Category Archives: Spain

Tomorrow is World Tapas Day!

Love Tapas? So do we!!

¡Bienvenido! Did you know Thursday, June 16 is World Tapas Day? Yes, it’s a thing!

Tapas are a type of “mini-dish” typical of Spain, created to make the most of the delicious flavors of the country. They can be served cold, hot, on toast, in clay pots–and best enjoyed with a group of your closest friends! Spaniards often go on “tapa-tastings,” that is, bar-hopping for a whirlwind tour of mouth-watering dishes in one neighborhood. Tapas are popular all over the country, from Barcelona to Granada; we’re talking premium ingredients like Iberian ham, extra virgin olive oil, succulently baked seafood, patatas braves, spicy chorizo—all paired elegantly with Rioja wine.

The word tapa is said to have derived from the Spanish word tapar, meaning “to cover,” and may have originated from a time when inns used to serve small portions under hot pot covers. Whatever the origin–it’s enough to get us thinking about a trip to Spain to sample at the source!

This video has got us positively salivating: Tapa!

Also check out: 

A Fun Infographic on Tapas

Our 20 Recommended Tapas

In Portland, Oregon and you just can’t wait for your trip to Spain? Treat yourself this weekend with a tapas meal at Andina, Toro Bravo or Ataula!

Or if you’d rather have the real deal–make an appointment with one of our agents at Willamette Intl Travel to discuss summer and fall flights into Spain! Call 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com today!

Brought to you with the help of the Tourist Office of Spain

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Filed under Europe, Spain, Travel by Taste

Reading List: Spain

España! One of the top destinations of Europe this year, Spain is generous to its visitors, with everything from sunny beaches on the Costa del Sol to world-class museums in the metropolis maze of Madrid. Its economic stability and safety continues to attract tourists from Europe, North America, and even Russia this year.

Check out our Recommend Reads for España: (besides the obvious must-read Don Quixote)

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Tim Moore, Spanish Steps. Travel writer Tim Moore and his donkey Shinto hilariously navigate the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela.

Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, Barcelona: A Thousand Years of the City’s Past. An account of Barcelona, its history and art, in relation to the rest of Spain.

Antony Beevor, The Battle for Spain. Prize-winning overview of the Spanish civil war.

Chris Stewart, Driving Over Lemons. Expat and ex-drummer Stewart’s account of a new life in Spain with his family.

Giles Tremlett, Ghosts of Spain. A superb historical overview of a country torn between modernity and nostalgia. 51bp3W+hKiL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

Arturo Barea, The Forging of a Rebel. A fascinating memoir during the Spanish Civil War, published in three volumes.

Carlos Pardo, Life of Pardo. A young man’s account of modern Spain, part autobiography, part fiction.

Context Travel, superb guides throughout the world, offer small group tours for the intellectually curious traveler. Ask us about tours, car rentals, hotels, and cruises in and around Spain. Thinking about Mallorca? Let us book your vacation! Call 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com to chat with one of our agents.

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Filed under Europe, News, Reading Lists, Spain

Star Clippers — Buy One Get One Free

For the very first time Star Clippers is offering a “true” BUY ONE GET ONE FREE promotion on select Summer Mediterranean sailings in 2015!!

When you book double occupancy, one person in the cabin will go free! The first person will be booked at our already discounted “SAVINGS RATES,” then the second person in that cabin will go absolutely FREE! It’s as easy at that! Double occupancy cabins start at a total cost of $1,575.

Your savings could cover the cost of airfare to Europe. This promotion applies to all cabin categories, so please don’t wait. This promotion is only available for Two More Weeks, so BOOK NOW!!

Call your Willamette agent today for details and options.

Tel 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com

star clippers ratesstar clippers

 

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Filed under Cruises, Europe, Greece, Spain, Star Clipper, Travel by Ship

Beyond Barcelona

It’s hard to beat Barcelona’s cosmopolitan air, tasty seafood dishes and playful Gaudi architecture. However, when you’ve explored the city for a few days, it may be time to hit the road and check out nearby locales. Simple daytrips are just a brief drive/train away—don’t leave Northern Spain without a trip to the countryside!

