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Portugal and Spain
Lisbon ... Sevilla ... Evera ... Seville ... Cordoba ... Granada ...
Madrid ... Barcelona ... Zaragoza
Day One – US Departure
Day Two - Lisbon: Upon arrival in Lisbon, we will be met by our tour manager and coach driver, escorted to our motor coach and en route to our hotel, we will be oriented to our tour.
Day Three - Lisbon: Following breakfast, we will begin our exploration of Portugal’s capital city with a panoramic sightseeing tour. Highlights of our Lisbon tour will include the Belem Tower and the Monastery of Hieronymites, final resting place of Vasco de Gama. The afternoon and evening are free for further sightseeing.
Day Four – Lisbon / Evora / Sevilla: This morning we depart Lisbon and drive through the Alentejo region, whose landscape is dominated by undulating wheatfields and the cork oak trees. We will visit Evora, whose history of Celtic, Roman, Moorish and Christian occupation has left a legacy of monumental treasures which allow it to be inscribed on the UNECO list of World Cultural Heritage Sites. Following our guided tour and free time for lunch, we will continue to the Spanish border and arrive in Seville for our overnight.
Day Five - Seville: In the 16th Century Seville was one of the most important and prosperous cities in the known world, due to its monopoly on trade with the Americas and even today the historic center bears witness to this golden age. Highlights of our morning walking tour of Seville will include the sumptuous Royal Palace (Alcazar), which is one of the oldest in Europe, and the Seville Cathedral, with the tomb of Christopher Columbus. The afternoon and evening are free to enjoy the unique atmosphere of this beautiful city as we walk the streets of Don Juan, Carmen and the great artist Velazquez.
Day Six - Seville / Cordoba / Granada: This morning's journey brings us first to Cordoba, once one of the greatest cities in the world. It was here that caliphs from Damascus founded the capital of Islamic Spain after the Muslim invasion of the Iberian peninsular in the 8th Century. This brought together the most important philosophers, astronomers, poets, musicians and scientists to live and work in the city. The most iconic landmark from this era is the Great Mosque, begun in the 8th Century, continually added to until the 11th Century and now the Cathedral of Cordoba. We will visit this and the Old Quarter during our walking tour and after free time for lunch, we will continue to Granada for our overnight.
Day Seven - Granada: Today's sightseeing includes a visit to the Alhambra Palace and Generalife Gardens, which is one of the most impressive and best preserved monuments of the Arabic world. Recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this romantic palace is a walk through history in its own right - from the 9th Century citadel to the 14th Century Muslim palaces and the 16th Century residence of Charles V. Other highlights of Granada include the Cathedral and Royal Chapel with the tombs of Ferdinand and Isabella, the Catholic Monarchs who sponsored the expeditions of Columbus. The remainder of the afternoon and evening are free to continue sightseeing and enjoy some of the local restaurants.
Day Eight - Granada / Toledo / Madrid: This morning we will depart Andalucia and journey through the fabled lands of La Mancha in the footsteps of Don Quixote and his faithful squire Sancho Panza. In the afternoon we will reach Toledo. Set atop a hill and surrounded on three sides by the Tagus River, this UNESCO World Heritage Site majestically overlooks the surrounding area. Our walking tour will include many highlights of this strategic stronghold – the steep cobbled streets dating back to the Middle Ages, the breathtaking Cathedral with its 750 stained glass windows and the spectacular views over the River Targus. In the early evening, we will arrive in Madrid for our overnight.
Day Nine – Madrid: Even though Madrid is a young capital city by European standards, it certainly has its share of historic monuments. Highlights of our morning city tour will include the Royal Palace, official office of King Felipe VI, and the Cathedral of Almudena. We will drive the grand boulevard of Gran Via and walk through the heart of the old city, from Puerta del Sol to Plaza Mayor. We will also have the opportunity to visit the world-famous Prado Museum, with it’s enviable collection of works by the great European masters such as Velázquez, Goya, Raphael, Rubens, and Bosch before enjoying the remainder of the afternoon and evening at leisure.
Day Ten – Madrid / Segovia / El Escorial / Madrid: Today's excursion brings us first to Segovia, where our visit represents a journey through two thousand years of history. Our walking tour will include all the highlights of this radiant city – from the Roman aqueduct, to the Gothic Cathedral, the Alcazar fortress of Queen Isabella to the cobbled streets where diverse influences still mingle. We continue next to the magnificent monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, created by Philip II to be a legacy in stone of both his religious zeal and his political ambition. Today its massive dimensions serve as the burial place of Spain's kings and queens and the home of art treasures by El Greco, Velazquez and Titian. It is also home to more than 50000 books, which rivals the Vatican Library. Late this afternoon we will arrive in Madrid – our home for the next three nights.
Day Eleven – Madrid / Zaragoza: Today’s journey brings us to Zaragoza. Located on the banks of the Ebro River, about half way between Madrid and Barcelona, Zaragoza is a city whose history once again transcends more than 2000 years - from the Romans to the Moors and on to Christianity. Highlights of our city tour include the Mudejar style churches, now designated as a World Heritage Site, and the spectacular Basilica de Pilar. We will also see the Palace of Aljaferia, originally built by the Moors 1000 years ago and a wonderful example of Hispanic-Moorish architecture. The Palace later served as the residence of the Kings of Aragon, headquarters of the Inquisition and army barracks and now houses the Aragon Provincial Parliament. Late this afternoon we will arrive at our Zaragoza hotel for our overnight.
Day Twelve – Zaragoza / Barcelona: This morning we begin the last leg of our journey. We will travel first to the Monastery of Montserrat, one of the most spectacular natural sites in Spain. The monastery was founded to house a carving of the Virgin Mary, which according to tradition was made by St. Luke and brought to the caves by St. Peter himself. Following our visit of the Monastery, we continue to the Catalan capital of Barcelona, located along the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. Upon arrival in the city we will proceed to our hotel for our overnight.
Day Thirteen – Barcelona: During this morning’s sightseeing tour we will explore one of Europe’s most vibrant cities - from the harbor area to the authentic Las Ramblas district, from the Gothic Quarter to Antoni Gaudi’s unfinished Basilica of the Sagrada Familia. We have free time this afternoon to explore some of Barcelona’s highlights - the Picasso Museum, the Joan Miro Foundation - or simply sit in a sidewalk cafe and watch the world go by. Overnight Barcelona.
Day Fourteen – Barcelona / USA: This morning we will transfer to airport to begin our journey home.