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celler de capçanes kosher wine tour

The history of Judaism in Spain dates back to Roman times, while some research even suggests that
they may have inhabited the country earlier than the 3rd century. You may not be aware that  Spanish Jews were one of the largest Jewish communities worldwide, living peacefully under both Muslim and Christian rule until the year 1492 when  Isabel and Ferdinand expelled them during the inquisition.

Experience the enduring Jewish heritage that Spain offers, on one of our private tours like our Jewish Heritage Tour of Spain including Barcelona, Girona, Besalu, Seville, Cordoba, Toledo and Madrid.  Or, you could  combine Spain with Portugal and SW France on the same private tour to discover more of the Iberian Peninsula Jewry, a history which is one of both glory and tragedy.

Currently,  there are approximately 40,000 Jews living in Spain, and of that very healthy percentage, there is clearly a strong contingent of wine aficionados!

Capçanes winery in Montsant, is the very first winery in Spain to produce a Kosher wine in the 20th century, although Kosher wine has been in existence since 636 AD in Israel and may have been in Spain prior to Capçanes innovative move to commence making Kosher wine.

Capçanes dates back to the 19th century and was one of the many victims of the grape vine infection Phylloxera in Spain. Almost totally wiped out and under resourced, it was some time before in 1933 five families joined forces to create the co-operative of Capçanes. Over the years the co-operative grew steadily until 1995 when a Jewish family from Barcelona requested that they make the first Kosher wine in Spain and times truly changed for Capçanes. It meant the installation of new equipment allowing the winemakers to identify, isolate and vinify under controlled “Lo Mebushal” conditions, small parcels of quality fruit.”  Subsequently, the Peraj Ha’abib (Flor de Primavera or Spring Flower) was the wine that placed Capçanes on the map worldwide.

What is Kosher Wine?

  1. According to the practice known as orla, the grapes of new vines cannot be used for winemaking until the fourth year of planting.
  2. No other fruits or vegetables may be grown in between the rows of the vines (kalai hakerem)
  3. After the first harvest, the field must lie fallow every seventh year. Each of these sabbatical years is known as shnat shmita.
  4. From the onset of the harvest, only kosher tools and storage facilities may be used in the winemaking process, and all of the winemaking equipment must be cleaned [sometimes up to 7 times with hot water] to be certain that no foreign objects remain in the equipment or vats.
  5. From the moment the grapes reach the winery, only Sabbath observant [male] Jews are allowed to come in contact with the wine.
  6. All of the materials (e.g. yeasts) used in the production and clarification of the wines must be certified as kosher.
  7. A symbolic amount of wine, representing the tithe (truma vama’aser) once paid to the Temple in Jerusalem must be poured away from the tanks or barrels in which the wine is being made.
  8. A Kosher wine proves to be a challenge to any winemaker. The winemaker may not have any contact with his wine other than through the Rabbi. Which means, that if the winemaker at Capçanes wants to check on his wine, he must ask the Rabbi to come in from Barcelona and take out a sample for him to both see and taste.

Peraj Ha’abib is made with 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Garnatxa Negra and 30% Samsó and aged for 12 months in new and one year old, Kosher French oak barrels. The wine is incredibly dark in color with a fabulous black cherry, chocolate and floral nose, worthy of accolades.

The 16,000 bottles of kosher wine produced each year represent only about 5 percent of Capçanes’ production but attract most of the attention. The wine is exported to the United States and Israel, mostly, but it also finds its way to small Jewish communities in Europe and Mexico.

Capçanes has three extremely knowledgeable winemakers, each of whom is dedicated to a specific area and together they bring their talents to their business. Angel Teixido is the most experienced and is in charge of the vineyard control. Francesc Perello coordinates bottling and wine analysis and Jürgen Wagner composes and styles the blends.

We only have good comments to make about their excellent customer-oriented philosophy, not to mention the superb quality of their wine!

If you would like to learn more about Kosher wines, then why not include a visit while you’re staying in Barcelona to this prestigious winery which produces some of the most well-known Kosher Wines, with a tour of the facilities, followed by a tasting of their best Kosher wines.

We cover many wine regions and you could too on your custom-built tour itinerary with Gourmand Breaks. Here are just some of our Sample Wine Tour Itineraries in Spain, Portugal and SW France.

