My Blog

  • Florence

    6/25/2019 8:51:17 AM Link |  | Add comment

    Coming Soon!

  • The W Barcelona Hotel

    6/25/2019 8:51:17 AM Link |  | Add comment

    >>>[Arrival @The W Barcelona - Jan. 2019]<<<   

    >>>[My Room & Views @The W Barcelona - Jan. 2019]<<<

     

    If you’ve had the fortune of visiting Barcelona in the past 10 years, you probably have at least seen the W Hotel, on the Barceloneta.  If not, look out for it - it will awe you!  In Barcelona, this hotel is an icon to the city.    El Hotel Vela (Sail Hotel), as it’s been popularly named due to its shape, is a beauty!  I have been wanting to stay at the W Barcelona since its opening on 2009, and this time was it!  

    I arrived at sunset and got the reflection on its glass walls… quite a welcome!  Jordi San Jose, part of the W Insider Team, had me set on every detail during my stay: from a tour of the property upon my arrival, to a beautiful upgraded room on the 24th Floor with its Barceloneta view of the Balearic Sea!  I could not get myself to close those curtains at ANY time during my 4-night stay… I got to see the sunrise every morning - what a sight!  

    A picture is worth a thousand words!  

    Here, my daily sunrise (with coffee, milk & sugar, PLEASE):

    The W sure made me feel special… starting with a complimentary Tempranillo - excellent way to unpack!  The hotel’s hip décor is sooo vibrant and full of life!  The food and service @ WLounge was superb.  Loved the Rooftop Bar, Eclipse, with great music, ambiance and gorgeous view out to the sea.

    I did not have a chance to try Bravo 24, THE Signature Restaurant @ The W of the famous Michelin-Starred Catalan Chef, Carles Abellan.  Hopefully next time!

    Thank you to all the Team @ The W Barcelona.    

    BIG special THANK YOU to: Miguel (@ W Concierge), Alicia (@ Bliss, W Spahh), Daniel/Agatha/Guille (@ W Lounge), Aleix (Restaurants & Bars Manager @ The W) & last but certainly not least, to Jordi (W Insider).

    W Barcelona, you were above my expectations!

    See my Instagram Pictures:

    >>[Arrival @The W Barcelona - Jan. 2019]<<    

    >>[My Room & Views @The W Barcelona - Jan. 2019]<<

    >>[Another Sunrise View]<< 

    >>[The W Lounge: My office for a night]<<

    >>[The pampering @The W Lounge]<<

     

    Hotel's Website:  >>[The W Barcelona]<<

     

  • Maestros de la Guitarra – Privée

    6/25/2019 8:51:17 AM Link |  | Add comment

    Maestros de la Guitarra – Privée

    January 22, 2019.

    Unequivocally, if you love music, and specially the beauty of Spanish & Flamenco guitars, “Los Maestros de la Guitarra” is not to be missed!

    …What a pleasant overwhelming of the senses!

    Xavier Coll, Manuel González & Luis Robisco - 3 Masters of the Guitar.

    Paquito Escudero, Percussion & Cajón.

    On that Tuesday evening, I had the privilege of listening to an intimate concert of these 3 renowned guitarists, where no more than 10 of us attended.   It is an acclaimed worldwide performance!  They play privately and in prominent Concert Halls around the world, like Barcelona’s most beautiful and sought-after Palau de la Música Catalana, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with a 2,100 (+/-) seating capacity.  

    Words come short, all I know is that immmediately after the opening, I was already wishing it didn’t have to end.  I was hypnotized for more than an hour with, among their various selections, a tribute to Flamenco Legend, Paco de Lucía.  I will admit openly that I was moved to tears!  Talking to Luis, Manuel & Xavier, as well as to Paquito and its Director Oscar, was also such a pleasure... I need to find a way to bring them to San Antonio, TX!!  

    Personally, to have shared their music at this moment in my life was positively quelling and another treasure I will remember.

    I will not give away their ending (Hint: a four-in-one), but I was captivated soooo much, that 4 days later on my last night in Barcelona, I went to listen to them at The Basilica del Pi.  I was delighted once again to absorb such passion & powerful performances, this time with the acoustics of a church.   It was "simply" breathtaking.  

    Some of their pieces gently isolated (…insulated!...) me, as only the best music should!  

    No percussion at the church that Sunday, yet it was a nice surprise to see Paquito again and was honored with his complimentary invitation.  Thank you!

     

    When emotions overflow, I strongly believe ALL languages are deficient.  

    English is my second language, and so I am definitely doing them a disservice.  I will try in my native Spanish:  Que manera de acariciar y alimentar el Alma!  Simplemente, solo puedo esperar que mi universo conspire así de nuevo!

    This was a TOP Highlight of this week's trip and it is another “must” in Barcelona!    

    My Instagram Pictures:

    >>[Maestros de la Guitarra, Privado - Jan. 2019]<<

    Maestros de la Guitarra Website: >>[www.maestrosdelaguitarra.com]<<

  • Cavas Castillo Perelada

    6/25/2019 8:51:17 AM Link |  | Add comment

     

    Cavas Castillo Perelada

    Paralada, Catalonia (Girona)

    January 23, 2019.

