Meeting Point GRANADA airport (GRX): arrive between 12.00 - 13.30
Granada - 1492, was almost the end, not the beginning of our story, and although that is where we start our tour, it is like a modern-day novel; we start at the all-too-familiar end and then flashback through several hundred years of history.
Once known as Granada of the Jews, the site of Shmuel HaNagid's Yeshiva is now famous for the incomparably beautiful Moorish Palace of Alhambra, one of the Wonders of the World. It will take a couple of hours to bring us to our hotel, the historic Catalonia Reina Victoria Wellness and Spa Hotel, the best in Ronda.
Ronda – built atop the famous gorge with the river below. Ronda is famed for its beauty, its stunning position and for its bullfighting ring, said to be the oldest in Spain.
Less well-known is the Jewish history about which we'll hear from Pepe, Ronda's #1 legendary guide.
Pepe will gather us after breakfast and bring us back to the hotel for lunch but there will be time to explore the town or have a relaxing massage before we leave.
Time permitting we'll stop on our journey towards Gibraltar in the Old town center of Marbella for a drink in the Plaza di Naranjos.
Cross into Gibraltar: Candles 19.26
"The Rock" is unique and quaintly British, with its tiny but vibrant, extremely influential, totally observant Jewish community. Many guests have asked us to make our Shabbat in "Gib" but only now is there accommodation to suit our most demanding needs, the brand new 5* floating Sunborn Gibraltar Hotel & Casino.
http://www.sunbornhotels.com/gibraltar/ 2 nights
While here, we'll meet members of this influential, totally observant community and gain an insight to Gibraltar from both a historical and a Jewish perspective.
Our tour this morning will include the Jewish cemetery and a visit to the Upper Reserve, home of the famous Gibraltar apes before heading out to Seville. On the way we'll enjoy a LeChaim at the Tio Pepe Sherry winery in Jerez, the home of Sherry Wine.
On arrival at Seville we'll check into the finest hotel in the Iberian Peninsula, the magnificent 5* Alfonso XIII Hotel from which we had to drag our guests screaming last time as they refused to leave......... almost!!
Dinner will be followed by one of the Flamenco shows for which Seville is so famous and a chance to see some of this spectacular town by night.
http://www.hotel-alfonsoxiii-seville.com , 2 nights.
Once the biggest city in all of Europe, Cordoba thrived and expanded with its unique blend of cultures. These are beautifully expressed in the 8th C Mesquita, the most significant Muslim architectural achievement in the Western world. This 8th century structure was a church, then a mosque, and today has a cathedral oddly placed in its center. The so-called Rambam's Shul is a must and a walking tour of the Jewish quarter. Then back to Seville and our gorgeous hotel for dinner.
We'll start the day with a tour of Seville with our local guide. First a panoramic overview, then a walk through the historical, including the Jewish, part of the city.
The imposing Cathedral is one of the largest in the world and the resting place of Spanish Kings and Queens, as well as that of Christopher Columbus, although no one knows if his remains are really there.
Then there is the Alcazar Palace, still used as a residence for the Spanish Royal Family and the grand Plaza Espana, site of the pavilion of the great 1929 exhibition.
Last but not least, we'll visit the Barrio de Santa Cruz - the former Jewish Quarter. Today, it is one of Seville's most charming areas.
After lunch you'll have time for a nap on the bus as we drive via the town of Evora to Lisbon. Evora, as so many other Portuguese towns has Jewish history to offer and we'll take a tour ... and a drink.
By the time we reach Lisbon, Dinner will be ready in our 5* Hotel, the Dom Pedro, where we'll stay for 2 nights: www.dom-pedro-palace-lisbon.com
There is so much to see in Lisbon and we will see as much as possible: Jewish, historical, art and the commercial ups and downs. A tram journey is a must!!
After dinner – we'll again be out "on the town" in Lisbon, hearing of the little-known massacre of 1506.
Sintra - Our first stop as we leave Lisbon is Sintra, a on account of its 19th century architecture and magnificent palaces.
Obidos – Heading north, we visit Obidos, a medieval walled and beautiful village. Lunch will be here too!! Then on to ...
Tomar - Here we begin the story of the rediscovery of the Jews of Portugal. Tomar is home to Portugal's oldest synagogue and the Abraham Zacuto Museum, a national monument.
The Sinagoga de Tomar was built in the mid-15th century. Its short history as a Jewish place of worship came to an end in 1496, when the community was expelled by the Catholic authorities in 1496.
From Tomar it's just an hour's drive to.....
Coimbra -Towards evening we'll reach our hotel in Coimbra, for our welcome dinner.
Hotel Quinta das Lagrimas www.quintadaslagrimas.pt for 4 nights.
This Relais & Chateaux DLX 4 star hotel is one of Portugal's finest and is our home for three nights while we visit the region. The hotel has a huge outdoor pool and a spa with indoor pool. We will put you in the more modern rooms unless you prefer "old".
Coimbra is one of the most ancient university cities in Europe with a richly decorated baroque library that people travel from far and wide to see.
The walls are covered by two storied shelves, in gilded or painted exotic woods; the painted ceilings blend harmoniously with the rest of the decoration. The library contains about 250,000 volumes: works of medicine, geography, history, humanistic studies, science, civil and canonical law, philosophy and theology.
After lunch back at the hotel, you'll be able to choose whether to visit Conimbriga, just 10 miles away. This was an important Roman city that still preserves many not-to-be-missed mosaics. These valuable treasures are displayed in the museum next to the ruins. Alternatively you may choose to enjoy the hotel's facilities or to go back to see some more of Coimbra. If you want a massage ... so don't forget to book it before you go out in the morning!!
Shabbat begins at 18.24
Following a day of praying, walking tours and eating delicious meals prepared by the talented chefs of the hotel's gourmet restaurant, Havdala at 19.25 will be followed by dinner and an evening of "fado", a traditional musical genre of voice accompanied by guitar.
Climbing up from Coimbra we reach the Serra da Estrela Natural Park, in many of whose villages Jews were settled. After visiting Trancoso, we will reach the centre of the "lost tribe" of Belmonte.
The history of this community which survived the inquisition and remained in hiding until discovered in the 1920's is incredible. For only the past 20 years or so, the Jews of Belmonte have been exposed to Judaism as we live it throughout the world and the community in Belmonte, under Rabbinic guidance of Rabbi Salas, through Shavei Yisrael, has become the most active community in Portugal. Many of the members of the community are now leaving to Israel so before long Belmonte will just be a memory.
We say good-bye to Coimbra today, traveling north. Our last stop is Porto. The city's waterfront is a World Heritage site.
The synagogue is unique and we'll hear there the tragic story of Carlos de Barros Basto, Portugal's own Captain Dreyfus.
We'll also take a tour of this lovely city, have a picnic lunch and then bring you to the airport for a 17.10 Iberia flight to Madrid.
There is a Kosher restaurant in Madrid and you can either stay in the airport hotel to catch an early flight home Tuesday or enjoy this fabulous city for a couple of days. If you decide to stay, we will be happy to connect you with a guide to take you to see the famous Synagogues of Toledo and around Madrid itself.