Wes Albinger and Charles Pierce joined us recently, from New York City, for a fantastic 22 day Customized Private Highlights of Spain Tour. We could tell you where they went, what they saw, where they ate etc but we’ll leave that to them.

Travel with Wes and Charles all over Spain as you read their FULL review in their own words, with no censorship from us  – Bon Voyage :-):

After a reflective week or so, we’d like to share a few thoughts about our Gourmand Breaks journey through Spain. Top line: We loved it!  It was a pleasure to meet you on that first day in Barcelona. The printed booklet you presented us with was helpful. We referred to it often and having the blank pages did, in fact, inspire us to keep a journal.

Sagrada familia interior

Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

Barcelona was a great place to begin. Our guide gave us a real understanding of Catalonia as well as a wonderful tour of the Sagrada Famillia — the first of many marvels we saw on our trip. It was astounding, enhanced by our guide’s intimate knowledge. Thanks for recommending Ten’s, as it was outstanding. Lasarte was an elegant, comfortable restaurant but frankly, we enjoyed Ten’s more! (A waiter knocked a full glass of wine and a full glass of water over Wes during our meal at Lasarte …it was unfortunate and this may have colored our overall impression of the place. They upgraded our wine after the incident, but otherwise charged us the full amount, which was surprising). As you know, on the last day in Barcelona we suffered food poisoning. Luckily, the malaise didn’t last long. When we got to Grenada, we found a place that served chicken soup and it was curative!

Alhambra inside

The Alhambra, Granada

Grenada was delightful. Our expert guide maneuvered us gracefully through the crowds and took us on a memorable and knowledgeable tour of the Alhambra — the second marvel of our trip. Your suggested stop in Ronda was the perfect way to break up the drive. We loved the hotel in Seville. Our room was huge and the hotel manager was very attentive, welcoming us with a bottle of bubbly. Our guide, Paloma, was terrific. Her tour of the cathedral was excellent and we had such a good time with her afterwards. We loved the flamenco show and the manager made us feel welcome when he sought us out at the end of the performance to thank us for coming. And, of course, the scent of orange blossoms lingers in our memory. We tried a restaurant suggested in your booklet, Az-Zait, and it turned out to be a good choice. (The Iberian pork dish was delicious!).

Elena, our guide in Cordoba, was very good and clearly at home. Strolling through the old town with her made us feel like locals, as she knew many folks along the way. Her knowledge of the Mezquita was extraordinary and her commentary greatly enhanced our visit to this magnificent sight — the third marvel of our trip. When we told her afterwards that we’d prefer to have a proper lunch rather hopping around for tapas, she picked just the right place. She worked with the waiters to plan us a delectable meal and we were the only tourists in the place. It was great watching local families enjoying a long, leisurely Saturday lunch.

El Retiro Park, Madrid

And then came Madrid. The many neighborhoods, museums, the vitality, Retiro Park and the oh-so-friendly people won us over. The hotel had a few issues…and perhaps not quite as special as the other hotels you chose for our journey but the location was great and the room was generous, quiet and comfortable. The staff was very helpful. Our guide, Olga, used a map to help us understand Madrid and it’s charms before taking us on an informative and comprehensive tour of the city. The Prado art collection was yet another marvel and Olga’s insight was impressive. We loved tapas-hopping with her afterwards and were particularly pleased with the places she picked. She left us feeling very satisfied at the Mercado de San Miguel. We visited the Royal Palace, saw a few other sights and, as Olga had suggested, had something eat in the food courts at El Cortes Inglés for dinner.

The Museo Thysson-Bornemisza museum was yet another marvel. It’s a beautifully curated art collection where we spent hours and loved every minute of it. It was like taking an art history class!

Our two-star dinner at El Club Allard started out with a bang. The first five courses were good but the service was rushed and the final courses lacked finesse. Just the same, it’s a beautiful place and they made us feel quite comfortable.

Toledo

Toledo

We loved our guide in Toledo. His English was excellent and he knew the city so well. (He even spotted, and helped coordinate, the arrest of two pickpockets by sending their photos instantly to the local police!). After our tour, he took us to a small but terrific local restaurant where we had a lunch menu for twelve euros, including a glass of wine!

