Spain – Catalonia

From winding mountain routes to sun-drenched coastal roads: there’s nothing like exploring Spain by the open road. There’s such a variety of landscapes in this region—lush green mountains, medieval towns, enchanting coastal villages, amazing beaches, all within a couple hours of each other.

Spain’s undiscovered small towns are appealing and romantic — swathed in centuries old cobbled lanes, whitewashed cottages, and cathedrals. You’ll be transported back in time to a quainter and simpler version of life.

Friday/Saturday May 5/6th: Arrival in Barcelona airport this morning, where we meet and transfer to the hotel. Have lunch near the hotel before checking in for a bit of rest.

Our hotel is located right in the heart of Barcelona, in the most historically rich neighborhood in the city, the Gothic Quarter, a pedestrian area. Take it easy today exploring our local surroundings.

Tonight at 7pm, we dine in what once was an old stable, with a beautiful Romanesque imprint and historical heritage which preserves to this day the stone walls in the shape of an arch, original from the 17th century (dinner included).

We’ll meet today at 1pm for a 4 hour tour to learn all about the life of the father of Modernist Architecture, Gaudi.  Visit his most famous buildings and the places he frequented with an expert local guide. Palau Güell, Casa Milá (La Pedrera), Casa Batllò and Sagrada Familia.

Visit one of his first masterpieces, Palau Güell. A sober structure, in the Raval Quarter, almost devoid of the exterior decorations that so characterized his later works. Before we leave the Gothic Quarter, meet the preferred tavern of Antoni Gaudi and Pablo Picasso among other artists.

Walk along Paseo de Gracia, a showcase of Catalan Modernism, where are located not only works of Antoni Gaudi but also of other famous architects of the time.

Impossible to understand Gaudi’s work without having seen Casa Batlló and Casa Milà (La Pedrera), two masterpieces created at the highest creative peak of his career.

Finally, the dream of Gaudí: Sagrada Familia, one of the most fascinating religious temples in the world.

Tonight at 6pm, we experience the best of Spanish culture during a night of genuine flamenco and dinner. Enjoy an iconic style of music and dance while treating your tastebuds with regional cuisine accompanied by cava, sangria, beer and wine. (Show & dinner is included)

Sunday, May 7th: After breakfast, Darryl and I will pick up the rental car. You have the option to enjoy an hour guided tour of the Gothic Quarter at 10am, before taking a taxi to meet us. We’ll head an hour to Santa Maria de Montserrat Abbey. The charming mountain road encompasses miles of stunning views through twisty hair-pin turns, high elevations and steep grades.

The monastery was founded in the 11th century and rebuilt between the 19th and 20th centuries. In 1811 and 1812, the abbey was burned down twice by Napoleon’s troops. Around 80 monks still live here today.

An hour away are our accommodations for the next two evenings; an old farmhouse with historical records dating back to 1366. This country hotel is located in a heritage property outside of Ripoll, Girona. Rooms have a rustic feel with exposed beams, wooden floors and upcycled furniture. Enjoy a vermouth by the cozy hotel fireplace, listen to vinyl in the living room, relax in front of the fireplace, admire the views, or have breakfast in the dining room next to an old well.

Your dinner for the next two evenings are included.

At breakfast, taste the local products; cheeses, mato, brossat, tupi, and yogurts, homemade jams, gengibre apples, citrus fruits, muffins and assorted breads, along with homemade sausage and eggs.

In the tradition of mountain dishes in the area, experience an interesting menu of organic, biodynamic and natural wines. Offering the best local products for dinner; seasonal vegetables from an organic garden, mushrooms found in the environment, with the combination of cod and homemade tiramisu with the chicken eggs.

Offering spa services.

Monday, May 8th: Relax this morning and take in the peacefulness of the surroundings. Later, visit a local payoyas goat farm and its surroundings, then indulge in the products.

Castellfollit de la Roca is one of the most picturesque villages in Catalonia. It is set between the Fluviá and Toronell Rivers. Built during the 12th century on a rocky outcrop, the village, at its narrowest point, is just two houses wide! The houses are pushed precariously close to the edge of a 165 foot vertical drop, and wind along the cliff looking over the countryside and rivers that flank the town below.

Tuesday May 9th: Today we drive towards the foothills of the Pyrenees, to Besalu. Once the capital of Charlemagne’s 8th and 9th century feudal Spain, Besalu is a charming, well-preserved medieval town, with bumpy cobblestone streets and ancient stone buildings. The center is Placa de la Lliberat, full of cafes and artisan shops. Get lost in the tiny side streets, have lunch and visit the Jewish baths.

Our next destination is Tossa De Mar, a pretty little sea-side village with narrow cobbled lanes, quirky boutiques, and rustic restaurants.

For the next two evenings, stay in this luxurious, romantic boutique hotel. Situated in a two century old mansion that once was family property of world famous director Enrico Granados, you will be within easy walking distance of the beach and right next to Tossa de Mar’s historic old center.

Tonight at 730pm, we dine at the hotels own restaurant, Can Sophia, a gourmet restaurant standing above the tranquillity of Tossa de Mar.

Wednesday May 10th: Spend the day shopping, dining and enjoying the delightful seaside town of Tossa De Mar. We have dinner reservations this evening at 7:30 at a lovely restaurant which looks out at the medieval castle.

Thursday May 11th: Every Thursday is Tossa de Mar’s famed street market. You can buy anything from food to ceramics, clothes to accessories, jewelry to souvenirs.

After visiting the market and having lunch, we’ll make our way less than an hour to Peratallada, one of the most picturesque and best conserved medieval villages in Catalonia. Unlike most medieval villages and towns, which have grown and expanded over the centuries leaving the original village centre surrounded by newer buildings, Peratallada has retained its original defensive walls and remains largely untouched.

Our hotel for the next two evenings is a restored sixteenth-century house, located in one of the narrow, stone streets of the village.

This evening at 8pm, we have dinner reservations at a family gastronomic restaurant in town. Global cuisine is based on the balance of flavor between local products, with nuances from other world cultures.

Friday May 12th: After a relaxing morning, we will drive up the coast an hour and a half to Cadaques, a village with a reputation as one of the most painted in the world. This once isolated sleepy fishing village in Costa Brava attracted artists and writers such as Pablo Picasso, Joan Miro and Marcel Duchamp. They came for its whitewashed buildings, vivid colors, and rugged beauty.

A small curvy road leads to this remote village, made up of clusters of whitewashed buildings, overlooking a sweeping bay filled with boats. Cadaqués has many galleries, shops and excellent restaurants for us to explore!

At 12:40, we will tour the Dali House/Museum with lunch at a restaurant right on the water.

We’ll return to our hotel in Peratallada in the evening for another delicious dinner just near the hotel at 8pm. (dinner is included)

Saturday May 13th: Our last day will be spent visiting the medieval treasure of the Pyrenees, Girona. The Onyar River divides the older section of the city from the modern side, so make sure to cross the water to visit the old town. Here, you can wander past historic sites, charming shops and award-winning restaurants, where we will have lunch.

Each May for one week, the city of Girona is filled with plants and spectacular flower displays known as the Girona Flower Festival. The floral exhibition coverts different monuments, courtyards, streets, bridges, shops, patios – basically anything, into unique ornamental gardens. You will be enchanted by a combination of wonderful colors and aromas.

Tonight for dinner, we’ll walk to the restaurant admiring the flowers in the evening hours. (dinner is included)

Sunday, May 14th: Return flights home. Flights booked must be after noon on Sunday.