Archive for March, 2015

the country side of spain could be compared with the wild west if we are talking about wine. unlike france, where individual plots of land have been set aside for centuries as the best spots for winemaking, producers in spain are still out searching for new terroirs, new regions and new (old) indigenous grape varieties that have been pushed aside in favour of commercial winemaking. there are several important wine grapes in spain and hundreds of varieties not covered here. many foreign varieties have found fertile footing in spain and the rest of the varieties are being rediscovered every day. some of the best spanish red grapes are monastrell, bobal, callet, cariñena, tempranillo, mencía, moristel, and not to forget the with grapes; doña blanca, albillo, verdejo, palomino and torrontés.

grapesbefunky.jpgimportant to know about the spanish wine
spain has over 1.17 million hectares planted, making it the most widely planted wine producing nation. it is the third largest producer of wine in the world being france the biggest followed by italy). while respecting its winemaking traditions, spain´s wine laws are changing to allow innovation in a rapidly evolving global wine market. spanish wine laws created the denominación de origen (do) system in 1932 and there are 79 wine areas who fulfilled the requirements for this label. next to the do, the doc (denominación de origen calificada) was created for the areas that have a consistent track record for quality. there are currently two doc areas; rioja and priorat.

spanish wines are often labelled according to ageing of the wine. the three most common aging designations on spanish wine labels are crianza (red wines that are aged for 6 months to 2 years in oak, whites and rosés for an maximum of 1 year), reserva (red wines are aged from 1 year to 3 years in oak, whites and roses from 6 months to 2 years) and gran reserva (wines that typically appear in above average vintages with the red wines requiring at least 5 years in oak and a maximum of 36 months in the bottle, whites and roses at least 4 years in oak).


where to go to explore the wine culture and its surroundings together with, of course, a perfect wine tasting experience? here in spain there are a lot of different wine regions and it’s up to you to choose the wine that best suits your taste. every regions has its own preferences and quality, so before deciding where to go, have a look at the following wine regions what are worth visiting during your stay in spain:

ribera del duero
between madrid and santander, this region near burgos is the fastest developing wine district in the country and the creator of massive investments in the past few years. the heart of the ribera del duero is the milla de oro, or golden mile, a short strip of land surrounding the duero river. the milla de oro looks like the countless rows of vineyards cutting across the landscape nearby, but this is the home of wineries like vega sicilia, pingus, abadia retuerta and mauro. for the red wine-fanatics; miniscule quantities of cabernet, sauvignon, syrah, malbec and garnacha (mostly used for blending). throughout this region you will find that central spain is famous for rich pork dishes and delicious cured spanish ham, sheep cheeses, roasted lamb and stews. if you visit ribera del duero, try to look for a wine tasting including food. you will discover how good wine can be combined with food!
for more information go to http://www.riberadelduero.es/

befunkyribera.jpgjerez de frontera
this town of 200.000 residents (most of them work in the wine trade) is surrounded by sea of vineyard. 95% of the region is planted with the hardy and flavourful palomino fino to produce sherry, one of the most beloved products in spain. few others regions contain so many bodegas, any of which might be visited. try for example one of the wineries of emilio lustau, gonzález byass or pedro domecq. there are different wine tours including great detailed explanations of the sherry wine and stops at the jerez de la frontera monuments, the cathedral, the moorish alcazar and the narrow typical streets in the old town.
for more information: http://www.jerez.es/

back in the old times, thousands of vessels of wine were shipped from this region of catalonia to fuel orgies of the roman empire. the region produces still wines, as well as 98% of spain´s sparkling wines (cava´s), which stand an excellent change of supplanting french champagne in the minds of celebrants throughout the world. in fact, freixenet is the largest selling sparkling wine in the world. enjoy the penedés experience where you could visit wineries, stay overnight among the vineyards and sample the local cuisine. taste wines and cavas, take part in popular festivals and discover the territory with its cultural and walking routes among the vineyard. codorniu, freixenet and miquel torres at the most famous wineries in town.
for more information: http://www.enoturismepenedes.cat/

