Arrive in Barcelona at any time. As your fellow travellers are arriving throughout the day, there are no planned activities, so check-in to the hotel (check-in time is approx. 3pm) and enjoy the city. In the evening meet your fellow group members to go over the details of your trip. Check the notice boards or ask at reception for the exact time and location of this group meeting. After the meeting, you can head out for a meal at a local restaurant with the group (optional). If you arrive late, no worries, your Tour Leader will leave you a message at the front desk. Please note: This tour is designed for those who wish to enjoy the spectacle of the Running of the Bulls from a safe distance. G Adventures does not in any way recommend participating in the run. Please see the "important notes" section for more information on this. If you arrive early why not spend the afternoon at leisure exploring Spain’s second largest city, known worldwide for its dynamic atmosphere and exciting style. Barcelona may be Spain’s second largest city, but it's the capital when it comes to fashion, architecture, food and music. Renowned for its dynamic atmosphere and groundbreaking style, Barcelona is always fun and exciting. As the most cosmopolitan and economically active city in Spain it has always shown its will to be modern. Barcelona is always at the forefront of the latest international styles, whether it be in architecture, fashion or ways of thinking. There is plenty of history too: visit the old Gothic Quarter with its maze of dark streets, historic cathedral, medieval buildings, bars and cafes. Stroll the Rambla, a large tree-lined pedestrian boulevard perfect for people-watching and window shopping, ending at the harbour front facing the Mediterranean Sea. Make sure to view Gaudi’s most famous work, the Sagrada Familia cathedral, an inspiring yet bizarre testament to the artist’s unique vision. Should you need some quiet time away from it all a visit to the imaginative Park Guell will cure all ills, as you stroll the tree lined paths and admire more of Gaudi’s creative genius at play. For nightlife, the highest concentration of young and beautiful locals dancing the night away – both in the bars and on the street – can be found near the intersection of Santaló and Mariano Cubi streets. Here you can always find good music, good drinks and lots of fun. Another good nightlife spot for meeting the fashionable locals of Barcelona is on the Plaza Francesc Maciá.
Today is a free day to explore all that the Catalan capital has to offer. Why not let your Tour Leader take you on a orientation walk after breakfast, to point out some of the many highlights not to be missed. From the impressive Gaudi architecture of the Sagrada Familia, Casa Batlló, Pedreira and the Park Guell, to the magnificent Picasso Museum, the narrow atmospheric alleys of the Gothic Quarter and the sweeping Ramblas boulevard leading down to the sparkling waters of the Mediterranean around the modern and bustling port area and of course, Barceloneta Beach, the hangout for the trendy local crowd in summer.
Welcome to the fiesta! We head by train to Pamplona, capital of Navarre region and home of the Fiestas de San Fermin, one of Spain's most famous festivals, best known for its daily Running of the Bulls or "encierro", an integral part of this week-long annual festival. After checking-in to our hotel in the late afternoon, head out with your Tour Leader onto the streets to explore the city and soak up some of the unique festive atmosphere. Get ready for your first night on the town as you join the colourful revelry with plenty of time to sample some great local tapas and wine. Don't expect to get much sleep - Pamplona has more bars than Dublin! The festival of San Fermin is a deeply rooted celebration held annually from midday on the 6th July, when the opening of the fiesta is marked with a pyrotechnic display, to midnight on the 14th July, with the singing of the "Pobre de Mí". While its most famous event is the encierro (the running of the bulls) the biggest day is 7th July, when thousands of people accompany a replica of the statue of Saint Fermin along the streets in the old quarter of city. The saint is accompanied by dancers and street entertainers, such as the Gigantes (giant-sized figures who represent the King and Queen of Europe, Asia, Africa, and America) and the Cabezudos (the Bigheads). The week-long celebration involves many other traditional and folkloric events. It is known locally as San Fermines and is held in honor of Saint Fermin, the co-patron saint of Navarre. Its events were central to the plot of the book, "The Sun Also Rises", by Ernest Hemingway, which brought it to the general attention of the English-speaking world. It has become probably the most internationally renowned fiesta in Spain. Over a million people come to participate in the festival every year. Estimated travel time: Barcelona to Pamplona, 6hrs (metro, train, bus)
An early start as we head to our private balcony for the best and most coveted view of the heart-stopping action of a morning bull-run (or "encierro" in Spanish) accompanied by our expert local guide to talk you through the action. You'll soon see why we (strongly!) recommend that you leave the running to the local experts! We will be picked up at our hotel at around 6am to head by private transport to the centre of the old town where we meet our local guide to take us to our private balcony in a building overlooking the route of the running of the bulls. Enjoy the excitement of one of the most coveted views of the daily "encierro", which lasts little more than a couple of minutes, but for the runners it can seem like hours! Our guide will explain the history and folklore involved in the San Fermin festival and the tradition of the bull run and daily bull fight, or "corrida". After the action, sit back with your travel companions and local guide, who will continue to pique your interest with tales of past runs, bull fights and San Fermin festivities. Opt to visit the local Encierro Museum, which details the history and tradition of the running of the bulls. Later there will be plenty of time to soak up some more of the festival action below in the heart of it all, in the streets of Pamplona. Do as the Spanish do and take an afternoon siesta to rest and recover some strength for another evening of partying on the streets with the thousands of other revellers.
