The Downtown Market Grand Rapids is a well-loved destination for gourmet products, culinary education, and food and wine experiences. To take this passion international, the Market is headed to Spain to explore gastronomy and local culture in Madrid and Barcelona. Grab your passport because a small group of travelers are invited to participate in this one-of-a-kind culinary and cultural tour.
Join Mimi Fritz, President & CEO of the Downtown Market, as she shows you some of her favorite markets and destinations! Tasting Spain begins in seaside Barcelona, a city known for its diverse architecture, beaches, and a vibe of pure enchantment—then we’re off to Madrid to enjoy art, tapas, and flamenco.
Tasting Spain will be filled with excellent meals and market visits, private tours, a cooking class in La Boqueria market, guided excursions to the countryside, plus time to shop and sightsee at your leisure. Spain will ignite your senses and this tour captures it all: the flair for style and design, works by Gaudi and Picasso, Tapas bites to gourmet delights, beaches in Barcelona and boulevards in Madrid. Vamonos!
Sunday June 17—Welcome to Barcelona!
- Dine on paella at a special lunch hosted by a Barcelona-based food writer
- Cap off the day with the colorful and captivating Magic Fountain.
We’ll commence our tour today at a fabulous family-run restaurant in La Barceloneta, Barcelona’s seaside neighborhood. Join your traveling group, hosts Molly and Mimi, and food writer Jeff Koehler for a memorable lunch. Jeff has resided in Barcelona since 1996 and written many books and magazine articles about the local food and cuisine. We’re dining today at Can Majó, Jeff’s favorite “rice place” where we’ll have a gorgeous paella lunch.
After lunch, check in and get settled at Hotel Nouvel, our comfortable, centrally located hotel. Enjoy a siesta as we’ll be keeping later hours during our time in Spain. We’ll reconvene late afternoon for a guided orientation city tour by private minibus featuring the places that best represent Barcelona: Paseo de Gracia, Plaça de Catalunya and Ramblas. Plus we’ll visit Gaudi’s Güell Park with breathtaking city views. We’ll end at Restaurante La Clara for a delicious welcome dinner featuring Catalan specialties such as Ibérico ham, fried artichokes, cod with white beans, and more… all complemented by good Spanish wine and olive oil.
To seal the deal on this wonderful day, we have one more treat… a stroll by Barcelona’s Magic Fountain to see a spectacular display of colour, light, motion, music and water acrobatics.
Monday June 18—Exploring Art & Cuisine
- Tour Barcelona with a local expert focused on chocolate, design or Picasso.
- Sample Spain’s best natural wines.
Enjoy a delicious breakfast spread at the hotel as you will each morning. Today you get to choose your own adventure! We’ve lined up three wonderful, highly informative, and specialized walking tours. Choose the tour that captures your interests:
- Chocolate: Europe’s infatuation with chocolate began in Barcelona. Indeed, it can be said that the world’s love of cocoa began when Christopher Columbus returned to the port of Barcelona from the Americas, cocoa beans in tow. Dive into the history, culture, and process of chocolate making in one of the world’s best chocolate cities.
- Design: Good architecture and design is revered and abundant in Barcelona. From the whimsical fantasies of Gaudí and his fellow modernistas, to the cutting-edge show pieces of the world’s starchitects in the new neighborhoods, astounding design hotels, restaurant interiors, and beautifully crafted pieces of industrial and decorative design make up the city’s everyday landscape. During this Barcelona Design Tour covering the Eixample district, home to many of the city’s art nouveau masterpieces, we’ll see first hand how the city’s vibrant design culture has developed.
- Picasso: No artist shaped the twentieth century more than Pablo Ruiz y Picasso. Born in 1881 in Malaga, southern Spain, Picasso’s immense talent was spotted at a young age and was first fostered under the tutelage of his father, also an artist, when the family moved to Barcelona in 1895. This in-depth Barcelona Picasso Tour focuses on these formative years of Picasso’s life. Led by a local art historian, visit the Picasso Museum and other sites related to his time in the city, his first inspirations and the influence of the bohemian circles in Barcelona at the time.
Following your 3-hour tour, enjoy lunch on your own and free time to spend as you please. There are many museums, beaches, and shops to enjoy.
Is all this sightseeing making you thirsty? Early evening we’ll meet at Bar Brutal, a natural winebar. We’ll arrive before the bar opens for a guided tasting of Spain’s best natural wines paired with Bar Brutal’s creative, gourmet cuisine. Natural wines are made with no chemicals, little intervention, and wild fermentation. They’re unfiltered and fun. Cheers to that!
Tuesday June 19—Boqueria!
- Engage your senses visiting and cooking at La Boqueria.
- Explore Barcelona as you wish.
