Day 1: Athens - Porto
Gathering at the airport to fly to Porto, the city that looks like a photograph of the entire Portugal, the city that represents the tradition, the hard effort as well as the old aspiration of the Portuguese nation to get to the end of the world. Porto, the entire city, is protected since 1996 by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site!
It is the city that has given its name not only to the homonymous famous "Porto" wine but also to the country itself, Portugal.
After checking in at the hotel, some free time to refresh ourselves and early in the afternoon we will begin our tour of a really impressive city, a city built on the Douro river, a city that was born on this very spot and slowly climbs up the hills ,where it retains its medieval appearance and up from there it spreads, and keeps spreading and rises higher and higher and from that high top it contemplates its ships.
There ! Where its Cathedral is located in the upper city , as well as the House of the Canons and between these two the São Bento railway station that looks more like a ceramics museum, so beautiful that we will visit it to admire its interior. Thousands of ceramic tiles compose the history of the country as well along with the life of everyday people.
A little further up, one of the most impressive bookstores in the world and that is Lello. We won't miss that before we head downhill again.
Between the upper and lower city the Bolsa Palace can be found, which today houses the Chamber of Commerce and which in the past was the headquarters of Porto’s Stock Exchange.
Right next to it, the statue of Henry the Navigator is looking at the ships that sail off almost from the courtyard of the house he was born.
And a little further down, the Lower city, the famous Ribeira, the part of the city that stretches along the bank of the River, with the old neighbourhoods, traditional taverns, the special rabelos, boats from another era, by which until recently the Port wine was transported from the vineyards to the cellars.
We will cross the Don Luis I bridge and take a walk in Gaia, where the Cellars maturing the wine are found one next to another, and somewhere there, amongst restaurants, bars and cellars we will finish up our first tour of the first beautiful day.
Free time for dinner.
It is almost "obligatory" to have sardine from the Atlantic and / or cod. Definitely sardine and cod.
Day 2: Porto - Santiago de Compostela
Today is an important day. After breakfast we will follow the famous path taken for centuries and still taken by thousands of travellers...
Destination : Santiago de Compostela.
El Camino Portugues del Camino de Santiago!
But Melodrakma has prepared a bunch of surprises on the way to Santiago!
Surprise 1: A stop at Guimarães, possibly the most historical city of Portugal, the place where the country of Lusitanians was born. Our tour includes the most important sites of the first capital of the country starting from the Hill with the Tower and the romanesque Church where the father of the Portuguese state, Alfons Henry ,was baptized. We will head downhill towards the narrow alleyways to discover how this largely unknown city is a real jewel. Free time for coffee and then departure for Spain.
We will go to Rías Baixas with the picturesque fishing villages and a beautiful small island on the way to the famous wine, Albariño wine. Our second surprise will be waiting for us right there, a proposal by Melodrakma for a special gastronomic experience and delight.
In the afternoon:
Arrival in Santiago. We will check in in our hotel, rest a bit and at night...
A small evening walking tour to get a taste of the city lit up for the night. Each city gives a different experience at night, having its unique allure.
Free time for dinner in the historic center of the city.
Day 3: Santiago de Compostela - La Coruña
After breakfast we will carry out – without any pains in our case – what has been the dream of millions of people throughout the centuries.The Pilgrimage to the holiest and most sacred of the Cathedrals in the Iberian peninsula, the Cathedral of Santiago.
With very impressive facades, and an even more impressive interior where, amongst other things , we find one of the largest thuribles of the world hanging from the Dome, suspended for centuries above the curiosity of the faithful people and above the Saint's Tomb .
And immediately afterwards we will tour the wonderful medieval town until eventually we have free time.
We then continue to La Coruña! The town with the oldest Lighthouse in the world, the Lighthouse of Hercules!
Arrival and hotel check in, some free time and then a first acquaintance with La Coruña, a walk through the historic center and free evening for dinner in the city that could be called the mother-octopus city of Western Spain. It is an ideal place for anyone who loves seafood and not only. Just wait to try Galicia's famous meat!
Day 4: La Coruña - Rías Altas - Oviedo
After breakfast off we go for our panoramic tour of Galicia 's largest city . In La Coruña, amongst other things , we will see the famous Lighthouse, right at the point where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Bay of Biscay, one of the ports of la Coruña opened to the Atlantic.The other one is protected by a small closed Bay, where the marina with the famous Galician fishing fleet is to be found. Then squares, alleys, monuments, and old naval families' palacetes with glass facades, reminiscent of the sterns of Spanish ships sailing the seas of the world...
We leave for Oviedo. We head to another autonomous community of Spain, we will reach Asturias today.
