I landed at Barcelona on 15th May which is my birthday. I am now at that age where my body doesn’t react kindly to flying out all night and missing on sleep. My favorite way to pass time in flights is to watch movies but off late I simply fall asleep.
As I was flying via Munich, the immigration for the Schengen area was already out of the way! I was greeted by Sonia Stark from the tourism board at the airport. That made my life easy. Soon we were heading to my hotel in a taxi.
I had the first day free but I was way too excited to sleep. Early check-in was also not available at the hotel. So, out I went to walk around to the Barcelona Tourism Board’s office to collect my press pass. It gave me unlimited access to Barcelona Bus Touristic’s Hop On Hop Off bus plus free entry to many monuments.
I partially took both the Red and the Blue route. Due to lack of time, I could not try the green route at all. On the first day I took the Red Route because that bus stop was less crowded. I got down at the National Arts Museum. The view from the area was so mesmerizing that I ended up spending a lot of time walking outside instead of going in.
I also got down at the Olympic Stadium stop. The day was hot and by now I felt thoroughly tired! Sleep was also trying to claim me. After roaming around the stadium for a bit, I went in search for beer and food! I promptly found both near the stadium. It was good to sit in shade and enjoy my meal.
Soon I found myself close to the hotel again and I went in to catch on a few hours of sleep. I was meeting the group in the evening for dinner.
Food is akin to religion in Spain. The people love their food, each meal goes on for hours. As a vegetarian I fared fine. I loved the pan con tomate which is the local way to eat bread with tomato, garlic and olive oil. They could do a veg version of paella for me. Wine flowed in freely and I ate a lot of crema catalana which is the popular sweet dish of the region. I also visited a beautiful vineyard during my trip which I remember for its good food.
As one of the agenda on the itinerary was ham making experience, I took the opportunity to explore Barcelona and join the group after their experience. I made an impromptu stop at one of the most recognized landmarks of Barcelona, the Sagrada Familia by Gaudi.
You need to plan your visit to the landmark. When I reached the tickets for the afternoon were sold out. It was only because of my press pass I was still able to visit.
Casa Batllo is another landmark building by Gaudi in Barcelona. It is a remodel of a previously built house by Gaudi! His creative genius is visible in every aspect of the building. It is better to visit the place in the early hours, later in the day it gets too crowded.
On the last day I was touring the Blue Route of the Barcelona Bus Turistic. It goes past the famous FC Barcelona. I was severealy taken to task by my nephew (the one known as Brat 2) for only passing by. He is the football player and fan in the family and he was quite unhappy that I did not find time to visit the stadium.
My last activity in Barcelona, other than food, was the Barcelona Genuine Shop Tours conducted by Barcelona Guide Bureau. It is a fun tour which takes you through the local shops of Barcelona. The cost of the tour is 25 Euro. If you like shopping, you should surely give it a try.
Here is a short video of our experience of the shopping tour. I still remember the chocolates I bought from the trip!
Barcelona has a rich street art culture be it a famous mural like the ‘world begins with every kiss‘or a painting on the local barber shop! I had too little time to do any justice to this rich tradition.
I am a big fan of trams and metros and Barcelona has both. Yet due to the lack of time I could not try either. In all, I have a lot of unfinished business in Barcelona and I would love to go back again.
PS. I was invited by the Catalonia Tourism Board to Visit Spain!
As our car pulled in to the parking lot at Cadaques my first feeling was of relief. We had taken the winding road from the town of Roses and I get motion sickness on such roads.
Though I did fine this time, all the same I was happy to jump out of the car and walk around. I simply love walking. As we strolled along the car park, I noticed the graffiti on the wall. It was there in Barcelona too. It was done with taste though I wish I had more time to explore them.
We entered the narrow cobbled lanes of Cadaques. Soon I was staring at the deep blue of the Mediterranean Sea! Cadaques is also famous because the of the genius of Dali, he maintained a house in the nearby Portlligat. If you wish to explore the house interiors advance booking is recommended.
As we walked, I spotted pretty doors and windows, at every nook and corner. Being part of a group of bloggers hosted by Catalonia Tourism Board, I had a few hours to savor Cadaques whereas I could have easily stayed there for a week!
The place is dotted with cafes, both by the waterfront and away from it. I wish I had time to sit down and have coffee!
I ate the local dessert, Taps, which looks like a cork. It is mildly sweet. And then we walked up to the church.
I liked the vibes of the city. There were painters sitting by the waterfront immersed in their work! The cafe workers would nod at you even if you were not entering their shop.
While walking up to the church, we stopped at an antique camera shop. The owner was an old gentleman who spoke almost no English, but we still knew we were welcome in his shop!
Till the church we walked in group, after that it was free time. I retraced my steps to click pictures more leisurely. I spotted the mother and son flying kite by the sea. I giggled along with them.
I walked up and put my toes in the sea water. The water was cold, I decide not get wet. My free time went flying in Cadaques. Reluctantly I walked back to the meeting point to join the rest of the group. Being late is not an option when you are part of a professional group!
How I wish I had enough money to go back to all the places I visited fleetingly! I could easily stay at Cadaques for a week, exploring every beautiful nook and corner of the small sleepy town! I have a feeling it is a good place to do nothing. And if you would ask me, those are the best kind of holidays!
PS. I was invited by the Catalonia Tourism Board to Visit Spain!
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.