A Taste of Northern Spain Tour
With Gerry Dawes and John Sconzo
Wednesday, Oct. 28 – Saturday, November 8
(Tour Pricing & Terms Available on Request)
Day 00 Wed, October 28 Fly USA – Madrid – Vigo
Flights should be booked via Madrid with Vigo as the final destination.
Day 01 Thurs., Oct 29 Madrid – Vigo – Cambados
Arrive in Madrid, transfer to the plane to Vigo, pickup at Vigo airport by small bus, drive via the Rias (fjords) to Pontevedra and visit the most important fish market in Spain, then on to nearby Cambados, check into Casa Rosita, give our guests some time to freshen up, then have lunch nearby in a special seafood restaurant and return to the hotel for a siesta. In the evening, we will have a light seafood dinner in Cambados and turn in early.
Day 02 Friday, Oct. 30 Cambados
Drive to vine-covered Meaño through wine country and visit the artesano Albariño producers and taste wines from six wineries, then drive to O Grove and take a boat (if available) out into the Rias and visit some of bateas (shellfish rafts) and eat steamed mussels fresh from a batea, then back in O Grove to D’ Berto for lunch, where we will accompany the lunch with the artesano wines, some 6-8 of them. After lunch, we will take an hour’s ride back to Cambados and visit the fish market, then the old fisherman’s port and the old quarters of Cambados and have a light dinner in a bar-restaurant in the fishermen’s quarter.
Day 03 Saturday, Oct. 31 Cambados – Santiago de Compostela – Ribadavia – Ribeiro – Monforte de Lemos
We will ride 45 minutes in the morning to the great city of Santiago de Compostela, the spiritual capital of Galicia, visit the magnificent Cathedral and Cathedral Square, stroll through old historic Santiago, the destination point for the renowned Camino de Santiago, then visit Santiago’s wonderful municipal market and have a tapas lunch at one of most innovative and best restaurants in town located right in the market.
After lunch, we will drive an hour or so to Ribadavia, which has one of the best preserved old Jewish quarters in northern Spain, then 10 minutes away, we will visit one of the best wineries in the Ribeiro wine region and taste wines with the owner-winemaker.
Another hour through very picturesque Galicia will take us to the important town of Monforte de Lemos, where we will check in the Parador Nacional de Turismo, which is in a former convent perched a hill. After we check in, we will take a short walking tour of the older sections of Monforte, then relax at the parador until time for dinner, which will be 200 yards down the hill at one of the best regional specialty restaurants in the region. Several winemakers from La Ribera Sacra, one of the greatest red wine regions (with some surprising white wines as well) in Spain, will join us for dinner with their wines. After dinner, we will return to the Parador early.
Day 04 Sunday, Nov. 1 Ribeira Sacra – Monforte de Lemos
After a leisurely breakfast on Sunday morning, we will drive half an hour to spectacular Miño River wine region south of the town of Chantada. We will visit several wineries, have lunch with several winemakers and their wines at a special restaurant right on the river, then take a boat ride for an hour on the incredibly picturesque Miño, where the steep hill are covered in vines planted right down to the river’s edge.
After lunch, we will drive an hour to the southeast back past Monforte to visit the awesome Sil River canyons that are filled with some of the greatest vineyards in La Ribeira Sacra. We will visit some unique wineries and then have an early dinner in a restaurant-winery in the prime Amandi region of Ribeira Sacra. After dinner, we will return to Monforte de Lemos to the Parador, where we can have optional libations in the patio bar and review the events of the past few days.
Day 05 Monday, Nov. 2 Ribeira Sacra – Valdeorras – Villafranca del Bierzo – Cangas de Onís (Asturias).
After breakfast at the Parador, we will embark on a 45-minute drive through wine country to Valdeorras, where we will visit two wineries that make wonderful wines from one of the greatest white wine grapes in the world, Godello. The mother of one of our winery principals has a bar-restaurant in the center of the main town, O Barco de Valdeorras, where we will taste wines and sample Galician specialties like steamed octopus with olive oil, sea salt and Spanish paprika and empanadas fulled with tuna, shellfish or meat.
From O Barco, we will drive 45 minutes to El Bierzo, where visit the picturesque Camino de Santiago and major wine town of Cacabelos and taste wines with 2-3 winemakers, then have lunch with some of the wines at a lovely restaurant in Villafranca del Bierzo frequented by local winemakers and located in a small charming hotel that sits right on the Camino de Santiago.
After lunch, all but our bus driver will have a bus siesta as we pass through the Picos de Europa mountains and into Asturias, a drive of about two hours with stops.
We will stay in the colorful Asturian town of Cangas de Onis, which is deep in the Parque Nacional de Quesos, the main town of one of the greatest cheese and cider regions in Europe. We will check into our hotel in Cangas, visit some cheesemakers and Cabrales aging caves and taste cheeses accompanied by cider poured splashing into wide-mouthed glasses from bottles held high above their heads by dexterous cider-pouring barmen. We will have dinner in a very colorful sidreria with a cheese guru and sample more cheeses, local specialties such as fabada Asturiana and wonderful steaks.
After dinner, we will return to Cangas.
Day 06 Tuesday, November 3 Asturias – Santillana del Mar – Bilbao
In the morning, we will relax and leave time for shopping in Cangas, visit a couple of cheese villages, then drive north of Oviedo to have lunch at one of the best restaurants in northern Spain, Michelin-starred Casa Gerardo, where father-and-son Chef team Pedro and Marcos Morán will prepare a special menu for us.
