12 Days Madrid to Seville.
Highlights Include: Madrid, Toledo, Caceres, Cazalla de la Sierra, Sanlucar la Mayor, Seville, Cordoba, Lucena, Osuna, Sanlucar de Barrameda, Jerez de la Fontera.
A 12-day itinerary with particular focus on the gastronomic highlights of Spain.
Spain – A Culinary Experience
DAY 1 ARRIVE MADRID, SPAIN: On arrival in Madrid transfer to your hotel in the city center and have time at leisure before meeting your tour director and fellow travelers for a unique introduction to the wines of Spain in a private tasting followed by dinner, which involves a tasting of Spanish “tapas”.
Hotel Name: Hotel Ritz. (D)
DAY 2 MADRID / TOLEDO / MADRID: This morning you travel out of Madrid to the province of Toledo, gateway to La Mancha, land of Don Quixote and the finest of all Spanish cheeses. You visit a farm where the sheep are milked twice daily to produce this unique cheese before going to another property where saffron, the greatest of all Spanish spices is produced exactly as it was hundreds of years ago. Later, proceed to Toledo itself, city of El Greco, and where the most delicious marzipan made from fresh almonds and honey has been made since Moorish times. The evening is free to dine where you please.
Hotel Name: Hotel Ritz. (B/L)
DAY 3 MADRID / CACERES: Today head south west from Madrid, first to Malpica del Tajo to visit one of the most prestigious names in Spanish wine, Carlos Falcó Marques de Griñón, producing quite outstanding varietal wines in a region hitherto unknown for quality. After a light lunch in a local inn you continue into the land which was the birthplace of Conquistadores such as Cortés and Pizarro, visiting the delightful hill town of Trujillo, where the local specialty is a liqueur made from acorns! Continue to the UNESCO World Heritage city of Cáceres, famed for one of the most outstanding restaurants in all Spain, “Atrio” presided over by the star chef Toño Perez, with 2 Michelin stars and absolute top rating in Spain’s most important gourmet guide. Here you dine tonight.
Hotel Name: NH Palacio de Oquendo. (B/L/D)
DAY 4 CACERES / CAZALLA DE LA SIERRA: The road runs south through countryside filled with the evergreen oaks that produce the acorns which are the secret to the flavor of the exquisite “pata negra” hams appreciated by every Spaniard. In the hilltop village of Montanchez visit one of the most prestigious establishments to learn how this unique delicacy is produced. Then on through the rice paddies of Almendralejo to Mérida, once one of the most important Roman cities in Spain, where you have time to visit the superb Roman theater.
During the afternoon you enter the hill country of the Sierra Morena where your goal is the enchanting, centuries-old manor house of “Trasierra” which will be your home for the next two nights. You dine this evening in the elegant dining room of this unique property.
Hotel Name: Trasierra. (B/L/D)
DAY 5 CAZALLA DE LA SIERRA: A day to relax and enjoy the experience of staying in some of the most attractive surroundings in all Spain. There will be time to walk in the woods, stroll in the village of Cazalla de la Sierra, visit the delightful parish church and the former Carthusian monastery before sampling a simple lunch of real local cuisine in the shape of the tapas for which the Bar Los Mellis is renowned and accompanied of course by the local wine. Returning to Trasierra in the afternoon it is time to rest before taking part in a cooking class presided over by television chef Gioconda Scott, daughter of your hostess Charlotte Scott. Charlotte has lived in Spain for many years and created this extraordinary oasis combining the charm of a whitewashed Andalusian farmhouse with exquisite interior decoration, which has featured in the world’s top design magazines.
Hotel Name: Trasierra. (B/L/D)
DAY 6 CAZALLA DE LA SIERRA / SANLUCAR LA MAYOR: After a leisurely start, today the road leads south towards Seville, capital of Andalucía. Your next port of call is the Cortijo El Esparragal, one of the most exquisitely beautiful country houses in Andalucía and home of one of the most prestigious studs breeding the superb Spanish horses. Here you will have an opportunity to sample delicious wines from nearby Jerez while watching a unique equestrian display of riders and horses from the stud on the lawns in front of the house. This will be followed by a sampling of perhaps the most famous of all Spanish dishes, paella (but not too much, since appetites should be prepared for this evening’s feast!). A short drive now brings you to the enchanting Hacienda Benazuza El Bulli Hotel, one of the finest in Andalucía, run, as its name betokens, under the auspices of Spain’s most renowned gastronomic gurus, Ferrán Adriá. Its starred restaurant, where you dine tonight, is “la Alquería’, presided over by star chef Rafael Morales, serves an ever changing selection of dishes created by Adriá at his renowned restaurant “El Bulli” in Catalonia.
