Spain 2010!

Spain is a fascinating, historic destination and as a culture is loose, spontaneous and late, which is a style that suits us just fine... so some of the events on our tour will become clearer as the trip approaches. What makes all of our Festival Tours trips special is that we have music as our focus and musicians as our personal guides. The following are highlights of our fantastic Spanish adventure!

Tentative Spain Itinerary

Madrid, Old City

Cathedral of Santiago de Compostelo

Galician musicians

Castro de Barona



Mezquita, Cordóba


Alhambra Granada

Flamenco dancer
FRIDAY & SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 24 & 25 - Depart USA / Optional arrival in MADRID
Madrid was built in the exact center of Spain. It is also the highest and sunniest capital city in Europe with many airlines offering direct flights from the USA, so this is the perfect place to start our trip! Madrid is a fantastic city and has an incredible abundance of world-class art, so it is absolutely worth spending a few days here. We encourage everyone to arrive by Friday, or Saturday at the latest, so you have plenty of time to explore and recover from jetlag. We have reserved hotel rooms so you can choose the arrival day that makes the most sense for you.

If you just arrived today, check into our hotel right in the heart of Madrid. If you already are with us in Madrid, you could consider going to a bullfight which is always held on Sunday - and even though it might not be our thing we won't hold it against you if it is yours!

Our trip officially starts tonight at our welcoming Tapas dinner.

We will head to the north of Spain towards Asturias and the Basque region on our way to Galicia. Details to follow!

Galicia is the hidden gem that tourists to Spain rarely get to see, which is precisely why it is at the top of our list. At one point, all the roads in Spain led to the northwestern pilgrimage city of Santiago de Compostelo. It is a green, lush, cobbled and utterly charming city with a language of its own and Celtic music instead of Flamenco. Music spills out of the streets, squares and bars. In fact, in Santiago music tends to go into the wee hours - perfect if you are still jetlagged.

Santiago is also home to the "oldest hotel in Europe," the luxurious Hostel de Los Reyes Catolicos. Since 2010 is a very special "holy year" here in Santiago, we have planned our trip around this much sought after reservation. Walk out of our door and directly in front is the main square and the Cathedral of Santiago, so no better location can be found.

Tonight we will have dinner at our hotel and afterwards enjoy a music session at one of the many bars in Santiago, where you can listen to the wild sounds of the gaita galega bagpipes.

This morning we have a personalized tour of the Galician Folk Museum to learn about this truly unique culture. The rest of your day and evening are free to enjoy the medieval town, the cathedral, the marketplace full of delicious Galician specialties, and enjoy traditional music played by costumed street musicians. Tonight, more Galician music all around town.

This morning we take a trip out to Castro de Barona, which is the spectacular site of an old Celtic fortress settlement built right on the rocks overlooking the wild and windy sea. The evening is free for dinner and our last night of Celtic music.

We head south and cross the border into Portugal making our way to the medieval hilltop village of Obidos, which is known as the "Wedding Present Town" because it was a gift King Dinis gave to Queen Isabel on their wedding day in 1282. We arrive in the afternoon so you will have time to wander the picturesque cobblestone streets lined with whitewashed churches and houses with dazzling Portuguese tiles - all encircled by the walls of a 12th century castle. Tonight we will have a taste of the extremely beautiful and expressive Portuguese Fado music.

Crossing back into Spain, we reach Andalusia and climb the foothills of the Sierra Norte to Trasierra, the privately owned estate of Charlotte Scott. This will be our exclusive retreat for the next two days. Each room has been individually decorated by Charlotte and you will feel that you have entered a cozy English country house hotel, while outside you are definitely in Spain! Trasierra is not a hotel in the normal sense, and you can only stay here by private invitation. The vibe is warm, friendly, and pampered. Tonight over drinks, tapas, and dinner we will get a chance to learn a bit about Flamenco music by trying our hand at Flamenco clapping.

Free Day for R & R! Set your schedule as you like with options such as hiking, horseback riding, massage, yoga, or just plain reading, swimming, and lounging. Delicious breakfast, lunch and dinner are served for us here at Trasierra, as well as wine and a fully stocked bar.

Cordoba is one of the most fascinating cities in Andalusia, and the Mezquita is an architectural site that absolutely should not be missed. Built in the 8th century, the Mezquita, which means mosque, has a fantastic labyrinth of red and white striped arches. Then, shockingly, a cathedral was built in the 16th century to sit right in the middle of the mosque. Although architecturally impressive in its own right, the combination is both astounding and bizarre.