Our friends at Spanish Trails do a remarkable job taking our clients on day trips in and around Barcelona. Our clients always come back with great feedback. Call Wittravel to arrange a fun excursion hiking, wining, dining, and more.

montserrat oseillo

Montserrat by oseillo, Creative Commons

Montserrat. For almost 1000 years, monks have lived atop the serrated peak of Montserrat. Legends have it that shepherds witnessed an image of the black Madonna, La Moreneta, in a cave on the mountain. Since then, the site, church and monastery have been a pilgrim magnet. You can take a train from the city or combine it with a day tour around the Penedes wine region.

Girona. Explore the walled and Roman city of Girona, which still has one of the best preserved old Jewish quarters. Check out the world-famous Gothic Cathedral and the Jewish heritage center of Bonastruc ça Porta. Get a feel for Mediterranean lifestyle and delicious cuisine.

dali museum by Fifth World Art

Dali Museum in Figueres by Fifth World Art, Creative Commons

Figueres and Salvador Dali. Take a personalized day trip to Figueres, and visit the memorable museum of the surrealist painter Salvador Dali. The museum was designed by Dali himself and houses a number of his works: paintings, sculptures, furniture and jewelry. Don’t miss the labyrinthine Dali House museum in nearby Port Lligat, and the picturesque Cadaques, the historic home to many of Catalan’s famous artists including Picasso.

La Garriga. Just 20-40 minutes from Barcelona lies a village with beautiful medieval buildings and hot springs, the latter whose curative properties have been in use since Roman times. You can stay at a local villa spa and enjoy these amazing natural springs with tea and a massage.

Costa Brava. Follow a guide out along the Northern Spanish coast and explore high winding cliffs and hidden coves. Check out unforgettable views, snorkeling opportunities off of secluded beaches and beach front dining. Guides will enrich your knowledge of the history and traditions of Catalunya. Like water sports? Book a family kayak trip with professional guides!

Pyrenees. Always dreamed of a Pyrenees adventure? Now you can hike up through these panoramic trails, explore charming medieval villages and enjoy beautiful streams and waterfalls and country dining.

sitges by jsmuns

Sitges on the Costa Brava by jsmuns, Creative Commons

Sitges. Looking for a spot of sand to stretch out on? Head to Sitges for some summer sun, just 45 minutes south of the city. Despite crowds on the nicest days, it’s still a great place to check out.

Many of these excursions are available through our partners at Spanish Trails, so give us a call and we’d love to set one up for you. We can also arrange flights, accommodation, car rental, and trains.

Several WIT Clients have traveled around Spain and would love to give you their firsthand tips and recommendations! Call us at 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com.

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Pueblos Blancos

Itinerary: 5 Days through the Pueblos Blancos

Today we are featuring an itinerary suggested to some of our clients. Their goal is to drive from the Costa del Sol to Seville, taking a slow route through idyllic landscapes, visiting picturesque towns and staying in boutique hotels. So we at Willamette International Travel have planned the following week for them, complete with transportation and hotels. They will be leaving Casares, where they are attending a wedding, and spend a few days journeying through the small white villages in the mountainous regions of Andalucia, before reaching their final destination of Seville.

photo by Lee Cannon

Pueblos Blancos

The Pueblos Blancos, or “white villages,” are fortified hilltop towns, so named for their whitewashed décor in the Moorish tradition. There is plenty to see in the quiet countryside, gorgeous vistas of valleys and cliffs, and a bounty of architectural masterpieces that spans religions and centuries.

Day 1. Casares to Ronda.

