To keep your travels and adventures with us interesting, we offer special one-off tours to exotic destinations.
These are trips that we will not be running on a regular basis, so you have to keep an eye on this page to see where we are heading next on an exclusive, insightful and fascinating trip!
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|Date & Duration:||20th May - 5th June 2017 - 17 days|
|Cost:||Price on enquiry - What's included?|
|Arrival & Departure points:||Madrid/Barcelona|
|Group size:||Min 6, Max 12|
Enjoy some of the best Spain has to offer on our insightful and indulgent Spain trip!
A FEW HIGHLIGHTS:
-sample traditional tapas specialities and mix with the locals in the bars of Spain
-take part in a Moorish and Middle Eastern cooking lessons
-visit beautiful old palaces, cathedrals and Alhambra!
-wander through fields of spring flowers and wild oaks with stunning views
-see wonderful Moorish architecture, with cobbled streets and alleyways
-soak your weary bones in a glorious Arab hammam
-stay in Vejer de la Frontera: a classically white, Moorish-looking hill town high above the Atlantic coast
-Sevilla: sample sherry at a Bodega. This city is full of wineries and influences from the English families who founded them, giving it a distinct atmosphere
-see live flamenco, an exhilarating art form that is unique to Spain
Day 1 Arrival in Madrid
Madrid is the Spanish capital and one of Europe's most liveable cities, as well as home to some of the continent's finest collections of European art. Your hotel is centrally located and it will be a good base to set off and explore the downtown, with its grand plazas, imposing architecture, and side streets full of interesting bookstores, designer clothes boutiques and antique shops. In the evening we will meet up for an orientation talk, and then off to one of Madrid's many bars for a meal of tapas - those little portions of food that the Spanish eat along with their vinos and cervezas, and which make bar-hopping such fun! Overnight Madrid - D
Day 2 - Madrid
This morning we take a fascinating guided walking tour of "Madrid of the Austrias", the oldest parts of the city which bear the imprint of the Habsburg dynasty that ruled Spain in the 16th and 17th centuries when Spain's imperial powers were at their height. We visit the sumptuous Royal Palace, built in 1734, a superb example of the Baroque in Spanish architecture and which boasts paintings by artists such as Caravaggio, Velozquez and Goya, frescoes and tapestries, and innumerable antiques. Afterwards you'll have some free time to go and rampage around the city and discover hidden corners on your own. Overnight Madrid - BLD
Day 3 - Cordoba
Today we travel by high-speed train across the plains of La Mancha to the ancient city of Cordoba. Once known as the "Ornament of the World" under the rule of the Umayyad caliphs, Cordoba is the best showcase for Spain's 8 centuries of Moorish legacy. On a tour this afternoon with an expert guide you will see the incredible building that is the current-day Cathedral, built around the original 8th century Mosque - a truly unique fusion of religions, architecture and aesthetics (entrances here and to the small synagogue in the Jewish quarter are included). This evening we dine in a local restaurant; Cordoba is known for its excellent cuisine. Overnight Cordoba - BD
Spain: tapas, flamenco, Arab architecture and fun!
Day 4 - Granada
Today we get to know the olive! Often referred to as "liquid gold" olive oil is an essential and age-old part of Andalucia's economic, agricultural and social life, as well as its cuisine. In the pretty white village of Zuheros we'll meet with a local who grows olives and makes his own oil, and who will explain some of the curiosities of the process to us. There will be a chance to taste different oils - oils like wines are all different! - and enjoy a lunch of some of the countless dishes which use oil and olives to great effect. In the afternoon we will take a stroll around Zuheros and then embark on a hike of around 4 kms in the river gully above the village, with breathtaking views over the "seas" of olive groves. We walk through fields of spring flowers, hawthorn bushes and wild oaks. After our walk we continue our journey south to Granada, renowned for its Moorish past and home to the legendary Alhambra palaces. After checking in at your hotel, you will meet your guide for an orientation walk around the city. Overnight Granada - BLD
Day 5 - Granada
We kick off our day in Granada with a walk in the Albaicon, the city's atmospheric former Moorish quarter. Its attractions are undeniable: a fascinating maze of cobbled streets and alleyways, carmen walled garden houses and miradores which look out on the snow-covered Sierra Nevada, and a rich history of two civilisations and religions. After lunch you will take part in either a Ceramic Tile Painting class or a Moorish & Middle Eastern Cooking class. We'll form two small groups for these activities and switch the groups over tomorrow.
