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Old 02-10-2013, 09:51 AM   #286
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Well it sounds like such a fun time!
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Old 02-11-2013, 09:58 AM   #287
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I'm so happy I found this, Brandi! It will help me combat the post-cruise blues! Heading back to read.....
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Old 02-11-2013, 10:08 AM   #288
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dgbg100106

It is just an excuse for us to have a dinner party.

I had neighbors about 7 years ago that were from a little town outside Beijing and they were having a hard time making friends here in our neighborhood, so David and I decided to throw a Chinese New year's Party and have everyone over.

Our neighbors were so impressed they took pictures and sent them home to their family to show what we were doing.

It was kinda funny but it is just a tradition that has stuck.
That's really sweet!
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Old 02-11-2013, 11:18 AM   #289
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Originally Posted by Piglets Mommy View Post
I'm so happy I found this, Brandi! It will help me combat the post-cruise blues! Heading back to read.....
Anytime, you know you are welcome here...
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Old 02-11-2013, 11:24 AM   #290
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Barcelona Tours

As I mentioned before, we have been to Barcelona and seen a lot of the city on that visit.

But Montserrat is the one place we have been looking to go to. Also, a friend of mine mentioned the Dali museum, where all of the furniture is really wild and out there, so that is on our list as a maybe. Depends really on time.

But I found a few tours that are being offered while we are there. The problem we are finding, is that we would have to hire a driver for the day if we went on our own or we could try and take public transportation to all the different places.

So, I am just listing ideas here for me to look into more and decide how we are going to get there or if it is worth it to take a tour.

Girona and Figueres Tour
Price: 89 Euros per person
Duration: Approx 8 hours
Itinerary:
- Pick-up from hotel
- Proceed to Girona. Among the places we will visit are the Jewish Quarter & the Romanesque Cathedral (very small admissions (approx 2-4 Euros) to sites are not included and may be purchased as preferred). We will give you free time to explore the hidden gems on your own and at your own pace.
- Visit the Dali museum in the city of Figueres. You will have sufficient time to explore this most unique art Hall where Dali’s most famous work is exhibited. Prepare for some crazy and fun art displays!
- Transfer back to hotel
* Note: if the group is 6 persons or less the tour will be done with a driver-guide only. If more than 6 persons sign up we will have a dedicated guide that will also provide guidance inside the Dali Museum.


Montserrat and Cava Tour
Price: 89 Euros per person
Duration: Approx 8 hours
Itinerary:
- Pick-up from hotel
- Enjoy a safe and comfortable ride and see the great views along the way to Montserrat
- Explore Mount Montserrat and the famous Basilica
- Hear Europe’s oldest children choir (if playing on the day of visit)
- Enjoy guided visit inside a famous Cava (winery) and learn all about the process of cava making
- Drop-off at the hotel
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Old 02-11-2013, 11:52 AM   #291
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Dali Museum

On the web I found that you can take the train or a bus from Barcelona to Figueres close to the Dali Museum.

Train: RENFE train line from Barcelona to Portbou. Stop in Figueres. The Dalí Theatre-Museum is 12 minutes walking.

Bus: SARFA regular line, station in Figueres. The Dalí Theatre-Museum is 12 minutes walking.

Taxis: in front of the train station and at the Rambla (city centre)


The Train website is here: http://www.renfe.com/EN/viajeros/horarios.html

The train departure and arrival times, and length of travel time to Figueres from Barcelona: The MD is 15 Euros each and the REGIONAL are 11.20 Euros each. Maybe the difference in time is worth the price... There are also 10 different locations in Barcelona for the train stop, so we would have to figure out which one is closest to the Hotel we are at.

So at 89 euros for the tour and they pick you and drop you off, of we spend 30 euros each just for the train ride.



Train / Route Departure Arrival Duration
15901 MD 05.56 07.44 1 h. 48 min.
15827 REGIONAL 06.16 08.26 2 h. 10 min.
15009 MD 06.46 08.36 1 h. 50 min.
15829 REGIONAL 07.16 09.36 2 h. 20 min.
15077 MD 08.22 10.12 1 h. 50 min.
15825 REGIONAL 09.16 11.28 2 h. 12 min.
15095 MD 10.16 12.06 1 h. 50 min.
15831 REGIONAL 11.16 13.26 2 h. 10 min.
15079 MD 11.46 13.36 1 h. 50 min.
15005 MD 12.46 14.34 1 h. 48 min.
15833 REGIONAL 13.16 15.26 2 h. 10 min.
15097 MD 14.16 16.06 1 h. 50 min.
15837 REGIONAL 15.16 17.26 2 h. 10 min.
15099 MD 16.16 18.06 1 h. 50 min.
00460 TALGO 16.42 18.14 1 h. 32 min.
15839 REGIONAL 17.16 19.26 2 h. 10 min.
15081 MD 17.46 19.36 1 h. 50 min.
15083 MD 18.16 20.06 1 h. 50 min.
15085 MD 18.46 20.38 1 h. 52 min.
15841 REGIONAL 19.16 21.34 2 h. 18 min.
15087 MD 19.46 21.38 1 h. 52 min.
15007 MD 20.46 22.46 2 h.
15917 MD 21.46 23.41 1 h. 55 min.


