Quick Costa Brava Barcelona Trip Report

Sep 27th, 2009, 03:15 AM
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Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 542
Quick Costa Brava Barcelona Trip Report

Dear Fodors Friends, I have been thinking about wonderfully well thought out and complex trip reports but I think that will end up with more delay and so I should just jot down some notes of our wonderful trip to Spain a couple weeks ago.

Background: Me and DH took a week leaving behind small kids (8,5,2) with grandma and aunt to celebrate our 15 year anniversary.

Trip: We flew direct DELTA to Barcelona from ATL. Good flight, seat in between. With three small kids those 9 hours were certainly part of the vacation.

Itinerary: Traveled 9/13-9/20
Barcelona to Begur
Begur to Cadaques
Cadaques to Barcelona

Car: Car rental through National. Easy at airport. Rented a medium sized car and wished it had been smaller. We didn't need space and driving was a little TIGHT some times. Husband did great job.

Drive to Begur was no problem. Arrived not quite sure where hotel was, parked at edge of town and walked to find Hotel Aiguaclara in Begur


The trip reports of this hotel were so gushing and positive I thought there is no way it can live up to those reports. I was pleasantly surprised. The hotel is lovely and interesting with Clara's artistic touches. The food excellent (breakfasts delicious) and dinner in the restaurant made for wonderful evening. The room clean, bright, simple but with real style. Joan and Clara warm and helpful. We could have stayed longer and will definitely return one day. They clearly do it all with love.

Begur the town was quiet with rain. Also the dates we went seemed much quieter than I had expected. Everyone kept saying, well now that the season is over and it is off season we are so quiet. I had been to Croatia in 2005 at the same time in September. I understand there are so many things contributing to this, but I was a little surprised at how abrupt the end of the season was on the Costa Brava. In Croatia it seemed to taper down more. In Costa Brava especially on the coast, places were empty, closed up. I would think being here in October would be like a ghost town. That said, Market day clearly had the town a little more lively. We also had colder weather and so maybe folks more local who might be there during this time just stayed away until weather was better.

All the meals we had in Begur were good and fresh. There seemed to be lots of great places to eat.

A special call out to Hotel VIntage. Right on the coast. They had just opened in May and the rooms were simple but stylish with amazing views. We had a divine lunch at the restaurant (expensive but fresh and delicious) and can tell that the hoteliers were thoughtful and warm.

We walked from Begur on footpath that took about an hour was well marked but not very used. Then wandered up and down the paths on the coast to Sa Tuna. Stopping to watch the sea (it was blustery). Then had our lunch at Vintage and walked back to town. It was wonderful. Begur's little streets were beautiful.

Next day we hung around Begur (delicious Aiguaclara breakfast again). Then went to beach at Sa Riera before drive to Cadaques. Walked up and down trails around there as well. Lovely little beaches (some Nudista) had folks out enjoying despite some higher winds and stormy seas. We jumped in but more to say we did it. Then dried off and had lunch with yet another amazing view. Food was usually quite expensive.

That's it for now kids awaking and I want to save this before I walk away and risk computer eating it up.
sfmaster is offline  
Sep 28th, 2009, 06:45 AM
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A link on Hotel Vintage


From there we drove to Cadaques. The road down was a little bit tough for me and I did get some white knuckles from gripping so tightly. My husband was driving. But as others say the views make it all feel better.

We had reservations at hotel Rocamar. The reviews had been mediocre but none of the hotels seemed that thrilling and I wanted a nice room and view. We splurged and had reserved the junior sea view terrace suite. When I say the room I was disappointed. The room was smallish and the terrace, smallish and what made it a suite was a small dark, practically walk in closet with a daybed and TV. I knew I was paying about 50Euro more for the privledge of this suite so I instantly decided that I would rather have a regular sea view room and save the dollars, or at least look at it. When I asked for this adjustment they showed me room 610 which was a corner seaview superior and the bedroom itself was bigger and the view spectacular.

The hotel itself lacked some magic after Aiguaclara but it wasn't as I was prepared for. The place was a little empty feeling given it was now off season but I could see how families would particularly like the pool, beach and playground all easily accessible. I was happy to be out of the main part of Cadaques which was a little big grungy, certainly compared with Begur. We enjoyed the room a lot and took advantage of the balcony with a long leisurely picnic one evening and staying in room to read and watch the view in the morning. The breakfast was fine and abundant if a little cafeteria-esque after the Aiguaclara's artful presentation.

We walked around cadaques but not much else. Made it up to the Dali Museum (a nice walk through town and up winding streets and then olive groves) as we did not want to get back into the car. The museum was interesting but felt a little more like a "might as well". Had a nice lunch at restaurant "Quattro". With more time I would have liked to hike around more and with better weather (it was lovely but not warm) we would have enjoyed more swimming. We missed the season for Kayaking and things that we had thought we would do but were perfectly happy to sit on our balcony.

