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Voyages to Antiquity: Exploring History’s Grandeur in France and Spain

Program Number: 21660RJ
Start and End Dates:
6/3/2015 - 6/19/2015; 6/1/2016 - 6/17/2016;
Duration: 16 nights
Location: France/Spain/Morocco
Price starting at: $5,995.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Adventure Afloat Study Cruise; Ocean Cruises
Meals: 39; 15 Breakfasts, 10 Lunches, 14 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian; Low Fat; Gluten Free; Low Salt    

On this voyage from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic through the Strait of Gibraltar, study the rises and falls of empires and examine the spectacular architectural and artistic record left behind. Roman theaters, opulent Moorish palaces and medieval cathedrals beckon you inside to learn the stories of emperors, sultans and popes.

Activity Particulars

Walking up to two miles per day and standing for up to four hours per day. Some uneven terrain, hills and steep stairs without railings at historic sites.

Itinerary At-a-Glance

Aboard Aegean Odyssey, 11 nights; Seville (Spain), 2 nights; Madrid, 2 nights.

Day 1: Overnight flight from the U.S.A.

Days 2-3: Arrival Nice (France) / embark Aegean Odyssey:

Begin your voyage on the beautiful Côte d’Azur. During an independent day discover Nice and, if you wish, transfer to nearby Monte Carlo as well.

Days 4-5: At Sea / Marseille:

Sail along the Riviera to Marseille. Journey to Avignon and visit the Palace of the Popes. Continue to Arles and its magnificent Roman arena.

Day 6: Carcassonne:

An hour’s drive through lovely French countryside brings you to Carcassonne, a medieval fortified hill town of spectacular towers and ramparts.

Day 7: Barcelona (Spain):

Explore the Gothic Quarter, where buildings from the Roman Empire and the Middle Ages stand side by side. Enjoy some free time in the city.

Days 8-9: At Sea / Cartagena:

In ancient times, Carthago Nova (“New Carthage”) was the capital of a Roman province. Examine the city’s recently unearthed Roman theater.

Day 10: Málaga:

Journey through Andalusian countryside to the Alhambra, an opulent palace-fortress built by the Moors. Stroll through its gardens and interiors.

Day 11: Tangier (Morocco):

Navigate into the Strait of Gibraltar and go ashore in Tangier on the North African coast. Discover the Cave of Hercules and visit a colorful Moroccan market.

Day 12: Jerez (Spain):

Explore the old quarter including the Alcazar, a Moorish fortress that is now a public park. Enjoy a tasting of Sherry, the fortified wine named for the city.

Days 13-14: Seville / disembark:

Sail up the Guadalquivir River to Seville, where an expert-led excursion includes the imposing Gothic Cathedral and the Moorish Alcázar palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Take a field trip to Córdoba to find the Great Mosque-Cathedral and the old Jewish quarter. Lodging: Stylish, centrally located hotel.

Days 15-17: Train to Madrid / departure:

A high-speed train zips you 300 miles to Spain’s capital in 2.5 hours. Discover the sprawling Plaza Mayor, the bustling Puerta del Sol, the extraordinary Prado Museum and more. Savor two staples of Spanish culture: a tapas dinner and a flamenco show. Lodging: Centrally located, 4-star hotel.

Aegean Odyssey

The Aegean Odyssey is a premium-class ship especially rebuilt for sailing along shallow coastlines, among remote islands and into small, uncrowded harbors that larger ocean liners can’t reach. Public areas include several gourmet restaurants, library, Internet center, sweeping sun decks, outdoor pool, gym and spa.

