As I sit here on the flight from Chicago to back to the bay, trying to work through my thoughts of our epic nine day European adventure, I’m overwhelmed with the sheer volume of amazingness that needs to be covered. The LA Commune – Di’s massive collection of brilliant and beautiful friends – welcomed me into their ranks and brought me along on a journey I won’t soon forget.
Four days in Spain, followed by five days in Ireland.
From Qarth to Winterfell, this trip had it all: southern villas and northern castles, sunshine and rain, pianos foosball, mountain runs and urban hikes, good beer and great food … Seriously, we had lots of beer and food.
Okay, so we’ve already gone over the first 24 hours in Barcelona, let’s get to day number 2 – Sitges, Spain.
Located about an hour south of Barcelona, this Spanish beach town was ridiculously cool. With a labyrinth of cobble stoned streets weaving around these hills right on the beach, this vacation spot is gonna get a huge recommendation from this blog.
The cuisine and the bars and the whole vibe was just perfect Spain!
We wandered the streets at night, playing games, having a beer, snacking on tapas … Living the good life.
As if Sitges wasnt’ enough …
To bring this whole thing to next level, these wonderful souls – Namesake and Cape – got married and had what may be the most epic party I have ever seen. Their warmth and love and awesomeness combined to make this whole crazy adventure a reality. Couldn’t be more thankful to call them my friends. And couldn’t be happier for them.
As if travelling 6,000 miles wasn’t bad ass enough … The bride and groom had to go out and rent a villa. Yes! A friggin villa!!!
When first walking into the space, and taking in the vastness of it all, I seriously felt like I was partying with movie stars.
There was something like a dozen rooms (I am certain I didn’t see the entire place in my three days there), several common areas, a couple kitchens, a pair of gardens, a barn … And who knows what else.
But the crown jewel … The party pool.
Alright friends … Let’s go and take a tour through the villa shall we!
A twenty minute drive through the gorgeous Spanish vineyards leads to a little village named Olivella. And if we pass through Olivella, driving up into hills, we come upon a structure that takes the breath right from our lungs.
Open the door of the car, walk through the gate, and we are greeted with a walled garden.
We open the main door and are greeted with the seating area.
The rustic feel of the cool old rugs and sweet ass antique furniture permeates our experience throughout the party villa.
Exposed brick walls and cool tile floors guide us through a labyrinth of mega dope bedrooms and lounge areas.
A quick turn to our left and we come upon one of the many living rooms.
And if we were instead turning to our right we’d come upon this gem.
… Probably logged in a solid 7-9 hours of play over three days …
Life is good.
Continuing through the hall, our tour leads us to this absurdly absurd awesomeness.
An ancient wine making room right smack dab in the middle of the party villa.
The stone wall up on the top right was built in the ninth century.
Yes – You read that right! The friggin ninth century!
As we head further down the hall, we arrive at the billiards room / piano lounge.
Now … What’s so wild about this … I don’t even have pics from half the house. In my eagerness to get back poolside, I only went through the half of the house where we stayed!
Okay … Let’s walk up the spiral staircase to our enchanted wing.
I think that this was a covered well of some sort.
Not totally sure what it was … Nevertheless super rad feature.
Another chill little living room.
There were some bookshelves and chill couches all over here.
Alright! Enough of these interiors. Let’s get poolside.
With an off-the-charts magnificent view of rolling hills and vineyards, this pool is utterly next level.
Add to that the wonderful collection of friends and family assembled for the Capesake wedding, we had a three day getaway that I will never forget.
Your blogger has been blessed with numerous adventures … This is among the greatest.
Oh … What’s that to my right …
I have been rambling all this time without mentioning the food!
Cape’s brothers made Herculean feasts throughout the weekend.
If only I wasn’t so eager to stuff my face the moment these Mediteranean spreads appeared, the pics would maybe begin to give this chow its due.
And the view …
Seriously … That view of the sun setting behind the village of Olivella made life seem sweeter than ever.
Oh Party Villa!
Way to be awesome.
Alright … On to the wedding!!!
This man, one of the most kind, vibrant and all around wonderful people to hang with … This man was getting married.
My date to the wedding …
Making it all that much more amazing, the next time we head to one of these, well, it’ll be ours.
And this collection of characters in attendance …
Sandepp, Nigel and Laffite …
It’d been a long time coming for me to travel with these hooligans.
And these ladies.
Jo and Mich and D_Won.
As if the commune wasn’t enough … We even made new friends.
Hello There Golden and Magoo.
The ceremony was at this church literally atop cliffs on the water.
Like a dream, the day enveloped all of us in this wonderful haze of joy.
Okay … So at the end of our trip … After the party villa and Barcelona and Sitges and all of Ireland … We were chatting about our favorite moment, and I’m gonna say that something like half the group said it was the moment we entered the villa for the reception and came upon the pork station.
It’s the Khanna sisters with Brian!
Hiya there you beautiful people.
The weather was perfect.
Yes, it rained.
And yes, the rain caused some re-workings and what now.
But the rain, as if on queue in a well-rehearsed play, started to lightly arrive just as the cocktail hour was ending, and the guests were making their way to the barn for our feast.