Segovia was a great side trip, too. We arrived early enough to have a quick visit of the cathedral and to marvel at the Roman aqueduct. After that, we stopped to sample the ponche Segoviano, loving the sponge cake and marzipan confection. We wandered through the old town, visited the Alcázar and even went through a local history museum. But the highlight was lunch at José Maria where we had the famous “cochinillo.” What a treat! The poor piglet couldn’t have been more than six weeks old, just large enough to fit in a roasting pan, and it was fun to watch the waiters use ordinary serving plates to cut the pig into equal portions for serving. We loved it.

Then came San Sebastián. Wow! The train trip was a bit uncomfortable as we noted but San Sebastián was a perfect ending. We loved the hotel and the view from our room was mesmerizing. Once again, our guide was delightful, helping us appreciate the city’s history and taking us to just the right places—a landmark pastry shop, a “grocery store” with the most amazing produce, the Hotel Maria Cristina and all along the waterfront. Then we had a spectacular “pinchos”- hopping jaunt with her that was a lot of fun.

San Sebastian promenade

San Sebastian

Bilbao was another memorable day trip. A great driver in his very comfortable car took us to the market downtown and drove us around a bit before dropping us off at the museum. The building is fantastic — another marvel! And thanks again for our lunch at Nerua … one of the best meals we had on the trip. The chef greeted us and gave us a few amuse-gueules while he talked about the kitchen. Then we sat down and ate and drank our way though an excellent 9-course menu. It was delicious! The wine pairing was definitely the right thing to do as the sommelier picked some very interesting wines that perfectly matched the food. (We can’t say enough good things about this place. It was better than both the two-star restaurants in Barcelona and Madrid!). The driver took us back to San Sebastián via the coast, stopping for a few minutes to let us have a look at the port in Getaria. It was a beautiful drive.

We had such a good time with our friends Stephanie and Paul, especially sharing two three-star restaurant meals back-to-back! Our dinner at Akelarre was disappointing. The location can’t be beat (lovely sunset!) and while some of the dishes were playful, innovative and very tasty, there were some clunkers along the way. All in all, it didn’t seem to be a three-star experience. We all came away thinking that it wasn’t worth the exorbitant price.

ARZAK dish

Arzak, Michelin 3*, San Sebastian

On the other hand, lunch at Arzak was one of the best culinary experiences we can remember. From start to finish, it was three-star perfection. Juan Marie Arzak couldn’t have been more charming and the entire staff was super-welcoming. (Thanks to our waiter’s guidance, we were able to order multiple half-portions à la carte, creating our own ten course menu). It was superb and, interestingly, the bill was half as much as our bill at Akelarre!

We have to thank you. From beginning to end, our journey was very well-paced, encompassing and exciting on so many levels. In general, we loved traveling by fast train—and getting a feel for the topography of Spain along the way. The car and driver parts of our journey were top-notch and so comfortable. The guides were spot-on. Thank you for all your efforts on our behalf.

Un abrazo!

Wes and Charles

Thank you Wes and Charles for such a comprehensive insight into your experience with Gourmand Breaks. On behalf of us all at Gourmand Breaks – It was our pleasure to welcome you to Spain!

 

If you enjoyed your journey with Wes and Charles and would like to experience some great Food, Wine ad Cultural experiences in Spain, and/or Portugal, we’d be delighted to customize your perfect private itinerary. You’ll find many sample itineraries to give you some ideas on our Gourmand Breaks website .

World Heritage Sites are places of importance to cultural or natural heritage as described in The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, or UNESCO, World Heritage Convention, established in 1972. The aim – to protect and preserve National Heritage.

Mosque Cordoba

Spain accepted the convention on May 4, 1982, making its historical sites eligible for inclusion on the World Heritage List.

In 1984 five sites were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List: the Mosque of Córdoba, the Alhambra and the Generalife of Granada, Burgos Cathedral, the Monastery and Site of the Escorial of Madrid and the collective Gaudi works of Park Güell, Palau Güell and Casa Milà in Barcelona.

There are currently 44 World Heritage Sites in Spain listed by the World Heritage Committee on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Spain is the 3rd country with the most World Heritage Sites behind Italy with 49 and China with 45.

