Enjoy the mild Mediterranean climate, cultural treasures, and fine food of Barcelona, the vibrant capital of Spain’s independent-minded province of Catalonia, truly one of Europe’s most beautiful and exciting cities. We enjoy all the major sights, such as the Sagrada Familia Church, a creation of world-famous local architect Gaudi, and visit fine museums and art galleries, devoted to masters like Picasso, Miro, and Dali. The tour will be escorted by historian Jacques R. Pauwels, PhD, who will lecture on the history and culture of Barcelona and Spain in general.
Around 9PM, departure on Air Canada’s non-stop flight from Toronto to Barcelona. Dinner and a light breakfast will be served on board.
Late morning arrival in Barcelona, and short transfer to the excellent, traditionally Spanish 4-star/first class Hotel Colon (www.colonhotelbarcelona.com/), located in the heart of the old town, facing the Cathedral. Please note that the overwhelming majority of guest comments on Trip Advisor rate the Colon as either “excellent” or “very good,” which are the two highest categories. Free time to settle in and get some rest after your overnight flight. In late afternoon, leisurely introductory walk through the historic Gothic Quarter and via the lively Rambla Boulevard, finishing with a welcome drink (Sangria, perhaps?) in one of the cafés on Catalonia Square. Dinner in the restaurant of our hotel.
After breakfast, walking tour of the historical city centre, the Gothic Quarter. The major sights of the Barri Gotic are the Cathedral with its Catalan Gothic interior and fine cloister, an oasis of greenery inhabited by...a flock of geese, Placa Reial with Roman and medieval buildings such as the Chapel of St. Agatha, the 14th -century Church of Sta Maria del Pi, and Placa Reial, a vast pedestrian square lined by palm trees. We conclude this morning’s sightseeing with a visit to the colourful Boqueria Market. Afternoon at leisure. No group dinner today.
Full-day panoramic sightseeing tour by private coach. Among the highlights will be Gaudi’s fabulous Guëll Park and his amazing Sagrada Familia Church; Passeig de Gracia Boulevard with many examples of modernist architecture; Montjuic mountain overlooking the city and the harbour; the Olympic Stadium, venue of the 1992 Olympics; Placa de Espana and the site of the 1929 World Fair; and the Miro Foundation, devoted entirely to the work of this great avant-garde Catalan artist who was born in this city in 1893 (he died in 1983). No group dinner, but an optional dinner will be offered in one of the city’s highly-rated gourmet restaurants
After breakfast, excursion by private coach to the Benedictine Monastery of Montserrat, situated high in the rugged Montserrat mountains that rise behind Barcelona (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santa_Maria_de_Montserrat_Abbey). This is the national sanctuary as well as the major cultural centre of Catalonia and the home of La Moreneta, the Black Madonna, the Catalan patron saint. Lunch of traditional Catalan specialties in a country restaurant. Return to Barcelona and free afternoon. Tonight, optional Flamenco show, with or without dinner!
This morning we visit the Picasso Museum, housed in a Gothic palace of the old town. Afterwards we continue to the wonderful Church of Santa Maria del Mar and explore the surrounding Born district, Barcelona’s “Soho,” teeming with quaint little shops and attractive cafés patronized by designers, artists, and students. We finish around noon in the picturesque Barceloneta district near the old harbour, where you may want to remain to enjoy a seafood lunch in one of the many attractive restaurants. Rest of the day at leisure.
Full-day excursion to the town of Figueras, in the Costa Brava area, home of the “Theatre-Museum,” an exuberant institution devoted to the work of the great surrealist artist Salvador Dali, who was born here (www.salvador-dali.org/museus/teatre-museu-dali/en_index). In the afternoon, on the way back to Barcelona, we briefly visit the beautiful old town of Girona (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Girona).
This morning we take a walk along prestigious Passeig de Gracia avenue, a shopwcase of modernist architecture, exemplified most spectacularly by Gaudi’s fabulous house, originally known as Casa Mila but now called La Pedrera, “the quarry,” which we will visit. The rest of the day is free to shop, explore the city on your own, or visit museum such as the National Museum of Catalan Art with its superb Romanesque and Gothic collections. This weekend it may also be possible to enjoy a classical music concert in a prestigious venue such as the Palau de Musica and/or attend a game of Spain’s world-famous soccer league, featuring the local team, FC Barcelona, with superstars such as Lionel Messi, in the legendary Nou Camp Stadium.
Your last day in Barcelona is entirely at leisure, except for this evening’s Hasta la Vista dinner in a typical restaurant.
Following breakfast, transfer to the airport and non-stop return flight to Toronto with Air Canada, departing around noon and arriving around 4PM.
- Return flight Toronto-Barcelona with Air Canada; - Accommodation based on double occupancy in the 4-star/first-class Hotel Colon; the single room supplement is $575; - Breakfast daily and a total of four dinners or lunches; - Overland transportation by private coach; - All sightseeing as outlined in the itinerary, including admission to museums and monuments mentioned.
-***The usual combination of airport taxes, security fees and fuel surcharges, presently (June 2016) approximately $400, but subject to change. - All items of a personal nature. - Beverages with dinners, and meals other than those outlined above. - Travel Insurance, available upon request.
Colman Andrews, Catalan Cuisine: Vivid Flavors from Spain’s Mediterranean Coast
Juan Bassegoda Nonell and Melba Levick, Antonio Gaudi: Master Architect
Simon Harris, Catalonia is Not Spain: A Historical Perspective
George Orwell, Homage to Catalonia
William H. Robinson, Barcelona and Modernity: Picasso, Gaudi, Miro, Dali
Rick Steves, Rick Steves’ Barcelona
Colm Toibin, Homage to Barcelona
March 02 - 19, 2021
$4,995 from Toronto based on double occupancy
March 05 - 18, 2021
Land only: $3,010
April 13 - 26, 2021
$4,895 from Toronto, including air, based on double occupancy