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Flavors of the Spanish Coast
Delve deep into the diverse flavors and myriad historic treasures during this leisurely exploration of the Spanish Coast. Visit artisan shops, delight in tours and tastings at award-winning wineries, and discover local fishing, farming, and culinary techniques that have been used over generations. Embrace the region's unique charm as you learn about the history and culture that have shaped its Mediterranean seaside villages and friendly locals.
NOTE: Tour information is current as of 3/5/2024.
– With your small group (maximum 26 guests), enjoy seven nights accommodations at our enchanting boutique hotel located in the village of Madremanya.
– Visit the charming town of Girona, where you’ll see the impressive Cathedral of Saint Mary. Explore the Jewish Quarter—one of the best preserved in the world.
– Meet the owner of Masia Serra winery, an esteemed enologist, then delight in a wine tasting paired with typical Catalan delicacies for a memorable meal.
– Admire the panoramic views around El Port de la Selva during a visit to the 10th century Benedictine monastery, Sant Pere de Rodes.
– Visit Púbol Castle for a glimpse of the home where Dalí's wife, Gala, resided. Afterward, visit the Dalí Theatre-Museum in Figueres, which was Dalí's final residence, and learn about his impact on the surrealism art movement.
– Take a guided tour of the Greco-Roman ruins site in Empúries—the gateway of the romanization of the Iberian Peninsula.
– Visit Museu de la Pesca—a fishery museum—to experience a live fish auction. Then stroll a market to peruse ingredients you’ll use later during a cooking demonstration.
– Discover La Vinyeta winery. Become acquainted with the owner and vintner, stroll the grounds between the vineyards and olive trees, then enjoy a wine and olive oil tasting before dining either in the wine cellar or al fresco in the vineyard (weather depending).
- 7 nights luxury accommodations
- 7 breakfasts, 4 lunches, and 7 dinners served with wine
- Full guiding services of an Orbridge Travel Director and expert local guides
- All lessons, private tours and tastings, and unique small-group excursions noted on the 9-day itinerary
- Private motor coach transportation
- Luggage handling
- Gratuities to Orbridge Travel Director, local guides, drivers, porters, and wait staff for included meals
- Airport transfers for guests arriving and departing during the suggested times
Day 1: En Route from U.S.
Saturday, September 28, 2024
Day 2: Arrive in Barcelona, Spain | Madremanya
Sunday, September 29, 2024
Bienvenido a España! Settle in at the superb boutique hotel that will be home base for the week. Delight in the charm and impressive style of this tranquil hideaway set in a medieval village built of stone.
Enjoy lunch served on the terrace. Unwind and relax until rooms are ready.
Later, meet your travel companions for a welcome cocktail before dinner, and learn about the exciting adventures to come.
Did you know? A roughly triangular region in Spain's far north-east corner, Catalonia is separated by the Pyrenean mountains from southern France, with which it has close historical and cultural ties. Catalonia is one of Spain's richest and most highly industrialized regions, and also one of the most independent-minded. With a distinct history stretching back to the early middle ages, many Catalans think of themselves as a separate nation from the rest of Spain. Most of the region's population lives in Barcelona, its vibrant political and economic hub.
Overnight: El Racó de Madremanya (D)
Day 3: Girona
Monday, September 30, 2024
After breakfast, begin exploring with a walking tour of Girona, northern Catalonia’s largest city. The town boasts Gothic spires, Romanesque towers, and cultural highlights encompassing more than 2,000 years of history. Aged cobblestone streets and medieval walls cascade around a collection of contemporary museums, galleries, churches, bars, and restaurants. Amble through the old Jewish Quarter, or the Call, one of the best preserved in the world, with its narrow streets and fascinating squares. This Jewish Quarter was home to 1,000 Jews prior to their expulsion in 1492.
After free time for lunch on your own, indulge in a delectable treat at Rocambolesc Gelateria, an ice cream shop playfully and artfully bursting with flavor and color. Even the pipes are painted with stripes! Savor a variety of seasonal sorbet and ice cream creations with inventive toppings. The shop owners, the Roca brothers, are also the culinary magic behind El Celler de Can Roca—a three-Michelin-starred restaurant, which has been twice voted “World’s Best Restaurant” by The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list sponsored by prestigious San Pellegrino.
Later this afternoon, return to El Racó de Madremanya where you will learn the art of making paella—one of the region’s most famous dishes.
Overnight: El Racó de Madremanya (B,D)
Day 4: Púbol | Figueres | Peratallada | Palau Sator
Tuesday, October 1, 2024
Today, prepare for a wild visual ride during a discovery of the life and works of Salvador Dalí, one of the most celebrated artists of all time. His technical, yet highly unusual, paintings, sculptures, and visionary explorations of subconscious imagery began a new generation of imaginative expression. Dalí created pieces with commonplace objects metamorphosed in bizarre fashion and placed within landscapes reminiscent of his Catalonian homeland. Perhaps the most famous of these images is The Persistence of Memory from 1931, depicting limp, melting watches.
