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JulieVikmanis Nov 17th, 2008 07:01 AM

Exploring Cava country outside BCN
I would like to go to both Sant Sadurni and Freixenet winery and to Vilafranca and the Cordorniu winery. My guides say both can be reached by train from Sants station in BCN. Can one also get from one to the other by train or is there taxi service?

One of my guides suggests that there is a market in either or both towns on Saturday while another seems to say that there are markets both Thursday and Saturday. Which is right? Since the wineries close earlier (1 p.m.) on Saturday, I'd prefer to go Thursday but don't know if then I'd miss the markets.

Finally, though it may be packing in too much for one day, is it possible to go by train from either city to Sitges?

Thanks so much for any information you can provide about all of this.

zeppole Nov 17th, 2008 07:41 AM

Julie, I can't answer this question but I gather from your many posts you are planning a December trip to Catalonia using public transportation, basing in Barcelona. So I am just here to suggest that you do research on the town of Vic, easily reachable by public transport, as well as Girona. Vic to me is an unending fascination, and while Girona has its touristy core, it is also quite atmospheric in the main and has legendary good food.

But Vic is my favorite, and its museum of Catalonian art makes a spectacular rainy day attraction if nothing else, although architecturally the town -- with its roman temple, renaisssance buildings and modernismo -- is terrific, and its main plaza (which I believe has a market) it one of the most impressive in the region.

JulieVikmanis Nov 17th, 2008 07:54 AM

Thanks zeppole. We did a day trip to Girona on a previous trip. Vic has been on my list for other day trips based primarily on the glowing reports I've read about it from you on other posts. I will check for the day of their market. That might be a good idea to give us a smaller town market freeing us up to go to Cava country some day other than Saturday when the wineries are open longer. Thanks for the idea.

zeppole Nov 17th, 2008 09:45 AM

Oh great! I hope you get a chance to go to Vic. I think the market in Vic is Tuesdays and Saturday mornings, 10-2pm, but double check.

I also hope I can sway you to visit the Palau de la Musica Catalana, either to attend a concert or visit during the day (when you are only allowed into the interior with a guide, but it is worth it). It is the most beautiful building in Barcelona.

I also wanted to say that in my travels in Spain, I learned it is always good to check bus options as well as train options, since the bus sometimes goes faster and goes more often.

zeppole Nov 17th, 2008 09:50 AM

PS: One of the downsides of visiting Vic on market day might be that it completely occupies the spacious, beautiful plaza. If you go on market day, I would recommend staying until the market leaves after 2pm, so you can get a sense of the architectural space as well.

JulieVikmanis Nov 17th, 2008 01:00 PM

Thanks again zeppole. We will indeed be going to the Palau Musica. But you might not be impressed with the program we've selected to hear there--a New Year's Eve Strauss concert. Hardly Catalan but we've always wanted to attend a concert there and we love Strauss for New Years, so I couldn't resist.

I will definitely pursue the idea of seeing Vic. I am, however, having a terrible time trying to find train transport there. I know they have a train station. I can see it on my Michelin red guide map for Vic. when I go on the Renfe site, however, they don't list it as a destination. Perhaps you're right. I may need to investigate buses, but I'm pretty mystified about even how to start looking for bus transport there. Perhaps I'll just have to hang loose and feel my way when I get to Barcelona and recognize that everything can't be planned down to a gnat's eyelash.

zeppole Nov 17th, 2008 01:08 PM

Does this help?;secc=cerca

I'm quite impressed you snagged such glamorous tickets! A HUGE part of culture in Barcelona and Catalana is fiercely eclectic and cosmopolitan -- as you will see when you see the statuary inside the Palau.

Sounds like you're in for extraordinary evening.

Adria Nov 17th, 2008 01:28 PM

You're right Julie. You can get one train from Sadurni to Vilafranca, it isn't necessary to get a taxi.
You should get the train direction to St. Vicenç de Calders. From one station to the other, only 10 minutes by train!
If you're in Vilafranca, you can also go to Sitges by bus.
(and if you're in BCN by train as well)
I really recommend you visit Sitges. It's a modernist village, with buildings of the end of nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth, really nice...
If you're interested in gastronomy don't hesitate to eat the typical mediterranean dish: "XATÓ".
And if you want more information of BCN, you can take a look to my blog:
I hope you'll find it helpful!

JulieVikmanis Nov 17th, 2008 03:01 PM

Again, so much good information. Thank you.

We definitely intend to go to Sitges (my husband and I have been there before and liked it and our son who will be in BCN for the first time wants to see it) The only question is whether we devote a separate day to it, or go after being in penedes area. It sounds like the latter is doable so we'll just have to see how it goes. We may come down to our last day and have to make a decision between Sitges and Vic.

