WHERE TO NEXT?

Dear Traveler,

The people make the trip.

There are so many beautiful places in the world – amazing hotels, world class restaurants and spectacular scenery. I love experiencing those things. But equally as important to me are the people I travel with and the people I meet along the way.

Finding the best guides for you is an important part of what I love to do. So when I have an opportunity to travel to a place and meet the guides who will be taking you around, I love it!

Over 10 days we are traveling all over northern Spain to meet the hoteliers, guides and locals who you will meet in this beautiful off the beaten path area of Spain.

If you are curious about what it’s like to go on one of my scouting trips, below you’ll see what our day was like yesterday. It is quite similar to one of your trips, just at a more accelerated pace with almost no downtime (I always suggest you have some downtime!).


ASTURIAS, SPAIN

I intentionally left the drapes open last night so I would naturally wake up to the sun rise this morning.

Sun!

The last two days in northern Spain have been cloudy, so the sun is a welcome surprise. I must get out for a brisk walk before our day starts.

We are staying at Hotel Palacio de Luces, a Relais & Chateaux property near a little fishing village in Asturias and I want to explore a bit. I pass ivy-covered outbuildings, weathered stone walls and rural Asturian farm houses. In the distance the horizon is framed by the snow capped Picos de Europa – a favorite hiking and biking destination.

The rising sun is hastening the evaporation of this morning’s dew and its warmth causes me to peel off my layers.

The chirping birds, clinging cowbells and baa-ing sheep are occasionally interrupted by the crow of a rooster.

The sheep notice me – 10 pairs of eyes are locked on me as I walk by.

The lush green landscape reminds me of my trip to Ireland last May. And there is golf nearby. I knew this area of Spain was ideal for foodies, but it’s also good for those who love the outdoors.

Today our guide Eliana is showing us around so we can meet locals and understand the culture of northern Spain – as it was and as it is today.

After breakfast we head to a fishing village to meet with a couple who mend and repair fishing nets. They are two of the very few people left in this area who do this. With help, they are keeping this cultural craft alive. The fishermen go out at night and sometimes Teté gets a call after midnight to come down to the marina to mend a newly ripped net. We learn one net can weigh 2,000 pounds!

Next door a fisherman is just arriving with his catch. He left at 5am yesterday morning and is returning at 11:30am today. The fish are not nearly as prevalent as they used to be, but he is pleased with this catch.

Sole, turbot, rays, squid and a few other fish I don’t recognize. We watch them unload and put them on ice to be delivered to local restaurants.

Next up a visit to an award-winning anchovy factory.  We meet the owner Ana and she introduces us to her workers.  They require precision, dexterity and focus to clean these tiny fish to the highest quality level.

We taste the anchovies delicately placed atop olive oil marmalade and a sweet cracker.

These are not your American anchovies. They are delicious.

From there, a visit to a hard cider business.   We are led around by Isabelle, the 4th generation of her family engaged in cider production.

She explains how they harvest the apples by hand – shaking trees and climbing up to get the stubborn ones.  They use 4 million apples a year in their cider. Her favorite time of year?  Harvest in September to November.

She encouraged us to climb in that tiny hole to see what it’s like inside a barrel. I declined. She demonstrated for us and then her dad showed us how to properly pour cider.

The key is pouring from high above so it hits the inside of the glass’ edge. I’m somewhat successful.

Finally a bit of time to relax. We have lunch at a seafood restaurant next to the sea. Fresh tomato salad, and even fresher turbot and hake (likely bought from the fisherman), scallops and paella.

On the way back to the hotel I opt to go with our guide and my colleagues to do an easy coastal hike. The scenery is spectacular! More cows, lush green grass, waves crashing the shore. The sun that is just beginning to set.

We make it back an hour before dinner. Some are off to the spa and the pool, but today I have a client call and trips to work on.

This trip is allowing me to see beyond the two cities I’d visited in the north previously. Northern Spain is a great option during summer, when southern Spain (and much of Europe) is HOT!

I’m looking forward to sharing more when I return next week!


