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The Spirit of Northern Spain

Premier Tours & Travel will be exploring the diverse cultures of Northern Spain by way of our hand-selected local hosts, expert in the distinct wines of the region, as well as the unique cuisine, history, and traditions throughout. From the Pintxos, sidra, and Basque Txakoli, to tours of San Sebastián, Guernica, and Bilbao’s Guggenheim Museum, quickly see (and taste) what makes the Basque region so special. The flavorful adventure continues in the DOCa Rioja region amidst its medieval walled village of Laguardia bursting with bodegas; and the renowned village of Briones celebrated for its exceptional vineyards and views. Explore wineries known as much for their brilliant wines as for the brilliant architecture of their wineries, including the modern Vivanco and Bodegas Ysios (among others). Cosmopolitan Madrid and its world-class museums to complete this epic journey.

October 5-14, 2022 (departing October 4, 2023)
From $6799 Per Person (DBL); Single Supplement $1800; Max 20 passengers; $1000 Per-Person Deposit

May 25 - June 3, 2023 (departing May 24, 2023)
August 31-September 9, 2023 (departing August 30, 2023)
October 5-October 14, 2023 (departing October 4, 2023)

From $7499 Per Person (DBL); Single Supplement $1800; Max 20 passengers; $1000 Per-Person Deposit

Optional Extensions to Barcelona, Segovia, and Toledo, Spain
Available Upon Request

Highlights of San Sebastián (3 Nights)

Depart the United States on an overnight flight.

Day 1: SAN SEBASTIÁN OR BILBAO

Arrive in San Sebastián or Bilbao — one of the most famous culinary destinations in the world. Our Premier Tours & Travel representative will meet you at the airport and transfer you to your accommodations for the next three nights. En route, you will see that — although this coastal city is small — it is hugely cosmopolitan, and home of the annual San Sebastián International Film Festival. The artful combination of historic and modern … traditional and contemporary makes San Sebastián a seaside gem.

Hotel de Londres, a boutique hotel with a beach front location, offering the most amazing views awaits you (or similar). After checking in, enjoy some time at leisure before joining our exclusive experience with the most highly accredited guide — and personal friend — to wander the old quarter of San Sebastián to enjoy the famous edible pieces of art — Pintxos — paired with specialty-of-the-house wines, such as Basque Txakoli, or famous Basque cider (sidra).

Day 2:  SAN SEBASTIÁN

Both a guided, panoramic tour and a walking tour are planned for you following breakfast today. Drive along the Bay of Biscay and the glistening beaches of San Sebastián: Concha, Ondarreta, and Zurriola. Pass the Town Hall, which is considered one of the most beautiful buildings in Spain. It was originally designed as a casino in 1886 during the Belle Epoque and became the Town Hall in 1947. View San Sebastián’s fishing port and world-famous marina overflowing with luxury yachts. Stroll the narrow streets of Parte Vieja — the Old Town — with the stunning Baroque Basílica de Santa María del Coro. Visit La Calle 31 de Agosto to learn about the historical significance of the street and the annual tradition honoring it. Enjoy a ride back in time on the 1912 funicular up Mount Igueldo with the most iconic, panoramic views of the city.

Lunch and the balance of your day will be at leisure to explore this beautiful city. Stroll the Paseo de la Concha and the tree-lined Alameda del Boulevard for fabulous shops or visit Museo de San Telmo, the museum of Basque culture and history. With its abundance of amazing restaurants and celebrated chefs, San Sebastián is widely considered one of the world’s premier culinary destinations. Reconnect with the group for a dinner this evening in one of San Sebastián’s quintessential restaurants.

Day 3:  SAN SEBASTIÁN

After a morning at leisure to recover from the evening’s epicurean delights, you will make the short drive along the coast to the charming village of Getaria. Set between the sea and the mountains, it is truly not to be missed. Enjoy an authentic lunch with local Basque wine, txakoli, at a restaurant favorited by the locals (and little known to tourists). Take time after lunch to wander (or shop) at leisure. After returning to the hotel, the balance of your day and dinner will be at leisure.

