Upon arrival in Nice, France, you'll meet your Tour Manager and enjoy a stroll through one of Frances most renowned flower markets. In the shade of pretty striped awnings, you will see hundreds of flowers and it will be hard to resist the beauty of the multi-colored geraniums, intense mauve fuchsias, dahlias with their anemone-shaped flowers, and the vivid impatiens being sold by the nursery vendors. As you pass by these harmonious floral displays you will be able to breathe in the pleasant fragrances.
Today you'll head to the beach for some sun and swimming and have some time for souvenir shopping in the afternoon.
This afternoon you'll begin your travels to Barcelona.
This morning you'll drive to the stylish city of Aix-en-Provence or just "X" enjoys a wonderful, sunny climate, and its streets and squares are always vibrant and full of life. History is the backdrop to everyday life here: the grace and splendor of Baroque architecture are all around as you stroll through the streets, have fun shopping or relax on a cafe terrace. Here you can see the magnificent cathedral, browse the local markets and visit Cezanne's studio.
This morning you'll visit The Palace of the Popes. It stands as the mighty symbol of the church’s influence throughout the western Christian world in the 14th century. Construction was started in 1335 and completed in less than twenty years under the leadership of two builder popes, Benedict XII and his successor Clement VI. The Popes’ Palace is the biggest Gothic palace in all of Europe (15,000 m2 of floor space, which is the equivalent of 4 Gothic cathedrals).
You will see the Pont du Gard, a a three-level stone aqueduct crossing the Gardon river valley near Avignon. It was built over 2000 years ago, in 19 BC, by Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa, the son-in-law of Augustus. A road bridge was added to the structure in 1743 and used until 1996. In addition to the aqueduct, today the site also has a visitor center and a museum.
This enchanting seaside city is bursting with culture and sites that will captivate you. During your tour of Barcelona, you'll stroll through the winding streets of the Gothic Quarter and see its magnificent Cathedral. You'll experience the vibrant pulse on Las Rambles and you'll learn about the famous architect Gaudi and his influence on the city as you visit the various sites and neighborhoods.
You'll visit the Gaudi masterpiece, the Sagrada Familia. Started in 1882, the gothic inspired church is still under construction yet the world heritage site still stands as one of the most unique churches in the world.
You'll explore the Parc Guell which was originally planned a place to enjoy nature within a housing development. While the development did not happen, the park remains with its hidden sculptures, monuments and fascinating structures throughout.
You'll visit the Catedral de Barcelona, built in the Catalan Gothic style and on the foundations of an early Christian Basilica. Dedicated to the martyr, Saint Eulalia, the cloisters where her body in entombed hosts 13 geese representing the age when she was killed.
To close the day, you'll visit the Barceloneta neighborhood. A maritime residential neighborhood built in the 18th century, "little Barcelona" features miles of sandy beaches, relaxing cafes, world famous sculptures and a boardwalk full of interesting food and sights.
This morning you'll take an exclusive two hour sailing trip with a professional skipper through the Barcelona port and sailing on the open sea. You'll enjoy the fresh sea breeze and the views of Barcelona’s coastline including some of the ports iconic sights such as the Maremagnum, Puerta de Europa bridge, Torre del Reloj tower and views of the Castle of Montjuic.
This afternoon you'll have time to walk down Barcelona's most lively street, Las Ramblas. Filled with street performers and locals, the street is the artistic and cultural heart of the city and ends at the entertainment center, the Barcelona pier where you'll have time to shop and enjoy views of the Mediterranean.
Your excursion this evening will be The Magic Fountain, a spectacular display of color, light, motion, music and water acrobatics. If you mix these elements together in just the right combinations, you end up with pure magic! This is Barcelona's biggest ornamental fountain and it was built in 1929 for the International Exhibition.
Today you'll explore the crooked staircases and curved walls of the Casa Mila designed by Antonio Gaudi. The highlights include the Pedrera apartments with furniture designed by the architect and the uniquely arched roof.
You'll begin your drive to Madrid.
You'll take a train from Madrid to Toledo, and you'll spend the day wandering the historic streets of Toledo, a UNESCO World Heritage site. You will see the intersection of the the three traditional religions in the city through the architecture of the Toledo Cathedral, the Synagogue de El Transito and the Mosque of Cristo de la Luz.
The 13th century cathedral of Santa Maria de Toledo is considered to be one of the foremost examples of Gothic architecture in Spain. The building's highlights, which has undergone many transformations from its foundation as a visgoth church to the city's mosque, include a baroque high alter illuminated by skylights and several paintings by El Greco. You will have an admission ticket to visit the Primate Temple, Chapter House, Treasury and Sacristy, Royal and St. Bias Chapel,Cloister and the Bayeu paintings.
You'll visit the Sinagoga del Transito and see an example of a mix of cultures and examples of Spanish-Jewish art. The synagogue, built in the 14th century, is decorated with Mudéjar elements of geometric and floral motifs and inscriptions in Arabic and Hebrew.
You'll visit the church of Santo Tome, which houses the masterpiece The Burial of Count Ornaz by El Greco.
Today you'll enjoy a guided walking tour to see the most important sites and plazas in Madrid including the Plaza Major, Puerta de Sol, Paseo de Prado, the Royal Theater, San Miguel Market and Santa Cruz.
You'll explore the immense collection of artifacts of the Spanish royal family in the official home of the royals. The Royal Palace is built on the foundations of a 16th century castle and includes intricate baroque decorations, art and sculpture as well as a vast garden.
You'll visit the vibrant sensory experience that is Madrid's central market. You'll have a chance to explore and taste authentic Spanish products and pick up an inexpensive lunch or snack at one of the many stalls.
You'll also discover El Retiro, one of Madrid's largest parks. You'll enjoy a visit to this 350 acre oasis located right near the Prado Museum. Among its architectural, historical, and popular elements are the lake where you can rent a row boat and the Velázquez and Glass palaces, both used today as exhibition halls. There are also many sculpture and formal gardens located throughout the park.
Your European trip comes to a close as you head to the airport for your return trip home.
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