Two of my fellow travelers, John Sconzo and his son, L. J., on a hill overlooking Segovia's famous Alcázar and Cathedral
on our pilot trip for out November Pig Tour of Spain. Photo by Gerry Dawes©2014.
Including the great cities and towns of Madrid, Segovia, Ávila, Toledo, La Mancha, Córdoba, Sevilla, Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Cádiz, El Puerto de Santa María, Ronda, Granada & Chinchón
Tour Adapted for Bill Blair and
others with ambulatory restrictions*
*Those who wish to walk to experience the wonders of some of Spain’s old cities can, but for those who cannot, we will provide taxis or the bus to the next spot and we are looking into a motorized wheelchair option, if needed for some places.
$4,495* per person double room; $5,495* single room
(Airfare not included; each traveler makes their own flight arrangements)
Minimum of 12 travelers
(For fewer people a supplement may be required due to fixed costs.)
Includes all designated meals** with wine*** in restaurants selected by Gerry Dawes, who is an expert on Spanish gastronomony and has many personal chef connections throughout Spain.
**Gerry and the restaurants where we eat are used to dealing with dietary restrictions, which you need to specify on the Tour Conditions form.
Day 00, Wed, May 10 USA to Madrid Flights to Madrid.
Day 01, Thurs, May 11 Madrid
Arrive in Madrid, Spain's capital, where we will rendezvous at our hotel near the Prado Museum. We will allow everyone to rest and freshen up, then we will meet at 2 p.m. for lunch in the lobby.
After lunch, there will be free time for siestas, exploring on your own, shopping, etc.
In the evening, we will visit a couple of very special places for drinks and tapas, then have dinner at one of the iconic restaurants in Old Madrid.
Day 02, Fri, May 12 Madrid – Segovia – Avila – Madrid
From Madrid, we will drive up into the Guadarrama Mountains to Segovia, the roast suckling pig capital of Spain and home to an amazing 2,000-year old Roman aqueduct that still crosses the city.
For lunch, we will have exceptional roast suckling pig, so tender they cut it with the edge of a plate, in a restaurant that has been a must visit for celebrities and just plain folks for decades.
After lunch we will drive less than an hour to visit the amazing Medieval walled town of Ávila, then return to Madrid for the evening and have dinner in a restaurant near our hotel.
Day 03, Sat, May 13 Madrid – Toledo - Madrid
In the morning, we will take a one-hour bus ride to the historic city of Toledo.
In Toledo, we will visit El Cigarral de Santa María, which has spectacular views over the on vineyards, olive trees and the city of Toledo below. The owner, whom Gerry calls the Emperor of Toledo is a major chef-restaurateur.
After the visit, we will take a walking tour of old Toledo and have a creative tapas lunch at Colección Adolfo, the Cigarral owner’s tapas restaurant near the Cathedral and we will visit his restaurant group’s magnificent wine cellar underneath what was a Jewish home in the 9th century.
We will return to Madrid after lunch and have free time before we gather for dinner at a seafood restaurant, then attend an optional flamenco performance.
Day 04 Sun, May 14 Madrid
We will visit the Prado Museum with a professional guide and have lunch at a great classic Madrid restaurant.
In the afternoon, there will be the option of attending a bullfight at Madrid’s Las Ventas bullring.
Day 05 Mon, May 15 Madrid – La Mancha – Córdoba
In the morning, we will board our bus and travel through La Mancha of Don Quixote fame, stopping at a few places along the way to the great Moorish city of Córdoba. First, we will stop to see the famous hilltop windmills and castle at Consuegra, then, after a short ride have a refreshment stop at Puerto Lapice, where there is a recreation of Don Quixote guarding his armor in the patio of a well-known restaurant.
We will then continue through the famous mountain pass of Dispeñaperros and arrive in the great historic city of Córdoba in time for a tapas lunch at special place just outside the old quarter.
After lunch, we will tour the magnificent Moorish Mezquita, the Mosque-Cathedral, see the Roman bridge and the old Jewish and Moorish quarter.
In the evening, we dine near our hotel on local specialties, including terrific grilled meats, at a superb Cordoban restaurant with lots of ambience.
Day 06 Tues, May 16 Córdoba - Sevilla
In the morning, our bus will take us to Sevilla, the city of Carmen and one of the most beautiful and evocative cities in Europe.
We will check into our hotel, then have a guided tour of the Cathedral and the Moorish fortress-palace El Alcázar. Gerry will lead us on a walk through the stunningly pretty old quarter, the Barrio de Santa Cruz (the old Jewish quarter), where he lived or parts of six years.
We will sample tapas in the Barrio in a couple of places, then sit down in a particularly good tapas restaurant for some gazpacho, grilled shrimp, fried fish (an Andalucian specialty) and other special tapas, including, no doubt, a plate or two of Ibérico ham.
The rest of the afternoon will be free for shopping, strolling and relaxing.
In the evening, we will gather for an optional pre-dinner drink on the terrace of our hotel, which overlooks the Cathedral and La Giralda tower, then go to a nearby restaurant for dinner.
Optional flamenco performance.
Day 07 Wed, May 17 Sevilla - Sanlúcar de Barrameda
In the morning, there will be optional strolling and shopping, then by noon, we will travel south to the superb fishing and Sherry town of Sanlúcar de Barrameda, where Columbus set sail on his second voyage to America. We will prevail upon one of Gerry’s friends to open his old sherry bodega and let us taste some of his exceptional manzanilla sherries, then we will have lunch at a beachfront restaurant with more manzanilla, grilled shellfish and some of the best fried fish in the world.
