Download the PDF - Fiesta de San Fermin Procession 2013
Saturday, April 20, 2013
Monday, April 8, 2013
9 nights - Lisbon-Guimarães-Minho Valley-Lisbon
Self-drive Tour - Available March-November - Priced from €3600/person/double occupancy
Lisbon - 2 nights
Hotel Options: 4-star Hotel NH Liberdade or 4-star Hotel Avenida Liberdade
Wednesday - Arrive Lisbon, private transfer to your hotel. You can take an afternoon stroll around the upper section of downtown, the Bairro Alto and stop to relax and sample an astonishing array of Port wines at Lisbon’s Port Wine House, the Solar do Viho de Porto on Rúa de São Pedro de Alcântara.
Have lunch in the Bairro Alto at Restaurante Largo or Chiado Unique, or have dinner at Lisboa à Noite.
Thursday - Full day guided city tour, with lunch.
Guimarães - 3 nights
Hotel: 4-star Pousada Santa MarinhaFriday - Travel from Lisbon to Braga on the high-speed Alta Pendicular train, AP131, from Lisbon’s Santa Apolonia station at 7:00 am; arriving at Braga station at 10:25 am.
Have lunch at the Pousada or dinner at Histórico by Papaboa, Rau de Valdonas, 4, in the historic center of the city.
Saturday - Take a drive out to the ancient Celtic hill settlement, Citânia de Briteiros, finishing up with a ½-day guided tour of Braga.
Sunday - Drive to Porto to tour the fabled port cellars of Vila Nova de Gaia such as Ferreira, Quinta do Noval, Osborne, Cockborn’s, Sandeman, Graham’s.
Have lunch in Porto at Pedro Lemos’ new restaurant, Clérigos, at Rua das Carmelitas, 151, Porto, or at his main restaurant, Pedro Lemos da Foz in Figueira da Foz (Porto).
Minho River Valley - 3 nights
Hotel: 4-star Pousada de Santa Luzia in charming coastal city of Viana do Castelo
Monday - Drive up to the lush Minho Valley, the land of vinho verde, the slightly sparkling young, “green” white wine of Northern Portugal, stopping in the picturesque towns of Barcelos, Vila Nova de Cerveira and Caminha, before heading down to the Pousada in Viana do Castelo.
Tuesday - Take in the sights, smells, flavors of market day in Ponte de Lima, the largest outdoor market in Northern Portugal and Portugal’s oldest.
Have Lunch at Sabores do Lima Restaurante in Ponte de Lima.
Wednesday - A full day along the Spanish border of Galicia to explore the alvariño wineries of the Rías Baixas appellation (subzones of O Rosal and O Condado) - wineries such as As Laxas in Arbo, Fillaboa in Salvaterra de Miño, Santiago Ruiz and Valmiñor in O Rosal.
In the charming town of Melgaço, across the river from Arbo, sample the area’s prestigious Alvarinho wines at the Alvarinho Wine House in the heart of the town.
Have a gourmet lunch in Peso-Paderne (Melgaço) at the charming, rustic Adega de Sossego.
Visit the Celtic ruins of Monte Santa Tegra atop the village of A Guarda, or going further afield, to the Ribeiro appellation to visit the Viña Mein winery in San Clodio-Leiro and the Casal de Armán in San Andrés.
Lisbon - 1 night
Hotel Options: 4-star Hotel Lisboa Carmo, 5-star Avenida Palace, or 5-star Olissippo Lappa Palace
Thursday - Drive from Viana do Castelo to Braga. Return rental car by 12:30 pm.
Take the Alta Pendicular train AP 132, departing Braga at 1:04 pm, arriving Lisbon at 4:30 pm. Private transfer from the train station to your hotel.
Enjoy dinner and a Fado show at one of the city’s acclaimed Fado houses, such as Senhor Vinho on your last night (www.srvinho.com).
Friday - Private transfer to catch your flight home, or continue with your holiday.
Included: Rail tickets, rental car, breakfast daily at the hotel, guide services in Lisbon and Braga, winery reservations.
