Day 1: Wednesday, March 12, 2014
Day 2: Thursday, March 13, 2014
Lisbon, Portugal - Tour Begins
Welcome to Portugal, where quaint farming villages, cork and olive tree plantations dot the landscape. Enjoy Lisbon, Portugal's vibrant capital city. Tonight, begin your journey with a welcome dinner.
Day 3: Friday, March 14, 2014
A tour of Lisbon features the Moorish Alfama Quarter, Jeronimo’s Monastery (UNESCO World Heritage site), Monument to the Discoveries, and the Tower of Belem (UNESCO World Heritage site). Later, you will visit Portugal’s Riviera, which is known as the "playground of kings." Many historical and world leaders have chosen this resort area as their home creating a sophisticated atmosphere. On this fascinating tour you will visit the charming village of Sintra, a UNESCO site, with its fairytale palaces. Later, a drive through Sintra’s mountain range brings you to Cabo da Roca, the westernmost point in continental Europe. Travel along the rugged coastline, passing Guincho beach, a favorite spot for wind surfers, to cosmopolitan Cascais and its captivating bay, beautifully situated overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. On your return to Lisbon, travel along the coastline dotted with Moorish style forts and castles to beautiful Estoril, known for its luxurious homes and its famous casino and gardens. Tonight, enjoy a dinner complete with local cuisine, wines, folkloric dances and Fado music (UNESCO). (B, D)
Day 4: Saturday, March 15, 2014
Lisbon - Fatima - Nazare - Obidos - Lisbon
Your day on Portugal’s “Silver Coast” begins in the pilgrimage town of Fatima. View the Batalha Monastery (UNESCO World Heritage site), an example of Manueline architecture, and travel to the quaint towns of Nazare and Obidos.
Day 5: Sunday, March 16, 2014
Lisbon - Madrid, Spain
Depart Lisbon and cross the border into Spain. Enjoy your day viewing the countryside of Portugal and Spain before arriving into the capital city of Spain - Madrid. (B, D)
Day 6: Monday, March 17, 2014
Madrid - Royal Palace - Toledo - Madrid
During a locally guided tour of Madrid’s historic center, see the Puerta del Sol and Plaza Mayor, where events have been held since the 17th century. A guided tour of the monumental 18th century Royal Palace* reveals lavish halls, banquet rooms, the throne room, royal armory and the impressive courtyard. This afternoon travel to Toledo, a UNESCO site and the capital of medieval Spain until 1560. A comprehensive tour highlights the magnificent Gothic cathedral and the 13th century synagogue, a testament to Toledo’s Jewish heritage. Also stop in the Church of Santo Tome to view El Greco’s masterpiece painting, The Burial of Count Orgaz.
Day 7: Tuesday, March 18, 2014
Madrid - Cordoba - Seville
Ease your way into the local culture as your tour manager teaches you a few key phrases of the native language. Then, travel to the extraordinary Moorish city of Cordoba. Embark on a walking tour of the Mezquita. This UNESCO site, an architectural marvel built by the Moors in the 8th century as a magnificent mosque, was converted into the city’s cathedral in the 16th century. Continue your exploration of Cordoba in the city's well-preserved and historical old Jewish Quarter. Later, transfer to Seville, considered Spain’s “cultural capital.” (B, D)
Day 8: Wednesday, March 19, 2014
Today you will see Columbus’ tomb, the ornate cathedral, a UNESCO site, and Giralda Bell Tower. Enjoy a walking tour of the quaint old Santa Cruz Quarter with its bright flowers, white-washed buildings and winding streets; then continue to Plaza D’Espana and the beautiful Maria Luisa Park, one of the loveliest in all of Europe. A local flamenco dancer joins you for a typical “tapas lunch” featuring small portions of hot and cold specialties; here you learn about the history, culture and artistry of flamenco. This evening, take your reserved seats for an authentic flamenco show (UNESCO) featuring Seville's top performers. (B, L)
Day 9: Thursday, March 20, 2014
Seville - Granada
Travel along the peaceful Sierra Nevada to Granada, the last great capital of the Moors in Spain before it fell to the Catholic monarchs in 1492. Join a local expert for a tour of the world-famous Alhambra, the immense hilltop palace that is a UNESCO site. Also tour the Generalife, meaning “garden of the architect,” where the grounds are beautifully designed with waterfalls, courtyards and smaller secret gardens. (B, D)
Day 10: Friday, March 21, 2014
Granada - Valencia
Today you travel through Spain's amazing landscape viewing rolling hills dotted with picturesque olive groves while en route to the Mediterranean coast. Arrive in the city of Valencia, a treasure trove of Roman and Arabic architecture, surrounded by citrus groves.
Day 11: Saturday, March 22, 2014
Valencia - Lladro - Valencia
A city tour of historic Valencia features the ornate 14th century Serranos Tower and imposing 15th century Quart Tower. You'll also see the bustling central market, one of the largest in Europe, and view the Gothic Cathedral, where construction began in 1262 on the site of an ancient mosque. Your trip to Valencia would not be complete without a stop at Lonja, the old Silk Exchange, recognized by UNESCO as one of the most beautiful buildings of European civil Gothic architecture. Next, visit Lladro-City of Porcelain and learn about the history and creative process of the world-famous, handmade Lladro figurines**. Travel to the area where paella cuisine originated. A “paella experience” features a boat ride on the canals surrounding rice field plantations; a visit to a traditional fisherman’s home known as a “barraca;” a paella making demonstration and an authentic paella lunch. The remainder of the day is at leisure. (B, L)
Day 12: Sunday, March 23, 2014
Valencia - Museum of Las Fallas - Barcelona
Begin your day with a panoramic tour of Valencia’s port area followed by the impressive City of Arts & Sciences. Visit the Museum of Las Fallas where you will see figurines from the last 80 years of the Las Fallas festival. Learn about this unique, spectacular festival from assembly and costumes to fireworks and the night of burning. Later, travel to Barcelona, one of Europe’s most beautiful and exciting cities.
Day 13: Monday, March 24, 2014
Today, get an in-depth look at vibrant and lively Barcelona. Your locally-guided tour showcases Las Ramblas Boulevard, the most famous in Barcelona, dotted with bird and flower stalls. Also see Columbus Monument; Parc Montjuic; Antonio Gaudi’s UNESCO World Heritage sites including “La Sagrada Familia,” Parc Guell, Bartlo House and the unconventional Casa Mila building. Later, enjoy a leisurely drive through picturesque villages bringing you to majestic Montserrat Mountain, soaring 4,320 feet above sea level. A local guide will lead you on a tour exploring the area's most important sights. While here, stroll the grounds of the 8th century monastery and see its famous Romanesque sculpture of the "Black Virgin," patron saint of Catalonia. This is also the site of many pilgrimages and where Christopher Columbus brought natives to pay homage. Gather this evening for a farewell dinner celebrating the end of a lovely trip to Spain! (B, D)
Day 14: Tuesday, March 25, 2014
Barcelona - Tour Ends
You return home with vivid memories of a spectacularly beautiful land with an old, rich and diverse cultural heritage.