Costa Brava: 6 days In and Around Begur

Old Jun 20th, 2024, 03:20 PM
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Costa Brava: 6 days In and Around Begur

This is Part 3 ( the final part) of my Trip Report titled “ First Trip to Spain but not the last!” This part is on Begur and the Costa Brava. If you would like to read my trip reports on Barcelona and Valencia, they can be found below. I figured out how to add links since I first posted, so the reports attached here are more up to date.

Trip Report Part 1: Barcelona

Trip Report Part 2: Valencia

Now for the Costa Brava!

Day 1 - Valencia to Begur: Starting in Valencia that morning, we took a taxi to Estacion Joaquin Sarolla and caught the high speed train first to Barcelona. Very easy process through the luggage x-ray and then to the platform. Once at Barcelona Sants, the transfer point, I was a little concerned about getting to the platform on time for our train to Girona, as the connection was less than Ĺ hour, but no worries. Upon getting off our train, a nice employee was standing with a sign that read “Girona/Figueres.” A small group of us followed him and voila, there we were in the right line for Girona! There was a different atmosphere on this train compared to the BCN - Valencia train, with everybody clearly from elsewhere and on holiday, many just on a day trip. The ride on this high-speed train is only 40 minutes.

Girona - We had originally thought we might lock our bags for a few hours and see some of Girona at this point, then pick up the rental car, but my daughter wasn’t feeling entirely well ( a 24 hour illness of some sort - fortunately she was able to sleep on the train ride) and the best thing to do at this point was to get to our hotel in Begur. We went to the Enterprise car rental, located at the train station, hoping to pick up our reserved vehicle. It took a little longer than expected. There was only one person working the desk, and he was doing his best. We needed an automatic, and he was still waiting for them to come back. Finally, after about an hour, he had a car! The next hurdle was that, despite some efforts before we left Canada, and even in Barcelona, I was unable to get a road map of the Costa Brava. I realized that mostly we would rely on GPS to find our way around, but I still do like to have a good map. We were told we could get one at the Tourist Information in Girona. I should have walked there while waiting for the car, but that meant leaving my daughter ( who wasn’t feeling well as mentioned) to watch all the bags. So we drove there, which was an adventure we definitely were not looking for, because it is right in the middle of the old town! So we drove through the narrow streets full of pedestrians. We did find the Tourist Info (it’s a good one, with very helpful people working there), and I ran in and got a map while my daughter waited with the car and our bags. Then we used GPS, signs, and our new map to find the fastest route out of the city. Girona did look interesting, and I made a mental note to get back there on this trip, which we did.
Once we were on our way, we were taken right away with the lovely countryside - the mountains in the distance, and the villages. We took the most direct route along the GI-643 and C-31, which is nice (but there is a more scenic route, as we discovered later). I found driving on the main roads in the Costa Brava to be easy. At least in my experience there, speed limits are reasonable ( not too fast), other drivers are patient and things are well-signed. (The roads closer to the coast are narrow and twisty, as we discovered later ).
We arrived in Begur and were struck by the sea views. We made a quick stop at a supermarket for a few supplies because we knew we had access to a fridge at our accommodation, then we finally arrived at our hotel in Begur, the Hostal Sa Barraca. https://www.sabarraca.com/ What a beautiful view to arrive at! This hotel is perched up high, with stunning sea views. Our wonderful hosts, Juan and Pilar, were there to greet us. There is a welcoming common area, with the same stunning view. We were shown to our room, which was not large, but big enough, and good storage space ( we were there for 6 nights so this was a plus), and a private terrace with the same sea view - wonderful! Just a heads up that while this hotel is great in fall, winter and spring, it has no air-conditioning, so I don’t know if I’d recommend it for the summer months. He does have a house nearby that he also rents and it does evidently have AC.

Right away we saw that these were special hosts. My daughter asked for ice for her headache, and Juan gave her his own head ice pack and some tiger balm that he himself uses for headaches. She took all that and went to lay down. I went for a walk down to the water, following the path just below the hotel, through trees and past some nice homes, and finally to the stairs that lead to the beach. This took about 20 minutes. I checked out the beach then walked back up since he sun was close to setting. I put together a simple dinner from supplies we had just purchased in town, along with some wine, and sat in the nice lounge with the view. There were a couple of other guests doing self-catered meals as well. Juan came and lit a candle for me at my table!