Meals and Lodgings
   Aegean Odyssey
  Aegean Odyssey - At Sea, At Sea 11 nights
   Meliá Sevilla
  Seville, Spain 2 nights
   Meliá Galgos
  Madrid, Spain 2 nights
 Aegean Odyssey
Type: Cruise Ship
  Description: The Aegean Odyssey offers boutique-style cruising at its best. In contrast to the massive vessels cruising to and from major ports, it is a midsized ship adapted for island and coastal cruising. The Aegean Odyssey can visit smaller, less crowded harbors and sail closer to the coast enabling you to really appreciate the magical views.
  Ship Information: Ship’s Tonnage: 11,563 Length: 461 feet Beam: 67 feet Draft: 20.5 feet Cruising Speed: 18 knots Passenger Decks: 7 Stabilizers: 2 Passenger Staterooms/Cabins: 198 Passengers – lower beds: 378 Classification: Lloyd’s Register Society London Ship’s Registration: Malta
  Contact info: Voyages to Antiquity
1800 SE 10th Avenue, Suite 230
Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33316 USA
phone: 877-398-1460
  Room amenities: All cabins are equipped with a flat screen TV, air-conditioning, and personal safe. Particular importance is placed on the standard of bedding in cabins. Luxury bedding, including fine duvets, covers and sheets, ample soft pillows and quality towels can be expected. Also, shampoo, bath and shower gel, soap, and shower cap are provided. Your cabin steward is always available. Cabins and suites feature outlets with 220 voltage, using the “European” two round pin plug. Hair dryers are provided in your cabin and electric rollers, curling irons, electric shavers and other small appliances can be used in your cabin. For safety reasons, travel irons are not allowed.
  Facility amenities: Dining: Aegean Odyssey offers many dining facilities: The Marco Polo Restaurant is the ship's more formal restaurant, providing casual country-club elegance for lunch or dinner; The Terrace Cafe offers a combination of indoor and outdoor seating where you can indulge in breakfast, lunch and dinner from the grill or the sumptuous daily buffet. In the evenings, enjoy breathtaking views over dinner at Tapas on the Terrace. *There is a complimentary choice of wine, beer, or soft drinks with your evening meal. There will be a string trio, pianist and casual dancing before and after dinner. You may also wish to partake in afternoon tea, served in the Observation Lounge or enjoy an evening snack and cocktail, available in the Lido and Rendezvous bars. A limited room service menu is available. Special Diets: Please advise us at the time of booking of any special dietary requirements. The ship can usually meet most general requests such as those made with an air carrier; however, this cannot always be guaranteed. Services: Library; outdoor pool; spa; health center, saunas, massage and beauty treatment rooms and early morning yoga on the Lido Deck; elevators; beauty salon; medical center; laundry and pressing services (order form and laundry bag is provided in cabin); lecture theater and cinema and on board shop. Internet: The ship has an Internet center (open 24 hours) and WiFi is available in the reception area. Fees begin at 10mb for $20. As a rough guide you could send around 200 standard emails with no attachments for $20. However, if you start adding medium size web standard photographs (not hi res), each one would be about 1.5mb. There are no refunds for unused capacity. PLEASE NOTE: Due to the nature of satellite connectivity on board a ship, the internet connection is slow, erratic and may be unavailable at times.
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Elevators available: Yes

 Meliá Sevilla
Type: Four-Star Hotel
  Description: Located in the heart of Seville opposite the Parque de Maria Luisa and Plaza España and very close to the University (Old Tobacco Factory), the Alcazar, the Barrio de Santa Cruz district, the Cathedral and the Archive of the Indies, the new Meliá Sevilla is the perfect choice for your business and leisure trips, thanks to its excellent location in the city centre, its fully equipped and comfortable facilities and the quality of its services.
  Contact info: Dr. Pedro de Castro, 1
Seville 41004,   Spain
phone: +34 95 4421511
  Room amenities: Each room has 24 hour room service, individually controlled air conditioning, luxury bedding, satellite television, telephone, free high speed WiFi Internet, mini bar, laundry service, an iron and ironing board (on request), safe box, and a hair dryer.
  Facility amenities: The hotel offers 24-hour front desk service, two restaurants and a bar, lobby, free high speed WiFi Internet, laundry service, outdoor pool with poolside bar, spa and gym, and a lounge.
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Elevators available: Yes

