There were no kayaks for us this afternoon. Sadly, it’s the price we paid for taking advantage of a late break – kayaks are only available at weekends.

Our last afternoon was spent with Kim reading on the beach, John reading on our balcony and Matt ‘going on an adventure’. We think his adventure was to buy sweets at the supermarket before retiring to his room to eat them!

Matt declined to come on a family adventure, driving to Tamariu which is the next village heading towards France.

The winding, mountainous roads made the 5k trip seem longer than it was but the village was worth the drive. Very similar to Llafranc but smaller. We did notice that it seemed to have more restaurants open than Llafranc and it would have been a nice place for dinner if we had all been together.


The sun was trying harder today but not enough to tempt John and Matt into kayaking so it was the 40 minute drive to Girona for us.

As we arrived, the sun came out and finding a car park suddenly became more complicated when the free one was full! We ended up in an underground multi-storey with parking spaces only slightly wider than the car.

We made our way out into the sun and found ourselves just across the river from the medieval city, it looked stunning and reminded us very much of the river front properties in Trondheim just with better foundations. The river was crystal clear and the fish were enormous.

We headed for La Fabrici, a small cafe run by professional cyclist Christian Meier and his wife. It was tucked in a small square away from the hustle and bustle of the main routes. Matt succumbed to a large slice of Oreo cake, washed down with an orange and ginger zinger. John and Kim shared a Nutter Butter – toasted bread covered with almond butter, sliced banana, coconut and nasturtium flowers. It was delicious!!

Feeling fortified, we walked back down to the river to see the ‘Eiffel Bridge’ before walking back up narrow, paved streets through the Jewish Quarter to the Cathedral. By this time, the sun was making up for lost time and we decided to head back to Llafranc to make the most of our last day.

We would definitely come back to Girona. We spent too long in Barcelona but Girona has to be worth a couple of days to fully explore its history and alley ways. We need to do the cathedral properly, the Jewish Museum, walk the city walls and gaze in the river long enough for Kim to see the terrapins that live in it.

Padstow in Catalunya

Well, not quite but there were a lot of similarities between Padstow and Cadaques.

Matthew has a cold and the weather wasn’t great for lazing on the beach so we thought we’d head for the ‘Dali triangle’. Last year we did the museum at Figueres, this year it was the turn of Cadaques.

The roads was quiet and easy driving in the little Fiat Panda until we hit the mountains. Why do satnavs mever warn of steep inclines and sharp bends? We headed through the Cap de Creus mountains, the foothills of the Pyrenees, to the eastern most point of Spain.

The last 15k of the journey reminded us of Norway. Our ears popped but the winding road was slightly kinder to us than some we had travelled on in June.

Cadaques was very pretty and the weather wasn’t bad so we stopped for refreshment in the old Casino. Matt’s eyes lit up at the sight of a pool table and he managed to stop sniffing long enough for a couple of games with John. 1-1 was the final score which didn’t really suit either of them but they recognised we couldn’t stay there all day.


We had a wander round the town before heading for the museum which was promoting a Dali and Man Ray exhibition. As seems typical, the museum was at the top of a steep hill which we climbed with very bad grace. Since arriving in Spain we have walked up the equivalent of 160 floors and a distance of 52 miles (according to Kim’s iPhone) and our legs are noticing it. Matt has obviously gone further and higher than the rest of us!

Once at the top of the hill, we found the museum shut and the exhibition finished last week! That was the cue for our return trip to Llafranc!

Palamos to Begur

We woke to a damp and misty morning and decided to take a trip down the coast to Palamos. We’d read that it is one of the best preserved fishing villages on Costa Brava and its only 25 minutes away!

We drove into the town, expecting to see something pretty and we were treated to our first sight of a Costa Brava holiday resort. It was rather a shock to see how ugly a large part of the sea front was.

Undeterred, we headed for the historic centre and wandered round narrow, paved roads surrounded by colourful shops and apartments.  We were impressed by the fresh fruit and veg on offer, we haven’t found anything like it in Llafranc or Pallafrugell.

We stopped for a drink and decided that we wouldn’t wait for the fishing boats to return in the afternoon but would head up the coast to Begur.  Our walk back to the car took us through the port where we were mesmerised by a small boat being lifted out on a hoist. Shortly followed by a period of gazing at the fish in the clear waters of the Marina.  They looked similar to those we’d seen in the Aquarium but couldn’t remember a single name.

