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Proud capital of Spain’s Catalonia province, Barcelona offers an unrivaled blend of historic treasures, cosmopolitan culture, and architectural showpieces, all underlined by a spectacular culinary scene. This is the city of Antoni Gaudí, the modernisme architect whose surreal style changed the cityscape with works like La Sagrada Família Cathedral. This is a famously gracious city where wide, tree-lined boulevards were made for strolling, intimate tapas and wine bars were made for lingering, and richly historic quarters and artistic institutions were made for deep exploring. Immerse yourself in Barcelona and find out what Catalonians are so passionate about.
Board an overnight flight to Barcelona, Spain
Today you’ll board an overnight flight to begin your pre-trip extension in Barcelona.
Welcome to Barcelona!
Arrive this morning in Barcelona, the vibrant capital of Spain’s Catalonia region. If you purchased your airfare from Vantage, a representative will meet you at the airport and assist with the transfer to your hotel. You arrive this evening in time for an orientation walk and dinner at the hotel with your fellow expeditioners.
Walking tour of Barcelona
This morning you'll embark on a panoramic city tour that spotlights highlights such as the port and Olympic Village, the beaches of Barceloneta, the Plaza de España, and the Gran Vía. You’ll also see the exterior of the surreal La Sagrada Família basilica, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the modernist masterpiece of Antoni Gaudí, the visionary architect responsible for much of Barcelona’s design profile. Individual tickets with audioguides will be provided to you, alongside ample time to explore all areas of this masterpiece. Lunch is at a local restaurant, followed by an afternoon at leisure.
You'll definitely want to explore more of Barcelona, and few cities match it for the sheer pleasure of its strolls. Las Ramblas is ideal for walking, a generous and lovely pedestrian zone of street performers and boutique shops stretching from Plaça de Catalunya to Port Vell. Dinner is on your own tonight, and you’ll want to stop at one of the city’s famed tapas bars. This small-plate experience typifies all that is Barcelona: relaxed, social, and eager to indulge in fine, fresh cuisine.
Exploring Barcelona on your own
Today is free for you to take in the sophisticated culture of Barcelona. You might spend time along the Passieg de Gràcia, the city’s most beautiful street, to explore some of its most notable modernisme structures, three of them located in the “Block of Discord,” so named for the ways in which these buildings shattered artistic conventions of their day. The Casa Batllo is Gaudí’s eerily fascinating “House of Bones.” Next door, the gabled Casa Amatller features Renaissance touches; it was designed for a local chocolatier. And the Casa Lleó Morera is one of the city’s best examples of modernisme architecture for its seamless natural and organic motifs. If you wish, you may join an optional tour to Figueres and its Salvador Dali Museum and Girona, a richly hued pastiche of Gothic churches, medieval walls and modernisme mansions.
Throughout the day, your fellow cruise tour travelers will be arriving. You’ll meet them this evening at a welcome briefing and dinner. Tomorrow, as they acclimate with a city tour, you still have one more included feature of your pre-trip extension to enjoy: your excursion to the magnificent abbey at Montserrat.
Enjoy a full-day motorcoach excursion from Barcelona to the northern Catalonian cities of Figueres and Girona. You’ll visit the landmark Teatre-Museu Dalí in Figueres, the hometown of Salvador Dalí. The famed surrealist artist is buried in the museum, which holds the largest collection of his major works. You’ll also visit Girona and discover its medieval monuments and well-preserved Jewish quarter while on a walking tour of this Roman-founded city. Lunch is included on this tour.
Ascension to a stunning mountain abbey
Leave the city behind today to visit the astonishing Santa Maria de Montserrat Abbey. This Benedictine monastery was founded in the 11th century and is still overseen by some 70 monks. Its setting is as inspiring as its basilica, nestled among the crags of a mountain slope in an otherworldly landscape of dome-like rock formations. You will see the revered Black Virgin in the basilica and have ample time to admire the sweeping views of the Catalonian countryside. Back in Barcelona, you might spend your free afternoon among the greenery of Parc de Montjuic, accessible via an aerial tram from the port. Cultural Discovery: This evening, head out to enjoy a festive flamenco performance, a fiery performance of music and dance by a local troupe.
Tomorrow, you will rejoin your larger base tour group and proceed with Day 4 of your Barcelona-Lisbon cruise tour.
Featuring year-round balmy weather and a trademark fortified wine, the Portuguese island of Madeira boasts a lush beauty that earned its label as the “Floating Garden of the Atlantic.” During your three-day stay in the lovely island capital of Funchal, you’ll enjoy a half-day city tour and immersion into local island life. Peruse the covered market at the edge of the Old Town and visit a local wine cellar where you’ll savor the island’s Madeira wine. You’ll also have the option of an espetada evening complete with dinner and a folklore show, and a chance to explore Madeira’s natural wonders on a botanical garden tour that spans the island. Raise a glass to this oceanic outpost — the perfect complement to your Mediterranean cruise!
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Fly to Madeira, and an orientation walk
This morning, transfer to the airport for your flight to Funchal, historic capital of the lush “Garden Island” of Madeira, Portugal. In the early 1400s, the discovery of the island 323 miles off the coast of Africa was a catalyst for the Age of Discovery. Embark on a short orientation walk alongside your Cruise Director, then enjoy the rest of the day at leisure, perhaps exploring the highlights of this lovely town, including its 15th-century cathedral and the scenic Santa Caterina Park, and stopping at a café to sip some of the island’s eponymous wine.
Tour Madeira’s marketplace and Old Town
Set out this morning for a half-day city tour. Cultural Discovery: Browse the fragrant stands of the marketplace brimming with produce carted in from all over the fertile island and stroll the cobbled lanes of the Old Town. Then ascend to the town of Monte, 1,800 feet above the sea. Splendid views greet you from here, but you might thrill more to the mode of transport you’ll use to return to Funchal: a traditional two-seater wicker toboggan or “basket sled.” A pair of pilots — skilled and expert carreiros — guide you downhill for the steep mile-long journey. Back in the city, head to one of Madeira's oldest wine cellars for a tasting, before enjoying the rest of your afternoon at leisure. This evening, join our lively optional tour, a traditional espetada evening of folklore music and dancing at a local restaurant, or experience more of Funchal on your own with a night at leisure.
Explore Madeira’s lushness on an optional tour
Today’s optional full-day tour provides an overview of this magnificent island’s interior. Admire the blooms at Madeira Botanical Garden and take in the panoramas from the 5,430-foot Pico do Arieiro. Visit a fascinating trout hatchery and the Laurel Forest, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and see the old thatched houses of Santana. Or, craft your own itinerary with a day at leisure.
This day-long tour is a great opportunity to see several faces of Madeira! Your first stop will be at the Botanical Gardens, where you'll have the chance to see examples of the fantastic flora from Madeira (weather permitting). After, you'll climb to the peak of Pico do Arieiro to take in breathtaking views. Then, descend to Ribeiro Frio to visit the trout hatchery, located in a valley amongst lush greenery. Continue your descent to the interior of the island, where you'll enjoy a typical Portuguese lunch. Your tour concludes with visits to Madeira’s Laurisilva laurel forest (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) and the town of Santana, home to old thatched homes.
Head to the Funchal airport for your flight back to the U.S.