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Spain Culture and Culinary Holiday

A varied and interesting week that combines culture, nature, walking and gastronomy in the breathtaking Spanish Pyrenees. With gentle walks our Cultural Holiday Spain will explore the central Spanish Pyrenees. A land rich in history, architecture, gastronomy and culture. Pre-historic cave paintings, Paleolithic stone circles and Dolmens mix with formidable forts, medieval monasteries, majestic castles, ancient ruins and Romanesque churches.

Highlights

  • Enjoy afternoon cookery classes
  • Visit an olive oil producer and a bodega with tasting
  • Morning walks to explore Albella and the Ara Valley and Ordesa National Park
  • Visit to a UNESCO world heritage site in Sierra de Guara and a medieval town
  • An afternoon spent in a fortress town dating back to the Romans
  • Get to visit Ainsa and a 10th-century monastery
  • Daily breakfast, lunch, and dinner are included
  • 7 nights accommodation

Styles


6 days with instruction in English
The organizer also speaks: Spanish
Group size: Maximum of 8 participants
Airport transfer available:
Zaragoza Airport (US$80 per person)
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Accommodation

Check-in Time:
17:00
Check-out Time:
11:00

Facilities

  • Gym
  • Dining area
  • Restaurant
  • Smoke-free property
  • Free Wi-Fi

The farmhouse

They undertook a major restoration project to transform Casa Allué into both a family home and a “must stay” destination. The transformation is complete, they have created a home from home. The bedrooms are spacious with luxury en suite bathrooms and thermostatic rain showers. All have mountain views with plenty of natural light. Four have stone balconies, perfect for stargazing, as the night skies here are breathtaking. Each room is named after the wildlife that surrounds the house.

Welcome to Casa Allué, the guesthouse in the Spanish Pyrenees. A 17th-century farmhouse in the tiny hamlet of Albella, in the very heart of the Spanish Pyrenees. Within the Pyrenees Geopark and close to the National Park of Ordesa and the Natural Park of Sierra de Guara. The farmhouse is also the base for the small group holidays.

Over the past five years, they have restored the farmhouse to a very high standard, using local artisan craftsmen and always respecting the traditional architecture of the area. With the renovation complete, Casa Allué is an exceptional bed-and-breakfast in the Spanish Pyrenees. Simon and Lucy are your hosts and this is their labor of love.

Traditionally restored with the comforts of a modern home

The restoration of Casa Allué, the guesthouse in the Spanish Pyrenees, is true to the traditions of the area, and the age of the house. However, they have also included some modern amenities. They have geothermal underfloor heating throughout, deluxe en suite bathrooms, and even a hydro massage bath to soothe any aching limbs.

But it doesn’t stop there! A separate water tank outside, in effect, your own water supply, ensures there is always a shower when you want and a pump room means you always have enough pressure, even if everyone is showering at the same time! They have Wi-Fi available in all the communal rooms and 24/7 tea or coffee making facilities.

Dine outside from May to October on the beautiful terrace and enjoy stunning mountain views as the sun sets and you sip a glass of wine.

Spacious and comfortable bedrooms and bathrooms

Casa Allué has 8 en suite bedrooms, 4 with double beds, one with twin beds, and 2 individual rooms. They have made sure the bedrooms are spacious with luxury en suite bathrooms and thermostatic rain showers. Furnished throughout with antiques, including comfortable beds with new quality mattresses. All rooms have mountain views with plenty of natural light, four have stone balconies, perfect for stargazing.

Space to spread out

At the Spanish Pyrenees guesthouse, there is a small gymnasium, a place to stretch out as well as tone up. On the floor below is the conference room. Breakfasts and evening meals are served in the spacious dining room. Across the courtyard is the library and salon, where they have plenty of tourist information, as well as a good choice in recreational reading. Enjoy wide-open views of the Pyrenees. Wi-Fi is available in the communal areas.

Program

The May week coincides with the village fiesta on the final day of the holiday. An authentic Pyrenees experience well off the tourist trail. Simon and Lucy, your hosts, a husband and wife team who pride themselves on their personal service, the care they take, and their attention to detail.

