The second part of our trip was planned around relaxing. After another late night, we caught an early morning bus to Girona, rented a car and headed to the beach. The coast was HOT and it didn’t take us long to remember how much we hate heat and humidity. We relaxed on the beach Tuesday afternoon, then got to our hotel in Tossa de Mar to learned it had no AC or wifi. We were planning to use some of this time to catch up on work and emails and now this would not be possible. Our hotel room was over 32C, so sleep didn’t look like it would happen. .
We had booked 2 scuba dives on Wednesday with a friend of Gerard and Marta’s then had an amazing sea side dinner on a private terrace (thanks to Gemma’s roommate’s parents who are friends with the owner and made reservations for us) followed by a very warm night. It was so hot, I soaked a pillow case on water and laid it over my body to attempt to cool myself.
We were excited to dive on Wednesday as we don’t get an opportunity to do it very often and always nice to see under water in different areas.
Afer diving, we drove to Villafranca in the Penedes area to tour and taste cava. We had planned to spend 1 night in this area and we were very happy we extended this to 2 nights. Cava is the traditional sparkling wine from the Penedes area. Any Spanish sparkling wine can be called cava, but the only certified cava (each bottle has a certification sticker) comes from Penedes. We were staying right on a vineyard in a 12-room boutique hotel shaped like stacked wine bottles. The base of the bottle was the windows and our windows overlooked the vineyard.
Our fantastic boutique hotel at Mas Tinell in Villafranca, Penedes
On Thursday morning, after a run through the vineyards and hillside, we had a cava breakfast and hit the road for some tours and tastings. We had an amazing time learning about cava and tasting the differences. I think we both may have become cava converts.
After several hours of tastings (probably a few too many), we needed a walk and some groceries. In town, we found a nice meat and cheese shop. Everything in the shop was Euro/Kg (so we thought). We found the Iberico Jamon we wanted, ordered 300g and when the bill came to $43 Euro’s, we realized that the 4 Jamon’s on 1 of the tables were Euro/100g. We quickly changed plans from meat and cheese as a snack and quick lunch to focusing a good meal on this amazing meat. The quality was not wasted and we thoroughly enjoyed every bit of this delicacy. We had a truly amazing meal accompanied by cava and wine tasting at our hotel that night and had a plan to get on the road to Calafell on Friday morning with a stop for a trail run along the way.
Calafell was a little too touristy for us, but there was a Starwood hotel there so we could stay for free on points (one of the few perks of business travel is that we used frequent flyer miles for our airfare and could stay on this beach on hotel points). We checked into a beautiful Le Meridian hotel and quickly went down to the beach. I was once again reminded of my distaste for heat and humidity and didn’t last long on the beach. We decided we needed a relaxing night so we planned our dinner to be tapas in our room. We already had top shelf meat, we just needed a few other items and we were quickly able to put together an amazing meal of Iberico Jamon, tapenade, salmon pate, white anchovies, gazpacho, bread, and wine. It was nice to sit on our patio and have a long, relaxing dinner.
Our last day would be spent driving back to Barcelona. We had spent time in Barcelona a few years ago so we didn’t want to spend much time there. What we hadn’t planned for is that most everything would be closed on Sunday. We were disappointed to miss out on a few shops we wanted to check out (mostly the huge Mercado). We were able to take in a Jamon tour and tasting which while a little touristy, was very informative.
Jamon tasting in Barcelona
We capped the night off with dinner at 7 Portes which is known for their paella (although Gemma’s mom’s was much, much better) and an early night back at the hotel as we had to leave for the airport at 4AM.