Not included: International or domestic flights, lunch or dinner (except as noted with the Lisbon city tour), taxis, trams and incidental expenses, travel/trip cancellation insurance.Note: Hotel selection is based on availability.
Thursday, March 14, 2013
Pintxos Tours in San Sebastian-DonostiaBasque bar food has been raised to an art form, and pintxos in San Sebastian, are unique; from freshly grilled foie gras to flaky cod with peppers and shrimp brochettes thrown in for good measure. Each bar has its own specialty, which they will proudly prepare to order. Over the course of a walking tour through the historic quarter of San Sebastian, you will be introduced to Basque Culture, meet locals and taste the best of what the city has to offer.
€105/person - 4-6 people
Basque Pintxos Cooking ClassStart the day with a visit to the market to find out which jamón ibérico, or small production olive oil is best. Taste artisanal cheeses straight from the shepherd and try your hand a producing a bar full of the most appealing tapas/pintxos in the unique style of San Sebastian with an expert culinary guide and private chef. Learn the secrets of some of San Sebastian’s most famous bars; recipes, presentation techniques and variations in an entertaining and relaxed atmosphere. A hands-on class followed by a delicious pintxos based meal of your own creation! Wine, lunch and recipes included.
€150/person - 4-6 people
Basque Cooking Class + Private DinnerTwo blocks from the market roll up your sleeves to prepare an exquisite, 4-course meal of fabulous Basque dishes under the guidance of your private chef. Later enjoy the fruits of your labor in a lovely private dining room with specially chosen local wines to compliment the dishes you have prepared. A relaxed and intimate experience that allows a unique glimpse into the Basque kitchen.
€175/person - 4-6 people
The Basque CoastMorning visit to the smallest D.O. wine producing region in Spain, Txakoli of Getaria. Getaria is a charming fishing village on the Cantabrian sea, backed by green hills covered with trellised grape vines. After a guided stroll through the village, you will visit an artisanal tuna and anchovy producer. Later you will be given a private tour of one of the 20 Txakoli wineries. The owner will explain the history and production of this delightful white wine, before a special tasting session accompanied by the highly prized local tuna, which has been caught and hand packed in the village.
€180/person - 4-6 people
A Day In La RiojaA private guide/driver is on hand to whisk you from San Sebastian to the Rioja for a special day of winery visits and an introduction to the rich culinary tradition of the region. You will visit two strikingly different wineries, sampling wines at both. The tastings highlight the dramatic differences between traditional aged wines from the Rioja Alta and the bold fruity wines now popular in the Rioja Alavesa, the Basque Rioja. The visit paints a broad picture of the variety of the techniques and tendencies in today’s Spanish wines. Debate the merits of carbonic maceration or varietal blends over a leisurely lunch of Riojan potatoes with chorizo, roasted red peppers, milk fed lamb and traditional sweets - with wine of course!
€300/person - 4-6 people
Wine Tasting in San Sebastian-DonostiaSpanish wine is on everyone’s lips. See what all the full is about with a guided wine tasting in our private tasting room. Learn the differences between the unique Spanish grapes and their growing regions along with the different aging standards in a fun and lively class with an English speaking enologist. Enjoy some terrific wines and some light tapas with your favorites. A great activity before a Rioja winery tour.
€105/person - 4-6 people
The Art and Craft of Basque Cuisine - Farm VisitsThe stunning green mountains and isolated stone villages set into hidden valleys are out of reach for most travelers to the Basque Country. A full-day excursion during which your private guide/driver will lead you into these communities and introduce you to local cheese makers, bakers and craftsmen. Lunch in a idyllic village along the way.
