Friday, February 5, 2016

Feria del Toro 2016

Sanfermines and the Running of the Bulls

July 2016 will mark the first appearance of the fighting bulls from the ganadería Pedraza de Yeltes of Salamanca, and the return of the Cebada Gaga and Núñez del Cuvillo toros of Cádiz, for the Feria del Toro de Pamplona, the Festival of the Bull and the encierro, the running of the bulls.

Also returning for the fiesta are the roros bravos from the Miura (Sevilla), Jandilla (Badajoz), Fuente Ymbro (Cádiz), José Escolar Gil (Áliva) and Victoriano del Río (Madrid) ranches, a few of Spain's bravest and most dangerous fighting bulls.

July 7, 2016 will be the 94th anniversayr of the Plaza de Toros de Pamplona under the ownership of the Casa de Misericordia, the House of Mercy, founded in 1706 to care for Pamplona's poor and its seniors.

Exclusive Packages for the Fiesta de San Fermín and the Running of the Bulls:

VIP Packages
For the opening days of the fiesta
4 days / 3 nights
Arriving 5 July 2016
From €2049,98/person, double occupancy

Standard Packages
For the opeing days of the fiesta
4 days / 3 nights
Arriving 5-7 July 2016
From €1349,98/person, double occupancy

Basic Packages
For the opening days of the fiesta
4 days / 3 nights
Arriving 5-7 July 2016
From €1099,98/person, double occupancy

Contact Iberian Traveler to book a package

The Rioja In Winter

Torre de Oña

What to do with 3 days in the Rioja from late January to early March.  Culture, Wine and Gastronomy at its best!

The Rioja is stunningly beautiful even in the dead of winter.  A land of atmospheric fortress towns with medieval walls, the Rioja is filled with Noble homes with heraldic shields, charming family run country inns and rural hotels, Gothic churches and Renaissance Monasteries, dólmenes (ancient burial markers), vibrant boutique wineries, and award winning restaurants serving superb regional Riojan and Basque cuisine.
There are now more than 600 wineries in the three distinct sub zones of the Rioja wine region; the Alta, Baja and Alavesa, and Haro’s Barrio de la Estación is the only place in the world where you can find five major wineries dating back more then 100 years within easy walking distance of each other.  
The following are some of our favorite stops during late winter, or most any other time of the year.

Madrid’s Best Casual Dining

“Foodie” Gastro Bars in the Retiro District

Where Iberian Traveler Dines

Rather than slogging down the always packed tapas bar filled Cava Baja, we highly recommend for a more authentic, non-touristy tapas crawl, or casual gourmet sit-down meal, visitors to the city find their way to the upmarket residential area just east of Retiro Park.  This neighborhood has by far the best taverns per square meter in the entire city, the city’s “golden mile”, for small plates style dining.
Head to the streets of Doctor Castelo, Menorca, Avenida Menéndez Pelayo and Ibiza for great food, fair wine prices, and with each glass of wine, a complimentary small tapa.  
This is the district where we always do our own tapas crawl or casual dining, as the cuisine and ambience are more sophisticated than those found in the La Latina’s more traditional, tourist-filled bars.  The gastro bars/neo tascas here cater to the well-heeled, food-savvy, local crowd, including food bloggers/professional critics, and chefs on their nights out.

Monday, December 28, 2015

In The Heart of the Basque Cider Country

The vast majority of authentic Basque cider houses, Sidrerías, or sargardotegiak in Basque, are located in Gipúzkoa (156), with the largest concentration being in the village of Astigarraga, just outside of Donostia-San Sebastián.  In addition, there are 52 cider houses in Bizkaia, 8 in Álava/Araba, 26 in Navarra/Iruña and 7 in Iparralde, in the French Basque Country.  The cider houses are very popular with local families and groups of friends, especially on weekends.

Some are open for visits in December, but the actual cider season doesn't begin until January, with most opening the last two weeks of the month.  A few are open all year.  Cider houses can be quite rustic, some being located down narrow country roads, making them difficult to find.

A Visit To An Authentic Basque Cider House

Apples are harvested in August, the juice left to ferment from September to November, but each year, between January and March, before the cider is bottled, the ritual tasting is carried out.  Cider, having been consumed in the Basque Country since at least the 12th century, is an emblem of its culture.

All cider house menus are essentially the same: tortilla de bacalao (cod omelette), sometimes a cod with green pepper dish, bacalao con pimientos verdes, a massive chuletón, or T-bone of veal or ox, and Idiazábal cheese, walnuts and honey with quince paste for dessert, as well as all the hard cider you can drink, for a fixed price of 28€ to 35€ a person.  A few cider houses also offer à la carte fish dishes.

