Day 1 - London to Barcelona
We depart from St Pancras International by Eurostar for
Paris, travelling in Standard Premier Class. We cross Paris to
board the high-speed TGV, travelling in First Class
directly to beautiful Barcelona - a city of architecture and style,
art and culture, street life and parks. We check in to the Hotel
Tryp Apolo, where we stay for two nights.
Eurostar meal, dinner
Day 2 - Exploring Barcelona
This morning we are joined by a local guide for a tour of the
city, including highlights such as Montjuïc, the Olympic Stadium
and Las Ramblas, the wonderful treelined boulevard that is regarded
as the beating heart of the city. Following the tour you are free
to explore Barcelona at your leisure.
Day 3 - Into La Rioja
This morning perhaps take a walk through the Gothic quarter
(Barri Gotic), or discover bustling Port Vell, literally 'Old
Harbour'. You could wander down Las Ramblas to soak up the bustling
atmosphere. Alternatively, explore Gaudí's distinctive architecture
which is dotted around the city. At lunchtime we board the train in
Barcelona and travel (Standard Class) into the heart of La Rioja.
Our route heads inland towards Zaragoza, continuing north-west into
La Rioja, following the River Ebro to the city of Logroño. La
Rioja, known as 'the province of seven valleys', is home to some of
the world's best wines. It is a region of significant contrasts,
with snow-capped peaks and deep valleys, lush forests and arid
plains. Much of the landscape is covered in only scrub vegetation,
except in the valleys and basins which are almost the exact
opposite - lush, green and covered in rich vegetation. Logroño is
La Rioja's busy, bustling main city and the capital of the region.
The city has a fabulous, compact centre, filled with an almost
overwhelming abundance of tapas bars - there are as many as 50
'taperias' crammed into a four-block area around the centre. Many
of the tapas bars follow the traditional style of offering just one
dish - the house speciality - served with a glass of wine; without
exception a wine from Rioja! Our base among the wide boulevards and
open parks is the Hotel Carlton Rioja, situated on the Gran
Day 4 - Marques de Riscal
Today we enjoy an excursion by coach to the Marques de Riscal
wine estate, a pioneer wine producer of the region, famous for
their masterful use of the tempranillo grape. The estate is also
the location of the Marques de Riscal Hotel, a unique and unusually
designed hotel, created by Frank Gerhy, the man responsible for the
Guggenheim building in Bilbao. During our time at the estate we
enjoy a tour of the vineyard and wine cellar, followed by a tasting
of the celebrated wines. We then continue to another local wine
estate where we enjoy a delicious lunch.
Day 5 - Towns and villages of La Rioja
Our excursion today takes us by coach to explore some of the
small towns and villages in the heart of La Rioja. Our first stop
is the village of Oyon, which was on the original route of the
Camino de Santiago and is the home of Faustino - one of the most
celebrated Rioja wine producers. We visit Faustino Bodega, where we
are treated to a guided tour, followed by the opportunity to taste
some of their famous wines. Finally we visit the town of Haro,
which plays a central role in the region's wine production. The
town is also famous across Spain for its annual wine festival, held
every summer, which includes wine drinking competitions and a 'wine
battle', where locals throw buckets of wine at each other. This
evening you are free to dine out in one or more of the city's
restaurants or tapas bars.
Day 6 - Logrono to Leon in First Class
This morning, after a relaxed start to the day, we board the
train to León, a beautiful city located between the mountains and
the plains. The city's crowning glory is its beautiful cathedral -
another stop on the pilgrimage route. On arrival in León this
afternoon, we enjoy a sightseeing tour with a local guide, visiting
the cathedral and the Parador San Marcos, an impressive 16th
century monastery. We spend tonight at the Hotel Conde Luna. For
dinner this evening we walk into León's Old Town, known as 'El
Humedo' ('the humid quarter'), due to the large amount of local
wine consumed in its streets.
Day 7 - Leon to Santiago de Compostela by train
We leave León by train (Standard Class) and continue along the
pilgrimage route, passing through the lush countryside of Galicia.
We follow the route to its end point at Santiago de Compostela, a
fabulous city of Baroque squares, Renaissance courtyards and
beautiful Romanesque churches. The city has a rambling Old Town
centre and is famous for its many holy relics. We spend the next
three nights at the Hotel Santiago.
Day 8 - Santiago de Compostela
This morning we enjoy a guided sightseeing tour of Santiago de
Compostela, visiting the main sights including the majestic granite
cathedral, described as a "Romanesque jewel within a Baroque case".
This afternoon is free for you to explore this delightful city
independently. If you return to the cathedral in the late
afternoon, you are likely to see pilgrims arriving to receive a
blessing; there is a mass held in the cathedral every
Day 9 - Galician Coast
Today we explore the beautiful Galician coastline. We travel by
coach to this beautiful corner of Europe, where the shoreline is
peppered with 'rias' - small bays and inlets where fresh water from
an estuary meets the sea. The combination of fresh water and sea
water is credited as one of the leading factors responsible for the
incredible seafood caught along this stretch of the coastline.
During our tour we visit several of the small towns and villages
which are dotted along the shoreline. Tonight we enjoy a
tapas-style dinner in the centre of Santiago de Compostela.
Days 10-11 - First Class to Burgos and San Sebastian
Today we board the train in Santiago de Compostela, travelling
east to the city of Burgos, where we spend the night at the NH
Palacio de la Merced Hotel. The city is dominated by its beautiful
Gothic cathedral, which has UNESCO World Heritage status. On
Day 11 your morning is free to explore Burgos,
part of the pilgrimage route of St James. Take time to visit the
cathedral and the grandiose Plaza Mayor. In the early afternoon we
travel by train to San Sebastián, considered to be one of the most
elegant resorts in Spain. Here we check into our hotel for two
nights, the Hotel de Londres y de Inglaterra. Tonight we enjoy a
tapas dinner in the historic Old Town.
Days 10-11 - Breakfast, dinner
Days 12-13 - At leisure in San Sebastian and home
Your day is free for you to explore San Sebastián at leisure.
Perhaps stroll along the chic promenade, explore the beautiful old
quarter with its many wonderful tapas bars, or simply relax on one
of the town's three beaches. On Day 13 we travel
by coach across the border to Hendaye in France, where we board the
TGV, travelling in First Class to Paris. Here we connect
with the Eurostar service to London.
Day 12 - Breakfast
Day 13 - Breakfast, Eurostar meal
These meals, where shown, are included in the price of your