Luxury Small Group Guided Holidays to Spain

 

 

 
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More Inspired Journeys

An Inspired Journey

A guided art tour inspired by Chris Gollon

Central Spain is its own magnificent world of castles, cathedrals and walled cities. The influence from the golden age, which saw in such greats as Velazquez, El Greco and Cervantes seeps from the sandstone walls and trickles down the narrow cobbled streets of Madrid, Toledo, Salamanca, Avila and Segovia. The awesome power of the Catholic Church is never forgotten as spires from these cathedral cities pierce the horizon for miles around and, stepping behind the great oak doors, you marvel at hand-painted towering ceilings, intricate stained glass windows and the gold and glittering opulence of these days gone by. Nowhere else is the sense of history so raw in Spain and it is easy to see how these beautiful landscapes influenced so many great artists.

"We have put together an enticing mix of private access, luxury accommodation and very real experiences in tapas bars."

Having recently returned from a visit to Spain, we have been able to carefully put together a special journey to take you deep into the traditions of Spain’s past and present. Art is an important part of Spanish culture and we have arranged for well established British artist, Chris Gollon to accompany you throughout this trip to give his professional view

on the myriad great works you will see. Chris has been very influenced by the bold colours and imaginative pieces of Goya and he has a personal passion for Spain and its culture.

The journey begins in the bustling capital of Madrid and ends in the sleepy town of Segovia. Throughout we have put together an enticing mix of private access, luxury accommodation and very real experiences in tapas bars as you jostle with the locals. You will see the very best of Central Spain with scenic drives off the main highways to give you remote and distant views of the mountains, rivers and olive groves that carpet this ancient land. We have chosen early May as, in our opinion, it is one of the best times to visit just when spring is bursting out of its winter shell and the gardens, tapas bars and festivals are fresh with colour and life.

Highlights

-  Travel with Chris Gollon, a very experienced and well established UK artist

-  Wine tasting and discovering the art and culture of Toledo

-  Exploring the beautiful cities of Salamanca and Segovia

-  A stay with the owner of a stylish 400 year old family home

6th May

Arrive into Madrid and visit the Reina Sofia Museum

You will be met at the airport and driven to the Ritz Hotel in the centre of town. Here you will have time to settle in before coming together at approximately 5pm to meet with your guides, Carlos and leading artist Chris Gollon, who will both accompany you throughout the trip. Chris and Carlos will chat to you about the week ahead before taking you to the Reina Sofia modern art museum, where you will have a private tour of some of the most important exhibits. Chris will be able to give his personal view of the works of art on display. Works range from Picasso to some of the best contemporary artists of today.

From here you will head to the Latina neighbourhood, one of the oldest in town, where you will have a tapas feast at Casa Lucio. This long established restaurant is well off the tourist trail and a firm favourite with the local Madrileños. The menu is full of traditional delights and Casa Lucio has become famous for its simple yet unforgettable egg and chips.

Arrive into Madrid and visit the Reina Sofia Museum

7th May

Private Access to the Prado Museum, Exploring Madrid and Flamenco

After breakfast Chris will walk with you to the Prado, which is just behind the Ritz. Here you will have a private tour to take in some of the most inspirational and renowned paintings in the world with the expert eyes of Chris on hand. Chris will be able to discuss how Goya has had a direct influence on his own art as well as exploring the depths and techniques used by other Spanish Masters.

After this you will enjoy a cup of coffee together in a nearby cafe and then head out to explore some of Madrid’s most beautiful buildings and landmarks. This will include the impressive Plaza Mayor and the Royal Palace. We really believe that the best way to get to know Madrid is to walk amongst the locals through the cobbled streets and tree-lined squares. Each neighbourhood has its own distinctive charm such as the Austrias district, filled with buzzing tapas bars watched over by ancient balconies. We have arranged a wine-tasting lunch where you will be able to sample some of the world’s most exciting wines.

This evening there will be plenty of time to rest back at the Ritz before you are driven to a local tapas bar to mix with the locals and watch Madrid life go by. Carlos and Chris will then take you to one of the best Flamenco shows in town, where you will be astounded at the colour, music and talent of the dancers and musicians.

Private Access to the Prado Museum, Exploring Madrid and Flamenco

8th May

Discovering Toledo and a rest at Oropesa

After a delicious breakfast you will be privately driven about 50 minutes to the walled city of Toledo. This is a city of narrow winding streets, age-old churches and a deep history that embodies the opulence and drama of Spain’s vibrant past. The town was built on a convergence of Christianity, Islam and Judaism and it contains two of the few remaining Medieval Spanish synagogues. The Gothic Cathedral is one of the most beautiful in all of Spain and within one of these spectacular rooms with mural ceilings you will stand inches from original paintings by artists such as Goya, Van Dyck and El Greco.