Cider is ordered by the bottle or the glass in a restaurant, but in traditional cider houses the custom is to stand while eating.  Plates of food are placed on long wooden communal tables and when the gigantic wooden barrels of cider lining the walls are unplugged, and someone yells mojón in Spanish, or txotx in Basque, txotx being the wooden plug of the barrel, diners rush with glass in hand to the barrels.  Cider gushes out in a arc stream and everyone queues up to fill his glass, but always holding it at knee level to create froth and release its bouquet.  The more height on the pour, the better, since it gives the drink some fizz, and it should be drunk in very small amounts and downed immediately.  Then diners go back to the tables to continue their eating until the next mojón.  It's a very dress down affair because you'll be splashed again and again.  It’s quite messy.  One should also wear sturdy shoes.

A Bacchanalian feast, it’s a messy and highly entertaining, convivial experience that shouldn’t be missed if you’re game for an excursion into San Sebastián’s nearby countryside.

One of the most noted Sidrerías in Astigarraga is Zapiain, open only in the evenings between January 19 and April 30, except on Sunday, when it's open year round.  In neighboring Hernani there's Zelaia, at Martindegi, 29, again, open January 19-April 30, year round on Sundays.

Sagardotegia Petritegí is the most tourist-friendly of the cider houses in Astigarraga.  Surrounded by hectares of apple orchards, it is open all year long, not just during the traditional cider season.  Tours of its facilities are available for a minimum of 4 people.  The "Essential" tour is 13,50€.  Closed Monday mornings.

Its delicious five cider house menus range from 28,50€ to 36€ for adults, with children's menus for 11€ and 23,45€.  And if you're not a cider fan, you can simply taste and pair your menu with red wine.  Seating is around traditional large, communal, bare wood tables.  Take a taxi.  Although there is usually enough space to go without a reservations, you may want to call ahead: (+34) 943 457 188, or reserve online.

If you don't make it to the cider country, but want to try a typical cider house meal in San Sebastián, then try the Sidrería Beharri at Calle Narrika, 22, in the Parte Vieja, the old quarter.  Open daily.

Bilbao has its own typical cider house, also open all year, Sidrería Kiskia, at Pérez Galdós, 51, near the San Mamés soccer stadium.  Closed on Sundays and Monday evening.

In Vitoria-Gasteiz you can sample the menu, and cider, at Sidrería Soka Tira, Las Trianas, 15.

Contact Iberian Traveler - Maribel's Guides if you would like to arrange a visit to San Sebastián-Donostia for the Cider Season or for the Tamborrada in January.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Four Nights in the Rioja

A Luxurious Weekend Wine Touring In The Rioja

  • VIP Wine Tastings
  • Private Chauffeur
  • Luxury Accommodations 
  • Gourmet Dining
The Rioja is one of the Spain's most beautiful wine regions, and a must for lovers of great food and legendary wine.  The area has always played a vital role in Spain’s long history, from the Phoenicians and Carthaginians to the Romans, Moors and medieval Crusaders.  Wineries dating from the time of the Romans still exist in and around the region.   Wine making nearly disappeared during the time of the Moors, but returned with the Christian Crusaders, who help bring trade to the region.
The wine growing region of the Rioja (Alta, Baja and Alavesa), extends approximately 120 km along both sides of the historic River Ebro, running from the northwest to the southeast, and is only 50 km wide at its widest point.  The Rioja Alta and Alavesa, bounded on the north by the Sierra de Cantabria mountains and by the Demanda and Urbión mountain ranges to the south, where the peak of San Lorenzo, near Ezcary, reaches a height of 2271 meters (7450 ft), the region's weather is influenced by the Cantabrian Sea, only an hours drive north.  The Rioja Baja, lower and drier then the Alta and Alavesa, is strongly influenced by the warmer Mediterranean climate.

