We had a really great vacation in spain. We are active group of 4 60 somethings from the US. We selected our itinerary with our Spain travel agent's help. We had 2 wk and we wanted to "see" and "taste" spain.. appreciating its culture, history, art. We wanted a well organized tour, customized around our interests.
We landed in Barcelona, were met w/ our driver at the airport, had guides for walking tours of the cities and 2 for eating tours in Sevilla and San Sebastien. They were wonderful.. informative and an oppty to talk about life in Spain today . We traveled by plane over big distances ( barcelona to grenada; sevilla to bilbao) and train from san sebastian to madrid.. a relaxing 5 hr view of the country . We used audioguides for most museums, but would have preferred a guide especially for the Prado which is enormous and confusing in layout. . The city guides were well educated locals for the most part.. the food guides were especially helpful and fun and let us to tastes and places we could not find on our own. We rented a car to explore the countryside in the north, but it proved to be a very bad idea ( which i take responsiblity for).. GPS was not much help when all the names are foreign and the maps do not extend across borders.. so if you rent a car, bring detailed maps and a navigator ( not the driver). Or get a driver which is what our agent recommended and we declined, thinking it would be a way of saving $$.
Based on our budget we had nice charming hotels centrally located that included breakfast. One meal a day was generally included in very good restaurants that simply brought us food ( we rarely ordered off the menu)The food and wines were excellent..all were unique--in some it was their charm, in others the food and in others the view. We did not have a bad meal in spain.. and when it was less than great, it was usually our doing.
Invariably in a such a trip there are a few mishaps.. but they were addressed by our travel agency's most helpful staff member--- who made himself available full time by cell phone. Our final interary with tickets were to arrive at our first apt .. but were delayed a few days.. Our agent was on it and the courier co. was made aware of the urgency and came thru and no harm or delays resulted
One restaurant misunderstood about our prepaid arrangements, and sat us in their restaurant instead of the bar ( it was supposed to be tapas).. once we paid the bill and i contacted our agent, the restaurant refunded the $$ we paid and accepted the prepaid price and apologized.
The only concern i had up front turned out to be unfounded. I was worried about dealing with a foreign travel company and paying for the trip in cash in full 60 prior . It was helpful to me to talk to another American couple who had just returned from their trip, and they provided the reassurance I needed. We are happy to provide such similar references if needed.
We can't say enough good things about our Spain travel agency.. they read us completely correctly and they delivered on the tour we wanted.. our expectations were exceeded in almost every aspect of the trip and we'd do it again this company.
all of it..
from being met at each airport, having drivers at each transfer point
choice of hotels and restaurants
choice of tours and guides
pacing of schedule very appropriate ( we had to coach the guides that we needed a coffee or water break after 2 hr)
no car in basque country ( or if we did .. have one of the others drive, and i navigate with michelin detail maps , and not rely on gps)..
better would have been a driver for one day to take us around
i wish we could have visited inside the museum at bilbao ( was closed on monday). more so for the building than the art..
i wish i could have got to toledo for a guided tour of the jewish sites/ museum but because of local madrid holiday some of teh museums were closed and they were higher priority and it wasn't possible to get a last minute guide.. no problem we'll be back.
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