Monday, August 31, 2015

Wine Harvest Festival in Jerez 2015

From September 1 - 20 there is a party going on that has been declared "International Interest to Tourists": the Wine Harvest Festival of Jerez. This festival's organizers' primary goal is to tell the story of the Jerez wines, as well as their tradition and culture, and they do it through a wide range of activities, seminars and folklore storytelling that is designed for people of all ages.

Let us guide you through this fetival while you discover Jerez and Andalusia with our guided visits, and take advantage of the opportunity to:
  • taste the best regional wines and visit the best wineries,
  • enjoy competitions like horse jumping or an equestrian show at the Royal Equestrian School, 
  • fall in love with Andalusia's artistic side with some great flamenco or
  • take a 4x4 visit through the vineyards of Jerez. 
These are just a few of the activities we have prepared for you!

1580 E. Butler Pike
Ambler, PA 19002
Toll free: 1-888-480-0013
Spanish office phone: +34 616-103-536

Friday, August 28, 2015

Grape Stomping Harvest Experience in Barcelona (Spain)

Only during the harvest season (from mid-August to early October) an exclusive tour in Barcelona (Spain) that combines the traditional wine tour and tastings plus the incredible opportunity to press the grapes with your feet to make grape juice like it was done before!

Pick-up at your hotel 
Optional Cava Tour
Grape Harvest Experience, including a visit to a family-run winery where you will:
  • Walk through the vineyards as you learn about the land and the wine.
  • Harvest the grapes by hand that you will use in the wine press. 
  • Stomp the grapes like it was done traditionally. 
  • Cellar grape-juice tasting. 
  • Wine tasting of the various wines available (white, rosé, red and dessert). 
Optional picnic lunch overlooking the vineyard or private transfer to your hotel. 
Private transfer to your hotel.

  • Transportation: we will pick you up and drop you off at your hotel. It also includes transportation within sites.
  • All entrance fees and taxes. 
  • Wine Tasting.
  • Grape-juice tasting.
  • Winery guided visit. 
  • Guided visit to the vineyards. 
  • 'Grape stomping experience'. 
  • English-speaking guide.

Contact us for more information:
1580 E. Butler Pike
Ambler, PA 19002
Toll free: 1-888-480-0013

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Rioja Alavesa Wine Route (Basque Country)

Wines in Spain and Rioja wine region

In Spain there are 69 different wine regions. Today I want to talk about the Rioja wine region, more precisely, the Rioja Alavesa Wine Region, the northern part of the Rioja Denominación de Origen and part of the Álava province (Basque Country). 

Wine and its culture reign in the Rioja Alavesa. A network of wineries, wine shops and museums allow the visitor to practice what is locally known as 'enoturismo'.

On the banks of the Ebro river, in southern Álava, 12,000 hectares of vineyards turn gold under the sun. They belong to the Rioja Alavesa region and produce more than 40 million litres of wine per year.

Some of the multiple things you can do while visiting the Rioja Alavesa:

  • Visits to wineries, tastings included!. There are a total of 51 wineries. 
  • While enjoying the different wines and wineries, discover towns like Labastida, Laguardia, Samaniego, Lanciego, Elvillar or La Puebla de Labarca. 
  • A visit to the wine museum of Villa Lucía. 
  • Spend a morning at the Villa de Laguardia Wine Oil Spa Center.  
  • Enjoy a meal in a winery or even a barbecue!
  • While you are in the Basque Country, we recommend you to try the pintxos
  • Enjoy our selection of the best wine shops in the area. 

We can design a route for you, one created for wine lovers to feel at home!

We can design the route, contact all wineries and book visits and tastings, book your hotel, find different activities based on your interests, make lunch or dinner reservations ... Let us help you with your trip to Spain!

Contact us for more information:
1580 E. Butler Pike
Ambler, PA 19002
Toll free: 1-888-480-0013

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Mushroom Hunting Tour in Spain

Spain has a wide variety of wild mushrooms and an equally important tradition of using them in meals, which makes it an ideal place to pick them. Wild mushroom picking is an extremely popular activity throughout Spain, in regions like Castilla y León, La Rioja, Basque Country and Catalonia. Often the best places are kept as “local secrets” where the locals go to find the best and the widest varieties. Over the years each region has established rules and regulations regarding picking mushrooms, and for this reason, as well as for safety precautions, it’s always strongly recommended that you only go with an expert guide.

