#PFASpain2016 – Part II – Aragon and Rioja

#PFASpain2016 – Part II – Aragon and Rioja

After 4 glorious days in Barcelona (Part 1 Blog here), we headed Northwest for one of the true highlights of the trip, meeting Jose’s father, Jose Sr., at the family home in Ballobar, Aragon for a toast. It was when we stopped there last year when Jose and I thought we needed to include this uniquely wonderful moment on 2016’s trip. From there, we planned to enjoy a couple of days in the Rioja wine region, with our final destination in a few days in San Sebastian after a stop in Bilbao at the Guggenheim, something I sorely wanted to do.

We had a very late night at Can Jubany the night before our departure at 8:30am to head north. But we had a few hours to slowly wake up and take in the scenery outsdie of Barcelona…. Perfect.

Heading Northwest! Montserrat in the distance.

Arriving in Ballobar. Our group meets Jose Chesa Sr.

In front of the Alcanadre River. Our group, now stronger by one more—Jose Sr on the right. He would be with us for the duration of the trip. A real treat to have both Chesas with us!

A toast to the Chesas and our group! Does it get any better than this? Well, yes it does. That’s some of the best Iberico ham in the world before us on the table.

Thousands of bottles of wine. We toast to coming a long way in more ways than one.

One of Jose Sr’s childhood friends came to join us, and Allen couldn’t resist drawing such a face full of character.

We drove north about an hour and a half to Venta del Soton, a family favorite since before Jose was born. Here are the two Joses in front of the grill.

Enjoying lunch.

How could they resist?

This is our bus that we enjoyed for a couple of days on the way from Barcelona to San Sebastian. Very comfortable for 10. Wifi made it even better. Great views and opportunities to chill.

Then it was a stop at Marques de Riscal Vineyards, and the hotel, which was designed by Frank Gehry, the architect who also designed the Guggenheim in Bilbao, our upcoming stop.

The vineyards with the hotel in the background.

Jose and his Dad.

So fun to travel and host with this guy.

Get a little red in Allen, and he’s off to the races.

This is the village of La Guardia. A charming old city, where we had an hour or so to roam.

This old church was wonderful.

A stop for wine tasting at Eguren Uguarte and a fantastic lunch at the restaurant in the winery on a stellar day.

In front of the hotel.

Jose and I grabbed some bikes at the hotel and wandered off into the vineyards to talk about life—and next year’s PFA to Spain.

This was a truly happy moment.

This is the view from my bathroom at the Hotel Viura. The first Presidential debate happened on this night, well, at 5am in the morning.

The view of the village where the Viura is.

Heading North now, we stopped at the Guggenheim in Bilbao to see it, and have lunch. This shot was before it started to rain. How perfect that our one day in a museum was the one that it rained?

My current home screen on my phone.

Outside the musem. No pics allowed inside.

We arrived in San Sebastian in time to grab a bite. More to come!

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