October 6 – Monday – Day One – We Depart
PM – We will depart San Antonio at 3:40 PM on Delta Airlines Flight 1430 arriving Atlanta at 7:00 PM. We will depart Atlanta at 8:20 PM on Delta Airlines Flight 62, non-stop for Barcelona.
October 7 – Tuesday – Day Two – Barcelona
AM – We are scheduled to arrive in Barcelona at 11:05 AM. Upon arrival, Claudio Buratti, our guide, will meet us and take us to our waiting coach. We will have a short drive into the central city, catching the overall wonder of this fun-loving city. We will arrive about noon at our hotel, the Condes de Barcelona, located on the Paseo de Gracia near the Ramblas, the famous pedestrian street of Barcelona and walking distance to most of the important sites and churches.
PM – After check-in, we will have a free afternoon to relax, rest and enjoy the beautiful hotel and surrounding scenery. In the late afternoon, we will offer a guided tour of nearby monuments, Gaudi creations and the traditional Cathedral where we can celebrate a Mass of thanksgiving for our safe arrival.
Afterward, we will have our first group dinner. By Spanish custom, most people do not begin to dine until at least 9:30 PM. Since many may be tired from the overnight flight from Atlanta, we will have dinner after Mass at a local Tapas Restaurant, approximately at 6 or 7 PM. For those not familiar with “Tapas” they are a sort of substantial appetizers, including sandwiches, salads and special light Spanish dishes.
October 8 – Wednesday – Day Three – Barcelona
AM – We will celebrate Mass at the nearby chapel of Santa Maria. After breakfast, we will tour Gaudi’s famous and major work, still in progress, the surrealistic cathedral of Sagrada Familia.
PM- After lunch, we can take time on our own to explore the wonder of this “fun-loving” city. The Picasso Museum and many other special places of interest are close by. Of course, the Ramblas, Barcelona’s celebrated pedestrian street is “a must” for a reasonable walk down toward the harbor from our hotel. Great shopping!
October 9 – Thursday – Day Four – On to Navarre & Pamplona
AM – We leave this morning for the Basque Country and Navarre in the northeastern corner of Spain. We will be a full day in the coach but enlivened by beautiful scenery along the way with rolling hills, vineyards and quaint villages along the highway.
In the mid-morning, we will visit Montserrat, the most famous mountaintop shrine to Our Lady and the place where Ignatius dedicated his life to God and to Mary. It was here that he laid down his sword and went off to nearby Manresa, living as a beggar and staying in a cave for one year. We will celebrate Mass here and take time to appreciate the breathtaking scenery and architecture of this ancient shrine.
PM – After lunch at Montserrat, we will continue on and have a two hour stop at Zaragoza in the mid-afternoon. Our Lady of Pillar, located in the Cathedral of Zaragoza is perhaps one of the most visited shrines to Mary in all of Spain. We expect to arrive in Pamplona in the early evening, about 7:00 PM, allowing several hours to freshen-up prior to dinner at a local restaurant near to the Hotel Tres Reyes, our home for the next three nights.
Pamplona has a fine Gothic Cathedral, the Baroque Palace of Navarre and a Church dedicated to San Saturnino among other notable sights. In more recent times, Ernest Hemmingway has added to Pamplona’s history by his writings publicizing the annual “running of the bulls.”
October 10 – Friday – Day Five – Navarre
AM – This morning we will make a short drive from Pamplona toward the Pyrenees to visit the spectacular monastery known as the legendary site of the Holy Grail, San Juan de la Pena, described as one of the world’s greatest hiding places. The monastery is tucked away under the brow of an enormous cliff and overlooks an isolated valley in one of the outer ranges of the Pyrenees.
PM – Afterward we will visit the very scenic village of Puente La Reina, famous for its medieval bridge which served as a crossing for millions of pilgrims beginning in the 11th century. In Puente La Reina we will have time for shopping and exploration. Puente La Reina is on the main way to Santiago and is also prized for beautiful churches originally built in the 11th and 12th centuries to serve the needs of pilgrims on their way to Santiago.
Next, we will drive a short distance to the village of Sanguesa that is also an important place on the Camino de Santiago from France. We will visit the nearby Monastery of Leyre and celebrate Mass here. We will return to Pamplona in the late afternoon, in time for some tapas and wine.