4-night Rioja Wine Tour - Package Pricing:
2 People - 1100€/day/person
4 People - 800€/day/person
6 People - 700€/day/person
8 People - 650€/day/person

Private Guided Tours available March-Novermber
Day by Day Itinerary:
Thursday - Day One
Arrive at the Bilbao airport.  Your driver/guide will meet you upon arrival and take you to the nearby village of Larrabetzu (Lezama) for a truly gastronomic delight at the only restaurant in the province with three Michelin stars, Azurmendi Gourmet, acclaimed the third best restaurant in the world.  You will have the opportunity to meet internationally acclaimed chef Eneko Atxa during your visit.  Before lunch you are invited to visit the largest txakoli wine celler in the Basque region, Bodegas Gorka Izaqirre.
Following lunch, your driver/guide will take you to the 4-star luxury boutique Hotel Viura in the village of Villabuena de Álava, the perfect spot from which to tour the vineyards and bodegas of the Rioja Alta and Alavesa.
Friday - Day Two
You begin your day in the village of Villabuea de Álava itself with a tour and tasting at the acclaimed Bodegas Luis Cañas.  The 90-minute tour includes a visit to the view point overlooking the vineyards where you will taste the wine, discuss the influence of the climate and learn about the characteristics of the soil and the different grape varieties, finishing the tour with a tasting of the their reserve wine in the wine bar.
Your next visit will be in the nearby village of Samaniego, with its noble mansions amid a stunning setting.  Your second wine tour will be at the cellars of Remirez de Ganuza, where the winemaker will take you on a guided tour of the vineyard were you will learn about Rioja’s native grape varietals and their style of viticulture, followed by a private VIP tasting of the bodegas outstanding, award winning wines.
Lunch today will be at Restaurant Héctor Oribe in the village of Páganos, near the fortress city of Laguardia, the capital of the Rioja Alavesa.
Following lunch you will visit the wine estate of Torre de Oña in Páganos.  The two-hour tour includes a walk through the vineyards and visit to the winery.
Saturday - Day Three
This morning you will start the day in Haro at the “Barrio de la Estación”, where you will visit Bodegas López de Heredia-Viña Tondonia one of the most prestigious wine produces in the Rioja Alta, and the most traditional.  The 90-minute tour will end with a tasting in the Zaha Hadid-designed glass wine pavilion, and includes a complimentary bottle of wine.  
Your second visit will be at Bodegas Roda, which is next door to López de Heredia.   Your luxury private visit will last two hours and includes a tasting of four premium wines.  You can also taste their artisan olive oils, Dauro and Aubocassa, two of the best in Spain.
Lunch today will be at Las Duelas Restaurant of the Hotel Agustinos in Haro, considered to be the best place to dine in the city. 
Following lunch, you will have an afternoon visit Bodegas Viña Real, a state-of-the-art winery designed in the shape of a wine barrel by Bordeaux-based architect Philippe Mazières.  The winery belongs to the C.V.N.E. Group.
Sunday - Day Four
This morning you start the day with a visit to Bodegas Baigorri.  Founded in 1996, this strikingly contemporary winery was designed by the Basque architect Iñaki Aspiazu, with the winemaking process completely gravity fed.  The tour begins in the glass cube and decends seven levels, to a depth of 35 meters.
Today’s second visit will be at Bodegas Ostatu, which is across the highway from Baigorri.  After a tasting of their outstanding wines, you will visit the midieval walled village of Laguardia before heading to Elciego for lunch.
Lunch will be at the Frank Gehry designed Marqués de Riscal in Elciego in the Michelin star and Repsol sun-awared Restaurant Marques de Riscal, with cuisine created by chef Francis Paniego of Restaurant Echaurren in Ezcaray, the first chef in the Rioja to receive a Michelin star.  
After lunch, you will tour the "City of Wine" and the oldest cellars of Marqués de Riscal, dating from 1858, before returning to your hotel.
Monday - Day FiveAfter breakfast, your driver/guide will return you to Bilbao for your flight home, or to continue your adventure.

What’s Included:
  • Accommodations for 4 nights at a luxury boutique hotel in the Rioja, deluxe room
  • Private transfers
  • English speaking chauffeur/guide
  • Breakfast daily at the hotel
  • Gourmet lunch at Restaurant Azurmendi, 3 Michelin stars
  • Lunch daily
  • VIP wine tastings
  • Local taxes
What’s Not Included:
  • International and domestic flights
  • Meals and drinks not specified
  • Personal expenses
  • Tips and Gratuities
  • Travel Insurance (highly recommended)
  • Trip Cancellation Insurance

Thursday, September 3, 2015

The Running of the Bulls 2016

Iberian Traveler is once again offering its Special 4-Day/3-Night VIP Packages for the opening days of the Fiesta de San Fermín and the Running of the Bulls in 2016.

