Our Journeys

A Spanish Escapade - Fall 2017
August 28 - September 9, 2017

$4320

A Spanish Escapade – Fall 2017

Join us for this fascinating tour of Madrid, the Rioja wine region, Basque Country, and El Priorat.

ITINERARY


DAY 0 - August 27

Fly from the USA to Madrid.

DAY 1 - August 28 - Madrid

Arrive in Madrid and make your way to your hotel, which is in front of Prado Museum. This evening we will have a welcome talk and dinner together. Sleep in Madrid.

DAY 2 - August 29 - Madrid

Today we will start the discovery of this beautiful city with a guided tour of its most significant sites, including the Royal Palace and Plaza Mayor. You will have time to people watch in the vibrant Puerta del Sol and enjoy part of the afternoon on your own. Tonight we will enjoy a very special dinner. Sleep in Madrid.

DAY 3 - August 30 - Madrid

Today we will visit one of the most important and comprehensive museums in the world, El Prado. You will also have the time to visit The Reina Sofia contemporary art museum on your own - where you will be able to enjoy Picasso's masterpiece: El Guernica. If you prefer to decompress and relax, and use the afternoon to shop, the city is yours with its many elegant and unique shops. Tonight we will enjoy a music concert. Sleep in Madrid.

DAY 4 - August 31 - Madrid and Day Trip to Segovia

This morning we will head to the picturesque medieval town of Segovia. Its pedestrian town centre is packed with monuments, an ancient Roman aqueduct, a gorgeous Gothic cathedral, and the fortress that served as inspiration for Walt Disney's Cindarella castle. Climbing up its Torre del Homenaje is a favorite! We will have lunch at a very picturesque local restaurant and make our way back to Madrid in the afternoon. Sleep in Madrid.

DAY 5 - September 1 - Aranda del Duero, Penaranda Castle, and La Rioja

Today we will reach the region of La Rioja, world renowned for its wine production. En route we will stop and visit another very important area, the Ribera del Duero. Named wine region of the year in 2012 by Wine Enthusiast Magazine, it will blow you away with the quality of its red wines and the beauty of its landscape. We will have lunch in Aranda, an enchanting city with lovely architecture and impressive wineries, and pay a short visit to Penaranda and its imposing castle. Sleep in Villabuena de Alava.

DAY 6 - September 2 - Visits in La Rioja

We will explore the famed La Rioja wine region and learn more about the main varietal of the area, Tempranillo. The history of Rioja is interestingly connected to the history of Bordeaux, because when phylloxera hit Bordeaux, the French came over the Pyrenees in search of wines that bore some resemblance to theirs. They brought with them oak barrels which gave the wine a pronounced vanilla flavour -- a trademark of the region’s wines today. If you are interested you will be able to sample both traditional wines and more modern productions. A stop at the incredible Marques de Riscal’s City of Wine, designed by Frank. O. Gehry, will certainly be a highlight. The building, covered with titanium, displays the colors of Marqués de Riscal: pink like the wine, gold like the mesh on the Riscal bottles, and silver like the bottle top. We will enjoy a lovely stroll around Laguardia and visit the incredibly interesting Vivanco wine museum. Sleep in Villabuena de Alava.

DAY 7 - September 3 - Day visit to Bilbao

This morning we will enjoy a trip to Bilbao, the most important city in Basque Country. Just a few miles away from the Bay of Biscay, Bilbao has a large harbor and an oceanic climate. Thanks to its privileged position there is an awesome culinary tradition, which is considered the most inventive in Spain. Fish, mostly cod and hake, is the star ingredient, but you cannot miss tapas-like appetizers called pintxos. The food alone is worth a visit, but we will also have the chance to visit the famous Guggenheim Museum, designed by Frank Gehry. With more than ten million visitors to its credit, the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao has changed the way people think about museums! Sleep in Villabuena de Alava.

DAY 8 - September 4 - Day visit to San Sebastian

This morning we will reach San Sebastian and enjoy a guided walking tour of its lovely historical centre. The town is well known for its idyllic beaches, world-class cuisine, cobblestoned old town, upscale shopping, and pinxtos bars that pair local wines with bite-sized delicacies. We’ll be sure to visit a variety of these bars and will have time to shop in the afternoon. Sleep in Villabuena de Alava.

DAY 9 - September 5 - Transfer to Montsant and El Priorat area

Today we will drive from La Rioja to the secluded area of El Priorat and Montsant. We’ll arrive at Gratallops - one of the leading centers of the widespread wine and oil production in the area. After checking in to the hotel, we’ll take a stroll around this old settlement, overhanging the Siurana river. We’ll enjoy a nostalgic ride in the Gratallops’s tramcar and then walk to the Vinicola de Priorat for olive oil and wine tasting. Sleep in Gratallops.

