Breakfast near our Barcelona hotel turned into a quick pack of the luggage turned into a faster-than-it-seemed two hour bus ride into the Pyrenees turned into a beautiful picnic with our friends and our Backroads guides (Danny and Kelly) in the quaint backyard or an even quainter restaurant in the village of Bor. Lots of activity for one morning and yet it all went off perfectly. Especially the not lugging our luggage a mile down the road to our original meeting spot. Thanks for the audible Backroads! Bor might have had a population of 50 residents on the high side. With our arrival to Bor, the primary reason we traveled to Spain was on! This reason was to spend time with great friends while eating and drinking our way across the Spanish, check that Catalan countryside. If you don’t know Backroads, they are absolutely amazing at a) hiring phenomenal guides, b) building great trips with the right mix of outdoors, exercise, history and premium hotels and c) the food. This first picnic was in the perfect setting looking at views of the Pyrenees, with an accordionist in the background and of course fantastic local food. Potato quiche, multiple salads from this restaurants gardens, Spanish cured meats and cheeses and sweet desserts.
After the meal, bike fittings, a safety demo and the route review we all pushed off. 400 meters nicely downhill followed by our first real climb right out of the gate. The slopes/grades were big (10%??) and cold legs, full bellies and decent heat and elevation made for a challenging half hour or so of climbing. After that we enjoyed the fruits of our labor with much downhill through farms, villages and even a golf course. Along the way we even saw a couple of gliders cruising on the wind currents off the huge 10,000 foot mountains on both sides of the valley. Planes. No engines. What?!?! The short option on this first half day ended at the Hotel Torre del Remei after about 15 miles. The long option offered another 7 miles or so with a pretty sweet uphill leading to an even sweeter view before bombing back downhill to the hotel. The up was hard because you could see exactly where you were going the entire way. Mentally difficult.
Once back to the hotel, the Backroads team literally takes over all of the bike chores doing everything except dismounting you from your bike. The offer you food, beverages and of course bike and hotel details. After spending some downtime around the pool with snacks and beverages, we clean up and met behind the hotel on the terrace where we see the sun slowly disappear into the mountains while sipping champagne, eating more meats and/or cheeses and chatting about the day. Our guides asked us to share what we wanted to get out of the trip. Some of the responses:
- Celebrate an anniversary
- Spend time with good friends/spouse
- Miles (not me, I promise)
- Share one of my biggest passions
- Experience a new country
We then made our way inside after noticing a couple being ready for this large group to pipe down already so they could enjoy their romantic meal on the terrace, where we had an amazing meal! Torre del Remei wins a lot of awards, primarily because of their food and it did not disappoint. Foie Gras (or “meat butter” as Seibert described it), a lobster stew, braised goat (the local specialty) and seared monkfish to name a few. Of course it was surrounded by a plate of the best olives I have ever eaten, phenomenal bread and amazing dessert choices. This place, even though it kind of reminds me of the place in Fawlty Towers (without the awful service and chaos), was an amazing hotel in the Spanish countryside. Tomorrow: big ups as we cross into France, then back to Spain (Llivia), then back to France and then back to Spain. 52 possible miles and nearly 10 miles of climbs to be had if you want them.