The weather was still misty but we could just see the outline of hotels dominating the coast as far as we could see. We really are rather lucky with our choice of location!

Back to Begur to see the medieval town and castle. We walked up a very steep hill, through some very pretty streets to the castle at the top of the hill.

On a clear day, according to the map, you can see for miles around….

We were just about able to see Matt playing King of the Castle…..

As a treat for the long damp walk, we stopped for lunch in one of the main squares. Being British, we sat outside until the damp and cold finally started to penetrate. John was fascinated by the olive tree and we all wondered if we could pick the olives and eat them (we’ll be asking google later).

Our treat on the way back to Llafranc was a visit to a hypermarket where we happily pottered around, checking out what was on offer. John was particularly taken with the pick ‘n mix nuts

We chose the direct route back to the hotel rather than the coast road, the weather really isn’t great today!

Jardins de Cap Roig and a lazy afternoon

A leisurely start on a sunny day, lucky us!
The breakfast choice was just as good as we remembered and well worth the extra cost of the hotel, we might tease you with a photo before we leave!

Today’s trip was the 1.5 hour walk to the gardens at Cap Roig. The walk was just as hard as last year and the gardens just as stunning.

This year we’ll treat you to a picture of the castle built by the Woevodskys form the granite mines on the site.

On the walk back, we stopped for a late lunch at a little croissanteria in Palafrugell. We had a limited choice from the menu – today was the last day of opening before it along with most places close their doors for the winter. Chips and pizza it was!

The weather was glorious so Matt and Kim spent it on the beach while John read on our balcony. Why sit in the sand when you have the luxury of a seaview and a balcony?

We whiled away the afternoon, only Matt was brave enough to go in the sea.

Dinner was in a little local restaurant, the verdict on our meal? Nothing special! We won’t be going back there unless everywhere else is shut. Even then we might choose crisps and chocolate form the supermarket!!

Barcelona to LLafranc

We survived Barcelona without being mugged and headed out to the airport to pick up the hire car in the rain. We were pleased to leave, I’m not sure any of us are in a hurry to return which is a shame. Kim is muttering about a day trip just to see the monuments in Park Guell but she’ll soon forget about that!

We were rather worried, Goldcar car hire gets really poor reviews and pickup relies on a shuttle bus from airport to office. The whole experience was a real reminder that people are more likely to complain to praise. Directions to the shuttle bus were vague but we found the right place and the bus turned up on time. We paid the hidden charges which we’ve come to expect with hire cars and were on our way just after midday.

Our journey to Llafranc took a slight detour past the F1 Cicuit de Catalunya where we stopped for a photo – there wasn’t anything else to do but the boys are considering driving back there tomorrow for a tour of the circuit.

The weather’s been cloudy and cool but Llafranc is still pretty and quiet. We’ve upgraded Matt to his own room while we take advantage of a lovely sea view and balcony!

While we waited for lunch, Matt was off along the beach taking photos- it’s the most enthusiastic he’s been since we’ve been away.

After lunch we took a walk along the coast so Matt could plan his running route and he was off across the rocks in a shot, probably reminded of all those years rock pooling in Porthcothan!


Another busy day….

Today started with more Gaudi and a trip to Park Guell. Eusebi Guell intended to create a garden city in the space, having been inspired by those in England. His plan failed because only three of the sixty available plots were sold, we were able to view the park that remains. Having expected a park to be free, we hadn’t bought tickets to the monuments and missed most of Gaudi’s work which was a disappointment.

However we did see a beautiful park with walkways suspended over intricate columns and fantastic views over the city to the sea….. and a small group of buskers playing jazz!

The next stop was another park, this time at Montjuic. This involved the metro, vernacular railway and cable car. The Barcelona Metro has been easy to use, clean and not too busy – a far cry from our experience in New York!


The park at Montjuic is huge. It has a fort at the top of the mountain, runs across to the Olympic Stadium, is home to several museums and Barcelona’s Botanic Gardens. It’s also a difficult place to find a public toilet and a cafe for a short break! The views across the docks were unexpected, you can’t see much from beach level but up high you get to see the scale of the working port.

We were only a few minutes from the Miro Foundation so we voted for more culture! Our highlights were the Mercury Fountain (we need one in the garden) and what can only be described as the biggest rug in world.

More Metro for us as we headed to the Las Arenas Shopping centre. The centre is housed in an old bullring and the top floor is a 360 terrace giving panoramic views around the city. I think we have probably seen more than enough panoramic views of the city!!

