Grand Tour of Spain & Portugal

What our previous travellers have to say about this tour

"We cannot say where our favourite place was on this tour as the entire trip and it excellent itinerary was ‘Jaw Dropping’ from beginning to end!"

Ms Rees


Mr & Mrs Rees

"The Grand tour of Spain and Portugal was our third holiday with Leger. A friend and myself chose this particular trip because of the variety and outstanding itinerary on offer, to be precise I had never visited Granada before and to have the opportunity of seeing and visiting the Moorish Palace of Alhambra was very high on my ‘Bucket List’, coupled with this neither of us had ever visited Madrid, Toledo and the cities of Castile, i.e. Avila and Segovia – historical cities, each one harboring a vast wealth of interesting facts, figures and architecture.


To actually see and visit all of these wonderful places and not forgetting the impressive Sierra Nevada had to be our choice for 2014.
Our Holiday began in Portsmouth where we boarded Brittany ferries for the twenty-four hour crossing to Santander. A delay on the part of the ferry company meant that our arrival in Santander was later than scheduled, yet despite that everyone on the coach was in good spirits. The following day our coach drivers allowed us an extra few hours to have a lie in before embarking on our next stop which was Salamanca. This overnight stop gave us the opportunity to appreciate the beautiful surroundings of this historic university city. Our departure from the charming place saw us heading south into Portugal for a two night stay. One of our coach drivers, Ray acted as a guide and being familiar with Lisbon he was able to point out and direct us to many points of interest, which in themselves were not particularly on the tourist trail. We left Lisbon bathed in glorious sunshine as we headed for Seville, our home for the next two days. However, before arriving in Seville a brief stop was made at a very pretty Moorish hill top town of Evora. From here we made our way to Seville and although a few of us had visited Seville before, the guided tour did not disappoint.

At this stage and even through everything up until this point had been outstanding we were only one day away from what I felt was going to be the jewel in the crown- Granada and the Alhambra. This certainly did not disappoint either. The skyline made up of the Sierra Nevada served as a backdrop to this beautiful city and its enchanting palace – The Alhambra. The guided tour of the Palace is a must. Likewise and to really capture the beauty of this city, Ray our driver did an optional tour (extra to the official itinerary). After evening dinner to see the Alhambra at night – Exquisite does not even begin to describe what we saw.

Leaving Grenada with the snow-capped Sierra Nevada in the distance is a sight that I shall never forget.
Our next stop was Toledo, followed by three nights in Madrid and then to Avila and Segovia. It is difficult to describe succinctly the beauty and the magnificence of these cities, particularly Avila and Segovia, suffice to say that both of these are world heritage sites, towards the end of the tour we travelled via the spectacular scenery of the Basque region – absolutely breath taking.

We cannot say where our favourite place was on this tour as the entire trip and it excellent itinerary was ‘Jaw Dropping’ from beginning to end! There were plenty of both included and optional excursions on offer and we would advise to go on everything to really appreciate the tour. This tour was all we expected and much much more. Having travelled with Leger before we thoroughly enjoyed being part of a likeminded group, who all got on well together. 

The hotels that we stayed in, were of a fairly good standard and the facilities available plus the location of the hotels were more than adequate.

Our coach drivers were Ray and Arthur, who were two very different personalities, but both extremely kind, generous, humorous and dependable. Ray had lived in various parts of Spain for many years and as a result was conversant with the roads, short cuts, customs, culture and the language. Being bi-lingual and so familiar with Spain enabled him to point out places of interest which would otherwise be lost to us. Coupled with this and throughout the entire tour ray offered ‘Brucie Bonuses’ which meant when time allowed he took us to see places and sights not mentioned on the official itinerary, such examples were the route of the bull run in Pamplona, an evening of flamenco dancers plus others. His knowledge of Spain was most impressive and we would certainly repeat this trip in the future, especially if Ray and Arthur were our drivers.

The coach itself was always clean and comfortable and we were all exceptionally looked after throughout.
Our advice to others wanting to book this tour, Familiarize yourself with the itinerary beforehand and for sheer spectacular scenery and beauty, diverse cultures and architecture, we felt that the trip could not be improved.


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"It had been a long held wish of my husband to travel around Spain for many years."

Sandra


"We booked for the inaugural tour of Spain and Portugal and looked forward for many months to our holiday. Finally, the day dawned and we were on our way to Portsmouth to board the ferry for the 24 hour crossing of the Bay of Biscay to Santander. We had a very calm crossing, which was much appreciated as we were aware that isn’t always the case. We witnessed shoals of dolphins and also sighted two whales, which accompanied the ferry as we made our way towards Santander.