Sign up for our 8-day tour or just enjoy a day tour and learn how to “hunt” the best mushrooms from an expert who will show you where to look for them and teach you the differences between the different types of mushrooms. You can also have the chance to visit a local mushroom and crafts fair, enjoy a meal made with the mushrooms you picked and enjoy one of the biggest regional festivals, all while discovering Barcelona, the Costa Brava, the Pyrenees, Girona, Zaragoza and the Penedès wine and Cava region.

September and October are the best months to enjoy this tour. 
Don't miss your chance and contact us to make your reservation!

The Spanish Touch
1580 E. Butler Pike
Ambler, PA 19002
Toll free: 1-888-480-0013

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

San Juan de Gaztelugatxe (Basque Country)

This is probably one of the most photographed and universal spots in the Basque Country. It does not matter how many times you go up to the crag's height. The small church will always welcome you with arms wide open. 

Nobody knows for certain how many stairs you must climb to get to San Juan de Gaztelugatxe. It has been said for a long time that they were as many as days in a year, 365, and nobody cared about counting them. The most recent reckonings say they are between 220 and 235, but it seems almost impossible to get the same number from different sources. The problem may be that, once you get to this magic place of Bizkaia's coast, you forget about counting and get carried away by the enchantment of this islet crowned by a hermitage.

It has been said that San Juan de Gaztelugatxe was a monastery, a fortress attacked by pirates and, finally, a hermitage. It has reached its current state with that look and has become one of the most photographed landscapes in the Basque Country. Some believe that the reason is the sharp crags and the vertiginous falls; others say that it is because of the loneliness it transmits and the pontoon linking it to land. Close to it, the rebel small island of Aketze, always sorrounded by a cloud of seabirds, lives unaware of these issues thankful for having such a beautiful neighbour.

Contact us for more information and to book a tour:
1580 E. Butler Pike
Ambler, PA 19002
Toll free: 1-888-480-0013

Monday, August 24, 2015

The story of the 'Lovers of Teruel'

Mausoleum of  'Los amantes de Teruel'
Spain is a land of legends and tales in which many times fact is mixed with fiction.

One of the most famous in Spain is that of 'Los amantes de Teruel' ('The Lovers of Teruel').

The love story of Isabel de Segura and Diego de Marcilla dates back to the 13th century. He was the younger son and therefore had no inheritance while she was the only daughter of one of the richest families in the city. Given these conditions, their love could only be united if the young man could raise enough money to pay the dowry. Isabel's father gave Diego 5 years to raise the money. Diego decided to join the Christian army that was fighting a Moorish invasion on the promise of getting wealthy. Meanwhile, Isabel stayed in Teruel, rejecting marriage proposals from various noblemen.

When the deadline past without any news from Diego, Isabel got married not knowing that Diego would arrive the following day with great riches. Upon learning that his love had married another, Diego went to the house of the newlyweds to ask for a first and last kiss. She denied him being a married woman and her rejection killed him. The following day, at Diego's funeral, Isabel went up to the lifeless body of her true love and, according to tradition, 'gave in death the kiss she had denied him in life' and immediately felt dead at his side.

San Pedro church
In 1555, while doing some work on San Pedro's church, they discovered the bodies of two young people who had been buried together. The people immediately declared them to be the 'lovers of Teruel', but it wasn't until 1619, thanks to the discovery of a document dated in the 14th century, that they could confirm both the story and the identities of the bodies.

The lovers still lie together in a mausoleum on the side of the church of San Pedro, which is a part of the Mudejar buildings of Teruel declared a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The city of Teruel celebrates this medieval love story every February. The streets and squares of the old town recreate the atmosphere of the age and thousands of people participate in this festival which includes: story-tellers, performers, executioners, nobles and servants, and throughout the city tells the story of the lovers.