 Meliá Galgos
Type: Four-Star Hotel
  Description: Located in the chic Barrio Salamanca, close to the main Paseo de la Castellana, the Meliá Galgos is a recently renovated 4-star hotel. It is surrounded by a wide variety of restaurants, cafés and shops, and there are two metro stations nearby providing easy access to all areas of the city.
  Contact info: Calle de Claudio Coello, 139
28006 Madrid,   Spain
phone: +34 915 62 66 00
  Room amenities: Each room has a full bathroom with a make-up mirror, toiletries set, and a hairdryer, flat screen television, telephone, pillow menu, safe box, minibar, and complimentary WIFI.
  Facility amenities: The hotel offers 24-hour reception, lobby, bar, two restaurants, fitness center with sauna, hot tub and steam room, small roof terrace, meeting rooms and business facilities with printers (for a fee), complimentary WIFI, and air-conditioning.
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights after:  Please contact Road Scholar Travel Services if you would like assistance making hotel reservations for additional non-program nights. 1-800-241-1404
  Check out time: 12:00 PM

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Nice, France. Program begins at 5:00 PM in the “Observation Lounge” on board the ship. You will be staying at Aegean Odyssey that night.
  End of Program:
Madrid, Spain. Program ends after breakfast on the last day. You will be staying at Meliá Galgos the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required.
  Parking availability:
Transportation (For Independent Travelers)
To Start of Program
  Location:  Aegean Odyssey - At Sea
  Transportation to site: The cost of a taxi from the airport to the port in Villefranche-sur-Mer is approximately 50 Euro.
  From End of Program
  Location:  Madrid
  Transportation from site: A taxi from central Madrid to the airport costs 30 Euro per taxi. Alternatively, take a taxi to the Nuevos Ministerios station (approx. 10 Euros) and take the Metro Line 8 to the airport. Tickets can be purchased at the station and cost 5 Euro.
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Daily Schedule

Day 1: Departures
(Wednesday, June 3)
 In Transit: Depart US/Canada on international overnight flight.

Day 2: Welcome / Embark the Aegean Odyssey
(Thursday, June 4)
 Morning: Arrival at Nice Côte d'Azur International Airport (NCE). Transfer to the ship for embarkation.
 Afternoon: Welcome orientation to the program at 5:00 PM in the ship's "Observation Lounge."
 Dinner: Welcome dinner on board the ship.
Accommodations: Aegean Odyssey
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 3: Villefranche (Nice), France / Monte Carlo
(Friday, June 5)
 Breakfast: Aboard the ship.
 Morning: A morning at leisure to enjoy the seaside city of Nice on the French Riviera. Alternatively, you may elect to participate in an optional excursion to St. Paul de Vence or Monaco & Monte Carlo (additional cost, bookable on board).
 Lunch: Aboard the ship or explore local fare on your own.
 Afternoon: This afternoon the ship will offer a transfer to Nice for independent exploration. The Group Leader will lead an informal walking excursion in Nice for anyone who would like to join.
 Dinner: Aboard the ship or explore local fare on your own.
 Evening: The ship will overnight in Nice.
Accommodations: Aegean Odyssey
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Cruising the French Riviera Coast
(Saturday, June 6)

Note: .

 Breakfast: Aboard the ship.
 Morning: At sea. In the morning, as the ship makes its way to Marseilles, you will pass close to the coast of Monte Carlo and then continue along the beautiful coastline of the Cote d'Azur passing Nice, St. Tropez and Antibes.
 Lunch: Aboard the ship.
 Afternoon: At sea. In the late afternoon, enjoy a Road Scholar Cocktail Party in the Observation Lounge.
 Dinner: Aboard the ship.
 Evening: At leisure. The ship arrives to Marseilles in the evening.
Accommodations: Aegean Odyssey
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Marseilles, France
(Sunday, June 7)

Note: Heavy walking for one or more hours over uneven terrain, with multiple uphill segments. There is also an option to visit Marseilles and Aix en Provence instead of the excursion to Avignon and Arles described below (see the shore excursion desk on board for full details).

 Breakfast: Aboard the ship.
 Morning: Explore the Provençal countryside and two ancient towns on this full-day field trip that visits Avignon with its papal legacies and Arles, once a crossroads of the Roman Empire.

