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Magical Madrid & Castilian Toledo

Day 1: Madrid:

Bienvenido! Today you arrive at the airport in Madrid, where you will collect your luggage and meet your friendly driver, who will pick you up and whisk you off to your hotel, located in the center of Madrid. Madrid, which has been the capital of Spain since the 14th century, is a hub of art, music, gastronomy and culture. It is a nice combination of old and new. From the oldest quarters between Puerta del Sol and the Royal Palace to the awe-inspiring Prado Museum, Madrid has something to offer everyone. The remainder of the day is on your own to explore. What should you do? Madrid is best explored by foot, winding your way through its narrow streets. Each street seems to lead to some amazing little market, intriguing park or tapas bar. We suggest trying some plates of Manchego cheese, olives and thin slices of Serrano ham with a fine glass or two of Rioja. Be sure to live like a true Madrileno, wandering among the charming cafes and bars this evening. (Overnight Madrid).

Day 2: Madrid:

After enjoying a delicious breakfast, you will meet your charming English-speaking guide, who will take you for a full day tour of Madrid. Dating back to the 9th century, Madrid is a big city made up of little neighborhoods, each with its own personality and of course, its own very special “must see” places. We suggest visiting Palacio, Madrid’s oldest neighborhood and home of the famous Royal Palace, which is located where the Muslims built their defensive fortress in the 9th century. This palace was commissioned by Filipe V, whose grandfather, Louis XIV lived in the Palace at Versailles. Your guide will take you inside, where you will marvel at the magnificence as you learn about the history of the palace and of course, the palace intrigue. Continue on to the La Latina neighborhood, which is the home to some of the city’s oldest buildings. Perhaps you will stop for some tapas along the Cava Baja with its lively bars and restaurants. Be sure to visit the Basilica of San Francisco el Grande, which was built in 1760 on the site of a convent founded by St. Francis of Assisi. Of particular interest is the Goya masterpiece depicting San Bernardino. In the Sol neighborhood, you will explore the Plaza Mayor, one of the largest public squares in all of Europe. The Plaza Mayor has been the scene of bullfights, markets, and during the Spanish Inquisition, even executions! It is now a great place to sit at one of the cafes and people watch while having a drink or a bite to eat. There are also shops to be explored under its porticoes. Your guide will take you to visit the Mercado de San Miguel with its bustling food stands. This is the time to taste some of the local delicacies that Madrid has to offer! (Overnight Madrid)

Day 3: Madrid:

Another day in Madrid! What shall you do? Today would be the perfect day to visit one of many museums that call Madrid their home! A stroll along the Paseo del Prado offers you many museums to choose from.  The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, the Prado Museum and the Reina Sofia are all within walking distance from one another and are in the center of the city. Of course, we can arrange for a private tour with your very own guide who will take you to visit the most important pieces of work in any of these museums. Unique, themed tours can also be arranged. The Thyssen houses what was once the second largest private collection in the world and includes over 1,600 pieces, including Old Masters, early European painting and works by leading Baroque, Rococo and Renaissance painters. The Prado is one of the most visited museums in the world and is home of masterpieces by Carvaggio, El Greco and Bosch. The Reina Sofia is Spain’s home for 20th century art with excellent collections of Picasso and Dali.  If museum-hopping is not appealing to you, we suggest some further discovery of the remarkable city of Madrid! Wander around the streets of Barrio de las Letras, which was a favorite neighborhood of writers during the
Golden Age (16th and 17th centuries) of Spain. The pedestrian only Calle de las Huertas is well worth a visit. Continue on to the Plaza Santa Ana, which was once the heart of the theater district and is now where you can find some great jazz clubs and have a drink at one of Madrid’s most famous cafes, the Cerveceria Alemana. (Overnight Madrid)

Day 4: Toledo:

We have something wonderful planned for you today! This morning you will meet your charming driver/guide, who will take you for the next leg of your adventure- the Castilian city of Toledo! With its winding pedestrian streets and medieval walls, this ancient city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for centuries as a place where Christians, Muslims and Jews lived together and built a dazzling display of churches, mosques, synagogues, palaces and fortresses. Looming over the city, the Alcazar (originally an ancient Moorish fortress) greets you as you enter the city. The imposing fortress dates back to the 10th century it was largely rebuilt after the Spanish Civil War, when the Nationalists held onto the building while under siege by the Republicans. It is now the home of the Military Museum. While in Toledo, you will visit the famous Gothic 13th century Cathedral with its breathtaking sanctuary and beautiful stained glass windows. This is truly one of Spain’s most impressive edifices! Perhaps you will stop for a bite to eat on Calle del Comercio, located near the Plaza de Zocodover. It is lined with cafes, bars and of course, shops! What is your next stop? Perhaps you are interested in a couple of hours in a museum. If so, we suggest that you visit the Museo de Santa Cruz, with its excellent collection of works by El Greco and Goya. The Museo El Greco is also here and of course, his home in the Jewish quarter is open for tours. It is located near the Moorish-influenced El Transito Synagogue, which was built in 1356. The history and variety of architecture in Toledo is awe-inspiring. Worthwhile are visits to the Mosque of Christ of the Light (Mezquita del Cristo de la Luz), nestled above the city’s ramparts (built in 999) and to Castillo de San Servando, perched high above the left bank of the river. Your guide will tailor your tour to your every interest! Return to Madrid in the early evening. (Overnight Madrid)

Day 5:

Depart for Home or Beyond: Say farewell to Madrid this morning. Perhaps you will continue on for more adventures in Spain- we suggest some of the provinces of Southern Spain’s Andalucia region!

If you can dream it, we can make it happen!