AMAZING ANDALUCIA – SEVILLE, GRANADA AND CORDOBA

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This tour showcases the vibrancy of Andalusia that is reflected in its architecture and landscapes, flamenco dancing, fiestas and superb gastronomy. Tour highlights start with Seville’s spectacular Gothic cathedral and the Alcazar, the home of Spain’s royalty for seven centuries. In Granada you’ll tour the Alhambra with its dazzling interplay of light, space, water and decoration and in Cordoba be amazed at the Mezquita’s cascade of arches and the cathedral set in this former mosque. In Jerez de la Frontera, you’ll visit a sherry winery and enjoy an incredible show of horsemanship at the Royal School of Equestrian Arts. You’ll savor the acclaimed gastronomy of Andalusia in innovative restaurants and local tapas bars and sample specialties like the famed hams of Jabugo and Trevelez, Mediterranean seafood, and chilled gazpacho. You can accompany your meal with a chilled, dry fino sherry of Jerez or a nutty amontillado wine from Montilla.  Perhaps best of all you’ll be enjoying the vibrant life of Andalusia.

6 nights Seville, 2 nights Granada, 2 nights Cordoba

Day 1 Friday: The tour starts in Seville where you’ll be staying at an 15th century palace that has been restored as a 4 star hotel. You’ll begin the evening in Seville with a tour in a horse drawn carriage or “coche de caballos” for a first contact with the city in a relaxing way. The beautiful old neighborhoods of Seville’s center make for great exploration and a pleasant introduction to the Andalusian lifestyle. You’ll explore near the beautiful Cathedral of Seville in the Santa Cruz barrio with its great tapas bars, picturesque streetscapes, hidden plazas and flower covered patios. Nearby is the Jewish Quarter with its tight alleyways and whitewashed houses, antique shops and azulejo tiled decorations. After this tour we will enjoy a wonderful dinner in a restaurant that captures the flavor of Seville and whose views will be a prelude to our stay in this wonderful city. D

Day 2 Saturday: Today you’ll visit some of Seville wonders starting with the Real Alcazar, a gem of Mudejar inspired design with ornate patios, halls and gardens and a home of Spanish royalty since 1364 and the oldest European royal palace still in use. The palace is set in the heart of Seville and a short walk to the Cathedral of Seville, the largest Gothic building in the world and final resting place for Christopher Columbus. Next to the cathedral is the Giralda, a bell tower that was once a minaret and is crowned with a bronze weathervane that has become a symbol of the city. The views of the city from the top of the tower are superb. Lunch is a tapeo ( tapas walk) in the Santa Cruz neighbourhood including stops at Bodeguita Morales, Casa Ramón, Las Teresas, Las Gitanillas taverns. After lunch, time to siesta in the hotel or continue exploring the city on your own. In the evening you’ll visit the beautiful Plaza de España, the University of Seville and the incredible cigar factory that once employed 5,000 cigar rollers made famous by Bizet’s Carmen. Dinner on your own and enjoy the Seville night. BL .

DSCN0412Day 3 Sunday: In the morning is a visit to Italica which was one of the most powerful cities of the Roman Empire and the birthplace of Trajan and Hadrian, two of the greatest emperors of Rome. You’ll discover the traditions, beliefs and daily life of Hispania at that time and visit its majestic amphitheater. You’ll return to Seville for a visit to the de Santa Paula Monastery, a hidden Seville gem with beautiful art, fine ceramics and nuns that sell sweets like jams, and the tasty “Turron a la Piedra,” a type of cake with toasted almonds, sugar, lemon zest and cinnamon. Lunch is in a traditional Seville restaurant. In the evening you’ll take a boat ride on the Guadalquivir River which links Seville to the sea. Along the way is the iconic Torre de Oro, or Tower of Gold, built by the Moors in the 12th century as part of the city’s defenses. Dinner is free to enjoy this wonderful city on your own . BL

