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Barcelona, the self-confident and progressive capital of Spain, is a tremendous place to be. Though it boasts outstanding Gothic and Art Nouveau buildings, and some great museums – most notably those dedicated to Picasso and Catalan art – it is above all a place where there's enjoyment simply in walking the streets, stopping in at bars and cafés, drinking in the atmosphere. A thriving port and the most prosperous commercial centre in Spain, it has a sophistication and cultural dynamism way ahead of the rest of the country. In part this reflects the city's proximity to France, whose influence is apparent in the elegant boulevards and imaginative cooking. But Barcelona has also evolved an individual and eclectic cultural identity, most perfectly and eccentrically expressed in the architecture of Antoni Gaudí. Scattered as Barcelona's main sights may be, the greatest concentration of interest is around the old town (La Ciutat Vella). These cramped streets above the harbor are easily manageable, and far more enjoyable, on foot. Start, as everyone else does, with the Ramblas.
Situated at the Golf du Lion in South France, Sète has been an important port for three hundred years and today is the country’s second busiest port after Marseilles. Upper town straddles the slopes of Mont St. Clair, which overlooks the vast Bassin de Thau, a breeding ground of mussels and oysters. Lower town is intersected by waterways lined with tall terraces and seafood restaurants. Surrounding hills offer great hiking opportunities, and other interesting destinations include the university city of Montpellier and Agde. In Sète, pedestrian streets allow visitors leisurely strolling, and scattered café tables invite visitors to relax, sip an apéritif and people-watch. The sailor’s cemetery located on Mont St. Chair overlooks the harbor. The poet Paul Valéry, a native of Sète, is buried in the cemetery and the town honors him with the Musée Valéry, located across from the cemetery. The museum features a collection of modern French paintings and a room dedicated to singer and songwriter Georges Brassens, born and raised in Sète.
Near this lovely port named for its lavender fields, tour the ancient Provencal village of Bormes les Mimosas, an artist's retreat on a flower-filled hillside.
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Today Spain's major commercial port and naval base, Cartagena lies on the coast of Murcia, its great indented bay guarded by rocky promontories, each topped by a fort. The city contains the remains of old walls, a castle constructed probably in Carthaginian times, and a church that was formerly a 13th-century cathedral. Attractive promenades extend along the harbour, while to the northeast is the famous beach and watersports resort area of the lagoon-like Mar Menor.
Melilla, Spanish Morocco in Northern Africa is still governed by Spain. This fishing village thrives on harvesting anchovies and sardines.
Located beneath the coastal hills of the sun-warmed shores of the Andalusian coast, midway between Malaga and Almeria, ancient Motril is a seaport and thriving beach resort that has drawn Phoenicians, Romans and Moors during its long history. Visit beautiful churches, Carchuna Fortress and the 16th century Casa de la Palma. This Andalusian city is gateway to Granada and the famed Alhambra, located inland at the foothills of the former capital to the Caliphs and Almoravids, which is 40 miles away.
Cadiz is an old city with Andalusian character. The magnificent Baroque cathedral and impressive mansions were built with gold. Cadiz’s modern-day treasure lies 30 minutes to the north in the rolling hills of Jerez - where production of the liquid gold, as the famous sherry is often called, ensures a booming economy. Visit one of the bodegas for a tour and tasting. The Historic City Center of Old Cadiz is a pedestrian zone for a pleasant stroll. The monument to "Las Cortes" is the Spanish Parliament established in Plaza de España. The 18th-century golden-domed Cathedral of Santa Cruz looms over the whitewashed houses. The dazzling interior contains a magnificent collection of sculptures and art objects. The Museum of History features an outstanding model of Cadiz in ivory and mahogany that illustrates what the town looked like at the end of the 18th century. The small, colorful Flower Market offers much local flavor. The Moorish-style Alameda Apodaca Gardens serve as a reminder of the Moors’ occupation in past centuries.
The "Gateway to Africa," located at its northwestern tip, Tangier is a fashionable resort retaining its age-old mystery and excitement. French and Islamic influences meet and merge in this fascinating old city. Mosques and minarets overlook the shadowy streets of the bazaar, while the higher part of town, with its broad boulevards and lovely parks, looks down on the ocean.
Casablanca today boasts one of Africa's largest ports. The Place Mohammed V is the heart of the city; the main boulevards branch out from here. Casablanca is the kingdom's commercial capital; most of the cultural activities are concentrated here, from art galleries to excellent international restaurants. The Hassan II Mosque completed in 1993 is among the largest in the world, boasting the tallest minaret. Casablanca is no doubt Morocco's window on the world and is a fast-paced cosmopolitan city where trends are created and modernism parts company with traditionalism or tries to blend them. Casablanca is one of the world's most interesting and open Muslim cities. Some of the best restaurants are found along Boulevard Mohammed el Hansali and on the way to beach resorts. Casablanca's beaches and exclusive suburb are located to the east of the city along the Boulevard de la Corniche. This is a very trendy area, lined with four-star hotels, restaurants and bars.
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The seaport of the city of Oporto (Porto), Leixoes provides easy access into the city, which is famous for its port wine. Other attractions in Oporto include Torre dos Clérigos, a baroque tower; the two-storied Dom Luis bridge across the Douro River; the Crystal Palace; and the Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art.
Portugal’s capital is an 18th-century city - elegant, open to the sea and carefully planned. Most places of interest are within easy walking distance. Rossio Square, the heart of Lisbon since medieval times, is an ideal place to start exploring. Many rebuilt houses with original façades provide stores and restaurants with modern interiors. High above Baixa is Bairro Alto - with its teeming nightlife. There are many monuments and museums, such as San Jeronimos Monastery, Royal Coach Museum and Gulbenkian Museum. Two well-known landmarks are the Monument to the Discoveries and the Tower of Belem. A statue of Christ looms above Europe’s longest suspension bridge. Madragoa, Bica and Bairro Alto, Lisbon’s older sections, offer a variety of sights: the Church of Sao Roque, with its beautiful tiles; St. George Castle, which offers a splendid view from its location above the Alfama quarter; the botanical gardens, featuring an unusual, cold greenhouse; and the cathedral, stunning with its Moorish design. Renowned Gulbenkian Museum is the cultural center of Portugal.
Itinerary subject to change without notice. Please confirm itinerary at time of booking.
Rates are cruise only, per person, unless otherwise stated, based on double occupancy. Government fees and taxes of $320, transfers, and airfare (unless otherwise stated) additional for all guests. Fuel surcharges may apply. Please ask your travel counselor for details. Rates are subject to availability and may change without notice. Restrictions may apply.
All fares are quoted in US Dollars.
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