This time tomorrow I’ll be starting to think about packing and a few hours later we’ll be heading to the airport for our flight to Barcelona via Guangzhou and Paris. We’re Barcelona bound!
It’s been a few years since we were in Europe – our longest period away from the continent since we moved to the Middle East in 1998 and used to travel there several times a year. Yes, we once used to take holidays like normal people. And it’s been four years since we were in Spain and spent a night in Madrid (on a tapas odyssey!) and two weeks in Jerez, one of our early stops on our 2010 yearlong grand tour. But whose counting?
On our last Barcelona trip, we spent two weeks discovering contemporary Catalan cuisine, tapas bar hopping, shopping the markets and cooking, sipping gin and cocktails, learning about Cava and the Barcelona music scene, exploring off-the-beaten-track neighbourhoods, revisiting Gaudi’s architectural wonders and other sights we hadn’t seen in a while, taking in street art and garage door graffiti, and photographing charming old shopfronts, hanging out with new friends, and soaking up the atmosphere of a city we’ve been spending time in since the nineties.
Our motivation for returning to Barcelona this time is to test out a new 50 Great Cavas winetour of the Penedès region ran by Wine Pleasures, which we’ll be writing about for some magazines and sharing stories about the trip right here.
You could call it a media trip of sorts – there’ll be four other wine writers/bloggers/photographers on the trip including our friend Marcy Gordon from Come for the Wine. Media trip? I know, we hate the things. We have made an exception for the Wine Pleasures trip as we did a few years ago with a Portugal trip, when we spoke at the International Wine Tourism Conference in Porto (conference? Right, I know we hate those too, but we make an exception for wine conferences), as we’ll get access to Cava wineries that aren’t normally open to the public.
That Porto speaking engagement was bookended with trips through the Minho and Douro Valleys to learn about vinho verde and port and other delights of the region, which we wrote about for National Geographic Traveller and Lifestyle+Travel. You can read all of our posts from Porto and the Minho and Douro here.
So tomorrow evening we’ll be hopping on a China Southern plane in Siem Reap for the flight to Guangzhou and then taking Air France to Paris and on to Barcelona, arriving on Monday afternoon. It’s a 23-hour journey (our idea of hell), so I just hope we can get some sleep and aren’t jet-lagged.
Once in Barcelona we’ll be taking a train to the Penedès where we’ll be getting picked up from the station, only to be taken directly to our first Cava tasting at Adernats. How’s that for a welcome to Spain? We’ll spend the week in the Penedès visiting Cava wineries all day every day to taste the stunning sparklings that were voted the 50 Great Cavas.
During the trip the group will be tweeting about the Penedès, the wineries we visit, the delicious drops we try, and the scrumptious Catalan cuisine we’ll also be sampling. You can follow on Twitter at these accounts:
In the meantime, if you want to read more about Cava, take a look at this story from our last trip: Cava 101: What Makes Barcelona’s Bubbly Special. That is about the extent of our Cava knowledge so far, so we can’t wait to learn more.
After the trip we’ll be spending a whirlwind five days in Barcelona and Girona on assignment for magazines, but more on that in another post.