JulieVikmanis Nov 17th, 2008 03:06 PM

Adria, thanks for the link to your blog it looks great. Perhaps you can help me with two other questions I've posed on this forum and am getting no response for.

Do the Christmas markets near the Cathedral and the decorations on the Ramblas stay up beyond Christmas?

Is there anything worthwhile to see in Sant Celona or its surrounding area? (We'll be there for lunch at Can Fabes and I'm wondering whether to just plan to go in and out asap or to linger to see some of the town, etc. Thanks.

lincasanova Nov 18th, 2008 12:00 AM

re VIC:

you go to renfe CERCANIAS. it is on line three. you can get on at sants, pl catalunya, paseo de gracia among others. it is in zone 6.

a 10 ride "bono" for zone 6 may be better for your group as you can all use same bono.

the bus takes one hour. for schedule. costs 5.40 euro

JulieVikmanis Nov 18th, 2008 02:48 AM

lisa, thank you so much--and thanks to all others who responded. This is why this site is so wonderful.

Maribel Nov 18th, 2008 11:29 AM

We have gone from Vic to Barcelona on the cercanías train, but it's not a short trip like the trip down to the cava cellars and the wineries of the Penedes.
The reason you didn't see the train schedule on Renfe is that one needs to know that the route Vic-Barcelona is by commuter rather than regular train, so it's listed in the Barcelona cercanías routes.

The glorious Placa in Vic is where we witnessed the Three Kings Cavalcade on Jan. 5, starting at 8 pm. This was one of the highlights of our entire month in Catalunya. Every float was illuminated by wood burning torches-fire, fire, embers and ash everywhere! (We'll never see anything like that in the U.S.)

Vic, with all its riches, makes certainly a longer day trip from Barcelona and I think is best seen with the luxury of an overnight or even two, as the Museum of Catalan Art is truly extraordinary, as are the medieval towns of the lovely Val d'en Bas just to the north of the city. Rupit is a truly exceptional medieval village that you won't want to miss. I would save this, really, for an excursion by car and add a day of exploration of the Val d'en Bas and the really beautiful extinct volcanic region of La Garrotxa with its charming and unspoiled medieval villages of Santa Pau and Besalú (plus extraordinary gourmet dining in that land!)

To do both the Freixenet cellars and the Torres (or others) in Villafrance del Penedés in the same outing, you'll need to check carefully the opening hours so that you can hit Torres at the right hr. in the am to tour then catch the train to Sant Sandurni for an afternoon session at Freixenet. And factor in a long lunch. During the holidays they may have more limited touring hours. So check each winery's web for horas de visita during Dec.

The alternative to public transportation to both would be to go with a food and wine tour company, of which there are several, albeit pricey.

zeppole Nov 18th, 2008 11:58 AM

If I am reading bus schedules correctly, Vic is a one hour bus trip from the center of Barcelona. Isn't that true, as a previous post said?

I liked Vic so much that I went back during a driving tour I was taking of Catalonia. So of course I won't disagree that spending nights there would be grand. But the town in quite compact, its major architectural sights are easily walkable and seeable, and the museum is fine in all weather and late into the day.

Personally I found tiny Rupit a no-longer-living tourist curiousity, but not something to make me think I should forego a trip to Vic unless I could combine it with other sightseeing. The densely vegetated-volcanic region of Garrotxa is really difficult to appreciate unless you are planning hikes outside your car in fine weather. It's for trekkers. And while Besalu rates as an attraction compared with other towns because of some areas of unique historic preservation, as does Pau, they shouldn't be overrated. I surprised when I arrived in Besalu that it was so meager in its architectural interest considering how it is promoted as a tourist destination.

I frequently find myself at odds with Maribel's much-cherished advice and I don't hope to have my word taken above hers, even though I think visiting non-Barcelona Catalonia is incredibly rewarding. But I sing the praises of Catalonia only tbecause I visited Vic and began to understand Catalonian culture there, where it is so lovingly preserved. It turns out to be, in an area noted for hype, one of the truly UNDERRATED places of not only that part of Catalonia, but Spain, and Catalan France, and it makes a much more rewarding day trip than about anything you can name in the area.

Robert2533 Nov 18th, 2008 01:55 PM

We spent three nights at the Parador Vic-Sau and were able to explore some of the surrounding countryside and came across the charming and virtually isolated stone village of Tavertet, between Vic and Rupit.

We also had set aside a full day to explore once again the Garrotxa by car. it is not necessary to have to take hikes to appreciate the beauty of the land as one can take short walks from Santa Pau.

I found Besalu quite interesting ( and there's great gourmet dining at Els Fogons de Can Llaudes.

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