DAY 1 MADRID
On arrival at Madrid Airport our chauffeur will be awaiting you with a luxury vehicle and will transfer you to your boutique 4* Hotel in the heart of Madrid. Formerly the residence of the Duke of Noblejas, the hotel has maintained its frescoes, mirrors and stained glass whilst being equipped with modern comforts, and is a stones throw away from the Prado Museum and the famous Santa Ana square.
Relax and unwind after your flight before meeting with our Gourmand Breaks representative, also an Officially Licensed Guide, who will meet you this afternoon in the hotel lobby to go through your itinerary and answer any queries you may have. You will also receive the printed Personal Travel Journal for your private tour, with daily itinerary details and plenty of suggestions for restaurants and free time activities.
You will then set off on your private guided tour which will first take you to El Prado Museum, the biggest art gallery in the world. It has more than 7,600 paintings, but can exhibit only one part of its collection due to lack of space. However, a recent addition to the museum increased the space by 50%, so more paintings will gradually be displayed. Prado means meadow, and the museum got the name of Prado because there was an open meadow where the museum now sits. Your private guide, additionally qualified in Spanish History and Art, will make sure you don't miss anything, you are in excellent hands.
Your private tour of Madrid will then take you to the Plaza Oriente to see and learn about the Royal Palace - Palacio Real or Palacio Oriente - and the Cathedral. You will then walk through the Old town to the Plaza de la Villa, with the town hall, and on to Mercado de San Miguel, the hottest gastronomic spot in Madrid where its bars and restaurants make it the place to meet in Old Madrid. You will also visit the Plaza Mayor and finalize your tour in Santa Ana Square (near your hotel). On your journey you will enjoy some fantastic bites to eat, and a beverage or two, as you sample the best variety of wine and tapas the city has on offer! By the end of your private guided tour you will have discovered the key to the Madrid gastronomy (some of it is for the fearless only!) and heard many anecdotes of 17th century Madrid, along whose streets you will stroll.
In a Nutshell: Chauffeured transfer from Madrid Airport to Hotel, Private Guided Tour of Old Madrid and a Selection of tapas and wine on your Tapas Hopping, Overnight in a 4* Boutique Hotel in Madrid
DAY 2 MADRID
After breakfast, and based on the insider top tips your guide left you with, you have a free day to wander around Madrid and see all the fantastic Museums, art galleries and famous parks of this fantastic city.
Perhaps you wish to visit the Reina Sofia Museum or the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection in the company of your expert guide, this can be of course arranged. The Reina Sofia Museum - The Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, also called the Museo Reina Sofia, (Queen Sofia Museum), is the national museum for 20th century art in Spain. The museum was officially inaugurated in Madrid in 1992 and is named after the former Queen of Spain. The museum collection consists of more than 20,000 works from the late 19th century to the present day, mainly dedicated to Spanish art with highlights including two of the greatest 20th century masters, Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali. Probably the most famous masterpiece in the museum is Picassos 1937, oil on canvas painting, Guernica. The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum - Madrid's acquisition of this treasure trove of art in the 1980s was one of the greatest coups in European art history. Amassed by a central European collector beginning around 1920, and formerly displayed in Lugano, Switzerland, its 700 canvases, with works by artists ranging from El Greco to Picasso, are arranged in chronological order. This fantastic collection rivals the legendary holdings of the Queen of England herself.
Maybe you wish to return to the Royal Palace, Palacio Real (often referred to as Palacio Oriente after the nearby square of the same name), to view its interesting interior. The palace is used by the King for ceremonial purposes only; he actually lives in the Palacio de la Zarzuela on the outskirts of the city. Or, take a leisurely walk through El Retiro Park, a great place to enjoy the open air as you stroll along the paths, of this once royal garden, passing fountains, statues, the delicate Palacio de Cristal, the boating lake and maybe the odd street entertainer or art exhibition.
You might like to do a little shopping and if your pleasure is designer clothes why not spend some time wandering around some of the finest boutiques in Spain on Calle Serrano. Whatever you decide, enjoy your day! This evening we have many recommendations for fine dining in Madrid, be it old style Spanish food or Michelin starred extravaganza.
In a Nutshell: Free Day in Madrid, Overnight Madrid
DAY 3 MADRID
Today, we suggest you head to Toledo for the day, a beautiful town just 30 min away by high speed train. We could happily include train tickets for you and our excellent local officially licensed guide for a private tour.
Toledo Cathedral is one of the most outstanding buildings in the city and is considered to be one of the high points of Gothic art. On its main facade the outstanding feature is the doorway, made up of three doors: Infierno (Hell), Perdon (Forgiveness) and Juicio (Judgement).
To follow the famous Toledo synagogues; Santa Maria La Blanca and El Transito, where the remains of the Jewish community are well preserved. Continuing your visit you could head to the Monastery of San Juan de los Reyes and finally to the church of The Church of Santo Tome, famous for housing El Greco's famous picture entitled El Entierro del Conde Orgaz (The burial of Count Orgaz).
