Archive for the ‘Spain’ Category

Rafting and Rooms at L’Alcova, Spain

Friday, June 11th, 2010

Rafting in Sort, Spain

I am from Oregon, in the United States originally, but have lived in Spain for about 4.5 years. Oregon’s wild rivers are known for being some of the best around when it comes to white water rafting. Spain is much drier than my native State, and the rivers here are not quite as wet and wild as those back home. Still, there is rafting to be had if one is so inclined. A while back a group of us went rafting out of Sort, a village tucked in the mountains of Catalonia.

If you sign up for a trip with Rubber River Rafting, then consider staying the night just down the road at L’Alcova: Petit Hotel De Muntanya. After a day of rafting and sunshine, it may be better to stay in a hotel and relax instead of trying to drive back to a major city. This area of Catalonia is also really gorgeous, so a night near Sort is a treat.

Rafting in Spain

Rafting in Spain

L’Alcova: Petit Hotel De Muntanya is set in a stone house from the XIX century. It has 8 rooms, singles, doubles and quadruples, ranging from 45 to 90 Euros a night, which is a fair price. It is about 2 kilometers from rafting in Sort, and 20 kilometers from the National Park of the Alto Pirineo. Basically, there is a lot to do if you are into nature and outdoor sports close by L’Alcova.


L’Alcova: Petit Hotel De Muntanya  web:

Tel. 00 34 973 621 127 ·

Photo Credit: The Spain Scoop

Budget Hostel: Albergue O Abrigadoiro, Spain

Thursday, June 10th, 2010

Some of the cheapest accommodations in Spain are found along the Camino de Santiago. If you are hiking the Camino from France to Santiago, then you will want to register with the Pilgrimage office so that you can take advantage of deep discounts at hostels on the trail. When I say deep, I mean around 5 to 10 Euros a night for a bed. Sure it is in a shared, and sometimes flea-bitten dorm room, but 5 Euros is very inexpensive.

El Camino de Santiago - Pilgrim

Some hostels on the trail are run by the Spanish government, these are many times the least expensive. Others are run by private parties and are more Euros but many times nicer. Albergue O Abrigadoiro is one such privately owned hostel, offering just 12 beds at 10 Euros a pop. The hostel also has laundry facilities so that you can wash the dirt off your two changes of clothes. Other perks include hot showers and a coffee machine on-site.

Typical Albergue on El Camino de Santiago - Hostels

I should say that I did not stay in Albergue O Abrigadoiro, but I did have breakfast there one morning on the trail. Next to the stone house that holds the hostel, is a charming stone cafe, with pictures of ‘pilgrims’ on the walls and some of the best breakfast on the trail. Great coffee, opera playing in the background and toast with homemade bread. Excellent.


No website for this one, but make a reservation via email in high-season –

Address: San Xiao do

Phone: +34-982374117/676596975

Photo Credit: The Spain Scoop

Foxy Boxy? Aire de Bardenas Design Hotel, Spain

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010
Aire de Bardenas - Rooms with views of Navarra

Aire de Bardenas - Rooms with views of Navarra

‘Are we lost?’ I asked my mom as we drove through the countryside outside of Tudela, Navarra. ‘The map says it’s this way…’ she said, and just as she did the sign appeared, nailed to a pile of stacked wooden vegetable crates: Hotel Aire de Bardenas. It was a small sign, and it could have been easily missed.

Crates surrounded the entire hotel, and made a fence behind which we parked the rental car. The crates were creative and recycled, which I liked, though I wasn’t sure if I aesthetically liked them. The walk up to the entrance of Aire de Bardenas was lined with fruit trees, where ripe cherries hung from thin limbs. I tried one, and it was delicious.

Bath for the large Bardenas suite

Bath for the large Bardenas suite

Aire de Bardenas is a hotel, but I am listing it here under Lodging, because it is like no hotel I have ever seen before. The rooms are not rooms, but large shipping crates (new), with large windows that look out onto the barren, yet beautiful, landscape of southern Navarra. Everything in Aire de Bardenas is white, or light-wood, or soft green, or light gray. The color scheme is very tranquil, and lends itself well to the red dessert land around the hotel.

