It was a nice sunny day. Our van almost got stuck on a narrow lanes of Mollet de Peralada when an elderly man came out and told our driver to back up and take another road. After that we arrived at the Celler La Vinyeta soon. I have visited a vineyard in Khao Yai, Thailand too and I quite like the experience.
Josep, who along with his wife Marta, owns the place greeted us upon arrival. There are no prizes for guessing that the welcome drink was wine from their own cellers! Their store is right next to the car park. We went in to take a look and to use the bathroom.
Then we donned our hats and went for a walk around the vineyard. The vineyard is an old one but all the crops were destroyed hundreds of years ago. The current vineyard was planted in 2002 and the wine production started in 2006 after they built the celler. At the start the village elders tried to warn Josep that it was a tough trade but they decided to go ahead anyway.
Josep was 23 years old when they invested in the vineyard. He and his wife were studying wine making at college and from there things took off. I asked him if he would do it all again, to which he said “I don’t think so, I was not thinking of he risks then!”
Th vineyard has a patch of old olive trees, the oldest being 500 years old! Josep mentioned they had to plant newer trees as well, as the patch had too few tress. When he started the process for planting, the people from the village thought he was going to cut them down. They came again and asked him not to do so. They as kids used to play under the trees. Joesp assured them he was planting more, not cutting anything. He added with twinkling eyes “I think they used to do something else under the trees when they became adults! That is why they are so fond of them.”
If you visit Catalonia you will hear about Tramuntana or the northern wind! Everyone dreads it except the winemakers. It does good to the grape crop and there is a ceremony to invite it to the region. But this year the Tramuntana has not obliged.
Josep showed us the hens of his farm as well. Later at lunch we ate fresh boiled eggs which tasted great. After the tour of the fields we still had sometime left to explore on our own. My colleague Taahira and I ventured to a field where I could see hay rolls, something I had seen in pictures only. Taahira took a lovely picture of mine in that field.
We leisurely walked back to our lunch on the vineyard. It was a perfect day to sit outdoors and enjoy food. Food is something that takes a lot of time in Spain. It was common to sit for 2 to 3 hours for lunch and dinner. Marta with her four month old daughter joined us for a brief while at lunch!
There was wine, boiled eggs, there was salad and vegetables for me. Then there was Pan Con Tomate. For dessert there was cheese and honey. It was a lovely lunch, in a beautiful setting. There were plenty of non vegetarian options too but I was not paying much attention to it.
After the lunch we went to the store to buy products. I brought back a bottle of white wine that I now enjoy at home. And I kick myself for not buying olive oil.
Whenever I think of Celler La Vinyeta, I smile. It reminds me of the lovely outdoors, the stories of the village with all the good food in the lap of the nature. I so hope to go back to Spain again someday.
PS. I was invited to Visit Catalonia by the Catalonia Tourism Board.
I was lucky to attend the Girona Flower Festival 2017, known as Temps de Flors. This was my first visit to the beautiful region of Catalonia in Spain. The Temps de Flors started in 1954. This year it was held from 13 to 21 May. The beautiful city of Girona gets decked in floral arrangements every year in May. The event attracts large crowds of both locals and tourists. I was invited to Visit Catalonia by the Catalonia Tourism Board.
The River Onyar divides the town of Girona into two parts, the old and the new. The flower festival happens in the old part. One of the bridges on the river, the Palanques Vermelles bridge (1827) was built by the Eiffel company of the Eiffel Tower fame.
We were given a map of the floral route in the city of Girona. But paper maps are the ultimate mystery to me, the only maps I can figure out is Google Maps. And that too because the dot moves away from the path if I start walking in the wrong direction! There were 62 exhibits this year, that should give you some idea about the scope of the festival.
The floral displays happen inside the monuments, town squares, open courtyards, gardens, and more of the Barri Vell neighborhood.
This predominantly white floral display was designed by a group of bankers, now who said bankers were the most boring people?
The designs are created by local designers and organizations. Not only floral genius is on display, but technology is used to enhance the experience.
Thanks to technology I could see this scene as day and night within a few seconds! I preferred the night scene to the day one. The themes have interpretations, our guide gave us to them. But she also said that as the famous Catalonian artist Salvador Dali believed that the best interpretation is the one, that you define!
At Temps de Flors staircases become canvas for artists. I am going to continue in the tradition of Dali and give you my interpretation of this scene. I thought the artist tried to create the colors of Catalonia! This was one of the popular displays!
Our wonderful guide, Anna Aliu, told us that artists often pick up regional themes. Apples grow in plenty around Girona and they were present in many displays.
The best way to enjoy the Flower Festival would be to take it slow. It is spread over the old town and it takes a while to walk through it, even partially. If you were a local you could always come the next day! I spent around three hours here. Our schedule said two hours but we didn’t get out before three, that too reluctantly with me often bringing up the rear!
We went there on a week day and the place was still crowded. Allow yourself time because the popular displays have a queue. When I say of a queue don’t think of an Indian queue though, here you will get a well ordered queue with people who are patient and polite. Still, keep this in mind when you allocate time to the festival!
If you are staying in Barcelona and you wish to hop over to Girona for the flower festival, it is entirely possible. We took the Renfe Fast Train from Barcelona to Girona, it takes just 40 minutes to reach. However, if possible stay at Girona and enjoy the festival leisurely.
Girona Flower festival is a treat to the senses. From bright to sublime, they say it in different hues. Many old houses that are closed to public otherwise, open up their doors for the flower festival. Girona is a charming place on is own, but with with the flowers it was irresistible!
I started my India travel blog, Travel Tales from India in 2005. In 2016 I realized Travel Tales from India and Abroad better reflected my writings. I love to walk and ride in metros around the world. I have not been everywhere, I am not even close, but it is on my list. I also quit my job as a professor in 2015, it was a happening year! I did a Ph.D. from IIT Kanpur ages ago!
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