We received a warm welcome at our hotel in Santander where they provided us with an evening meal and we had drinks in the relaxing atmosphere of the bar before turning in for the night, happy at last to be in Spain.

The next day we boarded the coach and headed for the city of Salamanca. An informative guided tour took us round the charming old city with its sandstone churches and cathedral, new and old universities housing the oldest library in the world and on to the Plaza Mayor with its medallions of famous figures, and also with its many arches and cafes: an extraordinary mix of ancient buildings and current university student life. We boarded the coach again near the old Roman Bridge to travel on for our overnight stay at Salamanca.

During the following days we visited Porto and Lisbon in Portugal and we were impressed by the relaxed and friendly manner of the Portuguese people. We were very happy with our accommodation and meals. We were also moved by the way the local people would not accept any donation from visitors to their local church, which was beautifully tiled inside from floor to ceiling, a sight and atmosphere I will remember for a long time.

En route to Seville the following morning, we called at the ancient hilltop town of Evora, where we spent a few leisurely hours and visited the Temple of Diana, which was constructed in the 1st century AD.

We then went to Seville for a three night stay, a greatly anticipated location for me. The hotel was quite imposing with a Moorish style tiled fountain in the bar/lounge area, very relaxing. Seville made an instant impression as I saw the blossom tree lined river Guadalquivir. We had an informative guided tour of Seville and travelled onwards to the Alcazar Royal Palace, which is a magnificent complex with its Moorish architectural styles and gardens.

We visited the old Jewish Quarter of Barrio Santa Cruz, where the narrow streets open onto squares with cafes, bars and shops. We went into the Bishop’s Palace and the General Archive of the Indies and on to the cathedral. We then had a few hours to enjoy the local cafes and bars before returning to the ‘Golden Town’ to pick up our coach and travel back to our hotel. I almost felt Spanish by this time.

We also visited Cadiz and we were most impressed by the sight of miles and miles, as far as the eye could see, of fields of sunflowers. We had a two night stay in Granada, stopping off at Cordoba on the way. One of the many highlights we will remember is out visit to the Mezquita, which was originally built as a mosque, and was later added onto with a Christian cathedral, a fascinating site, which dates back to the 10th century. Certainly a must-see. From there, we went on to see the Alhambra Palace at Granada.

Next was a three day stay in Madrid. I could have happily stayed in Madrid as I felt completely at home in this city. On our tour of Madrid, we were delighted to have the opportunity to call into the Bernabeu Stadium, home of Real Madrid Football Club, where we went inside into the café overlooking the football pitch and had a baguette and a drink.

We also visited Toledo and Avila, a fortified hilltop town, which was very beautiful in its tranquillity.

Finally, we set off for France on our return journey, staying at Ciboure/St Jean de Luz situated on the east of the Bay of Biscay and a seaside resort for a two night stay. We found a local, rustic café bar with very welcoming proprietors who served traditional food.

The next day we headed for San Sebastian, a fabulous place with a beach at the estuary of the river Urumea, which flows across the city. On one side is the Atlantic coast and the sheltered, shell shaped shore, with the old town and its famous arcaded promenade. It was one of the greatest surprises for me as I had not realised what a lovely city it is.

We then travelled back to Ciboure, where on further exploration we found the quaint old fishing village with its lighthouse, beach and seafront, along with busy restaurants, bars and cafes.

Before long it was time to head for Calais and the journey home, always a bitter sweet moment as another highly enjoyable and informative Leger holiday had been experienced. Over the past few weeks our coach party had bonded extremely well. I was particularly impressed by how informed many of our fellow travellers were about our destinations and how they had prepared so well in advance for their journey. A leaf I will take out of their book!

We experienced very informative excursions and guided tours at the various locations. We were surprised at the vastness and the variance of the arable farming land with little rural population of inland Spain, which was much more verdant that we had expected.

On spending eighteen days in close proximity of thirty eight people, there was a growing closeness and camaraderie as the days progressed, to the extent that whilst in Ciboure, one of our party celebrated her 70th birthday, inviting people to her room for a celebratory drink, which everyone was happy to attend. The camaraderie of the group was engendered by the warm, entertaining and attentive personalities of our coach crew, whose professionalism and attention to detail ensured that we had a fabulous holiday. There were many surprises and highlights of the tour that my husband and I will treasure for many years.



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