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Travel in Spain and Portugal

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Monday, June 18, 2007



Rioja is wine country. Nestled under the Cantabrian range to the north and buffered by the Pyrenees to the east, this protected area of Spain is associated with cutting edge wineries, chic new hotels and traditional restaurants preparing award-winning dishes. The wine growing appellation is divided into three subzones—Rioja alta, alavesa, baja—each with its distinct terroir. No visit to Rioja is complete without a glass of tinto accompanied by some roasted red peppers and cheese. But the region offers more than just the pleasures of the table.

For the lover of soft adventure, the pleasures of cycling the rail to trail routes in Rioja are a perfect complement to the wine—a full body satisfying experience. Descend from Rioja alavesa to Rioja alta between vineyards, alongside rivers, into a gorge and discover the riches of Rioja—an ancient necropolis and a 21st century winery, a pilgrimage church alongside a boutique, a spa village whose waters wind through a valley to dinosaur tracks. And there are more than a few surprises for the observant cyclist.

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