You will be staying at their exceptional, renovated farmhouse, within a UNESCO Geopark, a place of particular geological interest and close to two other parks. The National Park of Ordesa and Monte Perdido, a UNESCO world heritage site, and the Natural Park of Sierra de Guara, now itself with UNESCO world heritage status.

Cultural visits

From medieval monasteries, castles, and Romanesque churches to an authentic Pyrenees home, the visits take you back in time to an age of legend and superstition. From the history of the area to the traditional customs, each visit adds a piece to the jigsaw, building a complete picture of our region. Visits can vary from 30 minutes to 1 hour, or as long as you need.

Cookery class: Authentic Spanish cooking with a twist

The recipes they use on their cooking holiday are from authentic Spanish dishes. These they have gathered from neighbors, the chefs of the region, and Spanish friends. There are also dishes of their own with a Spanish twist, like pechugas rellenas de queso de cabra, chicken breast stuffed with goat’s cheese, and flame-roasted red pepper and herbs!

They include primero (starters), segundo (main), postre (desserts), and of course tapas. They also share their tips, things they do every day when working in the catering kitchen.

Fully inclusive from the moment you arrive

On one of the small group holidays, you will find they take care of everything. All you need to do is relax and enjoy your holiday. They include all refreshments: afternoon tea and cakes, pre-dinner drinks, three-course meals, carefully selected local wine, coffee, infusions, breakfasts, and lunches. Even restaurant meals and refreshments when you are out.

  • So why do you need your wallet?

The only reason you need to bring cash is to buy gifts, make a voluntary donation for the upkeep of the chapel, or leave a tip for one of the guides.

Small group holidays

The small group holidays are based at the renovated 17th-century farmhouse in the very heart of the Spanish Pyrenees. Simon and Lucy, your hosts, and together with their daughters, Penny and Sofi, have made their home in a traditional and authentic Pyrenean farming hamlet. Here, they live all year round, so they know the area and the people. The holidays are equally suited to solo travelers, couples, a group of friends, or a club.

The group size is small, 4-8 guests, and the attention to detail in planning the activities is meticulous. They want you to finish each day’s activities feeling fulfilled, smiling, and having had a great time. They charge no single supplement.

Walks and guides: Local insights and knowledge

They use local Spanish qualified mountain guides. Carefully selected by them, they share their passion for the area where they live. This means you will learn about the culture, geology, and wildlife of the area, as well as enjoy the breathtaking scenery. Whatever the holiday, you will be walking over uneven and rocky ground.

They do grade each holiday according to the walking involved. They always consider the weather forecasts and trail conditions before finalizing the daily routes. The walking grade for this holiday is "easy":

  • Height gain: 50 - 250 meters
  • Hours walking: 1 - 3 (Walking time is based on a relaxed pace with time for stops, photography, and explanations from the guide.)
  • Approximate distance: 2 - 8 kilometers
  • Some steep sections: No
  • Rocky uneven trails: Occasionally
  • Easy tracks: Yes
  • Sustained climbing: No
  • Technical sections (steep descent, loose scree, exposed sections): No

Stay in comfort

During the 5-year renovation project, they tried to think of everything for your comfort and enjoyment, without losing the feel of a traditional Pyrenean farmhouse.

  • Family atmosphere

A very warm welcome awaits all guests. In fact, from the moment you arrive, they welcome you as friends. During your stay, the house is your home and they encourage all guests to treat it as such. Don’t be surprised if Penny or Sofi pop into the salon to say hi, tell you about their day, or some local gossip!

  • Personal touch

They love what they do, which shows in the unique personal service they offer, and the attention to detail when planning the itineraries, choosing the guides and finding the specialist tutors for each of the small group holidays. They care about your comfort and your stay. They want your holiday to be the one you remember.

  • Fully inclusive

Your holiday includes everything: afternoon tea, pre-dinner drinks, 3-course meals, carefully selected local wine, coffee, infusions, breakfasts, and lunches. Even restaurant meals and refreshments when you are out. Therefore, you only need to bring cash to buy gifts, make a voluntary donation, or tip one of the guides.