On your return to Madrid, you will no doubt be delighted to put your feet up for a while, perhaps even have a quiet and relaxed dinner in your hotel. Alternatively, should you be bounding with energy, take a leisurely walk along the Plaza Mayor and taste a tapa and a dry sherry in any of the various tapas bars.
In a Nutshell: Free day in Madrid with a suggestion to head to Toledo, Overnight in Madrid
DAY 4 RIBERA DEL DUERO
This morning, as you check out of your hotel, a representative of the rental car company will be waiting with your luxury rental car with automatic transmission and GPS and you will then leave for the Spanish Wine Region of Ribera del Duero (a little over 2 hour drive, 180km).
On arrival you will check into your fabulous hotel for the night, a truly wonderfully restored old Monastery, attached to one of the finest wineries in Ribera del Duero. This very special winery/hotel is set like a jewel among the string of exclusive wine estates found along the Duero river. If the heart of the estate is the winery, its soul is the ancient 12th-century abbey, a beloved and carefully restored Spanish cultural heritage site that houses one of the world's most exclusive wine hotels. This unique place, emerged from within the cloistered Romanesque-Baroque abbey walls is a refined 5-star setting where guests will enjoy privacy of the privileged, the lap of luxury and the heart of the history.
Take some time to settle into this wonderful hotel where later you will have a full private visit to their lovely winery. Located at the heart of the Spanish winegrowing Golden Mile, this winery owns over 200 hectares of vineyard and is one of Spain's most modern wineries. After your unforgettable visit, you will have a pleasure to enjoy a full tasting of their best wines, which are the fruit of the excellent maturity obtained along the unique terroir created by the Duero River and the valley's extreme climatic conditions.
The rest of your day is free to explore your luxury hotel, the monastery and surrounding grounds. The exquisite hotel spa is a true gem, worth spending a whole afternoon. A reservation can be made for you in the hotel's superb restaurant for this evening.
You may also wish to visit Penafiel, where perched on a cliff above the city and the Duero is the impressive Penafiel Castle. At 210 meters long and only 35 meters wide it would resemble a ship if you could see it from above. The castle was founded in the 11th century and rebuilt several times, the walls and towers were constructed in the 13th-14th centuries, the keep is from the 15th. It has a double defensive wall. They take wine making seriously here, so what better place to locate the museum of wine. The museum has been inserted into one of the finger like courtyards of the castle over three floors. This place is really worth a visit and we strongly recommend it.
In a Nutshell: Luxury rental car delivered to your Madrid hotel; Private guided tour of your Ribera del Duero hotel prestigious winery with sampling of their wines to follow; Overnight in a refined 5* Winery Hotel in Ribera del Duero Wine country
DAY 5 LA RIOJA
Your adventure leads you today to La Rioja Wine DO Region, (223km and just under 3 hours away). You will arrive to Briones in the heart of the Rioja Alta, which has old vineyards of Tempranillo grapes, chalky soil and a climate showing a marked Atlantic influence. Here you will visit one of the smallest and youngest wineries in Spain. Twenty years ago, the owner restored an old 19th Century house and on the adjoining land built facilities for vinification, barrel and bottle ageing and planted a small experimental vineyard. Their first vintage was 1994, nevertheless their cult wines are among the most prestigious in the country and they are exporting them to over 30 markets. The gracious owner will show you the winemaking facilities followed by a tasting of their very fine wines.
Afterwards you will visit the Dinastia Vivanco Wine Museum, the largest Wine Museum in Spain, containing multimedia information on everything from corks and how they are made to the blowing of bottles, a perfect introduction to la Rioja wine region! Of course, you will taste their wines as well!
Afterwards you will leave for your charming 4 star hotel located in the heart of very pretty Laguardia, one of the most perfectly preserved medieval villages in Spain. This medieval hill hamlet (called "villa" in Spanish), reminiscent of Tuscan hilltop villages, is surrounded by an ancient wall, and has a delightful jumble of cobblestoned streets lined with "Tabernas", wine shops, palaces, and cafes. May we suggest you relax after your long day and perhaps enjoy dinner at your hotel this evening. As always, you will find many suggestions for restaurants etc. both in your Personal Travel Website and Personal Travel Journal.
In a Nutshell: Private Guided Tour of a prestigious La Rioja winery; Visit to the Vivanco Wine Museum and Cellar; Overnight in La Rioja Wine Region
DAY 6 LA RIOJA
This morning, after a lovely breakfast, you will leave for Haro (approx. 30minutes drive) where you will first of all make a tour of a unique, still family run Winery (**NB: this winery will not confirm a private visit and there is therefore, a small possibility that there could be other people in your visit group). Proud of being old-fashioned, they still construct their own barrels on site - and do not expect to see modern sophisticated machinery there, it is all done traditionally - the wines are truly outstanding. For over a hundred and thirty years, three generations of the family have devoted themselves to vineyard care, a scrupulous selection of grapes, ageing in oak barrels in the heart of deep underground galleries, later ageing in bottles, the result being wines with an exceptional bouquet. Special mention ought to be made of their white wines. If there is one bodega experienced in producing old white wines, it has to be this one, where they age white wines in oak for as long as reds; the result is much more surprising than might be expected. You'll have an excellent tour of the facilities finalised with a tasting in the rather modern designed wine shop where you will sample their main wines.