Representación teatral de los 'Amantes de Teruel'

1580 E. Butler Pike
Ambler, PA 19002
Toll free: 1-888-480-0013

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

This is the castle in Barcelona where the 'Game of Thrones' (season 6) is going to be filmed

HBO is going to film some of the 6th season scenes of 'Game of Thrones' in one of the most beautiful sites of Barcelona: the Santa Florentina castle, located in Canet de Mar. It was not a very famous site for either locals or tourists until HBO set their eyes on it. 

HBO is also going to film some other scenes in the Bardenas Reales of Navarra, the Alcazaba of Almería, Peñíscola and the Zafra castle in Guadalajara. 

The Santa Florentina castle was built in the 11th century on the remains of a Roman 'domus'. The castle has changed ownership and appearance a number of times through the centuries, but it wasn't until the end of the 19th century that Modernista architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner began the its restoration and expansion. He included decorative motives from the period, including: stain-glass windows, marble floors, carved wooden ceilings as well as traditional Modernista materials like ceramic and wrought iron. The final result is a medieval castle with a clearly Modernista style.

If you would like a tour of the Santa Florentina castle, contact us

1580 E. Butler Pike
Ambler, PA 19002
Toll free: 1-888-480-0013

Madrid to host a Munch exhibit at the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum

From October 6th to January 17th 2016 the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid will host a number of works by Edvard Munch. This is the first major exhibition dedicated to the Norwegian artist since 1984. 

Munch is one of the most famous Modernist artists and a pioneer in Expressionism at the turn of the 20th century. His most famous work, pictured here, is 'The Scream'. 

So anybody visiting Madrid during this time will have a unique opportunity to enjoy 80 of the artist's works, more than half of which come from the collection of the Munch Museum in Oslo. 

1580 E. Butler Pike
Ambler, PA 19002
Toll free: 1-888-480-0013
Spanish office phone: +34 616-103-536

Monday, August 17, 2015

The Spanish Touch: more than just day tours in Spain!

Since some of our clients have been writing reviews of The Spanish Touch, we made it official: now you can find us on TripAdvisor and write a review of your trip to Spain with us!

While reading some of the reviews, one specially caught my attention:

"We booked a two week Spain vacation with Eric (owner and guide) of the Spanish Touch in May 2012. There were 6 of us traveling together from the US. We began planning our trip via e-mail and Skype with Eric in late 2011/early 2012. Eric suggested itineraries based on our interests and our final tour took us from Barcelona to Malaga, Sevilla, Granada and Cordova. Eric took care of all arrangements from hotels (small boutique hotels), tours, driving and translating. He picked us up at the airport and remained with us throughout our two weeks in Spain. Eric conducted all of the tours in Barcelona and connected with local tour guides in the other cities/towns. We visited historic sites in and around Barcelona, Sevilla, Granada and Cordova. We also toured a sherry factory (something we asked Eric to add after we arrived), a cava factory, a vineyard and the large market in Barcelona (also added as a last minute request by us). The ladies in our party took a mosaic class at a wonderful shop owned by Eric's wife outside of Barcelona while the men in our group visited the local pub. Suffice it to say we had a fabulous two weeks. If you have any desire to tour any part of Spain do it with the Spanish Touch!"

And it's true. Day by day, we help our clients with anything of their trip to Spain: booking the right hotels, making lunch and dinner reservations, design a tour around Spain and adapting it to their needs and preferences, booking different activities (horse-back riding in Barcelona, cooking classes in San Sebastian, winery visits and tastings in Rioja, a hot-air ballon ride overlooking the volcanoes of La Garrotxa ...) or transportation. As a tour operator specialized in Spain, we can help you with as much or as little as you need us!

Contact us for more information:
1580 E. Butler Pike
Ambler, PA 19002
Toll free: 1-888-480-0013

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Last call for the Camino de Santiago Train (The Pilgrim Train)

During the summer season, the Camino de Santiago train, also called 'The Pilgrim Train', is an alternate way of doing the Camino de Santiago. Each day the train stops at a different stage along the Camino de Santiago and you can either enjoy the city taking a tour with The Spanish Touch or discover it on your own or you can walk the stage or even take your bike. The train would meet you at the end of each stage if you decide to walk it or bike it!