After taking in all the overwhelming culture of this city we have then arranged a very special visit to the 11th Century family wine bodega of Javier Adolfo. Javier will personally show you around the warren of deep corridors and dimly lit rooms filled with dusty bottles of matured wine. After time to taste some of Javier’s favourite Spanish wines you’ll walk to a local restaurant for a hearty lunch.

Then, in the afternoon, you’ll be driven about 2 hours west of Toledo to a traditional hacienda outside the sleepy town of Oropesa. Valdepalacios is incredibly chic and stylish without losing the cosy and relaxed feel of a country farmhouse. There will be time to rest and have a swim in the early evening before dinner. Tonight you will dine at the hotel’s Tierra Restaurant, which was recently nominated for a Michelin Star. A full tasting menu is also available at an extra cost.

Discovering Toledo and a rest at Oropesa

9th May

Morning to relax, La Alberca and Salamanca by Night

We have left this morning free for you to enjoy the spa or wander through the private grounds of Valdepalacios. There are excellent horses on the property for any riders who might like to take a ride out into the countryside.

At about midday you’ll then take a very scenic drive through the green rolling hills and gnarled olive groves that lead to the pretty town of La Alberca. You’ll pass tumbling ruined churches and forgotten villages as you climb deeper into the countryside. Weather permitting we will arrange a picnic lunch with big views of the mountains all around or, if clouds are looming, you will dine at a restaurant on the main square of La Alberca where you can taste some of the local dishes such as their excellent fish stew.

After lunch you will drive on to Salamanca, where you will stay at the charming Hotel Rector. There will be time to rest and settle in before Chris and Carlos take you on an evening stroll through the cobbled streets of this beautiful city. The town is impressively lit at night to enhance the beauty and detail of the architecture that makes this town one of the most magnificent in Spain. We have left the evening free for you to make your own dinner arrangements and Carlos will be sure to recommend some of his favourite spots.

Morning to relax, La Alberca and Salamanca by Night

10th May

Salamanca by Day, Avila and Segovia

This morning Chris and Carlos will take you to the cathedral and other landmarks of the city. It is possible to climb up the old stone steps of one of the cathedral, which takes you onto the roof to see sweeping views of the city from above. You’ll also visit the Casa de Conchas (House of Shells), a beautiful building, which was home to the same family of the owner of the property you will visit tomorrow.

You will then continue on your adventure through central Spain to Segovia with a stop at a viewpoint along the way to see the walled city of Avila. As you arrive in Segovia you’ll be taken straight to one of the best restaurants in town with direct views of the famous aqueduct. There will be time for a long and hearty Castilian lunch before Chris and Carlos take you to explore the pretty cathedral and quiet cobbled streets.

In the late afternoon you’ll drive about 20 minutes to Caserio de Lobones a family-run home. Here the owner and his staff will be waiting to greet you for your final two nights in Spain. The entire property will be exclusively reserved to give you complete freedom to explore and unwind in privacy.

Salamanca by Day, Avila and Segovia

11th May

Segovia’s Fairytale Castle

After a leisurely breakfast Chris, Carlos and the owner of Caserio will take you to visit the Alcazar of Segovia, one of the most beautiful castles in Spain and part of the inspiration behind Walt Disney’s famous emblem. Here you will learn of the monarchs and men who have walked these creaking corridors since the 12th Century.

From here, weather permitting, you will be driven back to the private land of Caserio de Lobones where a special lunch will be set up in the open air with views of Segovia on the horizon. Alternatively, if the weather isn’t at its best, we will arrange something equally special within the house or at a local restaurant nearby.

There will be time this afternoon to watch Chris sketch a work of art in the old ballroom of the house, which is filled with light streaming in from the big windows. A few more special touches will be arranged for today but we’d like to keep these as a surprise. And tonight there will be a wonderful farewell dinner in the homely dining room.

Segovia’s Fairytale Castle

12th May

La Granja de San Ildefonso and Depart from Madrid

We have purposely recommended late afternoon flights today in order to take the more scenic route back to Madrid. This allows a stop at San Ildefonso, a beautiful palace and gardens owned by the King and Queen of Spain. In spring the grounds will be alive with budding colours and fresh mountain air. The drive back over the pine-covered mountain pass is equally inspiring and we believe this is the best way to say farewell to Castilla y Leon. On arrival at the airport you will be assisted with your check-in in good time for your flight home.

