CASTLES AND PALACES OF THE SPANISH WINE REGION

Day1 - SUN I MADRID
Upon arrival to Madrid Airport you’ll be met by our chauffeur and transferred to your hotel downtown in the Spanish capital. Rest of the day is at leisure to rest or discover the highlights of this monumental city.
Day2 - MON I MADRIDI LERMA
Today you will hit the road, destination - wine country! Travel north into the plains of Spain crossing the plateaus of Castille and visiting a stunning winery such as ‘Abadia Retuerta’, run by the charismatic New Yorker Donald Cusimano. You´ll visit the vineyards by 4X4, check out the modern machinery worthy of the CSI forensics lab and taste Cru wines in a 13th century monastic dining hall in the Romanesque Abbey - priceless highlights include the Reserva Selección Especial (winner of best red wine in the world at the London Wine Challenge) and the sexy Pago Negralada wine. After this visit, continue to Lerma, via Roa and Aranda de Duero, two of the most important wine villages of the Ribera de Duero D.O. Region. The more than 30 meter cliff is the first image that you get of the Monastery de la Vid, the Parador of Lerma, formerly a 17th Century Ducal Palace. (B)
Day3 - TUE I LERMA I BURGOS I SANTO DOMINGO DE LA CALZADA
Depart to Burgos, the capital of the Castilla & Leon Community, land of kings and the birth city of the famous medieval Spanish hero ‘El Cid’. Here we will pay a visit to one of the world’s best Gothic Cathedrals, built in 1221, the Arch of Santa María, Casa del Cordón, beautiful Renaissance Palace from 16th century, before continuing to Santo Domingo de la Calzada. The Parador, attached to the Cathedral, is housed in a 12th Century Hospital formerly used to shelter the pilgrims on the Road to Santiago. (B)
Day 4 - WED I SANTO DOMINGO DE LA CALZADA I RIOJA MAIN VILLAGES I SANTO DOMINGO DE LA CALZADA
We will depart for the Rioja Wine route, visiting the most important villages, such as Haro, El Ciezo, Cenicero…where the most important wineries of La Rioja are located. Visit & wine tasting at some of the cellars. Today we will visit the Winery of Ysios, whose main building has been designed by Santiago Calatrava, the famous Spanish architect, and has made it an icon into the art/design wineries. Here wine tasting will be offered after visiting the cellars. Lunch at your own leisure and return to Santo Domingo de la Calzada for a local visit of the village including the Torre Exenta, the Cathedral with the Mayor Altarpiece, Mausoleum and Cloister, before heading to your Parador. (B)
Day5 - THU I SANTO DOMINGO DE LA CALZADA I LAGUARDIA I LOGROÑO I OLITE
After breakfast, depart towards Olite. En-route will pay a visit to The Wine Culture Museum, located in Dinastía Vivanco Cellars, in the Old village of Briones with permanent & temporary expositions, where we learn about wine experience all over the world. A visit to the Museum & Cellars ends with a Wine Tasting and explanation given by a sommelier. Then, continue to LaGuardia, probably the most preserved medieval village in la Rioja. You can enjoy some free time to walk along the ancient wall, have a coffee outside in the plaza, take in the views, and see its collection of splendid country churches. Hardly mentioned in the guide books, LaGuardia might not seem like a destination city for Spain but there are two good reasons to visit and spend a night or two with in its old walls. LaGuardia is a gateway for experiencing the Rioja wine region and it is a good example of a walled village that has not changed much since the 13th century. Lunch at your own leisure. Continue to Logroño, the capital of La Rioja Region. Although it is renowned by the Wine denomination, this capital has remains from the 3rd century B.C. with a celtiberic setting at the Catabria Mountain, overlooking the city. Here the Stone-Bridge, one of the symbols of the city, welcomes you to the old quarter. And follow the drive towards Olite for your overnight stay. This Parador in Olite is partially set into the Old Palace from 15th Century, National Heritage, where you can find beautiful hidden corners of Medieval archeries, glaziers, etc. (B)
Day 6 - FRI I OLITE I CARIÑENAI SIGÜENZA
Today visit Olite, an ancient village where you will go back in time. Don’t miss the French Gothic Castle-Palace, home of the Kings of Navarra during centuries. A stroll along its narrow streets, manor stone houses with Coat of Arms by the wooden doors, medieval galleries and, of course, the very well preserved Roman walls. The Mediterranean climate has also made Olite one of the capitals of Rioja Wine. After this visit will then continue to Cariñena, another important village giving the name to the Cariñena Wine, for a visit & tasting to the Cellars Señorío de Ayles. Lunch at your own leisure and continue towards Sigüenza. Arrival for check-in & overnight at the Parador, a gorgeous 12th Century Medieval Castle, which is the symbol of the city. (B)
Day7 - SAT I SIGÜENZA I ALCALÁ DE HENARES I MADRID
Today visit this Medieval village of Sigüenza with prehistoric remains and an important setting of Romans, Vizigods, Arabs and medieval Heritage, being the most important monuments the 12th Century Castle, where nowadays the Parador is located. Another important landmark is the ‘Doncel de Sigüenza’, the most relevant expression of the Medieval Culture: ‘The weapon-fight on the name of Faith and Lecture to achieve wisdom’. We will then depart towards Madrid but, of course, en route we cannot miss a stop at Alcalá de Henares for a visit to this fascinating village. From the foundation by the Romans of the city of Complutum, many civilizations have passed through the harmonious and beautiful Alcalá de Henares, and each of them has made a generous contribution to the making of the town’s rich historical and artistic heritage. As a matter of fact, the University of Alcalá, founded by Cardinal Cisneros in 1499, is the best conserved Renaissance university complex in Europe, and meant the beginning of a new cultural and social era in Spain. One of the tops of this Golden Age was “The Quixote”, the masterpiece of Alcalá’s most important son: Miguel de Cervantes. You cannot miss the visit to the house of Hippolytus, a roman villa with remainders of the 1st to the 5th centuries A.D.; the Calle Mayor (Main street), the longest porticoed street in Spain, center of the old Jewry; the Cathedral- Magisterial of Saints Justo and Pastor, a work of late Gothic period built over the tomb of the saints martyred in this same place in the year 305; and, of course, the Museum Casa Natal, birthplace of Cervantes, where the author of “The Quixote” was born in 1547. Lunch on your own and departure towards Madrid. Arrival to your hotel for check-in. (B)
Day 8 - SUN I MADRID TO USA
After breakfast at your hotel, you will be transferred by private vehicle to Madrid Airport for your flight back home. (B)