- Cordoba: the Mesquita and Judiaria (Jewish quarter)
- Granada: the gorgeous Alhambra palace and gardens
- Views of the Sierra Nevada, olive orchards, Andalusian villages
- Flamenco dancing, Andalusian guitar music, bull-fighting
- The lively ambiance of Andalusian street life
- The food: acorn fed jamon serrano, locally-produced olive oil, sherry wine and tapas.
Day 1: Seville to Carmona.
We meet in Seville, the flamboyant capital of flamenco dancing and home to the Moorish style Alcazar palace and gardens. Make sure you arrive in plenty of time to fully experience this wonderful city. We transfer to the historic Alcazar de la Reina hotel in nearby Carmona for a short briefing session and to fit our bikes. Then we'll take a loop ride together to get accustomed to our saddles. Once back in Carmona, the local medieval monuments await us or we can wander the labyrinthic streets and rest in the square over tapas (savory snacks) and drinks. Fun-filled welcome dinner this evening. Distance: loop of 12.5 miles/20 km.
Day 2: Cordoba.
We'll roll through the dappled shade of the Sierra de Hornachuelos Natural Park and visit the impenetrable castle of Almodovar del Rio, a fine example of Moorish architecture, jutting out from the landscape. Our destination is Cordoba, the ancient Moorish city famous for its 1200 year old Mezquita (mosque) and surrounding Jewish quarter. Tonight we stay in the NH Amistad Cordoba near the Moorish wall. Distance: 35 miles or 45 miles/57 km or 73 km.
Day 3: Cordoba.
Today is free day to roam around Cordoba, visit the impressive mosque and to peek into all the lovely flower-filled courtyard patios. And for those who are interested, we've planned our March tour to coincide with the impressive Semana Santa Procession and our May tour with the Festival de los Patios. Discover the rich history and culture behind this UNESCO World Heritage Site. The shorter Andalucian tour begins today.
Day 4: Baeza.
We cycle through the flat countryside today past the Sierra Morena. After a relaxing day we'll stop in the World Heritage Site of Baeza and rest in the aristocratic splendor of the historic Palacio de los Salcedos. This Renaissance-Gothic building from the 16th century is one of the town's most important and emblematic buildings and has been lovingly restored so that it can offer its guests all the modern comforts of today, while retaining its original character and charm. At night, do as the Spaniards do and enjoy a drink in the square, after dinner. Distance: 33.5 m or 86 m/54 km or 139 km.
Day 5: Zagrilla.
From Jaen, the capital of Spain's olive growing region, we'll trace the original route of the olive train ("via verde del tren del aceite") through endless olive groves dotted with wildflowers and occasionally past a typical white-washed Andalucian village. We'll admire the wild eagles and scenery of Sierra Subética Natural Park and make stops in such unspoiled villages as Cabra and Carabuey. Tonight we rest our heads in Zagrilla, a charming hotel built to replicate a typical Andalucian village. Distance: 33 m or 43 m/53 or 70 km.
Day 6: Zagrilla.
It will be easy pedaling today on a loop ride to further explore the gorgeous Sierra Subética Natural Park and cycle by the watchtowers that made the borders of the Al-Andalus. We will very likely will have a chance to visit a traditional olive oil production facility and do some flavorful olive oil tasting. Distance: vary depending on alternative loop (average: 30 m/48 km).
Day 7: Montefrio.
Our reward for overcoming today's challenging climb is to arrive at Montefrio, a picturesque 5000 year old village replete with traditional charm, far off the region's beaten path. Nestled in rolling hills of olive orchards, its unique wedged shape is renowned in Spain. From a cliff overlooking the village there is spectacular view of the silhouette of its beautiful Gothic church rising above. It sat on the border of the Al Andaluz kingdom when the Moors dominated Southern Iberia. Its crumbling walls were the Moor's last useless attempt to fend off the Catholic armies of Isabel and Ferdinand. Throughout history, the town was a home to Romans, Visigoths and Moors. Dinner with the group. Distance: 25.5 m/41 km.
Day 8: Granada.
What a cycling day to finish the tour route: exciting and lovely! As we cruise on our bicycles through the Andalusian countryside we'll have splendid views of the Sierra Nevada mountains towering in the distance. Once we reach the glorious city of Granada, we'll make a heart-pumping climb up to the absolutely amazing Alhambra Palace, our fabulous hotel. Hurrah! We made it!
Granada itself is a World Heritage site, beautiful beyond description, and must be seen to be believed. We've already reserved our tickets for a visit to the ornate Alhambra Palace, a sublime example of Moorish architecture and landscaping. You will never forget this place. Come evening, we'll share the week's highlights with the group over an emotional farewell dinner. Distance: 35 m/56 km.
Day 9: Granada.
Transfer to the Granada train station or airport, in the morning, for those not visiting the Alhambra Gardens. On this last day of our tour, we'll visit the Alhambra and the Generalife garden (designed to resemble the Koran's description of heaven) and then you're free to explore the labyrinth streets of the Moorish quarter or just relax and observe modern day Spanish life.
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