We headed into to VilaFranc to experience the town market to find great photos and so much more—chickens, families and food. The town was bustling with thousands of people—the plaça was filled with a swap meet of such—clothing, housewares, tools…anything you could imagine. Just around the corner we found the market extending for blocks! Fresh fruit and vegetables, olives, olive oils, cheese, meat and chickens! Yes, live chickens, roosters, chicks, ducks and ducklings. The Chicken Man chatted with every shopper, showing his pride. When a customer picked a chicken, he swooped into the cage, grabbed it by the wings and proceeded to hold it, prepare a box for the customer to take home the newest addition to his/her farm or dinner table. It was a blast to watch him and the children who were fascinated by the chicks and ducklings.
Our AirBnB host, Ferren, helped us make reservations at a nearby winery for a tasting. This region of Catalon is known for its Cava—a delightfully refreshing sparkling wine Spain called Cava after the cellars in which the wine is produced. Created by a Catalunyan, Josep Raventãs, in 1872, Cava has played a central role in the everyday life of Spaniards ever since. Cava is very fresh, light and clean. It’s very easy to drink. It’s perfect for the Spanish climate. Cava is not as alcoholic as red or white wine, so it’s perfect – you can drink it all afternoon long. Bottles are popped at baptisms, weddings and other celebrations, but Cava is also drunk more casually at family meals or after work drinks.
After 45 minutes of driving in circles, we finally came upon our winery, Parés Balta, founded in 1790. Now an organic winery, our host Gisela provided us a delightful tasting of Cava, red and white blends and fresh, bright olive oil. So excited, I now realize I may have shopped a bit too much, having selected six bottles of Cava and wine and four bottles of olive oil. How we are ever going to schlep this over the next two weeks, I have no idea. So for now, I will enjoy great wine every night!
From our winery, we drove to Peñiscola (not pronounced the way we say the city in Florida, we were quickly taught). While it is great to “wing it,” from place to place, when you are hunting for a great place and are having difficulty finding something suitable it can make one nervous. Hopping around from AirBnB to Expedia to Booking, I finally found a top-rated B&B, Luz de Azahar that offered us a junior suite for $114. The room and bathroom were gigantic with a huge soaking tub (oh, how I missed mine back home!).
The property was home to a charming couple, immaculate lodgings, 200 orange trees and a sprinkling of the most delightful smelling jasmine. The entire B&B experience was lovely, but unfortunately the town was absolutely nothing to write home about. The beachfront was filled with thousands of people, hundreds of vendors selling junk and dozens of bikers and Porsche drivers zooming up and down the avenue. After a mediocre dinner we rushed back to the serenity of Luz for a very restful night’s sleep.