Our China trip was an amazing experience. So much camaraderie developed along with the wonderful memories of what, for many of us, was a once in a lifetime trip. Missouri Watercolor Society has planned another tour in conjunction with the 2020 Missouri Watercolor International Exhibition in Barcelona, Spain.. The tour dates are April 21 to May 7, 2020. I am sending this to you so you know the upcoming trip will be a more relaxed tour with ample painting time. Spain of course has much smaller distances to travel than China and has a language which we can actually read on a street sign, certainly allowing us the freedom to explore on our own - and most Spaniards speak at least some English. We would love for you to consider joining us on this new adventure experiencing the art, sights and tastes of Spain.
We have made the plans with everyone’s comfort in mind.
- The group departs Chicago (ORD), LAX or NYC (JFK) on April 21st. Those departing from LAX pay a premium. We arrive in Barcelona the next morning, returning from Madrid on May 7. Once ticketed you may upgrade your ticket and seating. AA mileage can be earned by those AA members.
- We will stay at least two nights in every hotel. During the tour we will be 4 nights in Barcelona, 2 nights in Girona, 3 in Madrid, 2 nights near Segovia, 3 nights in Vitoria (near San Sebastian & Bilbao) and one last night in Madrid before flying to the US.
- The hotels are all Marriott properties with the exception of the El Rancho Resort and Spa near the old Roman city of Segovia. It’s a charming place. The land has been owned by the same family for 4 generations. Kathie and I have stayed in all of the hotels except the one in Vitoria. The Marriott properties can be viewed on the Marriott website. If you are a BONVOY (Marriott Rewards) member you can earn points in the Marriott properties El Rancho is a peaceful spot, a place to catch our breath.
- All breakfasts are included. Spanish restaurants are generally small to mid-size and not able to handle large groups. Lunches are not included allowing you to explore Spanish cuisine in sidewalk cafes, tapas bars, etc. We will have a group dinner in each city (a special Welcoming Dinner our first night) and a farewell dinner the last evening before we return to the states. The tour is designed to give you time to really experience Spain – its art, people, sights, smells, sounds – and most importantly – its cuisine – and to paint!
- NO early mornings - we leave the hotels generally 9-9:30 am on the days we will be sightseeing or changing hotels. This is a painting and sightseeing trip. We will be visiting some incredibly unique and beautiful areas, perfect for the painters and photographers in the group and with much to do and see for the non-painters.
- We will be taking the 200 mph AVE 'bullet' train from Barcelona to Madrid on the 28th. It’s a very comfortable three hour trip. Other legs of the trip will be in luxury motor coaches.
- Entry Tickets to the Sagrada Familia, Park Guell, the Prado and the Guggenheim in Bilbao are included.
- Any travelers who wish to extend their trip up to two weeks may return on the same ticket. Therefore if you wish to stay in Europe - Portugal, Italy, France - wherever - you may do so as long as you return to the states within two weeks and you fly out of MADRID.
- The total cost is $4395 per person - inc. airfare from Chicago (ORD) or New York City (JFK), all hotels, all enumerated meals, the AVE train, luxury motor coaches, entrance fees, etc.
There has been a great deal of enthusiasm for this tour. I expect it to be quickly over subscribed. The air (on American Airlines) has been scheduled. A $500 deposit for the tour is required. The amount paid is refundable less $150 through January 31st. For those paying the $500 deposit, a second payment of $1600 is due by October 31st with the balance due by January 31st. If you choose to pay by credit card there is a 2.4% cc fee (sorry!!).
NOW THE ITINERARY: I will let you 'google the sites/towns.
My pictures won't do any of them justice.
- 4/21 Depart USA from JFK or ORD
- 4/22 BARCELONA FOUR POINTS HOTEL on the DIAGONAL. Arrive Barcelona in the morning, motor coach to the hotel. The afternoon is for resting or exploring the surrounds including the beach – a doable walk from the hotel. We will have a Meet and Greet Informational Meeting one hour before our Welcome Dinner at our hotel.
- 4/23 Bus to the Gaudi Sagrada Familia for a guided tour through the church. Bus to La Rambla - the 'main street' of Barcelona – munch your way through the famous food markets, sightsee, shop, relax at a tapas bar. Stay for the evening or bus back to the hotel. Try the beach (walkable from the hotel) for fresh seafood, etc.
- 4/24 Bus to the Old City of Barcelona, tour the European Museum of Contemporary Art where part of the MOWS Exhibition will be hung, visit the Gothic Cathedral, visit the Picasso Museum, enjoy the shops, cafes that line the old narrow streets. Bus to the hotel, later bus (also quite walkable) to the Barcelona Academy of Art to see the MOWS exhibit, attend the Reception (food and wine) and the Award Ceremony.
