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Spain and Portugal

Tour departs: 12 July 2018
Tour length: 32 Days

Spain and Portugal offer a totally different experience from other regions of Europe – from the beauty and grandeur of the Alhambra Palace, the picture-postcard region of the Costa del Sol, the Old Town of Marbella, the magnificent coastline, the pretty fishing villages of Portugal and so much more.

Overview

Tour departs: 12 July 2018.

Tour length: 32 days.

Spain and Portugal offer a totally different experience from other regions of Europe – from the beauty and grandeur of the Alhambra Palace to the contemporary modern design of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, the magnificent coastline, the pretty fishing villages of Portugal and so much more. New for 2018 is our journey through northern Spain with its well preserved medieval villages, picturesque wine regions, the beautiful Bay of Biscay coastline, Basque country and more.  An added highlight is our 7 night river cruise through the spectacular Douro River Valley.

 

Highlights:

Spain

  • Madrid, the majestic Spanish capital
  • Toledo, redolent of the past glories and packed with memorable sights
  • Beachside San Sebastian and Santander
  • Bilbao and the Frank Gehry designed contemporary Guggenheim Museum.
  • Picos de Europa National Park
  • Santiago de Compostela – final stop in the Camino Pilgrimage trail
  • Seville, passionate, romantic, festive
  • Granada, home to the magnificent Moorish Alhambra Palace
  • Barcelona, the Catalonian capital, and home to the architectural works of Gaudi

 

Portugal

  • World Heritage listed Porto – port wine capital of the world with unique Azulejo painted ceramics adorning houses and churches
  • Vila Real and Mateus Palace
  • Historic Coimbra
  • Sintra & Cascais – beautiful coastal towns
  • Lisbon, the stunning capital of Portugal and home to some of the greatest explorers

 

7 Night Douro River Valley Cruise

Sandwiched between our coach touring, we spend seven nights relaxing on board our floating hotel, cruising the World Heritage listed Douro River Valley. Enjoy lovely vistas, grand cities, terraced vineyards and hilltop villages.  Along the way uncover a land of genuine beauty and breathtaking charm; meet warm hearted people, friendly and welcoming with open arms. On board our premium river ship MS Gil Eanes, unwind in your river view stateroom. Take pleasure in the French & European cuisine including French and regional wines and beer and friendly attentive crew. Shore excursions are included during the cruise.

 

Itinerary

Thursday 12 July           Auckland – Hong Kong

Early this afternoon we depart on our flight to Hong Kong.  On arrival in Hong Kong we are met and transferred to our hotel for an overnight stay.


Friday 13 July                Hong Kong – Madrid (B,D)

This morning we enjoy a sightseeing tour of Hong Kong Island including the Peak Tram and Sampan ride at Aberdeen.   The afternoon is at leisure with hotel check out at 6.00 pm.  This evening we enjoy dinner at a local restaurant before transferring to the airport to join the overnight flight to Madrid.


Saturday 14 July            Madrid (D)

On arrival this morning, we are met and transferred to our hotel for a four night stay.  The remainder of the day is free to relax and rest up before meeting for dinner.


Sunday 15 July              Madrid (B)

This morning we enjoy a guided tour of the city, down the tree lined avenues to see the Puerta del Sol, Gran Via, Pasco de La Castellana, Royal Palace, Park Retiro, Cibeles Fountain and the Cervantes Monument in Plaza de Espana.  The afternoon is at leisure.


Monday 16 July             Madrid – Toledo Excursion (B)

Today we spend the day in Toledo.  Enjoy a guided tour through the old town where you will see churches, mosques, synagogues and houses are heaped upon one another in a haphazard, cobblestoned spiral.


Tuesday 17 July             Madrid – El Escorial, Segovia Excursion (B,D)

Today’s excursion takes us to El Escorial Monastery followed by a visit to the Valley Of The Fallen Monument erected in memory of the millions who died in the Spanish Civil War. We learn about Spain’s intriguing history shaped by church, monarchy and 20th century conflict.  Later we visit Segovia, strategically sited on a rocky ridge, it is deeply and haughtily Castilian, with a panoply of squares and mansions from its days of Golden Age grandeur, when it was a royal resort and a base for the Cortes (parliament).


Wednesday 18 July       Madrid – San Sebastian (B,D)

After breakfast, we commence our journey north to San Sebastian.  After settling in to our hotel we have free time to explore or to relax before we enjoy dinner together at a seaside restaurant.


Thursday 19 July           San Sebastian (B)

This morning’s orientation tour will show us the old town – Plaza de Constitucion, San Vicente Church, Basilica of Santa Maria and San Telmo museum.  Free time to further explore – perhaps visit Bahia de la Concha beach or find a shady café for some people watching.


