Spain is infectious if not downright contagious, remarkable for her astounding diversity and the distinctiveness of character, temperament and mood to be found in the 17 regional Autonomous Communities each with their unique language, art, traditions, culture and cuisine. Perhaps the notable common thread is an exuberant zest for festivity and feasting in day to day life, tremendous gregariousness amongst her people, a sense of passion about eating, about music, about pleasure…about being alive
In the popular imagination, Spain is bullfights, flamenco dancers and crowded beaches. But Spain has a spectacular and panoramic history that can be traced in its prehistoric cave paintings, Moorish palaces, crumbling castles, Roman ruins, Gothic and Renaissance cathedrals as well as some very distinctive modern architecture.
This sumptuous 9-day journey discovers how the Spanish are taking the bull by the horns in the international leagues of cuisine, wine and design.
• Barcelona, that most seductive and soulful of cities with a Mediterranean vibe
• Bilbao’s stunning Museum ‘el goog’
• the velvety landscapes of La Rioja and Navarra – Spain’s most important wine region
• San Sebastian that boasts more Michelin stars than Paris per capita, and a passion for all things gastronomique
AT A GLANCE
LENGTH: 9 Days
ACTIVITY LEVEL: Moderate
TYPE: AoL Escorted | Small Groups | Guided
This best suits private groups of 6-10 people
STYLE: culture | arts | architecture | heritage | cuisine | cooking | wine
START/FINISH: Delhi | Delhi or Delhi | Kolkata
All meals and wine, cooking classes, entrance fees, domestic airfare, ground transport
Boutique Relais & Châteaux to exceptionally charming 5* country inns and metro chic design hotels
Luxury mini coach
Best times for travel are May – mid June and September – October
Small groups requesting Marieke to host them must plan at least 6 months in advance.
from AUD$11,000 twin | double share
- DAY 1
Guests meet in Barcelona and transfer to one of the city’s chicest boutique hotels, tucked beneath the Tibidabo hills above the city. Welcome cocktails followed by a 3* Michelin degustation by chef Jordi Cruz.
- DAY 2
This morning fly to Bilbao and arrive in time for a latish lunch at the Guggenheim Museum Restaurant where Josean Martínez Alija, presides over imaginative and seasonal menus gastronomique. At twilight – a guided walking tour of the city and casual roving txikiteo dinner- a typical Bilbao tradition of “bar hopping’ with glass of wine in hand, sampling exceptionally delicious pinxtos.
- DAY 3
This morning visit Frank Gehry’s famed titanium spectacle, affectionately known as ‘el goog’. Later, drive to the tiny village of Axpe in the mountains where between a church, the square and a bocce court stands Esador Etxebarri, now one of the world’s most remarkable restaurants established by the humble but brilliant Victor Arguinzoniz who has taken the world’s oldest form of cooking: fire and wood coals, and totally reinvented the art of grilling.
This afternoon check into your luxury hotel and explore the many pinxto bars.
- DAY 4
This morning enjoy a walking tour of San Sebastian with our inimitable local guide, and visit specialty providores, have tastings at the wonderful markets housed in the Old Quarter, stop for a local cider.
Lunch is at the hip new concept created by Mugaritz star chef, Andoni Luis Adurizis. TOPA Sukaldería celebrates the centuries of history that connect Basques and Latin Americans and the kitchen is headed up by Jessica Lorigo.
Later an optional cooking class followed by tapas for dinner.
- DAY 5
This morning drive to Getaria to visit the Cristóbal Balenciaga Museoa that commemorates the life and work of the famous couturier. Also visit a Txacoli winery – the white wine of the basque country.
This evening is another 3* Michelin extravaganza at Arzak run by the famed father and daughter team.
- DAY 6
Today’s lunch is the Navarran village of Taffala where an exemplary reputation has been carved by its elegant owner Axen whose son Nicolás Jiménez has worked in restaurants such as Zuberoa, (under Chef Martín Berasategui) and Arzak. His wife is a Master of Wine and will match the dishes with an eye for special matches.
Drive through glorious countryside to your modern luxury hotel in the heart of one of Spain’s premier wine regions.
- DAY 7
Today we have a private tasting with oenologist extraordinaire, Benjamin Romeo, who has enjoyed the highest praise from the hardest hitting critic Robert Parker. The purpose built complex stands on the crag of San Pelayo and each part of its design fulfills both an aesthetic and functional function. Distribution of the wine works through gravity all adding to the creation of very natural, limited editions of perfect wines.
A typical regional lunch will be enjoyed in the village of Laguardia. This evening stroll through the old town of Logroño, the town of the region best regarded for its tapas.
- DAY 8
Today visit the incomparable Dinastia Vivanco Museum of the Culture of Wine that covers every aspect of wine culture from the vineyard, to the winery, wine accoutrements, archaeology and art.
Travel on to the small town of Haro to visit one of the most significant innovators, Bodegas Roda. This is very much new-wave Rioja.
Lunch is at the exciting Gehry-designed Marques de Riscal complex where famed Michelin awarded chef, Juan Bautista Peñas presides over a menu that ranges from exquisite traditional croquetas to nouvelle dishes of great delicacy.
- DAY 9
Marieke Brugman’s Academic (Fine Arts) beginnings segued into the culinary world where she is a highly regarded chef, educator, consultant, public speaker and occasional writer. She has been both a pioneer for paddock to plate cooking, and an ambassador for creating a distinctive Australian identity in the evolution of our gastronomic culture.
Marieke co-established and operated Howqua Dale Gourmet Retreat - an exceptional hospitality destination experience in north-east Vitoria, and over 30 years, cemented its outstanding reputation for superb cuisine and innovative cooking schools.
Marieke considers Spain one of the greatest of foodie heavens. The produce dazzles. The chefs are delightfully inventive yet deliver the dining experience without pretension. Spain simply lightens the heart and gives so much joy.
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