Immediately thereafter, you will make a private VIP tour of a modern style winery founded less than 20 years ago by a Catalan couple. Well aware of the significant number of excellent traditional wineries in La Rioja, their objective was to create superb, high expression red wines in a modern style, reflective of the region and the constituent varietals, yet embodying something unique. The main wines from their vineyard are released onto the market as Reservas. You will surely enjoy the tasting of fine wines. The owners of the winery also produce incredibly high quality extra virgin olive oils in the Emporda region and in Mallorca, which you will also have an opportunity to sample.
Afterwards enjoy a light lunch in the area prior to returning to your hotel. Your evening is free to relax after your very busy day and you may wish to eat at your hotel or one of the many local restaurants.
In a Nutshell: Two prestigious wineries in La Rioja with exclusive wine tasting, Overnight in the La Rioja Wine Region of Spain
DAY 7 SAN SEBASTIAN
This morning you will leave for San Sebastian (just under 2 hours, 167 km). On arrival you will check into your very pleasant 3* hotel with an ideal beach front location, offering you the most amazing views over the bay.
The city of San Sebastian spreads around the famous La Concha beach, whilst inland are the beautiful green mountain landscapes of Guipuzcoa of which San Sebastian is the provincial capital.
In the late afternoon your officially licensed guide will await you and together you will experience a private Gourmet & Cultural tour of San Sebastian, its wonderful "beach in the city" is renowned as the best city to eat in Spain (if not the World!)
Your guide will show you around all the most interesting parts of the city where you will be privileged not only to go to the best bars, frequented by local foodies, but also to sample the specialties of each place, accompanied by the best Txacoli wine. Although tapas were invented in Andalucia they became perfected in San Sebastian and here are known as pinchos. Each bar is bursting with so many different and creative pinchos that Spanish tradition suggests having one or two and a wine in one bar and move on to the next. For sure you will try a glass (or two...) of the best local Txakoli wine!
In a Nutshell: Private Guided Tour of Old San Sebastian with tapas hopping, Overnight in a 3* beachfront hotel in San Sebastian
DAY 8 BILBAO
Today, after a lovely breakfast, you will be heading to Bilbao for the day. You will have tickets to visit the famous Guggenheim Museum, designed by Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry. The museum features permanent and visiting exhibits of works by Spanish and international artists. The curves on the building were designed to appear random. The architect has been quoted as saying that "the randomness of the curves is designed to catch the light".
Why not stay for lunch at the Museum and enjoy a tasting menu paired with wines at Michelin 1* Nerua Restaurant, which has an excellent reputation and is located right at the Guggenheim. This modernist, chic, restaurant is under the direction of superchef Josean Martinez Alija. Needless to say, the nueva cocina vasca (Basque nouvelle cuisine) is breathtaking and the ever-changing menu includes such mouth waterers as Iberian pork meatballs with carrot juice and curry. Even the olives are vintage classics: all come from 1000-year-old olive trees! We will be delighted to make a booking for you.
Afterwards take a stroll through Bilbao's atmospheric old town. The compact Casco Viejo, Bilbao's atmospheric old quarter, is full of charming streets, boisterous bars and plenty of quirky and independent shops.
At the heart of the Casco are Bilbao's original 'seven streets', Las Siete Calles. In the middle is the 19th-century arcaded Plaza Nueva, a rewarding pintxo haunt. The quarter's Gothic Catedral de Santiago, has a splendid Renaissance portico, itself once the scene of medieval markets and civic meetings. Do as the locals and experience some delicious typical food here in the center of the old town. If you would prefer to have lunch here then we have a wonderful pinchos hopping route for you to experience the best and authentic bars for pinchos in Bilbao.
On your way back to San Sebastian may we suggest you tour the sea road from Bilbao - Getaria is a fine place to stop and perhaps have a wander, a drink of Txacoli and perhaps a perfectly grilled piece of freshly caught fish for dinner.
In a Nutshell: Bilbao, Guggenheim Museum, Overnight in San Sebastian
DAY 9 SAN SEBASTIAN
Today you will have a totally free day in San Sebastian to do as you wish. Wander along the Concha Bay - take it very easy indeed. San Sebastian is known as a stylish city and an image-conscious one, so it is stuffed with high-end shops. Peruse La Parte Vieja (the old part of town) for cool boutiques filled with quirky designer gear. Stop, as the locals do, to get your strength back at one of the numerous bars and restaurants with a little glass of Txakoli wine and the odd ubiquitous pintxo!