My reading time’s been limited this week, but I did find a few good inspiring articles below… the transformative power of sabbaticals and their surge in popularity, how to choose between visiting Florence and Venice (my advice – go to both) and the best outdoor getaways for history buffs.

You’ll also find information on the secrets of a celebrity travel agent, the carry-on-baggage bubble that is about to pop and the most luxurious airport in the world.

Enjoy your week!

Warmly,

Below:

  • This week’s highlight – the top Gastronomic Club in San Sebastián
  • Hot New Hotel Opening – Soneva Secret
  • Inspiration + Information

THE TOP GASTRONOMIC CLUB IN SAN SEBASTIÁN

 

An experience “ripped from the pages” of one of our itineraries

Basque men used to gather at sociedades gastronómicas to cook, eat, drink, sing, and socialize. Without women. Until recently, women were excluded, but now their numbers are increasing.

These clubs have nurtured the Basque culinary tradition, resulting in the current proliferation of top restaurants in and around San Sebastian. It is estimated that over 160 sociedades gastronómicas co-exist and through our local connections we have private access to the most prestigious gastronomic society of them all. Their membership is a list of “Who’s who” of the most notable chefs.

Your host and instructor today is a very accomplished chef working is his native city. He is often called upon to cook lunches and dinners for San Sebastian’s elite. Walk through the market watching him chat with the vendors, learn how he selects the freshest fish and perfect produce.

Together you walk into the gastronomic society, immersed in history. The stone walls and tunnels left over from the original city walls house the wine cellar, plaques of members with famous names cover the walls and the kitchen is outfitted in every cooking item you may need.

Join the chef in the kitchen chopping, stirring and cooking traditional dishes and discussing Basque cuisine. Cook pintxos, arroz con langostino (rice with lobster), hake and veal cheeks. Once prepared, enjoy the sense of accomplishment eating your creation, accompanied by local wines in the society’s very egalitarian and modest dining area.

If he is in-house, you’ll be warmly welcomed by the society’s president, Luis Mokoroa, a very important figure in San Sebastián and in the gastronomic world. When famous chefs, such as Juan Mari Arzak, win prizes for their work in Basque gastronomy, it is invariably Luis Mokoroa who awards them.

 

My favorite guides in San Sebastián

Seeing the cellar built into tunnels around the original walls from centuries ago.
This is his favorite winery.

I had the pleasure of experiencing what was described above earlier this week. It was a highlight of my time in San Sebastián. Combine that with a walk on the boardwalk around the bay of this beautiful city, or perhaps even a hike along the mountainous shores, and I’d call that a perfect day on vacation (or in this case for work). Next week I’ll share more about all of the incredible adventures you can have around San Sebastián.

?Just this month, Soneva Secret opened in the Maldives. The Maldives is an all-season destination, with a tropical climate, sunny days and average temperature of 86 degrees year-round.

Why visit Soneva Secret?

  • 14 overwater & island villas, with retractable roofs for stargazing, spa treatment rooms, adjoining children’s rooms and dedicated butler service.
  • “No news no shoes” mentality – leave your heels at home!  And enjoy Soneva Secret time. Clocks are set forward one hour ahead of Malé time, so you can enjoy more daylight hours.
  • Every villa has its own chef that is an expert in a major world cuisine.  The resort’s 14 chef’s prepare a bespoke menu of Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese, Maldivian, Italian, Mediterranean, South American, Sri Lankan, Chinese, Middle Eastern, Indian and Nordic flavors. Guests can also enjoy the complimentary chocolate, ice cream and cheese & charcuterie parlors!
  • Whisk away on the Castaway Picnic. Sail to a private island with a picnic basket, snorkeling gear, sunbeds and an umbrella. Once set up, you will be left to enjoy the peaceful castaway life!
  • Enjoy the spa, sunset dolphin cruises, swimming with manta rays and turtles and diving with in-house PADI instructors.

If you are looking for a romantic destination – for an anniversary, honeymoon, retirement celebration or simply because – the Maldives are the perfect spot!

Of course it comes with the usual perks and VIP treatment when booking your stay through Truvay Travel.

? Soneva Secret

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