Cava Tour!

Today, with the best weather of our trip, we ventured out to the Pénedes wine region. Another auspicious start to the day as we came across MORE CLOSED ROADS – this time thanks to the Barcelona marathon. After getting over my disappointment at not knowing about this opportunity for an international run (rookie mistake on my part) we were dropped a bit always from our tour meeting point. Lou, ever the good sport and fueled by a tasty pastry, pounded the pavement with his trusty walking stick.

Happy Runners

Out of the city we pulled into a lovely vineyard and slowly climbed aboard (remember Lou and the walking stick?) the open 4×4 for a leisurely drive through the grounds, stopping at an 11th century chapel. The guys who really have no wine tour experience were blown away. After the ride we toured and sampled four delicious wines paired with tapas. And no skimping like in the states – these were big pours. My dad was enamored with both our guide and the vineyard owner. I’m sure you’ll hear ALL about them from Denny. I already have. 🙄Second stop was the Cava caves where they stored 3 million bottles. Stunning. Then four more Cavas and tapas. Again, full glasses. So…8 drinks in we piled blissfully into the van back to the city.

The men ZONKED out. FAST. One thing we’ve noticed – those dudes are skilled at sneaking in rest whenever and wherever. We realize that although we’ve let off the gas in terms of pace, we have pushed them to their physical limit. They are great sports and know when to take a break.

After a nice long rest we set out to introduce Lou and Denny to true craft cocktails. No simple Moscow Mule or Old Fashioned (see David’s post). Serious, serious stuff. Then meandered to dinner. Made it home and as I type this I imagine the guys are already fast asleep. Tomorrow is our last full day. No plans as of yet. I suspect a park bench and kindle might just be in their future.

Crafty

We learned today that our fathers had never had craft cocktails. Never. That’s part of Kate and I’s food triangle. This was something we obviously needed to remedy.

Luckily, we have a favorite cocktail bar in Barcelona, the Collage Cocktail Bar. We started off with what was on the menu (which by no means is anything typical), then began to go off menu once we got to know Andre, the bartender. And more important, he got to know us.

My dad asked him to create something that would cure his cold–ten or so finely tuned ingredients later, and his delicious concoction may not have cured him, but I’m pretty sure he thought less about it.

We all put Andre to the test, but between ice blocks, clay casks he pulled from the back room (and removed contents with a syringe), to the most specialized liquors & carved accoutrement, we had one great cocktail after another.

And once you find a good mixologist, you always ask them where else you should visit. So next time you are in Barcelona, here is Andre’s list…

Maybe tomorrow night.

Unexpected

It turns out My dad is a big Dali fan.

We started with a tour of Girona, where some cool Game of Thrones scenes were filmed. Dad had to climb a bunch of stairs, but he Lanisterred his way to the top.

View from the top

View from the bottom

Eiffel’s bridge. Practice for his next project.

We then set out to Figures to the Dali museum. I feared my dad wouldn’t like Dali’s art… mostly because he told me he didn’t like Dali’s art.

But once we got there, he was enthralled with all of it. The paintings, sculptures, jewelry, ink drawings, mechanical creations. All of it.

He shared a story I hadn’t heard about winning an art contest in high school when he found a piece that reminded him of his prized creation–a bejeweled swizzle stick. Apparently he still has the award, but sadly not the piece. He seemed just a little bummed that he never took it up as a hobby.

Lincoln… or is it? Hint, zoom.

And even though I was a fan already (less now than when I was younger), I have a much greater appreciation of his talent and prolific creations. Dude was crazy… crazy impressive.

Epic meal. Again.

It’s no surprise that Barcelona is a culinary delight, but the dinner David and I had last night at Niño Viejo was further proof. Owned by the same chef as Bodega 1900 (remember our 14 courses from two nights ago?) and no less amazing. The cuisine was purely Mexican. Again we asked the servers to surprise us. After the usual starters…guacamole, queso fundido and olives, we got into some seriously thoughtful dishes. From carpaccio on light crackers to four varieties of tint tacos we were well fed. We had ONLY 10 courses.

Three margaritas in they moved us to the dessert room. What? That was like music to my ears. We finished our drink and were served two desserts… churros and pan de muerto. Not to be outdone by the nearby group, when the tequila and mezcal steward (is that what he would be called?) made his way to us we just HAD to accept his recommendations.

Felt sheepish with the dads back in the apartment, but after the dozens of stone stairs and hills they climbed throughout our tour, I think they were ok to put their feet up and take it easy. I mean, today we are off to a wine and cava tour and thanks to the Barcelona Marathon (how did I not know about this????) had to walk several long blocks to meet our guide. I’ve been trying to minimize the walking/climbing to keep our activities manageable- but road closures for marches and races have made it harder!!! 🙄

Sidetracked.