Rise early (or stay awake!) for another viewing opportunity of today's "encierro", which takes place each morning throughout the week-long festival, followed by breakfast at the hotel to trade war stories. Grab a quick nap before we head by bus to the beautiful coast and “La perla” of the Basque country, San Sebastian. Just a short bus ride away from Pamplona, San Sebastian is an elegant, vibrant and beautiful coastal town with a strong Basque identity. Take a stroll through the old part of the city, which the Donostiarras (citizens of San Sebastian) refer to as Alde Zaharra or Parte Vieja (the “Old Part”). It is a pedestrian precinct full of local character. At the edge of the Old Quarter begins “La Concha” beach, one of the most famous beaches in Spain. Enjoy a very pleasant walk to the other side and you can admire the “Comb of winds”, one of the sculptures of Chillida, a local Basque artist. From there you can climb, or take a cable car, to Monte Igaldo and enjoy the best views of the city. Visit the Brecha market, whose façade can be seen from the main Boulevard. What was once a traditional market is now a shopping and entertainment centre, occupying the so-called "Brecha", the old fish market and the space connecting the two. Along with modern shopping possibilities, fresh local products are still available. You may wonder why it is called “Brecha”. The reason is that this is the point in the old city wall where the Anglo-Portuguese artillery opened up a breach (brecha) during the 1813 seige. Back in the old quarter, indulge yourself with pintxos, a very traditional Basque way of eating; they’re small portions of local delicacies, cold or hot, perched (or sometimes piled somewhat precariously!) on top of slices of fresh bread, held together with a cocktail stick and lined up along the bar tops in all the bars. Grab a plate, fill it up with whatever tickles your fancy and order yourself a glass or crisp local white wine to wash it all down. Afterwards, take a walk along the Alameda, a pleasant pedestrian promenade ideal for strolling, sitting on one of the many benches, listening to music from the bandstand, or meeting up with friends before heading out to enjoy some of the nightlife San Sebastian is famous for. If you have had enough of revelling and city pursuits, catch a local bus or train to one of the many surrounding beach towns up and down the spectacular Basque coastline. This is a popular destination for surfing, bodyboarding and other water sports, as well as just relaxing with a book and a few local treats on one of the many wide sandy beaches. Estimated travel time: Pamplona to San Sebastian, 1.5hrs (local bus)
Today we head to the vibrant and exciting Basque capital, Bilbao. This northern city is one of Spain's most culturally alive, bustling with the young, trendy and sophisticated, yet distinctly laid back and stress-free. There is Basque culture galore in its many museums, galleries and exhibition spaces, mouthwatering cuisine, animated nightlife and of course the internationally renowned Guggenheim ( or "El Goog" as the locals call it!) Museum. Bilbao has always had a strong international feel to it. With the boost in trade stimulated by the conquest of the Americas, Basque fishermen, merchants and settlers built strong links to such cities as Boston and many Basques emigrated to both North and South America. By the late 19th century the smokestacks of steelworks, shipbuilding yards and chemical plants dominated the area’s skyline. Under Franco, there were violent reprisals against Basque nationalists over many years, yet the city prospered as it fed the Spanish industrial needs. The late 20th Century was characterized by a seemingly terminal economic decline that has been dramatically and dynamically reversed in recent years as Bilbao has become one of Spain's must-see destinations. Head out with our Tour Leader to discover why Bilbao has earned its very deserved place on the discerning tourist's map and soak up some of the traditional Basque hospitality, and of course some of the most delicious cuisine in the country.(please note: food and drinks are at the customers expense) Estimated travel time: San Sebastian to Bilbao, 2hrs (local bus)
You are free to depart Bilbao at any time.