An Insider’s RoadTrip with Kate Hill to Catalunya and the Costa Brava
April 16-22; September 13-19, 2020
Three nights in L’Escala and Empúries; Three nights in Cadaqués and Portlligat
Both these Catalunya trips back up to one other Insider’s Roadtrip if you are interested in a two week adventure.
Meet me for a slow discovery of some of my favorite places along the Costa Brava in Catalunya Spain. Just a couple hours drive south from Camont (or north from Barcelona), this has been the destination for all my years when I need a break to refresh and reflect; where I dip my feet in the clear salty Mediterranean; and eat enough tender calamari and deep red carabiniere shrimp fresh from the Bay of Rosas. The ancient Phoenician, Greek, and Roman ruins of Empúries were the first thing that alerted me to the potential of a deep dive into why I love this part of the coast. It’s a magical gastronomic emporium where the sea delivers fish, shrimp, and squid while the land returns the favor- olive oil, rice, and grapes. Even the bread baked here- Coca- tastes of the ancient blue sea.
In our two seaside hotels, you sleep with your windows open to the sounds of a gently lapping tide that whisper of far away mythological times. The Catalan culture reaches back that far. Blue-shuttered, white washed walls, and deep fuchsia bougainvillea are the flag of Cadaques whose narrow streets conceal galleries, restaurants, and exquisite boutiques. We can walk along the sea wall to dinner, taste wines grown on the border hills above Spain and France, and take a small boat for a fisherman’s picnic. Make some memories with me while tasting the best that Catalunya and the Empordá has to offer.
Discover the Mediterranean diet as it really is- fresh, local, and modestly extraordinary. Staying at the beach with our feet dangling in the Med from our beds, there is no escaping the salty stories that are born here. The first three nights, we are at the very south end of the Bay of Rosas, named after Rhodes, where the first Greek immigrants from Phoenicia arrived to claim this fertile delta in 575 BC and called it the Emporium. This is a perfect place from which to discover the history and origins of the staples of today’s Mediterranean diet- olive groves, fruit orchards, vineyards, and the little fishing boats, of course, lay the foundation.
After 3 nights at the Hostal Empuries on the Bay of Rosas at L’Escala, for its fabulous bar, spa, and beach, we move inland for a spectacular farm-based Catalan lunch at Les Cols in Olot; We return to the coast at Cap de Creus and the world famous white-washed village Cadaqués, home to artists, chefs, and fishermen. Three quiet nights at the Hotel Llane Petit is a perfect retreat from which to experience the Dali-induced arts and food of this magic site. By the end of this trip, you’ll feel sated, refreshed, and excited for your next adventures along the Insider’s RoadTrips.
Itinerary 2020 (subject to changes as necessary)
Day 1 Arrive at the Hostal Spa Empuries from Barcelona or Girona in time to enjoy an afternoon stroll and exploration of the area before dinner at hotel. The Hotel main building was built in the 1920’s to house the archaeologists beginning work at the nearby ancient digs of Empúries. I love the old house the best, and while a modern spa and garden rooms were added on, our rooms overlook the rising sun and the sea. The hotel offers meals in four different places, from an informal and fun beach Terrace Bar and the Bistro del Mar to the gastronomic Villa Teresita- all offering the best local products prepared in their organic eco-Mediterranean kitchens.
Day 2 After a copious breakfast overlooking the sea, we set out on foot to explore the ruins and archaeological site just at our doorstep. It’s an easy walk around the ancient city walls, remaining monuments, and amazing mosaics. The site is inspiration enough but the small museum is a delight in which to discover some of the hidden treasures.
Afternoon: We’ll take lunch in the newly chic rural design center in nearby La Bisbal, the center of terra cotta production in the area. Shopping and exploring go hand in hand before we explore the neighboring small medieval towns of Pals and Palafrugell on our way to dinner on top of the light house cliff at Llanca.
Day 3 L’Escala is also home to the few remaining anchovy processing houses where nimble hands still strip the filets from the freshly salted fish and pack them in olive oil for gourmet shops around the world. Olive oil is produced all over the Empordá and the soft and fruity argudell and arbequina olives at Ventelló are among the most seductive.