Hotel Name: Hacienda Benazuza el Bulli. (B/L/D)
DAY 7 SANLUCAR LA MAYOR / SEVILLE / SANLUCAR LA MAYOR: After enjoying a breakfast at the Benazuza which aspires to the same perfection as the evening meal, you make the short drive to Seville to spend the day exploring the never ending wonders of this unique city, including the mighty cathedral, the second largest in Christendom, the Real Alcázares Royal Palace and the enchanting barrio Santa Cruz district. At lunchtime you are free to stroll and perhaps enjoy an itinerant lunch sampling the classic tapas for which Seville is famed. Afterwards you ride in a horse and carriage first through the María Luisa Park and then on to the Casa de Pilatos, the grandest private mansion in all Seville dating back to the early 16th century. Then it is time to return to enjoy the surroundings of the Hacienda Benazuza before another unique gastronomic experience this evening. A few minutes from the hotel is the Restaurante Alhucemas. Small and unpretentious in appearance this is nevertheless renowned as one of the finest places in all Andalucía to enjoy supremely fresh fish and sea food. The ultimate accolade is that, as the photographs on the wall testify, the great Ferrán Adriá himself is a fan of the superb but simple cuisine of the owner Miguel.
Hotel Name: Hacienda Benazuza el Bulli. (B/D)
DAY 8 SANLUCAR LA MAYOR / CORDOBA / LUCENA: Today the road leads eastwards to Córdoba, 1000 years ago capital of the Caliphate and where today the tradition of Moorish cuisine lives on which you will be able to experience in a lunch of specialties that have their origins in the Moorish and Sephardic cuisines that go back beyond the Christian Reconquest in 1285. You will also visit the Mezquita, today a Cathedral, and once the largest mosque in the world. Later continue into the superb landscape of the Natural Park of the Sierra Subbética to your hotel. Tonight you dine in the simple but excellent hotel restaurant.
Hotel Name: MS Convento Santo Domingo. (B/L/D)
DAY 9 THE LAND OF OLIVE OIL: You are now in the heart of the most intensive production of olive oil in the world and today is spent learning about and tasting the liquid gold that Spain exports to every corner of the globe. You will hear a lecture on the secrets of making the finest extra virgin varieties and taste the different varieties of oil and olives before touring the olive orchards to learn how the trees are grown and see one which is over 1000 years old. After lunch in an ancient inn in the enchanting hilltop village of Priego de Córdoba you continue to the wine town of Montilla home of the uniquely exciting sherry style of the Montilla-Moriles denomination. Here you will visit one of the most renowned wineries to learn about their wine and taste it. This evening you are free to explore Lucena and dine at leisure in a local restaurant.
Hotel Name: MS Convento Santo Domingo. (B/L)
DAY 10 LUCENA / OSUNA / SANLUCAR DE BARRAMEDA: And now the road leads again southwards, across the heartland of Andalucía, over hills and rivers and past white villages that do not seem to have changed since Moorish times. Through the fascinating World Heritage town of Osuna where you stop for a light lunch of tapas and on to the province of Cadiz, to the Hacienda San Rafael, one of the most beautiful country hotels in all Andalucía.
This evening you will enjoy an exceptional dinner prepared by the brilliant chef of San Rafael and followed by a pulsating and authentic performance of flamenco dancing and singing performed by local villagers.
Hotel Name: Hacienda de San Rafael. (B/L/D)
DAY 11 SANLUCAR DE BARRAMEDA / JEREZ DE LA FRONTERA / SANLUCAR DE BARRAMEDA: You are only a few miles from Jerez de la Frontera capital of the sherry region and one of Andalucía’s most atmospheric cities. You begin a visit here by going to the market where unbelievable quantities of fresh fish from the nearby sea are sold in a hubbub of excitement and perhaps sampling a few of the crispest and most delectable “churros” in all Spain sold at one of the stalls outside the market. And then for a private visit to one of the most prestigious smaller makers of Jerez, the centuries old prize winning bodega of Lustau where you will learn the secrets of this most famous of Spanish wines and taste them from bone dry finos to the most luscious Pedro Ximenez. Later, drive through the rolling vineyard country where every inch of the soil is covered with vines, to the town of Sanlúcar de Barrameda on the banks of the Guadalquivir estuary, home of the “manzanilla” variety of sherry and also famed for the most delectable shrimp in all Spain. Return to San Rafael, to relax, enjoy farewell drinks and prepare to return home.
Hotel Name: Hacienda de San Rafael. (B/L/D)
DAY 12 SANLUCAR DE BARRAMEDA / SEVILLE / US: Transfer this morning for your return flight home. (B)
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