Those looking to explore the ‘real Spain’ are being offered tailored trips and tours that aim to offer something completely different to those organised by large tour companies. These, arranged by local Spanish lady Begoña Josa del Portillo, aim to discover the hidden gems of Spanish heritage and culture, with traditional food and wine weaved in for good measure.

For many years Begoña has been an integral link between the local Spanish and ex-pat communities offering Spanish language and Spanish cooking lessons.

It is the popularity of these courses and the influence of her students that has led to Begoña organising tailored trips and tours. The next trip organised by Begoña is to Morella and Peniscola in the north of Castellon. This region is steeped in history. In the 14th Century the was a unique phenomenon, there were not one but two Popes in the world; the Pope in Rome and another living in Avignon, France, known as Papa Luna. Papa Luna came to live to Spain in Peñiscola and Morella. There is a huge amount of history connected to this story in the region and this will form the basis of the tour, taking in the heritage he encouraged and the legacy he left behind. Peñiscola is a beautiful town on the coast and Morella is an inland medieval Town. The hotel in Morella that Begona has booked is a stunning converted palace linked directly to Papa Luna.

The trip will take place on the 8th, 9th and 10th June. The price includes coach travel, a double room, full board and local tour guides who have excellent historical knowledge and know all the hidden gems. Places are limited so speedy booking is advised; to do so please call Begoña on 622 188 772.

Begoña said: “I always like to offer something extra and special; I don’t use run of the mill hotels, but centrally located boutique-style accommodations that reflect the character of the area and I arrange meals in traditional, good quality, restaurants used by local diners. The food and wine is always excellent and reflects the typical local cuisine and traditional regional dishes. I never have more than 20 people booked, this way the group soon get to know each other and there is always a great sense of fun and camaraderie.”

Several local pick up and drop off points are available for passengers and range from Los Alcazares to Torrevieja. The first evening will be spent at the converted palace and the second at a 4 star hotel in the old town of Peniscola where the group will take a scenic evening train tour. On the final day of the trip, the group will have lunch at a privately owned traditional Spanish country house.

Mireille Toddington