Ronda is a city of dramatically perched houses and amazing views of 500-foot gorges. Ronda is the spiritual home of bullfighting and heir to a Moorish and Spanish blend of traditions. Check out the city for some spectacular architecture, from the Plaza de la Ciudad, the church and its former minaret, to the mosaic-decorated Palacio Mondragon and the frescos of biblical scenes and South Americans on the Palacio del Marques de Salvatierra. There are some great walking excursions on the footpaths, which lead you to ruined Moorish mills, waterfalls, the old mansion Casa del Rey Moro, the 18th century Puente Nuevo bridge that runs over Tajo Gorge. This area is also great for birdwatching, cycling, rock-climbing, and horse-riding. One of Willamette Intl Travel’s own agents, Pam, stayed here—she says the ancient Roman bridge is still in use!

photo by Benjamin Vander Steen

Day 2. Base in Ronda. Day trip to various towns.

From your base in Ronda, take a day trip around to the various sites. Check out the town of Montejaque and the nearby Hunidero cave; Benaojan, with its Pileta caves and Paleolithic cave paintings; Olvera with its stunning 12th century Arab castle. You can also enjoy a view of Grazalema Nature Park nearby. From here a path to the right leads to Garganta Verde, a gorge with an impressive cave known as Ermita de la Garganta. At Grazalema Park, walk around ancient Roman and Arab settlements and artistic churches.

Day 3. Drive to Arcos de la Frontera. Stop at Zahara de la Sierra.

On the languid drive to Arcos de la Frontera after breakfast, make sure to stop in Zahara de la Sierra, a National Monument town with uneven streets, 12th century Moorish castle, and impressive cliffsides. Pam recommends the slow but scenic route through Parque Natural de Sierra.

Arcos de la Frontera clings impossibly to an outcropping of rock with the Guadalete River at its foot. Navigate carefully up its labyrinth of narrow alleys and old quarters up to the ruins of an Islamic castle. Once a Moorish stronghold, the Reconquista reestablished a Christian presence still evident in the Gothic-Mudejar church, the Gothic Iglesia de San Pedro and the Renaissance Palacio del Mayorazgo. “I drove through this area several years ago,” says Pam. “Stayed in Arcos which was beautiful. We had a balcony jutting out over a cliff (we looked down and could see birds flying underneath us!). Lots of little winding streets leading to the top of a mountain with a church, a nunnery, and some houses in the village. Very beautiful.”

photo by cayetano

Day 4. Base in Arcos. Day in Jerez de la Frontera.

The main reason to visit the larger city of Jerez de la Frontera is to check out the bodegas where sherry is made—and fans of the delicate fermented wine must make a stop here. Tours with tasty samples usually run from 9am to 1pm, so plan your time accordingly. The varieties produced here are fino (extra dry and light), amontillado (dry and dark), oloroso (medium, golden), and dulce (sweet). Due to popularity, its best to call ahead for a reservation! The Jerez region is also renown for quality horse-breeding—the Lippizzaner horses, still used at the Spanish Riding School of Vienna, originally came from this area. If you happen to love horses, check out trainers and their mounts at the Real Escuela Andaluza de Arte Ecuestre.

photo by Michael Osmenda

Day 5. Drive from Arcos to Carmona or Doñana National Park.

At this point, you can choose either to head west, to the National Park of Doñana, or northward past Seville to Carmona. Carmona has a fantastic architectural atmosphere, with the polished arches of Plaza de Arriba, archaic Seville Gate, and the lavish and ornate churches. Don’t miss the Roman necropolis! The food is also excellent—tapas, chicken soup, gazpacho, curdled eggs, patrirdge, Serrano ham, etc.

If you have the time or just prefer to explore wild nature, head now to the National Park of Doñana, one of Europe’s greatest wetlands. In 185,000 acres of marshes and sand dunes, you can spot rare species such as fallow deer, red deer, imperial eagle, flamingo, lynx, umbrella pine, and lavender. Be advised however that you must book an officially guided day tour in order to cross the wetlands.

Day 6. Seville.

Conclude your tour of the magnificent Pueblos Blancos and the Andalucian countryside by heading over to the bustling city of Seville. Celebrate with an idyll afternoon and a glass of sherry.

 

Willamette International Travel assists clients in customizing their itineraries. We do the research and legwork so you don’t have to! Email us at info@wittravel.com or call 800.821.0401 for more information.

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Filed under Features, Itinerary, Spain, Travel by Car, Where in the World is the WIT Client?