Highlights of DOCa Rioja (4 Nights)

DAY 4:  SAN SEBASTIÁN – GUERNICA – BILBAO – BRIONES/ RIOJA

Say farewell to San Sebastián today and depart to Guernica. Many around the globe have heard of Guernica thanks to Pablo Picasso. It was this town that was bombed in 1937 during the Spanish Civil War, the events of which inspired Picasso’s most famous piece of art, “Guernica.” Walk with our guide and learn about the rich history of Guernica before departing for Bilbao. Pay a visit to the world-famous Guggenheim Museum, which is a museum of modern and contemporary art designed by renowned Canadian American architect Frank O. Gehry. Your tour will be guided by the “Keeper of the Keys” to the Guggenheim Museum (tickets included). Lunch will be at leisure at one of the local eateries suggested by our tour director.

En route to Rioja, make a stop at the Marques de Riscal, another amazing creation of Gehry. Then enter the medieval village of Briones and check into your accommodations for the next four nights at the brand-new Hotel Santa Maria Briones — recently named the #1 hotel in Rioja. Hotel Santa Maria Briones is a boutique especially designed for adults, housed in a large 16th century property adjacent to the town Tower and the walls of las Cuarenta.

Join the group for dinner at Restaurante Los Calaos de Briones where you will experience authentic Rioja gastronomy and wines. The restaurant Los Calaos de Briones has two dining rooms in two drafts or coves of an old family winery located in the center of town. In many villages of La Rioja, it is common to find drafts/coves located under private homes. They are authentic traditional wineries used by families to make and preserve their own wine. At Los Calaos de Briones, the first draft is approximately 11.5 feet wide by 150 feet deep. The second dining room, excavated directly into the rock approximately 20 feet deep.

DAY 5:  SUSO & YUSO MONASTERIES — EZCARAY

Today, visit the San Millán Suso and Yuso Monasteries, an UNESCO World Heritage site. The monastic community, founded by St. Millán in the mid-6th century, became a place of pilgrimage. A fine Romanesque church built in honor of the holy man still stands at the site of Suso. It was here that the first literature was produced in Castilian, from which one of the most widely spoken languages in the world today is derived. In the early 16th century, the community was housed in the fine new monastery of Yuso, below the older complex; it is still a thriving community today.

Enjoy free time wandering in the beautiful town of Ezcaray, Spain. Sitting in the Sierra de la Demanda mountains, on the banks of the river Oja, the town of Ezcaray and its surrounding area are incredibly picturesque. Visit the church of Santa María la Mayor, built between the 12th and 14th centuries, and declared a Historic-Artistic Site; make your way to the buildings that form the Royal Cloth Factory of Santa Bárbara, from the 18th century, and the dyeing house popularly known as “El Fuerte,” or simply visit the quaint boutiques and purchase some of their renown Ezcaray scarves for yourself or gifts.

Reconnect with the group for a traditional Sunday lunch at one of Rioja’s finest restaurants, Echaurren Tradition, with 2-Michelin Star Chef Francis Paniego and his brother, one of the best Sommeliers in Spain. Echaurren Tradition is part of the history of traditional Rioja cuisine. That credit goes to their mother, Marisa Sanchez, who gathered and passed down the menu of this restaurant, a bunch of unforgettable recipes, which represent the best legacy that a mother can leave to her children. This experience will change how you view Sunday lunch with your family forever.

DAY 6: BRIONES / RIOJA

Spend the morning at modern Vivanco — designed by Riojan architect J. Marino Pascual — visiting the Vivanco family private museum to see an incredible collection, including works from Picasso, Sorolla, and Joan Miró, as well as Roman mosaics and old wine making tools, such us wine presses, and the world’s largest collection of corkscrews dating back to the late 18th-century.

Following Vivanco, depart for Haro, a town that has become the epicenter of wine, wineries, and gastronomy of the La Rioja region due to the concentration of world-class centenary wineries all within walking distance, including La Rioja Alta and Bodega Muga.

