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Experience Barcelona: Part 2

These past few days have been a whirlwind. Life in Barcelona is somehow just as fast-paced and busy as it is leisurely. That is perhaps, because we are trying to see as much of the spirited city as possible before jetting to our next destination.

1. Montserrat, Tapas & Wine with Castle Experience

Just in case you didn't know, Spanish wine is amazing, up and coming and starting to dethrone the French in worldwide wine sales. (Sacre bleu! Don't tell the them I said that.)

Lucky me, there is ample wine country all throughout the hilly Catalan countryside surrounding Barcelona. How could I not take advantage of that?

After a little research, we booked an excursion with Castle Experience, this included an hourlong drive with views of the serrated cliffs of the Pyrenees, an in-depth look in to Barcelona's history, a guided tour of Montserrat ending with a tapas and wine tasting at a neighboring winery.

In short, Montserrat is a monastery perched on Catalan mountaintop. Meaning "serrated," the mountain ranges resemble like rocky spokes, that somehow support the Santa Maria de Montserrat Abbey, a benedictine abbey originally built in the 10th century, burned twice by Napoleon's army in the early 1800's and restored and reopened in 1844.

The monastery still functions today and houses over 70 monks. The combination of strange peaks and the ancient monastery creates a supernatural beauty, making it easy to understand its mythic allure, or why the Nazi's vehemently believed that Montserrat was the hiding spot to the infamous Holy Grail.

After Montserrat, we were bused another 45 minutes farther from the city, to spend the rest of the afternoon at Oller del Mas, a small organic winery with over 1,000 years of history. The winery is housed in a castle that has continually built and

and restored over several centuries, showcasing

its original edifice, dating in the 10th, 13th and 15th centuries and a restoration that lasted from 1981 to 2008. Oller del Mas has seen history and is thriving in the present. Though the wines are relatively young, its eco-friendly and made from the best grapes in limited batches for depth and identity.

The whole thing was marvelously picturesque. The vineyards were lush and green underneath the bright July sun. The architecture of the castle had me envisioning life as medieval Spanish royalty, and let me tell you, it didn't look too shabby. After a tour of the vineyards, a glimpse inside the winemaking process and a history of the castle, it was time for a tapas and wine pairing overlooking the vineyards.

2. Flamenco Show

After a long and rich day outside of the city, we returned to Barcelona ready for another boisterous evening out. Want to hear about something you should make a oratory here?

Attend a live flamenco show; hear the passion of the Spanish guitar and see the pride of the flamenco dance.

We found a great flamenco club back in Plaça Reial called Los Tarantos, the oldest flamenco club in Barcelona. It's been around since 1963 and played host to incredible performers over the years. After a long day there was nothing the could have surpassed sitting in the unassuming little club, with a pitcher of sangria rojo and a fiery flamenco performance.