Where We Have Been, What We Have Seen – Leg 1

This is leg one of the vacation which is our celebration of upcoming 25th Anniversary. You have heard me expound about the trips we have taken with Insight Vacations and what you get. This is a record of what we have done for the past two weeks. You know that, on your own, you would never do all this. Here we go:

First Day in Madrid, we did a city tour starting at 8:30 a.m. and then a tour of the Prado Museum. Also this Optional Tour: Segovia-Medieval town, back by 5 p.m. Then at 6:30 p.m. back with an optional Tour we see Madrid by night, back at 10:00 p.m.

Day Two-We are off at 8:00 a.m. and drive to Toledo, visit a Damasquinado Factory and then go for a city tour with our expert guide of the area. Following the tour, we have lunch and drive to Avila for a coffee stop (called a comfort stop) and continue on to Salamanca. Dinner is in the Hotel. If you wish and are not too tired, take a walk to see the Plaza Mayor.

Day Three-We leave Salamanca and drive to Oporto, Portugal known as the City of Bridges. We have free time for lunch by the Douro Ribeira. We take a small tour with the local expert of the area and tour the Port Wine Winery, enjoy a tasting of two different ports. To our hotel and a lovely dinner.

Day Four – We leave Oporto and drive to Fatima, for a rest stop and I wrote about this on another blog. Following this, we drive to Obidos. This is a hidden treasure of Portugal. There is a castle you can visit , enjoy lunch, shop a little and drive on to Lisbon. We have enough time to rest before we go for a wonderful dinner and evening. Optional Dinner is  seafood across the Tagus river by ferry. Following dinner, we drive back and view the city.

Day Five-Today we take a city tour of Lisbon until 11:30 a.m. Optional Tour is to drive to Cascais (fishing village by the beach); Estoril (farthest western point of the European continent); Cabo Da Roca; and lastly, Sintra. This is the magical town in Portugal. This is where we have lunch, shop around, drive back to our hotel by 4:30 p.m. Not done yet. We can relax and get ready for  a wonderful evening of a Fado folklore show and dinner of typical Portuguese fare. After we take a drive and view the ‘pink city’ with an illumination drive.

Day Six– Back to Spain with an early departure and we lose one hour time-wise. We cross the most modern bridge in Portugal called the Vasco da Gama and it is 10 km long over the Tagus river. We stop and have lunch along the way to Sevilla and take a walking tour with a local guide, arriving at the hotel by 5 p.m. At 6:30 p.m., we bring our cameras to enjoy a dinner complete with Flamenco dancing. In a word: WOW!

Day Seven– This is an optional tour of Cordoba. The religious history from 900 – 1300 is the biggest Mosque to the Catholic church. We stay for lunch and some free time and head out at 7 p.m. for the most original optional dinner yet: Andalusian food in the 4th oldest restaurant in Europe followed by a carriage ride through the old quarter of Seville. UNBELIEVABLE!

Day Eight-We leave at 8:00 a.m. to drive to Gibraltar. Passports in hand *see blog on this. We take a minibus up the mountain to view the caves and the monkeys. If it wasn’t so hot, the ‘fog’ would not have been there and we would have been able to see Africa. Back on our bus and we drive to Mijas. This is  Beautiful town that is all white. We arrive at our hotel in Costa del Sol, Torremolinas. Tomorrow we get to sleep in. HURRAY!

Day Nine-This morning a few of us decide to do laundry, but there was an Optional City Tour of Malaga to visit the Gibralfaro Castle and take in a wine tasting. Tonight’s Optional dinner is  Mediterranean dinner on the beachfront. It is too bad that a “heat fog” made it impossible to even see the water in the daylight.

Day Ten-Today we drive to reach the highest Sierra Nevada and Granada. There is a regular tour of Alahambra fortress and then return to our hotel. We have a dine-about-dinner tonight. (you pick the menu you want).

Day Eleven-We have a nice drive today to Valencia. This is Spain’s most modern city and, believe me, it is beautiful. We had a drive around tour and then we went for dinner downtown (by taxi-4 euro) with about 12 or so of our new friends.

Day Twelve-We now leave Valencia and drive to Peniscola (pronounced Pen ee see cola) a town that was built around a Templar castle on a rock. We have about an hour for lunch and drive north to Cava Bodega  and sample their beautiful cava.(sparkling wine) We should arrive in Barcelona around 4 p.m.

Day Thirteen– The biggest thrill and is an Optional Tour, is to visit the Park Guell by Gaudi and drive by to see the fountain lights at nights. Thousands attend this. this is the 1992 Olympic Venue.

Day Fourteen– This morning there is an Optional tour to Montserrat to see the Black Madonna. Upon their return we take the city tour and go into the Sagrada Familia  basilica. Breathtaking! Tonight is our Celebration dinner where we say goodbye to our new friends.

Day Fifteen– we get to sleep in and most of our friends have departed. In a couple of days, Leg 2 will begin.

Please note: the chronological order of all this is due to the hard work of Elena, our beautiful guide. We only followed her and enjoyed the whole experience.

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