When you think of a European vacation, do your thoughts wander to Italy, France or even the United Kingdom? While those destinations all have their appeal, you can find every bit as much adventure, history, glorious scenery and fabulous cuisine in one of Europe's most-often-overlooked travel destinations: Spain.
Families that indulge in a Spain tour can discover the rich culture, breath-taking architecture, stunning natural wonders, and outstanding cuisine of this Mediterranean country - the fifth largest in Europe. A trip to Madrid and Seville is all the sweeter when you travel on a guided family tour - and leave the details and planning to the pros. Tauck Bridges' 'Spain Ole, Ole, Ole' tour encompasses hotels, sight-seeing arrangements, on-tour transportation and special entertainment for one price.
The first three days of the eight-day tour give travelers the opportunity to fully experience the singular architecture, culture and cuisine of Madrid.
Start your Spain tour with a stay in the palace King Alfonso XIII had built in 1912 to host visiting royalty, celebrities and dignitaries - a grand Belle Epoque architectural achievement now known as the Westin Palace Madrid. A welcome reception evokes the glory days of 17th century Spain with music, tales of swashbuckling heroes, costumed actors and troubadours, and of course, delectable regional cuisine.
Activities on the second and third days in Madrid include sights such as the Caixa Forum Museum, a four-story-high vertical garden that clings to the walls of the cultural center. At the Museo del Prado, a kid-friendly guided tour takes in traditional but equally amazing works of art. Children will also relish a stop at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, the soccer stadium that's home to Real Madrid, the most successful team in soccer history. (And during their visit, kids will actually meet a retired Real Madrid player.) A puppet workshop later in the day introduces young travelers to much-loved literary figures like Don Quixote and gives them a chance to make their own puppets. Spend day three like a Madrid native, with a biking tour of Retiro Park, and hot chocolate and churros at the landmark Chocolateria de San Gines.
A high-speed train transports travelers on the next leg of their Spain tour, arriving in Seville, where centuries of Moorish rule have left their mark in ornate architecture. After a barbecue lunch and a walk through the historic district, the day concludes with a hands-on cooking class at Cooking Ole where you'll learn the art of tapas.
You'll revisit Moorish influences with a tour of the Real Alcazar, the oldest palace in Europe still in use by its royal family. Seville's topography is flat, so it's a great city to tour by bike, and visitors can see the Cathedral of Seville, the botanical gardens and fountains of the Giralda and Parque Maria Luisa, and the jaw-dropping architectural wonder of the Metropol Parasol in Encarnacion Square. The largest wooden structure in the world (held together with glue) was built in 2011 to provide shade in a city where it is rare in public spaces.
On the west bank of the Guadalquivir River, which divides Seville in two, the district of Triana is famous for its exquisite ceramics and pottery. Buy a one-of-a-kind work of art or create your own prized piece at a workshop with local artisans. The Spain tour ends with an exclusive farewell evening hosted outside of Seville at the Hacienda El Vizir, a ranch where bulls are raised and horses are trained for the Spanish 'rejoneo' style of bullfighting. Here you'll learn about this variation of the sport, in which horse-mounted matadors vie with powerful bulls.
To learn more about the Ole, Ole, Ole tour or to start planning your Spain tour, visit www.tauck.com.