Come for the adventure... run with the bulls

Iberian Traveler, through Sanfermín Tours, offers clients the opportunity to join Peña Seattle de Sanfermines on a private balcony overlooking the Town Hall Square for the start of another exciting celebration of one of the world’s most popular festivals.
The Fiesta de San Fermín and the Feria del Toro, the Festival of the Bull, which dates from the 14th century.  Sanfermines, as the festival is known locally, and the encierro, the running of the bulls, was first introduced to the world in Ernest Hemingway’s 1926 novel “The Sun Also Rises” (Fiesta) and continues to drawn visitors from around the world.
The fiesta begins at noon on the 6th of July with the opening ceremony, the firing of the rockets, “el chupinazo”, and ends at midnight of the 14th with the "pobre de mi,” the candlelight ceremony, which also marks the beginning of the countdown to Sanfermines 2017.

Iberian Traveler's Special Hotel Packages for the opening days of the fiesta includes select hotels in the old quarter and the city center.

Hotels in the Old Quarter
4-star luxury hotel – Offering single & double occupancy rooms, suites available
4-star hotel – Choose a single, double or triple occupancy room, superior rooms available

Hotels in the City Center
4-star hotel – Choose from single, double, triple and quad occupancy rooms.  Junior suites are available.

The VIP Program includes:
5 July - Private transfer from Pamplona's airport or train station to your hotel
5 July - An official pañuelo and tour shirt from Peña Seattle
6 July - Breakfast at the hotel
6 July, 10:00 am - Chupinazo Program - enjoy the opening ceremony from a private balcony in the town hall square
6 July, 1:30 pm - Special Celebration Lunch of traditional Navarran cuisine
7 July, 7:00 am - Balcony reservations for the first encierro
7 July, 8:30 am - Special breakfast following the running of the bulls
7 July, 10:00 am - Join the Procession of San Fermín as it moves through the old city, or join your guide for a tour of the old quarter
8 July, 7:00 am - Balcony reservations for the second encierro
8 July, 8:30 am - Special breakfast following the second running of the bulls.
8 July - Private transfer to Pamplona's airport or train station to continue your adventure in Spain, Portugal or France.
3-night Standard and Basic Hotel Packages for the opening days of the fiesta are also available beginning the 5th of July. 

The crowd in the town hall square for the opening ceremony

Additional Standard and Basic Hotel Packages are available from 8 to 14 July with a 2-night minimum stay.
Iberian Traveler welcomes individuals, friends and families, and those walking the Camino de Santiago, to join us, and Peña Seattle de Sanfermines, in July for the fiesta.
Bullfight tickets are available from 6-14 July - Tendido, Grada and Andanada sombra (shade) seating.

Contact Iberian Traveler at or visit for additional hotel package information.

Friday, June 5, 2015

The Cartel for Sanfermines 2015 has been announced!


Domingo 5 de julio 2015 a las 19:30
Novillos de “El Parralejo”, de Zufre (Huelva) para los novilleros: Posada de Maravillas, Varea y Roca Rey.

Lunes 6 de julio 2015
Toros de Capea, de San Pelayo de Guareña (Salamanca), para los caballeros rejoneadores: Pablo Hermoso de Mendoza, Sergio Galán y Roberto Armendáriz

Martes 7 de julio 2015
Toros de Jandilla, de Mérida (Badajoz), para Juan José Padilla, Pepe Moral y Alberto López Simón.

Miércoles 8 de julio 2015
Toros del Tajo y Toros de la Reina, de Trujillo (Cáceres), para Antonio Ferrera, Morenito de Aranda y Jiménez Fortes.

Jueves 9 de julio 2015
Toros de Victoriano del Río, de Guadalix (Madrid), para Sebastián Castella, Iván Fandiño y Alejandro Talavante. 

Viernes 10 de julio 2015
Toros de Fuente Ymbro, de San José del Valle (Cádiz), para Miguel Abellán, Miguel Ángel Perera e Iván Fandiño. 

Sábado 11 de julio 2015
Toros de José Escolar Gil, de Lanzahíta (Ávila), para Francisco Marco, Luis Antonio Gaspar “Paulita” y Paco Ureña. 

Domingo 12 de julio 2015
Toros de los Herederos del Excmo. Sr. Conde de la Maza, de Morón (Sevilla), para Eugenio de Mora, Antonio Nazaré y Juan del Álamo.

Lunes 13 de julio 2015
Toros de Garcigrande y Domingo Hernández, de Alaraz (Salamanca), para Juan José Padilla, Julián López “El Juli” y Miguel Ángel Perera.

Martes 14 de julio 2015
Toros de Miura, de Lora del Río (Sevilla), para Manuel Escribano, Luis Bolívar y Salvador Cortés