Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Barcelona and Madrid Cultural Tours - June 2012 dates

The Spanish Touch is pleased to announce the June date for our Barcelona and Madrid Cultural Tour - Join the Spanish Touch for a week long exploration of Spain's biggest cities, and get to know them in a way most people never do! 

June 2-9, 2012

Day 1. Arrival in Barcelona.
Transfer to hotel. After lunch, take a walking tour around the old city to stretch your legs and get a feel for the city. Night in Barcelona.

Day 2. Dali’s Theater-Museum in Figueres and Girona
Breakfast at hotel. Morning transfer to Figueres. Afternoon visit to Girona including the Jewish Quarter and the Cathedral. Night in Barcelona.

Day 3. Gaudi's Modernista Barcelona
Breakfast at hotel. Morning visit to the Sagrada Familia, Gaudi’s unfinished masterpiece. Afterwards, continue to Park Guell, and Casa Battlo and La Pedrera. Optional evening tapas tour through the old city. Night in Barcelona.

Day 4. Montserrat and Wine Country
Morning trip to Montserrat, including a visit to the Monastery and the Santa Cova. In the afternoon, take a trip into wine country to visit a winery see how the hand-crafted traditions are still alive. Evening transfer via AVE to Madrid. Night in Madrid.

Day 5. Madrid City Tour and the Reina Sofia.
Breakfast at hotel. Morning visit to the Reina Sofia museum. Afternoon tour of Madrid city center. Night in Madrid.

Day 6. Madrid Museum Day
Breakfast at hotel. Madrid at leisure to visit the famous Golden Triangle of Madrid’s other two most famous museums: El Prado and the Thyssen-Bornemisza. Optional day tour to Segovia. Night in Madrid.

Day 7. Toledo Day Tour
Breakfast at hotel. Day trip to Toledo, the famous walled city, including visits to the Cathedral, Cristo de la Luz Mosque, El Greco’s house and the old Jewish Quarter. Farewell dinner and last night in Madrid.

Day 8. Departure
Transfer to airport for return flight to the USA.

MAY 2012 Patios of Cordoba Festival - New Tour Dates

Come join The Spanish Touch for a truly Andalusian experience this May! Flowers, dancing, culture and maybe even a little bit of Sherry to help you along your way as you join in the celebration of Cordoba's internationally recognized Patio competition, and The Spanish Touch wants to be your personal guide to make your experience a once-in-a-lifetime event!!

 Call us toll-free at 888-480-0013 or visit our website for more information on our current offers. 

MAY 2012 Patios of Cordoba Festival

May 7: Arrival in Madrid. Transfer to hotel. Afternoon walking tour of Madrid city center. Evening welcome meal.

May 8: Breakfast at hotel. Transfer via AVE high-speed train to Cordoba. After leaving our luggage at the hotel, head over to the old city to wander the narrow streets and engage with the locals during the Patio Festival!

May 9: Breakfast at hotel. In the morning, take a private tour of the city of Cordoba, including the magnificent Mezquita-Cathedral, the old Jewish Quarter and the Roman bridge. After lunch spend the afternoon discovering the beauty of the Patios of Cordoba, which will be in full bloom and brightest display as more than 20 patios vie for the title of best patio of the year.

May 10: Transfer to Sevilla. Mid-day private tour of the Cathedral of Sevilla, the central point of the ancient city, as well as the largest gothic cathedral in the world. After lunch take a walk along the river to see the Torre de Oro, the Bullring and the Maria Luisa Park. Optional Flamenco show in the evening.

May 11: Breakfast at hotel. Morning private tour of Seville city center, including the Alcazar and the old Tobacco factory, scene of the opera Carmen. Afternoon at leisure. Optional Tapas dinner in the evening.

May 12: Breakfast at hotel. Morning drive to Jerez de la Frontera to witness the Royal Equestrian Horse Show before stopping at one of the best wineries for a chance to sample the classic of all Spanish wines: Sherry!

May 13: Breakfast at hotel. Transfer back to Madrid for last evening in Madrid and a farewell dinner at one of Madrid’s classic restaurants.

May 14: Breakfast at hotel. Transfer to airport for return flight.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

El Invierno, or ideas for Spain in the Winter

Well, the cold weather has found us once again. As the temperatures drop outside and the holiday spirits rise, I'd like to take a moment to talk about winter in Spain. for most people, the idea of Spain is that of Sun and Beach (normal, given the 300+ days of sun and lovely climate, not to mention the hidden coves and beaches that line the coast away from the masses of tourists). However, at The Spanish Touch we have always maintained that Spain is really so much more than that: It is the food, the traditions, the culture, the history and the people. And in winter, the lack of crowds means an even better opportunity to visit some of the best sites (which in summer months can often be crowded).

And some of the best-kept secrets of Spanish gastronomy and culture shine brightest in these winter months. In Asturias there are a number of fairs highlighting the region's cheeses (such as Cabrales or Gamoneu) in January and February. In honor of San Sebastian, towns from around Spain from Frigiliana and Almeria to San Sebastian itself celebrate on January 20th. The wine capital of Vilafranca offers up a traditional Catalan dish at the Xato Festival (January 18-24). And no list is complete without the 2nd Annual Truffle Fair which runs through early March in the town of Graus, in the Somontano wine region.

