Although American born, Hemingway had a lifelong attachment to Spain and its people. During his time as an overseas journalist in Europe, he returned again and again to Spain and called Madrid home for a while. A true aficionado of bullfighting, he was a regular at the San Fermin Festival held yearly in Pamplona. Follow in his footsteps during your time in Madrid and visit some of the sites which were of importance during the Spanish Civil War - the backdrop to one of his novels "For Whom the Bell Tolls", from the city of Segovia with one of the best Roman-era monuments on the Iberian peninsula to El Escorial monastery and the Royal Palace and discover the Moorish styled bullring in Madrid in the company of a former "Picador". Make your way to Pamplona in time for the San Fermin Festival and get a bird’s eye view from a balcony as you partake in the Running of the Bulls. Continue northwards to the coast and the eclectic city of San Sebastian. Home to "tapas" where you'll be amazed at the number of bars and array of nibbles! Explore the dramatic coastline and follow in the footsteps of St James Way - a historical pilgrimage route which leads to Santiago, some 750km away.
Meet your driver for a private airport transfer in Madrid.
Enjoy a day following in the footsteps of Ernest Hemingway who had a great love affair with Spain and Madrid in particular. Indeed, he is once quoted in his book, Death in the Afternoon as saying when one knows the city of Madrid, it is the most Spanish of all, the most agreable city to live in, with the most pleasant people, and with the best climate in the world.
Hemingway lived here duing the years of the Spanish Civil war and therefore it would only be fitting to have a private guide who is an expert on this matter accompany you on your walking tour. As you take in the sights, you'll be able to see the backdrop to the various scenarios described in his novels. In true Hemingway style, finish your walking tour with a stop at one of the cocktail bars the author used to frequent.
Journalist, author and playright, Ernest Hemingway loved his time spent living in Madrid and had a number of favourite restaurants that he used to be counted amongst his favourites that are still going strong today. Why not consider dining at one of them during your sojourn in the city...
Restaurante Botín. (Address: Cuchilleros, 17) is the oldest restaurant in the capital city loved the suckling pig here! Legend has it that one day Hemingway asked the owner Emilio (the current owners Grandfather) to teach him how to make paella. After a number of failed attempts he commented that perhaps it'd be better to keep at the writing! Fiesta, the novel which was to put him in the international limelight begins with a scene in this restaurant.
Built at the direction of King Alfonso XIII in 1912, the Westin Palace (5*) was recently restored to its original splendor. Set near the Prado, notable museums, and historic monuments, it was ranked as the #1 hotel in Spain in Condé Nast Traveler’s 2008 Gold List. The magnificent building, highlighted by an enormous stained glass dome, has long been a center of Spanish society. Among the many amenities are meeting rooms, restaurants, and a newly renovated fitness center overlooking the city. The 468 guest rooms and spacious suites have been updated with all modern conveniences and are exquisitely decorated with antique furnishings and original mahogany and plaster details.
Today is dedicated to the most Spanish of pastimes and passions - bullfighting. In the company of a former picador (one of the pair of horsemen in a Spanish bullfight that jab the bull with a lance at the beginning of a bullfight), you'll get to gain an appreciation for the activity as the various aspects of the ritual are described to you. During the day you'll get to learn about how the bulls are raised, and get to travel to see where they are kept after their journey from various parts of the country where they have been raised and just prior to their proud moment in the ring. Your guide will also speak to you about the Fiesta San Isidro, a local festival in Madrid, where bullfights are a daily occurance.From here, proceed to the bullring of Madrid which was designed by the architect José Espeliú in the Neo-Mudéjar (Moorish) style with ceramic incrustations in 1929. The ring has a seating capacity for 25,000 people and the price of the seats depends upon how close they are to the arena and whether they are in the sun or the shade (the latter being more expensive).
Having built up an appetite, you'll be brought away from the tourist traps and to an authentic restaurant of bullfighting followers located close to the bullring where the speciality is none other than "rabo de toro" - stewed ox tail.
Fully sated, you'll be driven back to your hotel or dropped off in the city centre, depending on your request.
Whether you are an aficionado of bullfighting or of the belief that it is a cruel type of torture, you'll at the very least come away with a more comprehensive understanding of everything that is part of this activity and an intrinsic part of Spanish rituals. (Includes entrance to bullfighting arena and lunch).
For Whom the Bell Tolls is a novel by Ernest Hemingway published in 1940. It tells the story of Robert Jordan, a young American in the International Brigades attached to a republican guerrilla unit during the Spanish Civil War. As a dynamiter, he is assigned to blow up a bridge during an attack on the city of Segovia. In the company of your private driver, relax on the drive to Segovia from Madrid (approx. 1hour drive). See one of the best Roman-era monuments on the Iberian Peninsula - Segovia's incredible aqueduct. Built in the time of Augustus, the aqueduct has 118 arches and is 10 miles (16 kilometers) long, although just a fraction of its length remains visible today. Segovia is also famous for its Alcazar, a beautiful 11th-century medieval fort that inspired the design of the Disney castle. Step back in time and imagine the medieval tournaments that once took place and the heroic knights who fought here. Your private guide, who will meet you in Segovia, will give you an insight into the history of the various sites you will visit in Segovia.
