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SUBLIME SPAIN

Majestic Madrid & Authentic Andalucia

Luxury Food, Wine & Cultural Tour

Description

What better way to discover Spanish Culture and Food than to experience both Madrid and Andalucia. This fantastic Private Luxury Tour of Majestic Madrid and Authentic Andalucia gives you the chance to discover Madrid, Seville, Ronda, Granada, Cordoba and Toledo with private guided tours, gourmet tastings and flamenco shows. Spain awaits you with some magical Monumental moments at El Prado, La Giralda, Alhambra, Mezquita and more. Bienvenidos!

DAY 1 MADRID

On arrival at Madrid Airport our chauffeur will be awaiting you with a luxury vehicle and will transfer you to your boutique 4* Hotel in the heart of Madrid. Formerly the residence of the Duke of Noblejas, the hotel has maintained its frescoes, mirrors and stained glass whilst being equipped with modern comforts, and is a stones throw away from the Prado Museum and the famous Santa Ana square.

Relax and unwind after your flight before meeting with our Gourmand Breaks representative, also an Officially Licensed Guide, who will meet you this afternoon in the hotel lobby to go through your itinerary and answer any queries you may have. You will also receive the printed Personal Travel Journal for your private tour, with daily itinerary details and plenty of suggestions for restaurants and free time activities.

You will then set off on your private guided tour which will first take you to El Prado Museum, the biggest art gallery in the world. It has more than 7,600 paintings, but can exhibit only one part of its collection due to lack of space. However, a recent addition to the museum increased the space by 50%, so more paintings will gradually be displayed. Prado means meadow, and the museum got the name of Prado because there was an open meadow where the museum now sits. Your private guide, additionally qualified in Spanish History and Art, will make sure you don't miss anything, you are in excellent hands.

Your private tour of Madrid will then take you to the Plaza Oriente to see and learn about the Royal Palace - Palacio Real or Palacio Oriente - and the Cathedral. You will then walk through the Old town to the Plaza de la Villa, with the town hall, and on to Mercado de San Miguel, the hottest gastronomic spot in Madrid where its bars and restaurants make it the place to meet in Old Madrid. You will also visit the Plaza Mayor and finalize your tour in Santa Ana Square (near your hotel). On your journey you will enjoy some fantastic bites to eat, and a beverage or two, as you sample the best variety of wine and tapas the city has on offer! By the end of your private guided tour you will have discovered the key to the Madrid gastronomy (some of it is for the fearless only!) and heard many anecdotes of 17th century Madrid, along whose streets you will stroll.

In a Nutshell: Chauffeured transfer from Madrid Airport to Hotel, Private Guided Tour of Old Madrid and a Selection of tapas and wine on your Tapas Hopping, Overnight in a 4* Boutique Hotel in Madrid

DAY 2 MADRID

After breakfast, and based on the insider top tips your guide left you with, you have a free day to wander around Madrid and see all the fantastic Museums, art galleries and famous parks of this fantastic city. Perhaps you wish to visit the Reina Sofia Museum or the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection in the company of your expert guide, this can be of course arranged.

The Reina Sofia Museum - The Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, also called the Museo Reina Sofia, (Queen Sofia Museum), is the national museum for 20th century art in Spain. The museum was officially inaugurated in Madrid in 1992 and is named after the former Queen of Spain. The museum collection consists of more than 20,000 works from the late 19th century to the present day, mainly dedicated to Spanish art with highlights including two of the greatest 20th century masters, Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali. Probably the most famous masterpiece in the museum is Picassos 1937, oil on canvas painting, Guernica.

The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum - Madrid's acquisition of this treasure trove of art in the 1980s was one of the greatest coups in European art history. Amassed by a central European collector beginning around 1920, and formerly displayed in Lugano, Switzerland, its 700 canvases, with works by artists ranging from El Greco to Picasso, are arranged in chronological order. This fantastic collection rivals the legendary holdings of the Queen of England herself.

