Day 1 - Thursday, November 09:
Evening departure from Toronto for Paris with Air France. Dinner and a light breakfast will be served on board.
Day 2 - Friday, November 10:
Morning arrival at Paris CDG Airport, and connecting flight to Malaga. Arrival around 1pm, and transfer by private coach to Seville (200km), where we check into a traditional and very comfortable hotel, the Fernando III
. This first-class/four-star hotel is situated in the heart of Seville's old town, the picturesque "Santa Cruz" district, formerly the Jewish Ghetto or "Juderia." In the early evening, a short, leisurely walk through the Santa Cruz District, with sights such as the exquisite little church of Santa Maria La Blanca, a former synagogue, will be followed by a traditional welcome drink of Sangria and dinner in the restaurant of the hotel.
Day 3 - Saturday, November 11:
Morning visits to two of the city’s major attractions. First, the Cathedral, one of the biggest and most beautiful churches in the world; its 98 meter-high bell-tower, the "Giralda," a former minaret, is the city’s most famous landmark, and inside one can admire countless treasures as well as the mausoleum of Christopher Columbus. Afterwards, we visit the Alcazar, a richly decorated medieval castle built in the Moorish style and surrounded by lush gardens, where Columbus is said to have met with the King and Queen of Spain prior to his historical transatlantic voyage. Afternoon at leisure. This evening, dinner in a typical restaurant of the old town.
Day 4 - Sunday, November 12:
After breakfast, we put on our walking shoes for a longish stroll from our hotel to Maria Luisa Park, colourful Plaza de Espana, and the university, formerly a tobacco factory where "Carmen," heroine of Bizet’s homonymous opera, is said to have worked. We also visit Seville’s Archaeological Museum, an impressive treasure chest of artifacts produced by the many civilizations that flourished in Spain during the last three millennia, such as the mysterious Tartessians (whose fabulous ‘Carambolo treasure’ of pure gold is the pride and joy of the museum!), Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Visigoths, and Arabs. In the afternoon we continue our walking tour, focusing on the Arenal District along the banks of the Guadalquivir river, featuring monuments such as the Golden Tower, the Plaza de Toros (bullring), and the Maestranza Theatre. Evening at leisure. There are no bullfights in this season, but it will likely be possible to enjoy a game of one of the city’s two professional soccer teams, Sevilla FC and Betis, who compete with giants such as Real Madrid and FC Barcelona (optional).
Day 5 - Monday, November 13:
Morning sidetrip to the glorious city of Cordoba, once the capital of a mighty Caliphate where Moors, Christians and Jews lived together in peace and produced one of the most brilliant civilizations of the Middle Ages. We visit the world-famous former mosque with its 850 columns, the beautiful orange tree court, and a baroque cathedral planted in the middle of the building! Afterwards, free time to explore old Cordoba and to shop for leather goods, a famous local specialty! Return to Seville and afternoon at leisure. Dinner in the hotel.
Day 6 - Tuesday, November 14:
This morning we motor to the Atlantic coast in the vicinity of the Portuguese border in order to visit the fascinating sites associated with Columbus and his great voyage of discovery in 1492, sites collectively classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site: the Franciscan Monastery of La Rabida
, where Columbus lived and worked for a while; the little seaport of Palos, whence he sailed in August 1492 on his first voyage across the Atlantic; and the huge Monument to the Discoverers in Huelva near the mouth of the Rio Tinto. Lunch – paella, perhaps? - in a local restaurant. In the afternoon we visit the famous sanctuary of Our Lady of El Rocio on our way back to Seville, where we briefly tour the grounds of Expo 1992, organized on the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the discovery of the New World. This evening, en lieu of dinner, you may want to try “grazing,” i.e., going from bar to bar to munch on “tapas,” cold and warm snacks such as stuffed olives, wedges of Spanish omelette, calamari, mussels, cheese of La Mancha, spicy chorizo (sausage), and of course the ubiquitous (and delicious) local ham, known as jamon Iberico!
Day 7 - Wednesday, November 15:
Morning visit to the Museum of Fine Arts, located in a former monastery, featuring masterpieces by artists such as Murillo, Zurbaran, and Goya. The rest of the day is at leisure. You may want to visit the Moorish palace known as "Pilate's House," or perhaps the Hospital of Charity, built by a local nobleman whose life inspired the story of Mozart's "Don Giovanni" opera. This evening, we attend a performance of Flamenco music and dance, a specialty of the south of Spain!
Day 8 - Thursday, November 16:
Full-day excursion to the neighbouring town of Jerez, or "Sherry," as it is known in English. We visit the "bodega" (winery) of the House of Sandeman, where we will learn how the famous local wine is made and of course taste some varieties, some sweet and some very dry! Afterwards we attend the weekly performance of the so-called "dancing horses" of the world-famous Andalusian breed, a show which is just as impressive as that of their Lipizaner cousins of the Spanish Riding School in Vienna. In the afternoon we visit Cadiz, the great seaport situated on a peninsula on the nearby Atlantic coast; founded around 1,000BC by the Phoenicians, Cadiz claims to be the oldest city in Europe, and for many centuries it enjoyed the monopoly of trade between Spain and its possessions in the New World! Short tour of the beaches, harbor, waterfront, and old town, followed by some free time to shop and/or explore on your own. Return to Seville in the early evening for dinner at the hotel.
Day 9 - Friday, November 17:
Departure from Seville after breakfast. We motor south and follow the shores of the Strait of Gibraltar to Spain’s southernmost town, Tarifa, enjoying spectacular views of the Strait and Morocco’s Rif Mountains on the other side, in Africa. Arrival in Gibraltar, and after crossing the spectacular airport runway, we tour this British dependency, with attractions such as the Rock, St, Michael’s Cave, the neighbouring Apes’ Den, the Moorish Castle, and Europa Point, with superb views of the Mediterranean, the Bay and Strait of Gibraltar, and Africa in the distance. Also free time for time for a British-style pub lunch and/or some shopping. In late afternoon we continue along the Costa del Sol to the famous resort of Torremolinos, for a final group dinner and overnight in the first-class/4-star seafront Hotel Meliá Costa del Sol.
Day 10 - Saturday, November 18:
After an early breakfast, transfer to Malaga Airport and return flight to Toronto, via Paris CDG, with arrival around 5PM.