We want to inform you that the Scarlet Macaw “Adventures in Travel” is in the process of changing its web presence to that of our new business enterprise, Iberian Traveler, which we feel better represents what we have to offer to our clients and the travel industry. The Scarlet Macaw’s web site and emails will continue to function until the transition is complete, which is still several weeks away.

One of the major changes taking place in our company is the addition of a selection of small group tours (4 to 20 people) of Spain and Portugal. These include “Barcelona to Bilbao,” “Bilbao & Beyond” and “Discover Portugal.” We have teamed up with the same agency in Spain who has organized the excursions of Cobblestone Tours of New Orleans, which recently closed its doors after 16 years of offering unique small group tours to Spain, Portugal and Sicily.

We will be adding additional exclusive small group tours in the near future. These will include cultural and gastronomic tours of Asturias, Cantabria, Galicia and Navarra, as well as a series of unique wine and gastronomy tours of the Rioja (Alta and Alavesa).

The season begins this April with the “Discover Portugal” tour and the “Barcelona to Bilbao” tour in May.
Fiesta de San Fermín and the “running of the bulls.” We recently inspected the new 4-star Hotel AC Cizur that opened in October. The hotel has only 60 rooms, including two suites and is typical of the AC chain, ultramodern, upscale and very comfortable, with great beds, sparkling baths, bathrobes, slippers, free mini-bar and free coffee all morning long. The AC Cizur offers standard double rooms at the same rate as their 3-star AC Ciudad de Pamplona, one of the hotels included in our Standard Packages for this year’s fiesta. This year only, you will have the option of staying here at no additional charge. There are two other 4-star hotels in Pamplona, but both require a supplement to upgrade.

It appears that it will be at least another year before the historic Hotel La Perla will be ready to reopen as a 5-star luxury boutique-style hotel. What it will offer its guests during the fiesta remains a mystery, but its unique location will put it in demand for anyone wanting to be in the middle of the celebration. We were invited to sample the new gastronomic menu at the Nuevo Casino, the private social club located above the historic Café Iruña. Jorge, their exciting young chef from Tarragona, will be offering his creative dishes during the fiesta. We will again have a limited number of passes to the Casino so that our clients can take advantage of its commanding view of the Plaza del Castillo.

Balcony Reservations – chupinazo, encierro & Probe de mi
There are a limited number of balcony spaces remaining for the chupinazo program, the opening ceremony at noon on 6 July. We will meet the guides at the Hotel Tres Reyes at 10:30 before moving to the town hall square for the ceremony. Following the ceremony we leave for a celebration lunch at the Posada Palacio Beola in the village of Almandoz in the Baztan Valley north of the city. Requests for balcony reservations for the encierros, the “running of the bulls.” are well ahead of last year at this time. As a result, we can only confirm balcony reservations for our package clients at this time, but we will add your name to the list and notify you once we have made the final arrangements, which will not be until the end of April or the beginning of May.

If you are interested in a balcony reservation and are not a package client, we will need a signed copy of the Booking Request Form, downloadable on our web site. Please note that balcony reservations for 7 July are extremely limited, as it is the most popular day during the fiesta. Balcony reservations for the running of the bulls include a special breakfast following the encierro. Breakfast this year will be at the Nuevo Casino, the private club located above the Café Iruña in the Plaza del Castillo and at El Bosquecillo, the Viennese-style Café-restaurant in the park behind the Hotel Tres Reyes.

Balcony reservations for the “Pobre de mí,” the candlelight ceremony at midnight on 14 July, are still available. We’ll finish the night in the Plaza del Castillo after the closing ceremony with a final visit to this Casino for dancing and cava.

Special Excursions and Lunches during the fiesta
We have arranged a special series of excursions and gastronomic lunches during this year’s fiesta. They begin with the chupinazo program on 6 July and finish on 13 July with a final visit to the bullpens and a last walk along the route of the encierro to the bullring before heading to lunch at the popular family run Restaurante/Asador Etxeberria in the village of Goldaraz in the hills west of Pamplona.

