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Flamenco & Fortresses: Spain’s Great River With Your Grandchild

Experience the wonders of Spain as you dance Flamenco, explore a former royal palace and venture to an awesome bull farm, all while building lifelong memories with your grandchild.
Rating (5)
Program No. 20642RJ
11 days
Starts at

Flamenco & Fortresses: Spain’s Great River With Your Grandchild

Experience the wonders of Spain as you dance Flamenco, explore a former royal palace and venture to an awesome bull farm, all while building lifelong memories with your grandchild.
11 days
Starts at
Program No. 20642 RJ
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At a Glance

What’s a great way for you and your grandchild to experience Spain? Well that would be by the “great river,” of course! On an exciting learning adventure, sail down the Guadalquivir — or “great river” in Arabic — to explore Andalusia, the colorful Spanish region known for its fun Flamenco dancers, fearsome bulls and red-walled fortresses high in the hills. From feeling like royalty at magnificent castles to learning how to whip up tasty tapas, discover that Spain is anything but plain as you explore this amazing country together.

Best of all, you'll ...

  • Dance the day away during a Flamenco dance lesson to truly feel like a local.
  • Venture to a jaw-dropping Andalusian Pueblo Blanco “white village” to learn about its mysterious myths and legends.
  • Explore a local "ganaderia" (a ranch where bulls are raised) to learn more about life in Spain and enjoy an exciting field trip to one of the most impressive bullrings in the country.

