Dear Friends and Colleagues,
Twenty-five years of experience with Canada's largest annual Emergency Medicine Conference (NYGH Emergency Medicine Update, Toronto) means we know all the ins and outs of planning an outstanding CME event. And following on the great sold-out successes of our 2009 Burgundy and 2011 Tuscany programs, we are excited once again to partner with Hamilton Fitzjames in offering La Rioja Spain in 2013.
La Rioja is without a doubt Spain's most beautiful wine region, with a landscape of gentle rolling low vineyard-covered hills, beautiful medieval hamlets and the awe-inspiring backdrop of the majestic Cantabrian Mountains. The entire region is quiet, pristine and unspoiled and we will bike on tiny roads and hike the Santiago de Compostela trail to all the most important sights – the breathtaking walled fortress of Laguardia, the Romanesque gem of Santo Domingo de la Calzada, the World Heritage site of Monasterio de Suso and Yuso, the pre-Roman town of Nájera and much more.
But I think the biggest surprise for everyone will come from the contemporary realm when you see the region's wineries! Naturally, the wines themselves are memorable but once you lay eyes on the buildings in which they are made, you will never forget them either. The world's greatest architects – Santiago Calatrava, Zaha Hadid, Rafael Moneo, Iñaki Aspiazu, J. Marino Pascual, Frank Gehry – have let their creativity soar with the wineries of Ysios, Lopez de Heredia, Antion, Baigorri, Viña Real, Dinastia Vivanco, Pagos de Leza and the Marques de Riscal. And we will bike and hike to them all.
Our base for the week will be the lovely Hotel Los Agustinos in the historic Old Quarter of Haro, the wine capital of Northern Spain. Just steps away throughout this medieval town you will find chic shops, tempting wine boutiques, friendly restaurants and a myriad of relaxed tapas bars serving fresh crianzas and hearty reservas along with pixos (the Basque tapas) that will keep us smiling through the early evenings before those late and gastronomic Spanish dinners.
Our rendezvous and drop-off spot will be the capital of the Basque Region - Bilbao. We would expect most of you to spend at least a day here, either before or after the trip, because of the breathtaking and world famous Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. But we heartily suggest that you see Bilbao at the end so that you can join us for the 3-day pre-trip in Barcelona. If this is possible for you, don't miss it. The genius of Gaudí will be a main focus as we visit his Casa Batlló, Casa Milà, Park Guëll and the as yet unfinished and astonishing Cathedral of the Sagrada Família. But there will be much more including the Mies van der Rohe Pavillion, the Miró Foundation, the Picasso Museum and, not to be overlooked, our special private lunch at Spain's best olive oil producer, Hacienda Queiles.
But it's also about the learning – isn't it? Don't worry, that's all looked after. We have planned a valuable and educationally exacting medical program with nationally renowned speakers and cutting-edge topics. This more than just your traditional CME.
We hope you will join us for what promises to be a very special event.
Rick Penciner MD
Emergency Services Program
North York General Hospital
Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto