Depart the U.S. and travel to Spain. The particulars of your
arrival overseas are detailed with your flight itinerary and airline tickets.
Day 2 - Arrive in Seville
Upon arrival at the Seville Airport (San Pablo Airport),
meet your driver outside the customs area in your arrival terminal. The driver
will be holding a VBT sign. Then transfer by private car or van (approximately
20 minutes) to your hotel in Seville.
The rest of the day is free to settle in, explore the city
and begin your Spain vacation. Choose a Seville restaurant for dinner on your
Please note: If you arrive early, your hotel room may not be
available until 2 p.m. You may store your luggage with the Reception Desk.
There are plenty of things to do in Seville. After enjoying
a wonderful buffet breakfast at the hotel, spend the rest of the day on your
own exploring the capital of Andalusia. Note its unique blend of Roman, Arab
and Christian art and culture as you tour Seville. The very heart of the old
town is the Barrio de Santa Cruz. With its cobblestone streets and small
squares surrounded by white houses, it exudes a distinctly Moorish flavor. This
delightful maze is dominated by the massive, Cathedral of Seville, famed for
its famous La Giralda bell tower, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Another of the
barrio's famous local marvels is the The Alcazar of Seville, the city's old
Moorish Palace. It was developed over the centuries into a unique building with
vaulted rooms, patios and a beautiful garden decorated with fountains and high
palms. Other sights not to be missed during your stay include the beautiful
Plaza de España, the Torre dell'Oro and one of Spain's biggest Plaza de Toros
(bull-fighting rings), a symbol of Spanish culture and tradition. At night, be
sure to indulge in tapas, a meal of bite-sized local delicacies which has made
Seville famous to food-lovers around the world.
Our splendid Seville hotel, Las Casas de la Judería, is
located just a few steps from the walls of the Alcazar. It consists of
beautifully restored, ancient private homes from the 17th and 18th centuries,
all including charming patios, gardens and spring fountains. It's a perfect
place from which to discover this beautiful, lively city! VBT provides you with City Information in
your Final Travel Booklet that includes information and recommendations on what
to see and do in Seville during your stay.
Day 3 - Meet Trip Leaders/Warm-up ride/Welcome reception
VBT No-Air Package guests: Meet your VBT Trip Leaders and
the rest of the group at our Seville Hotel (Las Casas de la Juderia, Plaza
Santa Maria la Blanca, 3 phone +34 95 4415150) at 12:00 noon. Please plan to
have or buy some lunch before meeting your Trip Leaders, who will be wearing
VBT staff garments. If your arrival at the hotel is scheduled later than 12:00
noon, or if you are delayed, you must take a taxi at your own expense
(approximately 100 euros/$150 USD) to Monasterio de San Francisco in Palma del
Rio, about 80 km from Seville). Please contact Hotel Las Casas de la Juderia in
Seville if you experience any travel delays or changes, and the staff will pass
your message on to your VBT Trip Leaders.
VBT Air Package guests & Pre-trip Extension guests: Meet
your VBT Trip Leaders at the Seville hotel at 12:00 noon. Please plan to have
or buy some lunch before meeting your Trip Leaders, who will be wearing VBT
staff garments. From Seville we transfer by private motor coach (approximately
1 hour) to Palma del Rio.
Our hotel in Palma del Rio is Monasterio de San Francisco.
As the name suggests, it was a Franciscan convent built in 1492 by the VII
Señor de Palma's orders. About 20 years ago it was turned into a charming
hotel, which preserves the simplicity and tranquility of a monastery. The
discovery of America is part of the building's history, since the Franciscan
monks based here founded American missions, took the language and customs to
the New World, introduced the famous orange groves in California, and opened
the Mission de Palma del Rio in San Diego. Columbus spent time here before
setting out for his journey, as the monastery was a strategic and powerful
centro de conocimiento, or center of learning and culture, during his time. The
cities of San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego all owe their names to the
monasteries and holy places in this area. Today guests can still drink the orange
juice from the garden's 65 orange trees, some of which are five centuries old.