General Notes

This program is for grandchildren ages 11-15. Because of the special nature of this program, we request that you call us to enroll. Please call toll free at (800) 454-5768, Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 9 p.m. ET.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
Lonely Planet Spanish Phrasebook
by Izaskun Arretxe
This handy pocket phrasebook includes pronunciation, basic grammar and essential vocabulary.
I, Juan de Pareja
by Elizabeth De Trevino
This Newbery Award-winning children's novel, based on a true story, chronicles the evolution of the friendship between the Spanish painter Velazquez and his African slave. Ages 9-12.
The Face of Spain
by Gerald Brenan
Brenan searches for Lorca's unmarked grave (and knows not if he has found it), travels to the great mosque in Cordoba, the Synagogue of Toledo and other touchstones of Spain's history, in this immensely pleasurable portrait of Spain in 1949, the wounds of the war still fresh.
Secrets in the House of Delgado
by Gloria Miklowitz
Set in Spain in 1492 in the thick of the Inquisition, this historical novel tells of what happens when a Catholic orphan, taken in by a Catholic family of Jewish ancestry, agrees to spy on her protectors. For ages 9-12.
The Ornament of the World, How Muslims, Jews, and Christians Created a Culture of Tolerance in Medieval Spain
by Maria Rosa Menocal, Harold Bloom (Introduction)
A lively, illuminating portrait of the Andalucian Kingdom, its cultural achievements and religious tolerance from the eighth century to 1492.
Ghosts of Spain
by Giles Tremlett
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.
The Story of Spanish
by Jean-Benoit Nadeau
What began as a small dialect spoken in northern Spain became the world’s most spoken language after English. The husband-and-wife team responsible for The Story of French (FRA98) are here to tell you how, with an emphasis on the pervasiveness of Spanish culture.
Granada, A Novel
by Radwa Ashur, William Granara (Translator)
A beautiful and haunting cultural tale about a Muslim family living in Granada at the time of its conquest by Ferdinand and Isabella.
Culinaria Spain
by Marion Trutter (Editor)
Organized by region, this profusely illustrated guide to virtually all aspects of Spanish cuisine is full of recipes, tips and cultural information.
Death and the Sun, A Matador's Season in the Heart of Spain
by Edward Lewine
A glimpse into Spanish culture by way of the celebrated art of bullfighting. Lewine spent a year with one of Spain's most celebrated matadors, and writes with a visible reverence for the exciting tradition in this cultural portrait.
Death in the Afternoon
by Ernest Hemingway
Hemingway's ode to the sport of bullfighting, considered one of the best on the sport.
Platero and I
by Juan Ramon Jimenez, Eloise Roach (Translator)
This lyric portrait of life -- and the little donkey, Platero -- in a remote Andalusian village is the masterpiece of Juan Ramon Jimenez, the Spanish poet awarded the 1956 Nobel Prize for Literature.
Spain or Shine
by Michelle Jellen
Elena goes to Spain to strike out on her own, but the 16 year-old must first overcome her insecurities. The third book in the SASS (Students Across the Seven Seas) series.
Spain, The Root and the Flower
by John A. Crow
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.
Only in Spain, A Foot-Stomping, Firecracker of a Memoir About Food, Flamenco and Falling in Love
by Nellie Bennett
In this exuberant memoir, an enthusiastic young Australian discovers a passion for Spanish culture (especially flamenco) as she explores Seville and Madrid.
The Alhambra
by Robert Irwin
Irwin's brief, indispensable guide introduces the stunning Moorish palace and fortress complex, revealing its mysteries, myths and significance with wit and insight.
Shadow of a Bull
by Maia Wojciechowska
In this compelling award-winning, young-adult novel, everyone expects Manolo to become a bullfighter like his father. Not surprisingly, it features vivid descriptions of bullfights.
Bracebridge Hall, Tales of a Traveller, the Alhambra
by Washington Irving
This collection of Irving's writing, published by the Library of America, is the only book in print that contains "The Alhambra," his romantic account of travels in Southern Spain.
Moorish Spain
by Richard Fletcher
This book on the history and culture of Islam in Spain is detailed but readable.
Eyewitness Guide Seville and Andalusia
by Eyewitness Guides
This wonderfully organized and visually rich guide features excellent maps and essays on the culture, history and geography of the region. With a pullout city map of Seville.
Granada: A Pomegranate in the Hand of God
by Steven Nightingale
Nightingale illuminates the long obscured medieval zenith of Granada, once considered an intellectual hotbed until it was sacked by Ferdinand and Isabella in 1492. Granada’s cultural accomplishments include the first modern translations of Greek philosophy and the introduction of algebra.
Seville Map
by Streetwise Maps
A laminated, folded walking map of Seville. Two Sides. 8.5x27 inches.
Andalucia Map 578
by Michelin Travel Publications
A travelers' map of Andalucia and the Costa del Sol at a scale of 1:400,000 with city plans of Seville, Malaga and Granada.
Driving over Lemons, An Optimist in Andalucia
by Chris Stewart
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.
If You Were There in 1492, Everyday Life in the Time of Columbus
by Barbara Brenner
A "you-were-there" history of medieval Spain, written for middle-schoolers and fun for the family. This clever illustrated history gives the facts of life in the cities and countryside from a child's point of view.
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11 days
10 nights
24 meals
9 B 7 L 8 D
In Transit to Program
In Flight
Arrive Seville, Program Orientation, Welcome Dinner
MS La Belle de Cadix

Activity note: Embarkation at 5:00 p.m.

Afternoon: Upon arrival, while we wait for the official embarkation, we have the choice to join our Group Leader for a walking discovery of the area around the Guadalquivir River. We will embark approximately 5:00 p.m. Orientation: 5:30 p.m. The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. Periods in the schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. This is a Road Scholar Adventures Afloat program. In addition to lectures and field trips exclusively for our Road Scholar group, you are invited to take advantage of activities and events aboard ship that are separate from the Road Scholar program. The time available in each port is set by the cruise line. Whenever possible, the Road Scholar daily schedule indicates port arrival and departure times (subject to change by the cruise line). This may mean that free time in port is limited. Regardless of the time in port, Road Scholar delivers a robust educational program. All routes, field trips, and excursions are subject to change as weather and sea conditions may affect the itinerary. Sea conditions could affect the progress of the ship, making it run late and sometimes miss ports because it is not safe to dock. Because of this, the cruise itinerary should always be regarded as provisional. The operators reserve the right to change the content of field trips and excursions without prior notice. This is a Road Scholar Grandparent program. Grandparents are responsible for their grandchildren. If/when separate age group activities are conducted concurrently, program staff will supervise. Minors are never to be left unsupervised.