... before we get there, the day promises more. On the way to Oviedo, we will enjoy Las Rías Altas, the Fjords of Northern Galicia until we eventually reach a place difficult thereafter to be erased from the memory of the traveller .
When nature and weather permits it, we, the people of Melodrakma, are really proud to be able to bring the people who trusted us as far as this amazing spot!
Here ! Where the tidal forces have taken the role of a sculptor!
And after this experience we will continue to pass through the fjord of Ribadeo until in the afternoon we will arrive in Oviedo. Room check in at the hotel and then a first night walk in the capital of alcohol of the Northern Spain.
Free time for dinner.
Day 5: Oviedo - Gijon (and a proposal for an afternoon excursion to the Peaks of Europe)
After breakfast we will begin our tour in the capital of the Principality of Asturias, Oviedo, which is the administrative as well as the commercial centre of the area, and which in recent years has managed to also become a cultural centre, a great achievement for Oviedo especially during the last 20 years.
We have a date . Art will be the "Guide" today, on the corner of the theatre Campoamor we have the date ...
just opposite Botero’s sculpture “the Maternity",
in front of the sculpture of "the Demonstration" ,
a little further up from Woody Allen's sculpture…
Oviedo is a "Miracle", the whole city is an outdoor museum of sculptures reaching the amazing number of 200. Lucky us we will discover every corner of the city adorned with these great pieces of Art!
Early in the afternoon we will move 30 km away, to Gijon! To also get to know the Port of Asturias. Each city with a port has a different spirit even though it is only 30km away from its neighbouring town. We will visit Cima de Villa, the so-called "village of the fishermen" located on a Peninsula that cuts the port in two. Colourful buildings and narrow streets alternate in the city that once attempted to change the world.
We will also see the largest building in Spain,but at the same time we will see how the next generation makes the most of whatever good or bad has inherited from the previous generation in one of the most Politicized Cities of the North of Spain.
A definite and warm proposal: we can optionally visit the cave of Covadonga, perhaps the most historic site of all Spain as it is here that the Reconquista begins, the war of reconquering the Iberian peninsula by the Christians, so that Αl Andalus would cease to be the land of Muslims.
History and Natural Ηistory in this afternoon as we will go up to the Picos Europa, the Peaks of Europe, an area of incomparable natural beauty with lakes on the mountains, at 2.000 meters above sea level ,where the National Park of Asturias is located. Humans and animals live together in perfect harmony and us going uphill will be like beaming up to another era.
Finally we will visit Cangas de Onís, the first free capital of Spain, freed from the Muslims, the capital of the Principality of Asturias in the 8th century.
We return to Oviedo.
Day 6: Gijon - Santander - San Sebastian
After breakfast we leave Asturias, the city that has been giving for centuries now the accompanying title to all heirs of the Spanish crown, "Prince of Asturias",and we head to another one out of the seventeen autonomous communities of Spain, Cantabria.
Melodrakma Universal wishes that this day too, has its own mark, that is why we planned it with much love and indelible materials in Memory.
First stop with a guided visit and free time in one of the most beautiful villages in Spain, Santillana del Mar and then ,if the circumstances permit it, we open a crack in time and visit paintings 14,000 up to 35,000 years old... in the Neo-Cueva of Altamira!
We are going 35,000 years back today...
And after this unique experience we depart for Santander. The city is built on the Southern Coast of Cape Mayor, while at the same time it spreads in an endless beach of unique charm, the first beach on Spanish territory where a woman dared to bathe in a bikini.
Panoramic visit of the historic centre of the city, along the Harbor, the Cathedral, the post office and the famous casino of Santander, the Gran Casino del Sardinero. Finally we will stop at the Magdalena Peninsula, where, apart from the Marine Park, we have the Royal Palace, built by the inhabitants of the city as a holiday residence of the Royal Couple.
And after a lovely walk in the municipal park where the Palace stands, we will depart for the Pearl of the North, the unique San Sebastian.
Finally we reach the Basque country.
Check in at the hotel and night outing to one of the most beautiful cities of the world, which on top of that has the greatest number of Michelin star restaurants per capita in the world!
A night of magic.
Day 7: San Sebastian - Biarritz - Bilbao
After breakfast we immediately begin our panoramic tour of this jewel of a city, the Pearl of Cantabria!
We will stroll up the old town, to the Cathedrals, the city hall-casinos,the beautiful bridges across the "Urumea" river, the nice closed and open squares,the mansions, the palaces, the "Miramar Palace and Park", the sculptures, the Peine del Viento ( the Comb of the Wind), the Concha of San Sebastián, and to the most famous beach of the entire Spain. It looks as if the urban beauty has broken the wild waves of the Atlantic.
