Once in a lifetime experiences in Costa Brava

  • SumoMe

The Costa Brava blogger group.

16 bloggers, 7 days, one amazing destination

There are blog trips but there will only be one #InCostaBrava blog trip; in my book, the ultimate blog trip. I’ve just returned from this trip and my head is still spinning from the whirlwind of once-in-a-lifetime experiences in Costa Brava. The itinerary, which was gradually revealed every day, left us breathless with excitement, not only because of the incredible activities, but also the way it was organised, with a special focus on the needs of the travel bloggers. The #InCostaBrava blog trip is one that none of the 16 bloggers will ever forget.

From the touchdown in Barcelona, we were whisked to Lloret de Mar in a limo and checked into the luxurious Guitart Monterrey Hotel. I met Jaume and Dunya (from the Costa Brava Tourism Board) and they asked me if I was hungry. I nodded, a phone call was made and within minutes, sandwiches were delivered! That was the first sign that this blog trip was going to be special. 🙂

Experiences of a lifetime in Costa Brava

The following day, we walked around the tranquil Santa Clotilde Gardens in Lloret de Mar,…

Santa Clotilde Gardens

…sailed on the legendary “El Rafael” catboat past some of the most stunning coastal scenery, enjoyed an unforgettable lunch at an old fisherman’s hut in the gorgeous village of Tamariu while we were serenaded by a local group of Havaneres,…

Tamariu

The most delicious king prawns

Havaneres: traditional music & songs by local fishermen

… strolled along the coastal path near Llafranc,…

Coastal path from Llafranc to Calella de Parafrugell

…before tucking into a superb dinner at the gorgeous Aigua Blava Hotel in Begur.

Dinner at Aigua Blava Hotel

A day I will never forget!

Thursday, 5th May 2011 will be etched in my mind forever. It began with a nerve-wracking skydive with Empuria Brava,…

Hard core or just plain mad? 🙂

The views of the Costa Brava were phenomenal!

… and continued with an unforgettable lunch at El Celler de Can Roca, a Michelin 3-star establishment recently voted as the world’s 2nd best restaurant.

Meeting the maestro, Joan Roca, at El Celler de Can Roca

The best roast suckling pig I’ve ever had!

Later that day, we were taken on a private tour (i.e. minus the crowds) through the magnificent Dali Museum in Figueres. A huge thank you to the Dali Foundation for extending the opening hours of the museum specially for the #InCostaBrava bloggers.

Look at the portrait, squint your eyes, who do you see?

This picture can only be taken if you’re lying on the floor. It’s of the ceiling!

And just when I thought that the day could not get any better, my interview with Catalan TV3 appeared on the evening news!

Me on Catalan tv!

As the day came to an end, my thoughts drifted back to the skydive. Did I actually survive it? I felt like I’d gone to heaven! This was one of the most memorable days in my life. 🙂

Simply the best of Spain in one region

The #InCostaBrava blog trip continued the next day with a tour of the House of Salvador Dalí in Port Lligat. Our tour was absolutely memorable as we were guided by a close friend and former apprentice of Salvador Dalí, Antoni Pitxtot, who charmed us with his personal accounts of working with the famous artist.

The entrance to Casa Dali in Port Lligat

Mr. Pitxtot wowed us with his personal stories

This was followed by a fabulous lunch in Mas Perafita with amazing views of the mountains of Cap de Creus. The wines of Celler Martin Faixó were fresh and fruity whilst the food was simply superb. A glorious spot in the mountains for an unforgettable lunch under the warm Costa Brava sun!

Mas Perafita – a glorious spot!

I couldn’t get enough of the bacalao carpaccio!

I woke up the next day to the sound of the waves crashing on the beach at the Bay of Roses. I walked out onto the balcony of my room at the Terraza Hotel and Spa and gazed out to sea. This trip felt like a dream. Gorgeous beaches, rich cultural traditions, a colourful history, unrivalled gastronomy, spectacular nature and wonderful people; Costa Brava truly offers the best of Spain.

