DAY 1: DEPART USA / BILBAO
Today we depart on our flight to Spain with complimentary beverages and meals served aloft.
DAY 2: ARRIVE BILBAO/ San Sebastián
Upon arrival in Bilbao, we will meet our Catholic Travel Centre escort who will accompany us throughout our journey. We will enjoy the town square and have a tapas lunch on our own. A highlight today is a visit to the famous Guggenheim museum. We continue by motor coach to the seaside town of San Sebastian for dinner and the evening. (D)
DAY 3: SAN SEBASTIAN: VISIT OF THE TOWN
San Sebastian (Donostia in the Basque language) was founded around 1180. The city’s unique geographical situation made it ideal as a military stronghold with a port. The city is surrounded by a wall for this very reason.
This morning, we enjoy a panoramic tour of the town and have some time to admire the view of the Bay of Biscay, surrounded by green mountains. This afternoon is at leisure, perhaps to stroll thru Old Town where the many tapas bars tempt us with their tantalizing aromas. San Sebastian in recent years has gained a reputation for having some of the finest cuisine in Spain. We’ll find out for ourselves tonight as we make our way to a splendid local restaurant for the evening meal. (B, D)
DAY 4: SAN SEBASTIAN / PAMPLONA / IRACHE / OLITE
This morning, we enjoy a panoramic tour of Pamplona, Pamplona (Iruña in Basque), is the capital of Navarra, formerly part of the Basque Lands. We will visit “Old Town” with its beautiful cathedral and a host of Baroque palaces, churches and monuments.
Hemingway wrote about its explosive festival of San Fermín in The Sun Also Rises, and today thousands of visitors show up each July to join in Las Sanfermines, and try to avoid the bulls thundering dangerously down the narrow streets.
We continue on to Irache, for a visit of the Monastery. The Monastery of Irache is one of the oldest in Navarre and is located in the shade of Montejurra. The first references to this Benedictine monastery date from the year 958. During the XI century, it grew by reason of its location on the road to Santiago and a hospice for pilgrims was begun.
Next, we visit Bodagas Irache, located next to the monastery. We’ll enjoy as tasting of the their famous wines which include, Red Castillo, Gran Irache and Real Irache, all made with a sizable proportion of Tempranillo.
After our visit, we continue on to the town of Olite. Olite is the capital of the wine district of Navarra with seven separate cellars. Our home for the next three nights is our Parador in a medieval castle. The castle, built by King Carlos III of Navarra in the early 1500’s was his summer residence until his death. It has been declared a National Monument. During the Napoleonic wars it suffered severe damage and was restored to its former glory about one hundred years ago. Dinner tonight is at the hotel. (B, D)
DAY 5: OLITE: EXCURSION TO XAVIER CASTLE AND LEYRE
This morning we enjoy an excursion to Xavier Castle, strategically positioned between Navarre and Aragon. The castle was the birth place, in 1506, of St. Francis Xavier, the “Apostle of the Indies.” After our visit of the castle, we enjoy a light lunch with some sampling of the local vintage. Our next stop is the Monastery of Leyre (Monasterio de Leire) the Cistercian Monastery of the Savior, where we join them for vespers. We return to Olite for the evening. Dinner is on our own. (B, L)
DAY 6: OLITE: EXCURSION TO THE RIOJA ALAVESA & LA RIOJA REGION
This morning we travel to Logrono, a city rich in history and traditions, which have been preserved since the Middle Ages. The Pilgrim’s Route to Santiago de Compostela made this one of the most important towns on the route. Logrono is also the center of the Rioja wine trade.
We see the 11th century Puente de Piedra (stone bridge), which took the Pilgrims traveling to Santiago de Compostela into the city and the Church of Santa María de Palacio built in the 11th century, noted for its steeple that towers over the town. We see as well the Rúa Vieja, the traditional thoroughfare of the pilgrims bound for Compostela,, the Pilgrim’s Shelter and the famous Pilgrim’s fountain.,
Later this afternoon we travel to Laguardia, where we have the opportunity to taste some of the execellant Rioja Alavesa wines. Here we enjoy a delicious lunch. After lunch, we continue on to Briones for a visit to Dinastía Vivanco’s sensational Museum of the Culture of Wine situated in the heart of the vineyards adjacent to their Bodega. We enjoy a tasting of their Tempranilloand Graciano wines, along with a tour of the museum before returning to Olite for the evening. Dinner tonight is on our own. (B, D)
DAY 7: OLITE / ZARAGOZA / BARCELONA
This morning, we depart Olite for Barcelona, stopping first in Zaragoza. Zaragoza is the site of the impressive and beautiful Basilica of the Virgin of the Pilar, whose construction started in the 12th century. It was built on the site where the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to St. James the apostle on his way to northwestern Spain. Here we celebrate Mass. Accompanied by celestial music, angels and a brilliant light, Our Lady encouraged St. James and his disciples on their journeys. This apparition was unlike any other, because when Our Lady appeared to St. James, she was still living on earth in Jerusalem. During the vision St James was given a wooden statue which is now in the center of the Basilica. After our visit, we continue on to Barcelona for dinner and the evening. (B, D)
DAY 8: BARCELONA: EXCURSION TO MONTSERRAT
This morning, after breakfast, we depart Barcelona for Montserrat, the spiritual heart of Catalonia and home to the dramatically set Benedictine monastery. This Marian shrine has attracted pilgrims for over 700 years, much as it did Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) in March of 1522. Here we visit the Black Madonna before whom Ignatius laid his sword and exchanged his fancy clothes with a beggar. We then have the opportunity to listen to the famous boy’s choir (Subject to final confirmation).
This afternoon we visit the famous Cava Winery Codorniu, located outside of Barcelona in Sant Sadurni D’Noia. The Codorníu family’s wine business goes back to the middle of the 16th century. Its most widely distributed product is Cava, the local variety of champagne. We return to Barcelona for dinner and the evening. (B, D)
DAY 9: BARCELONA: VISIT OF THE CITY & TIME FOR SHOPPING
Barcelona, the capitol of Catalunya, has always been a city of builders and planners. It is renowned for its beauty in both its religious and secular buildings. In fact, the first Cathedral built in the city of Los Angeles was modeled after Santa Maria del Mar, one of the most beautiful churches in all of Spain.
After breakfast at our hotel we enjoy a half-day’s tour of Barcelona, including the Basilica of the Sagrada Familia, Gaudi’s masterpiece, and Basilica of Santa Maria del Maria. We will have the opportunity to explore and enjoy the broad avenues of this beautiful city admiring its marvelous building contrasts dating back nearly 2,000 years. Driving by the Columbus Statue and on the well-known Ramblas Blvd. to Cataluyna Square to the “Enxample” we will admire the architectural styles of Catalan’s most famous architects, Batilló, Milà and Gaudí. We continue on to the Tibidabo Hill, where we have wonderful view of the city, and where we can see a statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus with his extended arms overlooking Barcelona below, reminding us of the statue in Rio de Janeiro.
This afternoon we are free to explore the city for some shopping. Tonight we gather for a festive Farewell dinner at a local seafood restaurant. (B, D)
DAY 10: RETURN TO USA
This morning, after breakfast, we transfer to the Barcelona airport for our return flight to the USA. (B)
B= Breakfast L= Lunch D=Dinner
NOTE: While no changes are anticipated, there might be occasions when certain alterations become necessary to this itinerary due to changes in airline schedules or for other reasons. All Masses are subject to final church schedules.