Friday 20 July                San Sebastian – Bilbao – Santander (B,D)

Today we travel the short distance to Bilbao, Spain’s northern city for art and culture.  Following an orientation tour of the city we then visit the famous Frank Gehry designed Guggenheim Museum.  Later, we continue our journey to Santander, capital of the Cantabrian region.


Saturday 21 July            Santander – Oviedo (B)

A full day of touring as we drive through scenic Picos de Europa National Park stopping in the alpine village of Covadonga, continuing on to the coastal city of Gijon followed by our final destination – Oviedo.  The old quarter of Oviedo is pedestrianised with squares and narrow streets, perfect for exploring and enjoying an al fresco dinner.


Sunday 22 July              Oviedo – Santiago de Compostela (B,D)

Today we take the coastal route stopping to visit the Galician town of Betanzos before continuing on to A Coruna – consisting of a modern port on one side of the city and a beach resort on the other.  Look out for the distinctive glass-fronted galleries of the sea-facing buildings, rising six storeys high along the Avenida da Marina in front of the port. They were originally designed so local residents, whose lives were intertwined with the ocean, could watch the activity of the harbour in shelter.  We continue on to Santiago de Compostela for a two night stay.


Monday 23 July             Santiago de Compostela (B)

We have a full day to explore Santiago de Compostela – a world famous pilgrim town and the final destination of the Camino de Santiago – a pilgrim route that starts on the border of France.  Our local guide will show us the sights in the morning with free time in the afternoon.


Tuesday 24 July             Santiago de Compostela – Porto (B,D)

Today we travel to Porto via the coastal city of Vigo.  We board our river cruise ship late afternoon and enjoy a welcome cocktail followed by dinner.  Later we enjoy an orientation tour of Porto.


Wednesday 25 July       Porto (B,L,D)

On our guided tour of Porto we’ll visit the Palácio da Bolsa (Stock Exchange Building), built in 1834 by the city’s Commercial Association. It has remained their headquarters to this day. After climbing up the beautiful granite and marble stairway, we’ll visit the former Tribunal Room, the Golden Room and the Arab Room, decorated in the exotic Moorish Revival style. Afterwards, we’ll visit the Igreja de São Francisco (Church of Saint Francis), also known as the “Golden Church”. It was originally a modest convent founded by Franciscan monks in the 12th century, before being further altered by prominent Porto families in the 15th and 16th centuries. They were responsible for the Baroque style interior which mingles with the large, elaborate rose window in Gothic style on the main façade in a fascinating mixture of styles reflecting the various eras it went through.  We’ll cross the Dom Luis I Bridge again back to Villa Nova de Gaia to visit a wine cellar. Porto’s pride notably stems from its famous wine known the world over, which you will get to taste. We return by coach to the ship.


Thursday 26 July           Porto – Regua (B,L,D)

Today we visit Guimaraes and its medieval centre.


Friday 27 July                Regua – Vega de Terron (B,L,D)

Today we visit Vila Real, where aristocrats built grand palaces during the 16th and 17th centuries. The architecture of the religious buildings is here extremely varied. We’ll take a panoramic tour of the city by coach, followed by a tasting of the local pastry, Cristas de Galo. We will then explore Mateus Palace, the most beautiful and astonishing manor in all of Northern Portugal. This 18th-century beauty is set in a hilly landscape reminding us of Mexico. The subtle mixture of granite, white walls and extravagance from the Age of Enlightenment such as ledges covered in statues and Baroque style pilasters is a striking feature. Behind the manor is a delightful garden with box hedges, more statues, and a spectacular 115-foot cedar tunnel.


Saturday 28 July     Barca D’Alva – Salamanca  (B,L,D)

Today we travel by coach to World Heritage listed Salamanca. We’ll visit the cathedral whose successive extensions created a mixture of styles going from late Gothic to Baroque, including Renaissance. Afterwards, we’ll visit one of the world’s oldest Universities which first opened in 1218. Also known as “Escuelas Mayores”, the University building has a sumptuous gate adorned with the city’s most famous design: a frog atop a skull – symbolic of the sin of lust being punished after death. Its wonderful library brims with old manuscripts dating back from prior to the 19th century. You’ll enjoy lunch and have free time to explore the city before we return by coach to the ship.


Sunday 29 July        Barca D’Alva – Ferradosa – Pinhao (B,L,D)

The morning will be spent cruising.  This afternoon we depart Ferradosa for our excursion along the Porto wine route.

We’ll discover this incredible vineyard extending over 100 km along the Douro river all the way to the Spanish border. We’ll visit San Salvador do Mundo and Sao Joao da Pesqueira, two small towns set among the vineyards in the Rio Torto valley. In Sao Joao da Pesqueira, you will have the opportunity to explore the arcaded main square, the chapel and the white houses with their balconies. You will visit a quinta (wine cellar) to taste the famous Porto. We’ll return to the ship at Pinhao.