The excursion on the 7th follows the procession with a visit to the old city followed by lunch at Restaurante Errota (Water Mill) in the village of Aoiz.
On the 8th we will tour the Bodega Señorío de Otazu before having lunch at the Asador Etxeberria in Goldaraz.
On the 9th we head to Roncesvalles in the Pyrenees, the beginning of the historic pilgrims’ route to Santiago, enjoying lunch at the Restaurante Aritza in Burguete (Auritz), a village familiar to fans of Hemingway.
The 10th finds us in Pamplona for a visit to the holding pens and Plaza de Toros before lunch at Restaurante Errota in the village of Aoiz, east of Pamplona.
On the 11th we return to Roncesvalles, while the 12th finds us on another tour to Bodega Señorío de Otazu before lunch at Restaurante La Cochera.
Be sure to contact us as early as possible if you are interested in one of our Special Excursions and Lunches, as they are limited to 35 people per day.
We can also arrange custom excursion packages to areas outside of the city, including Bilbao, San Sebastian-Donostia and Laguardia, after 8 July. Please contact us at least two months prior to the start of the fiesta for additional information and we have access to a limited number of tendido sombra (lower level shade) tickets for the bullfights. These are the only tickets we offer, and they are some of the best seats in the bullring. We will not know the sale price of these tickets until after the first of May, when our buyer sets the price with his suppliers. Other tickets will be available from the scalpers you’ll find waiting in front of the Plaza de Toros each day around noon, but be aware that although it is not illegal to buy these tickets, it is against law to scalp bullfight tickets anywhere in Spain.

Barcelona to Bilbao – 10 days
Experience the art and architecture, Basque & Catalán languages and unique cultures that await you. Visit the Picasso museum and Gaudi’s fanciful Park Güell, Casa Milá and the Sagrada Familia church. Relish San Sebastian-Donostia’s renowned cuisine. Enjoy the beauty of Bilbao’s famed Guggenheim Museum and the dynamic city surrounding it.

Discover Portugal – 10 days
A country of contrasts. The ceremonial art of sipping prized Port Wine. The soulful sounds of Fado at a private concert. An elegant Palace/Hotel secluded in a forest. Sintra’s lavishly decadent architecture. All await your discovery.

April 20 to 30, 2006
October 26 to November 5, 2006
€4495 per person – land only
based on double occupancy

May 18 to 28, 2006
September 7 to 17, 2006
€5195 per person – land only
based on double occupancy

Bilbao & Beyond – 10 days
Visit Frank Gehry’s spectacular Guggenheim museum, Hemingway’s Pamplona and San Sebastian’s beautiful beaches and everything in between in this magical region that defines Northern Spain.

June 1 to 11, 2006
October 5 to 15, 2006
€4595 per person – land only
based on double occupancy

Wine & Gastronomy – 7 days
Spain is a land of passionate chefs, vintage wines and fresh, exotic, traditional foods. Share Europe’s great, undiscovered culinary destination in this tour of Northern Spain. Discover the new and traditional cuisine that makes this area a must-destination.

June 18 to 25, 2006
October 22 to 29, 2006
€3795 per person – land only
based on double occupancy

Madrid, Valencia and Beyond…
We spent the final days of 2005 in Madrid checking on new hotels, restaurants and wine bars to recommend before traveling to Valencia for the New Year and to see the preparations being made for the Louis Vuitton 32nd America’s Cup in 2007. This city on Spain’s Mediterranean coast is experiencing a remarkable makeover as it prepares for next summer’s events:
Act 10 – Match Racing – 11 to 18 May
Act 11 – Fleet Racing – 19 to 21 May
Act 12 – Match Racing – 22 June to 3 July
The beach area, Las Arenas, is undergoing a major revival, including the opening of the Balneario Las Arenas Resort, a spectacular 5-star deluxe hotel/spa, overlooking the beach just north of the new 4-star Hotel Neptuno and the inner harbor. The old city of Valencia is also undergoing major renovations in preparation for the expected avalanche of visitors to the America’s Cup. The funky Carmen district is experiencing a revival that may change is character somewhat, but it is a much-needed improvement for such a vibrant city.

Valencia’s 90-acre City of Arts and Science Park is a phenomenal work, an eclectic combination of art, architecture and science not to be missed.

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