Finally, we were hoping to see the Magic Fountain of Montjuic this evening but we are weary and have booked dinner at a time that clashes with the show. Instead of music, lights and dancing fountains, we just walked up to look at pools of water and used our imagination.

Barcelona has been exhausting and we’re looking forward to our trip up the coast for a few days of peace and quiet.

Sagrada Familia and a new room…

A visit to Sagrada Familia was the reason for staying in Barcelona and we’ve ticked that off the list! It is difficult to describe the impact the building has, both inside and out so you’ll just have google it yourselves because ‘wow’ doesn’t do it justice.



We arrived just as a number or local choirs started to sing and the sound was wonderful. There was a real mixture of choirs, from adults to schoolchildren, taking the opportunity to sing for visitors.

The museum was an interesting history of the development of the cathedral with plaster models, original plans by Gaudi and a short film describing his philosophy and approach to design an-amazingly talented man.

We headed back to the hotel to a new room free from the odour of cigarettes and marginally more space, woohoo! The only downside is that we overlook a busy road – fingers crossed for a better nights sleep.


We ventured all the way to a restaurant next door for dinner which was a good choice. Lovely food in very pleasant surroundings at a reasonable price before finally calling it a night.

A day of culture or ‘what does a Spanish department store and St Pancras International have in common?’

Before you start reading, please excuse typos and poor editing, the technology (or its operative) isn’t working that well, 😡😡

After a fairly disturbed night we started late.

Matt went for a run along the beach while John and I took our time over a very basic breakfast and negotiated a new room. Tonight’s room is marginally bigger but overlooking the road rather than the internal courtyard. Fingers crossed that it’s not too noisy, two thirds of us don’t work well on disturbed sleep. We’ll leave you to decide which two!

Our first stop was Casa Battlo which we admired from the outside before heading round the corner to a brilliant craft/DIY store.

Over 6 floors, it had everything you could need including the biggest display of coloured  bubble wrap John had ever seen. We also found a terrace with sneaky views over the back of Casa Battlo.

Next on the list was Gaudi’s La Pedrera. What an amazing building!


Gaudi’s talent left us speechless and the furnished apartment reminded us of Bagnoles and how much we missed it.


Next stop, Sagrada Familia which is the reason we’re here.
To answer the question in the title – both have eco friendly escalators that speed up when you stand on them. We admit we’re easily entertained!

Barcelona1 Hotel 0

We arrived to a warm, cloudy Barcelona and, much to our surprise, successfully negotiated the Airport shuttle into the city. We were very proud of our achievement and then the city started to fight back!

Our hotel is fairly central, about a mile back form the beach and walking distance to most of the Gaudi masterpieces. More about our hotel later…. we’ve stayed in better, the debate is whether we’ve stayed in worse!

A late breakfast fortified us in Cafe Emma and then we were off to the Aquarium.  Matt looked at everything on offer in Barcelona and chose the aquarium!  We walked through Las Ramblas while holding tightly to our belongings. tales of pickpockets ringing in our ears and then the rain started.  The decision was made, we would definitely go and visit some fish!

The marina is a vibrant area with a shopping centre, plenty of restaurants and lots of big expensive boats.

The aquarium was warm and dry and kept us entertained for a couple of hours. Matthew learned that fish come in different colours(!) and Kim learned how to tell the difference between a male and female shark.

The sun had appeared when we left so we headed for the beach and walked along the front before taking the cable car back across the harbour to Montjuic.

Three very weary Brays ended up back in Emma’s Cafe for dinner before adjourning to The English Tavern to watch the football. We were the only English in there and gave up when Man City went 2-0 down. The highlight for Matt was table football and beating Kim 2-0.

Now on to the hotel which appears to be tucked into a couple of floors of a serviced apartment block. We found reception on the second floor which is simply a man behind a desk. Our room is big enough for three beds but not if you want to walk between then or have more than one of us taking up floor space at any one time. And then there is the smell of cigarettes, a real reminder that smoking is still seen as more acceptable in large parts of Europe.  We were tired and forgave the room these issues until we woken by the guys next door coming back. It must be tissue paper for walls, they weren’t being noisy but it was like they were in the room with us. Either a new hotel or new room for us, we think.

According to Kim’s phone, we walked 10 miles. John is disbelieving but Kim trusts Apple implicitly.