After settling in to your rooms, join your Trip Leaders for
a safety and bike-fitting session, followed by a warm-up ride in the
surroundings of Palma del Rio. We will be riding on the fertile lowland of the
Tonight, we gather for a welcome reception, including tapas
and sangria, two of Andalusia's regional specialties. We'll learn about the
history of the neighborhood before dinner is served.
Day 4 - Cycle through the Spanish Vega
After breakfast this morning we set out for a bike ride
starting from the green hills of the Sierra de Hornachuelos, a natural park
full of water that feeds the rural and fertile Spanish vega, or vast plain. Our
route along a well-paved road leads us through little white villages like La
Puebla de los Infantes and Penaflor. In Penaflor we stop at a local taverna to
enjoy local specialties. In the afternoon, opt for a shuttle back to the hotel
or continue on a winding route along the Bembezar Canal.
Back at our Monasterio, relax beside the quiet swimming
pool, or take a peaceful stroll through the vegetable gardens. Our Trip Leaders
conduct a short Spanish class to help familiarize you with the local language.
Tonight we walk to dinner to a simple local pena, where
cantaores occasionally play and sing Flamenco. This authentic Spanish
restaurant features black and white pictures of Flamenco singers, a fireplace,
and tasty food like Jamón Ibérico – a regional cured ham cut in thin slices by
Day 5 - Home-hosted picnic lunch with local family
En route to Cordoba today we learn the difference between
the typical farms scattered along our route: fincas, huertas, cortijos and
haciendas. We stop along the way for a picnic lunch at a local cortijo to meet
a local family and owners of a very large estate of 530 hectares.
Later in the afternoon, we arrive at our beautiful and
centrally located 4-star Cordoba hotel. In the 11th century this was the
largest and most cosmopolitan city in Europe. A developed system for running
water and street lights existed, along with vast libraries where Arabic, Latin
and Greek manuscripts were translated. Jews, Muslims and Christians all
coexisted in this cultural crossroads. Exceptional monuments like the Mezquita
of Cordoba are a good representation of the blend of these different cultures.
Famous sons of Cordoba include the philosophers Seneca (Roman), Averroes
(Arabian) and Maimonides (Jewish). Cordoba has been inscribed in the list of
UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 1984.
Our hotel is a few steps from the Mezquita in the charming
Jewish ‘Juderia' district – the very heart of Cordoba. It consists of ancient
private homes from the 17th and 18th centuries, with charming patios and spring
fountains. The property was carefully restored in 2009.
Spend the rest of the evening at your leisure enjoying all
the amenities of your hotel. Dinner is on your own this evening.
Day 6 - Explore Cordoba/Hammam bath and massage
After breakfast we meet our local guide, Imma. With her we
discover what makes Cordoba such an enlightening city, and then we continue to the Mezquita.
Mezquita is the Spanish word for "mosque." This
Roman Catholic cathedral was originally built to be a temple, lighthouse and
warehouse. It later became the second-largest mosque in the world, and is
considered to be one of the most accomplished monuments of the Umayyad dynasty
of Cordoba. It was consecrated as a Christian church after Cordoba was captured
by the Spanish in the 12th century. Cordoba is an excellent place to shop for
pottery, abanijos (fans), cotton and leather goods, embroidered mantillas
(shawls) and wooden crafts. Around the Mezquita we will see the Alcazar de los
Reyes Cristianos and the Archiepiscopal Palais, the Roman Bridge with its 16
arcs spanning over the Guadalquivir River, and the Jewish synagogue built in
1315 in the charming Jewish quarter, La Juderia. For those interested in
bullfighting, you may also wish to visit the Bullfighting Museum.
Take time on your own before meeting our Trip Leaders later
in the afternoon to gather for an ancient local tradition: an Arab bath. The
hammam near the cathedral of Cordoba is a magical place, and one of the
highlights of traveling in Spain. Immerse yourself in its luxurious waters,
followed by a relaxing massage with essential oils.
Tonight, choose a restaurant for dinner on your own in
Cordoba. You might visit a flamenco house in the trendy Paseo Maritimo
district, where you may taste the special local cuisine, such as ragout of lamb
Cordero en Caldereta, or sausages like Morcilla, Cana de Lomo and Salchicon de
Pozo Blanco. Arabian influences can be found in the sweet Alfajores and
Pestinos with almonds and honey.