Ceramic Tile Painting: In an absorbing 3 hour class you will learn how to hand-paint ceramic tiles under the guidance and inspiration of a local artist, working in her charming studio in her house. Suitable for all levels of artistic aptitude, this is a great activity and the tiles you paint are yours to take away - a unique souvenir of Granada.
Middle Eastern and Moorish Cooking Class: Learn how to prepare a menu of Middle Eastern and Moorish-inspired cuisine with a charismatic local resident in the kitchen of her small town house in the upper Albaicion district. A cross-cultural experience that ends with a relaxed dinner with wine and chat! Overnight Granada - BD
Day 6 - Granada
Today enjoy a free morning in Granada, and an opportunity to visit the Alhambra. This complex of palaces, fortress, urban areas and gardens is a unique testimony to the Nasrid sultans whose 250 year reign in Granada proved to be the swansong of Muslim rule on the Iberian Peninsula. It will leave your speechless! In the afternoon, enjoy either the Tile Painting Class or the Moorish Cooking Class, the groups reversing from yesterday.
Overnight Granada - BD
Day 7 - Granada
Granada has some stunning hikes right on it's doorstep! This morning we enjoy a walk that goes through pine & oak woods above the Alhambra, descends to the verdant valley of the Roo Darro and passes through the fascinating cave house district of Sacromonte, before ending in downtown Plaza Nueva. What is the perfect way to end our walk? A soak in the luxurious Arab baths of the "Hammam Al Andalus! Located at the foot of the Alhambra and on the ruins of an old hammam, these are the first Arab baths in Europe to be reopened following the closure in the 16th century. A well-deserved treat! Overnight Granada - B
Day 8 - Alpujarra
We depart Granada today and head for the hills! The Alpujarra is a corner of Andalusia which shows rural life as it has been lived for centuries. Criss-crossed by trails which meander through orchards, meadows and crystal-clear mountain streams, the area offers some great hiking. On the steep slopes of the Poqueira Gorge we find three charming white villages, with crafts such as basketwork, weaving and pottery. The undoubted star of the excellent local cuisine is the "jambon serrano" (mountain-cured ham), and we will see how this is produced when we visit a secadero and sample this uniquely Spanish delicacy. Capileira, the village where we stay, is a delightful place, its flower-filled streets providing a welcome to all visitors. Overnight Capileira - BL
Day 9 - Ronda
A spectacular drive takes us down from the mountains to the Mediterranean coast and a drive along the "Costa Tropical". We pass the city of MÃ¡laga and then turn inland to a stunning gorge, El Chorro, where we cool off with an afternoon of fun canoeing on its beautiful reservoir, and a paella lunch as we relax in the shade afterwards . In the late afternoon we arrive in Ronda: referred to as the "Queen of the White Towns" it is set atop a rocky plateau with a chasm-like gorge spanned by a daring 18th century bridge and is one of Spain's most picturesque towns. Free time this evening to explore the old parts of Ronda and - perhaps! - a bar or two for wine and tapas! Overnight Ronda - BL
Day 10 - Ronda
Ronda has a proud history, its fortress like setting meaning it was a key bastion to Moors and Christians alike. A local expert guide will tell us the history as we visit its monuments, attractive parks and a noble bull ring which dates back to 1785 - the subject of bull fighting being sure to arouse passions one way or the other! After some free time over lunch we are off to a unique place: a 16th century convent which occupies a fantastic position with superb views back to Ronda: now restored and converted into use as the bodega of a prestigious boutique winery. Time for some wine-tasting, ladies! Overnight Ronda - B
Day 11 - Vejer de la Frontera
After leaving Ronda, we descend to the coast via a beautiful drive and reach the border between Spain and Gibraltar. "The Rock" or Gibraltar is a British colony that clings to a steep, rugged rock that rises out of the sea to 1,400ft. Situated at the entrance to the Mediterranean Sea, Gibraltar has maintained a commanding and important military presence throughout history. We take a guided tour around this fascinating town and enjoy a typical English lunch - while enjoying the Spanish sun. Our overnight stop, Vejer de la Frontera, is very different: a classically white, Moorish-looking hill town high above the Atlantic coast. Explore the brilliant white, labyrinthine alleyways, wander past iron-grilled windows, balconies, and patios! We'll enjoy dinner tonight in one of its several excellent local restaurants. Overnight Vejer de la Frontera - BLD
Day 12 - Vejer de la Frontera