€235/person - 4-6 people
For more information and reservations, contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Wednesday, March 6, 2013
The corrida de toros, bullfighting, often called a blood sport by its detractors, is one of the most exciting events that taking place during any of Spain's major festivals, such as Sevilla's Feria de Abril, following Semana Santa (Holy Week), Cáceres' Ferias de Cáceres in late May, Madrid's San Isidro Festival for two weeks in May, or Pamplona's world famous Sanfermines and the running of the bulls for eight days in July: Fiesta de San Fermín and the Feria del Toro
The Feria del Toro, the festival of the bull, marks the moment when a matador tests himself or herself against a charging 1200 lb animal is a small ring witness by thousands of spectators. If done correctly, the performance of both matador (toreros) and toro bravo can be a ballet, smooth and flowing. If not, it can be a disaster for either matador or bull, or both.
Granted, not all matadors (toreros) have perfected the art of the estocada, the sword thrust that finally kills the bull, but then again, it's not easy to hit a mark the size of a €2 coin when facing a charging bull. Even harder when you're less than 6'0" tall.
Nothing goes to waste. The meat, and blood, are sold after testing, ending up at the market in a few days and in a good bull stew or a 'Estofado De Rabo De Toro', a couple of days after that. Be sure to try a bull's blood stew if you can find it. It's very popular in Spain during the bullfighting season.
Fighting bulls in Spain, Portugal and France have it far better than the cows (or horses) that eventually end up on your table or at your local burger barn. The toros bravos of Spain are well taken care of during the 4 to 5 years they roam the large ranches in Andalucía, Extremadura, Castilla y León, and even southern Navarra, eating and fighting, the two things they do best. They are well taken care of by the ranches because of their ultimate value, €8,000 to €15,000 each.
These are not farm animals and cannot be used for any purpose other than breeding, producing some of the best beef cows found anywhere in the world. If bullfighting were banned, as some fanatics would like, then this breed of bull would all but vanish in a few years, most ending up facing the same fate as any bull destined for your table. A few others would end up in some zoo, waiting to die of old age.
Tuesday, January 1, 2013
In the land of William the Conqueror, half-timbered houses, Calvados, Camembert and D-Day
through Lower Normandy, From The D-Day Beaches to Flower Coast
Moving south to Basse
To absorb both the
history of the Norman Conquest and WWII’s Battle of Normandy and to experience
a slice of life in the lovely, bucolic Normandy countryside, for our base we
chose the prosperous dairy-farming heartland, Le Pays d’Auge, in the Calvados département. Atmospheric Calvados is the land of verdant
valleys, spotted cows, Camembert cheese, sparkling cider and the apple brandy known
As our home base we
selected a rural gîte, an artfully
renovated former 18th century half-timbered stable, La Vie de Cocagne. It sits directly on the “cider and
calvados” routes and is within easy driving distance of Normandy’s prettiest
villages, orchards and fabled thoroughbred stud farms. And the beaches of the
Floral Coast lie only fifteen minutes away.
From our gîte we filled our market baskets in
postcard pretty Beuvron-en-Auge, Cambremer, Beaumont-en-Auge and Le Bec
Hellouin, some of France’s very most photogenic villages, toured stately
manor homes (Château de Vendeuvre
and Saint-Germain-de-Livet), visited
Henry the Conqueror’s 11th century fortress in Falaise and sampled the area’s acclaimed soft and creamy cheeses in
the villages of Camembert, Livarot and Pont-l’Evêque.
The D-Day Beaches; Omaha, Utah & Pointe du Hoc,
Sword, Gold And Juno
D-day landing beaches and related World War II sites are,
unquestionably, the major points of interest for Americans visiting
Normandy. The long awaited
Operation Overload, the Allied landing on Normandy coast, one of the most important
events of World War II, attracts thousands of visitors year around. Thus, history buffs will want to
dedicate at least three days to the Battle of Normandy sites, as they extend
for some 45 miles along the Atlantic coast.