If you are feeling adventurous why not climb Monte Urgell for some amazing views over the city and the surrounding area. At the top of this hill you will also see the remains of the walls and canons from the city's military past and, guarding the city, stands the Sacred Heart statue (Cristo de la Mota). It's no Rio de Janeiro but this giant statue of Christ measures over 12 meters.
Or, why not take a drive to Hondarribia with its walled town. In the highest part of Hondarribia is the Plaza de Armas. On one of its sides stands the Castle of the Emperor Carlos V, a stone fortification which today houses the Parador de Turismo. Along the picturesque cobbled streets of the village appear many emblazoned houses and palaces. Once you have passed through the Gate of Santa Maria, in the southern stretch of wall, you reach one of the busiest streets, the Calle Mayor. Outside the walled city, the district of La Marina lies beside the sea. This seaside centre, possibly the oldest in the town, offers Hondarribia's most popular atmosphere. Its streets, especially Calle San Pedro, are full of typical colourfully painted seaside houses and are an ideal place for a walk or an aperitif.
In a Nutshell: Free day in San Sebastian, Suggestion to visit Hondarribia, Overnight in San Sebastian
DAY 10 BORDEAUX
This morning you will leave for the legendary Bordeaux wine region (2.5 hours), the home of the most sought-after and expensive wines in the world. Bordeaux takes its name from the region's main city and spreads 60 miles around the city on the biggest estuary in Europe along 3 rivers, Gironde, Garonne, and Dordogne, creating the appropriate setting for wine production.
Bordeaux has 57 appellations, with about 7,000 wine-producing chateaux and 13,000 wine growers! Bordeaux's reputation as a great wine region rests on its most superb reds, legendary and long-lived wines made by historic wine estates (chateaux), which can improve for several decades. About 75 to 80 percent of Bordeaux's wines are red, with Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, which give vigor, tannin and excellent cellaring qualities, and Merlot which brings a softness and suppleness. White wines are produced mostly from Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon and sometimes also Muscatel.
Your tour of the day will be to a leading winery which is one of the oldest wine estates in Bordeaux. The Chateau has a fascinating past and takes its name from the first French Pope: Clement V (known as the Avignon Pope) who was presented with the estate in the 1300s. The vineyards of the winery cover 80 acres, producing marvelous concentrated, elegant reds with a purity of style- full bodied, well-structured and smooth, with flavours of smoky ripe plum, tobacco, earthy coffee and chocolate. The whites are full bodied with undertones of honey, apricots and melons with a refreshing vibrancy. At the end of your private VIP tour you will enjoy a very special tasting with the winery sommelier who will introduce you to some of their great wines.
You will then check-in to your chateau hotel nestled in the rural landscape amongst vineyards and horses. It is a relaxing haven of peace in a gorgeous setting, in the winery grounds, the building is like a palace!
We will, of course, provide with our delicious restaurant recommendations for you to enjoy the local French specialties.
In a Nutshell: Bordeaux, Private guided tour of prestigious winery, Overnight in a Romantic Chateau Hotel in the Bordeaux Wine Region of France
DAY 11 BORDEAUX
This morning you will leave for a tour of another very special winery. This winery produces Grand Cru class wines and you will have an opportunity to tour the ancient cellars and production facilities prior to having a tasting of their fine wines, made by proprietors who do their utmost to ensure that every vintage of their red and white wines reflects the full potential of their magnificent terroir. Their efforts range from increasingly organic vineyard management and slow natural fermentation of the grapes to ageing the wine in superb underground cellars and serving it to wine lovers in appropriate tasting room.
You may wish to take lunch at the very fine restaurant in the same grounds as the winery. This rustic space has a huge open fire and a very cozy feeling. The cuisine is country fare and you might try duck magret roasted with figs or a chargrilled steak with bearnaise sauce and homemade frites.
In the afternoon you will make a further private guided tour of a Bordeaux winery, located in a beautiful little village, which is the jewel of a family wine empire. The wines have long been considered by lovers of Bordeaux a Super 2nd consistently punching above its weight. The interesting thing about this winery, beside the rows upon rows of barrels of the 2010 vintage in their cellars, is the fact that they have retained a number of the older oak fermentation vats used from the early 1900s until 1975. It's amazing that such an expensive and prestigious wine could have been made using such rustic tools for so long. The winery produce 125,000 bottles in an average vintage split between its first wine and second wines (made from vines that are too young to be used for the first wine). You will have a full tour of the facilities followed by a sampling of their best wines.
Afterwards you will have a chance to visit the town of Bordeaux itself. Bordeaux is both a city and a large region in Southwest France bordering the Atlantic Ocean. the sweeping Garonne River divides the city into the left and right banks. The panoramic view of Bordeaux from the river is breathtaking and elegant. Begin with a stroll through the Place de la Comedie, which sits atop the ancient Roman forum. Admire the beautiful Grand Theatre, built in the late 1700s and now a venue for opera and events. Over the next few hours, take in all the sights including the striking Place de la Bourse, the impressive Grosse Cloche, and the ethereal 11th century Cathedrale Saint-Andre.