  • Unique setting

The tiny farming hamlet of Albella is a magical place to live. The farmhouse is surrounded by nature. They have everything, geology, history, culture and customs, flora and fauna. In fact, they live in the UNESCO Geopark of Sobrabre, a site of geological interest. This used to be the beach!

  • Responsible travel

They take environmental and social responsibility very seriously. From restoration work to direct financial support for local projects. The love of nature goes hand-in-hand with their commitment to environmental issues.

Sample daily schedule

The bullet point itinerary below gives an idea of what you will be doing during a typical week. Please note, this is strictly a no-smoking holiday.

Day 1

  • Arrival at Casa Allué, Albella
  • Dinner and a chance to meet the group

Day 2

  • Morning walk to explore Albella and the Ara Valley
  • Picnic lunch
  • Afternoon cookery class

Day 3

  • Morning visit to a 10th-century monastery
  • Afternoon in a fortress town dating back to the Romans

Day 4

  • Visit to an olive oil producer
  • Afternoon bodega visit with tasting
  • Evening tapas in Ainsa

Day 5

  • Morning walk to an amazing canyon in the Ordesa National Park
  • Picnic lunch
  • Afternoon cookery class

Day 6

  • Visit the UNESCO World Heritage site in the Sierra de Guara
  • Afternoon visit to a medieval town dating back to 9th century

Day 7

  • Morning walk above a gorge in the Ordesa National Park to see raptors (2 hours)
  • Lunch at a mountain restaurant
  • Evening visit to the town of Ainsa

Day 8

  • A flexible timetable depending on departure times

Location

The base for your cultural holiday in Spain is a 17th-century farmhouse, Casa Allué. It nestles on the hillside in the small farming hamlet of Albella, within the Pyrenees Geopark, and is close to the National Park of Ordesa and the Natural Park of Sierra de Guara.

The village

The guesthouse in the Spanish Pyrenees is in the historic farming hamlet of Albella, situated in the beautiful valley of the river Ara. Albella is known locally for the 16th century chapel of San Urbez. The central position in the Pyrenees means you have the perfect climate with over 320 days of sunshine a year. This is why the valley is so green. Walk to the river for a swim or take the pilgrim trail of San Urbez. There is a number of walks straight from the house. At night, from your bedroom, you can marvel at the amazing starlit skies.

Wildlife

The farmhouse is surrounded by nature. Depending on the time of year, wild boar, badgers, and red squirrels come into the garden, whilst overhead, red and black kites, Egyptian vultures, and griffin vultures soar on the thermals. In the summer, bee-eaters, hoopoes, and golden oriole are all visitors.

The bee and butterfly-friendly planting have meant they see a huge variety of insects, from hummingbird hawkmoths to praying mantis. Join in this quiet haven where nature abounds.

The Ordesa National Park

  • Celebrating 100 years of breathtaking scenery 1918-2018

The Ordesa National Park was established in 1918 and is located in the central Spanish Pyrenees, in the province of Huesca, Aragon. Initially, it encompassed just the valley of Ordesa. In 1982, under threat from a number of hydroelectric projects, the park was quickly expanded to include the valleys of Anisclo and Pineta.

In 1997, the park was classified as a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve and a special protection area for birds. Today, the Ordesa National Park covers an area of more than 156 kilometers squared and is among the most important national parks in Europe.

Features

Activities

  • Gym
  • Stargazing

General

  • Dining area
  • Terrace

Services

  • Conference room
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Library
  • Tour assistance

Food

You will enjoy three daily local meals. All meals will be prepared in the spacious kitchen of Casa Allué. The focus is on well-balanced meals, whether outdoors enjoying a picnic or dining in. The menus will vary according to the season. All meals and refreshments are included. Breakfast is a nutritious continental buffet style with plenty of cereals, fruit, and home-baked bread. Picnic lunches will be followed by the main three-course meal in the evening.

Restaurant meals and three-course lunches at Albella will be followed by a lighter supper (two or three-course). Wine and coffee are included with the evening meals and there is an honesty bar available for pre-dinner drinks. The water in the area is drinkable and comes from the mountain spring. There is a font in the entrance hall where you can fill it up whenever you want. There is also a range of herbal infusions, normal tea, and coffee, all of which are included.