lovers should not miss the following:
the unforgettable, state-of-the art museum, Caen Peace Memorial,
the lovely city of Bayeux, first-liberated and largely spared of
destruction, with its soaring Gothic cathedral and 1,000 year-old, 230-feet
long embroidered Tapestry that chronicles the story of the Norman
conquest of England, the D-day
Invasion beaches, the
painfully beautiful and poignant American Cemetery on the bluff above
Omaha Beach, the remains of the amazing engineering feat of the massive Port
Winston artificial harbor, “Mulberry B”, at Arromanches,
ground zero for the invasion, the tragic, jagged cliffs of La Point du
Hoc, bravely scaled by U.S. Army Rangers, and the German gun batteries
west on the Cotentin Peninsula, one should also visit Ste. Mére Eglise,
the first village liberated on D-day and where American paratrooper John Steele famously drifted down in the night,
only to be left helplessly entangled on the church steeple, (immortalized in
the movie The Longest Day).
door, visitors will find the fascinating Airborne Museum housed in two
parachute-shaped structures, whose collection is dedication to the aerial
easy and quick access to all the WWII monuments, we advise visitors use the
charming city of Bayeux as their base. Our recommended hotel: the new boutique 4-star Villa Lara, in the heart of the
pleasing old quarter.
also highly encourage visitors to engage the services of one of our recommended
private historian-guides or to take a full day small group minivan tour with
one of our trusted D-day touring companies, whose guides are walking
encyclopedias of the history of Normandy’s chapter in the war.
Along The Flower Coast
an extra bonus, our rental sat just minutes away from the region’s top apple
brandy and cider producer, Domaine Dupont, whose products can be
sampled at Manhattan’s finest restaurants from Eleven Madison Park to Le
we sampled the full line of their wares, from cidre bouché
(praised by Eric Asimov in the NY Times) to 20-year old vintage calvados, along
with pommeau, a blend of apple brandy and apple juice, and crème de
calvados, an irresistibly delicious cream liqueur.
On the Côte
Fleurie (Floral Coast) to the east, often referred to as the Northern
(or Parisian) Riviera, we began in the ultra glamorous Belle Epoque seaside
resort of Deauville.
Here we shopped with the well-dressed locals at its chic outdoor market
in the Place Morny, walked along the famous boardwalk, Promenade
des Planches, and window-shopped its luxury designer boutiques.
At the turn of the
century, Europe’s nobility flocked here to build their exclusive and
extravagant villas-by-the-sea, to race their yachts and patronize this
immaculate city’s elegant Grand Casino, its grand Normandy and Royal Barrière
hotels and its fabled racetracks.
And it is in Deauville where the star-studded American Film Festival is
held each September.
In its neighboring and
less formal sister, Trouville-sur-Mer, across the River Touques,
we enjoyed a Moules-frites feast, facing France’s most elegant fish
market, where one’s dinner comes straight off the boat.
east, we wandered the narrow, atmospheric cobblestone streets and artists’
studios of Honfleur, arguably France’s most picturesque fishing
port and favorite retreat of Impressionist painters. Honfleur was the birthplace of both Impressionist Eugène
Bodin, mentor to Monet, and 19th century composer Erik Satie, and
from here explorer Samuel de Champlain, who founded Quebec in
1608, hoisted sails for his many expeditions to North America.
made sure to pay a visit to Honfleur’s Wednesday organic market on the Place
du Marché and to its 15th century church of Sainte Catherine,
the largest and oldest wooden church in France, built by local shipbuilders,
with naves whose oak ceilings mimic the upturned hulls of sailing ships.
We also found time to
explore the windswept, unspoiled Cotentin peninsula in the Manche
département, reaching the tiny, quiet fishing village of Barfleur
at its northeastern tip, with its grey granite houses softened with white
shutters. It is here where the
Normans prepared for the Battle of Hastings. Nearby we discovered the lovely and equally scenic yachting
port of St-Vaast-la-Hougue, home of France’s finest oysters.
Dining in Basse Normandie
favorite dining experiences were found in St. Vaast at the immaculate,
nautical-themed La Chasse Marée, where we feasted
on spectacular oysters, in quayside Trouville on the terrace of the Art Deco Brasserie
Les Vapeurs, where we devoured the region’s freshest mussels and haddock.
In Cambremer, at the
mother/daughter-run, cozy bistro, Au p’tit Normand and in serene Le
Bec Hellouin, where we discovered an unbeatable value €19, 4-course gourmet
menu at homey Restaurant de la Tour.
