June 19 - 30, 2008
Save the Date!
Come with us to visit the beautiful gardens and diverse landscapes of Spain. Our route will take us from Madrid through several of Spain’s most fascinating regions – Castilla-Leon, Aragon, Navarra, and La Rioja – to Bilbao, near the Cantabrian Sea. One of the highlights will be a visit to Expo Zaragoza, an international exhibition on the theme of “Water and Sustainable Development” with special events, thematic plazas, and pavilions representing up to a hundred countries.
In the course of our travels we will discover how water has been used in gardens and landscapes from Roman times to the present, and private gardens will be opened especially for us. We will enjoy Spanish regional cuisine in private homes and restaurants, a picnic in the Pyrenees, and wine tasting in La Rioja. Our lodging will be in charming historic hotels and paradors.
Thursday, June 19
Leave United States for Spain
Friday, June 20
Madrid - Independent arrivals in Madrid. Check into Hotel Wellington. In the afternoon, meet our guide/lecturer, Mr. Mervyn Samuel, for a walking tour to see two of Madrid’s lovely fountains and then the fountains and lake of Retiro Park. Later we will visit the studio and private garden of Fernando Caruncho, one of Spain’s leading garden designers, who will show us slides of his latest designs and talk about the importance of water in his works. Welcome dinner with the Carunchos in the private home of art collectors Ian and Teresa Triay.
Hotel Wellington – D
Saturday, June 21
La Granja - This morning we will visit the Royal Botanic Garden, landscaped in the 18th century by King Charles III, and see the new Bonsai Garden designed by Fernando Caruncho. Afterwards, we are invited to the private home of artist Barbara de Rueda, overlooking the botanic garden. Barbara will host refreshments and show us her “Water Photos”. A tapas lunch is planned in a private home and garden outside of Madrid. After lunch, we will enjoy a scenic drive across the Guadarrama Mountains to the charming town of La Granja de San Ildefonso in the Province of Segovia. The town grew up around the palace and gardens created in 1731 by Philip V and inspired by Versailles. Due to the abundance of water, sculpted fountains are a prominent feature of the gardens. We will stroll through the gardens and see Las Partidas de la Reina (The Queen’s Realms) and El Jardin de la Botica (The Herb Garden), by special permission of Patrimonio National (Spanish National Heritage organization). Several of the fountains will be functioning on the day of our visit. Our lodging for the next two nights will be in the new Parador, built in the 18th century to be the residence of the Infantes Gabriel and Antonio (sons of Charles III). Dinner at the Parador.
Parador de La Granja – B,L,D
Sunday, June 22
La Granja - The morning begins with an optional walk in the mountains. We will drive to Segovia to visit the enchanting private garden of the late landscape architect Leandro Silva. The garden has recently been renovated and has wonderful views of Segovia. We will stroll through the beautiful town of Segovia, viewing its Castle, Cathedral, churches and main square. We will also see the Roman aqueduct that has been in use for centuries. We will continue to the charming medieval village of Pedraza de la Sierra and enjoy lunch in the private mill house of Salvador and Augusta Fabregas, featured in Architectural Digest. There will be free time after lunch for browsing and shopping in Pedraza. Dinner at the Parador de la Granja.
Parador de la Granja – B,L,D
Monday, June 23
La Granja – Soria – Zaragoza - In the morning we will depart by coach for a drive through the Castilian countryside, passing fields of wild lavenders and oak woodlands. We will stop for coffee in the town of Soria, located on the banks of the River Duero that flows through the Castilian plateau and finishes its “water journey” in Porto, Portugal. We will continue to Zaragoza, capital of the Region of Aragon. Check into the hotel with free time for lunch. A guided tour of Expo 2008 is planned for the afternoon. The exhibition site is beside a meander of the Ebro River near the city center, and the concept is Water and Sustainable Development. Thematic pavilions are being built, including one on a new bridge. Spain and Aragon are building separate pavilions of striking architecture. The tallest feature on the site will be the Tower of Water, a structure to be explored. The Expo Aquarium will be stocked with fish from the world’s major rivers, and a roof terrace will offer fine views over the city. A new bridge over the Ebro will carry one of the main pavilions. There will also be rough-water canals and a peaceful river garden with its characteristic trees and plants. Dinner tonight is at Campo de Toro Restaurant.
Hotel NH Ciudad de Zaragoza – B,D
Tuesday, June 24
Zaragoza: Expo 2008 - In the morning we will return with our guide to Expo to explore the pavilions and plazas. We will have lunch at Expo and then have the option to continue or return to the hotel. The evening is free (we will provide a list of Zaragoza’s top restaurants), and there will be evening events (including popular shows, illuminations and fireworks) for those who want to return with our guide. Altogether a unique experience that will heighten our appreciation for that most precious of resources – Water.
Hotel NH Ciudad de Zaragoza - B,L
Wednesday, June 25
Zaragoza – Panticosa - This morning we will visit the old quarter of Zaragoza, the Seo (Cathedral) and the Basilica de Nuestra Senora del Pilar, an important shrine with frescos painted by Goya as a young man. Departing Zaragoza, we will enjoy a scenic drive up into the Huesca Pyrenees to the Panticosa Resort. Huesca is a province adjoining France and dominated by the highest peaks of the Pyrenees, a place of incredible natural beauty seldom visited by tourists. The resort is in the Valley of Tena, and the benefits of its thermal springs were known in Roman times. Check into the hotel with free time for lunch. The hotel overlooks a pristine lake of glacial origin and is surrounded by mountains. In the afternoon we will take an optional walk in the mountains to see the valley and water falls from a higher level. An evening of tapas and wine tasting at the hotel by an Enate wine expert.