The following meals are included:

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
  • Drinks

The following drinks are included:

  • Water
  • Coffee
  • Tea

The following dietary requirement(s) are served and/or catered for:

  • Regular (typically includes meat and fish)
If you have special dietary requirements it's a good idea to communicate it to the organiser when making a reservation

Things to do (optional)

Enjoy nature

Learn to discern the call of bee-eaters as they fly over the house, a hoopoe, or a golden oriole as it serenades a mate in the nearby oak trees. Be able to pick out an Egyptian vulture as it soars above you or the nearby barks of the Roe deer. Depending on the time of year, you will see wild boar, red squirrels, red kites, green and pied woodpeckers, and much more.

Take gentle walks on a forest track

One of the great appeals of Casa Allué is the fact that you can walk out of the door and just explore. There are a number of tracks in the countryside, some like high Devon lanes others quite open, but all with marvelous views. You may come across an old stone bridge or a small border (barn) or see old terrace walls that nature has reclaimed. All are worthy of a few minutes' pause if only to wonder at the human effort involved in the making.

There is a small gymnasium below a spectacular beamed roof, a place to stretch out as well as tone up. On the floor below is a large classroom where lectures and presentations take place. You can relax in the room.

What's included

  • 2 afternoon cookery class
  • Visit to an olive oil producer
  • Afternoon bodega visit with tasting
  • Evening tapas in Ainsa
  • 2 picnic lunches and 1 lunch at a mountain restaurant
  • Daily breakfast, lunch, dinner, and drinks
  • Morning walk to explore Albella and the Ara Valley
  • Visits to a 10th-century monastery, a medieval town dating back to the 9th century, the UNESCO World Heritage site in the Sierra de Guara, and the town of Ainsa
  • Morning walk to an amazing canyon in the Ordesa National Park and above a gorge in the Ordesa National Park to see raptors (2 hours)
  • Afternoon in a fortress town dating back to the Romans
  • 7 nights accommodation

What's not included

  • Additional activities
  • Airfare
  • Airport transfers
  • Personal expenses

How to get there

Recommended Airports

Arrival by airplane

The nearest airport is Zaragoza Airport (ZAZ). Ryan Air offers flights all year round from London Stansted. Arrival time in Zaragoza is normally 16:40 and departure is 17:05. They do offer a pick-up and drop-off service.

Barcelona and Madrid are hubs for international flights from outside Europe. If you are arriving from the USA, Canada, Australia, or another international destination, these are the best options. There are also flights from many UK airports. All the low-cost airlines fly to both cities. If you are looking for cheap flights try Momondo or Skyscanner.

Aragon Active can provide transfers from both Zaragoza Airport (ZAZ) and Zaragoza train station, the cost is 75 EUR (return). The pick-up and drop-off times are:

  • Pick-up: 17:00 (airport) | 17:15 (train station)
  • Drop-off: 15:00 (train station) | 15:15 (airport)

Arrival by train

The journey time for the high-speed Renfe train from Barcelona and Madrid to Zaragoza is approximately 1.5 hours. To find train times and prices, try the Renfe or Omio. The latter also gives times and prices for travel by bus and car. Prices by train are approximately 90 EUR (return) from either Barcelona or Madrid. Trains can be booked 3 months in advance.

Be aware that paying with a foreign credit card can be problematic, however, using the same card via PayPal is very straightforward, they speak from experience and are here to help if you run into problems!

From Zaragoza, it is two hours to the base in the Pyrenees. Transfers from other airports can be arranged and would be charged on a pro-rata basis.

Airport: Zaragoza Airport Airport transfer available: Zaragoza Airport (US$80 per person) Additional charges may apply. You can request this in the next step.

Cancellation Policy

  • A reservation requires a deposit of 20% of the total price.
  • The deposit is non-refundable, if the booking is cancelled.
  • The rest of the payment should be paid 30 days before arrival.
8 days / 7 nights
from --

Availability

Arrival: Thursday October 6, 2022
Departure: Thursday October 13, 2022

Holiday information

Why not organize a group of friends! With a minimum of 6 people, you can make this a private tailor-made holiday. For more information, please send an inquiry.

Solo travelers

This vacation can accommodate solo travelers.

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