We are organising a visit to Barcelona and Aragon to visit some of the key locations described by George Orwell in “Homage to Catalonia”. The visit will be led by Richard Blair and organised by Quentin the son of George Kopp. After taking account of feedback from the members who enjoyed the 2013 visit, we are putting more free time for members into the timetable. This will mean that the trip will be a day longer than last time.
I will not be able to finalise costs until I have the exact numbers. This is partly because the cost of vehicle hire is such a big part of it. I won’t be able to work that out until I have the numbers. I have included an estimate for people travelling as a couple and singles. The other uncertainties are the price of the hotel rooms in Barcelona, where they are waiting until the Government decides what the level of tourism tax will be for 2015. The estimates include a contingency/contribution to the running of the Orwell Society, if not required, of 10%. Our membership is widespread, so our costs only cover the time in Spain.
The estimated costs in Euros, which is how they have been quoted to me. (The trip itinerary is below)
The prices include 3 nights bed only in Barcelona/ 2 nights fully inclusive in Aragon. One dinner in Barcelona, and two lunches in Aragon, transport and fuel, plus the services of our excellent guides in Barcelona and Aragon.
875 Euros 475 Euros
In order to ensure that the guides in Barcelona and Aragon can be heard, we are aiming for a maximum of 12-14 people, including Richard and Liz, my wife, and I.. Another factor limiting the numbers is the wonderful hotel we use in the Sierra d’Alcubierre, which has four double rooms and a large number of bunk beds in small dormitories with shared bathrooms etc. Being practical the costs get very large if we need more than two “transit” sized vehicles.
➢ 13th May. Independent travel to Barcelona to be there for the evening and dinner at the Meson David restaurant http://www.mesondavid.com/en/, which has been recommended to us by Nick Lloyd our guide on the following morning. Nick’s web site is http://iberianature.com/barcelona/history-of-barcelona/spanish-civil-war-tour-in-barcelona/ Accommodation for the 3 nights in Barcelona will be in the Hostel Opera http://www.operaramblas.com/ , just off the Ramblas beside the Liceu underground station on the green line, a few minutes’ walk from the Place de Cataluña. This is a quiet and convenient hotel, which does not have catering. There are plenty of nearby cafés on the Ramblas.
➢ 10am Thursday 14th May
o 3-4 hour walk through Orwell’s Civil War experiences in Barcelona with Nick Lloyd. We will start at the Estació de França. This is the station, where Orwell and many other volunteers arrived in Barcelona. We anticipate being able to re-visit the Poliorama, where Orwell was posted as a sentry during the May fighting in 1937. The Poliorama is opposite the Café Moka. Orwell vividly described the incident in the May fighting outside the Café.
o We were the first tourists ever given permission by the Academy of Sciences to visit the roof in 2013.
The tour will end in a Café with strong Civil War associations.
o The afternoon will be free for you to visit your own choice of attraction in Barcelona or simply take a rest.
o I have contacted the Benjamin Franklin International School (BFIS) to arrange a gathering of Catalan/Spanish residents who have an interest in and knowledge of the Spanish Civil War. One of the main buildings of this school was the Sanatori Maurin in the Civil War, which was where Orwell convalesced after being shot in the neck near Huesca. This is an optional item for those who wish. It will mean getting taxis at about 6pm and getting back to the Hotel at about 9pm.
o Dinner as you please and the cost is not included in the estimates provided.
➢ Friday 15th
o The morning will be free for you to visit your own choice of attraction in Barcelona and to take lunch.
o 1.30 pm leave for the approximately 4 hour drive to Aragon with a break near Lleida on route. The route is mostly on a major route/motorway and is approximately 200 miles.
o We will be staying at the wonderfully restored Albergue Monegros, which was nearly destroyed in the Civil War. http://www.alberguemonegros.com/web/
It is on a hill top and has 360 degree views, including towards the hills where Orwell was posted on arrival in Aragon in the Sierra d’Alcubierre. We will have dinner here on both nights.
This hotel has 4 double bedrooms, which I have provisionally booked. The other accommodation is in dormitories with shared bathrooms and bunk beds. At this time of year, we do not anticipate sharing with other groups. The cost of the bunk beds is reflected in the lower costs for Singles.
➢ Saturday 16th May
o Meet Victor Pardo Lancina at the Museum in Robres on the Civil War in Aragon at 10am. Victor will be our guide for the 2 days. He was the founding spirit behind the creation of the Museum for The Ruta de Orwell in Robres and for the restoration of the trenches we will visit.
o This will be followed by a tour of the restored trenches on the Ruta da Orwell, in the place where Orwell first fought in the Sierra d’Alcubierre. This will include Alcubierre, from where George Orwell marched up to the trenches. We will visit the restored trenches in Monte Irazo (see photos below) and also San Simón (the Three Huegas another trench warfare site).
o Lunch in Alcubierre and followed by free time at the Albergue Monegros, which is a very interesting building and has many beautiful walks for those who wish to have a stretch.
o Dinner and overnight at the Albergue.
➢ Sunday 17th May
o After Breakfast we will drive to the front around Huesca. The first stop will be at La Granja for 10am. This is an old farm house and a private home. La Granja is described in “Homage to Catalonia” which was a base for Orwell. It was then famous for its rats!. From there we will drive 5 minutes to Monflorite and see the place where he was hospitalised with the wound to his hand, before visiting other nearby Civil War sites including Tierz o a Quicena.
o We will have lunch “and coffee in Huesca” before returning to Barcelona and a final drink together. Last year our lunch left nobody needing to eat again!
➢ Monday 18th May
o Depart for home or wherever you plan to go.
➢ General Points
o Costs will be finalised when I have the numbers travelling and the costs for all the items, in particular the Barcelona Hotel. They are waiting for the Government to decide the level of tourism tax.
o This is not trip for the faint hearted, because it will involve quite a lot of walking on streets in Barcelona and over some rough terrain in Aragon. It will also involve 2 long drives to and from Barcelona.
➢ Next Steps.
o If you would like to come please let me know as soon as you can by emailing me at email@example.com . Places will be allocated in the order I receive the emails from you.
o Please apply if you are sure that you can definitely make these dates and meet the costs? While I have done everything I can to keep them as low as possible, I recognise that it is not a cheap holiday. It does however, give you the unique opportunity to see the sites with Richard Blair, Orwell’s son and our Patron.
o Once I have firm numbers and the outstanding costs, I will let you know a precise cost. The exchange rate is always an issue, but I will try and limit the risks.
o Please can you make me a 50% payment once I have notified you of the cost, so that I can secure the Hotel accommodation and confirm the car bookings?
o Please can people then pay the balance by March 31st. If it helps please pay in 2 instalments at the end of February and the end of March?
o If you would like to join us, please don’t delay? We filled our places very quickly for both Spain last time and Jura. Jura was full in less than 24 hours after the email was sent inviting you.
o We look forward to welcoming you when you arrive in Barcelona.
I look forward to hearing from you at my email address of firstname.lastname@example.org