Gregorian Chants and Wine Country

April 17, 2010

On Thursday and Friday, I went on a trip with my school to Burgos and then to Peñafiel.

Burgos is a tiny village, home to the Gregorian chanters whose album, “Chants,” hit Billboard’s #1 record in the 90s. It was raining when we were there and there was only one paved road in that whole little town, so that was fun [sarcasm]. The only thing to do in that pueblo was tour the monastery and watch the singers, both of which we did. It was interesting because they didn’t give a concert, they were in prayer, so they weren’t facing us, but the acoustics in the church allowed us to kind of hear them. They didn’t really harmonize at all, the ‘performance’ was just 15 monks in traditional robes singing prayers. It was certainly a unique experience.

Luckily, we went to Peñafiel for the night, because even though it was also a relatively small town, it there were at least signs of modern civilization, such as a gas station and a supermarket. The next morning, we toured the castle complete with a Museum of Wine. After the wine museum, we went to lunch where the only thing on the menu was lamb. I told our program director, MariCarmen, that I don’t eat lamb, and she said, “No, but it’s baby lamb, it’s really good.” And I was like, “Yea… I don’t eat it.” There are three vegetarians in our group, so I would have been perfectly happy just eating whatever they were going to eat, but three other people in addition to the vegetarians felt the way that I did and did not want to eat the lamb, so they made us steaks, which wasn’t necessary but still pretty good.

After the lunch, we went to the Protos wine factory and it was SO COOL. Their underground storage system was huge; it just went really far in every direction with rows and rows of barrels. Then there was this other area with huge cages of bottles, I think they said 3 million, which is a year’s worth of work. We got to sample a glass of white and a glass of red at the end. The white was fantastic and the red was just ok. We then returned to Madrid!

Courtyard of the monastery in the rain

Castle in Peñafiel

Protos Wine Factory

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