World Heritage Sites in Spain LIST, with their first year of inclusion:

39 Cultural World Heritage Sites in Spain:

• Alhambra, Generalife and Albayzín, Granada (1984)
• Aranjuez Cultural Landscape (2001)
• Archaeological Ensemble of Mérida (1993)
• Archaeological Ensemble of Tárraco (2000)
• Archaeological Site of Atapuerca (2000)
• Burgos Cathedral (1984)
• Catalan Romanesque Churches of the Vall de Boí (2000)
• Cathedral, Alcázar and Archivo de Indias in Seville (1987)
• Cave of Altamira and Paleolithic Cave Art of Northern Spain (1985)
• Cultural Landscape of the Serra de Tramuntana (2011)
• Heritage of Mercury. Almadén and Idrija (2012)
• Historic Centre of Cordoba (1984)
• Historic City of Toledo (1986)
• Historic Walled Town of Cuenca (1996)
• La Lonja de la Seda de Valencia (1996)
• Las Médulas (1997)
• Monastery and Site of the Escurial, Madrid (1984)
• Monuments of Oviedo and the Kingdom of the Asturias (1985)
• Mudejar Architecture of Aragon (1986)
• Old City of Salamanca (1988)
• Old Town of Ávila with its Extra-Muros Churches (1985)
• Old Town of Cáceres (1986)
• Old Town of Segovia and its Aqueduct (1985)
• Palau de la Música Catalana and Hospital de Sant Pau, Barcelona (1997)
• Palmeral of Elche (2000)
• Poblet Monastery (1991)
• Prehistoric Rock Art Sites in the Côa Valley and Siega Verde (1998)
• Renaissance Monumental Ensembles of Úbeda and Baeza (2003)
• Rock Art of the Mediterranean Basin on the Iberian Peninsula (1998)
• Roman Walls of Lugo (2000)
• Routes of Santiago de Compostela: Camino Francés and Routes of Northern Spain (1993)
• Royal Monastery of Santa María de Guadalupe (1993)
• San Cristóbal de La Laguna (1999)
• San Millán Yuso and Suso Monasteries (1997)
• Santiago de Compostela (Old Town) (1985)
• Tower of Hercules (2009)
• University and Historic Precinct of Alcalá de Henares (1998)
• Vizcaya Bridge (2006)
• Works of Antoni Gaudí (1984) Seven properties built by the architect Antoni Gaudí 1852–1926: Parque Güell; Palacio Güell; Casa Mila; Casa Vicens; Gaudí’s work on the Nativity façade and Crypt of La Sagrada Familia; Casa Batlló; Crypt in Colonia Güell.

3 Natural World Heritage Sites in Spain:

• Doñana National Park (1994)
• Garajonay National Park (1986)
• Teide National Park (2007)

2 Mixed World Heritage Sites in Spain:

• Ibiza, Biodiversity and Culture (1999)
• Pyrénées – Mont Perdu (1997)

Alhambra

Visit Spain’s World Heritage gems on one of our Private Culture, Food and Wine Tours to see the wonderful historic treasures and fascinating culture of this country and taste fine wine, local foods and much, much more!

 

Marg and Phil Roeterdink joined us from Perth, Australia, back in May/June 2015, for their Private Gourmand Breaks Food, Wine and Cultural Tour covering Spain and Portugal.  In a Customized 17 day itinerary Marg and Phil were able to experience the sights and delights of Barcelona, Granada, Seville, Cordoba, Ronda, Salamanca and Madrid in Spain as well as Lisbon and the Douro Valley in Portugal. Marg has since shared  her impressions with us through paintings that she entered into her Personal Journal along the way.

Here are some of the beautiful paintings that Marg has very kindly allowed us to share with you:

Marg Barcelona

Marg Cordoba

Marg Farmhouse

Marg Granada

Marg Lisbon

 

Many thanks againto Marg for sharing these beautiful impressions of the Spanish and Portuguese experiences she shared with her husband Phil.

We’d love to help you make your own special memories  too in Spain and Portugal and look forward to welcoming you on a Private Food, Wine and Cultural Tour with Gourmand Breaks.

Summer may be over but ice-cream never goes out of season!! If you are heading to Girona, Spain, then a must stop is Rocambolesc, the Willy-Wonka-esque ice cream shop of the Michelin 3 star Roca Brothers, in particular Jordi Roca. The sweet brother in charge of desserts at El Celler de Can Roca, current World’s Number 1 restaurant, invites you to experience the sweet sensations of El Celler de Can Roca at Rocambalesc – a world much more than just ice-cream!

Rocambolesc Girona

Just a small shop, on Carrer de Santa Clara in Girona, Rocambolesc radiates a vintage feel and as soon as you step inside you will instantly return to your childhood with “oooos” and “wows” as the colors, smells and sights hit, invade and delight your senses.