Your adventure starts with a 90-minute drive to Avignon which rose to glory in the Middle Ages, when a series of Frenchborn Popes fled Rome and made the town a base from which they ruled Christendom until 1407. Enjoy views of the Rhone River and Avignon's much-sung-about bridge, Pont St. Benezet. The highlight of the morning is a guided visit of the Pope's Palace with its long, echoing Great Audience Hall, 14th-century wall paintings and Great Chapel. Also enjoy a walk through Palace Square and Horloge Square before continuing to Arles for a delightful lunch.
 Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: Though a mere 25 miles from Avignon, the town of Arles seems centuries removed with its well-preserved Roman monuments. You'll see many of them on this afternoon's walking excursion which passes Café de Forum, Republic Square and the 17th-century Town Hall. Enjoy a brief stop at the Church of St. Trophime, noted for its magnificent doors. See the Roman theater and enjoy a guided viewing inside the amphitheater, the largest in Roman Gaul. On your return, you'll understand why Vincent van Gogh spent two years in Arles, enraptured by the color and light of this amazing region.
 Dinner: Aboard the ship.
 Evening: At leisure. Evening departure for Port la Nouvelle, for tomorrow's visit to Carcassonne.
Accommodations: Aegean Odyssey
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Port la Nouvelle, France / Carcassonne
(Monday, June 8)
 Breakfast: Aboard the ship.
 Morning: From the port of Port la Nouvelle, it is an hour's drive through the quintessentially French Languedoc countryside to Carcasonne. Founded by the Romans, the fortified city of Carcassonne became the largest walled stronghold of the Middle Ages and its remarkable towers and ramparts are recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Your adventure starts with a drive through the wild Languedoc countryside to Carcassonne, a site continuously occupied for over 2,500 years. Encircled by double walls, this stronghold stands exactly as it did in the Middle Ages with miles of battlements, 52 towers and a castle. View the mighty gate with its chains, portcullis and intricate access system. Stroll the lists between the double walls and savor the atmosphere as you get an education in military architecture. The round towers built by the Romans to guard the passage to Spain had to be adapted for medieval weaponry and the guards' walk was designed to be taken apart and re-assembled in an early example of prefabricated design. Also see the fine Gothic Basilica of Saint-Nazaire and enjoy some time for shopping before returning to the ship.
 Lunch: Aboard the ship.
 Afternoon: Free time to relax on board or explore Port la Nouvelle independently.
 Dinner: Aboard the ship.
 Evening: At leisure. Evening departure for Barcelona. Attend a shipboard guest lecture.
Accommodations: Aegean Odyssey
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Barcelona, Spain
(Tuesday, June 9)
 Breakfast: Aboard the ship.
 Morning: Descend to a unique underground museum for a glimpse of everyday life in Barcino, as Roman Barcelona was called. Hidden under the medieval buildings and squares of Barcelona's Gothic Quarter is a town of far greater antiquity. Roman troops arrived here during the Punic Wars (264 to 146BC) and remained for over 600 years, putting their imprint on the language, law and culture. Not all of the ancient colony is underground. Sections of the original walls, towers and gates can be seen en route to Plaza Ramon Berenguer and Plaza Nova, where an aqueduct and main road once connected Barcino with the rest of the Empire. View the Forum with its remains of a 1st-century temple to Caesar Augustus.

