What is Cava?

What is Cava?

Cava is a champagne style sparkling wine made in Spain, and is known for being a more affordable choice for your celebratory occasions like New Year’s Eve and weddings. If you’re a fan of bubbly but have always wondered what the difference is between all these varieties like Champagne, Prosecco and Cava, we’re here to give you a little more information.

Naturally, we will be highlighting our Spanish preference and trying to answer the pressing question, what is cava? Because, well, we’re biased. We can only do so, however, in light of the other varieties, so get ready for your annual wine lesson – something it’s good to study up on at least a little before visiting Catalonia.

What is Cava?

Cava is a simple aperitif made primarily from three Spanish grape varieties. It is neither as sweet as Italian Prosecco nor as nutty as Vintage Champagne, making it the perfect middle ground and crowd pleasing bubbly beverage to serve your guests. While it typically uses Spanish varieties of grapes rather than French varieties, Cava is produced in the traditional French Champagne method. What makes Cava different, essentially, is that it is made in Spain with Spanish Grapes.

How Is Cava Made?

What sets sparkling wines apart from their counterparts is all in the bottling process, which is when the bubbles are formed. After being bottled, cava wine continues to ferment for months or even years. The bottles are capped with crown caps (like those used for beer bottles), and slanted down to allow all the yeast to settle in the neck of the bottle where the pressure will build up the most. After fermentation the tip of the bottle is then submerged in a freezing solution and a few inches of it are turned to ice, at which point the cap is removed, and the pressure in the bottle will actually expel the ice plug that has formed. The vintner will then top the bottle off and cork it.

Types of Cava

Finally, you probably want to know what all the different types of Cava are in your quest, asking questions such as “what is cava brut?” There are three types of Cava, all of which are made with a blend of the three main grapes used in cava production, which are Macabeu, Parellada, and Xarel-lo, all of which are white varieties. Brut and Brut Nature Cava is a fruity style that has become popular because it is lower in calories than the other styles. It is fruitier also, making it the perfect aperitif. Cava Rosé is, of course, pink, meaning that vintners add other grapes into the mix to get this color, which is most likely the Spanish Garnacha and Monastrell varieties. Pinot Noir is also becoming a common addition. Finally Vintage and Aged Cava is more in line with the original French Champagnes and is known for having a more nutty and toasty flavor with zesty aromatics like apple and almond.   

Now you are ready for your cava drinking experience here in Barcelona, which you’re sure to find at any cocktail hour or included in many a sangria recipe. You can either be spared having to ask your bartender, “What is cava champagne?” or you can boldly ask away and learn even more!

 

Things to Do at Marina Port Vell

Things to Do at Marina Port Vell

If you’re heading to the Mediterranean coast while visiting Barcelona, or maybe to check out the 1992 Olympic Complex while there, you’ll certainly catch a glimpse of the stunning Marina Port Vell. Whether you’ve got a thing for boats or just want to take a stroll along the water, this little cove of luxury is a wonderful place to enjoy the ocean views, and perhaps even a fancy cocktail. Translated into English as Old Harbor, the Marina’s recent rebuilding is a reimagination of this once industrial port.

About Marina Port Vell

Barcelona is in an ideal location for sea merchants and has been a central hub on the Mediterranean since the Middle Ages. Until the early 90’s and the arrival of the Olympics, however, the waterfront area remained largely industrial, with the city putting little effort into the attraction the waterfront could provide. Marina Port Vell and the other waterfront attractions are part of the new Barcelona.  

This upscale marina was built for the 1992 Olympic Games and has now been renovated into a 148-berth luxury yacht facility, docking some of the most stunningly beautiful boats you may ever lay eyes one. Aside from docking boats, which offer a wonderful tourist attraction, Marina Port Vell is also a luxury yacht club where you can enjoy a wonderful gourmet meal on the water, and even start planning your chartered yacht trip.   

The Restaurant at Marina Port Vell

One of the most highly acclaimed restaurants in Barcelona, Marina Port Vell offers a dining experience that is as luxurious as the yachts they dock. Aside from an inventive, beautiful and locally sourced menu, this restaurant also offers one of the most unique views of both the city and the Ocean beyond. If you’re headed here for dinner in the evening you can look forward to a delicious dinner based on age old Catalan cuisine traditions, and a port lit up as if it were Christmas. You can also stop by for a drink on the patio!