Staying in Basse Normandie
3-bedroom, 2-bath home, La Vie de Cocagne, is surrounded by
meadows in an extremely peaceful country setting, just a mile away from the
village of Bonnebosc.
Inside, we found the house eclectically decorated with a funky mix of
contemporary and antique furnishings and very comfortably outfitted for a
week’s stay with all the necessary creature comforts.
well-equipped kitchen, outfitted with stainless steel appliances and a
Nespresso machine, was supplied with all the essentials for creating gourmet
meals, and we found the fridge thoughtfully stocked with basics (including the
famous Norman butter and cider) for our arrival. The open dining/living area offered a dining table for six
and a large lounging space with a soaring beamed ceiling, wood-burning stove,
I-pod dock, wide flat screen TV offering 300 channels and a DVD library. And the Italian slate rain showers in
the downstairs bedrooms came with bathrobes, slippers and toiletries.
amenities included private, secure parking, a garden and terrace complete with
sun loungers, a dining table for six, a barbeque grill and hot tub.
Across the fence, we
found three friendly equine neighbors, a horse and two donkeys (Basil and
Chocolate), who came to greet us each day when we returned from our excursions.
ask Iberian Traveler to create a highly memorable and totally unique Normandy
touring itinerary for you and your friends or family.
Tuesday, December 11, 2012
through Historic Upper Normandy
visitors dedicate just a few days to explore historic Normandy, Iberian
Traveler has prepared an in-depth journey to explore its architectural
treasures, ancient fishing ports, fashionable coastal resorts, and beautiful
rolling farmland of this large and diverse region, and of course, the many
important battleground sites of World War II’s Allied Invasion.
River, flowing northwest from Paris into the English Channel, divides Normandy
into two regions, Haute (Upper) and Basse (Lower) Normandie. Because of its size, your exploration
of Normandy can also be divided into two distinct parts, beginning with four
days in the north, in Haute Normandie
before moving south for another week in Basse Normandie, the picture
postcard world of half-timbered cottages, apple orchards, grazing cows, the
classic Normandy of the four Cs - Cider, Camembert, Calvados and Crème.
begin your exploration in the Norman capital of Rouen, the
lively, cultured gateway city on the banks of the River Seine. Rich in history, it was where William
the Conqueror died in 1087 and where 19th century novelist Gustave Flaubert,
author of Madam Bovary, was born.
Known for its magnificent Gothic spires and superb medieval
architecture, 45% of the city was destroyed by bombing raids during World War
II. But its beautiful medieval
core has been so magnificently restored, it is difficult to imagine the scale
of the damage it suffered during the Battle of Normandy.
Highlights of Rouen, Capital of Haute-Normandie
atmospheric old quarter, Vieux Rouen, is filled with highly
picturesque half-timbered homes, and a fine Musée de Beaux Arts,
richly endowed with the Impressionist masterpieces of Monet, Sisley, Pissarro
and Renoir. Its Ceramic
Museum is devoted to 17th and 18th century Rouen faïence,
decorated earthenware. You’ll also
find the great abbey church of St-Ouen in Vieux Rouen and
of course the sights associated with Jeanne d’Arc (Joan of Arc),
patron saint of France, who was tried for witchcraft and burned at the stake in
the city’s historic market square in 1431.
of the finest church architecture in France can be found in Rouen, in
particular its cathedral, one of Europe’s finest Gothic masterpieces, whose
west façade Monet painted 28 times in his studies of changing light. The
16th century stain glass windows of Eglise Sainte Jeanne d’Arc Rouen, salvaged
from the original church of Saint Vincent, severely damaged in 1944, are
the third day in Rouen you journey eastward by car to the picture perfect
postcard village of Lyons-la-Fôret, chock filled with flower
bedecked 17th century timber framed houses (one, the former residence of
composer Maurice Ravel) and the hamlet used as the set for the Madame
Bovary films. The village sits
within one of Europe’s finest beech grove forest.