In 2009, Aire de Bardenas won the award for Best Small Hotel, according to Travel and Leisure Miami. I think this is a stretch. I would give Aire de Bardenas the Most Creative Small Hotel Award, because it is nothing if not original. Best however, is a bit much. Maybe this is because I am all about comfort. Hotels, like high-heels, should be both stylish and comfortable, and Aire de Bardenas lacks something when it comes to cozy. In the garden areas, rocks are spread about instead of grass, and lawn chairs are made of metal and not conducive to long periods of reading.

Creative Crates

Creative Crates

I guess if guests want to read a book at Aire de Bardenas, then they can go inside and sit in the lobby, which is quite pleasant. As you can see, I am on the fence about Aire de Bardenas. I DO recommend it. I think it is the best place to stay in Tudela, and I love the countryside around Aire de Bardenas. If you are interested in design or architecture, spend the 165 to 300 Euros to stay in one of Aire de Bardenas 22 cubes. I can guarantee it will be an overnight experience like none other.

More on Aire de Bardenas:

Photo Credit: The Spain Scoop

Wine Country Bed and Breakfast: Mas Ardevol

Sunday, June 6th, 2010
Visit Mas Ardevol and the Pirorat Wine Country

Visit Mas Ardevol and the Pirorat Wine Country

I’ve yet to do this, though I mean to, especially since I live so close to the Priorat wine region in southern Catalonia, Spain. The idea is to take a week, or at least a weekend, and go wine tasting at the vineyards in Penedes and Priorat. Some cellars are open to the public and others are small family -run operations where one has to simply knock on the door and ask for a taste.

Priorat Wine

Priorat Wine

Wine tasting can be exhausting, which is why I would book a few nights at  Mas Ardevol, a regional B&B. Run by Gemma and Germinal, this gorgeous B&B is set on a hill with nothing but trees and mountains to look out at in the distance. Mas Ardevol is a small place with just three rooms, and a maximum occupancy of 8 guests at a time. Rooms and breakfast go for about 85 Euros per night and dinner is an extra 21 Euros.

The B&B is set in a 19th century home, and has unique touches throughout , such as stone walls, private patios, and ceramic wine jugs placed just so. Maybe this September when the wine harvest begins I will finally make my dream come true and visit Pirorat for wine tasting. When I do, I will definitely be booking at Mas Ardevol, where the grime and bustle of Barcelona will fade away between glasses of red wine and the sound of silence. I can’t wait.



Ctra de Falset a Porrea, 43730, Catalonia, Spain


Photo Credit: The Spain Scoop and SMercury98

Bungalows on the Ocean: Basque Country

Saturday, June 5th, 2010
San Sebastian, Spain

San Sebastian, Spain

If I was to give Camping Portuondo a rating from 1 to 10; 1 being a patch of brown grass and motor-homes and 10 being camping paradise, I would give a 9. Yes, it is just that nice. Campings can be hit and miss in Spain, but if you find a good one, it is worth it to book a bungalow or pitch a tent for a few nights and enjoy.

What I really dig about Camping Portuondo are the views. The camp is located in a Natural Reserve and looks out over the Mundaka Estuary. In a word: spectacular. Staying at Campings Portuondo guests are near the Basque Country’s many beaches, plus the Guggenheim Museum and terrific tapas in San Sebastian (do not miss eating tapas in San Sebastian – they could very well be the best in Spain).

Basque Tapas in San Sebastian

Basque Tapas in San Sebastian

Camping Portuondo rents tent sites for 4 people for about 20 Euros, and 2-room bungalows for 100 Euros in the summer. Off-season, rates are lower. They also have 3-bedroom bungalows for a bit more. Did I mention the pool? Campings Portuondo has a pool, a restaurant, barbecue pits, and some outdoor sport facilities like ping-pong tables. All the bungalows come with linens, full kitchens, full bathrooms, hot water, televisions (seems wrong in a place like this but…) and mini-terraces with tables for having your morning coffee with a view of the Estuary.