In a Nutshell: Private guided tours of two prestigious Bordeaux wineries, Overnight in the Bordeaux Wine Region of France
DAY 12 CARCASSONNE
Today, after breakfast, you will leave for Carcassonne (approx 3 hours, 336km) a perfectly restored, medieval walled fortress town which sits majestically above the River Aude and Canal du Midi. Carcassonne has an entire city that is a castle, in La Cite, the fortified upper city; it is an excellent example of a medieval fortified town whose massive defences were constructed on walls dating from Late Antiquity. Stroll along the cobblestone streets, browsing shops selling Medieval wares and try the classic peasant stew cassoullet at one of the many cafes.
Tonight you will stay at a lovely hotel, overlooking Carcassonne with its castle and drawbridge, nestled in greenery, offering you a haven of tranquility where you can recharge your batteries after your journey. This delightful hotel is medieval yet contemporary, rural yet metropolitan and sophisticated yet comfortable. It is only a 5 minute walk away from the main monuments and ideal for discovering the city and all its secrets, so this evening you may like to walk out later. We have various restaurant suggestions for tonight in and around the area.
In a Nutshell: Carcassonne, Overnight in a delightful hotel in Carcassonne
DAY 13 EMPORDA
Today you will be continuing on your journey to Spain, to the Emporda region, (2.5 hours and 250 km from Carcassonne. On the way, why not make a visit to the spectacular castle of Peyrepertuse. It is a relatively well-preserved castle and the largest of the famous medieval Cathar castles, with spectacular views over Languedoc, its sister castle Queribus, the Pyrenees and even the Mediterranean.
For lunch, we suggest a stop at a nearby village - a lovely unspoiled spot, perfectly located on a small hill in the valley bottom between the Peyrepertuse and the Queribus castles. There are a few restaurants, our favorite having a view from the terrace seating which is lovely and their house local specialty cassoulet is outstanding!
On arrival in the Emporda region you will check into your charming hotel, near to the coast and the fishing town of Palamos. The road that leads to your restored masia hotel is in the privileged setting of Les Gavarres, a protected natural area. The dirt road winds through fields and forests, vineyards, pine trees, oak trees, olive trees... and as a backdrop, the Mediterranean Sea. The place is beautiful, a space where architecture and nature blend in harmony. The hotel also has its own very special modern winery, which you will certainly have time to visit! Rest tonight after your journey and and why not have a delicious authentic dinner at your hotel, sampling their homegrown produce and wine, which is of course from their own unique winery.
In a Nutshell: Visit to Cathar Castles, Overnight in a boutique rural hotel in the Emporda Wine Region
DAY 14 BESALU & GIRONA
This morning after breakfast at your hotel,you will be driving to Besalu to meet with your private tour guide who will take you on a fascinating tour of the bewitching town of Besalu and the romantic city of Girona.
You will meet with your Officially Licensed Guide in Besalu and commence a private guided tour of this very special medieval village, renowned for its beauty and 11th century Roman bridge that once was necessary to adjoin this small village to land. The local public gardens await you where villagers grow herbs for their well-known and traditional homemade wine, ratafia. The different families of Besalu have variations of this sweet wine and use their own secret combination of aromatic herbs to flavor this digestive liquor. You will certainly discover your own favorite ratafia! There will also be time to visit the ruins of the Jewish quarter of Besalu, dating back to the 9th century and the well-preserved Jewish baths, traditionally used for purification, dating back to the 12th century.
Next, together with your chauffeur and private guide, you will head to the city of Girona to enjoy a private guided tour of this enchanting city. Your private guide will show off its stretches of cobblestone streets, the old Jewish Quarter and Jewish History Museum and its luscious gardens, the Arab baths and the magnificent Girona Cathedral affording a great view of the area. You will wind through the narrow streets and stoned walls of the old Gothic Quarter and encounter little shops, cafes and medieval homes that families have passed down through the generations. Girona is a Little City with a Big Heart and you will soon feel at home in its inviting embrace.
After working up an appetite, your local guide will provide you with many top insider suggestions for a delicious lunch.
Before heading back to your hotel you will have free time to ramble through the streets of Girona to visit the quaint shops and artisan retailers.
In a Nutshell: Private Guided visit to Besalu and Girona, Overnight in the Emporda Wine Region of Spain
DAY 15 EMPORDA
After breakfast this morning you will be meeting with your Officially Licensed guide to discover the coastal and medieval villages of the Emporda. You will meet your officially licensed guide in Pals, one of the best-preserved medieval villages in all of Spain! As you walk through the narrow village streets, next to the city walls, towers and churches, you will feel as though you have walked into a new time altogether. The stone archways, cobblestone streets and wrought balconies adorned with flowers create a welcoming feel in this Romanesque village. In the surrounding area are rich rice fields, where locals grow the key ingredient of their paella.