Lunch is a simple picnic in the olive groves; free spa afternoon to use your Spa credits* on the pool, massage or other treatments.; Dinner at hotel in the Villa Terrasita.
Day 4 Depart L’Escala for a delicious day in the country before arriving in Cadaqués for the next 3 days. We leave around noon for a charming country drive to Sunday Lunch near medieval Olot at the amazing Les Cols pavilions & restaurant under two-star Michelin Chef Fina Puigdevall Nogareda. After lunch, we’ll head back to the sea at the north end of the Bay of Rosas and then on to Cadaques. A stroll around town and a light tapas Dinner in town starts at the Enoteca MF. Electric carts are available to shuttle us around town and back to the Hotel Llane Petit on the quiet end of the bay.
Day 5 Market day in Cadaqués and we’ll buy what we want for a picnic on the beach at a quiet spot on Cap de Creus among the wild thyme and other fresh herbs that attract bees to make a very special honey. Take some time this afternoon to explore the back streets of Cadaqués, its famous Baroque church, and harbor of fishing boats. Dinner with my long time friends, Carmen and Rafa, who own Can Rafa, one of the only true fish restaurants along the waterfront; they specialize in fresh fish from their own small fleet and Rafa always chooses the best for us.
Day 6 Free morning for swimming and shopping or just to sleep in or read next to the water; meet for lunch at Bar Boia along the plaza beach for some first class people watching. After siesta, we’ll taxi over to Portlligat for a late afternoon visit to the Dali house museum at 6:30-7:00 followed by dinner at the stellar El Bulli alumni run Compartir.
Day 7 Depart from Cadaques and transfer to Barcelona or Girona by private van from Hotel Llane Petit at 10:00 am. arrival in Barcelona just after noon. Please consult with us before booking your travel arrangement.
Insider’s Roadtrip: Catalunya
April 16-22; September 13-19 2020
Price 5450€ (double occupancy in queen or twin beds and private bathrooms)
For Solo travelers, a single supplement is 750€; Other room upgrades available on request at time of booking.
Includes: Seven days/six nights completely private small group tour (maximum seven guests) with six nights luxury accommodation; all full breakfasts, lunches, and dinners with wine including one two-star Michelin meal; ground transportation to and from the meeting points (Barcelona or Girona, Spain ); private guides, all entrance fees, tastings and classes; and as a special bonus spa credit at the Hotel Spa Empuries. We are happy to work with your travel agent to make your travel easy and comfortable. Just ask.
Not included: airfare or transportation to the meeting point (Barcelona or Girona) ; personal purchases at hotels including mini-bars, bars, etc; other transportation as required or desired- taxis, shuttles, etc; gratuities (hotel room service or private guides); travel insurance (recommended and see booking form for suggestions).
To reserve a space on this RoadTrip with Kate, request a Booking Form and Payment information below. There are only 7 reserved spaces available on each tour unless previous arrangements have been made. Adult solo travelers as well as couples are more than welcome. Interested in a Women Travelers RoadTrip? Just ask us!
Our partners along the Costa Brava:
Hostal Spa Empúries- where history and luxury meet comfort and a room with view
Empuries- the offical Ruins of Empuries site
Les Cols Restaurant- the two star Michelin farmhouse of Chef Fina Puigdevall in Olot.
Hotel Llane Petit- modest, clean, and quietly perched along the edge of the Bay of Cadaques
El Far Restaurant- a favorite dining room overlooking the sea by the lighthouse
Compartir Cadaques- Fine dining from the El Bulli Alumni
Studio Moises Tibau- fabulous contemporary ceramics and paintings
Martin Faixo Cadaques- Can Rafa, Enoteca MF, and all our favorite local wines
Ultima Parada- our favorite shop near La Bisbal
Ventalló Olive oil- I love the fruity taste of the Catalan olive oils
More pictures- https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/catalanroadtrip/
More videos- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S8-9x-eL0xQ&t=43s