A very professionally run tour. Passenger’s needs were considered at all times. Tour escort team were excellent.
J Hoff, The Silk Road by Private Train
We depart Australia en route to Madrid. April is the perfect time for our trip, while summer can be unbearable the temperature on our arrival averages around 23 degrees, perfect for embracing the Andalusian outdoors.
We arrive in Madrid around midday and are transferred to the Palacio de los Duques, our home for two nights. The hotel is set in an 1850s era palace that was also once a convent, its large rooms boast spectacular views.
The afternoon is free for exploring the city on your own terms. Take the chance to stretch your legs after our flight and taste the fresh Spanish air. Our hotel is close to the Teatro Opera House, considered to be acoustically in the top five in the world.
Tonight we enjoy a welcome cocktail and dinner at Dos Cielos Madrid, a restaurant operated by the Torres brothers. The brothers, Javier and Sergio, are celebrities in Madrid, having created the television show ‘Torres en la cocina’, or Torres Brothers in the kitchen. This is the second Dos Cielos restaurant they have opened. The first, in Barcelona, boasts one Michelin star.
After breakfast at the hotel, we embark on a private half day discovery of Madrid. We take in the Prado Museum, the main Spanish National Art Museum and the Royal Palace.
Lunch, and the afternoon beyond, is devoted to an extravagant exploration of tapas led by Frank Camorra. Frank, like tapas, has roots in Andalusia, and is the perfect guide for our culinary journey. Tapas originated as simple slices of bread that sherry drinkers used to cover their glasses between sips. Since then, Andalusian creativity has transformed it into a social event replete with flavours and textures. We hop from bar to bar, where Frank orders the house specialties for us. We eat, drink and make merry in the convivial atmosphere as Frank explains each dish. We continue our gastronomic indulgence this evening with a welcome dinner in a private room at Casa Botin, hosted by the owner.
Today a high speed train carries us to Andalusia’s capital, Seville. Upon arrival we enjoy a light lunch at Ena, a celebrated restaurant set in the historic Alfonso XIII hotel. The hotel is our home for four nights, and its food offering makes it a most worthy one. Fronted by celebrated chef Carles Abellan, Ena offers a fantastic selection of aperitifs and tapas. Taking a short walking exploration of historical Seville allows us to appreciate the city’s rich past. Packed with architectural and artistic riches it has been the inspiration for countless classic operas and artworks.
We return to the hotel for a welcome cocktail and dinner at Restaurante San Fernando. Should you be up for classic Sevillian nightlife, Frank will lead you on an evening of flamenco unlike any other. Together with local gypsies who have their finger on the city’s after hours’ pulse, we visit the most authentic flamenco bars in town - this is where the locals gather to listen to beautiful, passionate singing and dance with an abandon you’ll be hard-pressed to find in an ‘official’ performance space.
Our hotel is a food lovers’ paradise but there’s a lot more to see in Seville. After enjoying breakfast you have two Your World experiences to select from.
A private guided walk of the area. Seville is a city of amazing buildings. See the Seville Cathedral in all its gothic glory and the Alcazar of Seville, an iconic Moorish-Renaissance royal palace.
Join Frank on a traditional market tour as he collects ingredients for tonight’s cruise dinner.
For lunch we are guided by Frank to the best tapas bars in Seville and then, in the late afternoon, we have a dinner with a difference. Embarking on a cruise down the Guadalquivir River we enjoy the twilight sights of Seville as Frank and Chef Pesada prepare us a feast. Chef Pesada is a local, authentic chef, whose food creations are out of this world.
This morning, we travel to Córdoba to discover its delights. Córdoba was an important Roman city and a major Islamic centre in the Middle Ages. We see La Mezquita, an immense mosque constructed in AD 784.
Lunch today is at Noor, where the menu features contemporary interpretations of great recipes from the past. It’s a complex project that is cultural as much as it is gastronomic. In charge is Paco Morales, a young chef who has already been awarded a Michelin star.
