10 May

Salvador Dali thought so much of his beloved Gala, that he bought her a castle in a very beautiful part of north eastern Spain. Vintage Travel also thinks this area of Spain is extremely lovely and, as proof, has just added an incredible 18th century house to their armoury of luxurious places to stay for your dream holiday in northern Spain.

The stunning house is situated in town of La Pera, which is loved by artisans and nature lovers alike. Prettiness abounds around La Pera, and the house, known as Mas Noguer, does the region it abounds more than deserved justice.

The owner of this luxury villa in La Pera lives in an adjoining privately entered wing of the house. He is an artist and, by all accounts, sounds very interesting and worth meeting. Mas Nouger’s owner is however discreet and understands fully the need for privacy for holidaymakers and his living quarters do not overlook the huge swimming pool or fabulous garden.

Mas Noguer is packed with authentic features, such as the vaulted ceiling in the kitchen, which was once a manger. The original ceramic tiles of the kitchen are a joy to walk upon, as are the beamed ceilings which run throughout the house. Mas Noguer has seen history and has been history,  right up to the day when a huge 11.5 x 6.0 metre swimming pool was built within its grounds of extensive views and well-kept gardens.

This huge luxury villa in La Pera sleeps eight and even has a lift from the ground floor! The ground floor consists of an entrance hall leading to another hall, which take you on to a covered terrace. There is a living room with a fireplace plus a lift which takes you upstairs to a twin double bedroom. Also on the ground floor is a splendid dining room, a TV sitting room, cloakroom and a further kitchen/ breakfast room.

The first floor boasts a grand library with doors leading to an upper terrace overlooking the pool. Three double bedrooms and one twin double provide the sleeping quarters. Two of the doubles have en suite facilities and another has a shower room.

Despite its antiquated interior appeal you can expect all the usual mod cons in this house, including a dishwasher, microwave and WiFi.

The equally delightful exterior has mature gardens with covered and open terraces. A garden shower room enables you to shower before and after bathing in the truly superb large swimming pool equipped with lavish Roman steps.

If you can manage to prize yourself away from this tremendous Catalan property, there are plenty of local delights just waiting to be discovered. One such local treasure is the nearby town of Pubol. In 1969 Salvador Dali bought and restored the 11th century castle in Pubol, which is now a museum and is considered to be one of the three points of the Dali triangle. You can see Pubol and the castle from Mas Noguer.

The coast is not too far away and is the inland area around La Pera and Pubol, which provides a great day out on the beach for all the family.

For tapas enthusiasts there are plenty of interesting local restaurants in the vicinity of Mas Noguer to ensure that you have a lion’s share of the extremely fabulous choices on offer when it comes to Catalan cuisine.

 


 

15 Mar

Villa Mas Espada – a 14th century manor house in Palafrugell, Catalonia…Wow! Every now and again a property becomes available for holiday rental which “transcends the norm.” A house so wonderful, so historic and so finely finished that you may well wonder if you are worthy of such unrivalled luxury.

Villa Mas Espada in Palafrugell on the Costa Brava in Catalonia is one such property that evokes “Am I worthy?” quips!

The first stones of the foundations for Mas Espada were laid in the 14th century, a whole century and more before Christopher Columbus set sail to discover the Americas and prove that the world was not flat. Or around 100 years before our own King Richard 111 lay famously dying on Bosworth Moor!

Vintage Travel is honoured to have such an historical building on its portfolio.

Catalan Manor house rental Villa Mas Espada is a huge house. There are 10 bedrooms, all en-suite, plus an adjacent ‘caseta’, a smaller house which sleeps four people. In total, Mas Espada can accommodate 24 guests!

A sizeable pool and a full-size tennis court bring a hive of activity to the villa’s extensive gardens, which are immaculately kept and include a huge and pristine lawn. Beyond these inspirational grounds, you are surrounded by gently undulating rolling hills, bedecked with Mediterranean pine and eucalyptus trees. The air smells of pine and lavender, creating an aura of opulence and optimism.

Asides the outdoor pool and tennis courts, there are other ways of keeping active and fit during your stay in Villa Mas Espada. There is a spectacular indoor spa with a heated swimming pool, Jacuzzi, Finnish sauna and fitness area. Of course not everyone wants to train to get fit whilst on holiday, and there is a snooker table for those who desire a less strenuous activity.

