As part of our 5th circumnavigation of the world, Susan and I will be spending almost two weeks in Spain, wining and dining, before finally returning to Washington, DC via Lisbon, Portugal. The following is our preliminary itinerary:
Day 1, Tuesday October 6, 2020:
Arrive in Madrid about 1:00pm from Moscow. Accommodations for 3 nights at an Airbnb in the old town. Starting at 6:00pm a guided walking tour with seeing the old part of Madrid: Sol, Opera, Barrio de las and Letras, stopping at different Restaurants and Bars for drink and food tastings. We will try the famous vermouth, wines and beers from Spain and Madrid, and depending on the season try tripes, oxtail, patatas bravas, tortilla española among others.
Free day to explore Madrid. We plan to visit the Prado museum, Royal Palace, maybe a free walking tour or explore sights via the Hop on Hop off bus.
A very long day (11 hours) visiting both Toledo and Segovia. Our guide will drive us to Toledo, where we will take a panoramic bus tour followed by a walking tour, visiting the main monuments of the city, including the Cathedral, Jewish Quarter and the City Hall. We will learn about the gastronomy and handicrafts of the region. We will finish by the castle where we will enjoy some free time. Before lunch we will drive to Segovia, and again take a panoramic bus around town. After lunch (not included) we will take a walking tour learning about the Aqueduct, the Cathedral, the Main square, the Jewish quarter and lots of legends and curiosities waiting for us in Segovia. It will finish at the Castle whose tickets will be included. We will wrap up the tour with an amazing view of the Castle, before returning to Madrid.
We take the 8:00am train to Bilbao, arriving about 1:00pm. Accommodations for the next 5 nights are at an Airbnb. Afternoon free time.
In the evening we will have a Bilbao Pintxo Tour from 6:30 to 9:30.
· We will do as the Basques do! A bar hopping tour of the old part of Bilbao. This activity is referred to as pintxo-pote in the Basque language.
· A pintxo is the Basque version of the Spanish tapa accompanied with typical drink (usually wine or a small beer!)
· Sampling pintxos in the Basque Country is an absolute must! The Basque people demonstrate their love of gastronomy with these tasty little bar snacks.
· The pintxos can be very elaborate or quite simple, and there is something for every taste!
· We know the best bars in the city! There are many mentioned online, but you are sure to experience some of the best lesser known local establishments on a Basque pintxo tour with Irene and Zach!
· We will also take you on a private guided tour of the Casco Viejo or Old Part of Bilbao, which dates back to the 1300s.
· In between stops at the bars we will point out sites such as the Santiago Cathedral, San Anton Church, the Ribera Market, etc...
· Includes 8 pintxos and 5 drinks at 5 separate bars.
Day 5 - VIP Rioja Tour.
· On this La Rioja tour we stop at the absolute best wineries of the region according to the internationally renowned wine critic Robert M. Parker. We will stop at 4 different wineries to taste their best reserves, which all rank with 90 points or more by Mr. Parker. Anticipated wineries (tasting fees included) are: Cune, Ostatu, La Rioja Alta and Carlos San Pedro. The towns we will be at include Haro and LaGuardia. Originally scheduled were visits to 3 other wineries in La Rioja for a private tasting experience, but we have requested fewer wineries and longer visits to include vineyard and production facilities.
· The day also includes a 4-5 course Basque degustation menu at a world-class winery with 3 accompanying wines.
Day 6 - The Art of Txakoli Tour: A Basque White Wine Experience
· We will stop at a truly unique family run txakoli vineyard and winery nestled in the picturesque green hills overlooking over the Bay of Biscay. The winery is small, and mainly produces bottles for the local market.
· The guided Txakoli winery tour lasts approximately 1.5 hours and offers a thorough explanation of the entire wine making process.
· You will also get to savor the fresh Basque cheese, ham, and locally caught tuna at the winery for a light snack with your Txakoli!