The return on train from Figueres to Barcelona:The MD is 15 Euros each and the REGIONAL are 11.20 Euros each.


Train / Route Departure Arrival Duration
15010 MD 05.44 07.39 1 h. 55 min.
15046 MD 05.59 07.53 1 h. 54 min.
15060 MD 06.43 08.39 1 h. 56 min.
15062 MD 07.13 09.09 1 h. 56 min.
15804 REGIONAL 07.28 09.39 2 h. 11 min.
15066 MD 08.19 10.09 1 h. 50 min.
15806 REGIONAL 08.58 11.09 2 h. 11 min.
15068 MD 09.49 11.39 1 h. 50 min.
00463 TALGO 10.13 11.48 1 h. 35 min.
15808 REGIONAL 10.58 13.09 2 h. 11 min.
15070 MD 11.49 13.39 1 h. 50 min.
15810 REGIONAL 12.55 15.09 2 h. 14 min.
15090 MD 13.49 15.39 1 h. 50 min.
15002 MD 14.19 16.09 1 h. 50 min.
15812 REGIONAL 14.58 17.09 2 h. 11 min.
15072 MD 15.49 17.39 1 h. 50 min.
15814 REGIONAL 16.28 18.39 2 h. 11 min.
15018 MD 17.19 19.09 1 h. 50 min.
15818 REGIONAL 17.58 20.09 2 h. 11 min.
15074 MD 18.49 20.39 1 h. 50 min.
15820 REGIONAL 19.28 21.39 2 h. 11 min.
15000 MD 20.29 22.19 1 h. 50 min.
15904 MD 20.50 22.39 1 h. 49 min.

The bus would take 3:30 each way, and the cost 8 Euros each way for each person. I am not liking the bus, that to me is just way to long on a commuter bus.


Now granted this is if we decided to go to the Dali Museum.

here are some pictures from the museum...









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Old 02-11-2013, 12:09 PM   #292
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I am so excited for you, Brandi! Both cruises aound amazing. I love all the dresses, but expescially the polka dot one and the one with the red. But I can see the bottom one being best for Capitol Hill, so any will work! I think you need to do the winery tour!
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Old 02-11-2013, 12:42 PM   #293
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Piglets Mommy View Post
I am so excited for you, Brandi! Both cruises aound amazing. I love all the dresses, but expescially the polka dot one and the one with the red. But I can see the bottom one being best for Capitol Hill, so any will work! I think you need to do the winery tour!
The winery tour sounds so like me... I will have to look into it some more.
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Old 02-11-2013, 01:10 PM   #294
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Spanish Cava

From an online source or two, maybe 5....


The History of Cava, Spanish Sparkling Wine

Champagne was the first sparkling wine and it is the most famous. Only wines made in the Champagne region of France may be called Champagne. Spain produces many fine sparkling wines, called cava after the cellars in which the wine is produced. These wines are made in the “méthode champenoise” or “Champagne method,” which is the same method that is used to make Champagne.

Josep Raventós Fatjó of the Codorníu estate is said to have been the first to produce wine made in this method in Sant Sadurní d’Anoia, (Cataluña,) Spain in 1872. He was so happy with the wine he made, that he ordered a cool cellar or cava dug in order to produce more sparkling wine. In a few short years , the family introduced their first bottles of cava to the public. It was an instant success, particularly with high society. Soon, sparkling wine from the Codorníu estate was being sent to the Spanish royal family. Today, thousands of visitors tour the Codorníu winery and cellars in Sant Sadurní d’Anoia in Cataluña.

Besides Codorníu, there are hundreds of sparkling wine producers in the area south of Barcelona called Penedés. The other sparkling wine producer which comes to mind immediately is Freixenet, pronounced “fresh-eh-net.” Its’ “cordon negro” product, a cava in a matte black bottle with gold writing.


How Cava is Produced

High quality sparkling wines, including cava and French champagne contain bubbles of carbon dioxide. How do the bubbles get there?

First, the grapes are harvested and a white wine is produced. Several types of wine may be blended. Three grape varieties native to Spain are Xarello, Macabeo and Parellada.

Tirajo is the second step - The bottle is filled with the blended wine, then a syrupy mixture of yeast and sugars is added, called licor de tirajo. The yeast will cause the secondary fermentation to occur in the bottle. At this stage, the bottled wine is then transferred to the cellar with a temporary stopper.

The Second Fermentation is next – The yeasts convert the sugar to carbon dioxide. This second fermentation and bottle aging occurs in the bottle and lasts for nine months at a temperature between 55 and 59 degrees Fahrenheit.