A maid pops in every week day to Mas Espada to ensure that fresh bread and croissants are delivered and toiletries are changed daily, even slippers are provided – The kings and queens of the past didn’t have it this good!

The nearby Costa Brava – Brave Coast – is probably the loveliest and most picturesque coastline in the whole of Spain. One of the best ways to discover the area’s superlative shoreline is to walk along it. A particularly great walk close to Mas Espada is from El-Golfet beach all the way to the upmarket fishing village of La Franc, along a well-constructed cliff path, which meanders directly above the sea.

You begin the walk by climbing down hundreds of steps to the secluded cove of El Golfet and commence what is one of Spain’s most beautiful and dramatic sea cliff walks. The path is intermittently broken including when you arrive at the unspoilt fishing village of Calella. This gives you the opportunity stop take in the exquisiteness of the town and to sample the local cuisine at one of Calella’s many splendid sea front bars. After some light refreshments at this affluent coastal village, pick up the cliff path once more, which you take all the way to La Franc – a glamorous Catalonian resort where the likes of Eric Cantona is rumoured to have a holiday home!

All in all this entire region of Catalonia exudes wealth, taste and prosperity, but if you really want to feel like royalty then a stay at Villa Mas Espada is recommended, where seeing Elton John on the tennis court throwing a “wobbler” because David Beckham had just won a set, wouldn’t be surprising!

 


 

21 Feb

The unpretentious and somewhat scruffy town of Figueres not far from the French border in Catalonia boasts a great triumph; it is where the great impressionist painter Salvador Dali was born. While modest and fairly non-descript in its aesthetical appearance, Figueres is an interesting town.


For starters there is the museum, which is dedicated to the life and works of Salvador Dali. Adding further intrigue to the tale is the fact that the legendary artist actually designed the museum himself. Although Salvador Dali is not the only famous Spaniard to be born in this essentially working town that is situated inland from the glamorous and affluent Costa Brava seaside resorts of Calella de Palafrugell, Llafranc and Tamariu.

Narsis Estarriol, who invented the first machine powered submarine and Monica Naranjo, who is one of the best selling Spanish singers over the last two decades, both have roots in Figueres.

As well as the Dali Museum, other main sights in Figueres are the Church of Saint Peter and the old castle built in the 18th century by Ferdinand V1. Though despite the town’s traditionalism and unpretentiousness, a recent claim to fame for Figueres that has helped propel the town into the 21st century is the fact that it has been connected to Spain’s state-of-the-art high-speed rail network, which takes traveller to Perpignon, not far from the Spanish border in France in practically no time at all.

Although the eastern side of the Spanish/French border is a sheer pleasure to experience and speeding by all delightful towns on villages in this beautiful part of the world on a high-speed train, is not recommended if you want to discover this part of Catalonia.

On the road towards Port Bou, for example, which is the last Spanish town on the border and nestled on the foothills of the Pyrenees, you come across a seaside town called Llanca.

All the houses are a stark dazzling white, some old and some new. Llanca is a fairly isolated place, which has a large community of foreigners; mostly Germans and Dutch. Llanca has an impressive marina and is an important fishing port.

Port Bou certainly has a lot of history and charm about it. Wedged in between the last hills of the mighty Pyrenees as they tumble at last into the blue waters of the Mediterranean, the houses rise steeply from the shore up to the railway gauge changeover terminal, which is not at all conspicuous when looking up from the beach.

The trouble was that the Spanish railway system used a different gauge from the trains, which crossed the border from France. So a system had to be devised at Port Bou to change the trains’ chassis ‘pronto’! The Spanish engineers are a clever lot and they managed to do this ‘no problemo’!

Port Bou is a lovely little town and always worth stopping off when either leaving from or returning to Spain.

 


 

25 Jan

Where is the best place to catfish in Spain? Easy, River Ebro!  The Cat-fish is the fresh water monster of Europe and it has to be said that the River Ebro in Catalonia is one of the best rivers in which to try and catch one of these super-large fighting fish. Ever since the Cat-fish was first introduced to the Ebro 35 years ago, this impressive species has done nothing but thrive.


Martin Fawcett of England caught a Cat-fish on the Ebro, which weighed in at a massive 215 pounds and one hundred pound plus Cat-fish are regularly caught in this ecologically-flourishing Spanish river. The English fisherman has been guiding other fishermen on the River Ebro for over 13 seasons and knows exactly where to go for the best catches.

