DAY 1: DEPART USA
We depart USA en route to Madrid with complimentary meals and beverages served aloft.
DAY 2: ARRIVE MADRID: VISIT OF BUEN RETIRO PARK
We arrive this morning in Madrid and are met by our Catholic Travel Centre representative, who will accompany us throughout the tour. After a short orientation tour of the city, we visit Buen Retiro Park, “Park of the Pleasant Retreat”), originally the site of a royal palace from the 17th century. As we stroll around the park’s large lake, we are entertained by street musicians, sidewalk painters, fortune tellers and jugglers. After our visit, we continue to our hotel for dinner and the evening. (D)
DAY 3: MADRID: PRADO & FINCA DOMINIO de VALDEPUSA
Today our city sightseeing tour will take us to the Prado Museum. It features one of the world’s finest collections of European art, from the 12th century through the early 19th century. Later, we visit the bodagas Finca Dominio de Valdepusa, for a tasting of their award winning wines including Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot. We enjoy dinner in the area before returning to Madrid for the evening. (B, D)
DAY 4: MADRID / RUEDA REGION/ LEON
This morning we travel to Rueda, Spain’s unique white wine region. Here we have the opportunity to visit a winery and taste some of the regions outstanding Verdejo or Sauvignon Blanc.
After our visit, we continue our journey to Leon, the capital of the old kingdom bearing its name inserted in the court of arms of Spain. This historical city had its foundation in the year 68 BC when the Romans build a fortified camp with the name of Legio. It is now a wealthy city with wide avenues blending with the half-timbered old city. We see some of the Roman ramparts still evident, but our main focus this afternoon is the Basilica of San Isidoro and its exquisite crypt, the adjoining Royal Pantheon (called the Sistine Chapel of Romanesque art), the Gothic Santa María Cathedral (called Pulchra Leonina) and the Monastery of San Marcos, former home of the Knights of Santiago. Dinner tonight is at our accommodations. (B, D)
DAY 5: LEON / ASTORGA / O CEBREIRO / SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA
We proceed towards Astorga, the capital of a small region called La Maragatería,, dating back to the Roman period when it was called Asturca Augusta. The town was one of the stop-over points along the Way of Saint James. It once held over 25 buildings dedicated to hospitals and albergues (inns), one of them being the hospital de San Juan at the cathedral’s square. We will have time to enjoy walking through this charming town.
We continue our journey towards Santiago de Compostela entering the beautiful green Galicia, stopping over at O Cebreiro, the Medieval (X-XII AD) town was renowned for its Eucharistic Miracle of Body and Blood. This afternoon we continue our pilgrimage on to Santiago de Compostela while we admire the charming Galician countryside. Dinner will be served at our hotel. (B, D)
DAY 6: SANTIAGO: VISIT OF THE SHRINE
We will have our full day at Spain’s Patron Saint’s and the most famous of the Spanish Shrines. The name “Compostela” from the Latin “field of the star” was named after the tradition of St. James (Santiago), the Patron Saint of Spain. This city has been the third major site visited by Christian pilgrims and visitors (after Jerusalem and Rome) and is the present capital of Galicia.
We will delight in our walking tour on labyrinthine cobbled streets today of this medieval city, virtually intact since no man or natural upheavals have produced any damage to the city, a true national monument with its buildings built with the practically indestructible granite stone. We will visit the Plaza del Obradoiro and the great Cathedral that dominates the town. Its main entrance is two stories above the plaza. The statue of St. James smiles benignly down upon the faithful. The towers soar into the sky. The Portico de la Gloria, designed by Maestro Mateo and completed in 1188, is the finest example of Romanesque sculpture.
Inside the Cathedral are more priceless architecture, statues and religious treasures. Behind the silver and gold main altar are the sarcophagi of St. James and two of his disciples. A statue of St. James stands above surrounded by an elaborate display of drapery and sculpture. There will be time to browse through the quaint narrow streets and plazas, admiring such buildings as the Neoclassical Rajoy Palace, now the city hall, the Romanesque Colegio de San Jeronimo, and the utterly stunning Parador de Los Reyes Católicos – all buildings which surround the other three sides of this magnificent plaza. Dinner is at our hotel. (B, D)
DAY 7: SANTIAGO /RIAS BAIXAS /PORTO
This morning we depart Santiago for the Rias Baixas region for a visit to the Galician winery of Bodegas Martín Códax. The winery, one of the regions finest, uses Albarino grapes brought over to Spain by German pilgrims making their way to Santiago de Compostela.
After our visit, we continue on to Porto (Oporto), the home of port wine. After lunch on our own, we visit the old town, the Cathedral, and San Francisco Church. The historic center of town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We’ll have some time to savor some vintage Sandeman or Ferreira Port wines before enjoying dinner at a local restaurant. (B, D)
DAY 8: PORTO / FATIMA: VISIT OF THE SHRINE
This morning, after breakfast, we board our waiting motor coach for our visit of Fatima. Fatima is one of the major Christian pilgrimage centers in all Europe. Yet this shrine is located in a town ironically named after the daughter of Mohammed, Islam’s great prophet. In 1917, the image of the Virgin Mary appeared here to three shepherd children, Francisco and Jacinta Marto and Lucia dos Santos. Sr. Lucia, the last surviving visionary of Fatima, passed away in 2005. We celebrate Mass at the Basilica. We have the option of praying the Stations of the Cross, plus, we have time for our own devotions. Dinner is at our hotel. (B, D)
DAY 9: FATIMA / LISBON
This morning we will join in celebrating Mass at the Little Chapel of the Apparitions. We will also visit the Tombs of Francisco, Jacinto and Sr. Lucia, the Aljustrel where the children lived, and the Valinhos, where Our Lady appeared after the children’s return from prison.
This afternoon, we depart Fatima for Lisbon, where we visit ‘Santo Antonio Da Se’, marking the site where in 1195 St. Anthony of Padua, the patron saint of Portugal, was born. We continue to the Cathedral, housing the Saint’s baptismal font. The balance of the day is ours for browsing and shopping in the enchanting old section of the city. Tonight we gather for a special Farewell dinner. (B, D)
DAY 10: RETURN USA
We transfer to the Lisbon airport for our return flight to the United States. (B)
B= Breakfast L= Lunch D=Dinner
NOTE: While no changes are anticipated, there might be occasions when certain alterations become necessary to this itinerary due to changes in airline schedules or for other reasons. All Masses are subject to final church schedules.