befunkywinetasting.jpgla rioja
rioja is worldwide famous thanks to the red wine. set in the foothills of the pyrenees close to the french border, la rioja turns out what most people have in mind when they think of spanish wines. the wine rioja is made from grapes grown not only in region la rioja, but also in parts of navarre and the basque province álava. rioja is further subdivided into three zones: rioja alta, rioja baja and rioja alavesa. a wine tour in rioja should combine old wineries with modern ones to understand both the rich tradition of the rioja region and the changes that have also taken place. here are some of the best vineyards for a visit: herederos de marqués de rascal, bodegas riojanas, bodegas muga and la rioja alta.
for more information: http://www.tasterioja.es/

this region in the north-western corner of spain produces white wines praised by as the perfect accompaniment to local seafood. the marketing name for the product is el vino del mar (sea wine), but the denominación de origen prefer to call it rias baixas and ribeiro. it is one of the main tourist attractions because of the ´camino´ of santiago de compostela and its cathedral. it is a rainy and wet region with a mediterranean climate and it is also a destination with a big selection of beaches and bays to choose from. per-capita wine consumption in galicia is the highest in spain; a majority of the wine produced here was formerly consumed locally. now things have changed and the wine from galicia is internationally popular. bodega morgadio is a very famous winerie.
for more information: http://www.turgalicia.es/



Read Full Post »

with 512 metres (1,680 ft), the tibidabo, a union of the latin words “dabo tibi” (“i will give”), is the highest peek of the serra de collserola mountain range. with its location in the north west of barcelona it offers spectacular views over the city and its surrounding, on clear days you might even get a glimpse of the montserrat monastery. but not only the great landscape attracts tourists from all over the world, also the amusement park with its ferris wheel and other exhilarating rides and the spectacularly beautiful temple expiatori del sagrat cor are reasons why people make the effort to come up the tibidabo.


on top of the tibidabo mountain visitors can enjoy a spectacular panoramic view of the city

temple expiatori del sagrat cor
the expiatory church of the sacred heart of jesus is a roman catholic church and minor basilica located on the summit of mount tibidabo. the building dating back to its construction start in 1902 is the work of the catalan architect enric sagnier and was completed by his son josep maria sagnier i vidal, as it took almost 60 years until this masterpiece was finished. the exterior is defined by the beautiful romanesque crypt topped by a monumental neo-gothic church. the church is crowned by an enormous bronze statue of the sacred heart. the interior of the crypt is open for all visitors, who may also use the elevator and stairs to go up to the base of the bronze statue and enjoy even more spectacular views and a visit of the inside of the church itself. there are also daily messes in the church that all visitors are welcome to attend.


a full view of the beautiful church and the inside of the romanesque crypt

tibidabo amusement park
this magical place and a true barcelona landmark dates back more than 100 years and is one of the oldest amusement parks in the world. more than 25 rides and attractions for all ages and 3 great rollercoasters, costumed characters and all services you normally find in an amusement park guarantee thrills and lots of fun for the whole family. most of the park´s original rides, some of which date back to the turn of the 20th century, are still in use. one of the most famous ones, the 1928 red aeroplane ride, is a single car carousel giving visitors the impression of flying above the city. riders will board a replica of the aircraft that first flew from barcelona to madrid. the park became very well-known when it was featured in the woody allen film, vicky cristina barcelona.

opening hours of the amusement park: from 2nd march to 30th december on all weekends and public holidays, in the summer months between july and september from every wednesday to sunday.


the rides of the tibidabo amusement park offer excitement high above barcelona

how to get there
there are several ways to travel up the tibidabo mountain. the most prestigious one is certainly the ride with the tramvia blau, which dates back to 1901 and is the most historic means of transportation in all barcelona. at the end of the tramvia track, the funicular will take you up the mountain. an alternative to the tramvia is the regular bus (line 196) arriving at the funicular or the tibibus leaving from placa catalunya that will take you all the way up the tibidabo mountain on days when the amusement park is open. both the regular bus and the tramvia blau depart just outside of the end station of the brown line L7, av. tibidabo. the barcelona hop-on-hop-off busses also have stops for the tramvia blau on their routes.


the Tramvia Blau is Barcelona´s most historic means of transportation

for more information on the tibidabo please visit http://www.tibidabo.cat. and for more information on barcelona and tips for hotels and transportation, do not hesitate to contact us. we will be happy to assist you to make sure you have a great time during your visit of barcelona and the tibidabo mountain.

Read Full Post »