When you hook one of these monsters the initial run out of line can be over 100 metres and these fish have stamina, which will have the fisherman fighting with them for up to an hour before they are landed. The River Ebro is an ideal environment for the Cat-fish and because of plentiful food and a perfect climate, these fish can grow at a rate of ten pounds per season.

If you are looking to catfish in Spain, October can be a particularly beautiful month for fishing in Catalonia. The sun is still warm in the daytime but without the stifling heat of high summer. Whatever time of year you decide to go fishing for Cat-fish, you won’t find many things in life more exciting than watching that float disappear under-water .

Imagine the fight that awaits just after the float ducks under? Imagine hooking a 200 pound giant, that’s the equivalent of landing a light- heavyweight boxer!

It’s no wonder that this stunning Spanish river is so famed amongst the fishing fraternity. In fact the Ebro recently made it into a local Cheshire newspaper as English angler, Frank Warrick of Wilmslow in Cheshire, landed a record catch on the Ebro, with two fish weighing in at over 200 pounds apiece!

Now you know where the best place to Catfish in Spain is, why not take a look at Vintage Travel’s luxury villas in Spain?


 

12 Jan
Antoni Gaudi

There are certain buildings in and around Barcelona that have a unique and wonderful style, which almost look as if they should be made out of sugar and devoured alongside the cake from where they came. These thoroughly distinct architectural marvels are the buildings of Antoni Gaudi, the maverick Catalan architect.

In fact this legendary Spanish architect made buildings that were so fairytale and dream-like that if many more buildings in Barcelona had been designed by Antoni Gaudi, the city would have resembled a fantasy world unlike any other city in the world.

Casa Vicens is a remarkable residential building and was the first independent undertaking by Gaudi. The casa combines superb brickwork with unusual use of Valencian ceramic tile. Inside the building there is incredible wrought iron work and stunning wall paintings.

Gaudi was born in Reus near Barcelona in 1852 and died in a street accident in 1926. The majority of Gaudi’s work lifetime work was dedicated to the Sagrada Familia, which, even today, is still being finished.

The crypt of the Sagrada Familia was built from 1884-1889 and the nativity façade was finished in 1905. The astonishing bell towers that tower above the building were started the year before Gaudi died and were completed by closely associated architecture friends of Gaudi’s in 1930.

During his lifetime Gaudi was predominantly regarded as a modernist, which is an apt description of his work today, as much of his work would not look out of place next to the Sidney Opera House or the London Shard.

With Gaudi’s marvels such as the Casa de Mila, with it’s white tile upper section resembling a snow capped mountain, The Parc Guell, adorned with a fantastic dragon gate and the Casa Batllo, an urban residence in Barcelona, this artistically compelling Spanish city is certainly the place to begin sightseeing the works of one of the world’s most startling and innovative architects.

 


 

23 Dec

The mesmerism of Montserrat: Possibly Spain’s most religious mountain range. Catalonia is home to many impressive mountain ranges but with a unique skyline that represents the teeth of a carpenter’s saw, the mighty Montserrat has to be one of this stunning region’s most inspiring points.

On a clear day – and let’s be honest most days are clear in Spain – you can see the compact and sacred mountain range of Montserrat from hundreds of kilometres away.

There are several tourist attractions at Montserrat, with the Santa Maria de Montserrat, a Benedictine abbey, being the biggest. This ancient monastery is home to a publishing house, which published its first book in 1499 and is one of the oldest presses still in operation in the world.

This wonderful old building is home to 80 monks and a world renowned boy’s choir sings in the basilica on most days at 1.00 p.m. The singing is pure, serene and enchanting and definitely worth catching if you happen to be at the monastery around lunchtime.

Whilst there are several restaurants at Montserrat’s peak, which offer delicious and authentic Spanish cuisine in the most scenically compelling of surroundings, many visitors choose to bring their own food and drink and wine and dine on one of the many picnic areas on Montserrat.

Asides visiting wholly unique historical buildings whilst being surrounded by spectacular nature and views over Catalonia, there are many trails on the Montserrat range to for tourists to roam. The summit ridge is laced with sporadic spires, some of which give extreme sporting challenges to rock climbers.

Many visitors set off on their journey to Montserrat from Barcelona. The best ticket deal is the “Trans Montserrat” and this ticket will get you right up the mountain on either the funicular or the cable car, topping out at Saint Joan.

Whether you are on holiday in Catalonia or just taking a few days in Barcelona, setting aside a full day on Montserrat as a trip to this religious Catalan mountain is certainly recommended and promises an unforgettable experience.

