Saturday 18 June Home – Dubai
Late this afternoon, we report to the airport and join the overnight flight to Dubai.
Sunday 19 June Dubai (D)
We arrive in Dubai early this morning and after clearing Customs and Immigration formalities, we are met and transferred to our hotel for a two-night stay. There is time to rest up after the flight until mid-afternoon when we visit the Palm Jumeirah – one of the world’s most daring developments. Jutting out into the Arabian Gulf, this man-made archipelago was built in the shape of a palm tree, with a 3-mile-long trunk and a fan of fronds lined with luxury villas and five-star hotels. From water parks and wildlife encounters to beach clubs and restaurants, there is an array of different activities on offer. One of the first things that strike you when visiting the Palm Jumeirah is its size. This giant archipelago is visible from space and the outer crescent is more than 10 miles long. Afterward, we visit the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world at 160 stories high. We travel to the observation deck which will provide you with a breath-taking unobstructed 360-degree view of the city, desert and ocean. We return to the hotel where we have dinner this evening.
Monday 20 June Dubai (B,D)
This morning we take a sightseeing tour of the city – a fascinating historical excursion which takes you to the magnificent Jumeirah mosque and past modern palaces sprawled along the coast. In Bastakiya, see the old wind-towered houses built by wealthy merchants and the 150-year old Al Fahidi Fort. We continue our journey coach to the gold and spice souks, where we see bustling alleys with the aromas of the numerous spices and dazzling jewellery. Next up, we visit the area of La Mer – a new area nestled between Pearl Jumeira and the upcoming Jumeira Bay. There is time to explore this artsy community and to get some lunch at one of the trendy cafes before we return to the hotel to relax & freshen up prior to our evening activity – a four-wheel drive excursion over rolling dunes deep into the heart of the desert. Watch the sun cast its orange glow over the shimmering sand and enjoy dinner and entertainment under the stars in Bedu tents.
NB: For those who may have been to Dubai previously, there is the opportunity to join a tour to Abu Dhabi today, in place of the arrangements above. Price is available on request.
Tuesday 21 June Dubai – Madrid (B)
A midday transfer to the airport where we join the relatively short flight to Madrid. On arrival in the evening, we are met and transferred to our hotel for a four-night stay.
Wednesday 22 June 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.
Thursday 23 June 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.
Friday 24 June 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).
Saturday 25 June 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.
Sunday 26 June 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.
Monday 27 June 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.
Tuesday 28 June 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.
Wednesday 29 June 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.
Thursday 30 June 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.
Friday 01 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.
Saturday 02 July 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.
Sunday 03 July Regua – Vega de Teron (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.
Monday 04 July 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.
Tuesday 05 July 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.
Wednesday 06 July 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.
Thursday 07 July 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.
Friday 08 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.
Saturday 09 July 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.
Sunday 10 July Lisbon – Seville (B)
Today we head back to Spain, travelling via Faro to Seville for a two night stay.
Monday 11 July 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.
Tuesday 12 July 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.
Wednesday 13 July 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.
Thursday 14 July 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.
Friday 15 July 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.
Saturday 16 July 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.
Sunday 17 July Barcelona (B)
Today is free for independent exploration, shopping or relaxation. Tonight we get together for a final dinner.
Monday 18 July Barcelona – Dubai (B)
Time to farewell Spain this morning as we are transferred to the airport in time to join our early afternoon flight to Dubai. Arrival time is late evening and overnight accommodation is reserved at the airport.
Tuesday 19 July Dubai – Auckland
Time for the last leg of our journey on our flight home.
Wednesday 20 July Auckland
Arrival time is mid-morning.