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Accommodations in centrally-located three-star or four-star hotels. Rooming on a triple basis. Double rooms: $280 per person.
Round-trip transportation on scheduled airline. Deluxe touring motorcoach.
All breakfasts. All dinners. Flamenco dinner and show on Day 3. Cochinillo dinner on Day 7.
Services of a specially-trained passports Tour Director throughout.
Entrances and activities as noted on itinerary.
passports provides and pays for a Post Departure Travel Protection Plan that includes coverage for Trip Interruption, Trip Delay, Baggage Loss or Delay, Medical Expense and Evacuation and more.
Half-day city sightseeing: Local Guide, Visit to the Prado Museum, Prado headset
Optional Casa de Campo Amusement Park: Teleférico de Madrid cable car ride
Flamenco dinner and show
Guided walking tour in Toledo: Visit to Toledo Cathedral, Visit to a historic synagogue, Visit to the Church of Santo Tomé (El Greco's painting), Damascene demonstration
Sightseeing stop in Ávila, Sightseeing stop at Los Cuatro Postes viewpoint above Ávila
Guided walking tour in Salamanca: Stroll through Salamanca University's Historic Center, Visit to the Old Cathedral, Visit to the New Cathedral
Tour director-led walking tour in Segovia: Visit to Segovia's Alcázar
Visit to the Monastery of El Escorial and sightseeing stop at the Valley of the Fallen
A dream comes true as your wide-bodied jet thunders off the airstrip, Europe-bound! Watch the sun rise up to meet your airplane, after a short night. Spain glides by beneath your airplane, in shades of sienna, as you head towards Madrid's Barajas Airport.
Get settled in your madrileño hotel and explore your surroundings.
Stroll in the Plaza Mayor, the heart of the Old City.
For lunch, why not duck into a sidewalk mesón for a sopa de pescado or some calamares?
On a tour of the city, you will be introduced to the sights and the city grand squares: Plaza Mayor, Puerta del Sol, Plaza de España with the Cervantes Monument, Gran Vía, Calle Alcalá, Plaza de Colón, and Plaza de Cibeles with its fountains.
A half-day local guide, well-educated and specially-trained on the history and culture of Madrid and its surroundings, will accompany your group.
View world-famous paintings by El Greco, Goya, and Velázquez, and much. much more, at the magnificent Museo del Prado.
The afternoon is unscheduled.
You may wish to visit the Centro de Arte Reina Sofía to view modern works by Dalí, Miró and Picasso, notably the haunting Guernica, a memorial to the victims of the Nazi bombing of a Basque village, long kept out of Spain because of the artist's refusal to recognize Franco's dictatorship.
Visit the Parque de Atracciones, the amusement park that's located in Casa de Campo, Madrid's largest public park. Rides, arranged in four zones, feature star attractions such as Fjords, with aquatic thrills, as well as Top Spin and Vertigo, known for their spectacular dives.
Enjoy a ride on the teleférico that goes up to Casa de Campo, the largest public park in Madrid.
Tonight, enjoy dinner and an evening of traditional entertainment, flamenco! The poet Federico García Lorca called it "the most gigantic creation of the Spanish people." You will long remember its complex and insistent rhythms, castanets, guitars and clacking heels as the highlight of your trip to Spain.
It's off to Toledo, a gem surrounded on three sides by the Río Tajo, which has cut a deep gorge out of the encircling mountains. Christianity, Judaism, and Islam coexist on the narrow streets of this ancient city, which was once the capital of Spain. Indeed, the entire panorama of Spain's history is etched in Toledo's churches, synagogues, Moorish mosques, and fortifications.
Your guided walking tour starts at the main square, Plaza de Zocodover.
Visit one of the most impressive Spanish cathedrals, completed in 1492, after nearly 300 years. Its treasury contains an impressive display of gold and silver vessels and alabaster sculpture.
Enjoy a visit to one of the city's two remaining medieval synagogues.
Visit the Church of St. Thomas to view El Greco's Burial of the Count of Orgaz, a fresco commissioned in honor of a Spanish nobleman who was known for his generosity and charitable deeds.
For centuries, Toledo has excelled in the manufacture of swords and damascene artifacts made of steel inlaid with gold and silver. Skilled artisans carry on the tradition, as you will see during a damascene manufacturing demonstration.
The afternoon is unscheduled.
Consider a tour of the Alcázar, a fortress originally built by Emperor Charles V and which acquired worldwide fame during the early months of the Spanish Civil War.
You may want to visit the house believed to have been El Greco's.
