Accommodations in centrally-located three-star or four-star hotels. Rooming on a triple basis. Double rooms: $240 per person.
Round-trip transportation on scheduled airline.
All breakfasts. All dinners.
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: Guide, Visit to the Prado Museum, Prado headset
Optional Excursion to Toledo: Guided walking tour in Toledo, Visit to Toledo Cathedral, Visit to the Church of Santo Tomé (El Greco's painting), Visit to a historic synagogue
Optional Flamenco dinner and show
Optional Excursion to El Escorial and the Valley of the Fallen: Visit to the Royal Monastery of El Escorial, Visit to the Valley of the Fallen
Departure transfer, AVE train Madrid-Barcelona, Arrival transfer
Barcelona City Sightseeing: Local Guide, Visit to Parc Güell
Visit to the Sagrada Familia Basilica
Optional Excursion to Montserrat: Round trip on the Montserrat Funicular, Visit to the Basilica of Montserrat
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.
Toledo is 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 tiny streets of this ancient city, which was once the capital of Spain. Indeed, the entire panorama of Spanish history is embodied in its 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.
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.
Enjoy a visit to one of the city's two remaining medieval synagogues.
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.
Set out for the wooded slopes of Mt. Abantos, watershed of the Guadarrama River, where Spanish royalty retreated from the summer heat and from the bustle of the capital city.
At the palatial religious retreat of King Philip II, El Escorial, you will see the Royal Pantheon where the kings are buried, the Crypt of the Royal Children, the Apartments of King Philip, the Basilica with Titian's fresco depicting the martyrdom of St. Lawrence, and the lavish library, which contains 40,000 rare manuscripts, including the diary of St. Teresa of Avila.
Stop at the Valle de los Caídos, a wooded belvedere nestled in the Guadarrama Mountains that features the world's largest monumental cross. It's also the site of an underground basilica that General Franco ordered carved inside a hill of solid granite by prisoners of war from the Republican side: it houses his tomb and was intended as a monument to Fascism. Make your way across the vast esplanade for a panoramic view of valleys and mountains.
A well-educated and specially-trained local guide will accompany your group.
The afternoon is unscheduled.
Why not stroll through Retiro Park. Once royalty's playground, El Parque del Retiro now opens its gardens and recreational areas to the public. You may be tempted by a row boat ride on the lake (you row!), or by a solar boat ride (you relax!).
You may want to check out the elegant El Corte Inglés department store at the Puerta del Sol.
A Alta Velocidad train takes you at high speed across the semi-deserts of northern Spain and the plains of Castile on your way to the palm-fringed Mediterranean shores.
Enjoy a free evening in this Mediterranean town of parks and fountains.
A tour will introduce landmarks such as the wide avenues called Las Ramblas, the medieval Gothic Quarter around the cathedral, Modernist landmarks such as the Basilica of the Sagrada Família, and Plaça de Catalunya, the lively heart of Catalonia's capital city.
A half-day local guide, well-educated and specially-trained on the history and culture of the region, will accompany your group.
Enjoy a visit to Gaudí's most colorful creations on exhibit in Parc Güell, notably the mosaic-decorated pavilions and the cavernous Room of a Hundred Columns.
Visit the extraordinary-looking basilica whose construction was planned in the 1870s. Antonio Gaudí worked for more than forty years to create a unique and huge sanctuary still far from completion. The Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Familia combines elements of Gothic architecture and the tenets of the Modernista movement associated with Gaudí.
Enjoy a visit to Catalonia's holiest place, the Monastery of Montserrat, located amidst the serrated peaks of the Montserrat mountain range. Montserrat has served as a place of pilgrimage since the 12th century. After being destroyed by the French in 1811, the monastery complex was rebuilt and repopulated in 1844 and now includes quaint shops and cafés.
Enjoy a funicular ride for the last leg up the mountain, which affords stupendous views stretching from the Pyrénées Mountains to the Mediterranean Sea.
You will enter the Basilica to view La Moreneta (Black Virgin). This revered statue, said to have been carved out of wood by St. Luke around 50 AD, has been on the mountain since it was rediscovered in 880 AD after being hidden from the Moors.
The afternoon is unscheduled.
You may want to stroll down Las Ramblas to the Columbus Monument, which marks the spot where the explorer stepped ashore in 1493 after his voyage of discovery. Nearby is Port Vell, the harbor area where you'll find one of Europe's largest aquariums.
You may take a walk to the trendy part of town known as Poblenou, where former warehouses now house the studios of artists and photographers. A palm tree-lined boardwalk leads all the way to the sea.
¡Adios España! Barcelona's airport recedes, and you're 500 miles closer to home with each hour in the air. You'll be back! For now, race the sun westward, arriving home later today, eager to share your experiences with family and friends.
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