DAY 10 - September 6 - El Priorat Area

Today we’ll visit the Carthusian Monastery of Santa Maria d'Escaladei - a monastery founded by French monks from Provence, who established here the first charter-house of the Iberian peninsula. The monks introduced the cultivation of the vineyards and the long lasting tradition of winemaking. We will visit a producer of a Priorat DOQ wine and will then take in some more sightseeing. We will enjoy beautiful views ot the Montsant mountain range and then explore the archeological site of Puig Roig. Hidden in woodlands and perched on the top of a small hill, Puig Roig dates back to the ninth and eighth centuries B.C. It is one of the best preserved sites in Catalonia. Sleep in Gratallops.

DAY 11 - September 7 - El Priorat

This morning we will start our explorations with a stop just outside Gratallops where we will visit La Concolacio hermitage. Built on top of a hill, this 12th century Romanesque building offers picturesque views of the vineyards and the countryside. We'll get back on the road to go visit Siurana, a small village in the comarca of Priorat. Located just a few miles outside the Montsant region, Siurana sits at the top of a cliff in the Prades Mountains. A beloved destination for climbers, Siurana was the last Muslim outpost to fall to the Christians in Catalonia in 1153. We'll visit the remains of the Moorish castle, presiding over the entrance to the village, and take a dramatized tour that re-stages the legend of the Queen Mora and other local fables. We'll then go visit the Celler Grau Escola de Terrers, marked as one of the wineries within the Montsant Do region. Similar to the wine produced in the DOQ Priorat, Montsant Do wine production features big reds, like Carignan and Hairy Grenache. Sleep in Gratallops.

DAY 12 - September 8 - Transfer to Barcelona, with Visits en Route

On our way to Barcelona we’ll be stopping in the coastal town of Sitges - along the Costa Brava. Here we’ll enjoy its exquisite seafood and we'll take a stroll on the Ribera Beach. This is the most central beach in Sitges, famous for the so-called “Passeig Maritim,” a long stretch of beaches along which visitors can find gorgeous sand sculptures and street musicians. Time permitting we will visit the Museum Cau Ferrat, formerly home and workshop of artist Rusiñol, leader of the Catalan Modernismo movement and great painter. You will have your last night in Barcelona so that travelers may extend their trip there, or fly out the next morning. Sleep in Barcelona.

Day 13 - September 9 - Fly Back to the US or Extend your Stay in Barcelona



INFORMATION


Price

  • $4320 per person in double room

What is included in the trip

  • All accommodation in very nice hotels and country inns
  • All breakfasts and either lunch or dinner (including wine) every day
  • All sightseeing and guided tours as per the itinerary
  • All transportation in a deluxe bus with air conditioning
  • Wine tastings and snacks of local specialties
  • Professional tour leader and local guides
  • Two music concerts

What is not included

  • International airfare from and back to the US
  • Personal expenses
  • Travel Insurance: Silver post departure insurance: $35, Gold cancellation insurance: $190
  • Tips for drivers and guides
  • Arrival and departure airport transfers

MORE INFO

Please check here for the latest Covid-19 travel updates

Dear Friends & Travelers,

The safety and well-being of our clients is our top priority.

We have been closely monitoring the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic and relying on recommendations from the US State Department, CDC, World Health Organization, and other relevant authorities at home and abroad. Based on the latest developments, we have made the difficult decision, in coordination with our trip hosts and partners, to reschedule all departures starting on or before December 31, 2020.

We want to assure you that we are making every effort to do the right thing for our clients, partners, and local vendors in this time of uncertainty, and we look forward to sharing our passion for experiencing the world with you by offering the following options:

1. Join your group’s alternate date
We are offering each of our affected groups a future alternate date and will gladly transfer your reservation to this date.
2. Reschedule your trip on a different Customized Journeys departure
If the alternate date for your program does not work for you, we are happy to work with you to find a different date, private trip, or future program that will suit your needs and interests.
3. Receive a Future Travel Credit (FTC)
If your preference is to wait to make a decision, we will put your reservation on hold and apply your funds toward a future Customized Journeys travel program of your choosing. This FTC is valid for 2 years from your original departure date.

We share your disappointment and appreciate your understanding during this challenging time. As the situation continues to evolve, we have learned that what makes sense today may be different tomorrow. Our planning could be further adjusted, and we will update you as we continue to work through developments. In the meantime, we’d like you to know that we are reviewing every aspect of how we run our trips with the intent of safeguarding the health and well-being of our clients.

Please let us know if you have any questions or need additional information to help with your decision process.

Thank you for your commitment and understanding.

The Customized Journeys team