Thursday 05 September Home – Seoul
We depart Auckland Airport mid-morning, arriving in Seoul mid-evening. We are met and transferred to our hotel, where we stay for 3-nights.
Friday 06 September Seoul (B.D)
Our tour today begins at Bukchon Hanok village which literally translates to “northern village,” where many traditional houses operate as cultural centres, guesthouses and restaurants. Then we move to Changdeokgung palace, built in 1405 during the early Joseon Dynasty as the main residence for members of the royal family. Changdeokgung was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in February 1997.
Then, you will visit Seoul’s landmark N Seoul Tower, equipped with observatories and a revolving restaurant for a full 360° view. We will also make a stop at Namdaemun market, located just a few minutes from Seoul’s ancient Namdaemun gate (Sungnyemun or South gate), an open-air market of the same name. It is close to the downtown area, and it boasts the best selection of merchandise in the nation. The market’s history traces back to the Joseon Dynasty, and since then, has become the main place to exchange daily products between urban and rural areas of Korea. We return to our hotel in the afternoon and there is time to rest and relax before dinner this evening.
Saturday 07 September Seoul (B,D)
Todaye we journey to one of the most meaningful tourist destinations in the world at the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) on the border of South and North Korea. First, we visit Imjingak Park where we can see the Bridge of Freedom, used by prisoners of war who were repatriated from the North. Next, head to the 3rd Infiltration Tunnel, an incomplete passage built by North Korea that runs under the Demilitarized Zone. Discovered in 1978, the tunnel passes through bedrock 240 feet (73 m) below ground. Go inside the tunnel on foot. Once you’re back on the surface, we visit the Mount Dora Observatory. In good weather, see all the way to North Korea without using the observatory’s telescope. Look out at the 2.4-mile (4 km) stretch of the DMZ that has divided Korea since 1953. Our last stop will be Unification Village, located near the DMZ in South Korea. Browse a variety of souvenirs and items that reflect the theme of peace and reconciliation. We return to the hotel and the remainder of the day is at leisure.
Sunday 08 September Seoul – Madrid (B)
This morning we check out of our hotel and transfer to the airport where we join the flight to Madrid. On arrival in the evening, we are met and transferred to our hotel for a four-night stay.
Monday 09 September Madrid (B,D)
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 before we meet up for dinner this evening.
Tuesday 10 September 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.
Wednesday 11 September Madrid – El Escorial, Segovia Excursion (B,L)
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).
Thursday 12 September 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.
Friday 13 September 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.
Saturday 14 September 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.
Sunday 15 September 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.
Monday 16 September 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.
Tuesday 17 September 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.
Wednesday 18 September 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.
Thursday 19 September Porto – Regua (B,L,D)
After a buffet breakfast on board, we set off to explore Porto on a guided tour. Here is one of the oldest cities in Europe, whose historic centre is classed as a world heritage site by UNESCO. Unspoilt old quarters, a maze of winding narrow streets, arcaded houses, superb churches and above all, Port wine. In the afternoon, we’ll cruise through the Douro Valley with its fabulous landscapes. Enjoy and evening of dancing or time at leisure in Regua tonight.
Friday 20 September Regua – Vega de Terron (B,L,D)
We enjoy another buffet breakfast on board this morning before we depart for the excursion to Vila Real, a town in which the religious architecture is very varied. We continue sailing into the heart of the vineyards of Porto, past magnificent hillsides covered in trellised vines planted in terraces up to 700m plunging majestically down towards the river. We will go through the locks in Valeira and Pocinho to reach Vega de Terron during the evening. Dinner is followed by a flamenco evening on board.
Saturday 21 September Barca D’Alva – Salamanca (B,L,D)
Today we travel to Salamanca, awarded world heritage status by UNESCO. This town of dazzling beauty houses some extraordinary Romanesque, Arab and Christian architectural treasures. We enjoy lunch in Salamanca before returning to the boat. Dinner is served on board with this evening’s entertainment.
Sunday 22 September Barca D’Alva – Ferradosa – Pinhao (B,L,D)
We depart early this morning following a buffet breakfast on board. Our morning sailing takes us through the locks in Pocinho and Valeira, stopping in Ferradosa around 2.00pm. We then depart on a Wines of Porto excursion, following the road through vineyards and on to Belvadere in the heart of the vines. We then take part in a tasting of the wines of Porto in a Quinta. There will also be time to explore the old station in Pinhao at your own pace, with its splendid azulejos. We join the boat again for dinner and a gala evening.
Monday 23 September Pinhao – Porto (B,L,D)
After our breakfast this morning, 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. This afternoon we continue sailing, passing through a number of large locks before we arrive back in Porto this evening. We enjoy an evening of Fado-themed entertainment.
Tuesday 24 September Porto (B,L,D)
This morning, enjoy time at leisure in Porto. In the afternoon, we travel by coach to Guimarães. Take a guided tour of this university town on foot to discover its historical treasures. Its medieval heart is a labyrinth of lanes and picturesque plazas framed by 14th century edifices. Guimarães’ glory was officially recognized in 2001, when UNESCO declared its old town a World Heritage Site. Because of its role in the foundation of the country, the city is known as the “cradle of the Portuguese nationality”. In 1128, major political and military events that lead to the independence and the birth of the new nation took place in Guimarães. For our final night on board, we enjoy an evening of traditional folk entertainment.
Wednesday 25 September 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.
Thursday 26 September 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.
Friday 27 September Lisbon – Seville (B)
Today we head back to Spain, travelling via Faro to Seville for a two night stay.
Saturday 28 September 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.
Sunday 29 September 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.
Monday 30 September 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.
Tuesday 01 October 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.
Wednesday 02 October 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.
Thursday 03 October 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.
Friday 04 October Barcelona (B)
Today is free for independent exploration, shopping or relaxation. Tonight we get together for a final dinner.
Saturday 05 October Barcelona – Seoul (B)
As our flight departs late-evening, we have time to explore Barcelona further at our leisure. Late afternoon, we are transferred to the airport in time to join our flight to Seoul.
Sunday 06 October Seoul
Arrive Seoul mid-afternoon. After being transferred to our hotel, the rest of the day is at leisure.
Monday 07 October Seoul – Auckland (B)
Morning at leisure until we are transferred to the airport to join the afternoon flight to Auckland.
Tuesday 08 October Arrive Auckland
Arrive Auckland early morning.