Rocambolesc ice-cream

Rocambolesc – Enjoy El Celler de Can Roca delicacies at a fraction of the cost  –  just 3.90€ for a large tub (as per the photo) with 3 toppings!

There are six different flavors of ice-cream to choose from, in cones or tubs, including the classics of vanilla or chocolate and the more adventurous green sorbet or baked apple. Your server will recommend the 3 toppings ideal for your ice-cream flavor choice although you can choose your own 3 from over 30 options such as parma violet marshmallow, strawberries, caramelized apple, nut sprinkles, flaked sugar, crunchy caramel, honey rocks, coconut……

Jordi Roca and Rocambolesc

The youngest of the three Roca Brothers, Jordi Roca was proclaimed “The World’s Best Pastry Chef “in 2014 (the current holder of this title for 2015 is Albert Adrià). At El Celler de Can Roca Joan Roca heads the sublime kitchen; Josep Roca is the expert sommelier and Jordi Roca creates the imaginative desserts.

 

Where to find Rocambolesc:

Rocambolesc in Girona:
Carrer de Santa Clara 50, 17001 Girona
Open: Sun -Thurs 12:00 – 21:00, Fri and Sat 12:00 to 23:00

Rocambolesc in Platja d’Aro (Girona):
Avinguda de S’Agaró 59, 17249 Platja d’Aro
Closed in winter

Rocambolesc in Madrid:
Calle Serrano 52, El Corte Inglés- 7th Floor, 28001 Madrid
Open: Sun-Thurs 12:30 – 00:00, Fri and Sat 12:30 to 00:30

 

Experience the ice-cream joys of Rocambolesc on your Gourmand Breaks Private Food, Wine and Cultural Tour.  We can customise any of our Our Sample Spain Portugal Private Tour Itineraries to include a stay in Girona county and among other fascinating visits a private guided visit of the city of Girona.

American TV series “Game of Thrones” has taken the world by storm, and  part of the filming for its new Series 6 is taking place in Girona, Spain.   Ambling around the Old Town of Girona certainly can transport you back in time, or, with the correct props, into the fantasy world of one of the Kingdoms of Game of Thrones.

Set building for Game of Thrones (series 6) taking place in the Old Town of Girona, Spain.

Set building for Game of Thrones (series 6) taking place in the Old Town of Girona, Spain.

The Game of Thrones cast and crew are currently”decorating” and preparing to start filming next week in certain parts of the Old Town, the Medieval Jewish quarter if you will,  of Girona. Maybe not a great time for you to visit right now, as the filming of Game of Thrones continues into mid-September with many areas beng closed, but all year round Girona and it’s old town are a great place to wander. At the heart of the intricate network of cobbled streets, towering above the Medieval Jewish quarter that winds around it, stands Girona Cathedral.

Girona Cathedral is a significant work of Gothic architecture since its construction began in the 11th century. Girona Cathedral’s prominence especially rose in the 15th century when architects added what is still, today,  the largest Gothic nave in the world and the second largest nave overall, behind St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

Inside Girona Cathedral there are several relics dating back to the 11th century as well as ancient saint shrines, an ivory throne made for King Charlemagne and the Tapestry of the Creation, a very rare surviving tapestry from the era depicting the creation of the world, months of the year and Biblical characters.

Girona Cathedral

Curiously, Girona has not not only inspired the modern day Game of Thrones, the Cathedral inspired even Antoni Gaudi!  On the Apse façade of Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, the chapel of the Assumption will be built, dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin, which is especially popular in Catalonia. This project is inspired by an existing one in Girona cathedral and includes the crown dedicated to the Virgin, the pillars that form the  structure and the curtains hanging from it, as well as the angels that are represented on the Girona model.

 

Explore the beautiful city of Girona on a private Gourmet, Wine and Cultural Tour of Spain like our Romantic Spain Luxury Private Tour which takes you within Girona cathedral’s courtyard and the Roman walls behind it  – a beautifully peaceful journey through the history of Gothic art as well as visits to medieval villages, prestigious wineries and the chance to dine Michelin style.