During the second fermentation/aging, the bottles are turned occasionally. This process is called remuage and in some wineries, this is still done by hand. This turning of the bottles causes the residue from the yeast to collect in the neck of the wine bottle. The neck of the bottle is then frozen, which forces the sediment out and the bottle is re-corked immediately.


Grades or Qualities of Cava

In 1991 EU (European Union) legal specifications were implemented to make sure that there was a consistent quality standard for Cava and at the same time, the EU recognized the origin of cava. However, there are very few producers of cava outside Cataluña. A star with four-points is printed on the base of the cork of any true cava. The six official types are as follows, depending on the sugar content:

Extra Brut – 0-6 grams of sugar per liter, the driest of the cava

Brut – 0-15 grams of sugar per liter

Extra Seco – 12-20 grams of sugar per liter

Seco – 17-35 grams of sugar per liter

Semi-Seco – 33-50 grams of sugar per liter

Dulce – More than 50 grams of sugar per liter, the sweetest of the cava


Buying Cava


Fortunately for those of us living in the USA, it is easy to find in almost any large grocery store. Prices of high quality Spanish cava are very favorable, in comparison to French Champagne or California sparkling wine!

In general, the more expensive, the drier the cava. The less expensive cava is much sweeter. If you read the label on the less expensive bottles, you'll see that it is probably Semi-Seco.

Three brands of Spanish cava that you are likely to see in the store are:

Codorníu – As we mentioned, the oldest and largest cava producer, with a variety of products available. If you are looking for something special, the company recently released a new product Gran Reserva Gran Codorníu, which according to the legal definition of a Gran Reserva has spent 30 months in the bottle.

Freixenet – Again, a large cava producer, with a variety of products available. Although you may see their Carta Nevada Semi-Seco product in stores, in a clear glass bottle, the most popular (and higher quality) is the dramatic-looking Cordon Negro, which is a Brut cava and comes in a black bottle, with gold lettering on a black label. Also sold in a black bottle, but with silver accents is the Gran Cordon Negro, a Brut cava and a bit better quality.

Segura Viudas – is a relative new-comer. The winery was established in 1950 and sold their first wines publicly in 1959. They produce a variety of sparkling wines, their premier product being Reserva Heredad, which is sold in a bottle with a highly decorative metal ring around the bottom of the bottle and a metal crest on the side. This is a good quality cava and a nice holiday gift, as well.


Enjoying Cava

Spanish drink lots of cava during the holidays, especially at Christmas Eve Dinner, La Noche Buena and New Year’s Eve, La Noche Vieja. It is generally drunk after dinner and paired with Spanish sweets, such as turrón.

We recommend that you put the bottle of cava in the freezer or an ice chest filled with ice and bring out each bottle only when you are ready to drink it. (If you put bottles in the freezer, make sure not to forget about them or they will explode and you will have a sticky mess to clean up!) Cava should be served very cold to really enjoy it – about 46 to 48 degrees Fahrenheit. Serve in chilled flute champagne glasses so that the bubbles last longer, since they must travel farther before they break the surface. Place the glasses in the freezer for at least a half-hour before you will use them. Chilled glasses help to keep the cava cold.

As you are sipping your Spanish Cava this Holiday season, make a toast as the Spanish do with a resounding… ¡Próspero Año Nuevo!, to a Prosperous New Year!


So on the tour that I am looking at it is the Codorniu winery that will be visited!

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Old 02-13-2013, 05:21 AM   #295
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I'm excited to be seeing the Dali museum vicariously. But that Cava sounds amazing!!!
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Old 02-13-2013, 09:13 AM   #296
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I'm excited to be seeing the Dali museum vicariously. But that Cava sounds amazing!!!
The more I look at the Dali museum, the more I want to go, and of course I will be having several glasses of Cava...
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Old 02-13-2013, 12:57 PM   #297
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My only thought is that with a driver you're not wasting any time getting from place to place. Buses are constantly stopping.
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Old 02-13-2013, 01:15 PM   #298
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My only thought is that with a driver you're not wasting any time getting from place to place. Buses are constantly stopping.
That is very true for the Public buses, but if I go through the tour company, I should not have that trouble.

Or are you thinking that I hire a private driver to take us? Hmmmm?
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Old 02-13-2013, 01:24 PM   #299
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That is very true for the Public buses, but if I go through the tour company, I should not have that trouble.

Or are you thinking that I hire a private driver to take us? Hmmmm?
Is the tour company 89 each person or the hired car? Is language going to be a problem navigating the public transportation?
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Old 02-13-2013, 01:43 PM   #300
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Is the tour company 89 each person or the hired car? Is language going to be a problem navigating the public transportation?
The tour company is 89 each. We usually get the hotel to hire the car for us, so they could give information at least to get us there.

I know it sounds crazy, but I just take the Hotel business card, and hand it to people, like this is where I want to go....

The Hilton always has English speaking personnel on hand.
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