 


 

17 Dec

Unparalleled natural diversity and a birdwatchers’ paradise at Catalonia’s Ebro Delta. The Ebro Delta at the mouth of the River Ebro, defining the border between Catalonia and the rest of Spain, is an area of great and unique natural beauty.

Boasting several lagoons, numerous walking trails and stunning viewpoints, the calm and serene landscapes of the Ebro Delta make it the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of life in Barcelona.

Covering an area of 320 square kilometres, of which 80 kilometres comprise of the Ebro Delta nature reserve, the Ebro Delta is the second largest wetland area in the western Mediterranean, behind the French Camargue.

Bird watching in Catalonia

Bird watching is a huge part of the tourism industry in Spain, and with flamingos flying here to mate, migratory birds stopping off here for a rest and with hundreds of species permanently living here, this popular tourist activity is particularly prevalent on the Ebro Delta.

In fact for wildlife enthusiasts and bird watchers this huge wetland area is one of the Mediterranean’s most important waterfowl breeding areas and provides a natural diversity that is rivalled by little where else.

Expanding land

The Ebro Delta has expanded massively since the 4th century when the town of  Amposta was a seaport. Today Amposta, the capital of the Monsia region in Tarragona, is situated well inland. The Delta grew from millions of tonnes of sediment, washed down stream, towards the Mediterranean, by the mighty River Ebro, creating a unique and fertile addition to the Spanish landscape.

Shrinking land

Although with dam walls trapping the much needed sediment and slowing the flow rate of the river, the Ebro Delta is a delicate place. Decreased rainfall over the last century has not helped as the river does not enter the sea with the same volume of water that it did 100 years ago.

Various conservationists and agriculturalists are working on canals and irrigation ditches in hope of maintaining the status quo of the delta. The wave action of the sea erodes material away from the shoreline but what material will replace the eroded coast?

For now, at least, the Ebro Delta remains one of the least disturbed parts of Spain and because of its splendid beauty, time-honoured human use of cultivating land and unique natural heritage, it is important that the objective is to keep the Ebro Delta as pure as possible is never compromised.

 


 

20 Aug
Luxury villa in Catalonia

Catalonia’s Teula Vella – Breathtaking beauty as far as the eye can see!

Stretching from the quant and interesting Catalan city of Girona, to a point between the towns of Palamos and Castell-Platja d’Aro on the stunning Costa Brava, lies the tree-shrew mountain massif of Les Gavarres.

This mighty emerald mountain range peaks in height at 532 metres with the Puig d’Arques, where views of the Pyrenees and Mediterranean provide a battle with an onlookers’ eyes!

In order to exploit and make the most of the unsurpassable beauty of this region of Catalonia, a stay at the villa of Teula Vella is recommended.

New to Vintage Travel’s portfolio is a luxury villa in Catalonia, Teula Vella really is a touch of class crying out to be enjoyed.

Whilst spending full days gazing out towards the Les Gaverres, the Med and the lush and open meadows that precede the ocean would be wholly understandable, entering this magnificent villa and spying its internal delights is equally as breathtaking.

This six bedroom, three bathroom luxury villa in Catalonia can sleep up to ten guests. The roomy, airy and welcoming house has been done up to an extremely high standard. With wooden ceilings, wooden floors softened by classy rugs, cosy wall lights and lamps, and large windows providing you with constant reminders about the sheer beauty you are firmly amidst, if you are looking for a quality, stylish and memorable accommodation, then Teula Vella is likely to exceed expectations.

Exploiting the breathtaking views the villa’s elevated position crafts is a huge outdoor terrace that is shaded by the grandly arched stone covered barbecue area. To cool yourself down or re-invigorate yourself after an al fresco dinner and drinks, Teula Vella’s south facing pool enticingly beckons.

If you are able to prize yourself away from the astounding vistas and comforts of this luxury villa in Catalonia, then more nearby enchantments await you. Being situated close to a densely wooded conservation area, the region is blessed with numerous country walks in the most picturesque and naturally stunning of surroundings.

For wine enthusiasts Veula Vella is surrounded by vineyards, bringing another fabulous dimension to an already spectacularly diverse landscape.

The small village of Vall Llobrega is just a kilometre away from the house, which contains a highly reputable restaurant, a bakery, a supermarket and nothing much more! Although don’t worry, for a more comprehensive choice of shops, bars and restaurants, the lively, cobbled street, coastal market town of Palamos is close by.