Girona, The colourful riverside homes, Cathedral and Sant Felix

Read more about Girona on our blog post:  Girona, Spain – Little City, BIG heart

Sant Joan

 

In Catalunya and throughout Spain, the most important celebration during the month of June is undoubtedly the Eve of Sant Joan (St. John). This is celebrated both in private houses and in public places, and there is dancing and the typical “coca”, as well as bonfires in some streets and squares, and fireworks.  Catalonians celebrate the Eve of Sant Joan in their idiosyncratic way- the fiesta takes place the night before Saint John’s Day (June 24th), which coincides with the summer solstice. Old furniture is bundled onto bonfires in the villages and towns throughout Catalonia, the fire acting as a purifier and curative element.

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Everyone loves the glitz and glamour of a Film Festival and even more in a beautiful city that lights up the sky! Spain is no exception and ‘Lights! Camera! Action!’ San Sebastián – Donostia – will host The 62nd San Sebastián Film Festival!

San Sebastian - Donostia - Spain

There are more International Film Festivals in the World than you may realize, but what about specifically in Europe? We, the general public, off the top of our heads can name the “biggies” like Cannes, France, one of the world’s oldest, most influential and prestigious festivals – it came and went in May, or maybe Berlin, Germany, the 64th Festival came and went in February and obviously Venice, Italy.

The 71st Venice International Film Festival is in the Silver Screen’s Eye right now!!  It is filling the airwaves, and print, with up to the minute movie and A-list celebrity news.  Cheek to cheek Hollywood stars are boat and gondola ridden in the fantastically isolated Venetian atomosphere until the end of next weekend.

But, what next? Where do the lights, camera and action go after Venice? and if we say Spain! What do you know?

San Sebastián Film Festival 2014

From the 19th to the 27th of September 2014 in San Sebastián – Donostia – all Hollywood shining stars and cinema going buffs eyes will be on Spain!!!  San Sebastian, or Donostia in the Euskera language, is in the Basque Country of Spain and is famous for it’s ‘La Concha’ scalloped bay, great gastronomy, friendly people and leisurely pace.

The San Sebastián Film Festival was established in 1953 in San Sebastián (Donostia) in the Spanish Basque country. The Film Festival is a minor event in the film calendar compared to Venice, Cannes, Toronto and London, but still holds some clout and is celebrity A-List worthy. The San Sebastián Film Festival has seen attendance by many great actors and directors over the years such as Bette Davis, Elizabeth Taylor, Audrey Hepburn, Roman Polanski, Michael Douglas, Mel Gibson and Brad Pitt to name but a very few!  It has been acknowledged by the FIAPF (International Federation of Film Producers Associations) as an A category festival and considered one of the most important in Europe.

Next month, Denzel Washington will be opening the 62nd San Sebastián Film Festival with the European premiere of “The Equalizer”, a film directed by Antoine Fuqua.  The actor and the director will be presenting the film at the festival on the 19th of September 2014.

During the opening gala, of The San Sebastián Film Festival, the star of the film, Denzel Washington, will be presented with the Donostia Lifetime Achievement Award.  This prestigious prize is an honorary award given each year during The San Sebastián Film Festival to one or several actors and occasionally to directors.  Past winners include:  Gregory Peck (1986), Bette Davis (1989), Lauren Bacall (1992), Al Pacino (1996), Anthony Hopkins, Jeanne Moreau and John Malkovich (1998), Michael Caine and Robert de Niro (2000), Meryl Streep and Antonio Banderas (2008), Glenn Close (2011) and last years winners Hugh Jackman and Carmen Maura.

The San Sebastián Film Festival has seen many premiers over the years, such as “Melinda and Melinda” by Woody Allen and the European premier of “Star Wars” and also been paramount in the advancement of directors such as Polanski, Coppola and Almodóvar.

Pintxo

San Sebastián may glitter each September with Celebrities for the Film Festival but Michelin Stars shine brightly in and around the city all year with the likes of Akelarre ***, Arzak ***, Martín Berasategui *** and Mugaritz **.  But, away from the Michelin starred restaurants San Sebastián’s  famous ‘Pintxo’ culture finds bars packed with tourists and locals as they hop for a bite from one bar to the next. San Sebastián is a culinary dream whenever you visit !!!

We’re not going to lie to you – hotel rates are sky high during The San Sebastián Film Festival but if you’re not bothered about snapping A-list celebs, then this Basque Country city is a great place to visit any time of year.  Enjoy San Sebastián’s leisurely pace, friendly people and fantastic food on our Best of Barcelona and the Basque Country Gourmet Tour, you won’t be disappointed!