From the Nationalists to Franco - Bid farewell to your guide in Segovia and continue onwards to the valley of the Fallen and Franco's place of rest. The site is made up of a Catholic basilica and a monumental memorial in the municipality of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, erected in the expansive Cuelgamuros Valley in the Guadarrama mountains which circumnavigate Madrid, and was conceived by Spanish dictator Francisco Franco to honour and bury those who fell during the Spanish Civil War. It was also claimed by Franco that the monument was meant to be a "national act of atonement" and reconciliation. As a surviving artifact of Franco's rule, the monument and its Catholic basilica remain controversial, particularly because 10% of the construction workforce were convicts, some of them Popular Front political prisoners.
Franco's grave is marked by a simple tombstone engraved with his name, on the choir side of the main high altar and he was in fact the second person buried in the Santa Cruz basilica. José Antonio Primo de Rivera, the founder of the Falange movement who was murdered by the extreme left in 1936 lies under a modest gravestone on the nave side of the altar. Your tour of the bascilica will be in the company of one of the monks who lives in the sanctuary who can give great insight into the history and meaning of the site.
Many foreigners are unaware of the fact that the current King, Juan Carlos II, in fact spent some of his formative years in El Escorial under the watchful eye of Franco who resided in the sombre, palatial monastery, located 50 km northwest of Madrid, in the Guadarrama mountain range. Upon your arrival at El Escorial, your guide will give you some insight into the political manoeverings by the King who, some might say, used his son as a pawn, for the good of his country. Chosen as a World Heritage site by UNESCO, El Escorial monastery was built during King Phillip’s II reign, to house the mortal remains of his father Emperor Charles V and his descendants, and is still maintained as the Royal Pantheon. It was built in the XVIth Century in memory of the victory in the battle of San Quintín over the French troops. The visit will take you through the different private rooms of the King, the pantheon, the Chapterhouse, the cloister of the Monastery and the Basilica.
At days end, you will be returned to your accommodation in Madrid. (Includes 3hr guide service in Segovia, 2hr service in Escorial, entrances to Segovia Alcazar and Cathedral and El Escorial monastery).
Enjoy a half day walking tour in the company of an Historian who will act as your guide. Today's focus is all about the Royal Family and the role that it has played in the last century. Visit the Royal Palace which was built during the XVIIIth Century and is housed in the building of the old Alcázar of Madrid. It is one of the richest in Europe and is very well preserved. It is used by the Spanish Crown in Official Receptions, Presentation of Credentials and Official Events, such as State Meetings. Its rooms are full of artistic works belonging to the Royal Family.
You have your guide for 4 hours today - if time allows and you are interested, you may like to stroll through the Puerta del Sol and Plaza Major, or to visit some convents in the city such as the fascinating Descalzas Reales, which is the former palace of Carlos I and Isabel of Portugal who resided here in the mid 1500's. The cloister retains many of the decorative elements of the former palace. (no transportation is included - please let your Sales Advisor know if you would prefer to have transportation added to your tour).
Enjoy time at leisure to explore at your own pace, or relax at your hotel.
Meet your driver for a private train station transfer.
Enjoy your train ride from Madrid to Pamplona. The train ride takes approximately three hours.
A private train station transfer will be arranged for you in Pamplona.
Everyone has heard of the running of the Bulls in Pamplona, but what is the history behind it, why does everyone dress in white with red scarves and what's the significance of letting lots of bulls run down city streets? Find out all as you meet up with someone in the know in Pamplona and all will be revealed over a glass of wine.
Built in the 18th century by D. Sebastian de Eslava, Viceroy of New Granada (1685 – 1759), Palacio Guendulain is one of the most prominent buildings in Pamplona, located in the old part of town. After serving as a family residence for over two centuries – in 1845 Queen Isabel II stayed in the Palace with her entourage converting the house into a royal residence for a few days – Palacio Guendulain reopens as a magnificent hotel with 25 bedrooms and suites overlooking the Consejo Square and the Palace's inner courtyard. Its interior houses an extraordinary horse carriage built in the early 18th century as well as a beautiful porter's chair.
There is one day during the week long celebration of San Fermin in Pamplona when thousands of people accompany the effigy of Saint Fermin along the streets of Pamplona, along with dancers and street entertainers, such as carnival giants. It is known locally as Sanfermines and is held in honor of Saint Fermin, the patron saint of Pamplona and co-patron of Navarra.
During his earlier years living in Paris, Hemingway spent a great deal of time in Pamplona watching bullfights, and learning about the contests. He became an aficionado of the sport, and followed the matches closely. After leaving Paris, he returned in the early thirties to do research for his manifesto on the subject, Death in the Afternoon. Its events were central to the plot of The Sun Also Rises, and brought it to the general attention of English-speaking people and has become probably the most internationally renowned fiesta in Spain.