Train Route: Madrid - Astorga - Ponferrada - Monforte de Lemos - Ourense - Santiago - Madrid

1st day: Madrid - Astorga

  • The train leaves at 19:45 from Madrid. Dinner on board included. 

2nd day: Astorga - Ponferrada

  • Breakfast on board. 
  • If you want to walk: Bus transfer to start the stage Foncebadón - Ponferrada. 
  • If you prefer to take your bike you would do the stage Astorga - Ponferrada. 
  • Optional Astorga tour by The Spanish Touch. 
  • The train continues on its way from Astorga to Ponferrada. 
  • Guided visit to Las Medulas (included with the train ticket). 
  • Night in Ponferrada. 

3rd day: Ponferrada - Ourense. 

  • Breakfast on board while we continue our journey to Monforte. 
  • If you want to walk: bus transfer to start the stage Triacastela - Sarria. 
  • If you prefer to take your bike you would do the stage O Cebreiro - Sarria. 
  • Optional Monforte tour by The Spanish Touch. 
  • The train continues on its way from Monforte to Ourense. 
  • Optional Ourense tour by The Spanish Touch. 
  • Night in Ourense. 

4th day: Ourense - Santiago de Compostela

  • Breakfast on board. 
  • If you want to walk you will start the stage at O Pedrouzo and will finish at Santiago.  
  • If you prefer to take your bike you would do the same stage. 
  • Optional guided tour of Santiago de Compostela by The Spanish Touch. 
  • The train continues on its way from Santiago to Madrid. 
  • Dinner on board (included in the train ticket). Night on board. 

5th day: Santiago de Compostela - Madrid

  • Breakfast on board. 
  • Early arrival in Madrid. 
  • Optional guided tour of Madrid by The Spanish Touch.  

Contact us if you want to book your train ticket! 

You can add extra days in Spain before or after taking the Pilgrim Train. We could arrange as much or as little as you want: accomodation, meals, entrance tickets, tours, etc. Contact us and let us help you plan your trip to Spain!

1580 E. Butler Pike
Ambler, PA 19002
Toll free: 1-888-480-0013

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Toledo celebrates its anual festival during August

From August 13th to August 19th, Toledo is going to be celebrating its Fiestas (anual festival). These are very exciting days and looked forward to by all the people from Toledo. For a week, you can revive traditions like drinking water from a 'botijo', going to the 'feria' or enjoy the 'giants' parade. You can also enjoy Spanish music and the medieval market.

One of the main attractions will be the concert of Antonio Orozco: a very popular Spanish singer and one of the coaches of the Spanish version of the TV program 'The Voice'.

If you are going to be in Toledo or around the area, don't miss it out!

Contact us if you want to receive more information about all the activities!

1580 E. Butler Pike
Ambler, PA 19002
Toll free: 1-888-480-0013

Monday, August 10, 2015

August and September in Cordoba: some tours and special activities

During all of August and until mid-September Córdoba celebrates the summer with special activities that you can not miss if you are planning on coming to Córdoba!

Some of these activities are:

  • The horse show 'Passion and Spirit of the Andalusian Horse'. The stunning historical venue of the Royal Stables of Córdoba brings this showcase of Andalusian horse riding skills an added charm. The show runs in Cordoba throughout the year, although it is in summer when it really comes into its own. Contact us if you want to book it. 
  • Night-time visit to the Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba. The tour shows visitors the history of this unique religious site through a complex show of lighting, sound and voice-overs which really takes you back through the centuries. The visit lasts one hour. Contact us for more information and to book your tour. 
  • 'Córdoba, the light of cultures' show. This is a stunning show featuring water, light and sound in the Alcázar (Arab Castle) of Cordoba, taking you on a nighttime tour through the history and culture of Cordoba in the unrivalled setting of the grounds of the Alcázar of the Christian Monarchs. All the lastest techniques of lighting, projection and sound are used together with the water from the fountains and garden ponds to create attractive patterns and surprising effects that accompany visitors as they stroll through the grounds. Contact us if you want to buy entrance tickets for the show. 
  • A night at the zoo. Try this new adventure ... if you dare! Spend a night camping in tents next to the animals of the zoo. Contact us for more information and to book a different night!
  • Legends of Córdoba Tour. This tour will tell you about the city's legends, historical sites and unsolved mysteries, with local traditions and stories of ancient palaces. Contact us to book your tour. 

