San Millán de la Cogolla
Many travellers search for something more than the average package holiday - from visiting cultural capitals to spending a week learning to surf or paint like Picasso, themed holidays are now all the rage. A group of enthusiasts from the breathtaking La Rioja region in the northeast of Spain are clued into this fact and have come together to create Exquisteando - a travel company that allows guests to experience off-the-beaten-track breaks, as well as, improve their Spanish language skills. Exquisteando is currently offering a five-day trip to discover La Rioja – famous for its fabulous wines, and thought to be the birthplace of the Spanish language. In intimate groups of no more than 15 people, an Exquisteando adventure promises the chance to practice Spanish and enjoy an intriguing itinerary of activities that are not normally available to the average tourist. Take a trip out to one of the region’s oldest vineyards, where guests will be brought back to the 11th Century BC to learn that it was the first Phoenician settlers in the region that started the winemaking tradition. There is plenty of opportunity to practice the lingo with locals, enjoy the lush surroundings, and of course, sample delicious Rioja wines and mouthwatering local dishes. An excursion to the small village of San Millán de la Cogolla will be a highlight for any history buffs. The village, which is famous for its twin monasteries, Yuso and Suso, is believed to be where the Spanish and Basque languages were written for the first time. Take a stroll along the famous pilgrimage to Santiago path and work up an appetite to dine at one of Spain’s most prestigious restaurants, El portal del Echaurren - where Chef Panieg’s modern twist on traditional dishes has earned him culinary accolades. Visit the Dinastía Vivanco Museum - an important wine culture museum - which houses an incredible collection of art pieces related to wine from the time of the Egyptians to the current day - and on the final day sit back, relax and enjoy a gourmet picnic on the grounds of a flourishing vineyard. To take part in this La Rioja trip of a lifetime, the organisers request that guests do a quick Spanish language test to assess that each person has an adequate amount of Spanish to participate. Sample test questions can be found at www.exquisiteando.com. Exquisiteando offers guests the choice of three hotels at special rates, while the option to choose your own accommodation is also available. Guided activities finish in the afternoon each day leaving guests free to enjoy the rest of the day at their leisure. If you’re interested in the Spanish culture and language and fancy setting off on a truly unique holiday experience - then Exquisteando is at your service.