Maybe you wish to return to the Royal Palace, Palacio Real (often referred to as Palacio Oriente after the nearby square of the same name), to view its interesting interior. The palace is used by the King for ceremonial purposes only; he actually lives in the Palacio de la Zarzuela on the outskirts of the city. Or, take a leisurely walk through El Retiro Park, a great place to enjoy the open air as you stroll along the paths, of this once royal garden, passing fountains, statues, the delicate Palacio de Cristal, the boating lake and maybe the odd street entertainer or art exhibition. You might like to do a little shopping and if your pleasure is designer clothes why not spend some time wandering around some of the finest boutiques in Spain on Calle Serrano. Whatever you decide, enjoy your day! This evening we have many recommendations for fine dining in Madrid, be it old style Spanish food or Michelin starred extravaganza.

In a Nutshell: Free Day in Madrid, Overnight Madrid

DAY 3 SEVILLE

This morning, after a leisurely breakfast at your hotel, you have the morning to relax in Madrid. After perhaps a light lunch in the Santa Ana Square, the hotel will gladly call you a taxi for the 10 minute journey to the train station, where you have preferente basis (1st class) tickets on the fast and comfortable high speed train to Seville.

On arrival in Seville, please take a taxi to your luxury boutique 5* accommodation. This beautifully renovated palace, dating from the 18th century, is located on the edge of Seville's old town and is just 10 minutes walk from the cathedral.

This afternoon you may wish to wander through the charming streets of Seville or the Barrio de Santa Cruz or maybe window shop on nearby Sierpes Street which is famous for its shopping or maybe visit the Casa de Pilatos, an Andalusian palace in Seville. This evening we have many suggestions for dinner locally and you will have a chance to soak up the Seville atmosphere to the full.

In a Nutshell: High Speed Rail tickets on a 1st class basis from Madrid to Seville, Overnight in 5* Boutique Palace Hotel in Seville

DAY 4 SEVILLE

Today, after breakfast, your officially licensed Seville guide will be waiting for you and you will depart on a private sightseeing tour of the Barrio Santa Cruz, which is the old Jewish quarter. You will amble around its beautiful squares and narrow streets, which form a labyrinth, but beware, it is very easy to get lost! This is part of the charm of the jasmine and orange scented Barrio because, when one is lost, a convent or a palace may be discovered. Many of the palaces have wrought iron gates that allow a sneak peep into their beautiful patios. The area abounds in small stores and artisan shops, as well as good art galleries.

Your tour continues through historic Seville, including a visit to Seville Cathedral, the oldest and most spectacular Gothic cathedral in the World, and La Giralda, a tower which provides spectacular views of the city. You may also have time to visit The Reales Alcazares, the oldest royal palace in Europe and residence of the Spanish Royal Family when they stay in Seville.

You will have worked up an appetite on this fascinating tour so your guide will lead you now to a tantalizingly delicious tapas lunch. Seville boasts more than 4,000 tapas bars - roughly 1 for every 200 locals so you know they know what they're talking about! Tapas hopping is part of Andalusian life and as you stop into some of the many foodie hot spots you can try a variety of dishes that come freshly out of the kitchen. Plate after plate of hot and cold food appears on the bar to tempt your palate, so maybe try cold roasted pepper salad or anchovies in vinegar, a hot dish of meatballs in sauce or a slice of Potato Omelet ..... the choice is yours. Of course, as is customary, you will accompany your mouth watering bites with a glass of dry Spanish Sherry, wine or draft beer.

In the evening prepare yourself to be wowed with a wonderful Gypsy Flamenco Show, where the swirling skirts and tapping heels of the dancers will excite and amaze the senses.

In a Nutshell: Private Guided Tour of Historical Seville to include the Cathedral, Authentic Tapas Hopping, Gypsy Flamenco Show, Overnight Seville

DAY 5 SEVILLE

Today, after breakfast, you are as free as you please in Seville.

Your guide will have given you many ideas and top tips for further sightseeing options and foodie hot spots to experience the best of Seville. Maybe you would like to visit the Plaza De Espana and take a stroll in the Maria Luisa Park which are to the south of the center and for lunch why not continue to enjoy the fabulous Andalusian gastronomy!

