Cycling Catalonia

As some of you know, I’ve been taking night classes for my MBA at Santa Clara university. This year I decided to take a “Global Perspectives” course in order to help graduate early in June 2020, and I decided to make the most of it and go early and travel for a week first! Since the detailed planning I normally do on my travels was not something I had time for this year, I splurged on a tour the week before my class in Barcelona. Wanting to do an active tour, I thought I’d try my first ever cycling vacation along the Costa Brava or nearby in Spain. After much research, I settled on a tour with Duvine cycling tours, a company which I had seen at another cycling event, Campo Velo last spring. 

Enjoying a warm welcome at Mas Falgarona. Photos by Lisette

My tour began on a Sunday in September (after a series of very stressful cancelled flights), and began in Figueres at the Vilafant train station. I was picked up by a friendly guide in a Duvine van and brought out to Mas Falgarona, our first hotel, for a lovely lunch by the pool. Next we settled into our beautiful rooms and headed out for a short 16 mile ride through the countryside.

Exploring the Dali Museum.

Somehow, after being up 36 hours from my travels, I was able to enjoy our private tour of the Salvador Dali museum, and then stay awake for a plethora of tapas and wine at a nearby restaurant. I was surprised at how well the tour guides and restaurants were able to handle my dietary restrictions, and enjoyed plenty of fantastic food without feeling like I was missing out on other food. The cured meat was particularly amazing, and was available at LITERALLY every meal on the trip. 

Enjoying the luxury at Mas de Torrent. Photos by Lisette and guides.

On the second day, we had what we thought was our longest day of cycling (30+ miles), and headed from Figueres to Torrent. This ride was absolutely stunning. We passed through lots of active farmland, through rolling hills and charming medieval towns with incredible stone buildings and architecture. We stopped for a delicious lunch (and lots of wine) about 3 miles before our hotel for the next two nights, Mas de Torrent. This hotel is very luxurious restored farmhouse that offers two on-site restaurants, pool and spa with huge rooms complete with sitting area and patio. 

I settled in with a swim in the pool, walk of the grounds, and then had an expert massage at the spa. After our time to ourselves, our tour group reconvened for a late (only by U.S. standards) dinner and plenty of wine before retiring to our rooms. 

Feasting at Con Solivero. Photos by Lisette

The next day we awoke, and found that our guides had extended our ride from 21 to 36 miles due to our quick pace and apparent energy. We started from the hotel and journeyed through more adorable towns with cobbled roads, stopping for coffee and heading to our lunch destination, a 400 year old olive farm, Can Solivera. Here one of our fantastic guides, Harvey, prepared for us a gourmet lunch with cured meats, salads, couscous and strawberries for dessert. We then were able to try the different varieties of olive oils and also taste them made by different methods by which they are made. 

Monells. Photos by Lisette

We then headed back to the hotel by way of Monells, one of the best preserved medieval towns, to explore and do a little shopping. A few women in the group picked up some espadrilles, and we then headed back to the hotel for a little rest before the remainder of our tour. 

Beautiful architecture at Bell Lloc. Photos by Lisette

That evening, we were escorted to a gorgeous vineyard, Bell Lloc, and treated to a private tour. The architecture was amazing, making use of recycled materials and natural light. After our tour we got to taste the wine while listening to live flamenco music, and then enjoyed a gourmet dinner on the terrace of the winery, with an ocean view. 

Charming streets in Begur. Photos by Lisette

On our fourth day, we enjoyed a last breakfast at Mas Torrent and embarked on the most challenging day of riding – along the Costa Brava. While the weather was beautifully clear and sunny, it made for a hot day of hard, long climbs for our group. We stopped in Begur to enjoy this fun little hilltop village and walked down streets with colorful decor, packed shops and friendly locals. 

Lunch with a view in Pals Playa. Photos by Lisette

After our stop, we continued climbing, and then descended into Pals Playa, where we enjoyed a beachfront paella lunch and (again, more wine), swam in the sea and *almost* all of decided to take the shuttle back to the hotel rather than brave the ride UP the cliffs again. We checked into La Malcontenta near Palamos, and enjoyed some time by the pool, before being dropped off to enjoy and evening to ourselves in Palamos. 

Dreamy room at LaMalcontenta.
Photo by Lisette

Palamos provided a wonderful sea view sunset and a variety of options for dinner. Our crew separated to do some shopping, but were reunited in search of gelato and ended the night at a local favorite tapas bar, enjoying drinks and sharing stories. 

Sunset in Palamos.
Photo by Lisette

Our last full day of the tour we were suddenly all MUCH more sore and tired than we’d been on previous days. Our guides set us up with a special treat that afternoon of sailing, so we did a short, 13ish mile ride to the harbor, and took off on our boats. Despite fear of bad weather, we had mild winds and pleasant temperatures for our sail (though this didn’t stop me from some mild seasickness). 

From cycling to sailing. Photos by Lisette and friends.

The following day we were shuttled to the picturesque town of Girona – featured in Game of Thrones, where we explored the city and parted ways. This beautiful walled city is almost perfectly preserved, you can explore pristine churches and walk the walls of the city, explore quaint shops along narrow, cobbled streets and indulge in fantastic food. We grabbed a last lunch with some of our biking crew, and I grabbed a train to meet my cousin in Torrelles de Foix before a week of MBA class in Barcelona. 

Fair Girona. Photos by Lisette and Emily

I can’t say enough about how much I enjoyed this trip. Our guides from Duvine were absolutely delightful. They made certain we didn’t have to worry about anything on the trip and were an absolute joy to spend time with. I’ll be saving up immediately for my next cycling vacation!

A few friendly outtakes from the trip.

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