Free time for pintxos, the famous Basque tapas. San Sebastian improvises gastronomically to satisfy even the most demanding palate.
Then we depart for Biarritz to the Southwest of France, the French Basque country. It is here that the English, the French, the Spanish and the Russian aristocracy would spend their summers. Today it is one of the most cosmopolitan resorts.
Rich people, millionaires, nouveauriche , bankrupts, surfers, summer holiday makers, afternoon tourists – they are all here, around the Hôtel du Palais, the Palace built by Napoleon 3rd for his empress Eugenia de Montijo.
We shall see the most important sites of Biarritz and then have free time for some coffee or for anyone who wishes to visit the Muse de la Mer and then we leave the famous French- Basque resort town and we head for the “Ugly duckling that turned into a Swan": we depart for Bilbao.
Arrival, check in and first acquaintance with the city via a night walk.
Free time for dinner and overnight stay.
Day 8: Bilbao
After breakfast we depart for Navarra, an excursion to the heart of the Basque country, the ancient Kingdom of Navarre that ironically today does not belong administratively in the Basque Country. We will first go to Pamplona, the Basque Iruña in the Pyrenees, once the capital of the Basque Kingdom, the queen of Hemingway’s heart during the period between the two World Wars,as he was fascinated by the ancient custom of San Fermines, how the Basques ignored the risk of death running with the bulls, themselves in the front, and the bulls behind them and wrote "The Sun Also Rises" that made Pamplona a world destination just for this custom. A city with lots of narrow streets, we will visit the most important sites and we will have free time for coffee break and souvenirs and then we will depart for Vitoria-Gasteiz, the capital of the Basque Country.
Another miraculous city and a fine example of transformation, that has maintained its medieval facet with streets bearing the name of the once mighty guilds, while at the same time it has created a modern facet, it has created human conditions for its residents and succeeded in being declared Green Capital of Europe a few years ago.
We shall see the most important sites, for example the two Cathedrals, the Victoria Square, the España Square, the old walls and palacetes, and the most Jazzy neighborhood of all the Basque Country.
Free time for food and return to Bilbao.
Free afternoon in the commercial area, the Calea Ercigia, the Gran Via or along the river for everyone to enjoy the transformation of this city.
Day 9: Bilbao - Pamplona - Vitoria-Bilbao
After breakfast we will begin our panoramic tour in the largest city of the Basque Country! Bilbao which is built on the Nervion river's banks and as if its neighbourhoods were nurtured by its waters, more and more popped up and grew bigger over the centuries to form today’s Bilbao!
A very important commercial and industrial port of the North but also a European tourist destination these days!
Today we wil see how a city is reborn following a crisis and a natural disaster.
Futuristic Metro entrances designed by Sir Norman Foster, works by Philippe Starck, Arata Isozaki, Santiago Calatrava, Frank Gehry, the elite of the world of Architecture is responsible for Bilbao’s transformation.
A walk in one of the finest historical centers, the Neoclassical facet of the city.
We will see the Plaza Nueva, the square where the “Bilbainos” gather to have a pintxo or two before they go to dinner,as the Basques love eating ! We will also see Miguel de Unamuno's square, will admire Bilbao’s Opera House ,the impressive Teatro Arriaga next to the Arenal bridge that leads to the famous Gran Vía de Don Diego López de Haro, the place where Bilbao’s old aristocracy moved to, until finally we end up in front of one of the most important architectural works of the 20th century.
In 1997 the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation decided that Bilbao would be the city hosting its European franchise and the exquisite museum bearing its name was built here, a landmark site of the city nowdays. We shall visit the Guggenheim Museum of Modern Art.
Return to the hotel. Free afternoon.
In consultation with the representative of Melodrakma, let's brighten up your last afternoon with an optional excursion to Vizcaya, the most beautiful part of the Basque Country. Urdaibai, a Biosphere of extraordinary beauty, as well as Bermeo and San Juan de Gastelugatxe, reaching Guernika. No-one should leave without making this political pilgrimage to the home of La Pasionaria and Unamuno.
Day 10: Bilbao - Athens
Depending on the flight schedule, free time for a last stroll in the city.
Transfer to the airport.
We always hope there will be a little sadness during farewell, kissing and hugging, the kind that one suddenly feels when something nice has come to an end.
Flight back home.
Note: Melodrakma keeps the right to change the order of the guided visits and tours if it is necessary ,without omitting any ,as well as the order of the flights thus the whole program in reverse order, starting from Bilbao and ending in Porto.