Today will be an early morning start (6am) - meet your driver who will drop you off at one of the best viewing spots to be had as you have access to a private balcony in the city overlooking one of the streets where the running of bulls happens. Watch the festival from your own private balcony in the company of your guide and sip on a coffee while you wait for the running to start. Your guide will provide a detailed description of the bull run to familiarize you with the day's event. Following the running, your guide will provide further explanations while you watch a replay of the television coverage of the entire run. (6 AM to 8.30AM).
From here, you'll be brought into the melee and mingle with the thousands of locals and visitors inhabiting the streets (mostly all in their white garb with red neckerchiefs) before sitting down to breakfast at Cafe Iruna, one of Hemmingway's haunts in the city - this is sure to be a lively and interactive experience!
Fully sated and having been fully initiated into the world and fanfare that goes with bullfighting, your driver will pick you and drop you back to your hotel where you may like to rest or freshen up before you decide what you'd like to do later today.
This afternoon you may like to consider attending a bullfight - the grand finale to an exciting morning. If you do decide to go, be sure to bring your white hankerchief that you can wave along with the cognoscenti if the need arises. As tradition has it, if the bullfighter performs well and the bull is killed cleanly, the audience will wave white handkerchiefs to try to oblige the president to award an ear or two ears and tail to him.
Leave Pamplona and make your way to San Sebastian on Spain's northern coast in the comfort of a private chauffeur driven vehicle with a local guide. Spend the day making your way northwards at a leisurely pace, stopping off at three different wineries in the Rioja region en route, from the ultra modern complex built by Zaha Hadid to a family run business.
Enjoy lunch in local winery before continuing on to San Sebastian, arriving in the afternoon.
Villa Soro(4*) is a charming 25 bedroom hotel located in a renovated 19th century villa which has been declared a Historical Heritage Building of San Sebastian. Villa Soro is an outstanding new address, offering a harmonious balance between the warm and familiar atmosphere of a century-old home and the comfort and services of a luxury hotel. Tranquillity, warmth and courtesy are the main characteristics of Villa Soro. The property has a garden designed by the French landscape designer Ducasse in 1898, with pleasant living areas reminiscing the family atmosphere of this stately home, and a very professional team permanently at your service.
In every neighborhood you'll notice scores of establishments- some traditional, some offering original and innovative gastronomic jewels, some exhibiting tempting delicious counters. That's why selecting a limited number of bars and planning a tasty route is as difficult as taking your place at a counter and picking out one single pintxo! To help alleviate things, we'll take you on tour with your guide who knows all the best spots! Explore its old town between the sea and the River Urumea, the marina and the fishermen's district. Looking at the sea, is the old Casino, nowadays the City Hall from where an elegant promenade with railings and street lamps runs along beautiful La Concha Beach.
One of the best ways of experiencing a culture is through the cuisine. Enjoy your stay in San Sebastian and taste the exquisite Basque gastronomy in any of its excellent restaurants and don´t forget to taste "pintxos" and "cacuelitas" (different kinds of small dishes) which, accompanied by cider, "txakoli" or good wines - sure to satisfy the most demanding of palates. We will begin our guided tapas walking tour in the neighborhood of Gros, at the award winning Alona Berri bar. The establishment also stands out for its wine cellar. Near there you will also find the crowded Bergara Bar, a mix of tradition and innovation. Walking along Zurriola Avenue you can admire the beach and architect Rafael Moneo's Kursaal auditorium and congress center. Then taste the delicious specialities of Patio de Ramuntxo, also an award winning establishment. The next stage will lead you along the pedestrian Alameda del Boulveard Avenue. (Tapas not included as you can choose as much or as little as you like on your tour).
Spend the morning discovering the highlights of the city of San Sebastian as you are brought to Playa de la Concha - one of the two beaches which is on the city's doorstep and arguably one of the nicest city beaches to be found the world over, as well as the magnificent town hall and historical quater. The latter is said to have more bars than any other neighbourhood in the known world! The Centro Romántic neighbourhood has its own charm, with its pedestrianised shopping streets, lined with the handsome façades of Art Nouveau buildings.
From San Sebastian, head out along the Basque coast to St Jean de Luz, an important stage on the well known pilgimmage trail called St James Way. Your guide will give you the background on this pilgrimmage and there is the option to spend part of the afternoon hiking along the route before being returned to San Sebastian in the late afternoon.
Consider taking a self guided visit through the Balenciaga museum today. Just 15 miles away from San Sebastián, is the town of Getaria - the birthplace of Cristóbal Balenciaga, and the site of the eponymous world-famous museum that offers a rare glimpse into the genius of the beloved designer. Opened in 2011, the museum is adjacent to the Aldamar Palace, where Balenciaga started his career. The exhibition includes a selection of 90 Balenciaga designs, including the legendary mink-trimmed wedding gown of Queen Fabiola of Belgium, as well as the dresses designed for Grace Kelly.
Meet your driver for a private train station transfer in San Sebastian.
Take a direct flight from San Sebastian to Madrid today (not included in trip price).
Citizens of other countries may require a visa. Please ask your Sales Advisor. These requirements change often and therefore it is best that you check with the Embassy of Spain for the most up to date visa information.
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