     

    I have been excited to visit Cavas Perelada for some weeks now, as they are one of the leading producers in the Empordà, the oldest wine-producing region of Spain.  

    It’s hard to try to share my experience in paper - I cannot find the words to define this day.  It was............. WoNdErFuL!

    A day like today reminds me why I started Integra Travel!  

    A day like today allowed me to be in an extraordinary place and meet extraordinary people that will no doubt develop into beautiful friendships!

    I was so fortunate to have been invited to Cavas Perelada, to learn about their Estate the way I did and, on a personal note, to reaffirm and share how travel changes us and expands our minds!   I cannot wait to share this place with my friends and clients some day…. 

    But, I’m getting ahead of myself…. I should start where it begins!

    On this Wednesday, I left Barcelona by train (RENFE/AVE).  I went North, close to the French border, into Figueres-Vilafant, where at 10:23 am I was whisked off my feet by the International PR of Perelada Caves & Vins, Leo.  I would soon find her to be a wonderful host and with whom I would really connect throughout the day.  

    MY LESSON #1:  The town is PerAlada.  The Estate is Cavas PerElada.  Why?  All legal; the town has its own name (Peralada), the wines, what came closEst!  

    Leo & I drove to Finca Malaveïna, 19 hectares of red clay slopes.  I will leave the story of “the bad neighbor” for Leo to tell on our next visit, but a woman has to do with it…. and love does not only “shake” mountains, but (we move) wines too!  

    Next, we went to Finca Garbet.  It is a breathtaking vineyard; 12 hectares of mountainous terrain, located on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea, the Costa Brava!  It produces one of the best wines in Catalonia, with a Médaille d'Or 90+. 

    I got to experience a tidbit of the unpredictable, violent & cold “Tramuntana”, a wind that is a vital part of the producing ecosystem.  Also, in this day and age I find it uncommon when little machines are used, so here is a bit of nice trivia: Both of these vineyards hand harvest 100% of their production! ...I wonder, perhaps giving such personal touch a better flavor…? 

    Leo then took me to La Botiga del Celler for a delightful Cava & Wine Tasting.  

    I enjoyed 9 different varieties of Wine/Cava and I tried to refuse to “spit”, as it is customary, but I wanted to savor my day with my 5 senses!  

    Besides their Reds and Cavas, I must tell you about their white wine “Blanc Pescador” and their Sangria “P.A. & Co.”, both available in the USA.

     

     The white wine is a little bubbly, taste like summer & I would love it with some grilled fish. Their Sangria blew me away, almost as good as my homemade one!  Its name stands for “Pasión, Alegría & Compañía”. PASSION, HAPPINESS & COMPANY. Isn’t that what life is about?  That was exactly what my day turned out to be…  I could have asked for very little more that day!

    We then went to Hotel Peralada and got to visit their 5-Star Wine, Spa & Golf Resort.  At the Club House entrance, there stood the most beautiful (and probably oldest) Olive Tree I’ve ever seen: 

     

     

    They were expecting us at the Hotel’s L’Olivera Restaurant, where Sommelier Giuseppe was amazing and the Menu chosen for our lunch was excellent! It included Tempura Prawn Skewers with coconut and sprinkled sugar, curry & honey(OMG, the texture with the flavor!!),Tuna Tartar, marinated & prepared in the dining room, Mushroom Cannelloni with Black Truffle and Parmesan cream, and a variety of (oh-so-decadent) chocolate mini-desserts… all this with some Cava and a 2014 Cruor Priorat, also from Perelada in the Tarragona Region… really, a piece of paradise you must visit!

     

    Before dropping me off at the train station, we went to Peralada’s Castle, with its One Michelin Star Restaurant, closed for the season until Feb. 28th.  The Visitor’s Complex was already closed and I (again) appreciate that it was opened just for me!  We visited the Church, the Gothic Cloister, the Wine Museum and it’s beautiful library, where I learned about the owners, the Mateu & Suqué Family’s history and saw great pictures of the various generations with personal friends like Salvador Dalíand PlacidoDomingo!

    I appreciate (for a massive lack of a better word) Leo’s generosity with her time; her passion in her job seeps thru and my vast curiosity was patiently satisfied.  I now understand how Perelada has become one of the highest-rated wineries in Catalonia.  Leo, Raquel, Patricia, Giuseppe & the team at Perelada was very kind & most gracious to me.  I have no doubt my friends and clients will receive nothing less when I come back to visit.

    Congratulations on the impressive new winery and innovative cellar that I saw under construction.  I understand it is scheduled to be completed in a year.  It will certainly distinguish and undoubtedly help expand Perelada’s position in the market. Enhorabuena!

    Merci beaucoup, Mr. Benoît Berneron, Export Director for Perelada Chivite Group.  

    I do look forward to meeting you soon, be it in Texas, Chicago or Spain.

    Thank you again, Leo…. And THANK YOU for the invitation, Perelada.

     

    My Instagram Pictures:

    >>[Cavas Castillo Perelada - Jun. 2019]<<

     

    Cavas Perelada Website:

    >>[www.perelada.com]<<

    >>[Castell Peralada (One Michellin Star) Restaurant]<<

    >>[Hotel Peralada Wine Spa & Golf}<<

    >>[Castell Peralada]<<

  
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