Join tour host Lori Chisholm for a foodies’ exploration of Basque Country, Spain. The pintxos* culture dominates the gastronomy scene here: enjoy small bite after small bite as we taste our way around the neighbourhoods of the two beautiful cities of Bilbao and San Sebastian. Learn about their history and architecture, visit markets, and create our own pintxos with a professional chef. Spend a day in the Rioja wine region and another in a biosphere reserve. Dine at both a Michelin star restaurant and at a farm. Shop in your free time or visit galleries and museums.
Please note: Most meals will include fish and/or shellfish. If you are allergic to seafood or don’t like seafood, this trip is not for you. *Pintxos are small bites, usually bread-based, made with local ingredients such as tuna, ham, beef, and seafood.
October 16 - 25, 2019
If paying the full amount by cash or cheque, deduct $140 from the tour cost.
*If the tour is SOLD OUT, please contact us to be added to the waitlist.
Meet at our 4 star hotel, Silken Indautxo (http://www.hotelessilken.com/destinos/bilbao/), located in the city centre. The group will gather in the hotel bar at 6pm for cocktails and greetings. Then, we’ll head off for our pintxos tour with my friend Elke Panneels who will introduce us to the essentials of this incredible food culture. We’ll eat and drink our way to the Old Town of Bilbao learning about wine, cider and the iconic traditional and modern small bites.
After breakfast, we will explore the Old Town, including a visit to the food market. These are Bilbao’s origins. Afterwards, we will make our way to theEnsanche, the area built in the late 19thand early 20thcenturies and the actual centre of town. Bilbao has won awards for its successful transformation from an industrial city to a service-based centre. Key to this success was the Abandoibarra neighbourhood, playground of architects like Gehry, Moneo and Pelli. The rest of the day is free.
After breakfast, we will use the morning to visit the Guggenheim Museum for a private guided visit. We’ll be on our own for lunch and the afternoon but will re-group at the hotel at 5 pm to experience our cooking class with an award-winning chef. Tonight we will be busy in the kitchen with a good glass of wine and learn about the secrets of Basque cuisine. Naturally, we will sit down together to enjoy the results of our work!
Today after breakfast, we embark on our first wine journey which will lead us to a beautifully designed winery in oak-forested biosphere reserve Urdaibai. On our way, we will be stopping off at Guernica, where the Assembly House and sculptures of Chillida and Henry Moore stand. It is a unique opportunity to explore this stunning region with our cultural guide and to discover Txakoli, an unusual Basque white wine. Our award-winning sommelier and winemaker will activate all your senses during our tasting of Txakoli, made with the unique Basque grape variety Hondarribi Zuri and of limited production. We get a taste of a region rich in history and biodiversity, matched with a wine as enticing as its surroundings. A gourmet lunch is part of the adventure!
Today after breakfast, Elke will be taking us on our full-day Rioja wine adventure: “Awash with rolling vineyards, quaint medieval hilltop towns and striking state-of-the-art wineries, La Rioja is a wine lover´s dream destination. Spain´s prestigious wine region is home to more than 150 wineries and winemaking infuses its soul and terraced landscape. In the last years the innovative spirit that has been blowing through La Rioja bodegas, has created superb red wines, but also eye-catching design.” We’ll enjoy the beautiful scenery, visit lovely LaGuardia and several wineries, and indulge in a gourmet lunch.
After breakfast and check out, we’ll head east by private coach to San Sebastian. On the way, we’ll visit another txakoli producer to taste the lovely DOC white wine of this region. Afterwards, near Getaria, we’ll have a tasting lunch at Elkano, a Michelin-starred restaurant famed internationally for its grilled turbot. From Getaria, we’ll move on to the resort city of San Sebastian, our home for the next 4 days (https://www.barcelo.com/en-gb/barcelo-hotels/hotels/spain/san-sebastian/barcelo-costa-vasca/). The evening is free to begin our pintxos exploration.
Today mid-morning, we’ll have an introductory walking tour of this elegant city with its gorgeous Playa de la Concha, lovely parks and quaint old town. Our guide will highlight the architecture, history and culture, and of course point out her favourite pintxos bars. We’ll be free for lunch but will be gathering together late in the afternoon for an unusual dinner experience in the countryside. We’ll take our private coach to a sagardotegi– a cider farm - where we will have a tour, a tasting, and a traditional meal with fish and steak. We’ll learn the txotx ritual of cider tasting – you are not going to believe this experience!
Today is totally free and what you do is up to you. Book a day tour to Biarritz, France or join a bike tour or a hiking tour. Take another cooking class – this is the food mecca of Europe with more Michelin stars per capita than any other city in the world! Take the funicular up to Monte Igueldo. Shop. Hang out at the beaches. Siesta! Book a fancy dinner at one of many Michelin-starred restaurants.
Today mid-afternoon, we’ll head east along the coast to the colourful port town of Hondarribia. We’ll have the afternoon to visit the old town inside the fortified walls, and explore the Marina neighbourhood with its fabulous restaurants and competitive pintxos bars. The beach is beautiful and there is a coastal hike. We’ll enjoy our farewell dinner at a renowned Basquais restaurant before heading back late to the guesthouse to finish up our packing.
Tour ends this morning. Check-out is noon.
- 9 nights’ accommodation in centrally-located, 4-star hotels - All private coach transportation in Spain (upon arrival at the Bilbao hotel until check-out in San Sebastian) - 9 breakfasts - Welcome cocktails - Welcome dinner (pintxos tour) - Farewell dinner at a traditional Basquais restaurant - Private city tour of Bilbao with headsets - Private city tour of San Sebastian - Private cooking class with dinner and wine - Private Urdaibai tour with art and winery visits and gourmet lunch - Private, full-day Rioja tour with winery visits, tastings and gourmet lunch - Private winery visit, followed by lunch at a Michelin-starred restaurant (Getaria) - Private cider house visit followed by dinner - Day trip to Hondarribia - Admission to and private tour of Guggenheim Museum - Driver and guide gratuities - Lounge pass for Toronto airport if you book your flights from Toronto with Pauwels
- Flights to and from Spain - Transfers to and from the airport to hotel - All expenses of a personal nature - Meals other than those mentioned above - Beverages with meals other than as per itinerary - Travel insurance: please phone the office for rates
March 05 - 14, 2020
Land only: $3,345.
March 31 - April 04, 2020
$1,575 CAD taxes included based on double occupancy
April 14 - 27, 2020
$4,895 from Toronto, including air, based on double occupancy