Then take an elevator to get an in-depth look at daily life in Roman times. Visit one of Europe's largest underground archaeological sites at the Barcelona City History Museum. Stroll metal walkways through workaday Barcino with its laundry, dye shop, salted fish factory and wine shop to get a slice of life – 20 centuries ago. Collections of objects found at the digs include Roman portraits, mosaics, Roman and Hebrew inscriptions, as well as the utensils of daily life. Emerge from this excursion with an enriched understanding of Roman influence and appreciation of Barcelona's antiquity.
 Lunch: Aboard the ship or explore local fare on your own in Barcelona.
 Afternoon: A free afternoon allows you to see more of Barcelona according to your own interests and pace. Perhaps visit extraordinary Sagrada Familia, the massive Catalan church designed by the visionary architect Antoni Gaudí. Construction of this iconic building began in 1882 and is still ongoing. A stroll along Las Ramblas, perhaps stopping to sip sangría and people watch, is a must. You can elect to participate in the ship's optional excursion to see Gaudi's Barcelona (additional cost, bookable on board).
 Dinner: Aboard the ship or explore local fare on your own.
 Evening: At leisure. Midnight departure for the south of Spain.
Accommodations: Aegean Odyssey
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: At sea
(Wednesday, June 10)
 Breakfast: Aboard the ship.
 Morning: At sea. Attend a talk by your Road Scholar Group Leader.
 Lunch: Aboard the ship.
 Afternoon: At sea. Take advantage of the ship's well stocked library that has a wide selection of volumes covering classical history, literature, art, architecture, and philosophy. The frequently updated collection also includes an extensive reference section as well as modern and classic novels.
 Dinner: Aboard the ship.
 Evening: Attend a shipboard guest lecture.
Accommodations: Aegean Odyssey
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9: Cartagena, Spain
(Thursday, June 11)

Note: For those who would prefer an easier excursion with less walking, elect to participate in 'Easy Cartagena' (details on board).

 Breakfast: Aboard the ship.
 Morning: Cartagena has almost 3,000 years of history. The city’s heyday was during the Roman Empire, when it was known as Carthago Nova (the New Carthage) and later it was one of the important cities during the Umayyad invasion of Hispania, under its Arabic name of Qartayannat al-Halfa. Due to its strategic position, it has been throughout its history an important military and trade port.

The first stop is the House of Fortune. Although there are some ruins from the Carthaginian ages, like the remains of the Punic rampart (built in 227 BC with the foundation of the city), most of its oldest monuments date from the ages of the Roman Empire when Cartagena flourished. Among its numerous Roman remains the recently restored Roman theater and the House of Fortune stand out. Here you can see what homes were like during the Roman period.

You will then make your way up on foot to the Concepcion Castle via the panoramic lift, which gives wonderful views of the city. The Castle (now the Center for Interpretation of the History of Cartagena) was reconstructed in the 13th century using large structures from the Roman Amphitheater. There will also be time to visit the interpretation center, which has very interesting exhibitions exploring the fascinating history of Cartagena.
 Lunch: Aboard the ship or explore the menú del día at a tapas restaurant or two.
 Afternoon: Free time for independent exploration of Cartagena.
 Dinner: Aboard the ship.
 Evening: Early evening departure for Málaga. Attend a shipboard guest lecture.
Accommodations: Aegean Odyssey
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10: Málaga, Spain (Granada)
(Friday, June 12)

Note: If preferred, you can elect to enjoy a panoramic excursion of Málaga and the Picasso Museum instead of visiting the Alhambra (details on board).

 Breakfast: Aboard the ship.
 Morning: Leave the port of Málaga and drive through the wonderful landscape of Andalusia passing endless fields of olive trees and picturesque villages. Your journey takes you to one of the most magical places in the world and the most outstanding symbol of Moorish heritage in Spain: the Alhambra. The Alhambra was a palace, a fortress and home of the Nasrid Sultans. The Nasrid Dynasty (1238-1492), was the last Islamic sultanate in the Iberian Peninsula and the Nasrid Sultans chose this site for their court as it was the ideal place from which to keep watch over the capital of their kingdom and the surrounding area. From the beginning of the 13th century, the original fortress grew into a huge walled site that was clearly intended to be both a palace and court.

Within this gradual change, different stages of development, grandeur and decadence can clearly be seen through the various works of art and buildings erected over the years. The Alhambra was not a single construction, but rather the result of an evolution of successive reforms and extensions. Your guide will take you inside the “Alqala hamra," meaning "red castle" where you will be able to visit the Nazaries Palaces with intricately carved stucco walls, knotted ceilings, elaborate honeycomb vaulting, and beautiful courtyards; “Serallo," the official residence of the Sultan and the Harem, which surrounds the famous "Patio de los Leones," with its fountains feeding water through the mouths of 12 lions (representing months of the year), and many other wonderful sites within the fortress.