 

When in Cordoba, Spain  …….. apart from the famous amazing ‘Mezquita’ – the Mosque – there’s so much more to see and do in the Andalusian city of Cordoba.

Cordoba Bridge

Take time to visit the local taverns to savor some typical Cordobese tapas. A Tavern in Cordoba used to be a place where the local people could go to drink wine.  Every tavern had an interior courtyard with a well that was not only used for decoration but also to keep the drinks fresh.  Nowadays Cordoban taverns are designed as lively, yet less frenetic, venues to taste tapas. You will have the chance to sample local specialties such as Flamenquín (battered pork or ham), Salmorejo (cold tomato soup thickened with breadcrumbs), Rabo de Toro (Bull’s tail) and for dessert the typical ‘Pastel Cordobés’ – a pastry filled with sweet pumpkin.

Cordoba has many charming squares to watch the world go by, but maybe the best is the Plaza de la Corredera which is like a mini Venetian St Mark’s Square. The first bullfights in Cordoba were held here, but today the restaurant and bar terraces fill up with visitors taking in the grandeur of it all. Another renowned square in Cordoba is the Plaza del Potro featuring an interesting fountain dating back to 1577 and a historic inn mentioned by Miguel de Cervantes in his famous novel, Don Quixote.

Cordoba Plaza

As the city is located on the banks of the Guadalquivir River, it is no surprise that you will find bridges here. The most famous is the ancient Roman Bridge that links the area of Campo de la Verdad with Barrio de la Catedral. It was built in the early 1st century BC, during the period of Roman rule in Cordoba, and the 16 arches stretch over a length of about 250 meters. It was the only bridge in the city for twenty centuries, until the construction of the San Rafael Bridge in the mid-20th century.

Jews formed a part of Cordoba’s cultural mix from as early as the 2nd Century until their expulsion from Spain in 1492. Cordoba’s large Juderia is the best-known part of Cordoba’s historic center, which was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1984 and is one of the largest in Europe.

Join us on a Private Food, Wine and Culture Gourmand Break to discover Andalusia and Cordoba. Our Majestic Madrid and Authentic Andalusia Private Tour includes not only Cordoba, but also Seville, Granada and Ronda in the South of Spain.

Park Guell, Gaudi Barcelona

Barcelona is the capital of Catalonia in Spain

Barcelona is situated in the North East of Spain, on the Mediterranean coast

Barcelona city has a population of around 1.7 million people

The country dialing code is 0034 and the Barcelona prefix is 91

The official currency is the Euro. Before the Euro was introduced the Peseta was used

The official language of Spain is Spanish although in 1975 the official language of Barcelona was declared Catalan

Barcelona is Spain’s second largest city, behind Spain’s capital Madrid

The most walked along street in Spain is in Barcelona. Each hour an approximate 3500 pedestrians walk down Portal d’Angel

The most famous street in Barcelona is Las Ramblas – 5 boulevards making up 1 – which starts at Plaça de Cataluya and 2kms later ends at the Columbus monument

Barcelona hosted the Olympic Games in 1992

Before 1992 Barcelona had no beaches for public and local use. The area was purely industrial but after redevelopment 7 beaches are now in use along 4.5kms of coastline

Barcelona Port is the no 4 worldwide and is Europe and the Mediterranean’s leading cruise port.  2.6 million passengers embarked or disembarked in Barcelona in 2013

Surprisingly Barcelona city has no Michelin 3 star restaurants although there are many Michelin 2 and 1 stars.

Barcelona’s world famous Football Club – F.C Barcelona – is nicknamed the ‘Blaugrana’ after the colors they most commonly wear namely blue (blau) and maroon (grana)

F.C Barcelona is also represented in other sports such as Basketball, Handball and Hockey

Antoni Gaudí was Barcelona’s most famous architect and 7 of his works have been declared UNESCO world heritage sites

Gaudí’s most famous Sagrada Familia was started in 1882 and is still being built today long after his death in 1926

The patron saint of Barcelona is the Virgin of Mercy. The day is declared a bank holiday and La Mercè festivities are held on (and during the week of) the 24th of September.

Many of our Private Food, Wine and Cultural tours include stays in Barcelona to discover this fantastic city via private tours and/or giving you free time for your own sightseeing.