Dinner: We will enjoy a welcome dinner on board, including water, wine, beer, fruit juice, and coffee.

Evening: At leisure. Meals, and especially dinners, take place much later in Spain than in North America, meaning there is little or no free time in the evenings. The ship will be docked overnight in Seville.

Seville Alcazar, Cathedral, Flamenco
MS La Belle de Cadix

Activity note: Getting on/off boat and motorcoach. Driving up to 3 miles. About 3 miles of walking throughout the day. Additional standing and dancing at the Flamenco venue. The riverboat will be docked in Seville overnight.

Breakfast: On board.

Morning: We will join a local expert on a walking visit of the cobblestone streets of the oldest neighborhood of Seville, the Barrio Santa Cruz (the ancient Jewish Quarter), including the city's magnificent cathedral. Built on the site of a mosque, it is the third-largest church in Europe and the largest Gothic building in Europe. It also boasts the tomb of Christopher Columbus. We will end the afternoon with a visit to the spectacular Moorish Alcázar royal palace and garden. An expert will lead us through the palace, which dates from 913, when the area was ruled by the Moorish Caliph of Cordoba. After the Reconquista of Seville in the 13th century, the Alcazar became a royal residence for the Castilian royal family. The Alcazar was also one of the settings used in the series Game of Thrones.

Lunch: At a local restaurant in Seville, we will enjoy a plated meal with mineral water and complimentary glass of wine. Other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We will walk to The Flamenco Dance Museum to learn more about Andalusian culture and watch a demonstration of flamenco. All are invited to participate in a flamenco dance class. The culture of this southernmost region of Spain has been heavily influenced by its location and home to many different civilizations, including Celts, Phoenicians, Romans, Germanic tribes, Moors, Roma tribes, and modern Spain. With staff, we will learn about the folklore and tradition of this dance style, accompanied by melodies and patterns known as palos that consist of singing, guitar, handclaps, snaps, and vocalizations. Afterwards we will walk back to our riverboat.

Dinner: On board.

Evening: At leisure.

Jerez & Horses, Historic Cádiz
MS La Belle de Cadix

Activity note: Getting on/off boat and motorcoach. Driving under 2 hours total, about 85 miles. Walking up to 4 miles today on cobblestones, uneven ground. Potentially high temperatures; sunscreen, water bottle, hats, and glassed recommended. The Tavira Tower has a 170 steps. The ship will be docked in Seville in the morning and will set sail for Cádiz at lunch time. We will meet the riverboat in Cadiz in the evening after the days’ activities.

Breakfast: On board.

Morning: We will set off by motorcoach for a field trip to the city of Jerez, famous for its horses and its role in the history of flamenco. We will visit a family-owned horse-breeding farm to see some of the finest horses in Spain and enjoy a dressage performance by an expert equestrian team.

Lunch: We will enjoy a boxed lunch at the horse farm, consisting of a sandwich, water, and fruit.

Afternoon: We will continue by motorcoach to Cádiz, where we will enjoy an expert-led visit by motorcoach and foot. The city is one of the oldest in Western Europe and the port from where Columbus set sail on two of his voyages to the Americas. We will visit the old city, including the Torre Tavira, an 18th-century watchtower, offering wonderful views of the city, and a unique “camera oscura” After our visit, we will enjoy some free time in Cádiz before dinner.

Dinner: At a local restaurant in Cádiz.

Evening: At leisure.

