The same year that the US reached the moon, this establishment in Sant Pau d’Ordal started serving dishes featuring the finest products from the region and the nearby sea. Since then, both cuisine and decoration have seen renovations but travellers can always count on Penedès wine to accompany their dishes of meat and fish.
C/ de Ponent, 20, Sant Pau d’Ordal. Tel 93 899 30 28. www.calperedelmaset.com.
A la carte: €45. Closed all day Mondays and the evenings of Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday.
One of the most attractive characteristics of Garraf is its sea and beaches, and the water sports on offer there. There are plenty of companies offering services. So, let's phone to book at Nootka Kayak Centre and try out their sea kayaks on one of their programmed excursions - the simplest and one for which no previous experience is necessary, called La Platja Llarga. This will allow us to explore the seafront of Vilanova i la Geltrú, the county capital, and learn how to get about by kayak at the same time. The starting point is the town's municipal nautical centre and from there we will be heading south, passing by Ribes Roges beach, the statue of Pasifae (with its three tons of bronze), to the protected beach at Platja Llarga. The excursion includes some rest stops. It will take all of our first afternoon but will be well worthwhile.Let's stay in Vilanova i la Geltrú this morning to visit two interesting museums that are located practically next to each other. The first one is likely to be of more interest to kids than the second; it is the Museu del Ferrocarril, a railway museum located in the town's old locomotive deposit. It has a number of different sections, such as those dedicated to station items and signals, but without doubt, the most visited (and the biggest) part of the museum is given over to period engines, especially the valuable collection of steam engines. This August, the centre is also organizing a number of activities with the aim of bringing the world of the railway even closer to its visitors.
A few metres away, a beautiful façade welcomes you to one of the largest art galleries in the country; the Biblioteca Museu Víctor Balaguer has paintings by Ramon Casas, Santiago Rusiñol, Joaquim Sorolla, El Greco and Goya, among many other illustrious names in the world of art. Moreover, in the Egyptian room you will find a number of items from ancient Egypt including the mummy of a five-year-old boy, while on the upper floor we can see works by contemporary artists such as Guinovart and Ràfols Casamada. Finally, the library conserves the airs of time past and has a collection of 19th-century books.
It is now time to visit a religious centre that is very different from what we usually find here. In the Garraf range the Romanesque style Palau Novella, is a Buddhist community where meditation and monastery life have been going on for some time now. You can take a guided visit and offer an approach to both the inside of the mansion house and to Buddhism, and the Catalan Buddhist community, through the explanations of the monks.
Our final visit of the day will be something quite different, though we hope it will be full of fun and nostalgia. Cubelles was the birthplace of Josep Andreu Laserre, one of the most famous clowns of all time, was born. If that name does not mean anything to you, you should know that when his face was painted and he put on his clown nose and big shoes, took out his chair, and began to give out his distinctive shout, he did so under the name of Charlie Rivel. The exhibition has moved location recently and is now very well housed in the castle of the Marquis of Alfarràs. The exhibition includes the clown's personal items, a large collection of photographs and private documents. To visit, book at the Tourist Information Office in Cubelles.
The clock is ticking on and we have not left Garraf! It is time to head for Penedès, the Catalan region wine par excellence. It is almost obligatory to pay a visit to at least one of the cava producers in San Sadurní. From among the multitude on offer, we have chosen Codorniu, which is huge, full of history, and set in a building designed by Puig i Cadafalch. Here we will find out all about the process of cava making, from the grape harvest on and we can get aboard an electric train to get around the numerous cellars. In the end, of course, we simply cannot miss trying a glass of chilled cava!
And since we are in the territory, we are going to explore the world of another of the region's star products - wine. To do so, we must head for Vilafranca, capital of Alt Penedès, to visit a modern museum VINSEUM, also known as the Museum of the Culture of Wine in Catalonia. But this is more than just a museum, cultural and touristic activities are held throughout the year at the Museum - in Palau Reial in Vilafranca - with a special emphasis on how wine culture has shaped the character of this territory.We do not want to finish this getaway to the region without paying a visit to Baix Penedès. At Calafell, very near the sea, we can visit an Iberian settlement, la Ciutadella, which was inhabited by the Cossetan tribe in the 4th century BC. We have visited remains of those times on other trips, but this site is singular: after being excavated and studied, it was rebuilt just as it was in its supposedly original state. So, you will see not only ruins, but will be able to go inside the houses and climb the towers, giving you a clearer idea of the daily life in those ancient times.
We will end our trip with a dose of fun and excitement. Calafell Slide is a 700 metre long bobsleigh ride that is both safe and easy - kids of 8 can ride alone. It is open till late in summer, so we can take advantage of the afternoon to chill out before finishing our getaway to Garraf and Penedès.
By train: Should you choose to follow our route and begin in Garraf, there are railway stations in Sitges, Vilanova i la Geltrú and Cubelles (902 24 02 02 / www.renfe.es).
By bus: The Sant Pere de Ribes Cintoi Bus SL company offers an extensive service covering the whole region (938 937 511).
By car: From Barcelona and Girona, take motorway C-32, or road C-31 if you want to save yourself the toll. You can also take the AP-7 to Vilafranca del Penedès (exit 29) and then the C-15. From Tarragona you can take the C-32 or go by road on the C-31 and the N-340. From Lleida, take the AP-2 and then the AP-7 to Vilafranca and then continue along the C-15