Rambla Del Mar

If you are exploring Las Ramblas, the great pedestrian street stretching from La Rambla all the way to Marina Port Vell, take the extra leg down to the water to discover this urban revitalization of Barcelona’s waterfront. Port Vell is much more than a Marina, which you’ll discover along the boardwalk. You’ll see the Maremagnum, a shopping mall with bars, restaurants and a movie Theatre, as well as IMAX Port Vell alongside the famous Aquarium. The Swing Bridge that you’ll cross on your walk allows ships in and out of the harbor and is a beauty to behold all its own.

 

Whether you’re looking for a romantic night out, a place to snap some great photos on the waterfront, or even to hire a private yacht charter for a few days in the Mediterranean, Marina Port Vell is the place to go in Barcelona. If you’re looking to enjoy some luxury on your vacation, or just want to see where the social elite flock to, you’ll love this beautiful area of the city, and it makes for a great walk!

8 Important Catalan Traditions

8 Important Catalan Traditions

Many Catalan traditions have been born of these centuries of intriguing culture and are still practiced today. People visiting Barcelona are often in search of these traditions, whether around holidays, food, or are just looking for the unexpected experience. A city of friendly people, you can easily ask around and get a feel for where to find these wonderful flourishes of Catalan culture. Here are the ones that are most well known and frequented by visitors to the area.

8 Catalan Traditions

  1. Castellers – Meaning “towers” in English, the Catalan Castellers are certainly one of the most famous Catalan traditions around. If you are visiting Barcelona during any national holiday, head to a public square where you may catch a glimpse of these agile natives making human towers reaching as high as three stories in the air. There is also an annual competition on the first Sunday of October in Tarragona that is bound to be breathtaking.
  2. Correfocs – Another wondrous, though a little scary, of the Catalan traditions, is the Correfocs festivals during which there are huge street parades. People run around dressed as devils. Though they aren’t partaking in evil perse, it is certainly tomfoolery involving drums, firecrackers and other wonders you’ll enjoy.
  3. Els Segadors – The national anthem, Els Segadors was written in 1693 when Catalonia fought for its freedom against the Spanish King. You’re bound to hear it sung if you’re around for any holidays, and give it a listen beforehand if you want to be able to sing along.
  4. The Catalan Donkey – The symbol of Catalonia, the donkey became important to the people of this region after nearly going extinct. Two natives circulated donkey silhouette stickers in defense of these animals and saved the species.
  5. Pa amb Tomàquet – Meaning, literally, bread with tomato, this is traditional tapas treat that can be found virtually anywhere in Barcelona.
  6. Calçotada – There is a harvest party each year celebrated mainly this leek-like vegetable. The celebration consists mainly of eating these onions in the traditional manner of roasting them over an open fire and until charred, peeling back the burnt leaves and eating the soft, sweet inner layers.
  7. Tió de Nadal – This Christmas tradition is an odd way that Catalonian children are accustomed to getting gifts in the form of sweets and goodies leading up to the holiday. In every home, you’ll find a hollow tree stump that is filled with little presents and on Christmas eve they take a stick to it and beat all the goodies out.
  8. Caganer – If you are here during Christmas, be prepared to see an odd figure as part of their nativity scene. Caganer is a little boy you’ll see in the manger, with his pants down, taking a poop and so fertilizing the earth for the coming years.

These are a just a taste of the great Catalan traditions you’ll find while visiting the area. Any meal will reveal a number of habits of the region that date back farther than you would imagine. A walk through the Gothic Quarter will likewise bring you right back to Medieval times. It’s a treat to visit this region any time of year!

 

Avinguda Diagonal – Barcelona Diagonal Avenue… Take a Walk on the Wild Side

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On this last weekend of August in Barcelona… today, a unique sun is my ally, my best spotlight… a great part of Avinguda Diagonal is closed to traffic, so I get my phone and a pair of sneakers and invite you to join me in the adventure of finding unique buildings, hidden places and relaxing corners.  So sew your shadow to my feet Peter, and up we go “second to the right and straight on till morning”.