Bull Farm, Vejer de la Frontera
Santa Maria
MS La Belle de Cadix

Activity note: Getting on/off boat, motorcoach. The ship is docked in Cádiz, and sails to El Puerto de Santa Maria overnight. Driving approximately 1.5 hours each way (50 miles). Walking around 3 miles throughout the day. Potentially high temperatures; sunscreen, water bottle, hats, and glassed recommended. The town of Vejer is built on a steep hill and the motorcoach cannot access the pedestrian old quarters. Walking approximately 1 mile uphill.

Breakfast: On board.

Morning: We will set out on a field trip by motorcoach to a ganadería, or bull ranch, with the chance to learn about this living symbol of Spanish culture firsthand from a well-known local bull breeding family. Later, we will drive to Vejer de la Frontera, a traditional Pueblo Blanco, or White Village of Andalucía, so named for the distinctive look of the town’s whitewashed buildings. We will also learn about the town’s customs and legends through a series of different characters, including the cobijadas, the women covered in black robes head to foot, showing only one eye, as a mark of religious devotion and a traditional symbol of Vejer.

Lunch: We will enjoy a light lunch at a restaurant in Vejer. Beverages included.

Afternoon: We will return by motorcoach to the riverboat, where there will be some free time to relax on board.

Dinner: On board.

Evening: We will enjoy a flamenco performance on board.

San Marcos Castle, Sherry Bodega
MS La Belle de Cadix

Activity note: Getting on/off boat. The riverboat is docked in El Puerto de Santa Maria until midday, and will then set sail up the Guadalquivir River to Isla Minima, and on to Seville. Up to 1 mile of walking today with some steps and uneven ground at the castle.

Breakfast: On board.

Morning: We will walk the short distance to the castle of San Marcos. Originally a mosque built by the Moorish conquerors, King Alfonso X (also known as the Wise King) transformed it into a Christian sanctuary in the 13th century. It was eventually acquired by a winemaking family in the 1950s. Led by staff, we will visit the well-preserved interior of the castle before walking to the adjoining winery, where we will learn about the production of sherry and its cultural and historical importance to the region. Adults will have the opportunity to sample some of the sherry wines, and children will be offered soft drinks. We will return to the riverboat for lunch on board.

Lunch: On board.

Afternoon: As we set sail this afternoon, our Group Leader will provide further insight on life in Spain.

Dinner: On board.

Evening: At leisure. We will have the opportunity to join the boat crew for a visit to a hacienda, or remain on board to relax.

Toros, Market & Cooking Class, Free Time
MS La Belle de Cadix

Activity note: Getting on/off boat. The riverboat sails overnight to Seville and is docked all day at the Delicias pier in the city center. Walking up to 3 miles today, cobblestones and uneven ground all around Seville. Standing at the cooking class. Free time activities may involve additional walking. NOTE: We will not see an actual bullfight.

Breakfast: On board.

Morning: We will explore the culture and myth of the toreado, or bullfighter. Led by a local expert, we will walk to the Plaza de Toros de la Maestranza, considered one of the oldest and grandest bullfighting rings in Spain. Here we will learn about its history of this controversial sport in the city that is often called its birthplace. Next, we will walk to the traditional market in Triana, one of the most Sevillano of barrios. Led by a local chef, we’ll visit the traditional market stalls and sample some of the local produce before joining an Andalusian tapas cookery class, where we will make some local specialties.

Lunch: We’ll enjoy a lunch of the tapas we have prepared, including complimentary drinks.

Afternoon: Free time. Take this opportunity for personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. Please refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Dinner: On board.

Evening: At leisure.

Córdoba, Free Time
MS La Belle de Cadix

Activity note: Getting on/off boat, motorcoach. The riverboat is docked in Seville all day. Driving 2 hours, about 85 miles, each way to Córdoba. Walking up to 3 miles. Many cobblestones, uneven surfaces and some steps all around the city.

Breakfast: On board.

