After a glorious visit to Barcelona in 2015 it was obvious the Catalonia region of Spain has a lot to offer with unique cuisine, bundles of history and fantastic coastlines. And with Girona’s historic charm showcased in Game of Thrones, plus its proximity to the coastal haven of Palafrugell, we were sold on a two stop summer break.
GIRONA WHISTLE STOP
Airbnb deliver some truly unique stays around the globe and did not disappoint in Girona with rooms available in the famous Casa del Oñar in the heart of the Old Town. At circa £80 a night this mid range stay proved a perfect central location to explore the city’s top attractions and follow the steps of some of our favourite GOT scenes; reinacting Aria Starks faceless training in Bravos and Jamie Lannisters bold, horseback cathedral stair gallop to contest Margaery Tyrell’s walk of atonement. A two night stay in Girona provided the ideal amount of time to see the sights and is well worth visiting if you find yourself in neighbouring Barcelona.
La Fabrica – a great brunch spot sporting classic dishes with a twist using local ingredients. Opt for the Goats Cheese, Pesto and Egg topped Sourdough for a highly instagramable savoury treat.
Zanpanzar – swinging by this well known local spot after exploring Girona’s famous cathedrals was a great idea. Their lunch time pintxos (by the toothpick) buffet will see you amassing enough toothpicks to construct a model Ironborn ship while sinking cervezas like Tyrion on a Friday night.
Koenig – this is a great spot to pitch up and explore an extensive tapas menu while watching people take on the El Cul de la lleona challenge just across the road (legend has it, if you kiss the butt of this Lion statue, you will return to Girona). Stand out dishes include a lightly paprika dusted grilled squid and of course a large bowl of patatas bravas that some argue are the best in town.
With the Mediterranean summer climate in full swing we were relieved to head south to Palagrugell, a coastal municipality about an hour by coach from Girona central. Less than a five minute walk to the sea front, Llafranc’s recently opened Mas Pastora Hotel can’t be beaten for location, sitting in its own secluded area of the town. This quaint adult only hotel is centred around a stunning 18th century country house, a stark contrast to the sixteen modern rooms constructed alongside each other, with views of the salt water pool and lush gardens.
The historic charm of Llafranc is well maintained with not a hint of the chips or curry that plague well known Spanish tourist hotspots. Here the cuisine is traditional and hugely exciting to explore, from homemade paella to Michelin starred tasting menus. If the variety on offer here isn’t enough, a 15 minute walk along the stunningly picturesque Camino de Ronda coastal path will see you into Calella de Palafrugell for more beach, more food and more charm.
WHERE TO EAT
Tony’s Restaurant – Located directly on Calella Palafrugell beach, Tony’s is a local favourite serving up a daily lunch menu and sea views. For around €25 per person Tony’s offers diners a three course lunch including wine, bread and bottled water. Head here for homemade paella’s and seafood grills.
Marmara – A modern, relaxed tapas venue that experiments with local flavours to create innovative dishes that will tickle your taste buds. Stand out dishes include the truffle rigatoni, grilled octopus with mash and tuna tataki. Marmara offers something different from the exceptional traditional plates that dominate menus in Llafranc.
Restaurant Tragamar – A beach front hotspot serving up high quality, heavy hitting dishes. Opt for the lobster rice casserole, sparkling local white wine and watch the sunset beach side. Pricing is at the higher end, but given the location and plate execution it remains good value.
Can Leon – Hands down our favourite spot in Llafranc was Can Leon, a family run restaurant serving fresh catch seafood and incredible local wines at a very reasonable prices. Set just a road from the seafront, Leon is a local favourite that see’s diners returning again and again. The starter portions of scallops, mussels and razor clams blew us away, so much so that we visited Leon twice during our stay. Their main courses of mixed paella and seafood casserole also took us by surprise delivering savoury seafood perfection.
La Blava – Set in a historic fishermans house on the coast of Calella Palafrugell lies La Blava, a beautiful restaurant with cosy interior and stunning beach views. Opt for the super fresh steamed mussels followed by the black squid ink paella for flavours that keep this place busy through lunch and dinner services.
GOLF IN CATALUNYA
Holiday golfing is a great way to take a break from the pool while keeping on top of your tan and experiencing the outdoors. And with some of Europe’s best golf courses located in Catalonia, it’s well worth stocking up the cart with enough booze and snacks to fuel you through 18 exhilarating holes.
20 minutes by taxi from Llafranc, Emporda Golf offers fantastic on-course panoramic views of the Pyrenees and, with 36 holes on offer across links and forest style courses, Emporda is unrivalled in variety with 6 different course combinations to choose from. We are big fans of Emporda’s challenging par threes and desert style holes that see endless bunkers defend the pin from tee to green and, with Emporda’s as standard Callaway XR rental set, we were well equipped to take on the challenge.
Emporda’s Links and Forest courses’ appearance in Golf World Magazine’s “Top 100 Golf Resorts in Continental Europe” is well deserved and at c.€90 a round per person is good value for what is on offer here.
Many thanks to all our trip partners and hosts including Emporda Golf Club, as always all opinions are our own. For more insights and content follow @anotherdishlondon on Instagram.