Your journey will continue on to Peratallada, which is now considered to be one of the most beautiful villages in Spain. It has a maze of narrow streets and sunny squares, various towers and an 11th to 14th Century Palace. Peratallada village is surrounded by a moat and defensive walls are still in evidence in parts of the village.
To follow you will leave for Calella de Palafrugell - one of the most chic of the coastal towns in Costa Brava. Calella de Palafrugell is a picture-postcard village that offers breathtaking views of the azul blue Mediterranean; beachfront cafes and inviting walkways. There are kilometers of clifftop paths to appreciate why Costa Brava translates as Wild Coast. You will enjoy a scenic walk breathing in the fresh sea air and breeze, exploring the picturesque ocean front spots of this lovely fishermen’s village, prior to perhaps having lunch at one of the restaurants in the town.
This afternoon, back at your hotel, you will have a private tour of your hotel's unique Winery. A recently designed and constructed cellar unlike anything you have seen before - to say it is dramatic is inadequate for it is an amazing edifice, designed by a Catalan architect from the definitive guidelines of the owner. The grape vines growing in the fields surrounding the area are cultivated organically and with special attention to the particular characteristics of the grapes to ensure that they have been planted in the best possible locations for perfect growth and maturity. Harvesting is done entirely by hand and following this procedure there is a further exhaustive selection process to ensure that each and every grape is of the highest quality to produce the finest of wines. Following the wine making process, storage is in the labyrinth of isolated, cool, dark cellars beneath, ensuring that the wines finally acquire their distinct and exquisite flavor. You will have a full private tour of the facilities at this awe-inspiring winery, followed by a tasting of their very best wines, in the company of their in house wine specialist.
In a Nutshell: Private guided tours of medieval and coastal villages, Private guided visit to a unique Emporda Winery followed by tastings, Overnight in the Emporda Wine Region of Spain
DAY 16 PENEDES
After a relaxing breakfast, your journey will now continue as you leave for the Penedes Wine Region just south of Barcelona (just under 2 hours, 169 km). The Penedes area is a big producer of White Wine, a good part of this being cava, as in the 20th century the revolution for Catalan sparkling wine changed the way of everyday life and habits here in Penedes wine country. Although small, this Spanish wine region is full of surprises and there are over 150 bodegas in the Penedes here producing a diversity of wines. Even though the key elements that have molded the Penedes area are Grapes and Wine, the character of the region is also shaped by its history, nature, gastronomy and its dynamic people.
You will head to your excellent 5* Wine Hotel, a stunningly designed property on the outskirts of the Penedes wine capital, Vilafranca del Penedes, overlooking lovely vineyards and with top notch cuisine and first class attention. After checking in to this unique hotel you will be visiting their very own winery, located just in front of the hotel, which elaborates high quality limited production wines and cavas.
You are in for a treat this evening at the Hotel's Restaurant, where dinner will be a gastronomic and visual experience, as their talented chef will prepare your meals in his open kitchen using only fresh and local produce. Your gastronomic dinner will, of course, be accompanied with local wine/cava.
In a Nutshell: Penedes winery tour and tastings, Overnight in an excellent 5* Wine Hotel in the Penedes Wine Region of Spain
DAY 17 PRIORAT
Today you head off to the prestigious and remote wine region of Priorat, 1.5 h away from your hotel. This morning's first visit will be to a family-owned wine cellar awarded one of Robert Parker's highest ratings - he regards it as one of his favorite vineyards. Perhaps this will be one of your favorites too after a complete visit to their first class premises. The family has built their winery on one of the oldest estates in Priorat, from the 13th century! Recognising an unusual combination of topography, soil and climate, a unique "terroir", and a one thousand year old wine-making tradition, they started a project to re-awaken the spirit of the old Carthusian oenologists, by rebuilding the steep, slatey terraces and replanting the vines. One of the family members will be there to attend you and share with you the secrets of their world class wine. Afterwards you will enjoy a personalized tasting of their top vintages.
Onwards to lunch at a winery/restaurant now owned by a reputed wine merchant from Bordeaux. The property has 18 hectares, of which about 12 are planted with Grenache, Carignan (some over 60 years old) , Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Monastrell, Viognier and Chenin Blanc. You will enjoy a short visit to this exceptional winery and see their unique cellar, located in the old village underground water deposit, followed by lunch in their restaurant, with wine pairings, of course!
After lunch you will visit a must for any serious Spanish wine aficionado. Owned by Rene Barbier, one of the founders of the Priorat revolution, this emblematic winery is named after the single vineyard that Rene started to cultivate in the 1970's in the now-famous wine village of Gratallops. Robert Parker was one of the first international critics to praise the wines of this incredible winery, which are nearly elixirs. The Priorat wines in general are already highly concentrated and "normal" yields are incredibly small, but here they go even further - they press the grapes using an olive press, which means they extract only half of the amount of juice that a typical wine press would, making the wine 50% more concentrated!
