Last summer we went on holiday to Spain on the Costa Brava. We stayed at the Hotel Merce (www.hotel-merce.com) in Pineda de Mar (www.pinedademar.org). We loved this hotel. The food is very good, Spanish cuisine, with breakfast and abundant fruit and vegetables from the garden of the hotel owners. The rooms are good and with a cheap price. What distinguishes this hotel is its family and friendly atmosphere of the owners and staff of the Hotel. You feel in Spain. They gave us great tips to enjoy our holidays.
During the holidays we mixed beach and culture. Pineda de Mar is ideal because you can enjoy the beach and also make excursions to visit the area. With the train you can get pretty good to Barcelona, Girona and the beaches of the Costa Brava. We decided to rent the car for 3 days, but there are many organized tours.
In Pineda de Mar you have to taste the sweet pastry of Can Bosch, opposite the Hotel, take an ice cream or an iced coffee at La Jijonenca or go one day to eat a paella in the hotel restaurant, La Taverna.
DAY 1 – TUESDAY
We arrived early in the morning and as we were tired of the plane we thought to to rest and enjoy the beach of Pineda de Mar, which is a nice long beach with clean and clear water. The Hotel gave us some cards to use a free animation program at the beach: canoes, beach volleyball, tennis rackets and balls for children, day care, bouncy castle, etc. It was not extreme heat and sun was nice.
In the afternoon we went to the pool at the Hotel, which is up on the roof, with beautiful views of the people and the mountain. After dinner we decided to stroll around town. From the hotel you can reach the square Melies, which is the center of town and there is a shopping street that goes straight into the sea in a 5 minutes walk. You can see so many Spanish people walking and not just tourists.
DAY 2 – WEDNESDAY
The second day we decided to go to Barcelona. In one hour you can get to the center by train: Plaça Catalunya. The Hotel gave us good advices and we had a great day. You must be aware of thieves. Although a bit expensive (20 Euros) decided to take the Touristic Barcelona Bus. It is very practical. We visited the Sagrada Familia, Parc Güell and we passed the most important avenues in Barcelona. Paseo de Gracia in the very nice shops and buildings of Gaudi “La Pedrera” and “Casa Batlló”
What I liked was the old quarter, the Barri Gotic area and the Born. Born in the area are Spanish tapas places very good and not too expensive. We also visited the “Xampanyet” to enjoy a glass of wine.
At night we saw the spectacle of Flamenco in the Bar of the Hotel. Very good.
3rd. DAY – THURSDAY
The third day is dedicated to go to Marineland. It is a water park and there are dolphins and parrots show also. It is ideal for children. Buy tickets at the hotel and take a free bus to the train station. When we did arrive from the aquapark, we went to the pool at the Hotel while the sunset. I remember this evening as a wonderful moment. At night we went for dinner at Restaurant La Taverna. We ate an excellent paella.
DAY 5 – FRIDAY
Every Friday morning the market is organized in Pineda de Mar on the waterfront and is very fun. You can see all the locals and tourists walking. There are small shops selling fresh fruit, clothing, souvenirs, etc. After the market went to the beach to swim and relax. We were very lucky with the weather and although it is normal temperature in the Costa Brava was pleasantly warm. At night we took the train to Santa Susanna, which organizes a night market of jewelry and crafts.
DAY 6 – SATURDAY
We decided to take the boat and go to a beach paradise. Called Cala Santa Cristina, is beautiful. Cala in the Catalan language is a rocky beach. It is a long beach surrounded by pine forests. It’s perfect for children as a natural swimming pool is formed. The boat trip is fun and you can see the villages from the sea. The trip is about 40 minutes and costs 20 EUR. At night we enjoyed the show “Los Reyes Paraguayos” in the Merce Hotel. It is a wonderful band. They sing songs like Guantanamera, La Bamba, beautiful. You can watch videos on Youtube of this group. During the last days we rented a car with the company who recommended the hotel. A little Peugeot car cost us 40 euros per day with insurance included. The company did well and they left the car last night. So we did ride to Lloret de Mar. The Hotel Merce recommended us to visit the Bar “Cala Banys,” a dreamy hideaway.
DAY 7 – SUNDAY
The first day we visited the province of Girona. We got up early and we took the highway AP7 to visit the Dali Museum in Figueres. In an hour we were in front of the museum. As we were visiting the museum with children we did makee a quick visit. After an hour at the Museum we drove to Cadaqués. A beautiful town. It looks like a Greek island village. After walking through the village we swam in a small beach. Another wonderful moment of the trip. The water was fresh and full of fish. We ordered a picnic in the hotel and we ate on the beach. Took the car and went to visit the Costa Brava Centre: Calella de Palafrugell, Begur and La Bisbal d’Empordà. Another wonderful visit. At La Bisbal you have to buy authentic Catalan pottery. To finish the trip we swam again in Calella de Palafrugell as it was extremely hot. At night we got tired at the Hotel Merce in Pineda and after dinner we went to relax on the terrace of the room and we drank a bottle of white wine.
DAY 8 – MONDAY
The last day of the car that we did a visit to Montserrat and wine cellars (“Bodegas Bach “). It was an interesting excursion. Montserrat is a magical place. It is a symbol of Catalonia. Religious and patriotic symbol. The surprise begins when you see the mountain from a distance but you get the magic when you enter in the abbey. We ate at a typical Catalan restaurant barbecue meats. Then drive to the wineries and taste several wines. Because you can not take on the plane many kilos we did buy just one bottle of red wine. That night we went to Sant Pol, it was the town fiesta. We found another wonderful surprise. There was a group of “Havaneres” and the people singing full. The town of Sant Pol is very picturesque.
DAY 9 – TUESDAY
The last day that we had the car we decided to visit Tossa de Mar. In the morning we went to the beach “Cala Giverola” also very nice. We did snorkeling and during the afternoon we went for a stroll through the town of Tossa de Mar, also very nice and quaint. Shops are very Mediterranean, but a bit expensive. Apart from the shopping street you should make a tour of the castle and ancient streets.
DAY 10 – WEDNESDAY
In the afternoon we had to take the plane so we did spend the last morning making the last swim in Pineda de Mar beach and buying the last souvenirs for the family. It’s a trip I recommend to everyone, very nice, safe and agreeable people and weather to spend the summer holidays.