© 2013 notworkrelated - David Rutter & Helen Roscoe. All rights reserved. Notworkrelated_Catalonia_027

4 days in Northern Catalonia!

After a two week spell as lifestyle and documentary photographer for Aston Martin, I was joined by David for a week long holiday in the region of Catalonia where we based ourselves in the beautiful medieval village of Begur.

Begur is a stunning hilside village, it’s steep on the way in and steep on the way out and is surrounded by luscious landscape, mountains and the sea. Long gone were the Aston Martin Rapide’s and soon we were settled into the lazy days of the Catalonian way of life! Although this wouldn’t be a Notworkrealted post without some kind of activities going on.

Based on the wonderful world of Trip Advisor we found our lovely guesthouse; The Aiguaclara, which is located in the heart of Begur. Thanks to all the raving reviews we had no question as to whether this would be the right place for us to base ourselves during our stay. Straight away there was a warm welcome by the hosts Clara and Joan who rennovated this colonial-style built in 1866, and they’re personality is all over the place with vintage decor, quirky objects and antiques scattered throughout. It’s a considered design across 4 stories, with each room unique from the other.

Happy with our choice of accommodation we then went on to explore the village, which in 1 evening is easy enough to do. We ate in the restaurant at the hotel “Fet Amb Love” which basically sums this place up and then walked up to the Castle. Which at night with a full moon is very rewarding.

On our first day as tourists we ventured out on a coastal walk thanks to a walking trails map provided by the hotel. From Begur we took the downhill route to Sa Tuna, greeted by many locals enjoying the escape of the city, we explored a path off to the right and up to a viewing point at Mirador de St Josep, before turning back down to the bay and taking the coastal path along to Sas Vaques and before long Aguafreda. At this point it was a little unlcear as to where the path was leading us but we cut inland on the road and then found the path again a little higher up en-route to Sa Reira. Eventually the signs re-appeared and so it wasn’t difficult to navigate. We continued the walk to Sa Riera, at which point we stopped for lunch in a local Tavern before enjoying a quiet moment on the beach. From Sa Riera we took a pleasant forest trial leading back up to Begur by which point it was 4pm and we’d hiked about 11km. It was a lovely walk lots of steep ups and downs but on a clear day some beautiful bays to take in.

For days 2 and 3 of our time in the area we hired a car through the hotel from a local car-hire company based in Palafrugell. It cost us 101 Euros for 2 days including insurance and 2 drivers. Fuel is pretty cheap in Spain so we only spent 40 Euros in 2 days.

We drove up to Figueres once we had received our little Chevrolet Matiz which from Begur took about an hour. Once in Figueres we managed to find free parking a little away from the Dali museum and we joined the ever-growing queue to get into the museum, it took a further hour before we were paid the 12 Euro entrance fee and were inside!

We hadn’t really anticipated the Easter vacationers coming into the area from Barcelona. The Dali Theatre Museum cost 12 Euros each to get in but this is like no other museum either of us have visited before! Described as being the largest surrealist object in the world, the theatre is home to ideas, dreams, sketches, objects and just about everything Dali ever imagined brought into real life. It’s really interesting, fun and engaging. A little bit like stepping into a circus allowing for the imagination to gather and grow. The only problem for us were the hundreds of other visitors muscling their way in and out of each space, oh and not to mention those using flash on their cameras to document it all! Why?!
We were on a Dali-fueled mission and drove out to Cadaques and Portlligat, which is a lovely drive over the hills and down to the coast. Portlligat is where Dali lived and his home is now a museum, the only problem being that we didn’t have tickets to get in and it was fully booked until Easter Monday. So we wandered around the quiet bay, enjoyed some patatas bravas and then drove to Cadaques. This place is definitely worth a visit on a sunny day. Again it was packed full or visitors but it really is a stunning coastal town. Much bigger than Begur, oozing character and every corner holding a link to Dali.

We found a small gallery ran by local legend and photographer Joan Vehi who houses hundreds of photographs taken during his lifetime. Draws listing from the 1960′s through to modern day and famous reportage shots of Dali in the area. Really worth a peek if you are ever there. We finished our evening with a walk up to the castle and Paella at one of the local restaurants in the village.

On our second day with the Matiz we ventured further afield, I wanted to share a few places with Dave that I had taken in on launch with the Rapides. Although the Matiz isn’t quite up to scratch with an Aston Martin we managed to get to Besalu where lots of Easter celebrations were taking place. This is a really stunning medieval village again built up around churches and with a large characterful square in the centre. It’s a great place to explore, lots of cobbled walk-ways, cafe’s and bars as well as views across the river towards the bridge built in 1066 or there about.

We followed our sightseeing tour out towards Ripoll and after another hour of driving we landed in Fibes De Freser where lunch was booked up in Ventola at Anna’s mountain restaurant. You can’t get a better authentic Catalonian mountain hut than this for food and service. They took Dave and I under their wing and were fantastic hosts for the afternoon, only reassuring further their gratitude at being the Aston Martin lunch stop of choice for the Rapide launch. This time with no Aston’s in sight the restaurant was packed to the rim of tourists, locals, hikers and skiers all following their noses to this legendary restaurant. Owned by Anna, a former Olympic skier, and ran by her loyal staff they run up and down the stairs with hot plates of food, sweat on their brow there is never a rest at this place! We enjoyed a great lunch and vow to go back their one day. With 3 meals in one we didn’t need to eat out that night! So it was a DVD back in our Aigua Clara home and a glass of Esmeralda white wine.

On our final day in Begur it rained! It was very misty and we didn’t have a car, so we simply spent our day in and around the hotel, walked a little, read, edited some photographs and enjoyed food with friends later on. We really loved Begur as a place to base ourselves whilst exploring the depths of the Catalonian region and the comforts of the Aigua Clara Hotel meant we had a home from home to relax at in between the sight seeing.

(Leica M9, Summicron-M 50mm f2.0, Nikon D600, Nikon 50mm f1.4, processed in Lightroom 3)

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