Day 2 - Coastal Walk and Aiguablava: The next morning we awoke early to gorgeous sunshine, and my daughter was feeling better. We were very lucky with the weather during this whole trip, but sunshine and warm temperatures while in the CB was a real bonus! After a generous breakfast on the terrace with the stunning view, we set out to walk a part of the Camino de Ronda, the ancient path along the seaside ( there are paths away from the seaside as well). We had a lunch reservation at Toc al Marhttps://www.tocalmar.cat/ ( thanks to Maribel for this recommendation!) so we drove and parked near Fornell’s Beach and walked to the Aiguablava Cove where the restaurant is. Finding the parking lot wasn’t as easy as it should have been, but after a short time we did. It’s free until June 1, but was already quite full at 10 am because there was the spring break week in France, and many families were there. It was easy to find the walking path, and right away we were blown away by the scenery! After about 40 minutes of walking, we were at Aiguablava Beach. We had time before our reservation, so my daughter swam while I stayed with our stuff. The water was a little chilly but swimmable - remember we’re from Canada - but many others were swimming as well. Then we got in line at Toc Al Marfor our 1 pm reservation, which it’s a good thing we had because they were turning many people away. We were shown to a lovely corner table right above the beach. This was definitely one of our favorite meals of the whole trip! It's quite pricey so we ordered fairly conservatively, but enjoyed the experience very much.( The bill came to about 50 euros including 2 glasses of wines and a bottle of water, but that was ordering lightly). After lunch we spent the rest of the afternoon at the beach, which was busy due to the holiday in France, but we had a lovely time. This beach is sandy, and quite big. After all the traveling the previous day, this was a perfect way to spend this first day in the Costa Brava!

Day 2 - Winery and Pals: The next day we had a winery tour booked at Mas Oller, a short drive from our hotel. https://www.masoller.cat/ . There are many wineries in the Lower Emporda region, and they all offer something a little different in terms of their tours, wine-making process, and scenery. We loved our visit to Mas Oller. The approximately 1 hour tour includes an explanation of their history, micro-climate, and harvest process. Our guide also gave an account of the challenge of the warmer summers, and the effect on their vines. The wine-tasting that followed was longer and more generous than expected, to the point where my daughter decided not to finish her samples because somebody had to drive after! We had a lot of fun with some young American women, about my daughter’s age, who we sat with. This tour is definitely recommended, or I”m sure a tour at any winery would be great!

Mas Oller is very close to the village of Pals,where we went after the tour. To be honest, I didn’t love Pals. It’s certainly picturesque, but I found it a little overdone with shopping and restaurants. I wouldn’t discourage anyone from going there, I’m just saying that it wasn’t my favorite, especially compared to other nearby villages which we visited later. Having said that, I should also add that we found some great shops with ceramics and other things to bring back for people at home, and some great clothing shops, where we also bought dresses for ourselves. We arrived a little late for lunch, as many restaurants were closing until dinner, so we had crepes at the Dino Gelateria de Pals, which were okay, but not great.
For dinner that night, we picked up a pizza from Sa Pizza in Begur and brought it back to our hotel to enjoy ( with a salad from the supermarket, and wine of course). I can recommend this restaurant ( take-out only). Easy to find and park near, and while you’re waiting for your pizza you can go out and enjoy the beautiful views of the castle in Begur and the mountains in the distance - and the pizza was good. Recommended!

Day 3 - Calella de Palafrugell: Originally, we had planned to go to Roses, where we would catch a 9:30 am boat to Cadaques ( I didn’t want to drive the serpentine road to Cadaques). We also had tickets to the Dali House/Museum in Port Lligat. Casa Salvador DalŪ Portlligat . As much as we would have liked to have done the boat ride, Cadaques, and museum, we really didn’t want to get up early, and drive for over an hour to Roses and then drive back at the end of the day ( the boat leaves Cadaques only at 5:30 and the ride is about an hour ). Plus, there was so much to do in and around Begur, it didn’t seem necessary to go further away. So, we canceled ( forfeited our museum tickets of course). There is a lesson here about planning a little less than you think you can actually do. This day trip is definitely something I would still like to do, but I would plan to stay in or around Roses, or maybe Cadaques, for a couple of days.

So instead, we went to the Jardins de Cap Roig in Calella de Palafrugell, about a 30 minutes drive from our hotel. These are botanical gardens which combine botany, history, landscape and art. We spent 2-3 breathtaking hours there in a self-guided tour. We loved these tranquil gardens that even have a “reading room!” Following this, we went to Calella de Palafrugellto the beach to find lunch among the many restaurants along the water. We went to a restaurant that was able to take us without a reservation, Can Palet, and shared a wonderful burrata salad and a pita/hummus plate and bottle of water. Very good food and quite reasonably priced ( 40 euros), recommended!