Next posting will be about Barcelona.
sfmaster is offline  
Sep 28th, 2009, 12:41 PM
Join Date: Jul 2004
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Fun reading your report. We were in Madrid, Barcelona, and Begur at the end of June and early July. We also stayed at the Aguaclara and really liked it and Begur alot. Did you get to any of the ancient towns near Begur? We had a rental car in Begur, but took a bus from Barcelona and a train back to Barcelona. A car the whole time would have been easier. Too bad your beach weather wasn't great. We took a day trip to Cadaques but were happy staying in Begur. Look forward to hearing about your time in Barcelona.
santamonica is offline  
Sep 28th, 2009, 12:52 PM
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Beautiful website from Begur. Thanks for posting. It sounds like you had a very relaxing vacation! Happy anniversary.
lincasanova is offline  
Sep 28th, 2009, 01:43 PM
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Headed back to BCN airport to return the car before heading into Barcelona. It was tough to park the car in the tight lot and we sighed relief when we turned in the keys. Decided to take a taxi instead of the bus (about 30 Euro vs about 8 Euro) because we were tired from the drive and didn't want the stress of walking the Rambla with bags etc. Before we left we used the ATM and then also used the Airport Tourist office to reserve for the Barcelona Gourmet walking tour the next morning.

We stayed at Hotel L'Meridian cashing in Starwood points. We had an upgraded room. L'Meridian is well situated, if not a bit extra noisy, right on the Ramblas and we enjoyed walking everywhere during our brief stop in Barcelona. The staff was nice if a bit amateur (for example we asked several questions about the wireless but they never mentioned that in order to get the free lobby wifi we needed a special pass).

The hotel felt full of Americans after seeing very few on the other parts of our trip. The room was nice but a bit hard edged. It was a suite but the couch was just funky and not comfortable. The hardwood floors a bit scratched up, the fancy night lights couldn't reach the bed, the fancy light system hard to figure out. A little more flash than function. We did enjoy the champagne they left for us and the nice deep bathtub.

Barcelona was hopping, lively, alive. A gorgeous city. We wandered around the Born district in search of a Maribel favorite for tapas near the Picasso museum. We found that place Xiampanet (I maybe spelling wrong) and it was packed, locals and tourists. So we wandered further down and went into a busy but more spacious place and made a meal of tapas on toothpicks and enjoyed watching some folks celebrating the end of the work week. We felt a part of the pulse of this amazing city. Wandered around, saw a concert being set up and stayed for some of it. People walking, biking everywhere. I will definitely come back here. Loved hearing the guitar music being played on the way home.

I woke up early the next morning and was at the Boqueria by 8:30am and loved wandering before the crowds. Maribel favorite Pinoxet was busy and I found some other spot and had churros and coffee while I watched everyone get ready.

We enjoyed the walking tour the next day and their wireless system that allows everyone to hear the guide without jamming up front. The tour had little interesting tidbits about history of Barcelona and some of the gourmet spots. It started to get a little bit "laundry list" - there is a place, here is a place, here is a place. Vs some of the more details about the types of foods. But overall very interesting and remarkable some of the shops that have been in business for so long taking real care to make beautiful foods/specialty items. The tour ended with a coupon for a drink and 3 tapas at place at the other main market, all so lovely and civilized!

We wandered around the rest of the afternoon and then had a nice siesta before heading to the Palau da Musica for a 10:15 pm concert. We thought we'd find someplace to eat near the Palau but actually on the Saturday night the streets nearby felt a bit quiet and rough. There were a few spots but we settled in at the cafe at the Palau and enjoyed a few tapas and glasses of wine and watch the folks departing from the earlier concert.

We had box seats and enjoyed the intimate and gorgeous theater. We hadn't made the tour . The musician brought his 10 year old daughter on stage during his second encore to play a duet with her on the cello. Quite magical. We heard more guitar on the way home.

We left early the next morning with quick taxi to the airport and fine (but more full) flight home.

Spain was lovely we can't wait to go back.
sfmaster is offline  
Sep 29th, 2009, 04:47 AM
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 8,646
Great report. Thanks. Barcelona and Begur are quite different aren't they? Too bad the airfares are so expensive; Spain is really fun to visit with kids.
santamonica is offline  
Oct 1st, 2009, 02:17 AM
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santamonica - we didn't go to any of the ancient towns. I think were I to do it again I might skip Cadaques and just hang in Begur longer and see some of the those towns. We talked about this a lot on the trip.....but we kept saying that Cadaques view was so nice. As we were driving back to Barcelona we kept saying, wow we should pull off the road and go see that or go see this but again we were trying to keep it relaxed seeing some things but not everything.

We also kept talking about our trip to Croatia. DH kept saying which would you go back to next Begur or Hvar. I would cry out I can't choose it is all so beautiful. Not that one always has to choose but it is a game he likes to play (ranking, prioritizing, optimizing).
sfmaster is offline  
Oct 1st, 2009, 05:05 AM
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We thought the same thing about Caduques. But I remember enjoying walking in Cadaques with my kids from the beach back to town for an ice cream, and DW enjoyed her time alone on the beach there listening to people from France. It's hard to say you woulda done something different because then you'd have to give up some of those good memories. I do a lot of second guessing on hotels, but we really liked the Aguaclara.
santamonica is offline  
Oct 1st, 2009, 08:48 AM
Join Date: Apr 2009
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So glad to read this report. I'd been hoping you would post one because I remembered your posts before the trip, and was wondering how you made out. Begur was very quiet when we were there in May also. It's interesting to read that you were not thrilled with Cadaques, because I have that on my list of must go to's for our next trip (May 2010).
beebs is offline  
Nov 24th, 2009, 03:00 AM
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With some time to reflect my husband and I have been interested to find we are remembering our time gazing out at the sea in Cadaques more than some other spots. I don't know if I'll ever make it back but we are glad we went.
sfmaster is offline  
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