Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Best of Barcelona

Best of Barcelona 
Barcelona, on the Mediterranean coast, is one of Spain's most livable and lovable cities. For anyone who has ever wanted to go on an excursion to Europe, this is the perfect time!

The US dollar is strong and the exchange rate is in our favor, so pack your bags, locate your passport, bring a camera and join us for the trip of a lifetime.

$3358 per person including round-trip airfare
on Continental from Newark based on double occupancy
$2614 per person excluding airfare based on double occupancy
Single room supplement $447/
Bilbao Extension: Price on Request
 Balance due by September 8.

Gaudi Tour:
Antoni Gaudi was one of the most important architects worldwide. His masterpieces are sensuous, curving, almost surreal - and established him as an innovative leader of the Spanish Modernists (Art Nouveau). Most of his extraordinary works were conceived in Barcelona, and his world of fantasy is evident in every corner of the city. We'll visit 3 of his projects. The magnificent Sagrada Familia church is considered Gaudi's masterwork and he devoted the last 15 years of his life entirely to this endeavor, working on it from 1883 until his death in 1926. The church is still unfinished and not expected to be completed before 2026. It will be consecrated by Pope Benedict XVI on November 7th, a week before our visit. Casa Battlo, another masterpiece, has a façade decorated with a magnificent mosaic of ceramic tile fragments. The roof is arched and resembles a reptilian creature. Parc Guell is a magical place: the pavilions seem to be taken out of Hansel and Gretel, with curved roofs covered with brightly colored tiles and ornamental spires, looking like the dorsal spines of a dragon.

Picasso Museum:
The museum occupies five medieval palaces and houses the most important collections of paintings, drawings and ceramics from the early years of Picasso's life. More than 900 works were donated by the artist and his family. Our private tour will showcase the extensive collection of these early works as well as some of his later pieces. Prior to visiting the Picasso Museum, we'll walk through the old city and stop at sites where the locals gather: LA BOQUERIA - Barcelona's famous food market; the CHOCOLATE MUSEUM - that depicts the origins of chocolate; CAELUM - a café where the Jewish baths were located 600 years ago; and GISBERT- for freshly roasted nuts and coffee beans.

Dali Museum:
This is a full day excursion, leaving the city and exploring the countryside: first stop is Figueres, Salvador Dali's birthplace and location of the museum he built to house his art. We'll experience the indescribable creative genius of this artist in a museum that is a work of art in itself. Then on to Blanes - a small charming town by the sea in an area known as the Costa Brava (rugged coast) where we'll meet the fishing boats at the pier as they sail into port to unload their catch of the day. We'll follow the fishermen and their carts to the fish auction and continue to dinner at a local restaurant for Pica Pica - an array of local dishes caught and prepared fresh from the sea - with Spanish Cava.

Cooking School and Paella Dinner:
We'll all participate in a hands-on cooking class, preparing typical dishes of the region, including paella. Then we'll sit down for a sumptuous dinner with wine, savoring the dishes we've just created. We'll all have a keepsake of the recipes and an apron to remember the experience.
Note: all entrance fees to museums for group tours above are covered and we will provide local guides and staff to accompany us for all group events. Gratuities for drivers and all tour and museum guides are included. These tours require moderate physical activity, and walking tours may involve climbing stairs and walking reasonable distances. 

The following four optional private tours give you the flexibility to include one or several tours that interest you. You may prefer to explore the city on your own or just relax. The optional tours require a minimum of 10 participants each, so we need your selection(s) with payment by September 8th to arrange the tours. If you decide earlier, it would be helpful if you notify us. The cost includes private tour with guides, and transportation to and from the museums. Note that some of the tours require a great deal of walking.

2-3 HOURS $36
Included will be Las Ramblas - the soul of the city and most vibrant street, with shops, restaurants, flower vendors, mimes and street entertainers.  Las Ramblas is undoubtedly the liveliest place in Barcelona.

This tour includes transportation and requires walking. This city overview is the perfect way to become familiar with the amazing sights of Barcelona. It takes in Las Ramblas -the colorful, bustling, avenue that opens to the Mediterranean Sea. It includes famous architectural highlights of the city including Gaudi's famous Sagrada Familia, Casa Batlio and La Pedrera . We'll see the Montjuic Hill area, site of the 1992 Olympic Games. The tour also features the ancient city center, also known as the Gothic quarter with ruins that date back to Roman times.

This unique mountain, located about an hour from Barcelona, is the site of the Santa Maria Monastery and the home for about eighty monks. The basilica, next to the monastery, is where the famous Black Virgin statue is located, and from the top of the mountain we'll experience the breathtaking views of the Catalonian countryside.