Day 7 - Ruta del Vino/Cabra/Wine Day
After breakfast, we leave Cordoba and shuttle to the
Cordillera Subbetica and the Ruta del Vino or Wine Road. This hilly region is
covered with olive trees and vineyards, and produces excellent white wines and
olive oils which are exported all over the world. We begin biking from Aguilar
de la Frontera to Moriles, passing typical lagares and bodegas (where wine is
aged but not produced) that sell local wines and goat cheese. One of the most renowned
wines produced in this area is the Pedro-Ximénez sweet wine, particularly
recommended to complement local postres, or desserts. At lunch time we stop at
one of the oldest and most beautiful bodegas of the area and taste four
different wines with our meal.
In the afternoon in Lucena we get on the Via Verde de la
Subbetica, a well-kept bike path built on a former railway road. We will follow
this trail through the end of our trip. Avid cyclists looking for some hills
can opt for a more challenging route. We arrive at our hotel in the afternoon,
where you will have some time to relax by the pool before our cata de aceite or
olive oil tasting, followed by a tour of this historical property and ancient
mill. The property also includes a library and a warm taverna bar. Dinner is
served in the ancient oil press room.
Day 8 - Discover the white village of Zuheros/Olive oil day/Organic meal at
Today we follow the bike path to Luque, passing peaceful
farms, olive groves and lovely views of the surrounding hillsides. As we pedal
along our gently rolling path, keep your eyes open for local wildlife, such as
storks, goats and a variety of birds.
Near Luque we stop at a casa de campo for a picnic lunch
made from local ingredients freshly picked in the garden of our host, Balbino.
After lunch we retrace our way to Cabra on a scenic route,
passing through the quaint white village of Zuheros. Built onto a rocky
promontory, Zuheros is considered one of the most beautiful white villages of
Spain. It is also known for its cheese and olive oil production. In the village
you can purchase many local products made from aceite (oil) and aceitunas
(olives), like soaps.
From Zuheros you can opt for the easy bike path via Verde to
the hotel, or continue on a more challenging, scenic, route.
Back at our hotel enjoy a short cooking class with our
Spanish chef. Learn how to prepare one of Andalusia's seasonal specialties! At
dinner, enjoy the fruits of our labor, as well as many other local specialties.
Day 9 - Transfer to Granada/Included guided visit of the Alhambra Palace /VBT
No-Air Package ends
After breakfast you will transfer by private motor coach
(approximately 2 hours) to the Alhambra Palace in Granada. You will arrive
around 10:40 AM and there meet our local guide who will take you to the Alhambra
Palace for an included visit of the Palace and Generalife Gardens, a UNESCO
World Heritage Sites.
VBT No-Air Package guests:
All luggage will be transferred to the hotel in Granada where
air-package guests will stay overnight. You will have to collect your luggage
from the hotel and continue to your own destination. Important: In order for
you to join the included visit of the Alhambra, your flight from Granada should
not be scheduled to depart earlier than 5:00 PM. If you decide not to join the included tour
of the Alhambra, please keep in mind that flight departures from Granada
airport prior to 2:00 PM are not recommended; if your flight from Granada is
scheduled prior to 2:00 PM you must make transfer arrangements from the last
hotel at your own expense. Taxi cost to Granada airport is approximately 200
euros/$300 USD (travel time approximately 1 hour 45 minutes).
VBT Air Package guests:
After visiting the Alhambra Palace, the rest of the day is yours to
explore. VBT provides you with City Information in your Final Travel Booklet
that includes information and recommendations on what to see and do in Granada
during your stay.
Day 10 - Depart for U.S.
After breakfast* this morning you will transfer to the
Granada airport (approximately 30 minutes) for your departing flight **. Please
ensure that you are ready in the hotel reception area at the designated time.
*Please note: For guests with early-morning departures,
breakfast at the hotel may not be available. Please check with the Front Desk
to verify the times that breakfast is served.
**VBT recommends that you check your transfer time in your
“Transfer Reminder.” VBT transfer times and departure points are finalized in
advance and cannot be modified for individual guests. If you extend your stay
beyond the scheduled program dates, return transportation to the airport will
be at your own expense.