Travel….as the saying goes, its the only thing you pay for that makes you richer.
When my husband and I were dating for almost a year, we decided to take a trip to Mexico. He had a misconception that all travel, especially international travel, was expensive….I was certain to prove him wrong. So I planned a trip that included airfare, an all-inclusive hotel, transfers, and an excursion for 3 nights in Playa del Carmen for around $300 each. And from then on, travel became an engrained part of our relationship.
In 2019, again on my mission to find an incredible travel experience for an incredible price, I came across a deal with Costco Travel for a week in Italy – 3 nights in Florence and 3 nights in Venice, including transfers, airfare, and 4 and 5 star hotels stays for $3,500. It was unbelievable, and we jumped on it.
I had traveled abroad in college, so I had been to Florence before. My husband had only traveled to Mexico, and Europe wasn’t very appealing to him. That is, until we got there. He loved it and we started planning our next interational trip for the following year before we even boarded the plane back to the US. This time, we couldn’t wait to explore Spain. As soon as we got home, I started researching. I contacted a travel agent, and we had the whole trip planned by Christmas 2019.
Enter 2020 – and we all know what happened. Our plans to visit Spain in May of 2020 initially seemed doable. But then as the lockdown of March turned into the weeks at home in April, we decided to postpone our trip.
Two years later and here we are. Just returned from our trip across the Atlantic to Begur and Barcelona in Catalonia, Spain. Haven’t heard of Begur before? Neither had we, so let me share a little bit about it!
Begur is a small town in the region of Catalonia known as Costa Brava, a stretch of the Mediterranean coastline know for its beautiful beaches. It is popular with French tourists due to its close proximity to France, and we didn’t come across any other Americans while we were there. It is about an hour and a half north of Barcelona, and was a great way to start our trip. We had 3 low-key days of hanging at the beach, exploring the small town of Begur, a sailboat ride, and eating lots of seafood.
One of our favorite meals we had during our time in Costa Brava (and we had several!) was right after our sailboat ride. The port was in Palamós and we walked to a restaurant called Can Blau. We shared a classic Catalan dish called “fidueá”. Think of this as paella but with short pasta instead of rice. Our version had prawns, mussels, and cuttlefish (a relative to the squid.) We were scraping at the pan to get the last bites!
Our other favorite restaurants in Begur:
We stayed at the Parador de Aigua Blava and it was wonderful – we would highly recommend this hotel! It had an amazing view from both sides and was comfortably appointed.
One tip for Costa Brava – we didn’t have a rental car and we wish we would have. There are lots of inlets and coves to explore which would have been more accessible if we had our own car. However, taxis are easy to call so we never had to wait long and they were able to bring us whereever we liked.
One thing to note, in Catalonia, they speak Catalan, not Spanish, as their main language! Catalan is kind of a mix between Spanish and French. The further you get out from the big city of Barcelona, the less English that is spoken. However, most people know quite a bit of Spanish, so if you can’t communicate through English, Spanish is your next best bet.
After 3 days in Costa Brava, we traveled into the city. The pace was much different from Begur, with lots of hustle and bustle. We stayed in The Gallery Hotel which was lovely. The front desk was so attentive and remembered us by name when we walked in. You definitely don’t need a car in Barcelona – walking is easy, but if you ever get tired of walking, cabs, again, are plentiful.
We again had some wonderful meals in Barcelona – my favorite was Babula Bar 1937. This restaurant served a variety of small plates that were refined and imaginative. The drinks were fun and the waitstaff was attentive and helpful. Here are some of the other restaurants we went to – we really enjoyed all of them!
Ristorante Margherita (Italian for lunch!)
Bronzo (pizza for lunch!)
Clemen’s (inside the Boqueria Mercat)
We also enjoyed tapas, especially those called “pinchos”. These come from the Basque area of Spain and are small snacks served at the bar with a toothpick. You just take whichever ones you want, and you are charged at the end based on how many toothpicks you have left on your plate!
We could have spent probably an extra day or two in Barcelona since there is so much to see and do. One of our favorite things that we did was visit La Sagrada Familia. This basilica was designed by Antoni Gaudí and is famous, not only for its amazing, imaginative architecture, but because it is also not finished – construction has been going on for 140 years!
Every part of the building tells some part of the story of Jesus’ life and death. From the statues on the outside of the building to the stained glass inside – every part of the church architecture has a meaning and was meticulously planned. If you visit Barcelona, La Sagrada Familia is a must visit.
We also enjoyed visiting Park Güell – another part of Barcelona that has Gaudí’s fingerprints all over it. The area was supposed to be a residential neighborhood on the outer limits of Barcelona – however, it wasn’t as popular as the developers had hoped and instead, it was turned into a park. Beautiful mosaic work can be found throughout the park as well as beautiful views and lots of greenery. It is a nice place to go for an afternoon stroll.
Lastly, we also took a bicycle tour throughout Barcelona to the beach. I wish we could have spent some more time at the beach because it was really lively with lots of activities going on. There were so many little restaurants that would be fun to sit outside and just enjoy the beach. We loved riding our bikes along the boardwalk and taking in the view – such a fun way to get around the city!
We loved our time in Catalonia and learned so much that we didn’t know going into our trip. If you’d like to see some more of the pictures I took from our trip, you can check them out in my print shop The Caviness Collective.
Have any questions about our trip or want to share one of your favorite things to do in the area? Drop a comment below!