For more information, availability and prices for the luxury villa in Catalonia, Veula Vella, just click the link.

 


 

03 Jan

Girona 2012 – A spellbinding mecca for classical music lovers.

The city of Girona, in the northeast of Catalonia, provides for a captivating and memorable visit for many reasons. Being cited as having ‘all the charm of a large city but without the crowds’, this “human-sized” city can be easily ‘accomplished’ in a day, but what an ‘accomplishment it proves to be.

On top of all the fascinating architecture, the quirky alleyway bars, the abundance of activities for all the family, and riverside picnics taken in the midst of the city, classical music in Girona 2012 offers so much.

Early 2012 is to see an explosion of classical events taking place in this river-bound Catalonian city. On 22 January, 2012, will Bavouzet & Kocsis: Hungarian national Philharmonic Orchestra will be playing at the Auditori de Girona, Symphonic Hall, where guests can experience an exciting programme of pure classical music with works by Ravel, Dukas, Listz and Debussy, filling the Symphonic Hall’s mighty walls.

On 19 February, 2012, the Vienna Chamber orchestra will take place in the Symphonic Hall, whereby the audience will be treated to audio delights with works by Shostakovich and Mozart.

By March the weather should be warming up in this beautiful inland Spanish city and so will the Sala de Cambra, when it puts on the Trio Ludwig, when the works of Beethoven, Mozart and Shostakovich will be heard on March 4, 2012.

Two weeks later, on 25 March, 2012, Arcadi Volodos will be taking place in the Symphonic Hall in Girona, delighting the audience with a great programme that includes the works of Brahms, Listz and Schubert but performed by the sensational Arcadi Volodos.

If your trip to this captivating Spanish city to experience a classical music ‘fix’ can wait until May, then on May 20, 2012, the Volodin & Fedosseiev: Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra will be enthralling an audience with works by Rachmaninov and Tchaikovsky performed by Alexei.


 

10 Dec

2012 February half-term in Barcelona – Make Barcelona your destination for bags of family fun!

Want to go to a European city that is both culturally fulfilling for the adults and fun and action packed for the children? Then look no further than the magnificent city of Barcelona, a city where its vivacity, colour, culture, fairy-tale architecture and general hustle and bustle, never fails to thrill and mesmerise the whole family.

Being considerably milder and sunnier than the UK, but without the repressing heat of the summer, February half-term can be a great time to visit Barcelona with the kids. If you are thinking of vamping up the 2012 February half-term by going on a family holiday to Barcelona, then you may be interested in reading about three of many great activities in the Catalan capital to entertain the kids.

Mares, Pirates i Princesses

Mares, Pirates i Princesses is a activity centre in Barcelona for children up to six years old. Activities are put on in the centre all year-round, and include a musical gym, family yoga, stories, rhymes, games and songs in both English and Spanish, and ‘family sessions’ on Fridays, when children dress up, play games and generally have a lot of fun.

Mares, Pirates i Princesses provides fantastic family entertainment and is a great place for your children to socialise, play, interact with Spanish children, and perhaps even start to pick up the language!

ExperCiencia

ExperCiencia offers weekly classes, for children aged between 3 – 6, to discover and explore issues related to science. The workshops enable children to experiment and use their imaginations by playing with various recycled and household materials.

Not only will attending an ExperCiencia class fascinate your child, build multi-cultural social skills, and develop their imagination, but it will also teach them some of the most fundamental issues related to science.

Parc de la Ciutadella

This 43-acre park is one of the oldest parks in Barcelona and provides a relaxing and fun time for all the family. Whilst the adults meander through the park’s many pretty paths, past the lake and visit the ornate greenhouse that houses many stunning sub-tropical plants, the children can be having fun in any of the three playgrounds in the park.

The main playground is situated close to the duck pond, where, as well as feeding the ducks, taking a relaxing sail on a rowing boat, or even renting a family-style bike, children can attend a free workshop, including toy making, insect observation and crafts and discovery, at the Parc de la Ciutadella.

The park’s fountain is another main focal point, which is often accompanied by dancers and musicians, the perfect place to stop and have your sandwiches!

With Barcelona’s enviable year-round mild, sunny weather, the Parc de la Ciutadella is a hive of activity every month of the year, with February being a particularly good month to visit the park, as unlike during the summer months, it is not too overcrowded!