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FollowTheBaldie.com: Town and country walking and study tours in Barcelona and the Western Med
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    • Language All our guides are native English speakers and speak the local language fluently.
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Spanish tours - Country of belated marvels: a tour of the industrial culture of northern Spain, 1875-1914

The Casaramona mill, Barcelona. CC Marcel Germain. More.

Featuring:

  • Technological history. You'll see a comprehensive range of machinery and equipment from all major sectors.
  • Industrial architecture and landscapes. Production facilities, workers' housing, the palaces of entrepreneurs.
  • The history of work. Cunningly disguised as visits to surviving bourgeois and working men's clubs, an introduction to the classic cuisines of the Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts, and a night at a fiesta in a mining village. Apart from tour notes and maps, you'll also receive a free, specially published bedtime reader containing freshly translated excerpts from contemporary novels, diaries, industry journals and reports.

Dates:

  • September 27-October 5 2013

Book one of these, or request new dates for your group!

Overview

Primitive agriculture with no surpluses, a lack of coal, or religious beliefs inimical to literacy and the work ethic: for whatever reason only three regions in southern Europe responded to the challenge presented by the British and other northern European industrial revolutions in the 19th century.

This September tour sets out to discover two of them. Starting out from Gijón (Asturias) with subsequent nights in a small village, Santander (Cantabria) and Bilbao (Basque Country), you’ll get to know the industrial heritage of the land where the Cantabrian range slopes down to the Bay of Biscay. The itinerary for this part includes major mining and railway museums, ironworks and other attractions, as well as the seaside palaces and villages commissioned by wealthy entrepreneurs from Gaudí and other Catalan architects.

Then, following an evening in Logroño (La Rioja) devoted to understanding the industrial base of its wine industry and getting to know its unrivalled tapas bars, we’ll head east on the new high-speed AVE train.

Barcelona is one of only a handful of industrial cities that were also powerful medieval centres, and it still retains important productive sites like the great 14th century shipyards. Steam power was smuggled here from Britain in 1833, and industrialisation followed a unique path based on water power. The final days of this tour will investigate some of the hundred or so industrial settlements that were the backbone of Catalonia’s industrial economy, including the Scottish colony built by Coats of Glasgow.

From Barcelona you can fly home to numerous British airports, or we can suggest where you might go to explore more of Spain or southern France.

So tick the boxes: railways, mines, foundries and steelworks, textile colonies, industrial architecture in stone and iron, the houses of the Midases and the masses, autumn sunshine and superb food and wine.

Itinerary

Day 1Friday. Arrival in Gijón after lunch. (Airports in rough order of convenience: Asturias/Oviedo, Santander, Valladolid, Santiago, Porto.) Railway museum. Group dinner. Optional visit to working men's cultural club. Overnight in classic 19th century hotel in Gijón.
Day 2Saturday. 19th century remains on site of Spain's oldest coal mine/Asturias' first shaft mine/Spain's only mine with submarine galleries, with stellar local guide. Mining and Industry Museum at El Entrego. Spectacular geology in caves of El Soplao (customised extended tour), adjacent to old mining complex (Real Compañía Asturiana - zinc, lead, iron ores). C18th water-powered Catalan forge with live demonstration. Fiestas of Our Lady of Good Health in mining village. Overnight in colonial mansion in same village.
Day 3Sunday. Functioning C18th water-mill. Bourgeois seaside resort of Comillas: Catalan art nouveau (Gaudí's Capricho, Montaner's Sobrellano palace, other work by Domènech, Llimona). Industrial/mining settlement of Astillero: "English" loading bay in the port, company railway, workers' housing, chimneys of an 1880s refinery, 1911 electricity generating station, etc. Overnight in modern 3 or 4* in Bilbao's C19th district.
Day 4Monday. A wide range of major industrial sights in Bilbao, including a tbc visit to a functioning steelworks going back 500 years.
Day 5Tuesday. Bilbao: free, e.g. to visit the Guggenheim (ticket not included, advance booking required) or organised visit to museums. La Rioja: application of chemical and mechanical advances at 19th century phylloxera bodega, includes tasting. Logroño: city tour, including conservative art nouveau architecture; evening free to allow (guided) exploration of superb tapas bars. Overnight in excellent little modern 3* in the old centre.
Day 6Wednesday. High-speed (AVE) train to Barcelona for group lunch. Barcelona city tour with industrial slant. Overnight in Barcelona in modernist hotel.
Day 7Thursday. Barcelona city programme. Overnight in Barcelona in modernist hotel.
Day 8Friday. Barcelona province. Colonia Guell and lunatic asylum (Gaudí prototypes for Park Guell, Sagrada Familia). The Llobregat valley. Mills in Manresa, Terrassa industry museum. Closing group dinner. Overnight in Barcelona in modernist hotel.
Day 9Saturday. End. Optional extra for those France-bound: cement train, then Pyrenees yellow train to Perpignan
Disclaimer

We're currently working on the Barcelona and Bilbao segments to improve what's on offer. Check back for updates...

The interesting state of Spain's public finances means that what is here today may well be gone tomorrow, but if attractions vanish we'll do our very best to find even better alternatives.

Details

Price £955 per person (£1165 single occupancy). This includes: all transport for organised activities from beginning to end; accommodation as below; all breakfasts, three lunches and two dinners (wine, water, coffee); all entrance fees, tips and taxes. Flights etc at beginning and end are not included. The price is fixed and will not be affected by currency or fuel price volatility.
Hotels Accommodation is in carefully selected 3-star or equivalent hotels with, where possible, a period atmosphere.
Grade easy
Base Spain (Meeting point information here, where relevant - make sure you have the right one!)
Location tags Asturias, Barcelona, Bilbao, Catalonia, Gijón, Logroño, Oviedo, Spain, Terrassa, Zaragoza,
Theme tags architecture, art, gastronomy, history, industrial,
Your guide(s)
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Length 9 days
Average daily walking distance 3 km / 1.86 miles
Average daily walking time 0.6 hr

Photos

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Comments

  1. [...] Mr Douet and Ms Criado on this expedition will have different stories, but for Mr Baldie this all started at primary school when the [...]

  2. nick says:

    Hi Trevor, looking foward to reading this industrial guide when you start posting. Sounds fascianting. Best Nick

  3. Mr Baldie says:

    Unfortunately it's going to be a paid-for thing - small edition covering post-restoration stuff for the September tour, then at some point thereafter a book of some nature, into which you will obviously be invited to peer.

Page URL

You can find all this information, as well as the booking form, at http://oreneta.com/baldie/baldie/spanish-holidays/a-country-of-belated-marvels-a-tour-of-the-industrial-culture-of-northern-spain-1875-1914/

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  1. Nota bene: The Baldie no longer runs this nor most other city tours - your mail will go to the new management. Queries here.
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  5. If after you have paid you change your mind about the day or the walk, or if the weather is really bad, then we'll try out best to offer you another option. Our cancellation and refund policy is here.
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