This morning we walk out of Vejer, past windmills and along a ridge overlooking the countryside and towards the Atlantic ocean. This is a lovely route, much of which is through pine forests and the last section over sandy tracks as we near the sea. A leisurely lunch in the small resort of CaÃ±os de Meca is followed by a walk along the beach to Cape Trafalgar, site of the legendary naval battle of 1805. Time afterwards on the beach to take in some rays, before we head back by coach to Vejer. This evening you might like to explore the town's picturesque old quarter, where our charming hotel is located on the pretty Plaza de EspaÃ±a. Overnight Vejer de la Frontera - BL
Day 13 - Sevilla
The English word "sherry" is taken from the name of the city where it is produced: Jerez de la Frontera. This city is full of wineries and influences from the English families who founded them, giving it a distinct atmosphere. We will learn about the process of making these fortified wines, as well as sampling them, in one of the most interesting of these bodegas - one which produces "Very Old and Rare" sherries and brandies, and which boasts an extraordinary art collection as well. We will then sit down to lunch at one of our favourite restaurants in Jerez. In the afternoon we will drive to Sevilla, the capital of the region of AndalucÃa and one of Spain's most elegant cities, and to your hotel in the historic Santa Cruz quarter. Our guide will take us on an Orientation Walk of the area, and we will see some of the elegant buildings - such as the vast Cathedral - that you will see again on tomorrow's tour. Overnight Seville - BL
Day 14 - Sevilla
There is no better way to explore Sevilla and its sights than by bike. The city is flat, offers marked cycle lanes, and is almost always sunny! This morning's bike tour is a fun and informative introduction to the city, the perfect way to get a real feel for Sevilla. We introduce you to the most interesting and alluring sights: the old gypsy quarter of Triana on the far bank of the Guadalquivir River, the elegant Maria Luisa park with its fantasy structure of the Plaza de EspaÃ±a, as well as the landmark monuments of the Cathedral and the AlcÃ¡zar palaces. Your local guide will bring the city to life with fascinating stories and intriguing anecdotes! The afternoon is free for you to explore the city's many other attractions, perhaps sip a coffee in a plaza and watch the world go by. Sevilla is a wonderful place for people-watching! This evening we will see live flamenco, an exhilarating art form that is unique to Spain, deeply rooted in Sevilla in particular, and still very much a part of popular culture. We round things off with a dinner of tapas, taken in two different and distinctive bars, as we mingle with the sevillanos. Overnight Seville - BD
Day 15 - Barcelona
We cross the length and breadth of Spain today, travelling comfortably and rapidly thanks to the high-speed AVE train that, in just over 5 hours, takes us through the vast plains of La Mancha and via the Ebro valley to Catalonia and its capital city, Barcelona. The Catalan capital, one of Europe's most elegant cities, is our home for the following two nights. The city is unlike any other in Spain. Firstly, its geographic position makes for a self-identity which is more European than Spanish, Barcelona being far closer to the French border than to the nearest Spanish regional capital, Zaragoza. Its history, of a sea-faring state with a medieval power-base in the Mediterranean and a series of foreign alliances against Spanish pretensions, has also shaped an outwards-looking mentality. And then there is the language: on the streets of Barcelona you will mostly hear Catalan, a cousin of Castilian Spanish that feels like a cocktail of Latin, French and Spanish. All in all this is a vibrant, cosmopolitan city, and a fascinating end to our Iberian adventure. Tonight we have dinner in the downtown area. Overnight Barcelona - BD
Day 16 - Barcelona
Our final day of the trip is spent on a half day walking tour of the Barrio Gotico (Gothic quarter) with its superb cathedral, medieval lanes and specialist shops, the lively central boulevard of Las Ramblas where all the world meets, and the famous food market called La Boqueria, where we can try the odd tidbit at stall-side bars. In the afternoon you might like to visit the incredible works of 19th century genius Antoni GaudÃ, whose basilica "la Sagrada Familia" is still under construction and which is one of the dominating features of the Barcelona skyline that became so famous with the 1992 Olympic games. Gaudi's houses for wealthy Catalan merchants, the Casas MilÃ and BattlÃ³ are also well worth a visit, and the Eixample area in which they are located is also full of designer and brand name fashion stores, as Barcelona is something of a shopping paradise. The trip concludes with a group Farewell Dinner, as we review our memories of the past fortnight. Overnight Barcelona - BD
Day 17 - Barcelona
We say our farewells after breakfast as another fantastic Venus Adventures, full of great memories, fun and new friends comes to an end. What a great trip it has been!
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