As we are on a Captain’s Choice journey, we enjoy a private visit to a historic horse farm. The Andalusian horse is majestic, beautiful and elegant. We indulge in a flamenco and horse riding master class before we have dinner at the farm and return to Seville.
This morning, wander around the streets of Seville. Take in the sights and enjoy lunch at a place that takes your eye. Our afternoon and evening’s entertainment is the famous Feria de Sevilla. The fair, or as it is more commonly known, Feria de Abril, is held for six days in April. A visual feast, the fairgrounds see the banks of the Guadalquivir River totally covered with individually decorated marquee tents, known as casetas. These tents usually belong to prominent families, groups of friends and clubs. After sundown they become afterhours nightspots and occupants can be heard celebrating until dawn.
We have a caseta at the festival so you can experience it as the locals do. This evening, dinner is accompanied by a private flamenco performance. We have already experienced the raw passion of a local flamenco bar, and now, we see another, just as impressive side of the art form - one that celebrates breathtaking standards of technique.
We travel from Seville to Jerez this morning. At a traditional fish market, Frank guides us in choosing the freshest ingredients for our feast later this evening. We then visit a local sherry winery. Sherry was named after this town and its significance to the culture cannot be understated. The sherry here is bone dry, crystal clear fino. During festival time, it is drunk with great enthusiasm. Few things can beat sherry as a pre-meal aperitif, and after sampling, we enjoy lunch at the winery.
This afternoon, we check into Hotel Villa Jerez for three nights. The hotel has been exclusively reserved just for us. It is here that the day reaches its high point. Frank takes leave of our company and takes over the hotel’s kitchen, where he conjures for us an exquisite dinner of multiple courses from the ingredients that
we picked earlier this morning.
This morning sees us visit the castle of Sanlúcar de Barrameda, set high above town. Historians believe that Queen Isabella de Castile first glimpsed the sea from its windows. For context, she was married to King Ferdinand. Together, the royal couple would go on to finance Christopher Columbus’ 1492 voyage, leading to the opening up of the New World and Spain’s rise as a superpower. After the castle, we visit a family-run bodega before adjourning for lunch at Aponiente by Angel Leon. Aponiente is one of Spain’s best restaurants and is the bearer of two Michelin stars. Head chef, Angel Leon is known as ‘the chef of the sea’. A firm believer in sustainable eating, he has deliberately eschewed popular, and largely endangered fish in favour of little known species.
We return to Villa Jerez to relax before the night’s dinner, a jamon carving and olive oil tasting with matching wines.
After breakfast at the hotel we spend a full day in Cádiz, an ancient port city. It is known for its 100 watchtowers that were used to spot approaching ships. We visit Tavira Tower or Torre Tavira before enjoying a tapas lunch at Casa Manteca. This Cádiz institution needs to be visited. Absorb the atmosphere, look at the decor and eat wonderful tapas. It may be busy, as it tends to be around festival time, all the better for experiencing the lively atmosphere.
After lunch we enjoy a leisurely stroll around the streets of Cádiz, and end the evening with dinner at a local restaurant with Frank.
Today, we leisurely make our way to Ronda, located in the province of Malaga. On the journey we take in local sites and stop at food stalls. We lunch in Zahara de la Sierra. Perched on a mountain overlooking a valley, the first thing we notice in the town is that the overwhelming majority of buildings are white. It is considered one of the ‘pueblos blancos’ or ‘whitewashed towns’.
Our accommodation for the next two nights is at Molino del Arco, which has been reserved exclusively for us. Set in an 18th century Andalusian farmhouse, it has been owned by the same family since the Spanish Reconquista, and is famed for its sublime dining, which we enjoy at dinner.
A private exploration of Ronda follows breakfast at the hotel. We visit the Ronda bullfighting arena, also known as the Plaza de Toros de Ronda. It is the oldest bullfighting ring in the world, having finished construction in 1785. We call in at the Descalzos Viejos Winery and have lunch here. It is set in a 16th century monastery, converted into a bodega. Following lunch, stroll through the streets of Ronda, do a little shopping, or simply allow its cobblestone alleys and sweeping vistas to charm you.
