Today is Thanksgiving in the US. An ordinary day here in Denmark. We celebrated our ‘Day of Thanks’ this past weekend in beautiful Skagen, Denmark. I’ll share photos from that trip next time. It would have been appropriate to share that post today, but as the holiday season gets into full swing, the calendar is looking busy and blog posts are back-logged. We have a nativity sheep learning her lines, a few festive gatherings to attend, I’m working to complete a school paper before we travel home for Christmas, and of course there are always life’s regular chores to keep up with. All the more reason to be ever-so-grateful for these little getaways that have allowed us to personally recharge and reconnect as a family. You don’t have to “get away” to do that, but for us it’s what works the best. We are missing our extended loved-ones a little more than usual today, yet so very thankful for this little family everyday.
Our last few days in Catalonia were spent exploring the Penedes and Priorat regions. Although we’ve spent a pretty extensive amount of time in Spain over the years, these were areas we had never ventured into before. Most visitors hug Spain’s coastline – and for good reason. In particular, the area north of Barcelona, La Costa Brava, is a favorite of mine. We didn’t have time for both, so the more adventurous and less familiar won out. However, not without a little goodbye-hug to that coastline. We stopped for a few hours in Sitges to play on the beach and fill up the tank (ours – not the car’s) before our drive inland. Although popular with tourists, Sitges remains charming. Especially in low season.
A lo mejor algunos de ustedes no saben que puedo hablar español. Sí, es cierto! If you have another language, it is great to have the opportunity to use it. This is not only fun, but necessary if you wish to keep it up. Thankfully for me, I learned at birth, so I don’t think it will ever completely leave me, but there is a layer of rust that constantly threatens to invade that part of my brain if I don’t use it. He would probably say I’m giving him too much credit, but Brett knows Spanish too. It has been a pleasure to watch him learn and evolve this skill over the years. He would like to keep improving and we would like the girls to learn (they are getting there); so naturally, this is another reason we love traveling to Spain. However, it is the same reason that we are somewhat hesitant to call Catalonia our favorite region. There is soooo much to love about it, but when you look around, most things are written in Catalan. Granted, Spanish is spoken equally, but it just puts a tiny dent in our language learning plans. People from Catalonia don’t like to hear me say this. Obviously, they are very passionate about keeping their language, which is fair enough. Perhaps one day I’ll learn Danish and Catalan – two of the least spoken languages of the world.
Then, we drove into the Penedès – one of Spain’s wine-producing regions, perhaps better known for its bubbly cava. It was a beautiful drive! We kept stopping to admire the fall colors.
Our one-night-stop was Hotel/Restaurant Sol i Vi. There was an outdoor play area for the kids (always a bonus!) and nice views of the surrounding valley. It was a very decent hotel and excellent restaurant. We were shown how to make Pa amb tomàquet (Bread with Tomato) – crusty, country-style bread, rubbed with raw garlic and a ripe tomato and drizzled with olive oil. So simple. So good. Jamon serrano is carved right at the table, along with fresh cheese from a huge wheel. Everything was delicious.
The following day, we stopped at the Castel de St. Martin Sarocca…
After that, the names of the towns get a bit hazy. At some point the mission changed from exploring delightful villages to becoming focused on finding a place for lunch. We wandered through a few towns that felt completely deserted. Not only was it low season, but it was the all day siesta, otherwise known as…Sunday.
We were lucky to find anything open. We happened upon an establishment that had a few men drinking beer and watching car racing. Feeling rather out-of-place, we walked inside. We ordered some drinks, bikinis (toasted ham and cheese) for the kids and few tapas. The food was good and within 30 minutes the place was lively and packed with locals. We were glad we took the chance on it.
Brett found a great place for us to stay in the Priorat – Mas Ardevol. You know when you drive along a winding road in the mountains and you see a little house and wonder what it would be like to live in such a secluded place? This is how you could describe the location of this B&B. You wouldn’t even guess it was there, tucked into a hillside that is covered with dusty grape vines.
We arrived around 4pm and found out that there was 1 restaurant open in the nearby town. It wasn’t going to open until 9pm. We had a few hours to kill. We built a fire in the wood stove, I knit, Brett read, the girls played outside with the friendly Labrador and built rock fairy houses until it got dark, we played about 5 rounds of “memory” and our tummies grew very hungry.
Having lived in the city for 2 and a half year, the silence was profound and the peace and tranquility was much appreciated.
The next day, it was about a 2 hour drive to the Barcelona airport. Our family break in Catalonia had come to an end. Thanks for traveling along with us!