Day 4 - Sa Tuna and Fornells: Another blessedly beautiful morning! We decided to go on another coastal walk, this time in the other direction in Sa Tuna cove. We drove to the beach parking lot for Sa Tuna. This was where we noticed how serpentine the coastal roads can be. The twisty road caused us to rethink our dinner plans the following evening at Hostal Sa Rascassa in Aiguafreda. The road, the darkness upon return, and possibly a couple of glasses of wine were not a safe combination, so we canceled our reservation. (This looks like a restaurant well worth visiting though, and I’d like to find a way to make it work another time).

Back to Sa Tuna. Once parked, we walked east for 45 minutes or so, along cliffs and coves. We watched a scuba diver getting ready at one point, people swimming, fishermen heading out or coming in, and even happened upon a cute little taverna. It had a lunch menu and full bar, but it being only 11 AM we settled for sparkling juice served with a deep-fried zucchini snack. Then we walked back to get the car, briefly checking out Sa Tuna beach on the way. Somewhat rocky but very picturesque and well worth visiting.

Then we went back to the beach closest to our hotel, Playa Fornells, which we hadn't actually spent time at yet. This turned out to be our favorite beach. This beach is mostly sandy, and the water was warm enough for swimming in mid-May ( but remember we’re Canadian!). There were just a handful of people there that Monday afternoon, mostly locals. This afternoon will be a fond memory!

That evening we went into Begur for an early dinner. We had no reservations, but found Es Castell, in a central square. It offered a mix of Spanish and North American cuisine, nothing particularly special, but we both had macaroni and cheese, and it was really good ( and reasonable at 32 euros including 3 glasses of wine). I notice that it gets very mixed reviews, but we found it fine for a casual meal .

Day 5 - Inland villages: Our last full day and the only day it rained, which was good for the area because they need the rain due to the drought they’re experiencing. We had tickets pre-booked at the Gala-Dali Castle in the village of Pubol. I highly recommend this visit if you’re in the area for the interesting perspective on the artist and Gala, the gardens, and the beauty of the village and countryside around Pubol.

From Pubol we drove to the village of Monells. Driving between these villages is so picturesque ( quiet roads, rolling countryside, cyclists….) and Monells was extremely quiet on this rainy afternoon. There’s a map with a self-guided tour suggestion in the village parking area. We went to the church, walked along the river and looked at the interesting architecture of the homes and walked through the arches that are part of the town wall. We then sought lunch ( and shelter from the rain) and found the lovely ( and possibly only) restaurant, El Roura Blanch. The cozy indoor space was welcoming on this day, and they do have what appears to be a nice outdoor dining area. We had delicious meals of lamb and sausage, served with roasted potatoes and vegetables, and a bottle of water. Delicious and very reasonable at 31 euros. Had a pleasant chat with some other patrons from Belgium at the neighboring table.

From Monells we went to Peratallada, but didn’t stay long, unfortunately. We parked the car and walked into the village, but it started to rain again quite hard, and made walking around difficult, so we returned to the car. I understand there are some lovely art galleries and ceramics there. So, back to Begur and our hotel, where we made tea and read our books for a while, enjoyed the view, and got ready to check-out the next day.

Day 6 - Girona/Barcelona - We had a relaxing breakfast and last morning at Hostal Sa Barraca. There is a telescope there and Juan was able to name the fishermen going out by name, and shared a little about how long the fisherman's family has lived, and fished, there. After 6 nights, saying good-bye to Juan and Pilar was like leaving family - we even took photos together! About 11 AM we left for Girona, taking the more scenic route we had discovered through Monells and Sant Marti Vell, and returned the car. Then we went to check out the luggage storage near the train station, Lock N Roll. We were a bit nervous about this, and hoped the code worked when we went back for our bags a few hours later, but it worked out in the end. We then went to buy our train tickets back to Barcelona. The medium distance train takes about 75 minutes and costs only about 11 euros. Then we spent a few hours in Girona. We saw the cathedral, the old Jewish Quarter, checked out the vendors on the bridge ( nice locally made merchandise!), and had a good lunch at an Indian restaurant. It was starting to rain again, so we retrieved our bags from Lock N Roll, went to the train station, and managed to catch an earlier train than we had purchased tickets for ( this is ok on these trains). Girona was busy but very enjoyable, and I hope to visit again for a little longer next time. We took the train to Passeig de Gracia station, and walked to our hotel, the Casa Bonay, in Eixample, where we stayed for 2 nights before our return flight home. More info on this hotel can be found towards the end of my Barcelona Trip Report above, or if the link does not work, just click on my name and you'll find my trip report.

