This unique journey has all the hallmarks for which TravelQuest trips are renowned, whether we’re exploring the phenomena of the heavens, the natural wonders of the Earth or the legacy of humanity’s past.
Starting in magnificent Madrid and ending in Barcelona, we illuminate dimensions of Europe that mainstream tourists miss – in medieval churches and cobbled streets, in the springtime vineyards of well-known estates and, above all, on cave walls where the first human artists used deftly drawn lines and subtle shadings of color to evoke a distant world that is in fact remarkably close to our own.
An extraordinary array of cave art has been preserved beneath the forested slopes of the Pyrénées foothills for thousands of years. We visit sites in Spain and France, including Lascaux II, where the original cave has been meticulously replicated to serve as a walk-through primer in prehistory. Then our local experts lead you even deeper into the past at Peche Merle, Niuax, Font de Gaume and Combarelles – places that receive far fewer visitors yet have miraculously preserved artworks depicting close encounters with wildlife and the implicit spiritual preoccupations of Europe’s first inhabitants. Standing before paintings created as early as 25,000 years ago, you feel as though the people who produced them might have retreated into the shadows only moments before you arrived.
As a counterpoint to these prehistoric discoveries, you’ll visit the great wine regions of La Rioja and Bordeaux, tasting with vintners and savoring the best of the regions’ distinctive culinary styles. There’s also plenty of time to explore historic towns such as Santillana del Mar in Spain and Les Eyzies and Sarlat in France. And to keep the pace relaxed, we often spend at least two nights in each of the destinations along our route, enjoying a mix of comfortable modern hotels in the larger towns and handpicked inns and guesthouses in the countryside.