Robbin McKinney, founder/owner of Great Explorations is an avid tennis player and thought it would be fun to combine a cycling trip in an exotic locale with the opportunity to play tennis along the way. In 2024, the location will be Catalonia, Spain! This is a ‘by invitation’ departure; if you feel you should be invited, tell us in as few words as possible what a fun, easy-going and bon-vivant you are (and what level of tennis – 3.5; 4.0; 4.5 for the tournament draw)?

This special departure will take place from May 3-9 with a pre-trip Extension May 1+2 in Barcelona, staying at the exquisite Seventy Barcelona. There will be an optional tennis opportunity to play at the exclusive Reial Club de Tennis in Barcelona where Van Lawn members have reciprocal privileges.

The cycling trip will be the same amazing trip that we run for cyclists, avid and moderate level welcome. On two days of the trip, we will include mini-tournaments, in Llafranc on Day 4 at the Club Tennis Llafranc and in Girona on Day 6 at either the GEIEG Sports Facility with 16 courts or the Club Tennis Girona, a private club. On the days with tennis, there will be morning rides and tennis in the afternoon. If you choose to take time off the bike, that is ok. Details and precise itinerary may be altered given the group’s desires.

Need inspiration (for the cycling)? Here is a short video of riding there in October, 2023.

There will be a limited number of spaces for this trip so please register early if keen. P.S. want another trip to do back to back? Croatia Yacht & Bike from May 12-19 (Dubrovnik Extension May 10+11 with tennis option).

Itinerary Description

The pine-scented coastal region of Catalonia has long attracted artists (Salvador Dali, among others), writers, and those in search of beauty, tranquility, and inspiration. With its multitude of villages, sunny weather, seaside splendor, art, culture, and gastronomy & wine, this corner of Spain offers everything we look for when traveling. Did we mention the cycling is superb? In fact, many pro teams live and train here when not competing. While most of our routes are more moderate in length and difficulty, avid cyclists will have lots of options should they choose. From Figueres, to Calella de Palafrugell to Girona, we have created an itinerary that shows you the very best of this region.

Only Great Explorations:

  • Small groups, extraordinary guides and authentic experiences
  • Order off the menu at restaurants you won’t find in guidebooks including the Roca brothers ‘Normal’ in Girona
  • Guided visit of the Dali Museum in Figueres
  • A ride you won’t forget- from Calella de Palafrugell along the coast
  • On this trip, tennis in Barcelona, Llafranc and Girona
  • We design and operate our own trips so there are only good surprises

Location

Figueres

Figueres, Spain

Day 1+2

Calella de Palafrugell

Calella de Palafrugell

Day 3+4

Girona

Girona, Spain

Day 5-7

What’s Included in the Cost of Your Trip?

INCLUDED IN REGULAR TRIP

Services of one or more experienced Great Explorations guides
Support vehicle
6 nights lodging
All breakfasts, 2 lunches, and all dinners but 1
Entrance fees for selected tastings, historical sites and museums
Fees to play tennis at clubs in Llafranc and Girona
Wine reception on first and final nights
Detailed map and route instructions
All baggage transportation

Particulars

EVENT DATES

2024

May 3-9
(with Pre-trip extension in Barcelona on May 1 & 2)

There will be a limited number of spaces for this trip. Call or email for details.

TRIP SIZE

4-16 participants

TOTAL DAYS

7 days/ 6 nights

ARRIVE / DEPART

Figueres/Girona

ACTIVITY LEVEL

Moderate with challenging options
40-70+ km daily
Van supported

TERRAIN

Varied - expect some hills, worth the effort to climb

COST

Land Cost:
US $3,450
Includes 6B/2L/5D

Single Supplement:
US $850

Bike Rental:
US $280

E-Bike Rental:
US $480

*E-bikes are generally available but are on an ‘on request basis ‘ and will be confirmed on receipt of your booking registration. E-bikes provided are the best rentals available in the region. Our regular fleet of hybrid and race bikes are fun to ride and light and fast, but if having an e-bike will make your trip, we’ll do our best to provide. E-bike rentals are non-refundable.

