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Explore the Spanish Pyrenees region in this holiday to get to know its rich history, architecture, gastronomy, and culture. Join your hosts Simon and Lucy and take a geological, historical, and cultural tour through different points of interest, enjoy a banquet with local food and wine, as well as the amazing wildlife. Visit one of the wine regions in Aragon, take a 4x4 excursion, and create life memories, friends, and culinary experiences that will taste a lifetime!
You will be staying at the Casa Allué during this holiday. This renovated 17th-century farmhouse is within the Pyrenees Geopark, a site recognized by UNESCO as of geological importance. Casa Allué is where Aragon Active offers bed and breakfast at Spanish Pyrenees. Located in the small hamlet of Albella, it is also the base for all the activity holidays.
Over the past four years, the farmhouse has been restored with great care and love, preserving the wooden beamed ceilings and stone archways, and always respecting the traditional architecture of the area. Aragon Active's attention to detail is evident throughout their home, from the antique light fittings and furniture to the pictures that are throughout, everything is in-keeping.
Casa Allué has seven en-suite bedrooms, four with double beds, one with twin beds and two individual rooms. All rooms have mountain views and are named after the wildlife that abounds outside the door. They have made sure the bedrooms are spacious with luxury en-suite bathrooms and thermostatic rain showers, each maintain their carefully-restored wood beams.
The antique cast iron beds are comfortable and the luxurious curtains and rugs give a rustic and homely feel. All seven rooms have plenty of natural light and four have stone balconies. The night skies here are breathtaking, star gazing is a must! Whilst the restoration is true to the traditions of the area and the age of the house so there have also endeavored to include some modern amenities.
The geothermal hot water and underfloor heating system ensures there is sufficient hot water for everyone and that you are cozy in the colder winter months. The balconies and windows are double glazed and each has an integral fly screen, ideal to enjoy a gentle breeze on warm evenings. 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 class room where lectures and presentations take place. Breakfasts and evening meals are served in the spacious dining room with open views down the valley. Across the courtyard is the library and sitting room, where there are plenty of tourist information as well as a good choice in recreational reading.
The atmosphere is quite unique here, a huge slab of rock upon which the house is built forms the backdrop to a seating area by a wood burning stove. In both areas Wi-Fi is available. From the house you can enjoy wide open views of the Pyrenees; meadows, mountains and woods stretch out before you. Sometimes the silence is broken with the soothing bells of the village sheep.
At night, the only thing you will see from your bedroom is the amazing starlit sky as there is no light pollution. During the day you can explore the extensive private grounds of the house which include meadows, mature walnut and oak trees and woods. From here you can also go mushroom picking in spring and autumn.
The itinerary below gives an idea of what you will be doing during a typical week on Aragon Active's cooking and culture holiday. The decision of exactly where you will go on a particular day will be decided by Simon and Lucy. It will depend on a great deal on the weather conditions.
The cookery workshops are held in a modern catering kitchen. The focus is on Spanish dishes, both from the region and other parts of Spain. Aragon Active offers 6 days of excursions. However, at anytime you are able to take a rest day, and relax in the comfort of the farmhouse. During the walks you make regular stops to look at the geological, historical and cultural points of interest, as well as the amazing wildlife.
The May holiday is the only Sunday to Sunday week, so please bare this in mind when looking at the sample itinerary below.This is done to coincide with the annual Romeria in Albella on Saturday June 3. The local fiesta is as old as the village itself.
You will start with the procession of the saints to the small Ermita in the morning, then a banquet with local food and wine, and finally live music and dancing in the evening, topped off with a supper and local liqueur. Please note that this is a no-smoking holiday.
Upon arrival to Casa Allué, you will enjoy a welcome drink and have a chance to meet Simon and Lucy, your hosts for the week, before the evening meal.
On day two, you will enjoy a gentle introduction to the area. You will do a circular walk straight from the farmhouse. After a brief tour of the village of Albella, taking in the views across the valley, you will follow the pathways that date from medieval times which link to the local villages. This is a three to four hours tour. You will cross ancient seabeds strewn with fossils.
Your destination is the village of Janovas, which sits at the head of a dramatic gorge. Janovas has a story to tell, one which had implications for the whole valley. You will enjoy a picnic lunch and return to Abella for your first cookery workshop. Here you will join in to prepare a traditional Segundo Plato and have dinner.
You will start the day with a visit to the 10th-century monastery of San Juan de la Peña, built into the rock face in a spectacular mountain setting. The elegant 12th-century cloister is said to be one of the greatest examples of Romanesque carvings in Spain. The monastery also features 12th-century murals and the Gothic San Victorian chapel. In 1675, a fire in the monastery forced the monks to leave and build a newer one, further up the hill.
In the second destination you will get a novel insight into the daily lives of the monks with exhibitions and models. It is also the perfect place to spot Griffon and Egyptian vultures. After a picnic lunch, you will descend down to the garrison town of Jaca, the former capital of Aragon.
There will be a visit to the Romanesque cathedral. Inside, you can visit the Doicesano Museum and its superb collection of Romanesque to Gothic religious art. You will return to Albella for light supper.
After breakfast you will leave to visit a local artisan producer of liqueurs and teas. With your senses still tingling, you will head to the valley of Bujaruelo. This is a beautiful valley with a diversity of flowers, marshy meadows, mountain streams, marmots, and a variety of birds. After a gentle walk, you can choose a place to picnic. The crystal clear waters of the Rio Ara and the medieval bridge of San Nicolas provide an idyllic setting.
On the way home, you will stop at Torla, the gateway to the National Park of Ordesa. Here you will take some time to wander the narrow streets, noting the medieval Aragonese architecture. In the afternoon, you will return for a cookery workshop. Today, the focus is on postre! You will later have dinner.
On day five, you will head south to explore the citadel of Alquezar. Originally a 9th-century Moorish fort, perched on rocky cliffs above the Vero river, in the natural park of Sierra de Guara. In the 11th century, it was taken over by the Christians. You will take a tour of the fascinating interior with a range of styles from Romanesque to Renaissance, including the unusually shaped cloisters with murals dating back to the 15th century.
After a picnic lunch, you will take a short walk along the spectacular pasarelas above the river Vero. In the afternoon, you will also visit a local bodega for a tour and wine tasting. On the way home, calling at a family owned olive-oil producer to learn how to appreciate olive oil like wine! You will have supper in the medieval square of Ainsa.
After a leisurely breakfast, you will experience your third cookery workshop. You will unravel tapas and followed by lunch. After lunch, you will visit the medieval town of Ainsa. Voted as one of the most beautiful villages in Spain, it is an important strategic and commercial center since the time of the Moors, in the 8th century. There will be time to visit the old fort, where there are open views to Monte Perdido.
As you stroll through the beautiful arched plaza, you will learn about the history of the town, and take a coffee at one of the many bars. No visit to Ainsa is complete without going inside the Romanesque church, completed in the 11th century. You will return to Albella for a light supper.
In the morning, you will go to three viewing balconies that overlook the dramatic gorge of the river Yaga. This is the best place in Europe to see the magnificent Lammergeier (Bearded Vulture). The views are breathtaking.
After lunch at a mountain restaurant, you will make a short drive to do a walk rich in cultural history. You will enjoy panoramic mountain views, visit a megalithic structure, and three ermitas (hermitage). The earliest of which dates from the 11th century. On your way home, you will stop at Ainsa for a beer, a coffee, or to do some shopping. You will then return to Albella for a light supper.
On day eight, there will be a flexible timetable depending on departure times. For those departing from Zaragoza Airport (ZAZ), Aragon Active can visit the impressive Castillo de Loarre on the route.
This holiday will take place at Casa Allué in Albella, Spain. Albella is known locally for the 16th century chapel of Saint Urbez and the miracles that were performed there. A footpath from the Casa Allué door follows the pilgrim trail of San Urbez towards the mountains of the Sierra de Guara, a beautiful walk that can be adapted to a circular route back to the house.
The valley is remarkably green due to its central position in the Pyrenees where you can benefit from the perfect balance between the hot Mediterranean and cooler Atlantic climate. Casa Allué is located in the small hamlet of Albella, within the Pyrenees Geopark and close to the National Park of Ordesa and the Natural Park of Sierra de Guara.
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 up whenever you want. There is also a range of herbal infusions, normal tea, and coffee, all of which are included.
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.
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 which 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 class room where lectures and presentations take place. You can relax in the room.
Zaragoza Air Base
Transfer available for additional US$41 per person
A lot of the guests drive through France. You need to allow about 15 hours driving from the northern ports. Breaking the journey with a stop-over in Limoges or Lyon area is recommended.
Please book your flight to arrive at Zaragoza Airport (ZAZ). Transfer from and to this airport is available upon request at an additional charge of 70 EUR per person return.
The airport is approximately two hours from the location. Ryan Air offers flights all year round from London Stansted. Barcelona and Madrid are the hubs for international flights from outside Europe. If you are arriving from USA, Canada, Australia, or another international destination, these are the best options.
Transfers from other airports can be arranged and would be charged on a pro rata basis, approximately 60 EUR. There are also flights from many UK airports to Barcelona and Madrid. As well as scheduled flights all the low cost airlines have flights, Ryan Air, Easy Jet, Vueling, Monarch as well as Jet2.
Please arrive at the Zaragoza train station. Aragon Active will pick you up. From Barcelona to Zaragoza, it is approximately an hour and forty minutes. From Madrid to Zaragoza is an hour and 20 minutes trip.
Brittany Ferries have three routes from the UK direct to Spain: Portsmouth-Bilbao, Portsmouth-Santander, and Plymouth-Santander. The ferries are a great way to travel and have private cabins, restaurants, bars, and viewing decks. All of the routes allow you to take your own car and crossings take around 24 hours.
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