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Let’s start our journey at Plaça Francesc Macià.  I follow the characteristic pavement pattern, onto this urban catwalk.  I have to be careful not to miss a thing… sleek modern buildings next to old classics and Gaudi’s trademarks, make for beautiful patchwork.  The awesome Casa Sayrach (Avinguda Diagonal corner with Enric Granados), stands so elegant, as one of the last buildings of Barcelona modernism. Curved shapes characterize its façade.

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Back to the avenue, amongst luxury shops and nice cafés and restaurants, I get to the terrace, of José Luis, a classic in Barcelona, the restaurant with posssibly the best “tortilla de patata” in town.  Next to it, “Ajo Blanco” (Carrer de Tusset), the other side of the coin, a cool new designer restaurant.  Diagonal-Tusset-Granados… the most interesting edge, an explosion of architecture … La Casa Mas de Miquel, La Casa Sayrach, and the stunning Metro 3 building, where the Habitat store (designer furniture) is located.

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Now I run into the “Barcelona Equestrian circle” (Diagonal corner with Balmes) – SPOTTED:  I’ve heard that you can belong to this select club for a small fee of 12,000 euros, plus the endorsement of four partners and, of course, you must pass a test prior to admission.  Then the doors of the Barcelona Equestrian Circle will never be closed to you.  You can get together with the economic and social elite of Barcelona, enjoy an exquisite coffee or a drink until the wee hours of the morning… but yes, YOU HAVE to wear a tie [at least of you’re a gentleman]. The Circle completely renovated the interior in 1992, including a full gym, a rooftop pool & café and 16 rooms for members and guests.

The club is hosted in the palace “Casa Perez Samanillo” built in 1910, and what catches the eye is one of the most striking elements of the building, a huge oval window overlooking Diagonal… locals call it the “fishbowl of Barcelona”.

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This is amazing!!! No traffic and I’m walking in the middle of the street!!!  I’m arriving at Pilma, one of my favourites deco shops. Not far in distance, now I can see the obelisk marking the cross between Diagonal and Passeig the Gràcia.  To my right, the building of the Barcelona Provincial Council, advising the beginning of another great promenade, the boulevard of Rambla de Catalunya.

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A little further along are the Jardins del Palau Robert and in front of it, on the other side of the avenue, between two glass monsters, the headquarters of the Chamber of Commerce and Deutsche Bank respectively, the Pompeya Church, a jewel of Neo Gothic contemplates the passage of time, unperturbed by it’s big neighbours.

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Those deck chairs are so inviting… I’m done, hope you found it so appealing that you are eager to get your ass away from La Rambla, and discover an atractive brand new world!

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FC Barcelona Legendary Players

FC Barcelona Legendary Players

In 1899 a new modern culture of leisure was born by a group of largely non native men living in Barcelona who were interested in starting a sports club and playing what were then largely British sports like football. Thus, FC Barcelona was born, and its roots are strong in the club’s culture today, who loves to celebrate international talent, but has also built a extensive Catalonian culture. Founder, Joan Gamper, was undoubtedly one of the first FC Barcelona legendary players, and not just for his skill on the pitch, but for his devotion to the growth and legacy of the club. Without Gamper, there would be no further FC Barcelona legendary players to celebrate.

