Summary : Trace the southern coast of the Iberian Peninsula through the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean. See the tangerine skies of a Rio Tejo sunset and the sparkling daybreak over Barcelona. Thrill to the juxtaposition of the exquisitely ornate interiors of Moorish fortresses (including a life-list visit to the Alhambra), with the gothic peaks of early Christian cathedrals. From the tranquil Algarve village of Alte to the splendors of Seville; experience flamenco, medronho, tapas and Picasso, and the Strait of Gibraltar.
Activities : Birding, Child-Friendly, Culture, Hiking, Kayaking, Photography, Dedicated Solo Cabins
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Arrive in Lisbon and embark the National Geographic Orion. This afternoon enjoy a performance of authentic fado music aboard the ship. Take in splendid sunset views of Portugal’s capital as you set sail. (L,D)
Portimão is your gateway to Portugal’s southernmost province, the Algarve, known for its whitewashed villages, lush farmlands, and remnants of Moorish culture. Travel north to Silves, home to a fortified sandstone castle built by the Moors, and learn about the tradition of harvesting cork oak. Alternatively, explore the sea caves of the Algarvian coast by small boat while savoring a glass of Medronho, a local fruit brandy. Your transport into the Portuguese countryside today will be by off-road jeep, returning by way of small river boats along the Arade River. Keep an eye out for the large stork nests nestled atop cottage chimneys!
Arrive on the shores of Spain. From Cádiz, travel to the graceful Andalusian capital of Seville, where contemporary culture is interwoven with layers of history. In the old city, see one of the world’s largest Gothic cathedrals and the Alcázar palace, where the king and queen of Spain greeted Columbus on his return from the New World. Delve into the art of flamenco during a private performance at the intimate Museo del Baile Flamenco, and perhaps try some classic zapateado (footwork) yourself.
Opt to visit one stop on the famed sherry triangle. Visit a traditional sherry bodega, interesting not only for its extra-aged sherries (20 or more years old), but because it houses the Colección Joaquín Rivera, a private Spanish art collection that includes important works by Goya, Velázquez and Zurbarán.
Stand on deck as you pass the tiny British colony of Gibraltar, which presides over the strait between Spain and Morocco. Enter the Mediterranean Sea on your way to Málaga, the birthplace of Picasso and a gem of a coastal city surrounded by charming Andalusian towns. Explore the city’s artistic treasures on guided visits to the Picasso Museum and Carmen Thyssen Museum; ride along the newly finished bike path hugging beaches and beautiful coastline; or explore the city at your leisure with suggestions from the Onboard Concierge. Gather for dinner at a special wine bar, featuring local Andalusian products. Feeling energetic? Grab a bike and cycle through the natural paradise surrounding Málaga, with a pre-mapped route in hand.
A variety of excursions await today. For a deeply cultural experience, travel into Andalusian countryside past orange groves and olive trees for a specially prepared lunch in the homes of local women. Many of you will want to take the full day to see enchanting Granada, set high in the Sierra Nevada, exploring magnificent Moorish architecture including the 13th-century Alhambra Palace and Genera life gardens. Or, set out for an early morning trek following Mr. Henderson’s Railway to the neighboring city of Ronda, famous for its dramatic escarpments and views, and for the deep El Tajo gorge.
With your naturalists, look for whales and dolphins along the submerged volcanic mountains of the Mazarrón Escarpment. Later, arrive in the deep natural harbor of Cartagena—a historic naval base where Phoenicians, Romans, and Moors all left their mark. Set out on foot to explore the city’s medieval fortresses and modernist houses, or glide along the streets on an electric Segway scooter—for a modern way to see this ancient city! For a striking visual of the times, walk to the lookout at Parque Torres and look down on the ruins of the Roman amphitheater, now placed back-to-back with a modern-day one.
In sunny Valencia, old-world cafés mingle with Gothic cathedrals and futurist architecture. Visit the City of Arts and Sciences, an otherworldly cultural complex designed by native architect Santiago Calatrava. Explore the rich birdlife of Albufera Natural Park, one of the most important wetland areas on the Iberian Peninsula. Enjoy a lunch of traditional paella—Valencia’s signature dish. Hop aboard private fishermen’s boats along the marshy canals of the Albufera Lake ecosystem, where they cultivate rice and harvest shellfish for paella.
Wake up in Barcelona, and have breakfast on board. Disembark the ship and transfer to the airport for your return flight, or remain in Barcelona for an added stay. (B)
This itinerary is subject to change. ExpeditionTrips.com is not responsible for itinerary changes.
Reverse Itinerary (Barcelona to Lisbon): 4/23/2017
Pre- or Post- Trip Extension: Lisbon and the Wild Ribatejo Valley (2 Days).
Discover urban, elegant Lisbon & charming, seldom-visited outlying villages. Please inquire with ExpeditionTrips for details.
Travel with a National Geographic photographer and certified photo instructor—at your side and at your service to inspire and assist you. And, take advantage of talks, presentations, slideshows and “laptop gallery” sharing events. All skill and interest levels are welcome; the expert photographers and instructors can meet you wherever you are on your journey. All you need to participate is a camera— point-and-shoot, smartphone, DSLR, whatever—and a sense of adventure. And you’re sure to return home with amazing photos.
Accommodations aboard ship; meals aboard ship; alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages aboard ship; excursions; special access permits; transfers to and from group flights; use of kayaks; services of expedition leader, National Geographic photographer, naturalist staff and expert guide; services of a ship physician; gratuities; port charges and service taxes. Subject to change without notice.
Air transportation; extensions; passport and visa fees; immigration fees; travel protection plan; items of a personal nature including internet, laundry, etc; fuel surcharge may apply.