We were treated to more tantalising food that day. We went on a boat trip to Cala Joncóls where a team of fishermen cooked us a feast, featuring a traditional Catalan dish: suquet de peix (a stew with potatoes, various types of fish and stingray); and a pasta with crayfish.

The fishermen proudly showed off their suquet de peix

The pasta was incredible!

A dream meeting with Ferran Adria at El Bulli

For many years, El Bulli was rated as the best restaurant in the world. The chef, Ferran Adria, is often referred to as the greatest chef in the world; a genius in the kitchen, like Salvador Dalí was on a canvas. So, it was a huge surprise to everyone when it was announced that Mr. Ferran had agreed to host us at El Bulli. Needless to say, it was an experience of a lifetime to meet this great culinary icon in person.

Meeting Ferran Adria at El Bulli

History was made that day at El Bulli – they’ve never opened their doors in the morning to guests and they’ve never served canapes. I was honoured to present Mr. Adria with a gift and to thank him on behalf of the bloggers. My hands trembled and I found myself gasping for air – suddenly, that skydive felt like a piece of cake! Meeting him was a dream come true!

Our day continued with a trip to the mountain villages of Santa Pau and Besalú. We were treated to a medieval dance by the villagers of Santa Pau,…

They posed and danced for us in the village square

… before sitting down for a divine lunch at Cal Sastre in the centre of Santa Pau, under a canopy of ancient arches. The chef must’ve been very nervous as he knew that we’d just visited El Bulli. He did an outstanding job – I helped myself to multiple portions of the wild mushroom cannelloni (with black truffels and pistachio) and the Crema Catalana dessert! The contrast of cuisines couldn’t have been greater: from cutting-edge gastronomy at El Bulli to the wholesome goodness of traditional Catalan fare at Cal Sastre within several hours! We ate VERY well! 🙂

I ate 3 portions of this! 🙂

To burn off those calories, we went for a hike around the Croscat Volcano,…

Volcan Croscat in the Garrotxa Volcanic National Park

…and a stroll around the stunning medieval town of Besalú.

Besalú

The #InCostaBrava blog trip ended in Girona, the largest and one of the oldest cities in the Costa Brava region.

Girona

The ultimate blog trip

The #InCostaBrava blog trip of May 2011 can truly be considered the ‘ultimate blog trip’. The organisation and planning that went into it were exceptional whilst the itinerary was simply mind-blowing from Day 1! I’ve been on many blog trips and though they were all special in their own right, #InCostaBrava takes the gold medal for the massive effort involved to organise this trip and the exemplary collaboration between the Costa Brava Tourism Board, local businesses and city councils. I have discovered a side of Costa Brava that I never knew existed, a side that’s rich in culture, history, nature and gastronomic traditions.

A huge thank you goes to the Costa Brava Tourism Board and Tourism Spain for making this once-in-a-lifetime trip possible! Salud! 🙂 I would also like to thank Arantxa Ros for her unyielding support and encouragement.

Tip: to find out more about the places or names mentioned in this post, simply highlight the text and click on ‘Learn more’.

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30 Responses to “Once in a lifetime experiences in Costa Brava”

  1. SweetHomeCostaBrava 26/05/2015 6:02 pm
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    The best beaches on Costa Brava are on Begur 🙂

  2. Silverback 21/07/2012 2:54 pm
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    Founds this site when looking for ideas when visiting the Costa Brava….as we are doing in just over 3 weeks time. We’re not young or as fortunate as you so there will be no posh restaurants (although my old friend does run Pasko’s restaurant in Roses), fancy hotels or sky diving on our trip !
    I’m pleased that we’re visiting a lot of the places you mentioned, both inland and on the coast. Maybe when we return, you can read MY blog 😉
    Thanks for the info.

  3. Bijuterii Argint 25/05/2011 1:24 pm
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    The Dali Museum is a must see. I didn’t know about his house. I will note your suggestions for the next trip there.

  4. Lluís 21/05/2011 6:56 am
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    Hey, you had a nice time in my homeland, good!! 😀

    Later I may enter a post in my blog with a link to your page, it may be good for everyone to give it a further spin! 😀

    Cheers!