After lunch we will drive to Bilbao, diverting to see some of the dramatic Asturian and Cantabrian coasts and fishing ports, along the way. We will stop for an hour in the picturesque medieval village of Santillana del Mar, then drive on to Bilbao arriving in the evening.
We will check into our centrally located hotel in Bilbao, then have tapas in the colorful Plaza Nueva before settling into a wonderful restaurant in the Bilbao barrio of Deusto, where we will have some superb steaks (or fish for those who choose not to have steak), roasted red peppers, salad, sidra (cider) and red and Rosado wines from nearby Basque Rioja Alavesa.
There is a casino in Bilbao for optional games and local bars where we can have the option of relaxing with adult libations.
Day 07, Wednesday, Nov. 4 Bilbao – San Sebastián
In the morning, we will have a guided tour of the Bilbao Guggenheim Museum, which was designed by Frank Gehry.
After the museum tour we will drive to the coast to see some enchanting fishing villages, then drop down into the mountains of the interior of The Basque Country and have lunch at Asador Etxebarri, one of the greatest grill restaurants in the world.
After lunch, we will ride an hour to San Sebastián to our hotel, which overlooks the famous La Concha beach and bay.
After some time to settle into the hotel, we will do a walking tour of the old quarter of San Sebastián, which has the highest concentration of bars (mostly tapas bar-restaurants) in Europe and is a great area for shopping for original gifts. (We can make a stop in the market building to allow those who want to put some laundry in for afternoon or next morning pickup at Cinc a Sec.)
In early evening in two groups, we will sample tapas in a few bars, then gather at one of the best and most colorful of them and have sit-down tapas in their basement restaurant.
Day 08, Thursday, November 5 San Sebastián
This morning, we will walk back over to the old quarter and visit the markets—La Brecha for fish, all kinds of meat, cheeses, vegetables, etc. and the outdoor farmers’ market.
After we visit the market, we will take our bus for a 15-minute ride to the Pasaia port, where we will take a five-minute ferry ride to Pasaia Donibane (Pasajes de San Juan in Spanish), a picturesque one-street town where Victor Hugo lived for a year. We will explore this photogenic waterside village, then have lunch in a wonderful typical restaurant overlooking the inlet, where Basque rowers can usually be seen practicing their sport.
We will return to San Sebastián after lunch and the afternoon will be free to explore this glorious city, walk on the beach, shop, etc.
In early evening, wearing jackets and ties for the gentlemen, evening attire for the ladies, we will gather in the hotel lobby and then board our bus for a short ride up to Monte Igueldo, where we will see breathtaking view overlooking San Sebastián and the sea. After this breathtaking beginning, we will take a short drive to a Michelin 3 star restaurant to meet the chef and dine on some of his cocina de vanguardia vasca creations that have made this city famous as one of the great gastronomy destinations in the world.
Day 09 Friday, November 6 San Sebastián – Getaria – Olite – Tudela
The morning will be free to explore this glorious city, walk on the beach, shop, etc. Again, around noon, we gather back at the hotel, and with our bags on board the bus, drive 30 minutes west to very picturesque fishing village of Getaria on the Basque Coast, where we will have a seafood lunch at one of the best fish restaurants in the world.
After lunch, we will ride through the dramatic foothills of the Pyrenees into Navarra, stop at the charming castle village of Olite, then half an hour south, we will reach the southern Navarra town of Tudela, a historic Christian-Jewish-and Moorish town with an evocative old quarter. We will visit the magnificent restored church, which has one of the greatest 13th Century Romanesque doorways in Europe, plus vestiges of the former synagogue and a former mosque that once stood on this site.
In the early evening, we will drive to nearby Corella and have dinner in one of the best and most unsung vegetable-dish focused restaurants in northern Spain. This region is famous for its vegetables–you will have none better in all of Spain. In addition to dishes such as a salad cardos y semillas de granada (cardoons with pomegranate seeds), pimientos de cristál (red peppers), pochas (supernal beans) and deep-fried alcachofas con foie (artichokes (served with foie gras) and esparragos blancos (white asparagus), there are dishes such as pan-seared bacalao on a bed of vegetables, roast kid with patatas panaderas and turron ice cream with torrijas (you will thank us for introducing you to this dessert—and this restaurant).
We will return to our hotel, which is parador-esque, ensconced in a renovated historic building.
Day 10 Saturday, November 7 Tudela – Zaragoza – Madrid
In the morning, we will ride an hour to Zaragoza, take a tour of the old city, then head for Madrid, stopping for a snack along the way.
We will arrive at our central Madrid hotel, check in and go to lunch in Madrid’s old quarter.
The afternoon will be free for touring the Prado Museum, strolling and shopping.
We will gather in our hotel in the early evening , have drinks in a restaurant overlooking the Plaza de Cibeles, then have our farewell dinner in Madrid’s old quarter on typical Castillian specialties.
Day 11, Sunday, Nov. 8 Madrid – USA
Taxis in the morning to Madrid airport to catch flights back to the U.S. Option for more days in Madrid, visits to Segovia, Avila, Toledo, etc.
Option to spend more days in Madrid, visit other parts of Spain.
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