Today we’re headed to market Mecca: La Boqueria. Situated in the Old City, La Boqueria is a world-famous market filled with color, sound and activity. There has been a market operating in this location for hundreds of years. We’ll be treated to a special welcome and then roll up our sleeves for a cooking class at the Boqueria Food School, featuring some of Spain’s best loved dishes.
Enjoy the afternoon and evening as you wish. Onward Travel will provide suggestions for free time. Perhaps you want to hit the beaches, museums, or shopping streets! A fabulous, walkable city awaits you.
Wednesday June 20—La Sagrada Familia & Girona
- Experience Gaudi’s unfinished masterpiece.
- Tour Girona, a historic Medieval city.
Prepare to be wowed this morning at La Sagrada Familia, considered Gaudi’s masterpiece. This grandiose work is unfinished and fascinating, architecturally complex and full of religious symbolism. Gaudi devoted more than 40 years to the church and after his death, in 1926, the work has continued according to his original plans and drawings. We’ll have a guided tour of the complex.
Midday we’re headed north of the city to Girona, a historic Medieval city with a walled old quarter, and Gothic cathedral. We’ll enjoy a walking tour of Girona to see how difficult religious and cultural influences have defined the city over time. After the tour and a light lunch take time for additional shopping and sightseeing.
Once back in Barcelona, it is time for a stunning dinner experience! This evening we’re dining at Bodega 1900, one of the restaurants owned by Albert Adrià, a well-known chef from El Bulli fame. The restaurant features a vast Vermouth collection and the menu is focused on traditional recipes, revived for today, with a twist of Adrià’s molecular gastronomy. We’ll enjoy an unforgettable tasting menu.
Thursday June 21—Barcelona to Madrid
- Travel by train between two great cities.
- Get acquainted with Madrid as you enjoy an evening of Tapas.
This morning we have time for one last hurrah before we depart Barcelona. We’ll walk to Mercado Santa Caterina where beautiful architecture and food meet. The market has an undulating, brightly colored roof, and lively vendors.
We’ll take a noontime fast train 3 hours to Spain’s capital city, arriving mid-afternoon. Madrid is an expansive city known for its architecture, art collections, and boulevards. Rest up this afternoon or join Molly and Mimi on a walk to the city center for churros and chocolate at San Ginés Chocolateria.
Let’s commence the evening at impressive Mercado San Miguel where we’ll wander the recently renovated market (one of Madrid’s oldest!) and enjoy a glass of wine. Then we’ll meet our local guide for a Tapas Tour! This is a unique opportunity to get acquainted with a two centuries old Spanish tradition. Learn about Spanish history and culture as you enjoy small portions of many different dishes.
Friday June 22—Fun & Flamenco
- Get inspired by the interesting and beautiful artwork at Museo del Prado.
- Partake in a high-energy night of urban markets and Flamenco.
Enjoy a leisurely morning… perhaps take a walk in Madrid’s famed manicured park, Parque del Buen Retiro. At noontime we’ll convene at Museo del Prado for a guided tour by an art expert. The Prado Museum opened in 1819 and the art collection is one of the best in the world. After the 2 hour immersion, stick around the museum of the afternoon or spend it as you wish.
Tonight it is time for a Market bar crawl! We’ll have cocktails at Mercado De San Ildefonso, a trendy, high energy, street-food themed urban market in the Malasaña neighborhood. Then we’re off to Mercado San Anton, another modern market, to enjoy dinner at the rooftop restaurant. The fun is not over — we’re off to enjoy a Flamenco performance! At one of Madrid’s best tablaos (Flamenco venues) we’ll be entertained by the dance, costumes, and cultural heritage.
Saturday June 23—Day Trip from Madrid
- Visit Segovia, a World Heritage Site with historic gems.
- Toast your travelling companions after a wonderful week in Spain!
After a few fabulous days in Madrid it is time to escape the urban environment and visit captivating Segovia. Our local guide will take us to this charming town where we’ll learn about Spain’s history and see sites such as the Roman aqueduct, the symbol of the town, and the Gothic cathedral built in 1525. Segovia’s Saturday market will be happening, so we’ll enjoy a stroll, and we can’t miss the famous castle, Alcázar. After the tour enjoy lunch on your own (the local specialty is suckling pig!) and time to explore.
We’ll return back to Madrid early evening with time for a siesta before we convene for a farewell dinner to toast our time together and enjoy a last meal of top-notch Spanish cuisine.
Sunday June 24—Farewell
Travel home with wonderful memories! If you’d like to extend your stay, perhaps to take part in the famous Sunday El Rastro flea market or visit other areas of Spain, Onward is happy to assist. Buen viaje!
See Itinerary PDF for more details including an introduction to the tour co-host, Mimi Fritz of the Downtown Market.
- $3,450 based on double occupancy
- Single supplement $575 additional
- A 3% processing fee applies for credit card payment
- Air travel is not included but Onward Travel is happy to help you make a flight reservation
- Contact Molly with questions at 267-825-5880 or firstname.lastname@example.org