Continuing on, the excursion will visit the “Generalife Palace” which was build as the summer paradise for the Sultans of Granada. Its lovely terraces, grottoes, flowerbeds and fabulous fountains will make you feel the glamor of the Moorish inhabitants.
 Lunch: Enjoy a traditional lunch at a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: After lunch, there’s a panoramic motorcoach excursion around the city of Granada before returning to Málaga.
 Dinner: Aboard the ship.
 Evening: Midnight departure for Tangier.
Accommodations: Aegean Odyssey
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 11: Tangier, Morocco
(Saturday, June 13)
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board.
 Morning: Situated only a short distance across the Strait of Gibraltar from the shores of Europe, Tangier is a gateway to a vastly different culture. This excursion is perfect if you really want to discover more of Tangier, and explore the bustling Medina, with its tiny streets lined with shops filled with trinkets and treats.

Traveling along the promenade, you will arrive at Hercules Grotto, where legend has it Hercules rested after digging the Strait of Gibraltar. After a brief visit, you continue to Cape Spartel Lighthouse – more than a century old it shines a warning beacon to ships sailing between the Atlantic and Mediterranean.

Arriving back in Tangier, visit the Medina (old town) whose walls mark the line of the Roman defenses. The grand Mosque rises on the foundations of a temple to Neptune, and the Petit Socco covers the area of what used to be the Forum. The bustling Kasbah is situated on the highest part of the Medina in an area that has been the preserve of palaces and castles for thousands of years. Your guide will walk you through the Medina and the Kasbah, allowing you the opportunity to view the fruit and vegetable market and Mendoubia Park where you can explore at leisure, if you wish.
 Lunch: Aboard the ship or explore local fare on your own.
 Afternoon: Free time for independent exploration of Tangier.
 Dinner: Aboard the ship.
 Evening: Evening departure for Cádiz. Attend a shipboard guest lecture.
Accommodations: Aegean Odyssey
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 12: Cádiz, Spain
(Sunday, June 14)
 Breakfast: Aboard the ship.
 Morning: Although there seems to be a plethora of places that lay claim to being Europe’s oldest continually inhabited settlement, Cádiz is generally considered to be the true holder of this title. Cádiz has clung to Spain’s Atlantic coast for over 4,000 years and in this time its influence has been felt far and wide. The city has long been considered a bridge between Europe and Africa and was the gateway to the Americas during the age of discovery.

The old city is immensely intriguing – a cluster of narrow streets opening on to charming small squares. The golden cupola of the cathedral looms above low white houses, and the whole place has a slightly dilapidated air. You will appreciate the atmosphere and history of Cádiz during a drive through the city from the delightful ancient seaport, passing the 18th-century baroque cathedral, then around the old part of the city with its splendid views over the bay. You will see the Plaza España and the gardens where the famous monument of Las Cortes (Spanish Parliament) of 1812 is situated. Then you will continue to the Moorish-style Alameda de Apodaca Gardens, a reminder of their occupancy in past centuries. The cathedral with its famous towering golden domes acts as a landmark against the Cádiz skyline, and the famous composer Manuel de Falla is buried here.

After this, you will drive inland to the historic town of Jerez de la Frontera. Jerez is home to dozens of sherry companies, and a visit will be made to the well-known Bodega Gonzalez Byass, which produces some of the most delicious sherry in the world. Here, the age-old process of blending is explained and then you will be invited to sample various types of the fortified wine in the unique atmosphere of the cellars.
 Lunch: Aboard the ship.
 Afternoon: Cruise the Guadalquivir River, the second longest river with its entire length in Spain, to arrive in Seville by sunset.
 Dinner: Aboard the ship.
 Evening: The ship overnights in Seville. Free evening to prepare belongings for disembarkation.
Accommodations: Aegean Odyssey
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 13: Disembark / Seville, Spain
(Monday, June 15)

Note: The Barrio de Santa Cruz is largely cobbled.

