April and Matt got married in Begur at the beginning of September, and invited Nicola and I to celebrate with them. Once we’d worked out where Begur was, we booked our flights and started planning a weekend away.
We arrived mid-afternoon in Begur, a small but pretty market town a couple of hours north of Barcelona. The first night of the wedding celebrations was a white-themed party at a picturesque villa in the hills above Playa sa Tuna. There were 180° views of the Mediterranean Sea, cold Estrellas, crisp Spanish wines, a swimming pool and a panoramic roof terrace from which to take it all in. It was stunning.
We spent the next morning wishing we’d had slightly less wine, and walking through the narrow streets of Begur, Nicola having a peep into every shop that sold anything even remotely knitted. We popped in to see some friends who were staying in an Airbnb complete with medieval turret, which we duly climbed, working out how we could move in permanently without the owners noticing.
After getting ready, donning dresses and suits, we headed to the wedding. The ceremony took place under an archway of roses high on a hill in el Jardí de Can Marc, with a backdrop of Begur Castle. The bride was beautiful, the groom was dapper and the setting was idyllic in the late afternoon sun. The reception, wedding banquet and party (…and afterparty) were held in a former convent on the outskirts of the village, luckily now nun-free . The bride and groom made their entrance with a mariachi band in tow, we ate barbecued fish from the coast below and danced until the early hours in the open air. When the party came to an end, we moved into the convent chapel and continued to dance under the watchful eye of the Virgin Mary and a bemused barman who was meant to have finished his shift long before. It was absolutely brilliant.
After a morning by the pool, we left Begur and headed south to Barcelona. We arrived in 32° heat and found our hotel nestled above a bakery. It sounded a good idea when we booked it, but it turned out that bread ovens don’t do much to cool a building down.
We walked down the Passeig de Gràcia, admiring the tiled pavement, and headed towards Plaça de Catalunya. As we neared La Rambla, we steadied ourselves for the promised pickpockets, battening down the hatches on our bags, securing clasps and fastening straps, ready for the inevitable barrage of theft. But, nothing. A chap was sitting on the floor asking for spare change, and there was a woman selling selfie sticks. The only daylight robbery we saw was the Chanel shop where they were asking over 3,000€ for a bag. They’re 5p in Tesco.
We rambled down La Rambla towards the sea. I’ve heard it said that the people of Barcelona didn’t realise they had a beach until 1992; I can see why. Faced with a long walk around the busy marina to reach the sand, and with the sun about to set, we sat on the dock of the bay, watching and chatting merrily with an almighty gull.
That evening, after Nicola had studied every review of the 11,364 restaurants in the Barcelona area, we headed out to a charming little place called ‘Restaurant Gut’. It narrowly avoided being ruled out due to its name, but proved to do an excellent selection of Asian twists on Spanish food. I had some spicy ox and spent a lot of time wandering how it differs from beef. It was delicious either way.
The next day we went on what is already being called the Great Gaudi Walking Tour of Barcelona. Taking in the Casa Batlló, Casa Milà ‘La Pedrera’, Park Güell and the Sagrada Familia, we wandered around most of the city marvelling at the ridiculous designs of Antoni Gaudí’s most famous buildings. They’re wonky, colourful and meandering and I think they’re fantastic. We’ve already started planning our trip to see the Sagrada Familia when it’s finally finished (currently pencilled in for approx. 2028).
Our good friends at ever-trusty Lonely Planet had recommended ‘Tapas 24’ for lunch, so we went down into the basement and took a seat at the bar. The bustling little place was decked out with strings of garlic and tomatoes, and bottles of wine and vinegar lined the walls. We ordered a few plates of food and some sangria and spent most of lunchtime wolfing down chorizo while watching the busy bar. It was great.
The afternoon was getting hotter, so we entered the Barrio Gótico, the oldest part of the city. Medieval passageways filled with art galleries and wine bars wind around churches and a cathedral. The streets were shady in the September sun, and the temperature remained cool. We emerged into Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria, a colourful covered market selling anything and everything Spanish. Huge legs of ham swing alongside strings of fruit and vegetables, and the oddly-satisfying combined smell of fish and cheese wafts through the alleys between stalls.
As we travelled back to the airport we realised we had been in Barcelona for barely 24 hours, and in Begur for just a day and a half. In that time, we had partied for hours, slept very little, walked for miles and eaten our bodyweight in tapas. By the time the wheels skidded onto the runway at Heathrow, we were exhausted.