Or, we could arrange a chauffeured excursion through some beautiful countryside, first of all, to Almonaster la Real, a small village famous for its mosque high on a hill dating back to the 10th Century. Then, onwards to enjoy the most exquisite Spanish Iberian Hams. You will visit an authentic and unique family run estate with a long tradition of Iberian Ham produce, started in 1818! You will see where the Iberian pigs roam freely in the pasture and will have a full tour of the premises. The ham drying process is achieved on three levels and you will have a full tour of these areas, but be careful - the hams drip onto the floor below, so you should watch your step! At the end of your visit you will enjoy an extended tasting lunch in the bodega of this small, but excellent producer. You will be served their exquisite Jabugo Ham, made from acorn only fed pigs, as well as other fine cured hams, accompanied with cheeses and of course wine.

In the evening prepare yourself to be wowed with a wonderful Gypsy Flamenco Show, where the swirling skirts and tapping heels of the dancers will excite and amaze the senses. You may wish to have a relaxed dinner, perhaps something typically Andalusian before or after the Flamenco Show for which we have several suggestions for a delightful dinner in the Barrio Santa Cruz or elsewhere in Seville.

In a Nutshell: Free Day in Seville, Gypsy Flamenco Show, Overnight Seville

DAY 6 RONDA

Today, after breakfast, our chauffeur will be waiting and you will check out of your hotel in Seville and leave for Ronda. The Serrania de Ronda is a mountainous area that is famous throughout the world for its beautiful white villages, in Spanish known as the Pueblos Blancos. This part of Spain is unique, it is only here that the white villages exist in such abundance. Ronda is remarkably appealing with a beautifully preserved old town, Arab Baths and many great bars and restaurants.

Since the 19th century Ronda has attracted a whole host of illustrious visitors and with its stunning position, on the top of the sheer-sided Tajo gorge, it is much-photographed. Your 4 star Hotel, housed in the former town hall building, is situated in the most spectacular spot in the heart of the city, beside Ronda's emblematic Puente Nuevo (New Bridge). The location is incredible, with unparalleled views of the Tagus River, a ravine 120 meters deep.

You are free this afternoon to discover Ronda, and then, maybe go for a swim or sunbathe in the gardens by the outdoor swimming pool.

You may like to dine this evening at your hotel which, besides great views, offers typical local cuisine. We, also, have various suggestions for good authentic restaurants.

In a Nutshell: Chauffeured transfer from Seville to Ronda, Overnight in a fantastically positioned 4* historic hotel in Ronda

DAY 7 GRANADA

This morning, after breakfast, our chauffeur will drive you on to Granada where you will check into your 5* luxury hotel located in the historic heart of the city. A luxuriously converted former convent, this restored masterpiece has also been declared an artistic and historic monument.

Our Officially Licensed Guide will meet you at your hotel this afternoon to commence your private guided tour of Grand Granada. The city has its usual quotient of churches, museums etc. typical for a southern European city. However, Granada also has the incredible Alhambra which is considered by some to be one of the 10 wonders of the world.

The Alhambra - gardens, fortifications and sumptuous palaces - was home to many Arab Sultans who ruled the whole province over the years. Stretched along the top of the hill known as La Sabika, the Alhambra is the stuff of fairy tales. From outside, its red fortress towers and walls appear plain, yet imposing, as they rise from cypress and elm woods, with the Sierra Nevada forming a magnificent backdrop. The Alhambra was originally constructed as a small fortress in 889 AD and was then largely ignored until its ruins were renovated and rebuilt in the mid-11th century by Moorish king Mohammed ben Al-Ahmar who built the current palace and walls. Later, in 1333, it was converted into a royal palace by Yusuf I, Sultan of Granada and in 1527 Charles V, demolished part of the architectural complex to build the palace which bears his name. With each new section that was added the consistent theme of "paradise on earth" was followed. Column arcades, fountains with running water, and reflecting pools were used to add to the aesthetic and functional intricacy. In each case, the exterior was left plain and austere. After being allowed to fall into disrepair for centuries, the Alhambra was rediscovered in the 19th century by European scholars and travelers, with restorations commencing. Today, the Alhambra exhibits the country's most significant and well known Islamic architecture, together with 16th-century, and later Christian, building and garden interventions. You will surely be marveled by this incredible place and the stories and anecdotes your guide will reveal.