And so back to Penedes after your wonderful day in the Priorat and perhaps you will be happy to put your feet up and relax now - maybe have dinner at your hotel or at one of the very good local restaurants.
In a Nutshell: Private visits to three prestigious Priorat wineries, with sampling of their wines, Overnight in the Penedes Wine Region
DAY 18 BARCELONA
This morning you will check out of your wine hotel and head close by to make an unforgettable wine tour to an exceptional Vineyard owned by one family since 1790 and situated in the heart of the Penedes wine region. A bilingual in-house expert will take you on a private tour of the vineyards, which have been ecologically cultivated for more than 300 years. It is no wonder their wines have been officially certified as ecological-organic since 2004. You will be amazed at how the "intervention" of bees, sheep, and lunar phases can help create outstanding wines. The grapes in this vineyard are all handpicked to ensure harvest at the ideal time for each vine. Back at the cellar, the in-house oenologist will show you the entire wine making process and finally guide you through your complete tasting of an array of ecological and organic varieties of wines and cavas. Additionally, the vineyard owners make their own olive oil, and they will gladly explain to you the process and properties of this "liquid gold" too.
You have a lunch date then for a delicious local home-made lunch at an cozy restaurant located in a charming typical Penedes village, Sant Marti Sarroca, just 10 minutes’ drive from the winery. Enjoy delicious Catalan cuisine with superior presentation, accompanied with fine wines from the surrounding vineyards and magnificent views of the Montserrat mountains.
Your day now continues when you drive the short distance to Barcelona (less than one hour) and drop off your rental car prior to taking a taxi to your excellent 4* ideally located in the Gothic Quarter, nearby to all major sights, but at the same time on the seafront. The rooftop terrace bar and pool provide an astonishing view of the city as well as the port, and your lovely room looks out over the port area. Formerly, your hotel was the residence of a wealthy Duke in the city and is deep-seated in history.
We have many suggestions for dinner tonight in Barcelona, whether it's Michelin star dining you are looking for or informal tapas places.
In a Nutshell: Private guided tour of a prestigious winery in Penedes Wine Region, Authentic local lunch, Overnight in an excellent 4* hotel in Barcelona
DAY 19 BARCELONA
This morning, after a delicious breakfast, your Gourmand Breaks Officially Licensed Guide will await you at your hotel. Together you will beat the queues as you enjoy a private guided visit to the incredible La Sagrada Familia, a work on a grand scale which began in 1882. At the end of 1883 Gaudi, the most internationally renowned and emblematic architect of the city, was commissioned to carry on the works, a task which he did not abandon until his death in 1926. Since then different architects have continued the work after his original idea, but it remains unfinished.
You will then continue on your journey, now focused on the authentic gourmet foods in Spain, starting with a guided visit to La Boqueria market, Spains largest marketplace. La Boqueria is like a museum of the brightest and most delectable foods in Spain. Our expert culinary guide will lead you around the best booths and you will taste some of the most delicious local seasonal produce at one famous La Boqueria bar, frequented by celebrities. A glass of a fine brut nature cava will surely go down a treat with a tapa of Chantrelle mushrooms, or fresh cockles, squid or maybe even scrambled eggs with wild asparagus.
Continuing your private walking tour through the Gothic quarter of Barcelona you will see a few architectural feats: the famous Barcelona Cathedral, Sant Jaume Square and the amazing Santa Maria del Mar Church, which is a beautiful and important 14th-century church and considered the finest and most complete example of Catalan Gothic architecture anywhere. You will, of course, enjoy a wander through Las Ramblas, the colorful must-see pedestrian area. Our guide is a real specialist in local history and will amuse you with fascinating local stories and funny anecdotes. Following this, your tour will take the path of Picasso on the famous Avignon Street. You will pass the Picasso museum (your guide will be able purchase tickets if you wish to visit this afternoon).
Now you will taste some of the best natural artisan Spanish cheeses at a charming local cheese shop. The knowledgeable owner will divulge the secrets of the best Spanish cheeses while you taste some of the delicious specialties paired with some excellent Priorat wine. For something sweet, your tour will stop at the oldest venue in Barcelona for dried nuts and fruits, homemade nougats and chocolates. This quaint and local store, specializing in roasting coffee beans and nuts for over 150 years, is still decorated with its original furniture and old wood-burning stove.
Your luxury private tour will be rounded off with a light lunch of exquisite delicatessen produce which will include Spains best Iberic bellota ham - Joselito, fine cold meats and sausages, some of the finest local preserves of wild tuna, anchovies,or clams from Galicia, a selection of the best Spanish olive oils, etc., all enjoyed at one of the best delicatessens in the city. In addition there are English speaking sommeliers on hand to guide you through more than 6000 wines. Your guide will leave you at the finale of your tour when you are settled safely into this amazing delicatessen enjoying your meal. The rest of your afternoon will be free to enjoy as you wish. Prior to leaving you, your guide will be happy to provide a lot of suggestions for really good places to eat, cafes, shops, etc.