· After the winery, we will head down to the beautiful coastal town of Getaria for a tour and lunch. You will learn about the famous sailor Juan Sebastian Elcano, fashion designer Cristobal Balenciaga, and others...
· On the way back to Bilbao we will stop at some absolutely stunning places along the Basque coast for some photo opportunities as well.
· Includes winery tour, tastings and light snack.
Day 7 - San Sebastian, Hondarribia & Coastal Tour
· We begin this Basque experience with a guided tour of San Sebastian. We will first walk to Zurriola beach before heading to the old quarter of the city. Zurriola is a great place to watch the surfers and enjoy the beautiful Atlantic Ocean!
· We offer a detailed historical overview of the city explaining the unique fiestas, culture and traditions found in the elegant city by the sea. You will also get to see the second beach of San Sebastian called La Concha where Isabella II of Spain chose to build her royal palace.
· Our next stop is the Spanish Basque border town of Hondarribia with its unrivaled architectural beauty. We will take a walking tour around the old part of this fishing port, and of course stop for a pintxo or two! The pintxos in Hondarribia are some of the best in the Basque Country!
· The dramatically beautiful cliffs of Zumaia and the coastal Geopark were major shooting locations for the Game of Thrones television show.
· Throughout this tour of San Sebastian and the Basque coast we will stop for delicious pintxos (if desired) and some visually stunning photo opportunities.
On either Day 6 or Day 7 we will have a late lunch (not included) at Elkano, Number 30 on the list of 50 Best Restaurants in the world (Subject to getting a reservation.)
The morning is free to explore more of Bilbao. Sights to see include the Guggenheim Museum, Ribera Market (the largest covered market in Europe) and walk through Bilbao’s scenic Casco Viejo or Old Part, which highlights the 700 year old buildings and architecture that make this area so unique. For late lunch Susan and I will be visiting Azurmendi, #14 on the 50 Best Restaurant list (Subject to getting a reservation.)
Day 9 - Days 9 to 13 are with a highly rated private guide/driver
· Leave Bilbao at 8:00am and drive to Burgos Cathedral
· Continue on to León Cathedral
· Outside view of Gaudi’s Casa Botines
· Visit Bodegas Palomares in Valdevimbre.
· Late lunch in Astorga for cocido maragato
· Visit “Cruz de Ferro”
· If time, visit Templar Castle in Ponferrada (closes at 6:00pm)
· Overnight at Palacio de Canedo (B)
· Start the day at 9:30am and drive to Casar de Burbia winery in Carracedelo
· Visit Medulas, an open air gold mine
· Visit a winery in the Valdeorras appellation with lunch
· Afternoon visit Ribeira Sacra with 1 possibly 2 wine cellars
· Overnight at Monforte de Lemos Parador (B)
· Start the day at 9:00am and drive to Ribeira Sacra wine region
· Drive to Finisterre. Have lunch in town at either Tira do Cordel or O Pirata
· Late afternoon drive to Santiago de Compostela and visit the Cathedral and city
· Tapa tasting in the evening
· Overnight Parador de Santiago de Compostela (B)
· Start the day at 9:00am and drive to Rías Baixas for Albarino wine tasting
· Catamaran to taste mussels
· Late Lunch at lighthouse or Michelin starred Yayo Daport
· Overnight at Parador de Baiona (B)
· We start the day at 9:30 and drive to Porto, Portugal
· Tour the city of Porto
· Boat ride along the Douro River
· Cellar Visit to Calem
· Lunch at Taylors
The tour ends in Porto. Options include take a late afternoon or evening train to Lisbon or stay in Porto and take a morning train to Lisbon.
Our flight home leaves Lisbon at 4:55pm, on Monday, October 19.
Land cost for this trip (for 2) is about $6,000. This excludes all meals except where specified above and train tickets. Entrance fees and tasting fees for any wineries visited on days 9-13 are also excluded.