 Breakfast: Aboard the ship.
 Morning: Disembark the ship and enjoy a guided visit of Seville, the capital and largest city of Andalucía. Explore its oldest neighborhood, the Barrio Santa Cruz. Meander its labyrinth of narrow streets and alleys that open onto beautiful plazas. During medieval times, this neighborhood was the Jewish quarter and it is home to many of Seville's oldest churches. Visit its cathedral, the largest Gothic cathedral – and the third largest church – in the world. In 1898 it became the final resting place of Christopher Columbus. Next, visit the spectacular Moorish Alcázar Royal Palace and gardens -- the oldest royal palace still in use in Europe. Originally a fort built by the Almohad Dynasty, it is one of the best remaining examples of Mudéjar architecture.
 Lunch: On your own to enjoy what you like.
 Afternoon: Check-in to hotel and enjoy some time for relaxing before heading out with your Group Leader to explore nearby Maria Luisa Park and the impressive Plaza de España, built for the World Expo in 1929, and a fine example of typical Sevillan architecture and incorporating traditional Andalucían ceramic tile.
 Dinner: Explore local fare on your own.
Accommodations: Meliá Sevilla
Meals Included: Breakfast

Day 14: Seville, Spain / Córdoba
(Tuesday, June 16)
 Breakfast: In the hotel dining room.
 Morning: Enjoy the rolling plains of the Andalucían countryside during this morning's transfer to Córdoba. Today's full-day field trip will include the Mezquita, a medieval Islamic mosque that was converted into a Catholic cathedral. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is most notable for its arcaded hypostyle hall, with 856 columns of jasper, onyx, marble and granite. Next, explore Córdoba's Jewish quarter where this population flourished between from the 10th century until their expulsion from Spain in 1492. Its historic synagogue built in Mudéjar style is a memorial to the nearly 500 years of peaceful coexistance of Christians, Jews and Muslims in this city. There will also be time to visit the Alcázar, formerly a Visigoth fortress before falling to Umayyads conquerors and much later – after its expansion – it served as one of the primary residences of Isabel I and Ferdinand II.
 Lunch: Explore local fare on your own.
 Afternoon: Visit Viana Palace, formerly housing nobility and now a National Historic Monument. It is oft referred to as the Museum of the Patios, for its twelve separate 'patios' or garden rooms, each with their own unique design. There will be some free time after this visit for independent exploration of Córdoba before meeting the coach for the transfer back to Sevilla.
 Dinner: Sample regional specialties and wines at a local restaurant.
Accommodations: Meliá Sevilla
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 15: Train to Madrid, Spain
(Wednesday, June 17)
 Breakfast: In the hotel dining room.
 Morning: This morning we transfer to Seville's Santa Justa station to board a high-speed train to Madrid. The roughly 300 mile journey takes approximately 2 1/2 hours. Store luggage at the hotel and continue on to Old Madrid.
 Lunch: Explore local fare on your own.
 Afternoon: Walking excursion of majestic 17th century Plaza Major with its three-story residences and statue of Felipe III. Next, on to Puerta del Sol, one of the most well known landmarks in Madrid. Originally named for the gate in the city wall that surrounded Madrid in the 15th century, now the city's busiest plaza and the center of the Spanish road system, from which all distances are measured. Check-in to hotel before orienting to area with your Group Leader.
 Dinner: Enjoy an introduction to Flamenco with a brief lecture and demonstration followed by a tapas dinner and a Flamenco show.
Accommodations: Meliá Galgos
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 16: Madrid, Spain
(Thursday, June 18)

Note: If the Royal Palace is closed to the public due to a royal event, a museum visit will be substituted in its place.

 Breakfast: In the hotel dining room.
 Morning: Morning panoramic sightseeing visit of Madrid including Paseo de la Castellaña, Madrid's chic modern district, the Paseo del Prado, also known as the Triangle of Art, the Plaza de Cibeles and Town Hall, La Gran Vía, Madrid's theatre district, and Almudena Cathedral. Visit the stunning Royal Palace, the largest in Europe by floor area and containing a spectacular collection of artwork, as well as furnishings.
 Lunch: Explore local fare on your own.
 Afternoon: Free time for independent exploration of Madrid.
 Dinner: Farewell dinner at a local restaurant includes a traditional 3-course meal with wine and coffee or tea.
Accommodations: Meliá Galgos
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 17: Departures
(Friday, June 19)
 Breakfast: In the hotel dining room.
 Morning: Transfer to Madrid–Barajas Airport (MAD) for departures.
Meals Included: Breakfast
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List

Antonio Gaudi, Master Architect

Author: Juan Bassegoda Nonell

Description: This lavish little collection of Gaudi's work captures the evolution, imagination and exuberance of one of the most influential architects of the 20th century.