We have many dining suggestions for you this evening to enjoy the Andalusian cuisine.

In a Nutshell: Chauffeured transfer from Ronda to Granada, Private guided tour of Granada including the Alhambra, Overnight in a 5* Luxury Hotel in Granada

DAY 8 GRANADA

Today is free for you to relax and wander in this fascinating city. Your guide will have given you many great tips on further sightseeing options, the choices are yours!

Perhaps you would like to have a wander around the Albaicin, the old Arabic quarter located on the hill opposite the Alhambra. It is characterized by cobble stoned streets with white washed houses. Despite several centuries of neglect and architectural barbarities allowed by the town council it still retains a strong Arabic feeling (the Arabic population was ethnically cleansed just over 500 years ago). There are many squares with terrazas and places to laze about and have a bite to eat. The Albaicin is an oil painters paradise and almost at every turn of the head there is an attractive view, almost always involving glimpses of the Alhambra.

You may like to visit the Royal Chapel "Capilla Real" commissioned by the Catholic Monarchs and built in a flamboyant Gothic style. Here you will find the mausoleums of Isabel and Ferdinand and their children Phillip "The Beautiful" and Joan "The Mad". The Cathedral stands next to the chapel and is considered as the first renaissance church in Spain although it is a mixture of styles with its Baroque exterior, Renaissance interior and Gothic Roof Vaults.

You may like to visit the Old Arab market "Alcaiceria". It is an interesting place to wander around and besides looking at the goods for sale; there are some good examples of Islamic architecture, and tiled wall decorations. The small archway off the famous Bib Rambla Square magically transports you to North Africa and into the narrow, tented streets of this market which is full of color, scents, music and vendors.

This evening we will be delighted to include, if you wish, a true Gypsy Flamenco Show in the famous authentic small Gypsy caves of Granada. It is said that this image is the most genuine in flamenco: caves full of people admiring gypsy performances of this dance art. You will surely be able to imagine what Flamenco Gypsy life was like, back in the 1960s!

In a Nutshell: Free Day in Granada, OPTIONAL Evening Flamenco Show in the Cuevas of Granada, Overnight Granada

DAY 9 CORDOBA

Today, after breakfast, our chauffeur will be waiting and you will leave for Cordoba, where you will check into your 5* boutique hotel set in beautiful gardens, with an outdoor pool, in the heart of the ancient city of Cordoba. The Hotel occupies a 16th Century palace and in 1982 was declared a Cultural Heritage Monument.

Later, this afternoon, our Officially Licensed guide will take you on a complete tour of everything that Cordoba has to delight. Jews formed a part of Cordoba's cultural mix from as early as the 2nd Century until their expulsion from Spain in 1492. Once the biggest city in all of Europe, Cordoba thrived and expanded with its unique blend of cultures. These are beautifully expressed with a visit to the Mezquita, the most significant Muslim architectural achievement in the Western world. This 8th century structure was first a church, then a mosque, and today has a cathedral oddly placed in its center.

You will walk the street leading up to the Juderia, with its whitewashed houses and colorful courtyards and shops. The Jewish Quarter is the best-known part of Cordoba's historic center, which was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1984 and is one of the largest in Europe. As you wander down picturesque and evocative streets in the restored heart of Cordoba - one of the largest medieval quarters in Europe - it is not difficult to imagine the days when Cordoba was one of the most important cities in Europe. Cordoba's large Juderia has been recently restored and is now filled with charming shops and cafes.

In a Nutshell: Chauffeured transfer from Granada to Cordoba, Private Guided Tour of Historical Cordoba to include the Mezquita, Overnight in a 5* Palace Hotel in Cordoba

DAY 10 CORDOBA

You are as free as you choose today, as you have a free day in Cordoba. Your private guide will have given you many ideas for further sightseeing and dining options.