Final thoughts - packing: When I was packing for this trip to Spain, I was packing for spring weather. This meant lighter clothes for daytime and some layers/a light jacket for morning and evening. As it turned out, we were very lucky with the weather, and I could have packed more for “summer.” Something I wish I’d known before was to pack more colorful clothing. While black works for many occasions ( dress up/down) in North America, I noticed that in Spain black clothing is not that prevalent, but white and colors are. So bring a couple of black items, but leave the rest at home! Items that did work well were a scarf or two. These keep you warm when needed, and also dress up an otherwise casual outfit. A denim jacket also pairs well with most things, and can be dressed up with a scarf. For footwear, I brought one pair of comfortable but fashionable shoes, and 1 pair of walking sandals, and it was enough. We each brought 1 carry-on ( we were away 16 days) and decided to bring 1 checked bag for “just in case” items such as sweaters and extra rain gear ( which we definitely did not need!) Fortunately, the checked bag still had plenty of room, and we did make good use of it for things we bought while there.

Pacing - While in the Costa Brava we had full days, but they were stress-free, and did not involve too much driving. We could have covered more ground of course, but chose not to in exchange for seeing a relatively small area well. We make choices, and maybe they're all good but just different. Places still on my “bucket list” are Cadaques of course, and also Banyoles and Besalu, but these will need to wait for another time. I highly recommend the Costa Brava, especially in the “off” season, for the scenery, beaches, restaurants, and overall relaxing atmosphere. If anyone has ever done a cycling tour in the Costa Brava,I’d be interested in hearing your experience.

Thanks for reading!












View from Hostal Sa Barraca.

Stairs to Playa Fornells.

Aguablava Cove.

Winery Mas Oller near Pals.

Jardins de Cap Roig.

Jardins de Cap Roig.

Jardins de Cap Roig “ reading room.”

Jardins de Cap Roig.

Scuba diver near Sa Tuna cove.

On the coastal walk near Sa Tuna cove.

On the coastal walk.

Fornells Beach.

Fornells.

Dali Castle in Pubol.

Pubol.

Gardens of the Dali Castle, Pubol.

Monells.

Village of Pubol

Monells

Lunch in Monells

Lunch at Toc al Mar

Last edited by JoanYUL; Jun 20th, 2024 at 04:01 PM.
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Old Jun 21st, 2024, 10:01 AM
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What a great trip report! You went to a lot of places that we didn't, which just means that I need at least one more trip back! We did a lot more driving and exploring - which I loved - but I would also love a trip with the more relaxed pace that you had.
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Old Jun 21st, 2024, 11:32 AM
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Great report! Thanks so much for taking the time to write this! I'm taking careful notes for my fall trip (staying in Llafranc).
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Old Jun 22nd, 2024, 06:47 PM
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I enjoyed your report and photos! We visited Costa Brava in 2010. You visited places we didn’t see. We spent one night in Cadaques and 2 nights in Girona. You are correct that it’s better to stay in Cadaques and visit the Dali house then. It is very quirky and fun. I wish we had an extra night in Cadaques. And some day you must spend a few nights in Girona. You won’t regret it.
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Old Jun 24th, 2024, 03:41 AM
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Costa Brava

Thanks so much for taking the time to read and respond to my trip report. 🙂

Memej: Yes, itís definitely a part of the world to get back to. There are things I didnít do either!

Vonse: Iím so glad my report is helpful. Staying in Llafranc youíll be close to all the things we did. We didnít get to Tamariu which is supposed to be very nice too! A winery down that way that worth checking out is Finca Bell Loc. The fall will be a lovely time to go. I hope you write a trip report!

KarenWoo: Thanks for confirming that itís best to stay a couple of nights in Cadaques. Will definitely be a priority whenever weíre lucky enough to return. And yes to more time in Girona!
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Old Jun 24th, 2024, 07:36 AM
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Costa Brava

Vonse: Cruilles is supposed to be a lovely inland village as well, not far from Pubol and Monells.

Last edited by JoanYUL; Jun 24th, 2024 at 07:50 AM.
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Old Jun 24th, 2024, 10:57 AM
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Thanks for the tips, JoanYUL!
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