Then on to Cordoniu, a winery that dates back to the 16th century, and a major producer of "cava" - Spain's most distinctive sparkling wine. There are miles upon miles of underground caves, where wines mature and are aged. The magnificent combination of sea, mountains and temperate climate create optimum conditions for the grapes to mature. We'll see the beautiful grounds as well as the state-of-the art technology that makes this one of the most important wineries in the world.

This museum takes visitors on a journey through a thousand years of Catalan art from the 10th to 20th centuries. It houses the largest and most important works of Romanesque art anywhere. The extensive Gothic Art collection includes mural paintings, metalwork, enamelwork, sculpture, wood and ivory carving. The murals, because of their size and quality, are considered the most exceptional in the world. The Renaissance collection includes works by Titian, Tintoretto, El Greco and Rubens.

Bilbao Extension November 18-20, 2010: We are offering an overnight extension for those who want to visit Bilbao - the site of the Guggenheim Museum. Designed by Frank Gehry, it is one of the most striking museums in the world. It sits on the Nervion River and resembles a ship with its brilliantly reflective titanium panels. The collection includes art from the mid-twentieth century to the present. Accommodations are at the five-star Silken Gran Hotel - which looks out over the shining structure of the Guggenheim Museum. The bold, almost whimsical design of the hotel seems to have spilled over from Frank Gehry's remarkable architecture. The hotel has a restaurant, café, fitness center, and sauna. The Bilbao extension includes accommodations for one night with daily breakfast, air transportation from Barcelona to Bilbao and back to Barcelona, all transfers and extensive guided tour of the Guggenheim Museum. Ask for the cost to add this wonderful optional add-on.

Accommodations are for 6 nights in the beautiful four-star Hotel Condes de Barcelona. It is centrally located on the elegant Paseo de Gracia, and faces "La Perrera", one of the famous Gaudi buildings. The hotel has two restaurants, fitness center and sauna. Included are 6 buffet breakfasts, 5 dinners, 2 half-day tours, 1 full day tour (out of the city), and a Cooking School Event with dinner.

We'll have tapas and paella, and dinners in wonderful restaurants, including the 17th century Catalan Farmhouse where Vicky, Cristina and Juan dined in the film, Vicky Cristina Barcelona.

For further info, call Linda at 845-255-5256 or email artladyLG@aol.comSpecify "art tours" in the subject line.

To reserve,
make your check payable to AAUW, include your phone# and mail to: Linda Gold, 1 Jacobs Lane, New Paltz, NY 12561.

A non-refundable deposit of $700 is due with your reservation by July 22. After that time the deposit is $750. The balance is due by Sept 8. Reservations after this time will be subject to availability. Since we are holding only 20 seats at this low price on Continental Airlines, additional tickets will be priced higher.
We will be happy to assist you with your flight needs. Due to limited availability and rising airfares, you are strongly encouraged to use our air packages. We have reserved only 20 seats on Continental's roundtrip direct flight from Newark to Barcelona on November 11, returning November 18. Participants traveling by air with us will be provided with chartered round trip bus service with pick-ups from Kingston and Monticello to Newark airport. Upon arrival in Barcelona, those traveling with us will be greeted outside customs by a staff member and transported to the hotel. En route, to get our bearings, we'll have a brief orientation tour, seeing the highlights of the city from the comfort of the coach. Note: transfers to and from the airport are included for those purchasing airfare with us. We can arrange for transfers for an additional fee for those not traveling by air with us. For those booking your own airfare, we will not be responsible for any air arrangements you make on your own.

We strongly suggest you obtain a TRAVEL PROTECTION PLAN to cover medical expenses, baggage loss and delay, as well as trip interruption or cancellation due to unforeseen circumstances. As an AAUW member or friend, you have access to Insure My Trip, a site that for no cost lets you compare trip insurance from the top industry providers. And, remember to ask that the policy include a waiver for pre-existing conditions, and a hotel stay in case of cancellations due to volcanic ash.

DISCLAIMER: AAUW and Linda Gold assume no responsibility for and cannot be held liable for any personal injury, death, property damage or other loss, accident, delay or inconvenience. In addition, responsibility is not accepted for losses or expenses due to sickness, lack of appropriate medical facilities or practitioners, weather, strikes, volcanic ash disruption, theft or other criminal acts, war or terrorism.

AAUW and Linda Gold reserve the right to withdraw any tour announced or to change or cancel itineraries or hotels, whenever it is deemed necessary. Although itineraries are as accurate as possible, they are subject to change due to traffic, weather, or any other conditions beyond our control. Although every effort is made to handle passengers' luggage as carefully as possible, we are not responsible for and do not assume liability nor accept claims for loss or damage to luggage due to breakage, theft or wear and tear through hotel and group carrier handling.

Note: This trip is based on a minimum of 20 reservations and AAUW has the right to cancel due to insufficient enrollment.

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