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Kick-start your epic encounter with Spain and Portugal in Europe's highest capital city, Madrid. Spend your day rambling along tree-lined boulevards and people-watching in the city's lively squares before joining your fellow travellers and Travel Director for a Welcome Reception and orientation drive past some of Madrid's most iconic sites.
We join a Local Specialist this morning for a sightseeing tour of the Spanish capital, which includes views of the Royal Palace, the official residence of the Spanish royal family and the Cervantes Monument. After our city tour, we'll 'Dive Into Culture' and visit a historic chocolatería to enjoy some sugary churros and chocolate. Admire the masterpieces of Velasquez and other Spanish greats. Spend the rest of the day exploring the city on your own or consider joining an Optional Experience to the imperial city of Toledo.
Journey to Segovia and see the Roman Aqueduct, by far the most impressive Roman structure in Spain - delivering drinking water across its impressive 160 arches to the people of Segovia in ancient times. View the Alcázar of Segovia and the city's medieval and Moorish architecture. Travel to the city of Zamora in the Castilla y León region. Your orientation tour includes views of the cathedral and the Church of Mary Magdalene.
Travel to Santiago de Compostela, where you'll join a Local Specialist, who will share insights into the 'Way of Saint James' and why thousands of people attempt the life-changing pilgrimage annually. Visit the vast Cathedral, reputed to be the final resting place of Saint James the Great, and the Praza do Obradoiro, a square dominated by four architectural styles. Consider an Optional Experience to the Rías Baixas for soul-stirring views of the Galicia coast. The region has long waterways stretching inland that are said to be the mark left by God's hand when he cleansed himself after creating the world.
Embark on a sightseeing tour with a Local Specialist today in Porto. Wander past Baroque churches and along the winding lanes that tumble down towards the Douro. See the remarkable bridges that span the river, the medieval Ribeira Quarter and the city port. Visit the Stock Exchange Palace with its splendid Arabian Hall inspired by Granada's Alhambra, before you 'Dive Into Culture' and into the centuries-old tradition of local port production at a tasting in a port cellar. Spend the rest of the afternoon strolling through the historic centre of Porto.
Follow the road taken by pilgrims over the last 100 years to the Shrine at Fátima, site of celebrated religious miracles. We arrive in colourful Lisbon this evening - our home for the next two nights.
Delve into Lisbon's centuries-old seafaring heritage today, paying tribute to the brave men who set off from these shores to discover a new world. We'll see the shimmering white Monument to the Discoveries, the iconic suspension bridge spanning the River Tagus, and Belém Tower. We join a Local Specialist for a sightseeing tour of the UNESCO-listed Hieronymite Monastery, an exquisite testament to 15th-century Manueline architecture and art. To beautify your afternoon, join an Optional Experience to the historic towns of Cascais and Sintra. In the evening perhaps enjoy a traditional Portuguese dinner amidst the heart-wrenching, melancholic sounds of the fado.
We travel east through Portugal's picturesque rural landscapes of the Alentejo - the country's cork capital and cross into Spain, journeying through the province of Huelva, renowned for its Jabugo ham, before arriving in Seville. The fine art of olive oil production is explored this evening as we 'Connect with Locals' over a memorable Be My Guest dinner at an olive oil mill where you learn how oil is produced from the 6,000 trees.
The charisma of Seville is unmistakable. Join a Local Specialist for a walking tour through the city. View the symbolic Giralda Bell Tower, see the tiled fountains, pavilions and lush palms in the Maria Luisa Park and walk through the imposing Plaza de España. Later, we'll visit the largest Gothic Cathedral in the world, before taking a walk through the historic Jewish Quarter.
Multi-cultural Granada takes centre stage today as we visit the magnificent Alhambra in the company of a Local Specialist. A fine example of Moorish architecture, the Alhambra complex was built during the 14th century towards the end of Islamic rule in Spain. Wander through the exotic water gardens of the Generalife, the royal Summer Palace, once linked to the other palaces by a covered walkway across the ravine, and admire the intricate design and detail around every turn.
This morning, we journey via the Mora Pass to Guadix in the northern foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains where you will see the whitewashed troglodyte dwellings lodged into the ochre-coloured cliffs of the surrounding area. We travel to Valencia, where we'll stay overnight to view the Bullring and admire the architecture of its medieval cathedral and the Serrano and Quart Towers. Embrace the city's spirit of innovation and stop to view the City of Arts and Sciences, a large-scale urban recreation centre for culture and science, designed by Santiago Calatrava.
Head north along the coast through the Levant region and stop at Peñíscola, the City in the Sea, to view the ancient castle of the 'Spanish Pope', built by the Knights Templar and used in the film, 'El Cid'. We continue along the Costa Dorada to Barcelona with its whimsical Gaudí architecture. Join a Local Specialist and see the unfinished La Sagrada Família is our first stop before joining a Local Specialist to explore the Plaça de Catalunya and pay tribute to Christopher Columbus at the monument that bears his name.
Embrace the charm of Barcelona, ramble through El Born for delicious tapas or consider joining an Optional Experience to the mountaintop monastery of Montserrat to see the shrine of the Black Madonna - affectionately known in Catalonia as 'La Moreneta' or spend the rest of the day exploring the city's enchanting barrios. This evening, we join our fellow travellers and Travel Director for a Farewell Dinner.
For now it's a sad adios to Spain at the end of a memorable holiday. Airport transfers are available. Conditions apply.
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