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5 Highlights of VBT’s Biking Tour of Andalusia

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Andalusia—the southernmost of Spain’s autonomous communities—is a virtual playground for active travelers. The diversity of its history, cuisine, cultures and of course stunning scenery, make for the perfect compliments to a fulfilling bike tour that focuses on cultural immersion. With VBT you’ll spend 7 days cruising the countryside while photomaking time to stop for home-cooked meals, wine tastings and stays in both bustling cities and picturesque mountain towns. Check out some of this tours highlights…

Cycling La Ruta del Vino
One of our favorite rides on this tour is along La Ruta del Vino—or the Wine Road—located in the foothills of the Cordillera Subbetica mountain range. Our ride begins from the town of Aguilar de la Frontera and as we make our way to Moriles, we’ll take in the scenery and even stop at a traditional bodega for a winetasting and lunch.

Córdoba
800px-Cordoba,_Roman_Bridge_and_Mosque-CathedralOur home for two nights is Cordoba, a cultural crossroads due to its cultural and historic ties to Jews, Muslims and Christians that have lived in the city throughout its 2,000 years. In fact, in the 10th century Cordoba was believed to be the largest city in the world.  During our stay, we’ll enjoy a guided walking tour of the city’s historic center, also a UNESCO World Heritage site, and enjoy exploring the Jederia district, where our hotel is located a couple blocks from the Guadalquivir River.

The “White Village” of Zuheros
Zuheros at night
Built onto a rocky promontory, Zuheros is considered one of Spain’s most beautiful pueblos blancos, or white villages. The town’s small homes have been built into its rocky hillside since the 10th century— the ancient Zuheros Castle even seems to be emerging directly out of the rock it was built on. The chalky-white exteriors seem to glisten in the sun, but their foundations in the earth keep them cool and comfortable, even at midday.

Jamon-LAndalusian Cuisine
Perhaps best known for giving the world gazpacho, the ingredients of traditional fare are seafood, jamón, local produce, legumes, wine and olive oil. During our stay at the Hacienda Minerva—a historic farm has been lovingly restored and also offers 4-star modern comforts—their chef will demonstrate how to cook a variety of traditional Andalusian dishes before the group gets to dine in the delicious finished products.

The Alhambra
Alhambra
A perfect embodiment of Andalusia’s diverse heritage is the Alhambra Palace in Granada. This 9th century structure’s Islamic and Christian influences are on display as we learn about how it transformed from a small fortress into a royal palace in the 14th century. One the final day of the tour, travelers will be treated to guided tour of both included visit of the Palace and Generalife Gardens, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

To learn more about how you can visit this region on VBT’s Spain: Under the Andalusian Sky ​tour please click here. If you would like to reserve a vacation or speak with one of our Tour Consultants, please call 800-245-3868 or visit vbt.com. They are available Monday-Friday from 8:30am to 6:30pm EST and Saturdays from 10:00am to 3:00pm EST.

Best Reasons to Walk the Basque Region with VBT

Basque Panorama
Along the border of Spain and France and framed by the soaring Pyrenees and serene waters of the Bay of Biscay, lies a uniquely autonomous region known as Basque Country. Travelers will find themselves discovering jaw-dropping landscapes, delicious cuisine that draws from a variety of cultures, and friendly and intensely proud Basque people. VBT’s new Spain: A Walking Tour of Basque Country fully immerses you into Basque culture during walks in quaint villages and bustling cities, as well as scenic walking paths in the foothills above the Atlantic Ocean. Keep reading to learn why we think the Basque Country is a must-see destination for any active traveler.

The Basque People
Ox cart
Rather than tell you about the culture on tour, we’ll facilitate interesting encounters with friendly locals so that you may learn about the Basque people in the most authentic way—face to face. During a stop in Hondarribia, we’ll walk the streets with a local guide, who will tell us all about the history of this interesting coastal town and its two identities—one in the port area and the other in the medieval walled town that sits high above.  Although most residents speak Spanish or French, 27% of the population is still fluent in Euskara, the traditional language of the Basque population. During this vacation, a local resident will give us an intriguing lesson about the history of this language and its place in society today. Another cultural highlight is the day we learn pelota! This ancient sport—which is similar to racquetball and tennis—was developed when the Basque people decided that rather than playing face-to-face over a net, they’d prefer to use their hands to hit a ball in a three-walled court—oftentimes using the exterior of the town church to play.

The Food
Seafood Basque
From gastronomic clubs to rural, self-sustaining farms, you’ll have a chance to enjoy all the tastes of the Basque Country. One day for lunch, we’ll visit a charming farm where our host, Pello Urdapilleta, will tell us all about his family’s long history of raising Euskal txerria—a breed of pig found only in the Basque region. We’ll also sample rural culinary delights like alubias de Tolosa—purple-black legumes that turn red when cooked—whose rich, buttery flavor is complemented perfectly by sidra, a local apple cider. We’ll also get to attend dinner at a txoko, which are members-only societies that date back to 1870 in some towns. Traditionally made up of men who got together to share their interests in cooking creative meals, drinking and socializing, txokos became safe havens where members could keep their language and traditions alive when Basque culture was suppressed under the reign of Francisco Franco.

The Walking
walking

We’ll traverse cobbled city streets and rural hillside trails alike on this tour. Perhaps the highlight is the day we walk along the historic “Way of St. James.” This coastal route is thought to be the oldest of all the paths leading to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, where many believe St. James is buried. We’ll trace the 1,000 year old path that was the first institutionalized route used by the holy pilgrims. History aside, the natural beauty of this walk will not disappoint either. On our journey to the summit of Mt. Jaizkibel, we’ll soak in views of Bay of Biscay and its numerous rugged coves that dot the shoreline.

To learn more about how you can visit this region on VBT’s Spain: A Walking Tour of Basque Country​ tour please click here. If you would like to reserve a vacation or speak with one of our Tour Consultants, please call 800-245-3868 or visit vbt.com. They are available Monday-Friday from 8:30am to 6:30pm EST and Saturdays from 10:00am to 3:00pm EST.

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