These are just some of the local festivals designed to warm you up as you visit and explore this fascinating country. Let us be your guide and take you on a once-in-a-lifetime adventure into the heart of Spain!

For more information regarding these and other festivals or visits to Spain, please contact us at The Spanish Touch.

Monday, January 09, 2012

February 2012 Spain Tour - Wine and Truffles in Spain with The Spanish Touch

Starting from $3,875 per person, The Spanish Touch is offering a second chance to get a hands-on Spanish experience, as we head into the hills with a local truffle farmer, and also get the chance to make your own wine at one of the region's wineries! Enjoy this comprehensive tour complete with local guides, folklore and a chance to reap the benefits of the season with the fruits of the harvest and the fabulous Spanish cuisine.

For more information or to sign up for this unique opportunity, contact The Spanish Touch at 888-480-0013.

February 17) Arrival in Barcelona. Transfer to hotel in the city center. Afternoon walking tour of the city center. Welcome dinner and Q&A with your tour leader. Night in Barcelona. (D)

February 18) Breakfast at hotel. Early morning departure to Somontano wine country in the shadow of the Pyrenees. Upon arrival in Somontano enjoy a special truffle menu lunch at a local restaurant. After lunch, visit a local winery to learn more about the wines of the region. After transferring to a local Bed&Breakfast, in the evening visit the local truffle fair, to meet some of the truffle hunters and enjoy the opportunity to buy the elusive delicacy. Night in Somontano (B,L).

February 19) Breakfast at the Bed&Breakfast. Early morning visit to a truffle plantation with a truffle hunter, who will explain how and why the search for truffles is such an art, and spend the morning searching for the gastronomical black gold of Spain. After lunch, head back to Barcelona for a last evening before a morning departure. Optional cooking class at a local winery on cooking with wine and local products. Night in Somontano (B,D).

February 20) Breakfast at the Bed&Breakfast. This morning start the day with a wine workshop at a local winery. In the afternoon visit a small winery experimenting with local varietals. In the evening enjoy a truffle dinner at a local restaurant. Night in Somontano. (B).

February 21) Breakfast at the Bed&Breakfast. Return to Barcelona. Along the way stop in Cava country for a visit to an artisanal cava producer, where you will learn the history of Cava and have the opportunity to sample some local cheeses and products in a wine-and-food pairing at the winery. After lunch return to Barcelona and an afternoon at leisure. Night in Barcelona. (B,L).

February 22) Breakfast at hotel. Morning visit to The Sagrada Familia, Antoni Gaudi’s Modernista masterpiece. Afternoon at leisure. Optional afternoon cooking class or spend the day exploring the Picasso Museum, or visiting the old fishing quarter of Barceloneta. Optional evening tapas tour in Barcelona. Night in Barcelona. (B).

February 23) Breakfast at hotel. Day at leisure in Barcelona. Optional Catalan cooking class in the city center. -OR- Optional day trip to the Salvador Dali Museum in Figueres. Farewell dinner in the evening. Night in Barcelona. (B,D)

February 24) Breakfast at hotel. Transfer to airport for return flight. (B)

Price: $3,875.00 per person.

This tour includes:
Your personal, billingual Spanish Touch guide with 24 hour availability
Truffle hunting with a truffle guide and dog
All accommodation as per itinerary
All transportation and transfers as per itinerary
Guided visits as per itinerary
All winery visits and tastings
Meals as per itinerary

A Return to Barcelona - 15 Years later - The Tierney's Barcelona Visit

It had been 15 years since Val and Adrienne Tierney last visited Barcelona. Suffice it to say that there have been some changes. Upon meeting them at the airport (and leaving their luggage in the luggage locker at the airport, an almost forgotten feature in modern airports), we headed into the city center for a Gaudi intensive visit. In 1996, the last time they saw it, La Sagrada Familia didn't have a roof. In fact, it didn't have a lot of things that you can see today. While it remains a site under construction, the enclosed central nave and lack of visible construction site (no piles of tools or plaster casts in the central corridor) was a surprise. Val commented that he had expected the change, but it was still shocking to see just how much it has changed!

The weather for an early January day was not too bad, although no sunshine meant that the promised temperatures approaching 60 were never to be. From the Sagrada Familia we headed over to La Pedrera, to continue our Gaudi rediscovery. While the building itself has not changed in 15 years, the presentation certainly has. The city has gone all in to carefully and faithfully restore and make accessible  so many of the jewels of Modernisme throughout the city.

After a brief tapas lunch we headed into the old city. Again, while a city of 2000 years may not have seen the buildings change too much over 15 years, accessibility and navigability have made giants strides. We also took advantage of the season to visit the walk through manger scene set up in front of the Generalitat. Leaving them at the airport to pick up their bags and continue on to Morocco, leaving as friends and wishing them the best on the rest of their trip!

For more information or to schedule a private guided tour in Spain, contact The Spanish Touch at 888-480-0013.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Relaxing with Gaudi

The Tierney's took advantage of Gaudi's double chair to relax for a minute after exploring Sagrada Familia and La Pedrera. Gathering energy for the second part of the day!