Day One | May 8.
Depart your gateway city for Málaga, Spain, aboard scheduled jet service.
Day Two | May 9. Málaga & Ronda
Arrive at Málaga-Costa del Sol Airport. Transfer to Ronda, where you will check in to the Parador de Ronda. In the evening, join your fellow travelers for a welcome reception and dinner at the parador.
Day Three | May 10. Ronda
Educational Focus: Andalucía and its Bullfighting Traditions. The city of Ronda has been influential in the history of “la corrida,” bullfighting. Learn about the Ronda school of bullfighting, a style developed in Ronda by the Romero family in the 17th and 18th centuries.
Excursion: Ronda. Get to know Ronda during a stroll through the city. Visit Spain’s oldest bullfighting ring and its museum. Step into the Iglesia de Santa María la Mayor, a church commissioned by Ferdinand and Isabella in 1485. The church, which was built on the site of a mosque, wasn’t completed until the 17th century, so the architecture combines Gothic, Renaissance and baroque elements as well as vestiges of its Moorish history. Visit the Casa de San Juan Bosco, an early 20th century palace. This home is known for its Moorish-influenced courtyard and gardens.
Local Flavor: Take a break at a bodega, a traditional wine cellar, for lunch and a wine tasting.
Educational Focus: The Moors in Spain. The Moors occupied much of Spain for nearly eight centuries, and from the arts and sciences to language, they had a profound influence on the development of Spain. Even the name “Andalucía” comes from the Arabic word “Al-Andalus.”
Local Flavor: Enjoy delicious seasonal and regional cuisine each evening during your stay in the paradors. Using the best local produce, the paradors’ restaurants create famous local specialties and other Spanish dishes.
Day Four | May 11. Granada
Excursion: Granada. Take a scenic drive to Granada to see the Alhambra, the city’s renowned Moorish fortress and palace complex. The Alhambra, which was built in the 13th and 14th centuries, overlooks the city. Admire the fountains, pools, courtyards and arch-lined walkways The interiors feature exquisite carvings and tiles. With some restoration, the elegant architecture and design have successfully withstood the Reconquest, subsequent wars, an earthquake and the general passage of time.
Local Flavor: Savor a delicious lunch at the restaurant of the historic Parador de Granada, a former 15th-century convent is located within the walls of the Alhambra.
Independent Exploration: Spend some time at leisure exploring the city of Granada.
Day Five | May 12. Jerez & Carmona
Depart Ronda for the town of Carmona and the Parador de Carmona.
Excursion: Jerez. Visit the town of Jerez en route to Carmona. Jerez is the home of the Real Escuela Andaluza del Arte Ecuestre, the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art. Watch an elegant performance by these specially trained, majestic animals and their riders.
Local Flavor: Jerez also is famous for sherry production. Learn about the history and characteristics of sherry before a tasting and lunch.
Day Six | May 13. Carmona
Excursion: Carmona. The history of the city of Carmona stretches far into the past. Like many Spanish cities, it was settled by Phoenicians, Romans and Moors. Take a walk within the city wall and admire its Mudejar and Renaissance churches. See the Alcázar de la Puerta de Sevilla, the Moorish fortress that protects the city’s Roman Seville Gate, and the City Hall, a former convent dating from 1621.
Independent Exploration: The afternoon is at leisure.
Day Seven | May 14. Seville
Excursion: Seville. Discover Seville, a city immortalized in works by Mozart, Bizet and Rossini. Seville is home to some of Spain’s greatest architecture. The Moors conquered Seville in 712. The Alcázar, built in the 10th century, was the palace of the local Muslim leader. In the 13th century, after the Spanish recaptured the city, it became a royal residence, which it still is today. The magnificent cathedral is the world’s largest Gothic building. The Barrio de Santa Cruz is a picturesque warren of medieval lanes, bougainvillea and fountains.
Local Flavor: Enjoy leisure time for lunch and exploring on your own in Seville.
Day Eight | May 15. Almagro
Excursion: Córdoba. Journey to Córdoba to explore La Mezquita, the mosque built by Abd al-Rahman, founder of the Umayyad dynasty. Built on the site of a Roman temple-turned-church, the Great Mosque of Córdoba is Spain’s finest example of Moorish architecture. Completed in the 10th century after two centuries of work, La Mezquita eventually became a church once again in the 13th century after being recaptured by the Spanish. Its most magnificent feature is the hall with 856 columns made from marble, granite, jasper and onyx and connected by double-arched red-and-white striped arches. Afterward, take a stroll through the Jewish quarter, a picturesque neighborhood with winding narrow streets and whitewashed houses with colorful flowerboxes. Continue to Alamagro, and check in to the Parador de Almagro.
Day Nine | May 16. Valdepeñas
Excursion and Local Flavor: Valdepeñas. Venture out of Andalucía to the town of Valdepeñas in the Castile-La Mancha autonomous community to a winery in this world famous wine region. Sample the wines of the vineyard and enjoy a lunch featuring local specialties.
Independent Exploration: The afternoon is at leisure in Almagro.
Day Ten | May 17. Madrid
Travel to Madrid via Toledo.
Excursion: Toledo. See the intricately carved façade of Toledo’s Holy Church Cathedral, which was completed in the 14th century after 200 years of work. Continue to the Church of Santo Tomé to see El Greco’s masterpiece, “The Burial of Count Orgaz,” before visiting El Tránsito Synagogue and the 15th-century San Juan de los Reyes monastery. Continue to Madrid, and check in to the Hotel
Day Eleven | May 18. Madrid
Excursion: Madrid. Spend a full day exploring the Spanish capital. See the lavish royal palace before visiting the Plaza Mayor, the cosmopolitan Gran Vía, Plaza España and Las Ventas, perhaps Spain’s most beautiful bullring. During your tour, enjoy a guided visit to the Prado Museum.
Day Twelve | May 19. Madrid
Independent Exploration: Spend the day exploring Madrid on your own. In the evening, join your fellow travelers for a farewell reception and dinner.
Day Thirteen | May 20.
Transfer to the airport for the return flight to your gateway city.