La Granja de San Ildefonso and Depart from Madrid

6th May – 8th May

Ritz Hotel, Madrid

The Ritz, which first opened in 1910, is filled from top to toe with the old-school glamour and opulence that its name suggests. Big windows draped with deep red and gold lead out to leafy courtyards and trickling fountains and inside the lobby sparkles with chandeliers and the soft sound of a live grand piano. The hotel was commissioned by King Alfonso XIII who brought on legendary hotelier Cesar Ritz to ensure this would be one of the very best luxury hotels in Europe and so it remains today.

Ritz Hotel, Madrid

8th May – 9th May

Valdepalacios, Oropesa

Behind the unassuming, slightly tattered main gate of this old family hacienda is a place of infinite charm and elegance. Valdepalacios has been immaculately styled just to the point of perfection so that the truly relaxing atmosphere and homely feel is not lost. The staff are discrete but always friendly and the food is well and truly exceptional. There is a peaceful spa within the grounds with a large, heated indoor pool and outside, on the main terrace, an infinity pool spills out into unbroken views of the countryside beyond.

Valdepalacios, Oropesa

9th May – 10th May

Hotel Rector, Salamanca

In one of the sandstone buildings of Salamanca is Hotel Rector a traditional hotel with a modern touch. This is one of the best in town and only a short walk from the cathedral and other highlights. The team who work here are very passionate about the city in which they live and will always be on hand to chat about their experiences and favourite little hideaways.

Hotel Rector, Salamanca

10th May – 12th May

Caserio de Lobones, Segovia

This wonderful home has been handed down through the same family for countless generations. The family has an impressive history in Castilian Spain and the owner, who is a fun and friendly character, will be delighted to chat to you about their documented (and undocumented) past. Every corner of the house feels warm and cosy with sleepy courtyards and gardens to explore in privacy.

Caserio de Lobones, Segovia

Chris Gollon

Chris Gollon is an established name in British painting. He has enjoyed six solo museum shows in the UK, major public commissions and museum acquisitions including the British Museum. He has exhibited at Art Chicago and also with Yoko Ono, David Bowie and Gavin Turk in ROOT, a crossover exhibition of contemporary music and art created by Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth, at the Chisenhale Gallery, London. His work is attracting increasing acclaim in the national press, specialist arts press and was a featured subject of Alan Yentob’s BBC1 programme Imagine. His film collaboration with JABOD, entitled Kaleidomorphism One, was premiered in London at the East End Film Festival (2008). Novelist Sara Maitland’s book Stations of the Cross (Continuum, London & New York, 2009) was wholly inspired by and features Gollon’s 14 paintings of the Stations of the Cross, which were commissioned by the Church of England for a grade-one listed Sir John Soane church in East London. The latest book on his life and work, Chris Gollon: Humanity in Art by art historian Tamsin Pickeral (Hyde & Hughes) and endorsed by Bill Bryson OBE, was published in 2010.

In 2010, Gollon exhibited with Henry Moore, Tracey Emin and Anthony Gormley in Commission at Wallspace in the City. Chris Gollon was both First Artist in Residence and Fellow of the Institute of Advanced Study (2009), Durham University, and returned as Artist in Residence at St Mary’s College in 2011. His painting entitled ‘Birth’ was recently used as part of the story in the Hollywood film from the Twilight Saga entitled Breaking Dawn (I). Chris Gollon lives and works in Surrey, and is represented by IAP Fine Art, London.

Chris Gollon

Carlos Linares

Since the early 1980s, when he worked as a private guide for the President of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Sheik Sayed Bin Sultan Al Nahayan on his private and official visits to Spain, Carlos has gone onto become, in our opinion, Spain’s most all-rounded and experienced expert guide.

He is one of life’s gentlemen and a wonderful companion on any trip. It is, in fact, his knowledge and enthusiasm of Spain, it’s culture, art, history, gastronomy etc., that stand him apart from others. We think that overall any trip to Spain would be greatly enhanced with his presence, insight, dedication and infectious enthusiasm.

Carlos Linares

Flights

We recommend the following flights:

Outbound with Iberia London Heathrow to Madrid 12:10 15:35 IB3175

Inbound with Iberia Madrid to London Heathrow 17:25 18:45 IB3180

Please contact us for a quote including these flights.

We can also include flights from the United States so please do let us know where you are travelling from and we will send you the best flight routes with a quote.

Pricing Information

Prices per person based on two sharing

£3810
€4380
$6020

The price quoted includes the following:

All accommodation

All meals apart from dinner in Salamanca

Soft drinks, beer and house wine

All road transfers as specified +Guiding and excursions as specified +

Park fees and other entry fees

The price quoted does not include:

International flights (we can quote on these if needed)

Travel insurance

Premium drinks

Dinner in Salamanca

Tips

Visas

Vaccinations

Any other extras

Single supplements (please contact us for details)

where you will go on the trip