inkling of the great restaurants in Barcelona but then it really does depend where you are staying, you really cannot go wrong with either (or do as we did and do both)
D said he preferred this tour and found it fascinating, they give you plenty of detail but you are not over loaded.

Once the tour had concluded we went to a great tapas place close to Santa Maria church. It wasn’t the archetypical tapas bar, quite modern and we weren’t sure what to do, so for all you tapas novices, you get a plate, and just pick what you want, they count the sticks at the end!!! I had lots of tapas here and I think the crab one was my favourite, washed down with a couple of glasses of Cava (hic ) we left feeling very full and decided to wonder round. However due to it being a bank holiday most of the shops and a lot of the restaurants were closed, we located Cal pep and unfortunately it was closed that night and we were leaving for the coats the following morning. We thought we may try and get there the following Saturday!

We strolled down to the port , which was absolutely packed and we walked along the boardwalk and stopped for drinks, whilst watching people queue up to do a bungee jump from a crane!!!

There was a bric a brac market on so we spent a bit of time here before heading up La Ramblas. Everywhere we turned in this beautiful city is some amazing architecture and to be honest we didn’t see half the stuff you could!

Back to the hotel for a bottle of Cava watching the sun go down before we went out that night….

We didn’t fancy eating much that night and again went for a stroll round the Barri Gothic area we had a bit more tapas (sorry didn’t get the name) and then finished off by having drinks in the Jewish qtr at a really cute bar (L’antiquari) which we had spotted on the Gothic tour that day. We sat inside but they have a cute little terrace.

It sounds like we didn’t do much but we walked everywhere (Barcelona really is an easy walking city – but if you do use the Metro by a T-10 you get 10 rides on the metro AND you can share you don’t have to buy one each. I think it was around 9e) and we were shattered! 2 days (3 nights) we had been in Barcelona but would be back on the following Saturday.

Also another note, I used the Luxe city guide (which I love) and the DK top ten Barcelona guide (another series which I love), both useful but pick up a city map as the map in the DK book was probably a bit short on detail.

Tomorrow, we pick up our Fiat 500 and head up north to Begur
Smeagol is offline  
Jun 8th, 2012, 08:49 AM
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Apologies for the rotten typos and grammer, doing it in a rush!
Smeagol is offline  
Jun 9th, 2012, 01:35 PM
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No problem..it's great so far!
ekscrunchy is offline  
Jun 9th, 2012, 02:42 PM
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Enjoying your report and eagerly waiting for the rest of your time in Barcelona.
travelgirl2 is offline  
Jun 18th, 2012, 04:53 AM
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I'm packed and ready to go...the drinks in the cooler and getting warm...did we get a flat tire on the Fiat?
ekscrunchy is offline  
Jun 18th, 2012, 12:48 PM
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LOL, Only just back up and running after having no Internet. Will try and finish tomorrow.
Thanks for the encouragement.
Smeagol is offline  
Jun 26th, 2012, 11:40 AM
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I remembered the name of the tapas place we went to at lunch it was Sagardi. I am sure it’s very touristy but it was a great “in” to Tapas for the uninitiated. You just pick what you want and they count up the sticks at the end. I think they were about E1.40 each (they were huge) and the Cava around 2/3e a glass.

Anyway where was I?, we pick up our car from Avis which I had prebooked and pre paid (£70 for 6 days!!) in the Eixample area and plan to drive to Begur which is north of Lloret de mar. I should add I am a rubbish map reader, I get car sick if I read whilst a passenger and the map I had was useless… anyway took us a dogs age to get out of Barcelona but finally we made it and were heading north!
I think if your map skills are better than mine and using the toll road you could do this journey (from Central Barcelona in well under 2 hours) about 1 hour north we took a wrong turn and ended up on the N11, which we later christened “Hooker Alley” at first I couldn’t understand what these scantily clad women were doing sat all alone along this trucker highway…. penny dropped after I saw the fourth one!

Finally found Begur and finally found our hotel that was to be home for the next 4 nights www.aiguaclara.com I settled on Begur, as it seemed to me to be what we would most want from this trip, good choice of local hotels, varied selection of restaurants (within walking distance) and plenty of beaches and places to visit close by. Begur is a wonderful medieval village, set slightly inland, with the remains of an old castle overlooking the town. I got my info on the aiguaclara mainly from reading reviews and the info I found on www.i-escape.com which is a website I use regularly to get reviews, destination hints and book hotels. (I booked this direct though) Email correspondence was friendly and super prompt with me settling on a junior suite (room 3) with a terrace. This was e140 per night (incl tax and breakfast) I pre booked parking and this was 8e per day. I would recommend pre booking parking otherwise you will need to park in the town car park which is at the bottom of this lovely village

We arrived about 2:30 and the welcome and info received were fantastic, I was very happy with the huge room, I would describe it as shabby chic (more chic less shabby) all the info you would want can be found on I escape and the hotel website.

We went for a quick bite to eat in the town square and then walked up to the castle ruins, which has amazing views of the coast line. We also had a good walk round the town and notice many lovely restaurants and cute shops (closed as it was siesta) but I spotted a restaurant that I had on my list and decided to go back there that night .
Smeagol is offline  
Jun 26th, 2012, 11:42 AM
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A bottle of (reasonably priced) Cava from the honesty bar and we sat on the terrace, all was right with the world. Already we love Begur and i was very much looking forward to dinner at Can Climents platillos.
Smeagol is offline  
Jun 26th, 2012, 11:50 AM
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The town square has a couple of typical “town square” type bars and the lanes leading off this have bars, restaurants and shops (selling everything from high quality clothing to chic home furnishings) anyway we snag the last 2 seats at the bat (its early 8:45pm) at Can Climents Platillos and upmarket “Tapas” it’s a bit bright and tiny, but the welcome is warm and the vibe is buzzy. The waitress suggests we order 3 platillos each. This we do and each one is simply spectacular. I start with tuna tartare with a guacamole “sauce” on top. OMG I am in heaven. Both D and I are oohing and ahhing as each one arrives. I couldn’t manage a pudding, D does its like a modern take on tiramisu, he said it was wonderful. Anyway, 3 platillos each, a pudding for D and about 3 beers. I guess it’s around 60e and worth every penny. Bookings are ESSENTIAL here (or get here earlyish) as they were turning people away all night (they continued serving till way past 11) The owner/chef trained at El Bulli” an absolute must if you are in the area.
Smeagol is offline  
Jun 27th, 2012, 03:46 AM
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Sounds absolutely heavenly!
marigross is offline  
Jun 27th, 2012, 12:45 PM
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Sure does!!!
ekscrunchy is offline  
Jun 27th, 2012, 01:55 PM
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Sounds like you had a great time. Thanks for reporting. I have a friend who lives in Begur and I haven't been up to see her yet.

A suggestion. To get up to Parc Guell.. take the bus . It drops you at the door and I believe your metro pass is also good for the bus. Learning a few bus routes is simple and many times gets you much closer to where you want to go.
lincasanova is offline  
Jun 27th, 2012, 11:01 PM
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Oh you must go to Begur, it was wonderful. I'll post some more later about the other places we went to.
Smeagol is offline  
Jun 29th, 2012, 06:14 AM
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Smeagol: I am just eating this up! Can you remind me of the fact time of year that you took this trip, and if it was possible to swim in the sea around Begur at that time? I'm eager for any and all details!!
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