Day 1 Wednesday May 8, 2019 Departure
Our holiday begins with our flight to Barcelona, Spain.
Day 2 Thursday May 9, 2019 Barcelona, Spain
This morning we arrive in gorgeous Barcelona, and enjoy a sightseeing tour of the city. Capital of Catalonia, Barcelona is the second-largest city in Spain. We will see the historic cathedral and the beautiful streets of the Gothic Quarter. We visit the modernist Eixample district and see examples of Gaudi’s stunning architecture, including the famous Sagrada Familia. The rest of the day is free for independent sightseeing.
Day 3 Friday May 10, 2019 Barcelona
This morning we travel north to the Costa Brava to visit the Jardi Botanic Mar I Murtra, which was created by Karl Faust. He created several different gardens to house the plants he collected from all over the world. Mar I Murtra is now divided into tropical, temperate and Mediterranean garden areas. In the afternoon, we will travel to visit spectacular Santa Clotilde, a large property built on the site of an old vineyard. It is an Italianate garden in the Renaissance style, where the symmetry of paths, planting and interesting focal points defines the garden. We will enjoy a Welcome Dinner this evening to meet other tour members.
Day 4 Saturday May 11, 2019 Barcelona
This morning we will visit Park Guell, designed by Gaudi, which is a combination of architectural and landscape features with mature and natural looking plantings. Among them is the grand iron-balustrade entrance, with its mosaic tile work on the walls and the imposing staircase dragon. In the afternoon we will travel north-west of the city to visit Parc del Laberint d’Horta, which is a superb example of a restored 18th-century neo-classical garden. The most exciting part of the garden is the maze, which consists of 750 metres of Italian cypresses clipped into linear and curved shapes. There are intricate water courses, woodland and formal gardens.
Day 5 Sunday May 12, 2019 Embarkation
The morning is free for independent sightseeing before we are transferred to the port to board the Celebrity Constellation to start our cruise through the Mediterranean to Venice.
Day 6 Monday May 13, 2019 Monte Carlo, Monaco
We will have a wonderful day on the French Riviera today. We first enjoy a sightseeing tour with a local guide of Monte Carlo, famous for its casino and royal family. We’ll continue our journey with a visit Le Jardin Exotique d’Eze, perched on a high outcrop with the most magnificent views overlooking the sea. This garden, with its wonderful and varied collection of succulents, offers a unique experience, and the little town of Eze is fascinating.
Day 7 Tuesday May 14, 2019 Nice, France
Our ship arrives in the pretty village Villefranche-sur-Mer today. We will enjoy a sightseeing tour with a local guide of the main sights of the French Riviera We first explore Nice’s narrow picturesque streets before driving along the Corniche road, where we have spectacular views of the ocean and cliffs, before we travel the short distance to visit the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild garden. It was laid out at the beginning of the 20th century by Baroness Ephrussi de Rothschild, a member of the wealthy Rothschild family. The garden has been developed as a series of compartments representing different architectural and planting styles and is the ultimate in manicured French exotic style. Later we travel to Menton to visit the garden Clos du Peyronnet, an exceptional garden that combines colour and movement through a play of water staircases, formed by successive ponds, the last step of which is the Mediterranean Sea.
Day 8 Wednesday May 15, 2019 Civitavecchia, Italy
This morning we arrive at Civitavecchia and visit the gorgeous formal gardens of Villa Lante. Geometrically organised on four levels along a main axis, emphasised by fountains, it has perfect symmetry. This is a marvellous Renaissance garden in which murmuring water, flashing fountains, shade and sunlight alternate under vast plane trees. We travel on to the gorgeous town Orvieto. The town enjoys a remarkable site on the top of a volcanic rock. We will enjoy a sightseeing tour and see the Duomo, dating from the 13th century, situated in the Piazza del Duomo; the Palazzo del Popolo, built of volcanic rock and the Piazza della Repubblica, which stands on the site of the ancient forum.
Day 9 Thursday May 16, 2019 At sea
The day is free to enjoy the wonderful facilities of the ship. In the afternoon we will enjoy a Gardening Trivia competition. We will divide the group into teams with prizes for the winning team.
Day 10 Friday May 17, 2019 Messina, Sicily
On disembarking we travel to Taormina. We will visit the medieval centre and see the terrace Piazza IX April, with its views overlooking Mt Etna and the sea. We will visit Torre dell’Orologio, a restored 12th-century clock tower and the famous ancient Greek theatre, founded in the 3rd century BC and rebuilt by the Romans at the end of the 1st century. It is spectacularly sited with views of Mt Etna in the distance. This afternoon we visit Giardino Villa Madonna della Rocca. Laid out at the turn of the century by an Austrian, who was a collector of antique marble, arches and other artefacts, now romantically entwined with creepers.The hanging gardens are steeply terraced and planted with a large variety of species.