Monet’s studio-gardens at Giverny and on to the ruins of Richard
the Lionheart’s Château-Gaillard in Le Petit-Andely.
the fourth day you drive west through the highly scenic Seine valley, exploring
the evocative Romanesque Abbey Route; the haunting ruins of Jumièges,
the abbey church and gardens of St-Georges de Boscherville
and the ruins of St-Wandrille before reaching the dramatic Alabaster
Coast, with its eighty miles of lofty white chalk cliffs, some 120
meters high, reminiscent of the white cliffs of Dover and much loved by the
the pretty port village of Étretat, with its shingle beaches and
colorful timbered houses, on each side of the beach, you see the striking
alabaster cliffs at their most spectacular, where the wind and waves have
carved fascinating rock formations or falaises: arches, tunnels and a
solitary “needle” out to the sea, the Falais d’Aval, immortalized
on so many Impressionists’ canvases.
the ancient cod-fishing port of Fécamp you will sample the “medicinal
elixir”, first concocted from local wild plants by the Bénédictine monk Dom Bernardo Vincelli in the 16th century and
now one of the world’s most famous digestives, B&B, Bénédictine
& Brandy, at the wildly ornate, Neo-Gothic distillery, Le Palais
gastronomic discoveries in Rouen included the sleek contemporary bistro Le
37, 37 rue St-Étienne-des-Tonneliers, opened by Michelin starred chef Gilles Tournadre, and the
charmingly traditional le Bistrot de Panurge on Rue Ecuyère,
where we feasted on its delectable gigot, roast leg of lamb.
You can stop for lunch at the country-cute Le Grand Cerf with
open kitchen in picturesque village of Lyons-la-Fôret, and, on your
fourth day, while on the Côte d’Albâtre,
Alabaster Coast, at the family-owned seafood restaurant-fish market of La
Marée, while visiting Fécamp.
4-day base for exploring Upper Normandy we chose a very charming and slightly
hidden treasure of a B&B, Le Clos Jouvenet. This little
4-room gem is a quite sophisticated yet reasonably priced 19th century mansion
located in a calm, architecturally interesting and well-to-do residential
neighborhood, Quartier Jouvenet, on a hill above the hustle and bustle of the
city. Yet we were within a
15-minute walk of its compact medieval core.
pretty home with its refined décor is surrounded by a walled, tree-filled
garden, making it a haven of tranquility.
From our large, handsome, well-appointed room we enjoyed a view of the
cathedral spires and slept soundly in the comfortable queen bed dressed with
fine linens. The house boasts a cozy upstairs library with computer for guests’
use, a designer-chic, antique-filled living room with open fireplace and a
charming winter garden where guests can relax in the evening and dine on a
light repast of local cheeses, bread and Norman cider purchased at the high
quality neighborhood epicerie, charcuterie and boulangerie.
delicious, gourmet continental-plus breakfasts, elegantly presented on antique
silver, china and crystal, can be taken in the formal dining room or in the
conservatory facing the garden and are included in the room rate. The owners
also provide sun loungers and tables in the well-manicured garden,
complimentary W-Fi and off-street parking.
Clos Jouvenet simply delivered with style all the creature
comforts we needed for a truly perfect stay. Thanks to the genuinely warm
welcome, attention to detail and excellent touring and dining advice from its
gracious hostess, Madame De Witte, we began our Norman adventures on a most
cosseting and relaxing note. We
highly recommend this lovely chambre d’hôte, one of the very finest
European B&Bs we have experienced!
highly recommend a Normandy holiday for all lovers of French art, history and
literature. Ask Iberian Traveler
to prepare a special, very unique, package for you to this captivating
northwestern corner of France
Labels: Alabaster Coast, Cathedral of Rouen, Claude Monet's Gardens, Eglise Sainte Jeanne d’Arc Rouen, Falais d’Aval, Fécamp, Giverny, Le Grand Cerf, Le Petit-Andely, Lyons-la-Fôret, Normandy, Rouen, Étretat