    Lluís

  5. Rob 16/05/2011 10:04 pm
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    What a lovely article Keith, it put a broad smile on my face ;-D ! Rob

  6. velvet 16/05/2011 4:09 pm
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    Gracias Diego! 🙂

  7. DIEGO 16/05/2011 3:43 pm
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    Great travel… Costa Brava… BRAVISSIMMO 😉
    DIEGO

  8. velvet 16/05/2011 1:18 pm
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    Thanks Vera! Yay! 🙂 It was a great privilege to be on this trip. A stunning destination, priceless experiences!

    Hugs,
    Keith

  9. Vera Marie Badertscher 16/05/2011 6:23 am
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    Oh, Man! You brought this trip to life with your photos and breathless narrative. I think you’ve not only started a rush to Costa Brava by travelers, but those poor P.R. folks are going to fending off pleas from all the travel bloggers that didn’t get on the bus. ! A mi, A mi!

  10. velvet 14/05/2011 11:42 am
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    Thanks Jennifer. The food was indeed DIVINE! YUM! 🙂

  11. Jennifer 13/05/2011 8:45 pm
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    What a fabulous, wonderful experience! The food sounds divine. And, I really loved your photo of Besalu.

  12. velvet 13/05/2011 1:34 pm
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    Hi D&D,
    Thanks for your lovely comment. YES, it certainly was a trip of a lifetime. That skydive was pretty incredible. Look out for a full recount of the jump next week. Hehe! 🙂

    Lotsa hugs,
    Keith

  13. The Compulsive Traveler 12/05/2011 7:41 pm
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    Wow, Keith! So many great pictures! And I’m super jealous you’ve got to eat all this fabulous Spanish food and experience sky-diving. I normally scuba dive but hope to go in an opposite direction one day 🙂 Great post!

  14. velvet 12/05/2011 3:35 pm
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    Haha! Yes, the food, the people, the food, the activities, the food…. LOL! 🙂 It definitely was a blog trip of a lifetime. Wow! Still can’t believe I jumped out of a plane! 🙂

    Cheers,
    Keith

  15. Leigh 12/05/2011 3:31 pm
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    What an experience Keith. Between the hotels, the food, the side trips, the food, the people, the food and the activities it does appear to have been one of those once in a lifetime experiences. Good for you for being chosen.
    I’m off to Spain in November so will come back to this blog for ideas.

  16. Dave and Deb 12/05/2011 2:56 pm
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    Wow! Now that is a trip of a lifetime! Thanks for the incredible round up. We were in Costa Brava last year with no planning whatsoever. We missed out on a lot of great experiences, but now that all of you Bloggers spent time enjoying the best that it has to offer, I have a great recourse for my next trip to Spain! Congratulations on the jump.

  17. velvet 12/05/2011 2:18 pm
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    Hi Jen, thanks for your fab comment. Stay tuned for more. 🙂

    Hugs,
    Keith

  18. Jen Laceda 12/05/2011 1:57 pm
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    This is INDEED the ultimate blog trip!!! Now, why couldn’t I get invited to this one? El Bulli? El Celler de Can Roca? Great seafood every meal? Skydiving? Dali Museum? Beaches? Girona (my personal favourite)? I am loving this itinerary. It’s inspiring me to re-visit this part of Spain again. It’s been years since I’ve been to the Costa Brava. And it seems like I am due for a visit, as the recent decades has given birth to a culinary revolution in this region. Argh, I am so jealous of your itinerary!!!
    P.S. I have been clicking on EVERY LINK on your post. Good job, Keith!

  19. velvet 12/05/2011 12:35 pm
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    Hi Kenny,
    Yup… what a rush! The best shot of me is now my FB profile pic. Hehe… 🙂

    Hugs,
    Keith

  20. Life for Beginners 12/05/2011 12:32 pm
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    That, my friend, is indeed a prime candidate for the trip of a lifetime. Best portrait of you? I think the shot of you sky-diving trumps even your Catalan TV interview. What a rush it must have been! 😀

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