La Rioja Alta is one of the foremost estates in the Rioja region, formed in 1890 by five Riojan and Basque families, and located in the historic Barrio de La Estación (Station Quarter) of Haro. It is particularly known for its classically styled, spicy Gran Reserva reds that can age gracefully for many decades. The winery shares its name with the Rioja Alta (Upper Rioja) subregion in which many of its operations are based. La Rioja Alta, named one of the world’s most admired wine brands, offers the perfect way to introduce you to — or to deepen your knowledge of — Rioja wines through a tour of this century-old winery. Taste such wines as Viña Alberdi Crianza, Viña Ardanza Reserva, Viña Arana Gran Reserva, and Gran Reserva 904 (old vintage) (or similar) before enjoying an exceptional lunch cooked over an open fire.

A visit to Haro would be incomplete without a tasting at Bodega Muga. Bodegas Muga is a family business founded by Isaac Muga and Aurora Caño in 1932, and is located nearby La Rioja Alta. It is particularly known for its traditional style Reserva wines that are only produced in vintages of utmost quality. You will have the opportunity to taste from its portfolio of wines, such as the Prado Enea Gran Reserva, a red blend of Tempranillo, Grenache, Mazuelo and Graciano.

The evening will be at leisure to relax at the hotel or further explore Briones.

DAY 7: LAGUARDIA / RIOJA

Today, visit Laguardia — the capital of Rioja Alavesa and one of the most beautiful small towns in Spain. A private, guided city tour will unveil this medieval, hilltop, walled village as you stroll its narrow streets and winding alleys, meandering past mysterious doorways, countless artisanal shoppes, beautiful church, and happy discoveries. After time at leisure to explore the quaint shops, experience the first wine tasting at Casa de la Primicia. Casa de la Primicia is the oldest building of Laguardia village and is a magical place … a temple of wine. Its well-conserved cellars are silent witnesses to other periods and other people, and its restoration by the Madrid Family is an homage to the dream of vine grower and patriarch, Julian Madrid. Travel through the tunnel of time to the place where the history of wine began in Rioja Alavesa at Casa de la Primicia. In addition, visit small, 5th-generation, family-owned wineries personally known by Premier Tours & Travel normally frequented by the locals.

En route to our next vineyard tour, tasting and lunch, view the work of famed architect and Spaniard Santiago Calatrava, the architectural wonder of this winery (designed inspired by the outline of a row of barrels as well as curves of the mountains behind it).

The gorgeous vineyards of Luis Cañas await you next today. Embark on more than a tour this afternoon — a private “More than Vines” experience (weather permitting) with showcase the old vineyard (Finca El Palacio) while providing an understanding about sustainability and ecosystems and getting to know the grape vines. Enjoy tapas under the shade of a holm oak before visiting Grandfather Luis’s Tasting Room, El Mirador de Luis, for a pairing of three wines, such as Viñas Viejas and Luis Cañas Reserve, with elaborate tapas. Upon returning to the hotel, the balance of the day and evening will be at leisure.

Highlights of Madrid (2 Nights)

DAY 8:  RIOJA – MADRID

Depart for Madrid, the vibrant capital of Spain, this morning. Check in at Pestana Plaza Mayor Hotel on the vibrant Plaza Mayor — located in the heart of the city, near the markets, shops, and museums in Madrid. After checking in, enjoy the balance of your day at leisure to experience the nearby shops, sights, and dining options, including the nearby incredible Mercado San Miquel or Plaza Mayor with myriad dining options.

Join us for dinner and Flamenco Show at the most traditional and emblematic Tablao in Madrid. With more than 60 years of history, Corral de la Moreria is the most prestigious flamenco Tablao and the world’s only with a Michelin star. To complete this magical evening in Madrid, join us for a nightcap in Plaza Mayor upon our return.

