. Welcome to Madrid! At 6 pm, meet your Tour Director and traveling companions for a welcome dinner with wine at your hotel. (D)
Day 2: Madrid
. The capital 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. To make the most of your stay, exciting optional excursions are available. (B)
Day 3: Madrid–Cordoba–Seville.
Drive south through the arid landscapes of Don Quixote’s La Mancha to Cordoba, where sightseeing with a Local Guide includes the Alcazar, the Roman Bridge, and the medieval Jewish quarter. Tour the magnificent 8th-century MOSQUE OF THE CALIPHS, famous for its 850 pillars of porphyry, marble, and jasper. Then, continue to Seville, the vibrant, festive capital of Andalusia. (B,D)
Day 4: Seville
. Start with [LF] a visit to magnificent PLAZA DE ESPAÑA, used in the movies Lawrence of Arabia and Star Wars. Meet your Local Guide, and 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 ALCAZAR, founded in the 11th century as a Moorish fortress, with its Palacio de Don Pedro. 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. Tonight, for a truly Andalusian night out, reserve a seat at our optional Flamenco show. (B)
Day 5: Seville–Granada.
Sightseeing with a Local Guide features Granada’s main attraction: the ALHAMBRA COMPLEX. The mighty yet graceful citadel was planned by 13th-century Moorish ruler Al Ahamar. 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 amble through the magnificent WATER GARDENS OF THE GENERALIFE, the royal summer residence. (B)
Day 6: Granada–Valencia
. Cross Mora Pass and pass troglodyte cave dwellings, hollowed out of the soft tufa stone, near Purullena and Guadix on your way to Valencia, once a royal capital. During your guided walking tour, Valencia’s Roman, Moorish, and Spanish history comes alive. Sample a traditional Horchata drink, and tonight, [LF] a special paella dinner with wine has been prepared for you at one of Valencia’s local restaurants. (B,D)
Day 7: Valencia–Barcelona.
Enjoy a scenic drive along the coast to Barcelona, Spain’s second-largest city and host of the Olympic Games in 1992. (B)
Day 8: Barcelona
. Sightseeing with a Local Guide features the Columbus Monument, Plaza de Cataluna, and Paseo de Gracia. Admire the spectacular Sagrada Familia, Gaudi’s masterpiece, and enjoy a panoramic view of the city and harbor from Montjuïc Hill. Also visit the GOTHIC QUARTER. This afternoon, an optional excursion to Montserrat can be arranged, and this evening, [LF] enjoy Sangria and a special farewell dinner with wine at La Fonda del Port Olimpic restaurant to say, “Adios” to your traveling companions. (B,D)
Day 9: Barcelona
. Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning. (B)