Cordoba has many charming squares to watch the world go by, but maybe the best is the Plaza de la Corredera which is like a mini Venetian St Marks Square. The first bullfights in Cordoba were held here, but today the restaurant and bar terraces fill up with visitors taking in the grandeur of it all. Another renowned square in Cordoba is the Plaza del Potro featuring an interesting fountain dating back to 1577 and a historic inn mentioned by Miguel de Cervantes in his famous novel, Don Quixote.

As the city is located on the banks of the Guadalquivir River, it is no surprise that you will find bridges here. The most famous is the ancient Roman Bridge that links the area of Campo de la Verdad with Barrio de la Catedral. It was built in the early 1st century BC, during the period of Roman rule in Cordoba, and the 16 arches stretch over a length of about 250 meters. It was the only bridge in the city for twenty centuries, until the construction of the San Rafael Bridge in the mid-20th century.

Take time to visit the local taverns in Cordoba to savor some typical Cordobese tapas such as Flamenquin (battered pork or ham), Salmorejo (cold tomato soup thickened with breadcrumbs), Rabo de Toro (Bulls tail) and for dessert the typical Pastel Cordobes - a pastry filled with sweet pumpkin.

In a Nutshell: Free Day in Cordoba, Overnight Cordoba

DAY 11 MADRID

This morning you will check out of your Cordoba hotel and return to Madrid. You have tickets, on a first class basis, on the fast and comfortable high speed train which will take under 2 hours. On arrival in Madrid just a short taxi ride will find you returning to check in to your 4* palace hotel.

Take some time to settle in again and relax after your journey then take advantage of your fantastic location in the historic center of Madrid to rediscover the special places of the Majestic capital your guide suggested on your previous visit.

We have many suggestions for dining options to suit your mood, whether its an informal dinner or a Michelin star experience.

In a Nutshell: High Speed Train tickets on a 1st class basis tickets from Cordoba to Madrid, Overnight Madrid

DAY 12 TOLEDO

This morning, after breakfast, you are off to Toledo for the day. You have high speed train tickets from Madrid to Toledo, and return. Your local officially licensed guide will be waiting for you at the train station when you arrive and will lead you on a visit to the Cathedral, which is one of the most outstanding buildings in the city and is considered to be one of the high points of Gothic art. The construction of this monumental building, with a basilica floor plan and five naves, commenced in 1226, although it was not finished until the 15th century. On its main facade the outstanding feature is the doorway, made up of three doors: Infierno (Hell), Perdon (Forgiveness) and Juicio (Judgement). The exterior is topped by the two cathedral towers, one of them in flamboyant Gothic style and the other in Gothic-Renaissance.

Following on your guide will lead you to the Synagogue of Santa Maria La Blanca. Remains of the Jewish community are still preserved in the city in the synagogues of Santa Maria la Blanca and El Transito. The former, built possibly in the 12th century, is also a good example of Toledo's Mudejar art. It has five naves with decreasing heights as well as the characteristic geometrical and botanical decoration and horseshoe arches. Meanwhile, in the synagogue of El Transito, built in 1357, you can admire one of the best Mudejar coffered ceilings of all those preserved in Toledo, along with walls richly decorated with geometrical and botanical designs and Hebrew inscriptions. Nowadays, this Jewish place of worship houses the Sephardic Museum, in which an interesting collection of pieces of art and various objects used in Jewish ceremonies are exhibited.

Your fantastic visit to Toledo, will terminate with a visit to the church of Santo Tome, famous for housing the famous El Greco picture entitled El entierro del Conde Orgaz (The burial of Count Orgaz). You will then have free time to enjoy Toledo and have lunch, for which we have several suggestions, prior to returning to Madrid.

Back in Madrid, the rest of the evening is free to do as you wish - relax, have a light dinner, wander around Madrid, the choice is yours. We have many suggestions for great restaurants.

In a Nutshell: High speed return train tickets for a day in Toledo; Private Guided Tour of Toledo to include the Cathedral, Synagogue of Santa Maria La Blanca and Church of Santo Tome, Overnight Madrid

DAY 13 MADRID

Today, after breakfast you are as free as you please and may we suggest a leisurely walk in the park in El Retiro!

