Day 1 Arrive in Madrid, Spain.
Time to rest or to start exploring the Spanish capital. At 6 pm, meet your Tour Director and traveling companions for a welcome dinner at your hotel. (D)
Day 2 Madrid.
The capital of Spain since 1561, Madrid today is a strikingly modern city, the showcase of a country resolutely turned towards the future. Your Local Guide takes you to the Puerta del Sol, Plaza de España with its monument to Cervantes, the Parliament, Cibeles Fountain, elegant Calle Alcala, and Paseo de Castellana. Then, the highlight: a visit to the palatial PRADO MUSEUM with its priceless art treasures. (B)
Day 3 Madrid–Segovia–Avila–Salamanca.
A day in beautiful Castile. Cross the rugged Sierra de Guadarrama mountain range on the way to Segovia, famous for the 2,000-year-old Roman aqueduct. Enjoy a walk through the walled town of Avila, where St. Theresa founded the Order of Carmelites. Arrive in Salamanca, and follow your Tour Director for a pleasant walk to beautiful PLAZA MAYOR. A highlight is [LF] your overnight stay at Hacienda Zorita, which once hosted Christopher Columbus, where a WINE TASTING and dinner await you. (B,D)
Day 4 Salamanca–Fatima, Portugal–Lisbon.
The majestic scenery of the Serra da Estrela mountain range forms the backdrop of your morning drive into Portugal. Before heading for Lisbon, melt into the stream of pilgrims from all over the world as you visit the SANCTUARY OF OUR LADY OF THE ROSARY in Fatima. This evening, an optional dinner with Fado-style entertainment is the perfect introduction to Portugal’s capital. (B)
Day 5 Lisbon.
Lisbon was the center of Europe’s longest-lived overseas empire. Morning sightseeing with a Local Guide features a drive through the Baixa quarter’s main squares and a walk through the cobblestone alleys of quaint ALFAMA, the popular quarter of the seamen and Fado singers. Drive along the grand Avenida da Liberdade up to Pombal Square. Stop for pictures of Belem Tower, guarding the mouth of the Tagus, and the Monument to the Discoverers. Next, visit JERONIMOS MONASTERY with the tomb of Vasco da Gama. An exciting optional excursion is available to the royal palace of Queluz. (B)
Day 6 Lisbon–Azaruja–Seville, Spain.
On the way back to Spain, stop in Azaruja to visit [LF] a CORK FACTORY and learn about the many ways this material can be used. Then, continue to the vibrant capital of Andalusia, Seville. (B,D)
Day 7 Seville
. During your sightseeing tour with a Local Guide, hear about the city’s role in Roman times, its conquest by the Moors in 712 AD, and its contribution to the discovery of the New World. Admire Maria Luisa Park, the Golden Tower on the Guadalquivir River, and the university that used to be the tobacco factory of Carmen fame. Also visit the magnificent CASA DE PILATOS, a mixture of Moorish and Roman architecture with a splendid collection of Roman sculptures. Then, stroll through the narrow lanes of the charming SANTA CRUZ QUARTER. For those interested, an optional extended guided visit to the cathedral is available, and tonight, for a truly Andalusian night out, reserve a seat at our optional Flamenco show. (B)
Day 8 Seville–Tangier, Morocco.
Through the sunny sherry wine region of Jerez to Algeciras. Board your FERRY and sail across the Strait of Gibraltar to Africa. Continue to Tangier, jumping-off point for the Moorish conquest of Spain and home town of legendary medieval traveler Ibn Batuta. Sightseeing with a Local Guide includes a [LF] spectacular panoramic drive to CAP SPARTEL. Marvel at the views and quench your thirst Bedouin-style with a glass of hot mint tea, accompanied by local biscuits. This evening, [LF] enjoy a lively Moroccan show after dinner at your hotel. (B,D)
Day 9 Tangier–Costa Del Sol, Spain.
Visit Tangier’s exciting and colorful GRAND SOCCO square and explore the narrow streets of the kasbah. Return by FERRY across the Strait and back in Spain, drive to your hotel in Torremolinos on the elegant Costa del Sol. (B)
Day 10 At Leisure on the Costa Del Sol.
Today is your chance to join an optional excursion to the Rock of Gibraltar, in British hands since 1704. Later, enjoy the sandy beaches, and browse through the trendy boutiques. (B)
Day 11 Costa Del Sol–Granada.
Into the mountains to history-steeped Granada. A guided walking tour features its main attraction, the ALHAMBRA COMPLEX. A fantasy of “lace in stone” surrounded by arabesque gardens and fountains, it affords superb views of the Old Quarter and Sacromonte, a mountain occupied by Gypsy cave dwellers. Also admire the magnificent WATER GARDENS OF THE GENERALIFE, the royal summer residence. This evening, a special dinner with wine and local specialties has been prepared for you at one of Granada’s fine restaurants. (B,D)
Day 12 Granada–Toledo–Madrid.
The olive and orange groves of the rolling Andalusian hills and, later, the more barren landscapes of Don Quixote’s La Mancha unfold before your eyes on the way north to Toledo, spectacularly situated on a granite hill surrounded by a loop of the Tagus River. Your walking tour with a Local Guide features the Moorish bridge and visits to an early SYNAGOGUE, the 13th-century gothic CATHEDRAL, and the CHURCH OF SANTO TOMÉ with one of El Greco’s most famous paintings. Time to visit a DAMASCENE STEEL WORKSHOP before returning to Madrid. Tonight, enjoy a farewell dinner with wine at your hotel. (B,D)
Day 13 Madrid
. Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning. (B)