may 18-23, 2014
post-trip gibraltar, may 23-25, 2014

may 18

ARRIVALS INto santander


For those who wish to spend extra days in Santander. 

  • Hotel rooms can be reserved. 
  • Restaurant suggestions can be provided. 
  • Ideas for visits that will not be part of the program can be supplied. 
  • Independent guides can be organized. 

Arrivals on flights into Bilbao with most people arriving early to mid-afternoon.

Private transfers organized to our hotel in Santander, Gran Hotel Sardinero, located within the Historical Area of El Sardinero and close to all the best shopping.

4:00 pm Late afternoon orientation tour of Santander

Santander is famous thanks to King Alfonso XIII who spent his summers here. Soon the Spanish and European aristocracy followed suit. The area around Santander was one of the earliest places inhabited by man in Europe

Welcome reception and dinner in our hotel, Restaurant Gran Hotel Sardinero.

Overnight: Gran Hotel Sardinero, Santander, Spain.

may 19

altamira and puente viesgo


Full buffet breakfast in the restaurant of our hotel.

9:00 am We depart hotel by bus to the Prehistory and Archaeology Museum of Santander for for private visit with Director Roberto Ontañon.

The Museum collection includes important finidings from all the major prehistoric sites of the area - El Castillo, Altamira, Covalanes, etc. Stone tools and art instruments made of carved bone and horn are the highlights of this museum, which is a reference among the European ones for the quality and abundance of the artefacts.

Continue to Puente Viesgo to visit the cave of El Castillo with the Director Roberto Ontanon and the Project Director Federico Bernaldo de Quiros.

The archaeological site shows human evidence since 150,000 years. The discovery of this cave allowed the German archaeologist Hugo Obermaier to establish the sequence of the four periods in which Prehistory is divided. The cave contains also archaeological evidence of a possible coexistence between the last Neanderthals and early Sapiens who lived in Europe 40,500 years ago, and is therefore key to understanding the Neanderthal extinction. The whole rock paintings of the interior consist of hands, bisons, deers, horses and enigmatic symbols, known for its wide variety of techniques, themes and styles.

Transfer to the charming
medieval town of Santillana del
Mar for lunch. Lunch at restaurant Gran Duque in the old town center ofSantillana.

After lunch we visit the old town, including the 12th century Romanesque
Collegiate church
with its remarkable cloister.

Short transfer to the Museo de Altamira for a private visit with the Director José Antonio Lasheras Corruchaga.

The protection of the cave of Altamira has been the main factor in the location, design and construction of the building housing the current Museum of Altamira, opened in 2001 and designed by Juan Navarro Baldeweg.

With its minimalist architecture, the building is integrated into the landscape to form a continuation of the essence of the cave of Altamira and has been designed to house the permanent collection, including the reproduction of the famous polychrome rooms declared UNESCO heritage, as well as laboratories and facilities for researchers that continue studying this unique site.

Transfer back to Santander.

Dinner this evening at the Michelin-starred restaurant El Serbal.

Overnight: Gran Hotel Sardinero, Santander, Spain.

may 20

santander to bilbao

Full buffet breakfast in the restaurant of our hotel.

Luggage travels separately to our next hotel in Bilbao.

9:00 am Depart hotel by private bus to Ramales de la Victoria (1 hour transfer).

Continue to Ramales de la Victoria for guided visit of the cave of Covalanas and El Miron with Manuel Ramon Gonzales Morales, Project Director for El Miron .

This cave, declared World Heritage by UNESCO in 2008, is a case for the homogeneity of the rock art. Dating back to 25,000 years ago, the paintings appear particularly realistic because of the sense of movement in the images and they represent one of the oldest forms of rock art.

At the end of the visit, a short transfer across the magnificent Cantabrian countryside to lunch.

Lunch at restaurant Solana.

After lunch we continue by bus to Bilbao and we end the afternoon with an architectural orientation visit of the city’s core. 

Bilbao is the largest city in Spain's Basque Country. Grown up in an environment of heavy industry and industrial wastelands, the city underwent a significant transformation thanks to a few wise investments has now matured into its role of major European art centre.

All sites within minutes of each other on foot: 

Tour ends at our hotel, the Miró Hotel Bilbao.

