It’s easy to stick to the main tourist trails when you are venturing out of your Barcelona holiday rental for the first time. Sometimes, by doing this you miss out on some of the incredibly vibrant and historically rich areas of the city. There are many areas of Barcelona which remain relatively untouched by tourists, now is the time to visit the El Born district before everyone else discovers its magical allure.
About El Born
El Born has grown into one of Barcelona’s most fashionable districts, located next to the popular and touristy area of the Gothic Quarter, it was originally a settlement which was used to host medieval jousts and celebrations. These days El Born is the place where the hip crowd eat, drink and shop. The cafes and tapas bars are much cheaper than the main tourist areas so you can enjoy a full family meal even on a budget.
It’s not just about the shopping and nightlife either. The Picasso museum is located here with many works of art featured from when he resided in the city. Also if you have an interest in fashion, you can visit the famous textile museum which was home to the textile guilds of Barcelona.
The Church of Santa Maria del Mar has an interesting history and wonderful interior architecture which shouldn’t be overlooked. As these areas are relatively untapped by tourists, there are hardly any queues to visit the attractions and museums (with the exception of the popular Picasso museum).
If retail therapy is your thing, the
multitude of shoe shops and boutiques will tempt your purse strings, many
international upcoming independent stores have chosen El Born as the place to
launch their flagship stores – you may even find the next Gucci or Chanel here!
With great shops, nightlife and café culture it’s hard not to love this area, but it’s catching on quickly, so take a day away from your vacation rental in Barcelona and discover it now while it is still relatively tourist free and reasonably priced.
When we think about Catalan wines (which are perfect for enjoying at your luxury villa with private pool in Spain!), we tend to think about the major wine-growing regions such as DO Empordà from northern Catalonia and DO Alella wines from the Mediterranean coast. We rarely stop to consider one of Catalonia’s smallest wine-growing regions: Pla de Bages, located within the Province of Barcelona.
About Pla de Bages
Covering just 600 hectares, Pla de Bages is the smallest DO region in all of Catalonia, but despite its size it certainly has a lot to offer. Believed to be named after Bacchus, the Roman God of Wine, a large number of grape varieties are grown here, including the red varieties of Garnatxa and Ull de Llebre and picapoll for white wines. Boasting two different types of soil, Pla de Bages is renowned for its diverse offerings.
Right on Trend
Believe it or not, Pla de Bages is actually one of the oldest locations in Barcelona for wine growing, but its agricultural challenges of the past have made growth and development slower than other regions. However, thanks to the influx of ‘boutique’ wines on offer here, Pla de Bages is said to the ‘the next big thing’ in Catalan wines, offering trendier reds, whites, and sparkling cavas than their competitors.
Visiting Pla de Bages
There are a number of tours that you can take of Pla de Bages, which take you right into the heart of the 13th-century chateau where the magic happens, and demonstrate the processes that help this region offer the highest quality wines in Barcelona. For easy access to the region, rent a house in Barcelona and rent a car locally; it’s less than an hour’s drive from the city centre to Pla de Bages.
Having an inimitable character in a story line can be a challenge, but once you have a grip on the right slant, you can go on and on. After succeeding in a plot around Spanish wines, I was awed by the huge reputation it enjoys and the nonquantifiable gift that nature has bestowed with the favorable Mediterranean weather.
I could not but gush and feel cheated that some people live all their lives in such an environment that promises a 24/7 holiday scenery while the rest of us are harassed by a mix of extreme winters and haunted by the fading autumn.
It is a rare delight to see the process that goes into the production of Spanish wines: from the orchards where the wine trees are grown to the winery that presses out the vintage taste. Here, you come face to face with the enterprise that has such legendary reputation. Planning a month-long vacation around the orchards of Catalonia gave me a unique opportunity to observe how the orchards are kept and maintained.
I could see the farms through the eyes of my slowly but firmly developing lead character that I have pictured as San Pedro and his wife, Serita. I could see tourists who have on their schedule, wine tasting routines that showed their love for Spanish wines, and the lure of the countryside with its romantic slant. I could imagine San Pedro and his wife enjoying their honeymoon on the fringe of the orchards, where a castle stood in regal fashion.
The flowing streams found at the mountain range around the Catalan region formed a building block of the early life of San Pedro‘s family. Escaping to the streams was a sort of ritual that they could not do without every day as the evening sets in. You can appreciate the mix of Spanish wines, flowing streams and an orchard in one package. This should not sound like a fairy tale, as many tourists who troop to this lovely terrain, have more than an experience that they can relive.
Making an escape to Catalan orchards part of your yearly vacation, will not be just a refreshing routine but a rejuvenating experience that gives you the closest short to experience nature. All of this in an untainted ecosystem that offers everyone, some reprieve from the stress of daily life. At eventide, Spanish wines are there to enjoy, from vintage secrets to fresh brews, the range of options is more than salivating to tourists that find a second home around here.
People can always have what they desire if they take time to plan and prepare for it. Your Catalan escape will be no different from this if you make your bookings and get your budget ready for that experience of a lifetime.