Crossing the Border - Barcelona, Spain
One of Carl's must sees while in France was Les Caves Byrrh, so we made a stop in Thuir to visit the well-known vermouth factory.
Two brothers, Pallade and Simon Violet, created this unique apéritif by combining various plant extracts with local cinchona bark in 1866. The wine was first advertised as medicinal and "prescribed" to people complaining of various aches and pains. While its popularity began to decline after World War II, you can definitely find it across Europe and at some liquor stores here in the states.
This is the largest vat in the world, with the ability to hold 1,000,200 liters of vermouth. Lucky for us they let you have a taste after building up the hype!
Next stop: a hike to Dolmen Na Cristiana
With Carl's navigation, I drove us up into the Pyrenees and ditched the car. We're now in the mountainous town of L'Albere.
We continued on foot!
Found it. A dolmen is a megalithic tomb, and most in western Europe like this one were built 7,000 years ago. Scholars and scientists cannot figure out exactly who built these and why. It's fascinating that there are various dolmens around the world, stretching to India and Korea, but no one has been able to figure out how they're all connected. If I could go back and do college over again, I would want to be some type of archaeologist or historic preservationist. I live for this kind of thing!
We had the whole trail and surrounding area to ourselves.
The yellow markers led us back down.
Gosh, the view was stunning. We spotted these little groupings of French homes across the landscape, and were envious of that kind of solitude and nature we don't always get to enjoy in New York.
Pooped from our hike, we got back on the road to drive the last bit into Barcelona.
A funny side story: When Tess and I returned the car, the office was closed with instructions to just drop the keys and your rental confirmation in a box. But I left the printed confirmation in my backpack that Carl had taken up to our Airbnb with the luggage. I called the rental company and a very nice man told me to scribble the confirmation number with my name on a piece of paper to leave with the key. Between the two of us (and the security guard) no one had paper. Tess hands me one of those giant bandaids, and we improvise. By some miracle the person collecting this the next day didn't toss the wrapper! I'm sure whoever it was had a good chuckle! We sure did.
We're finally in Barcelona! And in a charming Airbnb in El Born.
On our way to the beach, we stopped by one of Gaudí's famous architectural masterpieces. He was hired in 1906 to design a unit in the apartment building, Casa Milà, but the roof is the true standout.
Tip: If you can still pass for being in college, bring your student ID with you for a discounted ticket!
Ah, Barcelona it's great to be back! I hope you'll stick around for one final post of our time at Primavera Sound music festival, an amusement park at the top of a mountain, and I return to my favorite Gaudí spot.