DSCN0424Day 4 (Monday) Today starts with a visit to a plaza de toros or bullring. Even if you are against bullfighting, visiting a bullring in Spain illuminates a culturally important activity and the bullring in Seville, “La Real Maestranza,” is considered the temple of bullfighting and has a beautiful arena and a great museum. Nearby is the spectacular and beautiful Gothic-Mudejar brick “atarazanas“ or dockyard building which served as the Royal Shipyard and whose interior space is quite remarkable. Afterwards you’ll visit the “Mercado de Triana,” a wonderful Seville market where locals buy their regional foods. We will have lunch nearby at the La Lonja del Barranco market. Free time in the early evening and we suggest you visit the Museum of Flamenco for a dancing class. Dinner is at the one Michelin star Abantal Restaurant with dishes based on traditional Andalusian cuisine and exquisite respect to high quality produce of the highest quality prepared by the chef and co-owner, Julio Fernández Quintero. BLD

Day 5 (Thursday) Today you depart to the beautiful city of Jerez de la Frontera. This is the sunniest land of Europe and the center of sherry production, which is made possible by the unique white soils of the area, called albariza. But before visiting a winery you’ll go to the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art for its spectacular horse show and beautiful grounds. Lunch is at a local restaurant with an afternoon visit to the lovely town of Jerez and then to a noted sherry winery. Afterwards you head back to Seville for a light dinner in the hotel. BLDDSCN0567

Day 6 (Wednesday): Today you’re off to Granada, a city that rises majestically with the Sierra Nevada as a stunning backdrop and was one of the richest cities in medieval Europe. We will start our tour by having lunch in the famed Moorish Albaicín neighborhood which is a labyrinth of narrow streets with a wide array of great restaurants and shops. It also has one of the finest views in all of Granada, at the church of St. Nicolas, of the famous Alhambra and its towers nestled in cypress forest and silhouetted against the Sierra Nevada. Dinner is at a traditional restaurant with a private flamenco show where you’ll get to know real flamenco, the flamenco of Andalucia that people really love .BLD

Day 7 (Thursday ):Today you’ll take a guided visit to the spectacular Alhambra, the last bastion of Moorish rule in Spain and one of the most visited monuments in Europe. Inside the red walls of the Alhambra is a feast for the senses. There are lavishly designed castles with rich ornamentation, mazes of Moorish arches, columns and domes with intricate detail, irrigated gardens, reflecting pools and a full day worth of exploration. Lunch is with the group and free time in the evening to enjoy the city on your own. BL

Day 8 (Friday): You’ll depart to Cordoba today, a spectacular city that was the Roman and Moorish capital of Spain. You’ll take an orientation walk on the Calle de las Flores to view the pretty patios, a picturesque legacy of the Moors in the city’s old quarter with ceramics, iron work and plantings typical of Cordoba. In the evening you’ll have a cooking class at one of the patios, and learn to prepare Salmorejo Cordobés, a delicious Andalusian soup, with the best “salmonerista” chef of Córdoba. BLD.

Cordoba's MezquitaDay 9 (Saturday): Today’s highlight is the Mezquita, the 3rd largest mosque ever built. The Mezquita is a transcendentally beautiful example of Spanish-Islamic architecture with hundreds of graceful arches and pillars and decorated domes built by the Moors from the 8th to 10th centuries on a site that was used originally as a Visigoth church. In the heart of the Mezquita is the Capilla Mayor, a Gothic church commissioned by Charles V in the 16th century, the contrast of the two building styles is perhaps unique in the world. Afterwards we’ll explore the Jewish Quarter, a maze of narrow streets with whitewashed buildings and window flower boxes with one of three synagogues to survive in Spain from the medieval era. For lunch you’ll do the “Ruta de Tabernas por Córdoba” (the Route of Cordoban Taverns) which includes stops some of the best restaurants of Cordoba like El Pisto and the Taberna Salinas. The afternoon is free and in the evening we will meet our guide for an special tour in “La Córdoba Subterránea” or Cordoba underground and enjoy a nice dinner accompanied by the sound of the Spanish guitar in a room set over Roman ruins.BLD

Day 10 (Sunday ): For the last day in Andalucia we will visit the “ Marqueses de Viana Palace” a National Historic Monument with 12 lovely courtyard gardens that are all unique and are known as the Museum of the Patios. In the afternoon you’ll return to Seville for a final tapeo and farewell to Andalucia.

Day 11( Monday): Adiós. Hasta lluego! See you soon on a CultureConnectTour.

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