Within its 125 hectares El Retiro Park is home to over 15,000 trees and includes some delightful gardens: the Jardin de Vivaces, the Jardines de Cecilio Rodriguez (classical gardens of an Andalusian style), the Jardines del Arquitecto Herrero Palacios, the Rose Garden, and the Parterre Frances with the oldest tree in Madrid, a bald cypress that is believed to be 400 years old.

As you stroll the attractive boulevards and walkways you will find that the Park is home to some great architectural and historical elements such as the Monument to Alfonso XII, the Velazquez Palace (inspired by the Crystal Palace in London and used by the Reina Sofia Museum for temporary exhibitions), the Glass Palace (a romantic pavilion), the Galapagos Fountain (created to commemorate the birth of Isabel II) and the fountain of the Fallen Angel, the only sculpture in the world representing the devil.

Nearby, and outside of the Retiro Park on the Calle de Alcala street you will find one of the icons of the city - The Puerta de Alcala, built for Carlos III in the 18th century. The King commissioned the work to Sabatini in order to commemorate his arrival to the capital in 1778. Then down the road you will arrive to another icon of Madrid - Cibeles Fountain, created in 1782 and situated in its current location since 1895. The Fountain depicts the Roman goddess of the same name (Cybele in English), symbol of the Earth, agriculture, and fertility, atop a chariot drawn by lions. Cibeles Fountain is located in the center of the Plaza de Cibeles, which is surrounded by grand buildings and marks the start of the Art Walk - a stretch of just over one kilometer of art and culture including the Prado, the Thyssen-Bornemisza and the Reina Sofia Museums.

Whatever you decide enjoy your day!

In a Nutshell: Free day in Madrid, Overnight Madrid

DAY 14 DEPARTURE

This is the last day of your tour and after breakfast you will check out of your hotel and your chauffeur will be waiting to transfer you to Madrid Airport for your onward journey home.

We do hope you will join us for this very exciting tour to enjoy some of our very best food, wine and cultural experiences, which will surely provide for a truly memorable tour!

In a Nutshell: Chauffeured transfer to Madrid Airport

Your tour includes:

  • Accommodation for five (5) nights in a 4* converted palace hotel in the heart of Madrid (superior room, double occupancy)

  • Accommodation for three (3) nights in a 5* luxury boutique restored palace hotel in Seville (deluxe room, double occupancy)

  • Accommodation for one (1) night at a 4*, former town hall, magnificently situated hotel in the heart of Ronda (superior room, double occupancy)

  • Accommodation for two (2) nights in a 5* luxury former convent hotel in Granada (superior room, double occupancy)

  • Accommodation for two (2) nights in a 5* restored 16th century palace hotel in Cordoba (dreamer room, double occupancy)

  • Thirteen (13) full breakfasts

  • Chauffeured transfers in a luxury vehicle, as indicated in the itinerary

  • Train tickets on a preferential basis (1st Class) from Madrid to Seville and Cordoba to Madrid, and on a standard return basis between Madrid and Toledo

  • All the private guided culinary, cultural visits and tastings indicated in the itinerary

  • Assistance of an experienced bilingual Official Licensed Guide, as indicated in the tour itinerary

  • Online Personal Travel Webpage including daily itinerary, general local information, details of places of interest, suggestions for restaurant reservations, and your free time, etc.

  • Handy elegant Personal Travel Journal, which includes the extended information from your Personal Travel Website, that you can take with you as you go and keep as a souvenir to look back on.

  • 24/7 Back Office Assistance

Your tour does not include:

  • Flights

  • Meals and drinks not stated in the itinerary

  • Personal expenses such as telephone, minibar, etc.

  • Tips and gratuities at restaurants etc. at your discretion, NOT obligatory

  • Travel Insurance may be included in your quotation on request. We strongly recommend you to take out separate cancellation insurance.

Prices:

Please note our tours are available for PRIVATE GROUPS ONLY and are not scheduled mixed group tours. Price is available upon request and varies depending on the number of guests and time of year. Feel free to contact us for your personal quote