Day 1 - Sunday, September 23:
Evening departure from Toronto to Barcelona with Air Canada. An apéritif, dinner, and a light breakfast will be served on board.
Day 2 - Monday, September 24:
Morning arrival in Barcelona, arriving around noon. Transfer to the centrally located Hotel Arc de la Rambla. Check in, followed by free time to settle in and get some rest after the overnight flight. In late afternoon, leisurely introductory walk along the lively Rambla Boulevard to Catalonia Square. This evening, welcome drink (Sangria, perhaps?), followed by dinner in a typical restaurant.
A note on our hotel: location, location, location! Hotel Arc de la Rambla is located in the heart of Barcelona, close to La Rambla Boulevard, La Boqueria market, the Gothic Quarter, Plaza de Catalunya, the Columbus Monument and the harbour. Nearby you will find jazz and flamenco clubs, tapas bars, museums such as the Maritime Museum, art galleries, Gaudi’s Palacio Guëll, plenty of shops, and even outdoor arts and crafts fairs. The hotel is modern and clean, with breakfast served daily.
Day 3 - Tuesday, September 25:
After breakfast, walking tour of the historical city centre, the Gothic Quarter. The major sights of the Barri Gotic are Placa Nova, the Cathedral with its Catalan Gothic interior and fine cloister, an oasis of greenery inhabited by a flock of geese, Placa del Rei with Roman and medieval buildings such as the Chapel of St. Agatha, 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. This evening, dinner in another local restaurant in the vicinity of our hotel.
Day 4 - Wednesday, September 26:
This morning we visit the Picasso Museum, housed in a wonderful Gothic palace of the old town. Afterwards we continue to the Gothic 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. This afternoon will be our first three hour tapas food tour where we will combine the best of Spanish tapas and drinks as we explore old Barcelona. The experience starts down by the water, overlooking Barcelona’s marina. It is here that we share some of the intertwined history and culture of the areas, to set the scene for the rest of the afternoon. Over the next few hours we visit three more tapas food stops, savoring dishes from different parts of Spain and enjoying the drinks that are paired with them. The final stop is at a 16th Century bodega to indulge in a delicious lunch washed down with lashes of beautiful Spanish red wine. Throughout the experience, we will share insightful stories about the origin of the dishes and drinks, as well as the history, culture & traditions of the city. Needless to say, no group dinner this evening.
Day 5 - Thursday, September 27:
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).
Day 6 - Friday, September 28:
Breakfast followed by a tour of the Santa Caterina Market, where the group will indulge in different specialties such as: olive oil, olives, jamon, tomatoes, manchego cheese, chorizo & vinegar, all while learning about the diverse geography of Spain & where the produce comes from. Afterwards we will make our way to an historical venue, were we will be welcomed with a glass of cava as we learn how to make some of Spain’s most loved dishes. Useful insights into making Mediterranean cuisine are gained with this hands-on cooking experience, before sitting down to enjoy our hard earned lunch served with wine. This afternoon we visit the superb Maritime Museum in the historical shipyards. Rest of the day at leisure but tonight we attend a flamenco show!
Day 7 - Saturday, September 29:
This morning we will enjoy a 3 hour tour around the Gothic & Born neighborhoods, learning about and enjoying the best of Spanish desserts. We start by taking our freshly made churros from a 3rd generation chuerria to a ‘granja’ that’s been running since 1872 to dip them in their beautiful, thick hot chocolate. We visit a neighborhood favorite bakery to indulge in their beloved ‘coca de crema’ before going to an award-winning patisserie. We then sit in a 16th century bodega for some typical Catalan desserts: ‘crema catalana’ and ‘tostadas de chocolate’. We finish our experience with a tour of the Chocolate museum. Throughout the morning we will learn about the history and stories behind these delicious sweets and the establishments we visit. We end the tour with a traditional bocadillo (Spanish sandwich). In the afternoon we have an excursion to the Benedictine Monastery high in the Montserrat Mountains; a national sanctuary as well as the major cultural centre of Catalonia and the home of La Moreneta, the Black Madonna, who serves as the Catalan patron saint.
Day 8 - Sunday, September 30:
Today is set aside entirely for individual activities. Our suggestion: a visit to the City History Museum and/or the National Museum of Catalan Art with its superb Romanesque and Gothic collections, and of course a visit to one of Gaudi’s other famous creations, such as La Pedrera, Casa Mila, or Guëll Palace. You may want to consider a side trip, or a train ride along the Mediterranean to visit the Salvador Dali Museum in Figures. Or there’s the opportunity to attend mass in the cathedral; whether you do or not, after mass one can watch the Sardana, the traditional dance of Catalonia, being performed by hundreds of people in the square in front of the Cathedral! This afternoon or evening there may be an opportunity to attend a classical music concert or an exciting game of soccer, featuring the local team, CF Barcelona, the 2006 European Champions!
Day 9 - Monday, October 01:
After breakfast we will embark on a journey that takes us back in time to the beautiful Modernism era in Barcelona, as we discover the people of the bourgeois scene, the architects, like Antoni Gaudi, they commissioned and the stories behind the creation of the most iconic buildings of the modernist movement in Barcelona; Casa Battlo, Casa Lleo i Morera, La Pedrera and Casa Amatller. We enjoy our bourgeois journey in style, the same as the millionaires of the time did. We start with oysters & cava in a period beautiful bar, followed by an artisanal chocolate tasting in a beautiful modernist gem. All this before we indulge in a spectacular 6 course lunch at an award-winning Michelin-starred restaurant. We round off our lovely day in the life of the rich & famous, on a rooftop bar that overlooks the city. This is where you can relax as you take in the beautiful views of Barcelona one last time! The rest of the day is for your leisure to do any last minute shopping or sightseeing.
Day 10 - Tuesday, October 02:
Following an early breakfast, transfer to the airport and return flight to Toronto.