Basque Beaches in the Summer

Basque Beaches in the Summer

More :

To book and read more on Campings Portuondo, check them out online:

Playa de Mendexa

Basque Country


Photo Credit: The Spain Scoop

Ride the Waves: Camping Sopelana in the Basque Country

Friday, June 4th, 2010

Basque Country Surf

It could be argued that the Basque Country has some of the nicest beaches in Spain. Certainly they are popular with surfers, who find waves along the Peninsula’s northern coastline. Due to the fact that the Basque Country gets a lot of rain, a beach holiday can be ruined if a storm rolls into this area (which they often do). When the skies are clear, the Basque beaches are ample, gorgeous and shadowed by green hillsides.

Even if it is raining while you are visiting the Basque Country, there is so much to do in this region that it matters little what the weather does. At Sopelana, campers are just 20 minutes from Bilbao where the Guggenheim is located. Come in August, and visit San Sebastian for its week-long city festival (concerts, food, and all-night parties). In the summer, make sure to book ahead at Sopelana, as everyone goes on vacation in August in Spain (and in many other parts of Europe).

Sopelana is a simple campground offering bungalows, tent sites, a couple pools, a store, and nearby beach access. Families will like Sopelana, because there is lots for the kids and bungalows can easily accommodate a family of four. Bungalows at Sopelana are of the ‘4-star’ variety and have kitchens, running water, and showers. In high season, a bungalow sleeping four goes for 100 Euros and a tent site for about 24 Euros.

Basque Sunbathers


For prices, location information and booking see Sopelana here:

Playa Atxabiribil, 30

Basque Country


Photo Credit : The Spain Scoop

Summer Camping On Spanish Shores

Thursday, June 3rd, 2010

Camping In Spain

Spain is famous for its miles and miles of beaches. Come summer, many Europeans from the south come to Spanish shores, set up camp (literally) and stay a month or two. You must be thinking, as I was when I heard about this custom, that this could get spendy. After all, a 2-month vacation is Spain is not cheap!

Beaches of Tarragona, Spain

Beaches of Tarragona, Spain

The secret is Campings. Most northerners who come to Spain for long periods of time int he summer are not staying in ritzy hotels in Madrid, or stylish design flats in Barcelona, but in campgrounds. But wait! Before you click away thinking that camping is not for you, let me tell you that camping in Spain is not camping at all.

The forested areas with squirrels, bonfires, marshmallows and outhouses that I knew to be campgrounds as a kid do not exist here. Instead, this is a luxury affair, where a Camping can have several pools, beachfront property, cafes, stores and many bungalows to house the family. A child’s paradise, gone are the days of climbing trees and catching frogs down in the stream. In Spanish Campings kids frolic in pools with waterworks areas and slides, or in the Disneyland-like playground, while parents sip cool drinks under sun-umbrellas.

Camping Tamarit is prime example of how fabulously luxurious camping can be on the Iberian Peninsula. Offering many bungalows, a standard Junior bungalow goes for 60 Euros in low season and 150 Euros in high season. Pitching a tent in one of their standard areas can run you anywhere between 12 Euros and 45 Euros depending on the season. Still, families can save at Campings like Tamarit. Of course, one needs a car to get to Tarragona, where Tamarit is located. However, for the right person this luxury camping could be ideal way to save on a fine beach holiday.


Reservations online:

tel: 34-977-650-451

Photo Credit: The Spain Scoop

Mountain Bed and Breakfast Cal Rei

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

Cerdanya Region of Catalonia

‘Are you a beach or a mountain person,’ I was asked the other day. ‘Beach,’ I answered, without stopping to think about it. I could live on dry, flat land, as long as there was ocean or sea nearby. I need to be close to water. Still, places like Spain’s Cerdanya region and B&B’s like Cal Rei make beach people like me think twice.

