Places we’ve loved: Begur, Spain
Begur, and the surrounding area, is so charming, untouristy and beautiful that we have been hesitant to write about it. We are afraid that if we paint an accurate picture then more people like us might go there. But after the fabulous week we enjoyed in the region we reluctantly decided to be generous and let you in on what we discovered.
Begur is in the heart of the Costa Brava, in the Baix Empordà region. What does this mean to you? Politically it means Begur is in Catalonia which, vehemently, does not consider itself to be a part of Spain. Logistically it means Begur is an easy hour and a half drive from Girona. (Or possibly 10 minutes away if you don’t get lost as often as we do. We’re wondering if a Smart car would make us smart drivers. Will have to check out that theory.)
We were settling in for a week at the Parador de Aiguablava which is about a 10 minute drive from Begur “proper”. After being constantly on the go for most of the two previous weeks in Catalonia we were looking forward to some unplanned, relaxing days. When we checked into the Parador and got to our room we were famished and ecstatically grateful to find this waiting for us.
We took our treats out to our balcony which had this gawk-worthy view we enjoyed as we gobbled and swilled the goodies.
Then each of us did what she does best. Brunette went for a swim and Blonde dressed as if she was going swimming but really only took one of her legendary naps beside the pool.
We vowed that we would never leave the hotel’s property. It was so peaceful in the off-season, offered free internet, and had a flirty bartender so we couldn’t imagine ever wanting to leave. But the prices of the food in the dining room were more than a travel bloggers’ budget so we ventured forth once more.
Begur was the closest “real” town and it quickly became a favorite. The first night we drove in to Begur and found ourselves circling around in a confusing medieval labyrinth as we searched for a restaurant. Finally we lurched out of the labyrinth and somehow found a side street on the literal edge of town and parked there every time we went back all week. No point wasting our dwindling brain cells remembering where we parked each day if we simply parked in the same place.
One of Begur’s charms is that nothing seems to be more than 5 or 6 blocks from anything else, although those can be loopy confusing blocks. That first night everywhere we went was full and had very long waits so we basically selected where we went because they could take us and their prices looked reasonable. That place was Begur Can Pol Pizzeria. It was almost empty, completely devoid of ambience and didn’t look very promising. It seemed like it was going to be the restaurant version of going out with the loser guy just because you can’t get a date with someone better. In romance that tends to be disappointing but this night it was a pleasant surprise. We shared a large, very fresh salad, each had homemade pasta dishes and the house wine. We enjoyed all of it, particularly the prices.
Another place to go – we went two or three times we enjoyed it so much – is Pizzeria Pizzeta. Looking at the names you would think we ate pizza every night but we never actually had pizza at any of the places we went in Begur. Quite unexpectedly (to us) Pizzeria Pizzeta had guacamole we spoke fondly of for quite a while after our trip ended. They also have moist, flavorful chicken skewers and a risotto “half and half” which was 1/2 Catalan cream 1/2 goat cheese with a little honey. That alone was worth the lifetime Weight Watchers membership Blonde now “enjoys”.
And perhaps the best of all the places we tried was one we found the last night - Restaurant Turandot. We had finally learned that we needed to make reservations for the small popular places and this is one of those places. They had a three course prix fixe menu which we had along with a bottle of wine and several bottles of water for 69 euros total for three people. They also had a family dining there that included a man who was Javier Bardem’s better looking younger brother (we thought). The waiter was very understanding about the drool we left on our placemats.
In those rare moments when we weren’t eating we also enjoyed outdoor markets in Begur – one that was mostly clothing and housewares and another that was a farmers’ market.
Just outside of Begur, on the way back to our parador, was a castle on top of a cliff. We scrambled up there just before sunset on our last evening. We were unwelcome, but ignored, interlopers to a small collection of hormonal teenagers who were there for reasons other than the view. (Or for other views, perhaps.)
Begur, in addition to its own charms, is a good base from which to explore many other towns in the region. We went to Vic, L’Estartit, Llafranc and Palafrugell and Empordà, all of which we enjoyed.
Now that we have generously shared one of our favorite travel secrets with you we expect you to keep it to yourself.