After lunch at one of Cordoba's best restaurants, Caballo Rojo, we drive onto Seville, the capital of Andalusia. We check into my favorite hotel there, Casa de La Juderia, which was part of a palace in the 1600s. Our hotel is perfectly situated in the Santa Cruz district, right in the middle of all the most charming and historic parts of Seville, which is ideal because Seville is best explored on foot (or bike).

Seville, the romantic city of Carmen, Don Juan and the oranges... there is so much to see here that we have given you a free day & evening to do just that. You won't want to miss the 14th century Mudejar palace, the Alcazar, which is the oldest royal residence in Europe still in use or the Cathedral de Sevilla, the largest Gothic building in the world. One of my favorite museums is the Museo del Balle Flamenco where you can better understand the artistry of this Gypsy dance, or you can just happily wander the winding streets, stopping for tapas, wine or music.

We take a day trip to the charming Andalusian town of Jerez de la Frontera. Jerez is the Spanish translation for "sherry" and indeed this is where most of it is made and bottled. We will tour one of the Bodegas and get a chance to see the famous Dancing Horses of Jerez. Jerez is also a center for traditional Flamenco. Tonight is a special evening with Maria Jose, one of Andalusia's top Flamenco dancers.

It is hard to top Seville, but Granada manages to run neck and neck in interest and beauty. Set in the foothills of the snowcapped Sierra Nevada, Granada is spread over two main hills, the Alhambra and the Albacin. It was the stronghold of Moorish Spain and is full of romance and folklore. This is a town to spend many days in and we encourage you to do that if you have the time. For me, Granada is a hard act to follow so it seems perfect that this is the final destination on our tour.

Our hotels are again in the perfect location... on the actual grounds of the Alhambra. We have reserved rooms at both the intimate and family run gem, Hotel America, as well as the Parador de Granada. For an extra treat, you can opt to stay at the ultra-special Parador which is the most famous hotel in Spain (and the hardest to get into). Tonight is free for dinner and music.

(Last official day of tour!)
Since daily attendance is strictly limited we have reserved tickets for you to visit the breathtaking Alhambra, one of the most sensual architectural creations in the world and the greatest treasure of Moorish Spain. It is a stunningly beautiful, lavish palace and rightly deserves to be considered one of Europe's greatest attractions.

Tonight will be our official "last night of the tour" and we have this special evening arranged just for us by our friend who owns what is currently the only non-smoking wine bar in Granada, Al Sur de Granada (in June smoking will be banned in all of Spain). We will sip rare wines, savor homemade tapas and delicious cheeses, and enjoy the best Flamenco music and dance of our entire trip!

Tour members depart to either Madrid for flights home or onto Barcelona or other parts of Spain. Train and plane connections are easy from Granada.

If you have the time, however, we highly recommend you add on an extra day in Granada (I will!) to enjoy more of this wonderful city... tomorrow, after all, is Columbus Day!


Spain Music Tour, September 26 - October 10, 2010: $4650.00
Single supplement to be determined - call after May 10, 2010 for price.
Madrid extension, September 24 and/or 25: $115.00, double occupancy, per person per night.
Upgrade to Parador de Granada (half board), October 8 & 9: $405.00, double occupancy, per person.


* All hotels
* All transportation within Spain
* All breakfasts
* Welcoming dinner in Madrid
* Dinner and two lunches in Santiago de Compostelo
* All meals at Trasierra
* Lunch in Cordoba
* Tour of bodega in Jerez
* Entrance to the Alhambra
* Farewell tapas, wine tasting & Flamenco night in Granada
* Those staying at the Parador de Granada will have one lunch and one dinner included.
... Plus many musical events on the trip and lots more!
Your trip money also goes to support traditional musicians that we meet in Spain.

This tour is Land Package only so you are responsible for your flights to and from Spain and transfers to and from the airport(s). The tour meets at our hotel in Madrid on September 26 and ends in Granada. If you come in early or leave later (both of which are encouraged) we can arrange for extra nights at our hotel.

Drinks are at your own expense except where noted.

Want to know more?

Nancy Covey or Joey Thompson
Festival Tours International
15332 Antioch St., #17, Pacific Palisades, CA 90272
Fax/Tel (818) 346-5146   (310) 454-4080

Nancy Covey
Nancy Covey, our fearless leader, researching in Spain!
To sign up for our trip
Download and print out our 2010 booking form and booking conditions
(PDF format file; free Adobe Acrobat reader required)

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