Contact us for more information or to book any of these activities:
1580 E. Butler Pike
Ambler, PA 19002
Toll free: 1-888-480-0013

'Passion and Spirit of the Andalusian Horse' show

'Cordoba, the Light of Cultures' show

Saturday, August 08, 2015

Santiago de Compostela highlights

Santiago de Compostela is the capital of northwest Spain’s Galicia region. The city is known for being the culmination of the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route, the five-hundred-year-old University of Santiago, its gastronomy and festivals. Santiago de Compostela was born from a legend: the discovery in 813 A.D. of the sepulchre of St. James the Apostle who was beheaded in 44 A.D. in Palestine. King Alfonso II visited the site and ordered a modest temple and monastery to be built, erecting the center around which the city later grew. 

The layout of Santiago de Compostela is that of the typical walled medieval city. Born of and for the cathedral, the city radiates out from this building, running along a north-south axis, the only possible line along which it could develop because of the nature of the terrain. The main streets of the old quarter, the Rúa do Franco, the Rúa do Vilar and the Rúa Nova, are centered around this axis. The wall survived until the end of last century, and although it was later torn down, the city which it encircled remained. Narrow streets, alleyways, squares and half-squares reveal stunning views such as the squares of La Quintana, la Inmaculada and San Martín. It is a city of stone, a city to be walked in and discovered. Santiago is still surrounded by orchards.

Some of Santiago highlights are:

  • The Square of El Obradoiro. This impressive square opens out in an enormous, almost moving sweep, comprising magnificent buildings which represent a thousand years of history and architecture: the College of San Jerónimo, the Antiguo Hospital Real (Royal Hospital), the Hostal de los Reyes Católicos or the Gelmírez Palace.
  • The Cathedral has been the key to the city's identity for centuries. Altough the exterior has undergone successive renovation works, the interior has basically been preserved intact. Via the Obradoiro Facade we enter the Portico de la Gloria (Gateway to Glory). Through the Portico de la Gloria we gain access to the inside of the cathedral, the jewel in the crown of Romanesque architecture. The transept nave is undoubtedly the most solemn spot in the cathedral. The lantern is Gothic with Baroque detail. From this point hangs the Botafumeiro, the enormous censer which swings spectacularly from one of the nave to the other during days of solemn celebration. The Baroque altar of the Main Chapel rises above the crypt which contains the remains of St. James te Apostle.
  • The Squares of Platerías, La Quintana and La Azabachería. The characteristic squares which surround the cathedral to the south, west and north play an important role in the medieval design of Santiago de Compostela. Don't miss out: the clock tower, Puerta Real (Royal Gate) and the Puerta Santa (Holy Gate), the Convent of San Paio, the church of San Paio and the Azabachería Gate.
  • The monasteries. Some superb buildings reveal the importance of the religious orders to the history of Santiago. Along with the Convents of San Paio and San Francisco and the impressive Monastery of San Martiño, this itinerary includes other more modest buildings which are, nevertheless, very rich in artistic terms.
  • The 'Rúas' (the 'Streets'). Although the buildings came later, the lay-out for the Rúas Franco, Vilar and Nova date back to the 12th century. The streets were originally completely flanked by colonnades but, as a result of their vulnerability to fires, they were partially destroyed. Santiago displays the full force of its charm in these streets.
  • Convent of Santa Clara and Santo Domingo. The most unique aspect of Santa Clara's convent is the facade of the porter's lodge which was built in 1719. The convent of Santo Domingo houses the Museum of the Galician People and the Pantheon of Gallegos Ilustres, which contains, among others, Rosalia de Castro and Alfonso Rodríguez Castelao, the two leading figures of Galician literature. 

Contact us for more information:
1580 E. Butler Pike
Ambler, PA 19002
Toll free: 1-888-480-0013