Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Drinking in Calella de la Costa, Part 1

There really are too many bars in Calella to talk about each one, so here are just a few.

There are bars dotted all around Calella and its close neighbour Pineda de Mar, they are owned and run by various nationalities so you will always find one to suit.

Bar Centric

I have already mentioned Bar Centric in a previous post, it is mostly visited for its Strawberry Cakes and Sangria, but as the name suggests it is a bar.  It is presided over by a tiny grey haired Spanish grandmother who takes no messing from the two hulking male servers, the way they look at the floor and shuffle their feet when she is talking to them makes me think she may be THEIR grandmother.


Bar Centric Calella

Don't be put off by the bin outside, there are bins everywhere, and unlike in the UK they are emptied regularly and do not smell.  However they are metal and can hurt if you walk into them!

Papa's Bar

The meet and greet held by a particular coach company always used to be held here when I travelled with them.  Easily accessible and located right in the middle of a lot of the hotels favoured by the Brits, it is clean and well kept, the staff are friendly and the food is really good.  Quite dark inside, but that is simply down to all the dark wood.


Papa's Bar Calella


Beach Boy's Bar (The BBC)

Probably one of the best known bars in Calella, and probably one of the larger.  It is on two floors of a building towards the southern end of the town.  There are plenty of seats, outside too.  Again friendly staff and usually a football game or two being shown on the various televisions around the building.


Beach Boy's Bar Calella


Sunday, 27 April 2014

Now that's an Ice Cream

I'm not a big fan of ice cream, probably because we don't really have the weather for it in the UK, it seems a bit ridiculous to be eating a cornet whilst sitting in front of the fire, but for these I made an exception.


Amorino Ice Cream Barcelona


These were from Amorino in Barcelona at the top of Las Ramblas (opposite end to the marina).  It seemed a shame to eat it, but eat it we did and it tasted fantastic.



In Calella, there are frozen yogurt shops springing up, they offer a wide range of toppings and flavours, but they do just not compare to the ice creams.



What does compare in Calella de la Costa is Bar Centric, if you like strawberries, this is the place for you.


Bar Centric Calella




The Sangria needs a special mention too, the fresh fruit is soaked in red wine at the start of the day and then topped up with either more wine or cava when you order, you are given a fork with each glass to eat all the fruit with.

Bar Centric also does other food too, but nothing nearly as exciting!

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Hotel Amaika, Calella de la Costa

I have to start this post by saying that I have not stayed in this hotel for a couple of years, but I am assuming it has not changed too much, if it has please let me know and I will update.  I was making an attempt to stay in every hotel in Malgrat de Mar and Calella de la Costa but then I found my favourite hotel and have stayed nowhere else since!


It is classed as a 4 star and on the whole I would agree - the decor is different, more of that later, the hotel is clean, the food plentiful and the staff friendly.  However, and there is generally a 'however' wherever you go, is that in more recent years, they have opened their doors to the budget tourist, and I can't blame them, an occupied room is more profitable than an empty room, regardless of the price you received for it.

And that is what has steered me away from staying here again.

The interior decor is based on the Titanic, I have no idea why, and it does look good.



The rooms are bright and airy, they do have fridges installed, but these are locked and the key needs to be rented from Reception.


There is a gym and you are also very close to the sea front and the running/cycling track.  If your room is on the left side of the hotel, you overlook the new main street/meeting area.

Friday, 25 April 2014

Calella de la Costa, Pt 1

Calella de la Costa is about 45 minutes away from Barcelona by road, and about an hour by train.  A train from the airport will add another 30 minutes, give or take.

Travelling by Train from Barcelona El Prat airport, this will be your first view of the town, albeit from a slightly lower perspective.


It really is a lovely beach at Calella, and unlike its better known neighbour, Lloret de Mar a few miles up the coast, it never gets over filled, even in the height of summer.  It is raked everyday, there are recycling bins at regular intervals and these are actually emptied!

There are several entrances on to the beach, which for the most part, is reached by subways passing under the railway track.  There are a few wooden walkways out onto the sand for easier pushchair and wheelchair pushing.  There are also plenty of showers available if you want to wash up before getting dressed and leaving the beach.  Unusually for Europe, there are free to use public toilets located by the subways.

Hotels. hostels and chalets.

There is accommodation to suit all budgets in Calella, from hostels costing £10 per person per night, up to hotels costing £150 per person per night.

The cheaper hotels are fine, the decor may be a bit outdated and in need of some updating, but all of the hotels I have stayed in have been spotless and the staff fantastic, the only issue I have with them being the German teenagers.

There are several companies in Germany who's sole purpose is to bring teenagers over to the Costa Brava and to all intents and purposes, abandon them to their own devices, apart from the occasional pub crawl.  There has been occasions when I have seen people, of all nationalities, lined up along hotel balconies cheering and applauding as the coaches are loading up to return to Germany  I remember a few years ago, a British company tried to do the same and were barred from the town.

I tend to pay a little bit more for my hotel as I know it will be teenager free, the hotel I favour is generally chosen by older couples, of all nationalities it has to be said, and I have never had a bad stay.

The view from the roof top sun terrace at my favourite hotel.

The Town

There has been a lot of work carried out in Calella, and the Costa Brava generally, in recent years and you can see the difference.

There is a running track along the beach (not that I have been guilty of using it) with stretching posts, pull up bars and other wierd and wonderful things along the way.  The turn at the end of the beach can be seen below, run any further than this towards St Pol de Mar, and you will be running through cliff!

Photo courtesy of CostaBravaTourism.net

The track is also suitable for bike riding, and bikes can be hired at various places along the beach.

A few years ago, the main street down to the beach was two lanes separated by a storm drain.  The storm drain has been covered over now and the space is huge.  It is used for parades and parties and is surrounded by bars and restaurants, it is a great use of space.



Be warned, when it rains in Calella, it really does rain!

video

The tinny noise you can hear is the rain hitting the balcony.

video

This is the main car access point to the beach car park, it is also the run off from the covered storm drain

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Barcelona, part 1

Barcelona is very much a city of two parts - the Modern and the Gothic.

Probably the best known area is Las Ramblas, and this is probably the first view of Barcelona that many tourists will have; the Placa de Catalunya at the top of Las Ramblas is where visitors will change buses on the way from the airport, many tour buses also stop here.  The train station underneath the Placa is probably the best station for a general sightseeing day.



There are lots of places to eat on Las Ramblas, but if you go a bit further off the beaten track, you will find cheaper, and generally more authentic, food and drink, there are deals to be had on Las Ramblas, but they are always based on two eating, not much good if you are by yourself.

For the less adventurous, you can also find McDonalds, Burger King and Subway along here.

Partway down the road, on the right, you will find the market, La Boqueria, a fantastic place for fresh and homemade produce, unfortunately it has become more touristy in recent years.



You can also find a Wax Museum, a Museum of Erotica, an 'adult' shop and the military police station as you walk along.

At the far end of Las Ramblas, you will find the marina and the Mare Magnum.  This is a shopping centre with mostly boutique shops and eating places.


Photo courtesy of Maremagnum.es

From Las Ramblas, Mare Magnum is reached by a wooden bridge, known as La Ramba del Mar which can be opened to let the tall ships which moor in the marina out into the open sea.



Passing through the shopping centre, you will find the IMAX Port Vell cinema and the aquarium.

If you continue this way, you will come back to the main Passeig de Colom.  Left will take you back towards Las Ramblas, and right will take you past the Estacio de Franca train station and on to the city park and the zoo.

A general tip when in Barcelona, keep an eye on your bags and purses, personally I have never had a problem with pickpockets, but I know others have.