21336
Spain

The Best of Spain: Barcelona and Madrid

Find out what makes Barcelona and Madrid two of Europe’s most unique cities as you discover bold architecture, world-renowned museums, ancient monuments and celebrated cuisine. Olé!
Rating (5)
Program No. 21336RJ
Length
10 days
Starts at
2,349
Flights start at
600
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10 days
9 nights
16 meals
8 B 1 L 7 D
DAY
1
In Transit to Program
In Flight
DAY
2
Arrive Barcelona, Check-in, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Barcelona
D
Abba Balmoral

Activity note: Hotel check-in from 3:00 p.m.

Afternoon: After allowing some time to unpack and relax, our Group Leader will lead an orientation walk around the neighborhood as a way for us to get acquainted with the area. Orientation: 6:00 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. Transportation will be primarily by private motorcoach and walking with use of public transit. Periods in the daily 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. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Dinner: At a local restaurant, we’ll gather for a 3-course plated welcome dinner with a choice of entrée, plus a complimentary glass of wine and mineral water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure. Continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars, settle in, and get a good night's rest for the day ahead.

DAY
3
Introduction to Barcelona & Catalan Art, La Sagrada Familia
Barcelona
B,L
Abba Balmoral

Activity note: Walking up to 3 miles throughout the day; cobblestone streets. Use of public transportation; flights of stairs at stations, no escalators. Getting on/off a motorcoach; time spent aboard motorcoach about 4 hours total, including stops. Tickets to enter La Sagrada Familia are highly regulated and very difficult to secure. We are assigned a specific timeslot to enter the complex and the time inside the monument is restricted. Due to mobility concerns, we do not visit the towers.

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: In the hotel meeting room, our expert lecturer will offer us an introduction to Modernist Catalan art, architecture, culture, and life. Afterwards, we’ll set out on foot and use public transportation to get to our lunch location.

Lunch: At a local restaurant, we'll enjoy a characteristic lunch of "tapas" – appetizer-sized servings of many different kinds of tasty local cuisine.

Afternoon: We’ll then set out by private motorcoach for an expert-led panoramic field trip through Barcelona, which will include a visit to the Basilica of the impressive but unfinished Gaudí masterpiece, La Sagrada Familia. Next, we’ll also go to Gaudí's equally exotic Parque Guell and Montjuic Hill. Our local expert will lead us inside and outside at both sites with commentary provided. We’ll then return to the hotel.

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.

DAY
4
Monastery & Museum of Montserrat
Barcelona
B,D
Abba Balmoral

Activity note: Walking up to 3 miles throughout the day; cobblestone streets, steps, and slopes in and around the monastery. Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 35 miles, approximately 1 hour each way. Extent and duration of free time activities according to personal choice.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: After travelling north via motorcoach, we’ll reach the mountain of Montserrat, which has long cast a mystical spell with a spiritual heritage predating Christianity. An ancient hermitage on this spot grew to become an independent abbey in 1409. The buildings and contents were destroyed by Napoleon’s troops in 1811 and were reconstructed many years later. Gothic and Renaissance architecture of the basilica contrast with architectonic spaces created for the Museum of Montserrat by modernist architect Josep Puig i Cadafalch. Among the abbey’s notable achievements are one of the world’s oldest printing presses and more recently a translation of the Bible from original Middle Eastern languages into Catalan. During an expert-led exploration, we’ll see treasures of history and culture from ancient Egypt to works by Caravaggio, El Greco, Dali, Picasso, Tapies, and many others. However, the most precious object is the 12th-century carving of a Black Madonna, Our Lady of Montserrat, Patron Saint of Catalonia.

Lunch: On your own to sample the local fare. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions and give directions.

Afternoon: We’ll then return to Barcelona by private motorcoach for 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 and give directions on how to use your T10 card for public transport.

Dinner: At a restaurant near the hotel, we’ll have plated 3-course meals with water and a complimentary glass of wine; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
5
The Picasso Museum, La Pedrera
Barcelona
B,D
Abba Balmoral

Activity note: Walking up to 3 miles throughout the day; cobblestone streets. Use of public transportation; flights of stairs at stations, no escalators. Both the Picasso Museum and La Pedrera entrance times are strictly regulated and are subject to change.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: With our Group Leader, we’ll take a walking field trip to one of Gaudí's creations, Casa Milà, popularly known as “La Pedrera” (The Quarry) for its Modernist façade. Constructed between 1906 and 1912 under the direction of Antoni Gaudi, it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984 and now serves as the headquarters for the Catalunya-La Pedrera Foundation, which also includes a public cultural center. Later on, we will continue through Paseo de Gracia (Castilian/Spanish), or Passeig de Gràcia (Catalan), as we view the city's renowned Modernist route, which includes such iconic buildings as Gaudí's Casa Batlló and the newly refurbished building of Casa Lleo Morera.

Lunch: On your own to explore local cuisine.

Afternoon: Led by a local expert, we will take public transportation to go on a field trip to the Picasso Museum for an on-site presentation followed by time to explore on your own. The Museu Picasso is a key reference for understanding the artist’s formative years with more than 4,000 works in the permanent collection spanning his early work through the Blue Period and a large collection of prints. Afterward, we’ll return by public transport to our hotel where a local family will join us to provide insider perspectives on Catalan culture, the question of independence, and more. In addition, there will be a Q&A session before walking to dinner.