Thermal Spa Gran Hotel Panticoca - B, D
Thursday, June 26
Panticosa - Today we will hike to the upper lakes and see displays of Pyrenean wildflowers and possibly the rebecco or wild goat. Along the way we will stop for a picnic lunch. In the afternoon there will be time to relax and enjoy the hotel’s thermal pool and spa. The evening is free for dinner on your own in one of the hotel’s three outstanding restaurants.
Thermal Spa Gran Hotel Panticosa - B,L
Friday, June 27
Panticosa – Jaca – Leyre – La Rioja - This morning we will drive to the adjoining Aragon Valley to visit the amazing Monastery of San Juan de la Pena, dating from the 11th century and built in a hollow beneath overhanging rocks. We will have lunch in the Romanesque Monastery of Leyre in the Region of Navarra. We will continue to the famous wine producing area of La Rioja and check into our hotel in Haro. There are many bodegas in Haro, and the Plaza de la Paz is lined with mansions from earlier centuries. The evening is free to enjoy the tapas and wonderful wine in the old quarter of the town.
Hotel Los Agustinos, Haro - B,L
Saturday, June 28
La Rioja - The Ebro River flows through La Rioja, and its fertile valley is famous for producing some of the best wines in Europe. The largest production of quality red wines in Spain falls under the Rioja designation of origin, and exceptional harvests are aged to become Gran Reservas. We will visit three new wineries that were designed to be perfectly integrated into the surrounding landscape, including the Ysios Winery with an impressive design by Santiago Calatrava. We will also visit the Marques de Riscal Winery, a 150-year old winery with a spectacular new hotel designed by Frank Gehry. Lunch at the marvelous hotel restaurant (Michelin starred). After lunch we will see the C.N.V.E. Winery, which was designed by the well-known French architect Phillipe Mazieres, who won a first prize for this building at the French Expobois Feria. Return to Haro for a free evening.
Hotel Los Agustinos, Haro - B,L
Sunday, June 29
La Rioja – Bilbao - This morning we will drive through the Basque region to Bilbao, one of the best places in the world to see contemporary architecture. We will enjoy a guided tour of the Guggenheim Museum, Frank Gehry’s stunning creation on the banks of the Nervion River. Farewell lunch in the Guggenheim Restaurant, which is run by the famous chef Martin Berastegui. The remainder of the day is free to see more of the museum, visit the metro designed by Sir Norman Foster, take a city tour on the new tram or explore the charming Old Quarter known as Siete Calles because it of its layout along seven parallel streets. Free evening for packing or some tapas on your own.
Hotel Carlton, Bilbao - B,L
Monday, June 30
Bilbao – USA - Individual departures from Bilbao’s striking new international airport designed by Santiago Calatrava.
The Wellington is a 5 star hotel, centrally located in the elegant Salamanca district of Madrid near the Retiro Park and a short walk to museums and shops.
La Granja de San Ildefonso is the site of the Royal Palace used by the Spanish kings for centuries as a retreat on the slopes of the Sierra de Guadarrama. A new Parador opened in the ‘Casa de Infantes’ built in the 18th century near the palace.
Zaragoza was selected to host Expo 2008 on the 100th anniversary of the 1908 Spanish-French Exposition Zaragoza. The newly built hotel, NH Ciudad de Zaragoza, is centrally located near the Cathedral and the Parque Tia Jarge.
Thermal Spa Gran Hotel Panticosa, built in 1896, reopened in 2004 after being restored by architect Rafael Moneo (also the architect of the new extension to Madrid’s Prado Museum). This prestigious 5 star resort has its own Thermal Spa and three restaurants under the supervision of 3-Star Michelin Chef Pedro Subijana.
Haro is the most important viticultural center of La Rioja Region. Hotel Los Agustinos, originally a 14th century convent with an impressive cloister, was refurbished in 2006.
Bilbao was a port city that changed dramatically with the opening of the Guggenheim Museum. Hotel Carlton is one of the city’s most emblematic buildings, designed in 1919. This mansion hotel is decorated in an elegant style and located near the museum.
One way to experience a country is through its food, and cuisine in Spain is as diverse and unique as each region of the country. The Spanish way of life has its own rhythm, and Spaniards are passionate about food. The main meal of the day is lunch, served mid-afternoon. Tapas are the delicious little appetizers that may be enjoyed between meals or as an alternative to lunch or dinner.
Madrid is famous for an amazing variety of tapas and the freshest seafood imaginable as well as traditional Castilian specialties that include lamb, pork, cheese, and breads. Foods in Aragon are based on meats and stews or bocadillos (sandwiches), and the region produces wonderful peaches. In the mountains of Huesca the cuisine features wild mushrooms and wild asparagus in season. Trout and delicate white asparagus are specialties of Navarra, and sheep’s milk cheeses are served with refreshing local wines.
La Rioja is famous for wine and boasts the largest production of quality red wines in Spain. The cuisine of La Rioja is based on the produce of the land, and sweet red peppers are featured in many dishes. Colorful strings of red peppers are hung to dry from roofs and balconies throughout the region. Eating in Bilbao is a special experience, and the city is home to several of Spain’s most acclaimed chefs and restaurants, including the Guggenheim Museum restaurant.
Katherine Greenberg is president of Pacific Horticultural Foundation and past president of the Mediterranean Garden Society. She is a garden designer with a special interest in Spanish gardens. Katherine studied at the University of Madrid, and she has led a number of tours to Spain.
For tour conditions, price and reservation forms, contact: Landmark Travel, 335 Village Square, Orinda, CA 94563. Call 925.253.2600 or visit www.landmarktravel.com