Update February 2016:

Spaces are no longer available for the 2016 April 16th-28th Trip.


Everything’s ready for you: menus decided with Chef Maria, tour guide Laura found the perfect route through Barcelona’s Old City neighborhoods, and restaurateur Joan Raventós’ enthusiasm is always high at the prospect of showing off his vineyards, family home and farm, and serving the finest Catalan food and wine to you.

Conrad and I took some new photos and video last month of the 17th Century villa where you’ll stay. I wanted you to see how welcoming this outdoor area is with dining, cooking, (the chefs do the work!), and of course the pool area, all surrounded by the gorgeous hills of Garraf National Park — with a little triangle peek at the Mediterranean.

(See more photos and prices on the Can Marcer de la Penya page):

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Website Cover




 Have you ever been on a travel tour and felt like you were whisked along too quickly, unable to linger or get a taste for the interesting, gorgeous, historical, and cultural surroundings? We have. And we felt cheated, as if we only sat on the surface.

A Cava and Castles Experience is a different kind of tour. We hesitate to even use the word, “tour,” because what we are offering you is an immersion in the Catalan culture and to understand what it means to be a native. You’ll discover cava, the sparkling wine that keeps the economy chugging, historic castles that impart the dramatic history of colorful and proud Catalonia, and learn it all through the people who know it best — locals. Every region has a unique story to tell. No skating over the top of anything, whether you’re viewing major landmarks or eating a meal. You tour a 350 year-old farm home and stay in a privately-owned villa. Your small group of fellow travelers share conversation and meals while enjoying the splendor of the Garraf National Park.

L'Alt Penedés region of Catalonia, Spain

L’Alt Penedés region of Catalonia, Spain

Here are the highlights:

  • Two nights and three days touring Barcelona with native Laura Castilla. Marvel at Gaudi masterpieces and other Modernisme architects, Picasso Museum, charming and historical neighborhoods. Attend a concert in the glorious Palau de la Musica Catalana, a UNESCO World Heritage structure.
  • Unpack and enjoy your restored 17th Century Villa for 10 more days. Uniquely-decorated, homey, ensuite bedrooms.
  • Chef-prepared breakfasts “at home” each morning.
  • Experience authentic Catalan life on the streets of Vilafranca del Penedés. Dine, shop, and wander the medieval streets in this wine-center city.
  • Visit three off-the-path innovative wineries and one world-class cava-producing estate.
  • Visit a local family’s 350 year-old masia, accompanied by a family member. Discover vineyard secrets, taste figs off the tree, sip homemade mistela dessert wine.
  • Climb Montserrat by cable car or your private coach and tour the mountaintop basilica.
  • We have partnered with local restaurateurs so that every meal is an event. Plenty of wine, local flair, and music.
  • Two free days to do as you please. Read by the pool, hike the Garraf National Park, or return to Barcelona by local train.
  • Roam three ancient castles. Immerse in history and take in dramatic scenery.
  • Sit in the sand or wander charming streets of the gorgeous Mediterranean seaside resort of Sitges.


This stunning video, presented by the Vilafranca Tourism Board, depicts many of the places, attractions, and activities you’ll see on our tour.

*Please note that some activities shown are not on the tour. Refer to the complete itinerary for all activities involved in

A Cava and Castles Experience.



Click to see the other 4 pages of this brochure:

Your Hosts Josie and Conrad

Can Marcer de la Penya – 17th Century Villa — Check to see what rooms are still available.



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Mirador de Colon at the waterfront of Barcelona. Christopher Columbus is pointing South. We explore why.


Ready for Catalon food at La Posada, hosted by Joan Raventós

Ready for Catalan food at La Posada, hosted by Joan Raventós



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Garraf National Park









Come See what vibrant Catalonia offers:


  •  LANDSCAPE: Mountains, rolling fields of vineyards, and the Mediterranean Sea

  • WINE: Everyone lives and breathes wine here. The children who grow up in Catalonia are shocked to find there are places on Earth that have no vineyards. What do people do without grapes, they wonder?

  • CASTLES: Huge stone structures steeped in history; where Ah-Ha! moments occur.

  • BARCELONA: Rich with history as well as modernity; wild, architectural, sexy and hip.

  • CULTURE: Fully embraces social interaction.

  • FOOD: Deliberate, lengthy, and downright amazing meals.

  • PEOPLE: Warm, sweet families that prove daily they care about each other and the community.

  • SIESTA: practiced seriously outside Barcelona.



Wild architecture at Cans Rafols dels Caus winery and vineyard

World-class eye-catching architecture at Can Rafols dels Caus winery and vineyard

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On tour at the winery

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Piccata Restaurant. That’s David behind the bar.


In keeping with the savor-Catalonia principle of this trip, you will spend the majority of your nights in one villa. Can Marcer de la Penya is the foundation of this trip and tells much of the story we want to convey:

  • HISTORY: Established in the 17th century, this private villa was originally a winery. Its loving restoration kept charming aspects, such as the stone wall and animal feeding trough in the Cardona Bedroom, one of 9 uniquely-decorated bedrooms.

  • OFF-THE-BEATEN-PATH: Down a tiny one-lane mountain road, the villa is tucked into Garraf National Park, affording views of gorgeous forested hills, and La Penya, a rock face famous among rock climbers. The Mediterranean is beyond. There are no tourists here.

  • TOGETHERNESS: The entire villa belongs to us. You enjoy vineyards, history, wine and food, breathtaking scenery, and each other. Each day’s breakfast and several other meals will be shared together there. This is one of the cornerstones of Spanish culture – to socialize each day.

  • SENSE OF BELONGING: No need to pack and unpack every other day. We stay 2 nights in Barcelona and 10 nights in our private villa.

  • LOCALS: Our hosts and chefs are much more than service people. They are carefully hand-picked locals who share their personal stories with you. We go deep!

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One of the gathering rooms at Can Marcer de la Penya, where we’ll stay for 10 nights




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Swimming pool at our villa set in the hills of the Garraf National Park










You visit four wineries that illustrate all aspects of production in Catalonia, from the cava-producing Codorníu, to two boutique wineries created by eccentric, wealthy men, and finally a small estate where you don the wine-maker’s uniform and create your own bottle of cava to take home.

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Castle Compound at Sant Marti

Three castles are on the itinerary also, and you explore and discover the colorful history that makes Spain like no other European nation. In the 16th Century, it was said by some, “Africa starts at the Pyreneees,” referring to the Moorish invasion that took over nearly the entire land area of Spain. Influences from those exotic Muslim cultures and later dreadful civil war brought about by Dictator Franco cause us to both mourn and rejoice in the incredible Spanish heritage. Spain truly is the most diverse and interesting country in Europe.


We look forward to meeting you, traveling with you, and sharing this very special corner of the world. Here are photos of sights and places you’ll experience:


Website Overview 1

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Nighttime adds mystery to Sagrada Familia

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Vendors surrounding the stadium on Barça Soccer Day.

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The land of pomegranates

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At the Boqueria Food Market.

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Charming back streets of Sitges

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Majestic Montserrat

Click to see the other 4 pages of this brochure:

Your Hosts Josie and Conrad

Can Marcer de la Penya – 17th Century Villa — Check to see what rooms are still available.




Josie Schneider and Conrad Knutsen

966 W. Summerfield Glen Circle
Ann Arbor, Michigan, 48103


A Path Less Traveled


Skype username: Cultureconnectors