Monday 30 July       Pinhao – Porto (B,L,D)

On arrival in Regua we board a coach to Lamego for a guided tour of the city centre both by coach and on foot. Lamego is a charming episcopal and commercial town where you’ll get to discover the Nossa Senhora dos Remedios Sanctuary. This 18th century church stands out with its white façade dominating a baroque staircase with 686 steps ending in a shrine built in the rocaille style and adorned with azulejos. The first stone was laid on February 14th, 1750 and gave way to the construction of a massive temple overlooking the city and providing a breathtaking view over the misty mountains of the surrounding landscape


Tuesday 31 July      Porto – Lisbon (B,D)

We farewell Porto and our river cruise ship and travel by coach to Lisbon stopping in Portugal’s third largest city, Coimbra, birthplace of six of Portugal’s kings and home to one of the oldest universities in Europe. Within the university is the Biblioteca Joanina, a gem of a library with books from the 12th-century. A visit to the University library is included.  We continue on to Lisbon, Portugal’s capital, for a two-night stay.  This evening we enjoy a dinner featuring traditional Portuguese cuisine.


Wednesday 01 August   Lisbon (B)

Our guided tour of Lisbon takes us to the historic district of Belem and the Belem Tower, the traditional starting and ending point of Portuguese voyages of discovery.  We will then visit the magnificent cloister of San Jeronimos built in the early 16th century as a celebration of Portugal’s territorial expansion and an expression of a unique national style.  Later in the day we visit magnificent Sintra and Cascais.


Thursday 02 August                Lisbon – Seville (B)

Today we head back to Spain, travelling via Faro to Seville for a two night stay.


Friday 03 August           Seville (B,D)

We enjoy a guided tour of Seville in the morning followed by a free afternoon. You’ll see Plaza de España and Parque Maria Luisa, Barrrio de Santa Cruz and the famous Alcazar. This evening we get together for a flamenco show including dinner.


Saturday 04 August       Seville – Granada (B)

En route to Granada we stop in Córdoba and enjoy a morning guided tour. You will get a glimpse of this beautiful city by visiting its highlights such as the Roman Bridge, the Mosque Cathedral, the Jewish quarter, Alcazar – to just name a few.  We continue on to Granada for a two night stay.



 Sunday 05 August   Granada (B)

We have a full day exploring Granada – the Cathedral, Royal Chapel and Granada’s amazing parks and gardens. The highlight of today’s tour will be a guided tour through the world famous Alhambra – a palace and fortress that was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984.


Monday 06 August        Granada – Valencia (B)

Today we travel to Valencia.  During our guided tour we see landmarks such as the Cathedral of Santa Maria de Valencia, Parque Natural de Albufela and the old town.


Tuesday 07 August Valencia – Barcelona (B,D)

This morning we travel to Barcelona stopping on the way to visit the ancient Roman city of Tarragona.  Tonight we dine together in the Ramblas district.


Wednesday 08 August            Barcelona (B)

We enjoy a sightseeing tour of Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia and one of Spain’s most spectacular and vibrant cities.  Our tour includes the Gothic Quarter with its magnificent Cathedral and also Gaudi’s Segrada Familia including an inside visit.  We also visit Park Guell.


Thursday 09 August                Barcelona (B)

Today is free for independent exploration, shopping or relaxation.  Tonight we get together for a final dinner.


Friday 10 August           Barcelona – Hong Kong (B)

Enjoy a leisurely breakfast followed by a transfer to the airport for our early afternoon flight to Hong Kong.


Saturday 11 August       Hong Kong – Auckland

We arrive into Hong Kong early morning and have day rooms reserved for rest and relaxation before our overnight flight to Auckland.


Sunday 12 August         Auckland

Arrive late morning.


 

 

 

Map

 

Prices

Tour Costs

Sharing Twin or Double Room and Cabin: $16,995
Supplement for Single Accommodation: $3,750

Costs include
  • Economy class air travel from Auckland.
  • First Class / Superior Grade hotel accommodation
  • Deluxe River View Staterooms on the cruise ship
  • Meals as indicated in the itinerary B = Full Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner
  • First Class air-conditioned coach transportation for all touring
  • Sightseeing and entrance fees as indicated in the itinerary
  • Services of a tour director and local guides for touring and sightseeing
  • All port taxes and tips to crew on the 7 night cruise
  • Tips to local guides and coach drivers
  • Airport and government security taxes
  • Baggage handling of one suitcase per person
  • Fully Escorted by a Maher’s tour escort

Costs exclude
  • Any meals and sightseeing tours not specifically mentioned in the itinerary
  • Travel insurance – advice and assistance offered
  • Items of a personal nature such as room service, drinks, laundry, telephone calls etc

 

Testimonials

The tour itinerary is absolutely excellent, as was our tour leader.  Overall, our expectations on this tour were certainly exceeded.


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