Pop over to France

Located near the Pyrenees, Cerdanya is a part of Catalonia that hugs the border with France. Many families from Barcelona have second residences in and around Cerdanya, as it makes for a nice place to escape to in the winter for skiing and in the summer for getting out of the city’s humidity and breathing some fresh mountain air.

The next best thing to a summer holiday home in Cerdanya is staying at Cal Rei, which feels like home. Here, double rooms go for 60-80 Euros a night and triples go for 75-85. Breakfast is included and lunch and dinner are offered at an extra cost. The large home is run by the Selles Gasch family and sleeps up to 21 people. This beautiful property is surrounded by gardens and mountain views, with hiking trails nearby. The B&B is close to France, and popping over the border for a day-trip to the thermal springs in Llo is very recommendable.


Carrer Cadi, 25726

Lles de Cerdanya

34-659-063-915 for reservations

Photo Credit: The Spain Scoop

Bed and Breakfast in a Former Schoolhouse

Sunday, May 30th, 2010

Can Felicia takes its name from Father Felicia, who built the now B&B as a schoolhouse for the children of the Beuda region. The building dates back to the 19th century, and now houses couples and friends looking for a getaway instead of rowdy school kids.

Visit the beach while staying at Can Felicia

Located in Girona, 133 kms from Barcelona, a stay at Can Felicia is very recommendable for a weekend away. A small B&B, the old school sleeps up to 12 and has 6 bedrooms. It is run by Victor and Marta, who offer sweet rooms plus breakfast, lunch and dinner for about 50 Euros per person. Not a bad deal.

Girona is one of the prettiest areas of Catalonia, Spain

Girona is one of the prettiest areas of Catalonia, Spain

There is also a pool on-site, a large garden and lawn area providing abundant green, a lounge and reading room, and of course the dining room where meals are served communally. Rooms are decorated in white, cream, and light woods, and are bright and cheery.

Nearby, guests to Can Felicia will want to visit the Dali Museum in Figueres, walk the streets of Girona’s Jewish Quarter and pop over to Begur for time on the beaches of the Costa Brava and fantastic seafood. You will need a car to get to these places, and to Can Felicia.

Girona, Spain


Can Felicià
Veinat de Segueró
17850 Beuda, Girona
Tel. y Fax 0034 – 972590523

See Rates online here:

Photo Credit: Kirsten Carpentier and The Spain Scoop

Attention Bird Watchers! Country House Stays on the Ebro Delta

Saturday, May 29th, 2010

Try to spot a Flamingo on the Delta de Ebro

About an hour south of Barcelona, Mas de Bernis is located in an area that happens to have some of the best bird watching in Spain. The Ebro Delta is famous for its many bird varieties, including flamboyant pink flamingos. If birds are not your thing, there are also plenty of beaches in this area that will keep sunbathers happy from May to October and tranquil swimming in the Bay.

Mas de Bernis was built in 1888 as a farm and country house for one of the more well-off families of the area. Agriculture was important in the Delta zone, and still is; rice is grown along the Ebro Delta. In 2000 Albert Hernandez bought the old farm and turned it into a Casa Rural house, which is much like a B&B, but without the breakfast in this case.

Day-trips on the Ebro River

At Mas de Bernis there are 6 small cottages for rent by the weekend or by the week. Each house sleeps between 2 and 4 people, making them just right for families and small groups of friends. Depending on the season and the house, rates are between 194 and 220 Euros for a weekend.

Visit the Castle of Miravet

I mentioned bird watching, but there is a lot more to sample in this area. Tortosa is a charming city nearby with a Gothic Cathedral, and the Castle of Miravet is not too far away either, up the Ebro River. This is a beautiful part of Catalonia that is definitely off the tourist track.

Mas de Bernis

Mas de Bernis


Booking online at:

Mas de Bernis, 43896, L’Aldea, Tarragona, Catalonia, Spain

Tel: 34-646-602-097

Photo Credit: The Spain Scoop and Mas de Bernis