DAY 1 (MADRID): Hõla from Madrid! Today marked the beginning of our Spanish adventure, as we arrived in this vibrant city and met our travel director, Tania, and fellow travelers. No less than 50 adventure seekers in the group, which is a true testament to the popularity of this tour and a sure sign that we are in for an exciting time! After a meal consisting of an authentic and mouthwateringly delicious array of Spanish tapas, we took in some of the highlights of the city by coach – a glimpse of the wonders to come – before retiring for the night.
DAY 2 (MADRID): Courtesy of our very jovial local guide, today we were treated to a truly memorable exploration of the town of Toledo. The Church of São Tomé and the synagogue provided an exquisite backdrop to our introduction into the rich history of the town. They say a picture speaks a thousand words, and this was more than evident as our guide introduced us to the mysteries behind the breathtaking El Greco painting, the Burial of Count Orgaz. Truly magical!
Then back to Madrid to explore the city’s wonders in more detail before returning to the hotel to get ready for the evening’s optional excursion, where we took in the fountains and plazas of Madrid before being treated to a delicious meal and the exquisite talents of some local opera singers. Magnifico!
DAY 3 (CORDOVA & SEVILLE): Today we say goodbye to beautiful Madrid as we embark on the second leg of our trip. Our long bus ride offers an opportunity to rest after last night’s festivities as well as to take in more of Spain’s beautiful landscapes as we venture southward into the Andalusian region towards the city of Cordoba. On arrival we meet our very passionate guide, Gem, who walks us through the splendor that is the Mosque of Caliphs. It sounds cliché, but entering the Mosque literally takes your breath away. The rich architecture and history of this monument was brought to life with our guide’s enthusiastic storytelling. As Gem so aptly described, the Mosque is like a book that tells of the story of those that came before us. Our trip to Cordova was like the quintessential page-turner that you don’t want to put down, are sorry to see come to an end and would gladly return to again. A truly memorable experience.
A couple of hours later we arrived at our hotel in Seville, settled into our new quarters and then it was off on our next optional excursion, a visit to a local restaurant featuring a perfect pairing of Andalusian delicacies and the art of flamenco dancing. It was a true pleasure to witness firsthand the passion that these talented dancers bring to the stage. You cannot help but be swept up by the music, the gestures, the rhythmic tapping and the raw emotion that combine perfectly to create an unforgettable evening of entertainment. It is easy to see why Sevillians take such pride in their dancers and in this rich tradition. A panoramic view of the city by coach capped off this wonderful evening.
DAY 4 (SEVILLE): Today we explore Seville, the largest historical city in Europe, in more detail, courtesy of our charming local guide Aurora. As a city whose first inhabitants date back over half a million years, Seville not surprisingly boasts a very rich and diverse history. Muslim and Catholic influences come together to form a captivating backdrop to our tour. First our guide takes us through the majestic Plaza de España, with a mixture of architectural influences, including Roman columns and gorgeous tiling in the typical blue and white palette depicting the city’s provinces.
A short bus ride and we are at our next stop. We take to the streets to explore the city, walking amongst the locals and taking in an interesting mix of historical and modern features. The Plaza de Triunfo, depicting the Immaculate Conception, and the Cathedral, with its ornate gothic details, are impressive representations of the cities strong religious roots. The Cathedral, the third largest in the world, houses the remains of explorer Christopher Columbus. A true historic gem!
Within the city’s walls we explore more treasures, visiting the Jewish Quarter and weaving our way through the cobblestone streets that are peppered with plazas and flanked with the rows of orange trees that are indigenous to the region. Following the tour, it’s back to the hotel for some leisure time (read: pool time for the kids) before embarking on our evening out.
During our drive to the location of tonight’s festivities, we take in the beautiful Sevillian countryside before arriving at our destination, a third generation bull ranch. Before dinner we were treated to an interesting lesson about the very old tradition that is bullfighting and given some insight into what is essentially a study in psychology; the bull being trained to bring out its natural aggressiveness and make it a formidable opponent; the bullfighter learning to conquer fear and rise above it to defeat one of nature’s fiercest opponents. A David and Goliath story that stirs up controversy today but is fascinating to learn about nonetheless. A delicious dinner amid a spectacular view was the perfect ending to this amazing day.
Read Part 2 of Jeff and Tanya’s ‘Spanish Wonder’ Travel Tale next week…
If you enjoyed reading Part 1 of Jeff and Tanya’s experience and would like to learn more about our ‘Spanish Wonder’ itinerary, click here. Or for more information about Trafalgar’s guided vacations, head to our website: www.trafalgar.com