Days 1-4: Barcelona - Tarragona.
Our tour starts in Barcelona, once the domain of Guifré el Pelós, or Wilfred the Hairy, and now undoubtedly one of Spain and Europe's most cosmopolitan cities. We'll visit the city's minimal Roman remains, and meander the medieval quarters, paying tribute to Spain's singular contribution to Art Nouveau, known locally as modernisme. Gaudí's unfinished Sagrada Familia Cathedral is extraordinary, and a monument to his genius and faith. Visits to the Picasso Museum, housed in the splendid 12th-century Berenguer d'Aguilar Palace, and the Miró Foundation on the hill of Montjuic exemplify the importance of Barcelona as a leading cultural and artistic center in more recent times. We complement our highbrow activities with an obligatory visit to the beautiful Boquería covered market, the city's main food market and a stroll down the timeless Ramblas. A day trip to Tarragona, one of the two Roman capitals of Hispania, features a visit to a nearby Cistercian monastery.
Days 5-6: Santa Pau - Girona.
Santa Pau, a sleepy village first documented in 878, is famous for its tranquility, and local produce. It is located in the Garrotxa, a little-known volcanic and predominantly agricultural region north and inland from Barcelona. Our village provides an ideal base for exploring the volcanic cones and craters of the nearby natural park and getting a taste of life in rural Cataluña. We'll sample cava, the Catalan "champagne," fuet and llonganiza (two local sausages) and other Catalan peasant specialties. We'll also enjoy a tour of the village with the local historian.
Our next destination is Girona, once one of the most important Jewish communities in Spain. The Romans, Charlemagne and Napoleon besieged Girona at different times. The delightful narrow streets and alleyways of the old city retain their medieval flavor and provide an insight into life lived at a different pace from bustling Barcelona. Our guided tour and lecture will focus on the reconquest of Catalunya (from the Moors) and the mercurial nature of Jewish and Christian coexistence.
Days 7-8: Cadaqúes - Figueres - Barcelona.
Where the majestic Pyrenees finally meet the Mediterranean Sea lies the Cabo de Creus, a cape forming the easternmost part of Spain. At the edge of the cape is Cadaqués, where we'll spend our final two days. The quiet fishing village, made famous by Buñuel, Dalí, García Lorca and Picasso, is now a charming seaside resort. Rural trails lead from Cadaqués to the neighborhood of Portlligat where Dalí lived and worked for many years, and along the coast we'll be offered sweeping views of cliffs, bays and coves. On the way back to Barcelona we'll visit the Dalí Museum in Figueres, an eccentric building housing the unconventional master's art.
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