DAY 9:  MADRID
It is now time to go deeper into Old Madrid through its narrow, cobblestone streets in the Hapsburg quarter. See fantastic buildings and plazas of Renaissance and Baroque style, and discover the Royal

Palace, one of the best-preserved palaces in Europe. Following your guided walking tour and a panoramic tour of Madrid, visit the home of “Auntie Clara,” who is a Marquesa, as well as the aunt of our Expert Host, Chef Maria Jimenez, a personal friend of the late Julia Child, and owner of one of the largest cookbook collections. Chef Maria will join us at Auntie Clara’s home to prepare a final luncheon personally for our group. The balance of your day will be at leisure for any final shopping and packing before you depart Spain.

DAY 10:  MADRID

As you know, all good trips must come to an end. Transfer to the airport this morning based upon your departure time. ¡Adiós por ahora, Spain!
Transfers to the airport are included. Allow a minimum of three hours for flight check in.

Standard rooms are included for this tour (per hotel designation for same). Upgraded rooms are available upon request and based upon availability.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION: Itinerary subject to change. Premier Tours & Travel reserves the right to modify programs and itineraries (including arranged sightseeing, accommodations, dining experiences, aircraft, trains, vessels, and so forth) at any time due to unforeseen circumstances or circumstances beyond Premier Tours & Travel’s control, including force majeures. In the instance our Expert host cancels due to unforeseen circumstances, Premier Tours & Travel has the right to substitute another Expert host, such as a chef, in such an emergency (timing allowed) and/or the tour will continue in its entirety. Every effort is made to operate our itineraries as planned but alterations may need to be made after the final itinerary has been issued. Airfare is not included. Deposits are utilized to secure services on your behalf and are nonrefundable. Deposits are transferrable to a future Expertly Done Culinary & Wine Travel tour. One glass of wine is included with applicable meals unless noted otherwise. All other alcoholic beverages are the responsibility of each adult guest. Guests are limited to one carry on and one checked baggage and will be responsible for any additional fees charged for additional luggage. Please see Key Items to Know Before You Leave Home attached.

PREMIER EXPERIENCES, PREMIER ADVANTAGES

• English-speaking Premier representatives

• Airport Meet & Greet

• Private, small group tour

• Private transportation & baggage portage

• 3-night stay in Hotel de Londres (or similar), San Sebastián

• 4-night stay in Hotel Santa Maria Briones (or similar)

• 2-night stay in Pestana Hotel Plaza Mayor in Madrid (or similar)

• Daily breakfasts; lunches and dinners as noted

• Hand-selected, private experiences, including a Guggenheim Museum tour, wine tastings at select vineyards, and flamenco at Corral de la Moreria

• Guided, private walking or panoramic city tours in San Sebastián, Guernica, Briones, Laguardia, and Madrid

• Internet (where available)

• 24/7 Premier support

Premier Tours & Travel is proud to introduce our tours with Chef Maria Jimenez Latorre, a native Spanish celebrity chef. Chef Maria Jimenez Latorre is a renowned chef in Spain with a following throughout the country for her magnetic personality and culinary style. She is a radio and television personality, as well as the leading chef at Alambique Escuela de Cocina cooking school, founder of We Present catering company, and the face of Orujo de Aceite de Oliva in Spain.

Languages: Spanish (native speaker),  English (fluent) , French (fluent)

Highlights of Recent Work Experience

2009 to present  -  Alambique Escuela de Cocina cooking school

Chef leading cooking events at Alambique.: hands-on gastronomic events, team-buildings and corporate events, specialising in traditional Spanish cuisine.  Also teaching hand-on beginners courses and cooking with confidence classes, as well as  cookery classes for children including classes which combine cooking and magic

2013– present – Founder and partner in catering company We Present

Serving weddings, christenings, first communions , birthday parties, dinners and corporate events with chef Sergio Fernandez.

2018 to Present  - Ambassador For ORIVA

Cooking demonstrations and helping professionals and hotelerie schools learn how to use Orujo de Aceite de Oliva in particular in frying techniques. Included trainning for the “perfect fritter ” challenge.  Over 2020 this took the form of remote classes and videos for social media.