Dinner: At a local restaurant, we’ll enjoy a tasty 3-course plated dinner with a complimentary glass of wine and water to bid farewell to Barcelona; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure. Be sure to prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
6
To Madrid via High Speed AVE Train, Intro to Madrid
Madrid
B,D
Meliá Madrid Serrano Galgos

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach and train; minimal driving; walking through 2 large train stations, up escalators and some steps. Train ride is about 386 miles, approximately 2.5 hours. Participants will need to handle their own luggage on and off the train as there is no porterage available at the station.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: After checking out of the hotel, we will transfer by motorcoach to the train station where we will board the Alta Velocidad Española. The AVE is Europe's longest high-speed rail network that can reach 190 mph. The 386 mile trip to Madrid takes only about 2.5 hours. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride!

Lunch: On your own aboard the train.

Afternoon: Upon arrival, we’ll transfer via motorcoach from the train station to the hotel where we will check in and have some time to freshen up and relax before joining our local expert lecturer for a presentation. We will learn about the art, history, culture, and people throughout the Ages of Madrid. We will also each receive a T10 travel card, allowing up to 10 journeys by bus or metro around the city.

Dinner: At the hotel, we’ll have a 3-course meal, plus a complimentary glass of wine and mineral water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
7
History & Culture of Madrid, Art of Flamenco
Madrid
B,D
Meliá Madrid Serrano Galgos

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach. Walking up to 3 miles throughout the day; cobblestone streets, steps without railings. Comfortable footwear recommended. Extent and duration of free time activities according to personal choice.

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’ll start our exploration of the city by joining a local expert on a motorcoach to see some of the most important highlights of historical Madrid while enjoying commentary focused on these places of interest. Ending the morning at El Prado Museum, our local expert will lead us as we see one of Europe's largest and finest collections of art focused on 12th to the early 19th century. It also includes the most comprehensive collection of works by Goya and Velazquez, in addition to masterpieces from the Italian, Flemish, and Dutch schools.

Lunch: On your own to explore local cuisine.

Afternoon: Take some time for free independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. Afterwards, we’ll gather at a predetermined time and place for transfer via motorcoach to a local tablao (flamenco bar) for a welcome drink and an introductory presentation given by a performer on the art of flamenco.

Dinner: At the tablao, we’ll enjoy a simple dinner of tapas with wine, sangria, or beer.

Evening: While at the tablao, we’ll be treated to a traditional flamenco performance! The Universidad de Autonoma de Madrid describes flamenco as, “Voices filled with anguish and pain in cante jondo, rhythms of happiness and joy in sevillanas and rumbas. Flamenco is all that and more, full of passion and intensity.” Madrid takes pride as the hub of the recording industry, and starting place for aspiring artists performing in tablaos. We’ll revel in the sights and sounds of an evening filled with Spanish folklore, music, and dance. We will return to the hotel via motorcoach after the performance.

DAY
8
Toledo, Santo Tome Sacristy, Sinagoga del Transito
Madrid
B,D
Meliá Madrid Serrano Galgos

Activity note: Walking up to 3 miles throughout the day; steep slopes, cobblestones and some steps without railings around the city. Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 50 miles, approximately 1 hour each way. Toledo is set on a steep hill and the motorcoach cannot access the old town.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Setting out by motorcoach, we’ll transfer to the "Imperial City" of Toledo, set on a hill. The former Capital of Castile, Toledo is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is renowned for both its extensive cultural and monumental heritage, as well as for the centuries of peaceful co-existence that has taken place between Christian, Muslim, and Jewish cultures. Upon arrival, we will drive around the surrounding hill for breathtaking panoramic views before continuing with our local expert on a walk through the old city, including a visit to see El Greco's works at the Santo Tome sacristy, and to the former Sinagoga del Transito, which is now a museum.

Lunch: On your own to explore local cuisine.

Afternoon: We will return to Madrid and, after some time to rest, we will enjoy a presentation followed by a Q&A session at the hotel. A local university professor will enlighten us on Spain's recent history and the country’s transition to democracy following the death of Francisco Franco in 1975.

Dinner: At a local restaurant, we’ll have a 3-course plated meal with water and a complimentary glass of wine; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
9
Madrid, Reina Sofia Museum
Madrid
B,D
Meliá Madrid Serrano Galgos

Activity note: Walking up to 3 miles throughout the day; cobblestone streets. Use of public transportation; flights of stairs at stations, no escalators.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Arriving via public transport, we’ll enjoy a field trip led by a local expert to the Reina Sofia Museum, a contemporary structure housing over 21,000 works of modern and avant-garde art. Founded in 1990 after originally being created as an art center, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía is one of the key symbols of the Spanish transition to democracy and modernity following the Franco regime. Pablo Picasso's Guernica is the museum's most renowned masterpiece.

Lunch: On your own to explore local cuisine.

Afternoon: Continue exploring some of Madrid's most emblematic sites on your own or join your Group Leader on a walk of the city.

Dinner: At a local restaurant, we’ll gather for a delicious 3-course plated farewell dinner with a selection of appetizers to share and a choice of entree. Complimentary red or white house wine and mineral water is included; other beverages available for purchase. Share some of your favorite experiences from the program with new Road Scholar friends.

Evening: At leisure. Be sure to prepare for check-out and departures in the morning.

DAY
10
Program Concludes
In Flight
B

Activity note: Hotel check-out by 11:00 a.m. See your program’s travel details regarding transfers.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet, flight times permitting. This concludes our 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 rewarding programs 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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