In a Nutshell: Private guided tour of La Sagrada Familia and the Gothic Quarter and Born Areas of Barcelona with gourmet food and wine tastings, Overnight Barcelona
DAY 20 BARCELONA
This morning, after a delicious breakfast, the day can be as full as you please. You will have received many suggestions from your private tour guide yesterday for further sightseeing areas, as well as some great dining options.
Maybe you wish to see some more of Gaudis fantastic architecture: Parc Guell is located in uptown Barcelona and is one of the most beautiful icons of the city of Barcelona. Park Guell, a work by Antoni Gaudi carried our between 1900 and 1914, has wonderful views of the city where you can enjoy a peaceful stroll surrounded by nature and modernist works. On the Passeig de Gracia, in the city center, you can see other famous works of Gaudi, including his famous Casa Batllo and la Pedrera. Throughout the work of Gaudi, you will see much of his architectural inspiration came from his experiences in nature. Gaudi is the most internationally renowned and emblematic architect of the city. His famous Pedrera was built between 1906 and 1910 for the Mila family. This is one of the main Gaudi residential buildings and one of the most imaginative houses of the history of the architecture, this building is more a sculpture than a building.
You may like to join a small group Cooking Class today, where you will first meet with chef to learn about the local produce and subsequently head to the market to buy the ingredients required for your cooking class. It is then off to the cooking school where, on the instructions of chef, you will prepare lunch which you will then be able to enjoy with local wines. We will be delighted to include this fantastic cooking class in Barcelona in your quotation on request. Alternatively, we could arrange for you to join a a local wine expert for an exclusive tasting of some top Spanish Wines from the best Spanish Wine Regions.
Maybe you would like to do your own thing today and take advantage of the great shopping, stroll along the beachfront of Barceloneta or return to the old Gothic Quarter, the choices are yours! We have many suggestions for restaurants which will suit your mood of the moment, whether you are looking for an informal dinner or a Michelin Starred experience.
In a Nutshell: Free day in Barcelona, OPTIONAL Cooking Class / Exclusive Wine Tasting in Barcelona, Overnight Barcelona
DAY 21 DEPARTURE
Your tour concludes with a lovely breakfast at your hotel, followed by a chauffeured transfer to Barcelona airport for your onward journey home.
We very much hope you will join us for this unforgettable wine, food and cultural adventure!
In a Nutshell:Chauffeured transfer to Barcelona Airport
Your tour includes:
Accommodation for three (3) nights in an elegant 4* boutique hotel, in the historical and cultural heart of Madrid (superior room, double occupancy)
Accommodation for one(1) night in a 5* converted monastery hotel attached to a leading Ribera del Duero winery (classic room, double occupancy)
Accommodation for two (2) nights in a 4* historical hotel in La Rioja Wine region (superior room, double occupancy)
Accommodation for three (3) nights in a 3* beach front hotel in San Sebastian (double occupancy)
Accommodation for two(2) nights in a delightful chateau hotel in the Bordeaux wine region (superior room, double occupancy)
Accommodation for one (1) night at a delightful hotel in Carcassonne (deluxe room, double occupancy)
Accommodation for three (3) nights in a charming boutique rural winery hotel in the Emporda countryside (view room, double occupancy)
Accommodation for two (2) nights in a 5* wine hotel in the Penedes Wine Region countryside (premium room, double occupancy)
Accommodation for three (3) nights in a boutique 4* palace hotel in the Barcelona Gothic Quarter, at the seafront (port view room, double occupancy)
Twenty (20) full breakfasts
Provision of a luxury rental car (Mercedes E, Audi A4 or similar) with automatic transmission and GPS for the days as stated in your itinerary
Privately guided tours with our Officially Licensed Guides, where stated in the itinerary
All the tastings and lunches/dinners with wine as stated in the itinerary
All the prestigious winery visits with a sampling of their best wines to follow, as stated
Online Personal Travel Webpage including daily itinerary, general local information, details of places of interest, suggestions for restaurant reservations, and your free time, etc.
Handy elegant Personal Travel Journal, which includes the extended information from your Personal Travel Website, that you can take with you as you go and keep as a souvenir to look back on
24/7 Back Office Assistance
Your tour does not include:
Meals and drinks not stated in the itinerary
Personal expenses such as telephone, minibar, etc.
Tips and gratuities at restaurants etc. at your discretion, NOT obligatory
Travel Insurance may be included in your quotation on request. We strongly recommend you to take out separate cancellation insurance.
Please note our tours are available for PRIVATE GROUPS ONLY and are not scheduled mixed group tours. Price is available upon request and varies depending on the number of guests and time of year. Feel free to contact us for your personal quote.