Travel deals: Italy’s Abruzzo, Spain by train, Oman

The fabulous Park Guell by Antonio Gaudi in Barcelona

Travel deals: Fabulous tours of Spain by rail, hiking through the Italian Alps, cooking in Abruzzo and an Arabian Odyssey in Oman. Your adventure starts here!

DISCOVER the rich culture, food and landscapes of Spain with two new tours from Tempo Holidays. The 6-day Barcelona, Bilbao & San Sebastian independent rail tour combines Barcelona with two of northern Spain’s most alluring coastal cities, Bilbao and San Sebastian, from $A975 per person twin share. Departing Barcelona, it includes 5 nights in 3 star hotels with daily breakfast, a private transfer from Bilbao to San Sebastian and tourist class rail travel between other destinations. The 11-day Spanish Inspiration small group journey departs Madrid and explores the exotic Andalucia region including Toledo, Cordoba, Seville and Granada from $A3840 per person twin share. Highlights include wine tasting and tapas in Valdepenas, sherry tasting in Jerez, a flamenco show in Seville, the white mountaintop village of Ronda, the Costa del Sol and Alhambra Palace. www.tempoholidays.com

TO make the most of High Summer in Europe join Hedonistic Hiking’s June walking holiday in the Italian Alps, taking in the beautiful Aosta Valley and the Gran Paradiso National Park. Visits to ancient castles and following the routes of Roman armies, medieval pilgrims and Napoleon Bonaparte help to bring the history of this unique part of Italy to life. Aosta might be the smallest region of Italy, but it is very well known for its high quality cheese and wine production.  There are strong cultural and culinary links with France and the influences in the cooking and the language are clear to see. The Val d’Aosta is a mountainous region and on several days travellers hike at an altitude of 2000 metres or more. Jackie and Mick Parsons own and operate Hedonistic Hiking, a company specialising in fully-guided gourmet walking tours in Australia and Italy.  The tour runs from June 23-30, is priced at 2385 euros per person based on two sharing and is fully inclusive.  www.hedonistichiking.com

GET off the beaten track for your next Italian holiday and experience Italy the way the locals do  by immersing yourself in food and culture with Absolutely Abruzzo Tours. Abruzzo specialists Luciana Masci and Michael Howard guide all tours, allowing guests to experience the traditional culture of Italy’s central region of Abruzzo in small intimate groups of up to 12 people.  Guests experience hands-on cooking using authentic recipes passed down through generations, taking guided walks through mountain scenery, shopping at outdoor fresh food markets, visiting frescoes in medieval churches, enjoying opera in crumbling castles and above all sharing the Italian love of great food, wine and culture. In 2012 Absolutely Abruzzo has expanded its tour offering with the addition of its Tastes of Abruzzo tour. This new tour focuses on the culinary skills shared by local women and acclaimed local chefs.
Tour cost is $A1980 twin share, departing on June 9 with a summer inspired menu, and October 6 with an autumn inspired menu.
Absolutely Abruzzo also offers three other guided tours.

  • The Gourmet Getaway to Abruzzo will wine and dine you in the Apennine Mountains in an authentic village experience. The tour runs over 4 days (3 nights) for $A1980 per person twin share. Tours depart on May 22, June 6, July 10, August 29, September 18 and October 3.
  • The 8-day (7 nights) Medieval Magic of Abruzzo tour. Relive the colourful pageantry of an ancient joust (July tour only), complete with flag throwers and medieval musicians. Tour cost is $A4700 twin share, departing on July 29 and September 9.
  • Along the Shepherds Tracks tour is a tour that takes a leisurely pace. Youll stay in the tranquil countryside of Abruzzo for 8 days (7 nights) and experience central Italy at a slower pace, also with a private cooking class with local Abruzzese women. The tour costs AU$4700.00 per person twin share, departing on May 27, June 17 and September 23.

Michael and Luciana spend six months of the year in Australia and six in Abruzzo and their passion for the region of Lucianas family shines through their personal service and attention to detail.     www.absolutelyabruzzo.com

AN escorted private journey through one of the Middle East’s best kept secrets on the Arabian Odyssey Oman. This 7-day journey from Cox & Kings departs Muscat and takes in Oman’s forts and palaces, culture and breathtaking natural beauty from $A2072 per person twin share. Highlights include the sultan’s palace and Grand Mosque in Muscat, the Wadi Shab canyon featuring crystal clear lagoons and waterfalls and an overnight stay at the luxurious 1000 Nights Camp, set amongst the rolling golden dunes of the Wahiba Sands desert. The journey also visits Oman’s highest peak Jebel Shams and the Al Hoota caves, one of the largest cave systems in the world with underground lakes. Travelling in a private vehicle with a knowledgeable guide, the journey includes superior accommodation with daily breakfast, sightseeing, entrance fees and transfers and can be tailored to suit specific interests. Cox & Kings escorted private journeys allow single travellers and travelling parties of any size to depart on any day of the year. Arabian Odyssey Oman also operates as a small group journey of no more than 25 people.
www.coxandkings.com.au.

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