Morning: We will leave the ship in Seville and travel to Córdoba, with a local expert, we will visit the Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba. Popularly known as the Mosque or the Mezquita, it stands over a Christian church built in the Visigoth period (5th century). After the Moorish conquest of Spain, it was used as a mosque. In 1236, following Córdoba's fall to King Ferdinand and after over 500 years of use as a mosque, the site was re-consecrated Christian and a cathedral was erected in the center of the mosque in 1523. It is the foremost Islamic monument in Spain and a unique example of the interplay of Christian and Muslim cultures in Spain. Later we will visit the traditional Cordobés Patios of the old Alcazar Palace. These small, interior gardens are unique to the city.

Lunch: We will enjoy a tapas lunch at a typical restaurant in Córdoba. Water, wine or soft drink included.

Afternoon: After some free time in Córdoba, we return to the ship in Seville by motorcoach.

Dinner: On board.

Evening: At leisure.

Granada’s Alhambra, the Arab District
Hotel Melia Granada

Activity note: Disembarkation approximately 8:30 a.m. Getting on/off motorcoach. Driving 3 hours, about 160 miles, from Seville to Granada. Walking up to 3 miles, approximately 3 hours with breaks; many cobblestones, steep slopes, uneven terrain, several flights of stairs without handrails at the Alhambra Palace. Alhambra tickets are subject to strict regional government quotas and visits may be rescheduled or substituted if necessary. The city of Granada also has many cobblestone streets and pedestrian areas.

Breakfast: On board.

Morning: We will disembark our riverboat and head by motorcoach to Granada. En route, our local expert will give a presentation about the importance of the city as a center of learning and the contribution of the Moors to Spanish and world culture. The city boasts many impressive and intricate buildings designed by Moorish architects and hosted scholars who benefitted from the scientific and mathematical learnings of the Islamic Golden Age. On arrival in Granada, we will enjoy a field trip with a local expert to the Alhambra. The Alhambra was first built as a smaller fort around 889 CE before being expanded into a palace in the 11th century by the sultan of Granada. After the Reconquista, the palace fell into disuse for several centuries, to be restored once again in the 19th century. There are royal apartments, forts, gardens, pavilions, and sumptuous gardens, which offered protection from the summer heat. The Alhambra visit ends with an exploration of the Nasrid Palace, one of the most spectacular Islamic buildings in Europe, dating from the 14th century and filled with Arabic inscriptions and geometrical patterns, perfectly proportioned rooms, and peaceful courtyards. We will then check into our hotel.

Lunch: At the hotel, we will enjoy a plated meal with mineral water and wine included.

Afternoon: We will visit the old Arab Quarter, called the Albaycin, a world away from Granada due to its strong Muslim influences. We will walk through the narrow streets and learn about the peaceful co-existence of Muslim, Christian, and Jewish traditions which shaped the Andalusian and Spanish culture and identity.

Dinner: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Evening: At leisure.

The Mediterranean Sea, Paella & Farewell
Hotel Melia Granada

Activity note: Getting on/off motorcoach. Approximately 1 hour drive, about 50 miles, each way to the coast. Walking up to 1 mile.

Breakfast: At the hotel, we’ll have a buffet featuring a selection of bread and pastries, cereal, yogurt, fruit, and cold cuts, plus coffee, tea, juice, water.

Morning: We will depart by motorcoach to a coastal village for a morning spent enjoying time by the Mediterranean Sea.

Lunch: On your own.

Afternoon: We will return to Granada, where we will have free time. Later in the evening, we will participate in a paella-cooking experience! Aprons on, as we learn how to make a traditional Spanish paella, with the help of local restaurant chefs; afterwards, sit back and enjoy the result.

Dinner: We will enjoy a farewell paella dinner at a restaurant in Granada. Water, wine, soft drinks included.

Evening: At leisure.

Program Concludes
In Flight

Activity note: Hotel check-out by 12:00 Noon.

Breakfast: At the hotel. This concludes out program.

Morning: If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on another rewarding program in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!

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