In the evening, when the day-trippers have gone back to Madrid, Toledo's centuries-old charm is more vivid, the local color more palpable. Join the locals on a paseo (stroll) through the city center and feel the history.
Travel to the "Town of Stones and Saints," which stands on an abrupt spur above the Adaja River, in the middle of a windswept plateau overlooked by the dramatic Sierra de Gredos.
Enter through one of the nine gates in the intact medieval walls, which date back to 1090. "Ávila of the Knights" was a city of importance in the Middle Ages, with many Romanesque churches and a great cathedral with a castellated apse that was also a bastion in the city walls. Two of Christianity's greatest mystics, St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross lived there in the 1500s.
Stop at a small hilltop shrine located a mile from Ávila. Back in 1522, the future Saint Teresa of Ávila, at the age of seven, was caught there by her uncle as she was running away with her equally young brother to seek martyrdom at a battle waged against the Moors. The site of Los Cuatro Postes affords one of the best panoramic views of the walled city.
Continue to an ancient university city celebrated in verse by the poet Miguel de Unamuno. Salamanca remains a Spanish Renaissance showpiece as it rises from the banks of the Tormes River, adorned with turrets and spires, historic houses and golden sandstone walls. Welcome to one of Spain's most beautiful cities!
Today, explore Salamanca on a walking tour led by local guide. You will see landmarks such as the Casa de las Conchas with its shell decorations, the Roman bridge and the Plaza Mayor, a former bullfight enclosure which is now one of the most elegant squares in Spain. It has been said of Salamanca's Plaza Mayor that "mere mortals cannot achieve anything greater."
Walk through the core of the campus of the eminent Universidad de Salamanca. Founded in 1218 by King Alfonso IX of Léon, it's Spain's oldest university and Europe's third oldest in continuous operation.
See the 15th-century and 16th-century buildings and patios (courtyards) of the Escuelas Mayores and Escuelas Menores, as well as the Archbishop Fonseca College, built in 1538 with an arcaded courtyard known for its medallions of Uomini Famosi (famous men).
You will visit the Catedral Vieja, a most interesting example of Spanish Romanesque architecture that dates back to the 12th-century.
Enter the Nueva Catedral, whose architecture combines Gothic and Baroque features as it was built from the 16th to the 18th centuries.
Don't miss the public park known as Huerto de Calixto y Melibea, a romantic oasis set within the city walls that's often used for weddings. Named after the heroes of La Celestina, a 1499 novel by Fernando de Rojas, it tells the tragic story of a Christian Romeo and his Jewish Juliet that has inspired Spanish writers and lovers ever since. The park stands on the site where Calisto and Melibea are said to have met.
Today's coach journey takes you to Segovia, where Isabella, Christopher Columbus' sponsor, was proclaimed Queen of Castile. During the Middle Ages, a large textile industry created such wealth and influence that, by the 17th century, Segovia was almost a city-state and minting its own coins, the largest coins in Europe at the time!
On a walking tour led by your tour director, you will see why Segovia is said to resemble a "living museum," replete with ancient houses, splendid courtyards, a well-preserved Roman aqueduct and an imposing cathedral crowned by crenellated towers.
Visit the most-photographed of all the Spanish castles, El Alcázar de Segovia. With its perfectly-proportioned features, it has become a symbol of Spain's medieval heritage.
Dinner at the famous restaurant Mesón de Cándido features cochinillo, a typical dish with roasted suckling pig served on a clay platter.
Board your coach for the journey to Madrid.
Travel to the religious retreat of King Philip II, El Escorial, where he and other Spanish kings lie buried. On a guided tour, see the Royal Pantheon and Crypt of the Royal Children, the apartments of King Philip, and the basilica with Titian's fresco of St. Lawrence's martyrdom, as well as the lavish library which contains 40,000 rare manuscripts, including St. Teresa of Avila's diary.
Then, head to the Valley of the Fallen, nestled in the Guadarrama Mountains. Intended as a monument to Fascism, this site is now a memorial to soldiers from both sides who died during the 1936-39 Civil War. See the world's largest monumental cross and the entrance to the underground basilica (currently closed to visitors) that General Franco ordered carved inside a hill of solid granite by prisoners of war. Walk across the vast esplanade for a panoramic view of valleys and mountains.
Continue over the sierras on your way to Spain's capital city.
¡Adios España! Madrid's airport recedes and you're 500 miles closer to home with each hour in the air. Race the sun westward, arriving home later today, eager to share your experiences with family and friends.
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