Pre-trip extension – Barcelona:
Barcelona May 1 & 2, 2024
2D/2N
Include a half-day walking tour on the morning of May 2. Fees for tennis will be paid at the club.
USD $ 495pp
Single Supplement: USD $250

Staying at the exquisite Seventy Barcelona, optional tennis opportunity to play at the exclusive Reial Club de Tennis in Barcelona where Van Lawn members have reciprocal privileges.

Please note: Final itinerary is subject to revision; any changes made are done so in an attempt to provide the best possible trip given route conditions and available services. Due to the nature of our business and exchange rates, prices are subject to change. All prices quoted are U.S. dollars but we gladly accept payment in Canadian dollars also. Due to cancellations and waiting lists, trip availability fluctuates daily. If you have any questions or would like to confirm space on this trip before making your reservation, please contact us at info@great-explorations.com or by telephone at 604.730.1247.

FAQ for this trip departure:
I am a keen tennis player but my partner isn't but she (or he) likes to ride. Will she feel left out or have something to do instead of the tennis?
The tennis component is optional and there will be non-tennis activities offered or they can come and watch the tennis or swim at the pool in Llafranc.

As a tennis player, what do I need to bring?
Tennis balls will be provided. Just bring your racket (rentals avail if needed) and tennis wear.

I am nervous about the cycling distances and hills. Advice?
Catalonia is moderately hilly and the distances we ride are typically 40-60km, with longer options for those that wish. E-bikes are available if desired which makes the riding obviously much easier. Those who ride road bikes and have some experience will enjoy the longer rides which have more climbing.

Who is guiding the trip and what support is provided?
Robbin McKinney, founder/owner of Great Explorations will be one of the guides. Our lead guide for this trip is from Barcelona and has guided this trip often for us. The support van is never far away on our trips so if a lift is needed, it's there.

What else is unique about this departure?
There will be other events that make this departure unique and special including an exclusive wine tasting at Celler Peralada and dinner in Girona at the Roca brothers latest restaurant 'Normal'.

Is this departure restricted to Vancouver players or certain clubs?
No, folks are being invited who are likely to add personality to the trip and although many will be from Vancouver, there will be others from elsewhere.

Is there any merch?
Everyone on this departure will receive a custom Great Explorations cycling jersey and a commemorative T-shirt.

Is there a charity component to the trip?
Each participant can 'nominate' a charity to support. The winners of the singles and doubles tournaments can choose from the charities put forth and $500 will be donated to each of two.

Is this an annual event?
Likely, Mallorca in 2025.

Getting there :

Figueres. Most people will want to stay in Barcelona the night before the trip begins (see Extension); you will need to take the 8:20 train arriving into Figueres at 10:12 so we can enjoy a full day of riding.


1

Day 1

Bienvenido to Figueres, birthplace of Salvador Dali, and gateway to the beautiful Alt Emporda with traffic-free, smooth paved roads with stunning scenery, quaint villages and beautiful beaches. On our first day of riding, we will ride towards Pont de Molins and past the Castell de les Escaules en-route to a sanctuary near Terrades. An add-on loop visits Darnius and the Panta de Boadella reservoir. Back in Figueres, we will have a welcome reception and enjoy dinner at a popular local restaurant steps from our hotel. Distance D1:  48km, elevation gain 590m or 60 km, gain 750m.*

2

Day 2

Today, we will ride to  the wine town of Peralada, one of the most charming villages in the region.  Explore the historic center, visit the XII century Romanesque cloister of Sant Domenec museum here or wine taste if you wish – the newly opened Celler Perelada offers tours of the Perelada Castle and winery. Reach Roses, a beachside enclave where you can swim or enjoy a cappuccino from one of the cool cafes here. From here, you will ride through Empuriabrava with its navigable waterways and marinas and then through the Aiguamolls d’Emporda, an important bird sanctuary. Have lunch in Castell D’Empuries, one of the gems of Catalonia with a basilica, and impressive town center with great restaurants.

