Here is the reason I was away last September : a 3 day trip to Catalonia, where I was invited by the Catalonia Tourist Office and Vueling Airlines.
Some of you might have followed my trip via Instagram : with this little introduction, now is the time to tell you all about this trip in detail: On the illustrated map above, you’ll see the distance we traveled during those 3 days. Let’s go!
Paris-Barcelona flight with Vueling airlines
Such a great entourage… !
Tuesday morning, I was up at dawn and made my way to the Orly airport,to fly to Barcelona where I would meet the Catalonia tourist office team and 3 italian bloggers. We were 3 french bloggers participating in total (with Mademoiselle Stef and Laura Loves Clothes). For the next 3 days, we each followed a different travel route, accompanied by an italian blogger and a member of the Tourism office.
I was to travel with Irene, our guide and driver, and Marinella, an italian architect who loves fashion, and who blogs on I love Green inspiration. I knew neither of those two ladies, but after a few minutes, I knew we were up for a fun trip!
The airplane ride was incredibly quick, and cherry on top, I got this souvenir picture at the end of the flight (I kind of hesitated before asking, I didn’t want to pass off as a groupie, but … she who tries nothing has nothing!). The crew was very relaxed, friendly and let’s say it … pretty hunky! haha!
Shopping at La Roca Village
When we got to Barcelona and after getting to know one another, we headed off to La Roca Village, the equivalent of our La Vallée Village in France, where you can find branded clothes and accessories at unbeatable prices.
I was graciously offered a 200€ gift coupon, and thought it’d be more fun if you guys could benefit from it, and I spent the money “live” with you, guided by your wishes. The loot will be up to be won via a little contest I’ll be setting up.
During this extreme adventure (those of you who saw my live instagram will know what I’m talking about), I found great bargains at Furla and Rituals, as well as pleasant little alleys where you can stroll from shop to shop.
All in all a great option for smart shopping enthusiasts on the lookout for quality items.
Houses on the Onyar
Once my shopping mission was over, we went on to more cultural discoveries, with a stop in Girona, medieval city with colorful houses, roman fortresses, a jewish district and … one of the film locations for Game of Thrones.
The real fans will no doubt recognize the roman/gothic cathedral below : a pilgrimage to Girona is a must!
The famous lion statue
We unfortunately didn’t have the time to really explore this beautiful city in detail, but if I come back (Belief is that if you kiss the lion statue‘s rear end, (please refrain from doing so if you have the flu!) you will be coming back to Girona in the future) I’m sure I’ll stay a couple days to enjoy it fully.
Dinner and hotel night at the Peralada Wine Spa & Golf
After an hour on the road, we arrived at the Peralada Wine Spa & Golf, located at the heart of the Alt Emporada, perfect spot for an athletic/relaxing and/or gastronomic stop. I got to experiment the newestcreation of this hotel : a scrumptious wine pairing dinner.
You know I’m not a wine specialist, my constitution doesn’t tolerate alcohol all that well, but the dinner was absolutely delicious.
Iberian ham toast, with a cold pear, curry and scallop cream
Chocolate oxtail with Figueres onion jam
Special shoutout to this oxtail that totally looks like a dessert : it was cooked with chocolate! Surprising, but more surprising yet was that it was very much tender and yummy. The combination was a true discovery.
The meal ended with two desserts, and thankfully we weren’t far from our spacious and elegantly decorated room : wood, rattan, olive branches for decoration.
Inspiration for when I’ll be refurbishing my own apartment.
Breakfast at the Peralada Wine Spa & golf hotel
After a short but comfy night, we enjoyed breakfast with catalan cold cuts and crispy pastries. We were all set for our second day in Catalonia!
Kayak and wine tasting at Llançà
We headed for Llançà for a mix of kayak and wine tasting (not all at the same time, let me reassure you there!), with our lovely SK Kayak instructors.
I paired up with Marinella and we headed out on the Mediterranean sea to row in harmony. After an adaptation time, we were all set and pretty efficient, rowing and talking about fashion in general and the fashion week.
It was enough to motivate me for this activity that isn’t really what I’m used to! All in all, I had a good time out on the sea : the beautiful scenery of Costa Brava also had something to do with it!