After breakfast, drive to Púbol to tour Dalí Castle—an estate Dalí gave to his beloved wife, Gala, as a quiet and secluded refuge. It was offered with a unique agreement that he would not visit the property without her expressed permission. The castle’s antique exterior contrasts with the photographs, exhibits, and art within. In addition to a display of Gala’s dresses, there is a coffee table situated above a hole in the floor leading to an actual stuffed horse on the floor below. Dalí cleverly put the castle’s radiators behind steel screens only to then paint radiators over the screens. It’s a home tour like no other!
Gala spent her final days here and is buried in a crypt in the courtyard. After her death in 1982, Dalí took up residence at the castle for two years before moving to his final residence—and your next stop—the Dalí Theatre-Museum in Dali’s birthplace of Figueres.
Dalí oversaw the transformation of the Dalí Theatre-Museum, building it from the remains of the Municipal Theatre that was destroyed by fire at the end of the Spanish Civil War. The museum, considered his last great work, opened in 1974 and features a broad spectrum of Dali's art in paintings, sculptures, installations, and photography. A few feature pieces are Self-Portrait with "L'Humanité" (1923), The Basket of Bread (1945), and the Mae West Lips Sofa (1937). With unconventional rows of bread-like medallions, golden statues and giant eggs, this artistic venue is unparalleled for creating equal measures of admiration and intrigue. One of the most spectacular images by Dalí is entitled, Gala Nude Looking at the Sea Which at 18 Metres Appears the President Lincoln (1975). It makes use of double images to recreate the distinctive face of the 16th American president.
After the castle visit and lunch, head back to El Raco de Madremanya for refreshment and relaxation.
After a short walking tour of Peratallada, we will drive to the medieval town of Palau Sator. Enjoy a brief walking tour, the museum Rural De Palau-Sator, and dinner at Mas Pou Restaurant.
Overnight: El Racó de Madremanya (B,L,D)
Day 5: El Port de la Selva | Cadaqués | Cantallops
Wednesday, October 2, 2024
Begin your day with a drive to the traditional fishing village and seaside resort of El Port de la Selva, located approximately 47 miles from Girona. Situated in a bay sheltered by surrounding mountains, it’s the location of perhaps the most important Roman-era monument in Catalonia—Sant Pere de Rodes, a 10th-century Benedictine monastery. Perched on the highest point of El Port de la Selva—with commanding panoramic views of the Pyrenees, the Empordà plain, Cap de Creus Natural Park, and the Bay of Roses—the monastery’s architecture of space and height wows guests with historical and artistic legacy. Legends through the years shroud the monastery's origin and have given the place an air of mystery.
Afterward, visit Cadaqués, a sleepy seaside village Salvador Dalí once called home. This area, tucked away at the tip of the Costa Brava (meaning “wild” or “rough” coast), has been fondly described as “bohemian-chic,” where artists and visitors alike find inspiration in the sparkling sea views, whitewashed facades, Mediterranean-style roofs, flower-filled streets, fragrant olive trees, and picturesque beaches.
Savor lunch today at El Balconet, or similar, for tastes of the sea and characteristics of the geography from Cadaqués.
This afternoon, venture to the town of Cantallops in the wine region of Empordà to meet the esteemed owners of Masia Serra Winery. In an idyllic setting of olive trees and old oaks within the nature reserve of the Albera, this vineyard continues a family tradition of wine production dating back to 1961, when indigenous vines were planted by the grandfather.
In 1996, the boutique business officially founded a bodega and entered the commercial wine industry. An interesting selection of the collection is a medium amber-colored dessert wine called INO. Crafted using the solera-type aging process, INO combines different harvests with five percent from the mother barrel of 1860. This solera system of wine aging requires time, patience, and self-control. Developed by the Spanish and Portuguese as a way to provide wines of a constant average age, it ensures a certain sameness of product over different vintages. The gem INO has been described as having characteristics of sherry followed by caramelized apples and baked peaches with honey and smoked nuts. The finish goes on and on!
Embrace the passion and pride exuded by your hospitable and knowledgeable hosts for their generations-old traditions, and treat your palate to Empordà wines during a tasting paired with typical Catalan delicacies for a most memorable meal.
Overnight: El Racó de Madremanya (B,L,D)
Day 6: Monells | Calella de Palafrugell & St Sabastia (Llafranc) | Palamós
Thursday, October 3, 2024
Following breakfast, begin exploration today with a visit to the authentic medieval town of Monells. Home to approximately 200 inhabitants, visitors are transported back several centuries. The name "Monells" comes from Villa Mulinnensis, as there used to be many mills in the area. Its main features are the yellowish stone houses, arches, and cobblestone grounds. Architecture displays Gothic influence and buildings are adorned by potted plants, ivy on the walls, and flowers on balconies—making walking through the streets a pleasure.
