Riding through patchwork fields, I passed vineyards and dry stone terraces that carved the mountains into farmable strips, which wind between medieval villages of golden stone. Researching in Catalonia, I began my voyage tracing B&R’s cycle route down from the rolling green of the Garrotxa’s volcanic hills. Catalonia’s lush beauty has many faces, but somehow the sea always seemed out of reach, a blue smudge at best.

Until now.

Our final day’s ride on our Catalonia Biking trip is a favourite for cycle teams and local amateurs, but unlike them we begin atop the pine forest hills, winding down to Tossa del Mar and then climbing onto the roller coaster cornice road. Red rocks, green pines, white houses, and—at last—the blue sea, right there both beside and below us, sparkling to the edge of the world. This route is the essence of the Costa Brava! Once in San Feliu de Guixols, we’ll board our sailboat and cruise to a quiet cove for lunch and a dip in the Mediterranean en route to our hotel.

Red rocks, green pines, white houses, and at last the blue sea… sparkling to the edge of the world.

A 10-minute forest walk from this blue shore, on the edge of a nature reserve, is the hotel La Malcontenta. It is an odd name for such a peaceful, gracious and elegant boutique hotel, but we can thank the “never content” perfectionism of the owner’s mother for the lovely end result. It’s an intimate haven with antique wooden floors and vast windows paired with understated, comfortable modern furnishings.

Hotel La Malcontenta, Catalonia Hotels

Hotel La Malcontenta: an odd name for such a peaceful, graceful place.

When I visited in March, the hotel was still closed for the winter. Officially, at least. A Garmin van, a pro bike stand and some rather muscled quads gave away that the pro Garmin team had taken over La Malcontenta for their Catalan training. I’d seen a familiar jersey moving fast down the Àngels climb, but it was thrilling to know they were there in force, preparing for their season just as I was preparing for B&R’s.

Like me, the pros were seeking out the perfect winding routes, the quietest roads and the most interesting detours. But unlike them, we’ll probably indulge in cava and other Catalan wines, wander through a few cobbled streets and soak the most out of our kilometres with some well-deserved vacation hedonism!




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