A long option will reach Cadaqués, an unspoiled and remote village with crystal-blue water, fishing boats, sandy beaches, and old white-washed houses.

Back in Figueres, we will visit the Dali Museum with an expert guide; the artist was known as much for his flamboyance and exhibitionism as he as for his surrealist and exotic imagery and definitely leaves an impression on visitors. We will finish the day with another great meal in a traditional asador restaurant frequented by Dali. 
Distance D2: 50 km, elevation gain 270m or 88 km, gain 1390m.*

3

Day 3

Riding south from Figueres, we ride past the archeological site of Empuries and along a scenic sea-side bike path with a possible swim spot at a lovely bay. We ride through the medieval city of Torroella de Montgri and admire the ruin of a castle high above town.  In Palau-Sator we have lunch at an atmospheric restaurant before continuing to Calella de Palafrugell, a seaside village with a superb hotel, the San Roc. Dining on the terrace of the hotel, overlooking the beach and this scenic stretch of coastline, is sublime. Distance D3: 44 km, elevation gain 170m or 72 km, gain 380m.*

4

Day 4

The views between Calella and Begur is some of the most stunning scenery of the trip; there are some steep sections but they are short. You will have time to explore medieval Begur with its castle above town and Pals, an enchanting village. Back in Calella, you may want to consider a wee stroll (1.9km) to nearby Cap Roig, an idyllic castle and gardens overlooking the coast. If you prefer to do a longer hike along the coast instead of biking on this day, one of the most beautiful of the Costa Brava can be easily done from the hotel, exploring nearby villages and beaches on foot returning to the hotel to enjoy the afternoon. At 4pm, for tennis players, we’ll play a tournament at the Llafranc tennis center and then go to an atmospheric tapas bar for dinner. Distance D4: 44 km, elevation gain 820m.* Hiking alternative: up to 12.3km; 380m or 1.9km;200m

5

Day 5

Ride to Girona where professional cyclists live and train off-season (attracted by the climate and food, just like us). Along the way, stop to visit the castle that Dali and his wife Gala built in Pubol and to have lunch before a wee climb over the Mare de Deu dels Angels before descending into Girona. We will enjoy a walking tour of the city, to learn of the many treasures here before dinner on your own – options abound from Michelin starred (The Roca brothers El Celler de Can Roca is rated one of the best restaurants in the world, but their newest restaurant, Normal is easier to get into and also superb). 
Distance D5: 40 km, elevation gain 460m up to 88 km, gain 760m.*

6

Day 6

Choose from moderate or challenging rides northwest of Girona and then post-ride lunch at Cafe Fabrica, owned by (now retired) Canadian pro cyclist Christian Meier and his wife Amber. At 4pm, there will be an opportunity to play tennis. We will have a memorable final night wine tasting and then dinner at our favourite restaurant in Girona. Hungry anyone? Distance D6: 52 km, elevation gain 555m or 75 km, gain 900m.*

7

Day 7

Depart at your leisure for onward travel. Trains from Girona reach Barcelona in 30 minutes (25 trains per day).

*Distance and elevation gains may vary depending on hotels chosen for specific departure.

Palau Macelli, Castello d'Empuries

This boutique 4-star hotel in the center of Castello d'Empuries boasts large (30m2) guest rooms in a historic building. There are gardens and a spa facility. Castello d'Empuries is a charming town outside of Figueres.


Hotel Sant Roc, Calella de Palafrugell

This boutique hotel boasts sea-view rooms, a lovely terrace where breakfast is served overlooking the beach and a great location, steps to town. It has been in the same family for 3 generations. “Quite simply the hotel has the best position in the most charming resort on the most beautiful and rugged coast on the whole Mediterranean.” Arnold Z, Leeds, England.
We will book upgraded rooms with terraces.


Hotel Ciutat, Girona

Situated in the historic center of Girona, this 4-star hotel is close to Cathedral, Arab Baths, and Walls of Girona. A chic restaurant features a seasonal terrace. Alt: Nord 1901