Lunch at Celler La Vinyeta
After we had worked up an apetite, we headed to Mollet de Peralada for a visit of the Celler La Vinyeta. The domain was acquired by Josep and his wife Marta, who, before we started the visit, offered we have a bite to eat … and what a bite it was!
Lunch with a view on the vineyards
Spanish cold cuts and cheese, tomato breat, local olive oil and a taste of the best wines (alwasy in moderation of course)…
Josep spoke with passion about the creation and the evolution of their business, of their more than 100 year old olive trees, of their free range chickens : a refreshing and friendly dive into farm life and the world of winemaking.
Dalí Gala castle-museum house (Castell de Púbol)
45 minutes later, we were in the charming village of Púbol, host to the castle that Salvador Dalí bought for his spouse and muse Gala.
Our guide gives us a ton of anecdotes on the artist as we walk through the castle :
The invitations Gala sent Salvador Dalí so he could come visit her
Photos of Dalí and Gala in the 50s
The fact that Gala only accepted this “humble” real estate gift from her husband on the sole condition that he could only come visit her upon invitation on her part was a pretty incredible technique to keep both courtesy and the spark in their couple alive!
Trompe-l’oeils and graphic details were all around during our visit : everything was made so Gala would feel diverted and completely at ease in this home.
Statue of an elephant with mosquito legs (maybe Dali was enjoying the local wine a bit too much?)
The Datsun car that Dali’s personnel used for shopping (He didn’t want them to use his Cadillac!)
This is definitively one of my favorite visits during the trip, on all levels.
Night and dinner at the Aigua Blava hotel
We then head straight to Begur, where we are staying the night in the lovely Aigua Blava Hotel.
After putting down our luggage in our rooms, we are ready to enjoy our last dinner together! It was a fun and very yummy meal!
Black Angus beef tataki and foie gras sauce with mushrooms
I found the gourmet menu to be not quite equal to the one in our previous hotel, but this night will stay in my mind thanks to the delivious lobster croquettes, the quite decadent dessert that had us laughing so hard and this spectacular flambée of the crêpes, all in a very relaxed and vacation-worthy atmosphere on the terrace.
Chocolate confection and peanut ice cream
Suzette crèpes flambée
Sunrise on Begur
Even though we was pretty tired after those two days, we set our alarm to admire the sunrise at 7:30. I really didn’t regret it.
The view from my room was magical : I was dreaming of an indian summer, and I got it here in Catalunya.
Breakfast on the terrace was very enjoyable, with a large choice of pastries and local specialties, with the seaview as a bonus.
Off to Barcelona : The Sant Pau modernist complex
Not a minute to loose! We head back to Barcelona, a city I already visited twice in the past, and that I had loved.
But I had never yet visited the Sant Pau modernist complex, not far from the Sagrada Familia. Clearly I had missed out, it was well worth the visit!
Model Vs reality ?
It’s listed in the UNESCO’s world heritage list, and is now a museum and a scientific research center. This complex used to be a hospital, dedicated to patient’s well being.
Inside this mini-city, you can visit the different pavilions, and see an incredibly detailed and impressive architecture.
Isn’t it odd this place isn’t better known.? It should be on the top of the list when we visit Barcelona.
Cooking class with BCN Kitchen
Last leg of our trip in Catalonia : a cooking class in the El Born neighborhood !
Thanks to Chef Alvaro Brun’s explanations, we created a catalan starter, main and dessert, that you can admire below.
Flambée beans with mint and anise
Coca (turnover) with roasted veggies, goat cheese and aldoso (between a paëlla and a risotto)
A very friendly and fun moment, where we got to lear a few tips (how to deglaze seafood? How should you cut an onion so you don’t cry? …) Since you asked during the live session, I’ll ask for the recipes!
¡ Adiós Catalunya !
And this is the end of our Catalonia trip. If you managed to reach the end of this long post, congratulations!
A little bonus : a picture of the plane’s cockpit, taken on our way back to France, on the Barcelona-Paris Vueling Airlines flight.
We got to access the cockpit and see the pilot’s cabin for a short time before the takeoff. I was pretty curious (and lucky) to discover this usually unacessible space!
See you on the Catalunya experience page to see the video we shot during our trip (Click on the “Découvrir” button)! (English translation by Marine)