We end our fantasy trip (see part 1, part 2) in Northern Spain. Soaked in sunshine, Spain has long served up alluring sights, sounds, and savory delights. Northern Spain, is especially well known for it’s cuisine and culture. The following itinerary takes in the delicious delights of La Boqueria in Barcelona, learning how to cook Catalan dishes, the tapas bars of Logrono, wine tasting in the La Rioja region, and pintxos tasting in the famed bars of San Sebastian.
Your first stop is Barcelona, the heart of Catalan country. Shake off your jetlag by diving headfirst into the chaotic colour and mouth watering aromas of La Boqueria, Barcelona’s most famous food market. Sample the jamon – iberico, bellota or Serrano – and Manchego cheese on offer, then find a seat at one of the tapas bars while enjoying the hustle and bustle going on all around you.
On your second day in Barcelona, take a wander around this easy to navigate city and visit the famous Sagrada Familia, a cathedral designed by Antoni Gaudi, Spain’s most famous architect. Other sights include the beaches of La Barceloneta, the rambling Las Ramblas and the Gothic Quarter.
Book a Catalan culinary course with one of the many cooking schools available in Barcelona for a hands-on learning experience of the local cuisine. Classes are mainly conducted in English and run between 3-4 hours – you’ll even get to sample your own cooking at the end of it! Learn about the secrets of Catalan cooking, including how to cook with botifarra (pork sausage) and picada (ground and herb nuts).
Leaving Barcelona with a heavy heart and full belly, take the train to Logrono, the heart of Spain’s wine country. Here, in the jumbled streets of medieval Casco Viejo, let instinct be your guide as you tapas hop through the city. Each bar usually specialises in one divine, delicious dish – wild mushrooms cooked in butter, grilled chorizo, fishcakes in béchamel – so if you want to sample as much as possible, keep moving. If you stick to the vicinity of Calle del Laurel, you can do no wrong.
La Rioja is one of Spain’s most famous exports, and it would be a shame to leave without trying some of the region’s award winning wines. There are plenty of wineries within Logrono itself, ranging from small, boutique family run businesses to new, modern behemoths with cutting edge technology.
From Logrono, it is a short 2 hour bus ride to the culinary center of Spain – San Sebastian. With its stunning beaches, historical architecture and thriving art scene, San Seb, as it’s affectionately known, offer a whole different take on Spanish food. Take in a txikiteo, a pintxo bar hop – the Basque equivalent of tapas – in the Parte Vieja, pintxos where have been elevated to tiny, bite sized, edible works of art.
Glorious San Sebastian has more Michelin stars per square metre than any other city on earth, with 16 stars in total. Dine in luxury at Arzak, Akelarre, or Berasategui, which all hold 3 Michelin stars each; or if you can’t get a reservation, try your luck at Kokotxia or Mirador de Ulia instead – the experience will be as transcendent.
On your final day in San Sebastian, look to a traditional cider house, or sagardotegia for your last supper. These establishments are located a little further away from the city center and serve delicious meals to accompany the local brew. Ask your hotel concierge to organize this for you. After eating your fill, catch the train from San Seb back to Barcelona. The journey will take you five and a half hours.