Hopefully, we will see one of Sanlucar's spectacular sunsets from the legendary Bajo de Guia fisherman's beach with a glass of manzanilla in hand (more on this later). In the evening, we will have free time to enjoy the Plaza del Cabildo and environs, which has some of the best tapas bars and restaurants in Spain.
Market breakfast in Sanlúcar market, then to El Puerto de Santa María, where we will catch the ferry to Cádiz in the morning, visit this wonderful sea-surrounded peninsular city and its unique market, have lunch in Cádiz, then back to El Puerto by ferry. We will return to Sanlúcar de Barrameda, a 20-minute ride, then have a free, relaxing afternoon, a casual dinner and a relatively early (for Spain) end to the evening.
Day 09 Fri, May 19 Sanlúcar de Barrameda – Pueblos Blancos – Ronda – Granada
We will leave Sanlúcar in the morning and drive east through the spectacular Pueblos Blancos, the white hilltop villages of Cádiz and Málaga provinces, some of which are cheese villages, visit a great mountain cheese producer, then have lunch in the spectacular city of Ronda, which is set astride a 300-foot gorge that splits the town in two. After lunch, we will take a brief walking tour of Ronda, then drive to the magical city of Granada, where will be check into our equally magical hotel on the hill overlooking the city and the with views of the Sierra Nevada mountains, which may still have snow on them (but no snow in Granada).
In the afternoon, we will visit the superb fortress palaces of the legendary Moorish complex, the Alhambra.
We will return to our hotel to relax before dinner, then gather for optional gin-tonics on the hotel bar balcony overlooking the Campo del Principe and hopefully see a great sunset as we sip our adult libations, then we will go to dinner at a nearby restaurant across from the Alhambra.
Day 10, Sat, May 20 Granada – La Mancha - Chinchón
In the morning, we will begin our return north, via another route through La Mancha, stopping at a couple of Don Quixote towns, then have lunch at one of the greatest restaurants in the region, where the Chef-owner, a friend of Gerry’s will introduce us to modernized versions of classic Manchegan recipes.
After lunch, we will ride another hour or so to the enchanting city of Chinchón, where we will check into a charming hotel just a block from Chinchón's Plaza Mayor, one of Spain's best restored and loveliest plazas, which is like a page out of the 16th Century. Our group will have the rest of the afternoon free to explore this magical village and shop for unique local items.
We will have our farewell dinner at La Balconada overlooking the Plaza Mayor. At this romantic restaurant, Chef Manuela and her husband Isidro, offer superb classic Castillian dishes, including more pig (roasted) of course, but with the option of having roast lamb, wood-grilled steaks, bean dishes, fried potatoes with "broken eggs," artichokes cooked with jamón Ibérico bits, bean dishes and other specialties, accompanied by simple D.O. Madrid (province) Rosado and red wines. We can linger over snifters of the town's famous Anis Chinchón licor (dry or sweet), watch the peregrinations of the people down in the plaza and reminisce about the high points and comedic episodes of our trip around Spain.
Day 11, Sun. May 21 Chinchón – Barajas Airport – USA 50 kms.
Our bus will depart early enough in the morning for all our fellow travelers to catch their flights back to the USA. Any who wish to continue the trip will have the option of continuing on into the center of Madrid on our bus.
Madrid's ultra-modern Terminal IV. Some transatlantic flights still arrive at Terminal I,
which is older and less spectacular, but in some ways, an easier and quicker entry point.
About Gerry Dawes
Gerry Dawes's Spain: An Insider's Guide to Spanish Food, Wine, Culture and Travel Gerry Dawes was awarded Spain's prestigious Premio Nacional de Gastronomía (National Gastronomy Award) in 2003. He writes and speaks frequently on Spanish wine and gastronomy and leads gastronomy, wine and cultural tours to Spain. He was a finalist for the 2001 James Beard Foundation's Journalism Award for Best Magazine Writing on Wine, won The Cava Institute's First Prize for Journalism for his article on cava in 2004, was awarded the CineGourLand “Cinéfilos y Gourmets” (Cinephiles & Gourmets) prize in 2009 in Getxo (Vizcaya) and received the 2009 Association of Food Journalists Second Prize for Best Food Feature in a Magazine for his Food Arts article, a retrospective piece about Catalan star chef, Ferran Adrià.
In December, 2009, Dawes was awarded the Food Arts Silver Spoon Award in a profile written by José Andrés.
". . .That we were the first to introduce American readers to Ferran Adrià in 1997 and have ever since continued to bring you a blow-by-blow narrative of Spain's riveting ferment is chiefly due to our Spanish correspondent, Gerry "Mr. Spain" Dawes, the messianic wine and food journalist raised in Southern Illinois and possessor of a self-accumulated doctorate in the Spanish table. Gerry once again brings us up to the very minute. . ." - - Michael & Ariane Batterberry, Editor-in-Chief/Publisher and Founding Editor/Publisher, Food Arts, October 2009.
on wine, gastronomy, culture and travel in Spain.
Gerry Dawes can be reached at email@example.com; Alternate e-mail (use only if your e-mail to AOL is rejected): firstname.lastname@example.org