And then, once inside and all cozy, it poured.
The rain poured this amazingly powerful and beautiful storm for an hour or so while we drank and toasted. It brought about this shared coziness of being all hunkered down that made the night that much more perfect.
And then, remaining perfectly on queue, the rain left, and in its wake left an unbelievable sunset.
Are you kidding me.
This kind of magnificence can’t be scripted.
It was fate.
And the feast.
Mother of god … The paella.
And The Ceviche!
As the night went along we danced and sang and drank.
Until something like 5:30 in the morning I was up charging it.
Duuuuude! We had a DJ in this ancient barn! Are you kidding me.
Pop up the next morning, and the commune embraces!
What a crew.
And our hosts … Namesake and Cape … A HUGE THANKS!
Print out our tickets.
Stoking on our way from Spain to Ireland.
Nine of us hop on a plane northward to Dublin.
And seriously, we went from the warm Mediterranean Qarth, to the austere and epic Winterfell.
And we did it in style.
On our first night we cruised along the river and hopped into a pub for a pint.
The vibe was awesome with the new lands that lay ahead of us.
… There’s just something so magical about returning to the homeland …
We hopped in our rental cars, and the nine of us began our caravanning journey the day after we arrived.
In solid road trip fashion, Nigel pulls off the road on an impulse when we see a sign for an Obama museum.
Our President’s ancestors were from this region of Ireland, and he totally stopped by this little Irish town a few years ago.
So cruising along, we arrive at one of the more epic spots we visited in this country.
Communers Matty and Maiko had been touring around Ireland for a few days, and arranged for the group (now eleven strong) to spend a night out in this friggin manor.
We rented the entire building.
Seriously … What is going on here … This is getting nuts.
Villas and Manors!!!
The interior was Downton Abbey.
Like bear claw bath tubs …
… And those crazy old school beds too …
Oh … And on the grounds there was a castle that we walked over to.
Ya … A friggin castle.
Needless to say that by this point on our journey the fellow blogger and I were pretty much in a constant state of stoke.
I mean … We were at a castle in Ireland.
Life can not get better.
Actually … It can!
Beers in the castle garden makes life better!!!
Lil Sebastian was even on the grounds.
We all knew this had to happen.
A Little QT with the chess board and a most regal sitting room.
The next day our tour of the ruins of Ireland kicks off. And it’s just beyond cool.
Dotting our drive across the country were all these rad little churches and ruins and castles.
The team was a solid collection of road trippers.
We’d stop and adventure up the fog soaked hills whenever inspired.
And would come upon some truly magical spots.
We’d also take sweet jumping shots from these magical spots.
What’s that over there just behing the bush?
A wee leprechaun!
Just can’t say enough about how welcome they made me feel. Ya know, I was kinda nervous about travelling for 10 days with Di’s friends. And dude! Did they ever make me feel right at home.
Cruising along the road, was glad to see the locals beast moding.
Had lunch in Dingle.
Dudes … The universe gave me the coolest, most photogenic travelling companion ever.
Love this woman.
And really love (in spite of her lively protestations) to photograph her.
Ate this meal like every single day in Ireland.
You’re too darn lovely.
Drove out to the coast and got views epic beyond belief.
… And kept the silly up to a matching level …
Ireland … How are you just so friggin adorable.
To be in the homeland.
My stoke just spilleth over.
And party we will.
We close our eyes for a few minutes, the next day comes, and happiness and castles and friends and all that is good awaits our travellers.
Place is way legit.
And solidly fortified.
The next leg of the adventure very well may be my highlight of the trip.
We hop on a boat for a tour out into Loch Laen.
The views are a level of epic that we just don’t normally encounter.o
And the stoke … Don’t even get me started on the stoke!
So we take this boat tour out to this island that was a functioning monastarty from 400 to 1400. And there are all these super awesome ruins throughout the island.
Basically in shock when we are allowed off the boat and get to explore this 21 acre paradise.
The historian in me loves to play this game where I try my best and vividly imagine what it would be like to visit such and such a place at such and such a time.
And on this island that imagination ran wild.
As I explored the ruins and the forests, I could feel the dual sense of peace and adventure that a yound student felt when would first arrive here over a thousand years ago. What it must have been like to land on this self sustaining slice of heaven and study with the monks of Inis Fallon …
The merry deer were bounding around the shores …
And the enchanted trails led us on a loop that I will never ever forget …
From the island we cruise out to a music festival and meet up again with this truly lovely couple.
Matty and Maiko! You both rock so hard!
We spend our evening knocking back beers, enjoying the end of the trip, and listening to amazing Irish music.
And this guy!
On the guitar!
As dusk descends we make our way through the ruins, toward our hostel.
And our last night in Dublin caps off the trip of a lifetime.
What a team.
So … What else can I say to conclude this marathon post.
Seriously, there’s just so much more that I could go through.
The games, the new friends, the parties, the sites, the excursions, the meals, the meandering, the charging, the laughs, the bonding … The last nine days have truly been a life experience of epic proportions. But all in all, way more important than the “where” is the “who”. And in this journey, it’s the people that made the last ten days of my life awesome beyond belief.
Thanks commune. See you all soon.