Thursday Check in at your chosen airport for the flight to Barcelona, where on arrival we will transfer you to the 4 star Aquahotel Promenade, Pineda de Mar for check in and free time before dinner and the first of seven nights' stay (note that dinner may be a cold platter for late arrivals).
Friday Today after breakfast we embark on the first of our included excursions. We travel to Barcelona for a panoramic coach tour, and an afternoon walking tour of the old town. Architecturally this city is all over the place, with styles ranging from Gothic through Venetian to the frankly bizarre. Some of this is due to Antonio Gaudí, a genius of such eccentricity that you have to admire the adventurous Catalans for letting him loose in their city. A visit to the Park Güell is a Gaudí highlight, and we'll also have a brief stop at his masterpiece the Sagrada Familia. The coach will then take us up the mountain of Montjuïc, where there are great views of the city and its harbour. After some free time for lunch in the city centre, we reconvene for a walk in the old town. We will take a stroll along Las Ramblas and then the tour will then take us through the Gothic quarter, while our guide points out the main points of interest. In the late afternoon we will return to the hotel in good time for dinner.
Saturday After breakfast we set out on our full–day excursion to Figueres and Besalú. Even if surrealist art isn't particularly your thing, the Dalí Theatre–Museum at Figueres is so weird you won't want to miss it. Built on the ruins of the old theatre where local boy Salvador Dalí had his first exhibition, this installation is reckoned to be the largest surrealist object in the world. Full of artful illusion, visual trickery and trompes l'oeil, both inside and out, the museum contains around 4,000 pieces, not only by Dalí but by some of his own favourite artists, including El Greco, Marià Fortuny, Ernest Meissonier and Marcel Duchamp. Oh and there's a room disguised as Mae West, of course.
From Figueres we will travel through the region known as La Garrotxa, featuring a formerly–volcanic landscape regarded as some of most beautiful in Catalonia. We will visit the well–preserved medieval town of Besalú, birthplace of troubadours and once ruled by a feudal Catalan lord by the name of Wilfred the Hairy (Guifré el Pilós).
Sunday Breakfast, and then the day is free to explore the area until it's time for dinner.
Monday Overlooking Barcelona, and today's excursion destination, is one of the strangest rock formations you'll ever see. Montserrat ('saw–tooth mountain') is a popular Catalan girl's name which honours this imposing and somehow unsettling natural formation. Its vertical stratification and bulbous pink and yellow towers of rock give it an almost animalistic power, like some multi–headed monster thrusting up from the earth. In the heights of Montserrat is the Benedictine abbey of Santa Maria, where we'll see 'La Moreneta' (The Black Madonna), learn about the famous choir – 'L'Escolania – attached to its school, and absorb the tranquil and spiritual atmosphere.
In the afternoon, we will drive down to the Penedès region, Catalonia's most famous wine area. A visit to a cava or wine bodega is included and, of course, there will be an opportunity to taste the local produce.
Tuesday Breakfast and then the day is at leisure to relax by the pool, or ask the tour manager about local excursions. If you're feeling adventurous, you could go to Girona, a lovely city with a genuine Eiffel bridge, and largely overlooked by the crowds. It involves a change of trains but your tour manager or the hotel might be able to assist you.
Wednesday Another free day to relax or do some souvenir hunting before dinner.
Thursday Breakfast and then transfer to the airport for your flight home
Please note that some excursions involve some walking and may not be suitable for people with limited mobility.
About Pineda De Mar
Pineda de Mar is a small town on the Barcelona coastline, located between Santa Susanna and Calella. It has a beautifully long, wide and sandy beach which has been earned Blue Flag status in recognition of its high quality. Pineda de Mar has very good sailing and other water sports facilities, and around the beach you can find a wide range of shops and green woodland spaces.