Located in the Bilbao Golden Mile, the hotel is decorated by Barcelona fashion designer Antonio Miró and offers a spectacular view on the Guggenheim Museum, Frank Gehry’s emblematic building. It is just a few steps from the city’s shopping area and from the Casco Viejo, the city’s old quarter.

Walk to Basque tapas dinner at La Viña.

Overnight: Miró Hotel Bilbao, Spain.

may 21

atapuerca and burgos


Full buffet breakfast in the restaurant of our hotel.

Transfer 2 hours by bus to the Sierra de Atapuerca to visit the UNESCO archaeological sites with Prof. Juan Luis Arsuaga, Prof. José María Bermúdez de Castro and Prof. Eudald Carbonell (Co-Directors of the excavations at the Atapuerca sites). We will also be accompanied by Maria Martinon Torres, Head of Research in Dental Anthropology of Hominids at the National Center of Research on Human Evolution - CENIEH.

The Sierra de Atapuerca sites are a compulsory reference point for all work on human evolution. During 30 years of digs, researchers from all over the world discovered in this area some of the most valuable evidence preserved as a testimony of everyday life in prehistoric societies. Today, the physical landscape of Sierra de Atapuerca still contains the diversity and wealth enjoyed by Pleistocene humans.

Short transfer to the village of Ibeas de Juarros for lunch.

Lunch at restaurant Los Claveles.

After lunch, we continue to the medieval city of Burgos, capital of Castile.

Guided visit of the recently opened Museum of Human Evolution with Prof. Juan Luis Arsuaga, Prof. José María Bermúdez de Castro, Prof. Eudald Carbonell and Maria Martinon Torres.

Inaugurated in 2010, the museum is housed in a spectacular contemporary building designed by the Spanish architect and painter Juan Navarro Baldeweg, which tries to reproduce the Atapuerca Mountains. The museum not only hosts the major findings of the Atapuerca sites but represents also an important center of research and studies on human evolution

Afternoon ends with a short walk into the old town of Burgos to visit of the magnificent Romanesque cathedral.

Situated in the Pilgrim's Road to Santiago de Compostela, Burgos still preserves important vestiges of its medieval splendour. The city, which was the capital of the unified kingdom of Castilla-Leon for five centuries, boasts a masterpiece of Spanish Gothic architecture.

Transfer 2 hours back to Bilbao.

Evening and dinner at leisure with plenty of suggestions from simple to Michelin starred restaurants.

Overnight: Miró Hotel Bilbao, Spain.

may 22

la rioja

Full buffet breakfast in the restaurant of our hotel.

Depart hotel by bus to the Museo de Arqueología de Bilbao for special visit with Director Iñaki García Camino and Professor Alvaro Arrizabalaga.

Ttransfer by bus to the village of Basondo in the Basque country.

Guided visit of the excavations and of the virtual replica of the cave of Santimamiñe.

Lunch at the traditional Basque restaurant Lezika.

After lunch we drive 45 minutes back to Bilbao, rest of the afternoon at leisure to relax or shop.

Special evening guided visit of the Guggenheim Museum followed by drinks. 

One of the great masterpieces of the 20th century designed by Canadian architect Frank O. Gehry . Instantly hailed as the most important structure of its time, the building has changed the way people think about museums, and it continues to challenge assumptions about the connections between art, architecture, and collecting.   The museum has acquired key works by some of the most significant artists of the second half of the twentieth century, including Anselm Kiefer, Willem de Kooning, Robert Motherwell, Sigmar Polke, Gerhard Richter, James Rosenquist, Clyfford Still, Cy Twombly, Richard Serra, Daniel Buren and Andy Warhol.   Additionally, Bilbao’s holdings include work by modern and contemporary Basque and Spanish artists, including Eduardo Chillida, Cristina Iglesias, Juan Muñoz, Jorge Oteiza, Antonio Saura, and Antoni Tàpies.

Our final gala dinner at the haute cuisine restaurant Nerua with amazing views on the museum.   

Following dinner we walk back to our hotel. 

Overnight: Miró Hotel Bilbao, Spain.

may 23

departures or optional post trip to gibraltar


Full buffet breakfast in the restaurant of our hotel.

Departures throughout the day.


Continue to the post-trip to Gibraltar.