Day 11 Saturday May 18, 2019 Corfu, Greece
This morning we arrive in Corfu, the most northern island of the Ionian Group, lying at the entrance of the Adriatic Sea. On our tour today we will visit Corfu Town with its unique architecture influenced by Venetian, French and British occupation. The most notable examples are the Old and New Fortresses (Venetian) as well as the Palace of Saint Michael & Saint George (British) which now houses an impressive Museum of Asiatic Art. We travel out of the town to visit Achilleion Palace, built by Empress of Austria, Elizabeth of Bavaria. The palace was designed with the mythical hero Achilles as its central theme. The gardens on the top of the hill provide a majestic view of the surrounding hills with the Ionian Sea in the background.
Day 12 Sunday May 19, 2019 Kotor, Montenegro
Today we sail up the picturesque Bay of Kotor, a submerged river canyon. The port of Kotor was built by the Republic of Venice and is surrounded by impressive city walls. There are many attractive Venetian buildings in the town. We will have a morning tour to explore this interesting city. The afternoon will be free for individual exploration.
Day 13 Monday May 20, 2019 Zadar, Croatia
Today we visit Zadar, located in central Dalmatia. On our sightseeing tour we will visit the Old Town, paved with gleaming white stone and the straight streets that were first laid out by the Romans. A high wall remains on the harbour side, built by the Venetians in the 16th century, and an entrance gate still sports the Venetian lion. Alfred Hitchcock visited often and it’s been claimed that the birds of Zadar inspired his film. We will also see the famed Museum of Ancient Glass housed in the 19th-century Cosmacendi Palace and National Museum.
Day 14 Tuesday May 21, 2019 Venice, Italy
This morning we disembark the ship and enjoy a sightseeing tour of Venice with a local guide who will introduce you to this fabled city. We visit the iconic Piazza San Marco and its grand cathedral; see the Grand Canal, the Doge’s Palace and learn about Venice’s history and culture. Later we are transferred to our hotel and the rest of the day will be free for independent exploration – perhaps experience a gondola ride or get a bird’s eye view of Venice from one of the bell towers, or just wander the entrancing maze of streets and canals, window-shopping and people-watching. The tour manager will meet those wishing to dine with the group in the lobby this evening, or you may like to take in a concert.
Day 15 Wednesday May 22, 2019 Venice
This morning is spent exploring some of the beautiful hidden gardens of Venice. We meet our guides, members of the Venice Garden Club, who will provide entry to a very special and beautiful private garden.
Day 16 Thursday May 23, 2019 London, England
This morning we are transferred to the airport for our flight to London. On arrival we travel into the city to our hotel. The rest of the day is free for independent sightseeing. The tour manager will meet those wishing to dine with the group in the lobby to go to a nearby restaurant for dinner. Tonight you might like to catch one of the many splendid London shows.
Day 17 Friday May 24, 2019 London
The highlight of our time in London will be our escorted visit to the famous Royal Chelsea Flower Show. It is the summer event in the English horticultural calendar. It boasts about 20 amazing landscaped gardens built by prominent landscapers and more than 500 displays featuring the best flowers, plants and trees, with many new introductions. For gardeners, it is the experience of a lifetime and a highlight of our garden tour.
Day 18 Saturday May 25, 2019 London
This morning we visit Hampton Court Palace and Garden. The Palace is an interesting place to visit to gain insights into the activities of British monarchs from Henry VIII onwards. The garden is most famous for its Great Vine, planted in 1768, which still produces hundreds of Black Hamburg grapes each year. The Pond Gardens offer a magnificent display of bedding plants. The newly-restored Privy Garden of William III is a spectacular example of baroque design, with parterres, cut work, clipped yews and spring and summer displays of 17th-century plants. This evening we will enjoy a farewell dinner with fellow tour members to toast the terrific time we have had on the tour.
Day 19 Sunday May 26, 2019 Departure
This morning is free to explore London as you wish. Mid-afternoon, we visit a private garden in West London. This is a true collectors’ garden, with perennial borders, a knot garden, a bog garden, a conservatory and views to a private park. Later we travel to the airport to board our flight to Australia.
Day 20 Monday May 27, 2019 In flight
Day 21 Tuesday May 28, 2019 Australia
The group arrives in Australia and tour arrangements conclude.