Later in the day enjoy a cooking master class with Frank at the hotel farm, followed by dinner.
After breakfast we are taken to Málaga where we visit the Castillo de Gibralfaro. A Moorish castle fortress set high above Mount Gibralfaro, it offers incredible views of the region. We lunch in Málaga, indulging in typical ‘espetos’ on the beach. In Málaga an ‘espeto’ refers to fresh cooked fish skewered and cooked over a pit of coals. The only seasoning used is olive oil and sea salt. Made to be eaten with your fingers, it is a quintessential Malagueño eating experience.
We check into the Gran Hotel Miramar, whose deluxe rooms offer views of the Mediterranean Sea. After an afternoon at leisure, a seafood dinner is prepared by Frank, and held at the most appropriate venue possible, the beach.
This morning we take in the sights and sounds of Málaga’s local markets before a visit to the Picasso Museum beckons. Picasso was born here, and the museum, set in the Buenavista Palace, contains 285 works, all donated by members of the Picasso family.
A light tapas lunch follows before we head off to Granada. We check into our historic luxury residence, Parador de Granada, set within a former convent that is part of the Alhambra Palace grounds. This evening, we are treated to a private dinner within its exquisitely atmospheric walls.
There is no building on Earth that comes close to the splendour of the Alhambra Palace. Lace-like carvings line airy corridors, ponds and fountains fill leafy courtyards, and intricate mosaics cover the walls and floors in complicated geometry. Built by the Moorish emirs that once ruled the region, the sprawling complex eventually became the royal court of Ferdinand and Isabella.
We have the rare privilege of a private visit to the palace this morning. After feasting our eyes, we tempt our tastebuds with a light tapas lunch. The afternoon is set aside for relaxation, or to further explore the streets of Granada.
Tonight a special farewell dinner is in store. It will be held at a restaurant of Frank’s choosing.
We breakfast at our hotel and enjoy a late check out before transferring back to Madrid. Along the way we stop in Consuegra for lunch. The town is known for its many windmills, which most famously featured in Cervantes’ Don Quixote. Arriving back in Madrid we check into Palacio de los Duques, our home for one night.
We bid farewell to Spain today. Our trip has been a feast, and we have devoured Andalusia’s culture as much as we have its dazzling cuisine. Due to the difference in time zones, we arrive on Saturday.
Sometimes travelling can be a chore, distracting you from the fascinating places you are in. That’s why everything mundane has been moved behind the scenes. You will never have to carry a map, luggage, small change for tips or bargain for a taxi fare.
There are no hidden costs. Everything is included – flights and other travel arrangements, luxurious accommodation, travel insurance, all dining and drinks, and even sightseeing trips. Even the Your World experiences within your itinerary and internet access when available.
Welcome to your homes away from home. Each one has a certain something that sets it apart from every other residence at its location. Whether for its history, cultural significance or natural setting, we’ve selected only the very best.
This 17th century farmhouse is now a perfect example of genteel country living. While its rooms are true retreats, the real highlight is the wild unmanicured garden with orange, persimmon and almond trees.
This landmark 1926 building has been freshly renovated with no expense spared. In its past life, Ernest Hemingway walked its hallways. Its rooms are elegantly appointed, and we have chosen only the ones facing the beach and the Mediterranean beyond.
It is truly rare experience to spend two nights on the grounds of the Alhambra. After the Reconquista, the Spanish royals commanded that a monastery be built on what was a Nasrid palace. Remains of the palace are preserved in the Nazari Room within our hotel.
Fares include Emirates flights from Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane. Prices from other cities available on request. Per Person, Twin Share.
Solo availability at the above price is limited.
Land Only Guests join the tour in Madrid for dinner on Day 2 and depart Madrid after breakfast on Day 17.