Monday, October 29, 2012

Barcelona and Catalonia Food lover's Tour - mushrooms, wine and culture

 Day  1 - Arrival in Barcelona. Welcome dinner. Night in Barcelona.

Day 2 - Get an early start and head up to Vall de Nuria, at the foot of the Pyrenees mountains. Meet up with an expert guide for a morning of bolet (wild mushroom) hunting. Afterwards enjoy brunch with the guide and other participants before heading up the cremallera train to the mountain area for an afternoon of exploring and enjoying the spectacular scenery. In the evening enjoy a traditional seasonal dinner at a local restaurant before retiring to the luxury apartment.

Day 3 - Spend the morning searching for various types of mushrooms, and learning how to distinguish potentially dangerous mushrooms from the prized varieties. Return to the town for an exposition of all the species of mushrooms found in the region and lunch made with the selection from yesterday’s haul. In the evening enjoy a cooking lesson at the apartment with a local chef who will show you the best ways to prepare mushrooms as well as their role in the local gastronomy.

Day 4 - This morning head over to the Costa Brava, passing through the charming city of Girona. Spend a few hours touring Girona, and enjoy its old city streets and shops. In the afternoon visit the charming fishing village of Cadaques. Night in Costa Brava.

Day 5 - Morning visit to Salvador Dali's Theater-Museum in Figueres. After lunch, return to Barcelona. Night in Barcelona.

Day 6 - Full day tour of Barcelona's Old City and the Sagrada Familia. Optional Tapas tour in the evening. Night in Barcelona

Day 7 -  Morning visit to Montserrat Mountain, cultural and spiritual home to Catalonia for over 1000 years. From there visit the Penedes wine region south of Barcelona for a wine tour including meeting local winemakers who love to show their products first hand. Night in Barcelona.

Day 8 - Transfer to Barcelona airport for your return flight.

Available in November and December 2012.

Price per person: From $3,380, including:
Spanish Touch tour leader with 24 hour availability
Private guided tours
Mushroom picking excursion
Private cooking class
Entrance fees as per itinerary
Accommodation in 4* hotels
All transportation as per itinerary

Saint Narcis - Girona's Patron Saint's Fantastic Festival

Girona's reputation as one of Spain's most beautiful cities is a well-deserved one. It ranks among the top cities to live in every year, and the history, legends and culture that imbue the winding streets and stone walls make it a treasure for any inquisitive traveler. But every year at this time, the city rolls out the fireworks, giants, street stalls selling everything from roasted chestnuts to regional wines to books and locally produced crafts. Today marks Saint Narcis, the patron saint of the city whose church is easily recognizable to anyone familiar with Girona as the "other" church in the city (the Cathedral sits high above everything else). The saint's history and  legend intertwine throughout the 2000 year history of the city.  While October 29 is the official date, the festival lasts for a week, combining its proximity to the celebration of All Saints and ending on the following Sunday.

In addition to the stalls and traditional dances (Sardanas and Haveneres), there are a number of open house visits that are free and include some of the most remarkable buildings in the city. Throughout the day and week the city is one large celebration of history, culture and the vibrant daily life that make Girona such a special city.

For more information on private guided tours in Girona or throughout Spain, contact The Spanish Touch at 888-480-0013.

A Different sort of Sunday Afternoon in Barcelona - time for a ride

On Sunday I picked up a happy couple for a different sort of Barcelona experience. They had been travelling around Spain, had visited Madrid, taken a Mediterranean cruise and had just arrived in Barcelona the previous day. And now they were headed up to take a horseback ride through the Collserola hills just behind Barcelona. A romantic outing and a unique way to get a different view of the Catalan capital. Their arrival coincided with the coldest weather Barcelona has had in months. Not particularly cold, mind you, just colder than it had been. But Sunday morning broke with a crystal blue sky, and the winds that had whipped the region Saturday had settled down. By midday they had all but blown themselves out. As we headed out to the we talked about the history of the city and Picasso.

The horse ranch was almost completely empty, as Sunday afternoon is not a very popular time for locals to go out. And the route chosen would take them on the hills where the clear skies would allow for some great panoramas over the city. First they had to get to know the horses, brushing them and learning how to fit the bridle. Naomi even borrowed some riding shoes from the instructor. Two and a half hours later we headed back to the city, and both of them were extremely happy with their experience, having thoroughly enjoyed their romantic, personalized adventure.

For more information on private guided tours in Barcelona and throughout Spain, contact The Spanish Touch at 888-480-0013.