FC Barcelona Legendary Players

  • Carles Comamala – Another one of the club’s founding players, Comamala was a friend and teammate of Gamper. Born to a Basque mother and a father from the Canaries, Comamala was actually from Madrid and brought up in Catalonia, making him a perfect fit for Barcelona’s early days when it was mostly made up of expats. And of course, the fact that he was a prolific striker.
  • Emili Sagi-Barba – Born in Argentina to Catalan parents, Sagi-Barba is considered one of the best FC Barcelona legendary players from the pre-Civil War era. Playing left wing, he was one of the first players to ever rock this side of the field, and become an expert in penalty and corner kicks.
  • Àngel Arocha – Considered one of the leading goal scorers in the Club’s entire history, Arocha’s record was 215 goals in just 207 games. He started his career as one of the FC Barcelona legendary players in 1927 and, from Santa Cruz, was an undoubted first choice striker for the club.
  • César Rodríguez – Yet another of the FC Barcelona legendary players, Rodríguez was a  fantastic goal scorer during his career from 1944 – 1951, and was part of the all star forward line of the 1950s. His best season was 1947 -48 when he scored 27 goals in 24 games, and was known for his powerful headers.
  • Ramón Villaverde – One of the best known South American imports, hailing from Uruguay, among the FC Barcelona legendary players, Villaverde’s career with the club ran throughout the 1950s and 60s. Not only was he a man of astounding endurance, playing center midfield, he was also known for his great humility. Having been loaned out from FB Barcelona for his last year on contract, he reportedly said, “I’m not too old for football yet, but I am too old to play for Barça.”
  • Sergi Barjuan – A Barcelona native, Barjuan is a product of the club’s youth soccer program and made his debut with the pros in 1993 as a first choice starter. He went on to play in the 1994 World Cup in the USA in his prized fullback position.

These FC Barcelona legendary players are just a small selection of the many team members over the years that have given this club such a successful history and loyal following. These men, especially from the early years, are even responsible for creating the rich and lively culture around football in Barcelona, something it would be hard to imagine this city without. Be sure to catch a game at Camp Nou the next time you’re in town during the season!

 

Business Apartments in Barcelona

Business Apartments in Barcelona

Barcelona is a lovely place for a business trip, even if you are completely inundated with work for your entire stay. Part of what makes it such an enjoyable trip are the amazing business apartments in Barcelona that allow for your work trip to feel more like a luxurious vacation. Flats around the city are designed for the utmost comfort and productivity, mixing a charming homey feel with a professional atmosphere suitable for meetings or entertaining business partners. With all the business services you can imagine, bizFlats are the perfect place to stay on your trip, or even to relocate a team or department for an extended stay in the city.

Full-Service Business Apartments in Barcelona

All equipped with free WiFi, computer jacks, and other tech equipment set-ups, our business apartments in Barcelona are perfect for your next trip to the area. We offer a full range of housekeeping services, and can even help you with equipment rentals, restaurant recommendations, limo services, or set you up with massages and other spa specials. We love helping professionals settle into their business apartments in Barcelona, and to help them save 50 percent of what they would spend in a hotel! Here are some of the business apartments in Barcelona to check out.

  1. kissMe – With beautiful modern furniture and dramatic and funky decor, this 2 bedroom flat can sleep four people. A fully equipped kitchen is the perfect place to host a catered lunch or dinner, or unwind after a long day of hard work with a team building cooking activity. The kissMe balcony overlooks a charming street in l’Eixample.
  2. LaMimosa – You will feel truly pampered in this business apartment in Barcelona ready to sleep you and 5 of your colleagues in the convenient l’Eixample neighborhood. The modern kitchen and living room offer plenty of space for meetings and fun team gatherings, and the bedrooms are both charming and luxurious at LaMimosa.
  3. Ferran Batik – This penthouse apartment in Pedralbes is sure to make you and your coworkers feel like royalty. With a private terrace all to yourself on which to enjoy lunch breaks and evening cocktails, you’ll have no problem being cooped up in here for a day of hard work. Ferran Batik sleeps five people with plenty of space for entertaining associates, and all the amenities you will need in a business apartment in Barcelona.  
  4. Parsifal – This charming apartment not only has the perfect simplicity in its decor for both inspiration and a few distractions, but is also ideally located right on La Rambla, Barcelona’s most popular pedestrian street. Not only will you be enjoying the utmost comfort in this perfect business apartment in Barcelona, but you can pop out to La Rambla any time you like for a quick snack or a business meeting at one of the many terrace cafes. Parsifal is a great place to mix business and pleasure!

Visiting Barcelona on business is a huge treat, especially at one of these gorgeous corporate flats – and there are so many more to choose from! If you are looking for a number of business apartments in Barcelona, we can even accommodate larger groups in the same buildings and neighborhoods. Be sure to contact us when planning your next business trip to Barcelona!