DAY 1 | Sep. 3. Depart U.S. for Lisbon, Portugal
DAY 2 | Sep. 4. Arrive Lisbon
We arrive in the Portuguese capital early this afternoon. The remainder of the day is at leisure before dinner at our hotel.
DAY 3 | Sep. 5. Lisbon/Queluz
This morning’s city tour includes the Jeronimos Monastery, a masterpiece of Manueline architecture; Belem Tower; and the Monument to the Discoveries commemorating Portugal’s storied explorers. Then we visit the National Palace of Queluz, the former residence of Portuguese royalty now used for state occasions. After returning to Lisbon, the remainder of the day is at leisure to explore as we wish, perhaps to visit a local club to hear Portuguese Fado music.
DAY 4 | Sep. 6. Lisbon/Evora
Leaving Lisbon this morning, we travel through the rolling hills of the agricultural Alentejo district, with its bountiful fields of wheat, fragrant vineyards, and stands of olive and cork trees. After stopping for lunch in the fortified hilltop town of Monsaraz (pop. 150), late afternoon we arrive in Evora, capital of the Alentejo and site of our pousada, considered Portugal’s finest.
DAY 5 | Sep. 7. Evora
Our morning walking tour of Evora introduces us to the many charms of this architectural gem – a university town, prosperous regional capital, and UNESCO World Heritage site thanks to the many relics of its Roman and Moorish heritage. The afternoon is at leisure to enjoy this “Golden Age” city as we wish.
DAY 6 | Sep. 8. Evora/Merida, Spain/Carmona
Today we travel east through countryside peppered with the ruins of fortresses and castles to the Spanish border town of Merida. Once the capital of ancient Lusitania (Latin for the kingdoms of Spain and Portugal), Merida boasts outstanding Roman ruins. There’s time to explore and eat Tour membership limited to 24 alumni & friendslunch on our own before we continue on to Carmona and our parador, a restored 14th-century Arab fortress.
DAY 7 | Sep. 9. Carmona/Seville
This morning we visit splendid Seville, Moorish capital of Spain’s Andalusia region and city of beauty and romance. This is the place that inspired Carmen and Don Giovanni; where fragrant orange trees and flower-bedecked balconies delight the senses; and home of the renowned Catédral, the world’s largest Gothic building. After a tour that includes the palace and the Arab quarter, the afternoon is free to explore independently. We return to Carmona late afternoon and dine at our parador this evening.
DAY 8 | Sep. 10. Carmona/Cordoba
Today’s visit to this cultural gem promises to be special indeed. First the capital of Roman Spain, then of Moorish Spain, Cordoba features some of the country’s most important monuments, including the Old Quarter built around the magnificent Mezquita mosque. It was here that the Moors ruled from the 8th to the 11th centuries and fostered a culture of learning and religious harmony known the world over. Cordoba also is home to Andalusia’s only synagogue to survive the expulsion of Spain’s Jews in the 15th century. After touring these and other highlights we have free time to explore on our own. Late this afternoon we return to our parador, where we dine tonight.
DAY 9 | Sep. 11. Carmona/Ronda
Leaving Carmona this morning we travel south to tiny Ronda, one of Spain’s oldest and most aristocratic towns. It’s set high in the mountains with whitewashed houses clinging improbably to the edge of El Tajo Gorge – 500 feet deep and 300 feet wide.
DAY 10 | Sep. 12. Ronda
This morning we take a walking tour of Ronda, taking in the graceful cathedral of Santa Maria Mayor in the town’s Old Quarter; two 17th-century bridges; and the Casa de Mondragon, once home to Moorish kings. Then the rest of the day is free for independent exploration. Tonight we dine on regional specialties at our parador, Ronda’s original town hall.
DAY 11 | Sep. 13. Ronda/Granada/Ubeda
Continung our journey, we travel today to Granada, the former stronghold of Moorish Spain set in the foothills of the snowcapped Sierra Nevada. The city’s undisputed highlight is the Alhambra, the extraordinary palace of Spain’s last Moorish rulers. Sprawled across a hilltop above the Darro River, the Alhambracommands breathtakingviews of the city below, as we see on our afternoon tour of this splendid citadel. We also visit the Granadian-style Generalife, the palace’s acclaimed gardens. Late afternoon we travel north to Ubeda and our next parador, a former palace dating to the 16th century and where we dine tonight.
DAY 12 | Sep. 14. Ubeda/Toledo/Madrid
A highlight is in store today as we visit Toledo, capital of medieval Spain. Declared a Spanish National Landmark, the city is little changed visually from its 16th-century days as a subject for the artist El Greco. Toledo boasts an incomparable hilltop setting overlooking the Castillian plains and surrounded on three sides by the Tagus River. After lunch on our own we see Toledo’s most important sights on our guided tour, including the massive Gothic Cathedral begun in 1226 and not finished until 1493. Then we continue on to Madrid, arriving late afternoon.
DAY 13 | Madrid
Our morning tour of this monumental and dignified capital city includes vast Plaza Mayor, in the heart of Old Madrid; the Moorish medieval district; and opulent 18th-century Palacio Real (Royal Palace), with its 2,800 rooms. Our tour ends at the Prado, one of the world’s greatest museums, where we’re free to explore on our own. The remainder of the day is free for independent exploration in this cosmopolitan city.
DAY 14 | Madrid
A free day to enjoy the Spanish capital as we wish. Tonight we bid “Adios” to Spain and our fellow travelers at a farewell dinner.
DAY 15 | Depart for U.S.