- 4/25 Bus to the much photographed and world-famous Park Guell. A great plein air painting opportunity! Around 1 pm you can be dropped at the hotel or visit the seaport for lunch, painting and sightseeing. Free time!
- 4/26 GIRONA Bus 1 1/2 hr to GIRONA, an ancient city with Roman, Moorish, Christian and Jewish influences. There are countless painting opportunities here as well as other sites to enjoy. Our bus will deliver us(uphill) to our hotel The AC Palau De Bellavista Hotel to settle in, enjoy their lovely terrace before our group dinner.
- 4/27 Bus for the famous fishing village of Cadaques which sits on a peninsula jutting into the Mediterranean. It is also a very famous artist colony - Dali had a home there (now a museum), Picasso, Miro, Duchamp and countless others spent time in Cadaques. A plein air painting paradise! We will spend most of the day there before driving 30 minutes along the coast to the small fishing village of Llanca. After visiting the Catalan Watercolor Museum in Llanca and doing some seaside sightseeing/painting we will return to the hotel. In Cadaques the are innumerable seaside possibilities for lunch – almost all with great views. Dinner on your own or in small groups will be in one of the countless restaurants in Girona.
- 4/28 Bus to Barcelona Sants Train Station to take the AVE 'bullet' train to MADRID, bus the short distance to the hotel AC ATOCHA which is within walking distance to the Prado, the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museums and the fabulous Retiro Park. The park is especially beautiful - once belonging to theSpanish Monarchy. The train ride to Madrid is just under 3 hours. We will arrive in plenty of time to stroll, find a nice tapas bar and enjoy dinner.
- 4/29 Walk to the Prado and spend the morning (or longer) in the museum. Lunch is available at the Museum if you wish to stay or head to the other sites close by. The afternoon is free to stroll/paint in the gorgeous Retiro park. We will enjoy a sumptuous group dinner at the hotel.
- 4/30 Bus (1 hour) to the walled city of Toledo. We suggest a walking tour of the exquisite Cathedral, then take in the picturesque narrow streets of the old city. At every turn there is great scene just waiting for your brush. El Greco spent most of his adult life here. The El Greco Museum is in a charming setting (free for seniors) with gardens and the ticket includes entrance to the restored Jewish synagogue which was fascinating. We will return to Madrid and our hotel in the evening.
- 5/1 SEGOVIA Bus to Avila – the ancient walled city known as the 'Town of Stones & Saints'. Google it up and you will see what I mean. Mid-afternoon we will continue on to SEGOVIA. Our hotel EL RANCHO is 9 km out of town. One of the owners is famous chef in Spain and we will enjoy a fabulous dinner together.
- 5/2 Bus to center city Segovia where the almost complete Roman Aqueduct dominates the town. The city center is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The Cathedral and castle are also prominent and very picturesque to paint.. We will spend the day here with so much to see and do, returning to the hotel in the afternoon. Weather permitting, relax and enjoy the pool or the indoor spa. There a number of casual restaurants within walking distance for dinner.
- 5/3 VITORIA AC GENERAL ALAVA HOTEL After breakfast at El Rancho we will bus to Vitoria-Gasteiz, the capital city of the Basque region. Frequently listed as one of the 5 best places to live in Spain, the town has some of the best preserved medieval streets and plazas in Spain. It is also home to a number of world-renowned wineries. It is yet again a painter's paradise! Great sightseeing! We will enjoy a terrific Basque dinner together that evening.
- 5/4 Bus to the idyllic coastal seaport of San Sebastian. Just 20 km from France and on the Bay of Biscay, it is one of the most famous tourist destinations in Spain. We will spend the day there sightseeing, painting and shopping - returning to the hotel later in the afternoon.
- 5/5 Bus to Bilbao and its world famous Guggenheim Museum. Bilbao is 10 miles south of the Bay of Biscay and sits on a river. We will spend the day touring the museum, sightseeing and painting leaving for Vitoria in the afternoon with enough time to visit one or more of the wineries.
- 5/6 MADRID AC ATOCHA We will bus back to Madrid arriving early enough to see anything missed on our earlier visit. We will enjoy a FAREWELL banquet that evening.
- 5/7 HOME?? After good-byes, hugs and a few tears, those leaving for the states will bus to the airport. Those staying in Europe longer will wish the US bound travelers a 'bon voyage'.
Any questions, please don't hesitate to email or call me.