A feast for the eyes, ears, and palate, this dynamic city which inspired Miro, Gaudi, and Picasso delights with world-changing cuisine, unique architecture, stellar views of sea and mountain, and exquisite music in fabulous venues. We'll delve into the Roman roots of the region of Catalonia in the ancient city of Tarragona, wander the cobbled lanes of the medieval town of Girona, scale the heights of the mountain monastery of Montserrat, leaving time for a beachfront stroll in Barceloneta.
From the fantastical archictecture of Gaudi to the quiet palm-shaded cloisters of the Gothic Quarter, Barcelona is generous with its beauty. Miro's quirky art crowns a hilltop as well as filling a museum. Picasso's presence is felt in his favorite bars and restaurants, not just in the Museu Picasso. As we listen to a symphony or a string quartet, we're surrounded by the beauty of a modernista marvel or an historic cathedral.
Day 1: Arrival. Arrival - we' ll await you in the lobby of our home for the week, an elegantly chic and welcoming hotel in Barcelona's old town. Join us for an orientation walk of "our" neighborhood in this vibrant ancient seaside city. Settle in to your room, and explore a bit more on your own. An alfresco dinner (included) on Barceloneta beach is our introduction to Catalan cuisine - perhaps a steaming pan of Fideua, Barcelona's answer to paella?
Day 2: Barcelona. Breakfast (included daily). Today is an Art-Nouveau packed day, beginning with a guided tour of Modernista (as Barcelona's Art Nouveau is called) masterpieces along Passeig de Gracia, and a visit to Gaudi's unfinished symphony, the Sagrada Familia. We'll pause to savor a spectacular lunch of creative Catalan cuisine (included) at Cinq Sentits, then leisurely continue our Gaudi tour with a visit to whimsical Park Guell. Enjoy a preconcert enrichment chat with our special guest, then 'The Grace of Schubert' with the Barcelona Symphony at L' Auditori.
Day 3: Montserrat Day Trip. Today we'll ascend the pinnacles of Montserrat, the serrated mountain northwest of Barcelona. Full of mystery and lore of ages past, this spiritual heart of Catalonia is the home of the celebrated Escolania boys' choir, founded in the 13th century. We'll enjoy the sound of their pure voices soaring to the heights of the 16th century basilica after a private tour of the hilltop complex. Take time to enjoy Barcelona on your own before meeting for a Tapas Tasting Tour (included) for dinner.
Day 4: Montjuic. Another mountain today, right in the city: the museum - crowned Montjuic, where Miro's masterpieces await us. We'll enjoy a private tour of the museum before soaring across Barcelona's harbor for a beachside lunch (included) in Barceloneta. In the afternoon we'll tour a true palace of music, the lavish Palau de la Musica Catalana. This opulent concert hall is a Modernista garden of delights, every inch covered with astounding detail - and yes, a concert in this magnificent venue is on our itinerary! This evening we'll enjoy chamber music in a more intimate venue, a peaceful chapel in the Gothic Santa Maria del Pi.
Day 5: Girona/Figueres Day Trip. From medieval Girona to Dali's Figueres birthplace, we'll explore for the day. Our guide will lead us through the beautifully restored medieval heart of Girona with its imposing cathedral, and a labyrinth of vaulted and stepped streets of the Call, the ancient Jewish district. Ready for a surreal contrast? Dali's Theater - Museum in Figueres holds many of the artist's iconic works, such as the3D Mae West face. We'll return to Barcelona in the evening, and stop for dinner (included) near our hotel.
Day 6: Tarragona Day Trip. We'll train along the coast to Tarragona for a guided walking tour of Rome's millenias-old Spanish outpost, stopping for lunch (included) under the vaults of the Roman Circus at Les Voltes. After returning to Barcelona, enjoy some time on your own before meeting for a pre- concert enrichment chat prior to an evening concert of the Budapest Festival Orchestra at Palau de la Musica.
Day 7: Barcelona. Today we'll explore Barcelona's Barri Gotic, Europe's best-preserved medieval quarter, with a front-row view of the weekly celebration in front of the cathedral as young and old circle to dance the Sardana. Picasso's presence is felt in a folksy sketch on a facade across from the cathedral, and after lunch we'll visit the Picasso Museum, appreciating the early work of yet another Catalonia- influenced master. An intimate restaurant in Old Town Barcelona is the place for our Farewell Dinner (included) as we recall together the highlights of our week.
Day 8: Departure. Breakfast (included) and hasta la vista to newfound friends before departing.
Note: Schedule subject to program to be finalized in early April, 2013.
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