Join us on an exciting journey through Basque Country in Spain and France. This fascinating region has its own language and culture, and the Basque people have a zest for life that is second to none! We’ll stay in San Sebastián, the city that gave the world pintxos, the Basque version of tapas. Bordered to the north by the Bay of Biscay and by rolling hills to the south, San Sebastián makes a beautiful home for our stay. Each day, we’ll explore different Basque towns in both Spain and France, taking in the shared culture of these two regions. This trip combines the security, ease and value of group travel with opportunities for independent exploration. Enjoy the camaraderie of traveling with a group and, during your free time, feel the thrill of making your own discoveries!
Depart your gateway city for Bilbao, Spain.
Bilbao, Spain | San Sebastián
Upon arrival, transferA to San Sebastian and the Hotel de Londres y de Inglaterra. This evening, enjoy a Welcome Reception and Dinner with your fellow travelers.
Day Three B | D
Discovery: San Sebastián. This seaside town is one of the most charming towns in Spain. See its Old Town, including Buen Pastor Cathedral. Stroll along Paseo de la Concha, a promenade that hugs the curve of the shoreline, for a beautiful view of the bay. Free Time: Enjoy a free afternoon. Enrichment: Spain’s Basque Country. Discover the culture of Basque Country. Enrichment: Meet the People. Meet San Sebastián residents for dinner and conversation about life in Basque Country.
Day Four B | L
Hondarribia | Bayonne, France |Biarritz
Discovery: Bayonne. Stop in Hondarribia for view of France’s Basque region across the Bidasoa River. Continue to Bayonne, France’s Basque capital. Visit Sainte-Marie Cathedral and its cloisters and explore the Old Town. Discovery: Enjoy lunch at a traditional cider house, where diners sit at long wooden tables. Enjoy the ambience of the exposed beam ceilings, stone walls and huge cider casks. Discovery: Biarritz. A former whaling town, Biarritz today is a chic seaside resort with the best surfing waves on the Bay of Biscay. Walk along the waterfront from the Casino Barriere to the Rocher de la Vierge, an outcrop connected to the shore by a bridge built by Gustave Eiffel. From the southern side, you can see San Sebastián on a clear day. Visit the medieval Atalaye watch tower, where fishermen kept an eye out for whales. Free Time: Return to San Sebastián, where the evening is yours to try one of the city’s many excellent restaurants, which range from pinxtos bars to restaurants that wow guests with molecular gastronomy creations. Enjoying pintxos, however, is a much more casual affair. Many people enjoy a drink and a couple pintxos at one place, then head to the next place for the next round of drinks and dishes, and repeat!
Day Five B | L
Discovery: La Rioja Wine. Explore the walled city of Laguardia in the famous La Rioja wine country just south of Basque Country. See the church of Santa Maria de los Reyes, Plaza Mayor and wine cellars that were built in centuries-old tunnels. Continue to a noted bodega for a tour and a wine tasting.
Day Six B | L
Espelette, France | St-Jean-de-Luz
Discovery: Basque Traditions. Go back in time at Maison Ortillopitz, a 16th-century Basque country home in the French Basque region. Learn about Basque life and traditions. Continue to Espelette, a picture-perfect town where strands of the eponymous red peppers adorn whitewashed homes, the traditional method of drying the peppers. Savor a delicious lunch in Espelette. Enrichment: Rural Games. In Basque Spain and France, rural games known as “herri kirolak” honor the hard work of farmers. The games are based on farming tasks, such as wood chopping, scything and more. Discovery: St-Jean-de-Luz. This pretty town has a swashbuckling past! In the 17th and 18th centuries, fishermen traded their nets for swords and cannons to become feared corsairs. France’s King Louis XIV and Maria Teresa of Spain exchanged wedding vows here. See the St-Jean-Baptiste Church and stroll through Place Louis XIV.
Day Seven B | L
Discovery: Bilbao. Visit the Guggenheim Bilbao, which itself is a beautiful piece of art cdesigned by renowned architect Frank Gehry. Explore the exciting and thought-provoking works of modern art with an expert guide. Enjoy lunch in Bilbao. Enrichment: Hemingway’s Spain. Ernest Hemingway lived for many years in Spain, which influenced much of his work. Discover his passion for this wonderful country.
Day Eight B | D
Free Time: Enjoy a full day at leisure. Take a final stroll through the Old Town. Stop for an alfresco lunch along the Plaza de la Constitución. Shop for souvenirs, maybe a pair of espadrilles, the Basque shoes that have become popular around the world, or txapela, a traditional beret. An Elective Activity also is being offered today.
ELECTIVE | Pamplona. Visit the city known for the annual Running of the Bulls and its ties to Ernest Hemingway. See the bullfighting ring, the chapel of San Fermín and the Gothic cathedral. Lunch is included.
Gather for a Farewell Reception and Dinner.
Day Nine B
Following breakfast, transfer to the airport for the return flight to your gateway city. Note: Itinerary may change due to local conditions. Walking is required on many excursions, and surfaces may be uneven or unpaved. Transfers and flights included for AHI FlexAir participants B|L|D denotes included breakfasts, lunches and dinners.
Elective experiences available at an additional cost
ELECTIVE | PRE-TRIP EXTENSION IN MADRID
Get to know Madrid, Spain’s vibrant capital! Includes three nights at the Hotel Wellington; Spanish art lecture; guided city tour; three breakfasts; one lunch; train to San Sebastián; train station/San Sebastián transfers; guide, driver and meal gratuities; an AHI Hospitality Desk; and all taxes and service charges.
Price: $1,195 per person, double occupancy; $1,495 single occupancy