Author: Robert Hughes

Description: A Longitude favorite, this big, thoroughly enjoyable cultural history of the city touches on architecture, art, religion and literature from Roman outpost to today.

Culture Smart! Spain

Author: Marian Meaney

Description: This concise, no-nonsense guide to local customs, etiquette and culture provides a short overview of the land and people along with practical travel advice.

Driving over Lemons, An Optimist in Andalucia

Author: Chris Stewart

Description: Stewart's memoir about moving with his wife to a farm in Alpujarras is charming and insightful. Unlike many expatriates, Stewart manages to ground himself far enough into the community to make lasting friends -- as well as a home for his young daughter.

Eyewitness Guide France

Author: Eyewitness Guides

Description: This superb guide to all of France features color photography, dozens of excellent local maps and a region-by-region synopsis of the country's attractions. Handsome, convenient and up-to-date, this is the guide to carry.

Eyewitness Guide Spain

Author: Eyewitness Guides

Description: This superb, colorful guide covering all of Spain features bright photography, dozens of maps and a region-by-region synopsis of the country's attractions.

Ghosts of Spain

Author: Giles Tremlett

Description: Tremlett captures the Spanish character, history and modern politics in this masterful portrait, interweaving the story of his love for the country (where he has lived for 20 years) with interviews, anecdotes and observation.

Leaving Tangier

Author: Tahar Ben Jalloun

Description: Capturing the ambitions of young people everywhere, Ben Jalloun traces the fate of Azel, his sister and other emigrants, who leave Morocco for the promise of a better life in Spain.

Only in Spain, A Foot-Stomping, Firecracker of a Memoir About Food, Flamenco and Falling in Love

Author: Nellie Bennett

Description: In this exuberant memoir, an enthusiastic young Australian discovers a passion for Spanish culture (especially flamenco) as she explores Seville and Madrid.

Spain, A Traveler's Literary Companion

Author: Peter R. Bush (Editor)

Description: This collection of 30 stories form a who’s who of contemporary Spanish literature, including writers from Galicia, Leon, the Basque Country, Madrid and Barcelona.

Spain, The Root and the Flower

Author: John A. Crow

Description: Take this book with you to Spain: it's an absorbing, well-written account of Spanish cultural history from prehistory to the Romans, Jews, Moors, Golden Age and on to Franco and his legacy in modern Spain.

The Alhambra

Author: Robert Irwin

Description: Irwin's brief, indispensable guide introduces the stunning Moorish palace and fortress complex, revealing its mysteries, myths and significance with wit and insight.

The Friar of Carcassonne

Author: Stephen O'Shea

Description: O'Shea (The Perfect Heresy) turns the tale of Friar Bernard Delicieux and a city that stood against Pope Boniface VIII, Machiavellian French King Philip the Fair and grand inquisitor Bernard Gui into a thrilling tale of resistance in Medieval Languedoc.

The Popes of Avignon, A Century in Exile

Author: Edwin Mullins

Description: Grounded in the architecture and papal legacy of Avignon and the surrounding area, this engaging history sets the 70-year period of papal exile in the south of France against the context of Europe's turbulent transition from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance.

The Road from the Past, Traveling through History in France

Author: Ina Caro

Description: Time travel through France by way of its finest castles, chateaux, cathedrals and monasteries. This unusual travelogue is an invaluable companion for traveling in Paris, southern France, the Dordogne and the Loire Valley, combining personal observation with large doses of well-presented history.

Two Towns in Provence

Author: M. F. K. Fisher

Description: Celebrated food writer M.F.K. Fisher contrasts village life in Aix-en-Provence with bustling Marseilles, evoking these two favorite places with anecdote and loving description.

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