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Your coach escapes the city and proceeds to the countryside of central Spain, the West Sierra. Active towns embedded in the mountains of this region are a rustic getaway from populous Madrid capital. This tour brings your group through what could still be the setting of the Madrid of the 15th century and offers you wine from this same era, as one of the destinations is a vineyard of Madrid's best, the Garnacha. But fleeing to the countryside in Madrid isn't just about a travel through the past. The coach tour of this remote region is also a trip to the future.
Your first destination is the Spanish headquarters of NASA's Deep Space Network. A fleet of some of the world's largest radio antennas are scattered amongst the hillsides. Imagine how different the legends of literature would be if Don Quixote encountered these 'giants' instead of windmills. The classic Don Quixote of La Mancha would have quite the sci-fi twist.
NASA Madrid Deep Space Communications Complex, is one of three centres in the world for communications with spacecraft sent by NASA to explore our Solar System; the other two located in Goldstone, California and Canberra, Australia. The two-way communication with these probes is done through radio waves and these gigantic antennas are designed to capture the smallest signals, the ones carrying back to Earth scientific data gathered in experiments performed in space, and to control and command the spacecrafts.
This complex became operational in 1964 during the Space Race between America and Russia. Since then, MDSCC communicates with all NASA manned and robotic spacecraft. The smaller radio antenna you can see from the road is known as DSS-66 and was used for near-earth communications support and the Apollo moon landing missions. The biggest, viewable up close, is a 70 meter diameter antenna and for today tracks and communicates daily with the farthest man-made object, the Voyager 1 spacecraft; 19,139,000,000 km from Earth.
There is an intimate and interesting museum, The Visitors and Training Centre (Open Monday through Friday from 09:00-17:00 and Saturday & Sunday from 10:00-15:00. Free entrance), where you can find space exploration and astronomy exhibitions, all sorts of astronaut gizmos and even a real moon rock. There are video projections of some key missions and has a shop of NASA merchandise. You never thought you could travel to space from Madrid, did you?
In one hour your bus driver will be ready to take you to a travel through space and time to the next stop.
Do you want to know the best thing about a winery being the a destination on any day trip? No matter, sun, rain, snow (here in the Sierra), or season, it is always the best time to visit a bodega. Spring, the vines are barren but this years wine is matured and ready to taste. Summer, the grapes are sweet and changing colour on the vines right before your eyes; and this years wine is only getting better. Autumn, harvest, fresh grape juice, and seeing how it's all done. And winter, the new fresh wine is ready for drinking for the first time, and the brisk weather keeps you bundled inside for plenty of time to do just that.
There are several wineries that you can visit in the surroundings. Historically, the Wines of Madrid, especially those from San Martín de ValdeIglesias, have been royally regarded and have been accordingly named Vino de Reyes, Wine of Kings. This region was chosen by the Cistercian Order in the 12th century to preserve the wine making techniques in its local monasteries during Muslim domination. Since then the vine and wine culture have shaped the landscape and character of San Martín de Valdeiglesias.
Two wineries are recommended in San Martín de Valdeiglesias; choose one, both are outstanding wines. Remember to contact the winery some days in advance to book the visit for your group. The visit is a 2-hour tour through the winery with an expert explaining the secrets of wine making and includes the tasting of the wines they elaborate.
This is a boutique winery that respects the ancient wine making tradition of the region and provides excellent garnachas. The visit cost 5 euro per person.
A family run winery around for almost 100 years, some of their vines older than sixty. Their wines exemplify what Madrid wine making is all about. Strong bright Garnachas from the heights of the mountains to small batch one of a kind whites found only in these hilltops. Taste an Albillo.
From the above mentioned wineries a 20 minute bus drive will get you to your next stop. Make sure to make a reservation for your group as this restaurant can be busy.
The purpose of this afternoon's meal is to mellow the extremes of the day's first two visits and continue to balance the contemporary and old world style of modern day Madrid. El Rondón Restaurant in Cebreros is a hot spot for Spanish country cuisine. The view is vast as you discuss your new knowledge of the universe and continue to enjoy local wine while professional chefs create a seasonal menu that will hopefully lead the next generation into Michelin stardom as El Rondón is also a culinary academy.
After lunch, we recommend you to continue your day and spend the afternoon in the The Royal Site of San Lorenzo de El Escorial (Take a look at Round trip with chartered bus to travel back in time in San Lorenzo El Escorial), 40 minutes drive from Cebreros, El Escorial host the best preserved and most impressive Spanish architecture from the 16th century.
With so much to do, estimate about 3 hours for your group visit to the Monastery of El Escorial and to walk the charming surroundings of the old town. Depending where your hotel is based, stay until at least 19:30 to avoid Madrid’s infamous rush hour. Talk with the driver of your coach about a return time; it takes approximately 1 hour. Discuss this when booking your coach in Madrid.
If you liked this bus tour and plan to organize this or a similar tour in the area of Madrid Province than we advise you to view our list of mini bus and coach hire companies in Madrid . You can also start organizing your Madrid Province bus trip by directly requesting multiple Madrid coach hire quotes so you can compare bus rental options online before booking.