Quick note: on our way to our paella cooking class our taxi couldn’t get through because of the march for International Women’s Day…so he dropped us and told us to hoof it the rest of the way. What made this challenging was the thousands of women streaming past on one of the widest avenues. I had to send the dads through and hope to meet them on the other side. Of course I wanted to join in alongside all those amazing and proud women, but I had Cava to drink and paella to prepare.

A bit of everything

We saw and did a little bit of everything on Friday. Kate and I started with some wandering around El Born, recreating a photo from just over a year ago.

My dad was feeling a bit under the weather, so he stayed back while Denny, Kate & I toured old town. Obviously we stopped for some craft beer.

Add to that some rooftop Cava, the Boqueria Market, and even a couple conference calls… we stayed busy.

Sidebar: Getting around was tricky–the International Women’s Day March had both a daytime and evening version. Barcelonans love a good protest, so they went all-out! Other than forcing my poor dad to huff it across town for our evening activity (closed roads & gridlock), it was fun to see.

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Our evening Paella cooking class was epic. Along with some new friends from Dallas & Denver, we cooked four versions–Cava flowing freely the whole time! And it even tasted pretty good.

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After dropping off our dads at the apartment, Kate and I snuck back out for one last pitcher of sangria.

It was a good day.

Quality Familia Time!

Today was a FULL day to say the least. We took a lovely walking tour of our neighborhood thanks to travel writer Rick Steves. I narrated and led the crew through churches, markets, alleyways, and finished at a quaint lunch spot where we chose our own pintxos (small open-faced sandwiches) and downed a nice cold beer and glass of wine. Poor Lou was especially spent by lunch after losing himself for half an hour after his early morning coffee “adventure.” I might note here the rest of us were fast asleep and blissfully unaware.

Headed next to a tour of La Sagrada Familia. We were stunned by the beauty and scope of the cathedral. Our tour guide was beyond knowledgable and kept us entertained throughout. She sent us on our way to a locals only wine bar in an alley – the dads were happy to rest their feet and chat about what we just saw. I was happy to crack into a bottle of vino tinto.

From there we grabbed a taxi to the headquarters of Castellars of Barcelona. I think David posted a fun picture of what we saw. I’ll expound… the first bit was human pyramids with mostly children. That was just bonkers because the little girls were like monkeys climbing up other bodies but with great precision. Later more adults arrived wrapping themselves in some sort of supportive binding around the waist. This alone was theater. Anyway… more and more adults formed the supports and people kept climbing and climbing into their formations. At one point there was a projector illuminating the color-coded plan on a large wall. The castellars paid close attention to their roles. Hated to cut away early to get to dinner.

Our waitress asked if we preferred to pick our menu or let them course it for us based on our tastes. Of course we let them choose. FOURTEEN items later we were done with dinner and ready for dessert. FOURTEEN. One thing was better than the next. Razor clams, calamari sandwiches, squid, artichokes….cava, cerveza, vermút. We tried it all. Watching our dads try new things, devour Catalán cuisine and *attempt* witty banter with the waitress was priceless. They didn’t care that their jokes didn’t translate well into Spanish. They just kept at it. Hell, they wouldn’t have landed in English either.

Today was a day for the memory books. I *might* just have happy cried at La Sagrada Familia – I was just so grateful to be sharing the time with my dad. I mean, you should have seen how much he loved that place. We all did. And besides almost getting Lou run over in a crosswalk because of an ill-advised “you can make it,” and Denny entering a taxi on the wrong side only to hear the driver scream “CERRAR LA PUERTA!!” and nearly losing the door to traffic, I’d say we pretty much survived in one piece. Said goodnight to our dads just shy of 1:00 am. They were total rock stars today. Lou said he wasn’t planning to wake at 7:00 am like he did today. Thank goodness….I don’t have anything planned for us until lunchtime.

Who’s up for some team building?

Kate always finds us hidden gems. We just watched castellers practice. Denny & Lou watched from above with a beer & brandy and Kate & I hung out by the practice floor. There were over 100 people supporting this design. Amazing!

Side note: I was once part of a 6 person pyramid. So I get it.

Meat cone

Where can you get a cone of ice cream? Anywhere.

Where can you get a cone of fries? Anywhere.

Where an you get a cone of meat? Barcelona. That’s where.

Tapas!

After a long but relatively straightforward day of travel we found our apartments in the middle of town. After a quick freshening up we hit the streets in search of our first local flavor. El Born (our neighborhood) did not disappoint. Since it was just our first of many tapas meals we went with the tried and true – croquettas, Jamón y queso…among a few other things. Oh, and not one but TWO pitchers of sangria. Toasted a safe arrival and whatever lies ahead. Dropped the dad’s back off at the apartment before David and I set off to have dinner with a professor of David’s from UNC! It’s now nearly 2:00am and we are just getting settled. I even walked quietly on the stairs as we passed my dad’s door – didn’t want to get in trouble coming in after curfew!