Next, drive to Palafrugell for a seaside walk between Calella de Palafrugell and Llafranc—two of three coastal areas belonging to the municipality of Palafrugell, in the province of Girona. After, a short drive takes you to the lighthouse of Sant Sebastià, situated on a tiny cape surrounded by wild cliffs. Built in 1857, it’s one of the most powerful lighthouses in Spain with a light reaching 32 nautical miles. Admire the magnificent views and enjoy a delightful lunch followed by a visit to the ruins of Sant Sebastià de la Guarda, an Iberian town dating back to the 6th century B.C.
Your next excursion is in Palamós, where you visit the jewel Museu de la Pesca to learn about the fishing industry's history and importance to the region and culture. Unique to the Mediterranean, the past, present, and future of fishing comes to life with interesting and informative displays and exhibits, including a short film, fishing equipment, models, photos, and paintings. Next, observe a live local fish auction. Peruse the market and familiarize yourself with the wonderful variety of ingredients you will use in an engaging cooking class that teaches the group how to create dishes for dinner. With white-sand beaches, hidden coves, and numerous relics of the area’s Catalan and Roman past, there’s much to draw visitors to the town of Palamós. Thankfully, Palamós retains much of the traditional, small-town atmosphere that’s lost to other resort sites a little further along the coast.
Overnight: El Racó de Madremanya (B,L,D)
Day 7: La Bisbal | Empúries | L'Escala
Friday, October 4, 2024
Begin the morning with a visit to La Bisbal d’Emporda, one of the traditional centers of the Sardana, the Catalan folk dance, and the undisputed capital of Catalan pottery, with numerous artisan studios. Potters have worked the local clay for centuries, thanks to copiousness deposits in the hills along the northwestern Spanish coast. The fertile material has developed this renowned center for handicrafts, and slender silhouettes of old industrial chimneys still dot the skyline.
Visit the markets featuring local ceramic artsans' wares. Genuine La Bisbal pottery, both utilitarian and decorative, can be recognized by their predominant colors of red, earthy golds and greens, creams and blues. Brightly painted terra cotta tiles, plates, pitchers, flowerpots and more adorn this small town of lemon trees and a centuries-old stone bridge.
Also discover today the ruins of Empúries in the heart of the Costa Brava and admire part of the legacy left behind by Greek and Roman civilizations. This unique archaeological site, surrounded by beaches, coves, and breathtaking views of the Mediterranean, served as an important trading center for more than eight centuries—and as the gateway to the romanization of the Iberian Peninsula. Abandoned and buried by years of sand blowing in from the coast, this area showcases ruins of excavated temples and sanctuaries, plus remnants of artifacts, including pottery and mosaics. Digging began in 1908 and continues to this day. Visit the village of Sant Martí d'Empúries, a section of which dates back to the 9th century B.C.
This evening, relax and dine at Massana in Girona, a one-star Michelin-rated restaurant imparting feeling and passion in each dish.
Overnight: El Racó de Madremanya (B,D)
Day 8: Empordà | Mollet de Peralada
Saturday, October 5, 2024
Following a leisurely morning at the property, delight in a picnic lunch surrounded by lush palms and cypress trees that grow among the gardens.
This afternoon, set out for La Vinyeta, a family-run winery with striking views of surrounding mountains. Meet the owner and vintner to explore the grounds of verdant vineyards and olive trees. Not only does La Vinyeta produce fantastic wines, olive oil, and fresh eggs, but it has an uplifting story of beating the odds to succeed. In 2009, La Vinyeta became one of the first wineries to adopt Integrated Production, an environmentally friendly cultivation system. They don’t use any pesticides and herbicides—relying instead on natural methods. Within the space of a few relative years, La Vinyeta has earned enthusiastic approval from their guests and was voted “Best Winery in 2018” by the Catalan Sommeliers’ Association.
Partake in an olive-oil and wine-tasting experience before dinner—savoring rich and green olive oil sopped up with farmhouse bread while sipping red wine, full of ripe fruit and a hint of oak. Names of wines at La Vinyeta relate to their personal story, with the white Heus denoting “once upon a time,” Llavors meaning “and then,” and Puntiapart signifying “happily ever after.” Aged for 12 months in French, Romanian, and Hungarian casks, Puntiapart is the winery’s most complex.
Tonight concludes with an intimate and exciting Flamenco dance performance to celebrate your memorable time in Catalonia.
Overnight: El Racó de Madremanya (B,L,D)
Day 9: Madremanya | Barcelona | Depart for U.S.
Sunday, October 6, 2024
After breakfast, guests departing at the suggested times take the complimentary transfer to Barcelona El Prat Airport for flights home. (B)
B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner