This review is long overdue as this agent did such an outstanding job for us!
I wanted to take my wife on the trip of a lifetime as a 50th birthday/cancer free celebration. She had always wanted to visit Spain so I went to work scouring the internet for ideas. Along the way, I found and signed up with Zicasso, who put us in contact with this agent and her travel company. In spite of a 9 hour time difference, our agent reached out to us in less than 24 hours of our signing up and once we e-mailed a couple of times, she called us!
We had very ambitious ideas for our trip and, after a few exchanges, our agent 'guided' us into honing our dream trip down to a manageable, rich and enjoyable excursion. We visited 7 cities, staying in 5 and making day trips to two with many stops between. We experienced a phenomenal sampling of what Spain has to offer from North to South in a logical order and we experienced, sights, life, culture and the hospitality of the Spanish people everywhere we went and our agent stayed in contact throughout to make sure our trip was everything we had hoped for. And it was FIRST CLASS all the way - nothing but 4 and 5 star accommodations, high class, private boutique B&B's and Michelin rated or listed restaurants with walking tours and private guides and town car drivers everywhere we went!
While our trip was certainly not within everyone's budget, for LESS than our drop-dead max budget we were able to enjoy 1st class accommodations, private guides, all rail tickets, museum tickets, private xfers and even an in-country plane trip all for one package price and the guides and town car drivers were just superb - except one (which was a group tour at the Madrid palace our agent tried to talk us out of)! We also received recommendations for top gastronomy spots in every city as well as tour tickets and plenty of time to enjoy all.
In our 12 days there, we ate at 4 restaurants that were either Michelin listed or rated and in Madrid we ate at Botin, the oldest restaurant in the world which has been serving suckling pig since 1725! That was the most expensive meal of our trip and was 119 euros all-in for the two of us which included a 49 euro bottle of wine!
All in all, I'd have to say that regardless of your budget, if you're traveling to Spain, this company is hands down the agency to plan your trip of a lifetime! They can get you the most bang for your buck regardless of your budget. We like to travel 'top shelf' so we only make a trip like this every 2-3 years but when (not if) we return to Spain she'll be the first person we'll reach out to. And we have and would recommend her to ANYONE. If you have a group, her private guides alone are a phenomenal value!
We saw so many sites and met so many people it's hard to say. We loved Madrid, Barcelona and Granada however, Seville was the most charming place we visited and we saw as much as we could in our limited time there and met several locals we enjoyed spending our evenings drinking, eating and laughing with. And the Casa Del Poeta (a converted home in the old Jewish quarter built in the 1700's) was staggering distance from the 2nd oldest bar in Seville (literally 50 meters door to door) and proved to be the most charming boutique hotel we've ever stayed at. We also enjoyed the opulence of the hotel in Madrid, the artisan B&B loft suite at Alquezar with the most spectacular views you can imagine. And then there was the Granada hotel - a living museum that was built as a convent and is now the only hotel actually located inside the Alhambra.
Other highlights includes the Cathedral de Seville, where the remains of Christopher Columbus are interred in a magnificent monument, and visiting the exposition gardens of Seville as well as the Spanish Royal Palace where Game of Thrones happened to be shooting during our visit. The Gaudy buildings of Barcelona, the Jewish quarters of Toledo, Cordoba and Seville were as beautiful as they were sobering. And we learned so much history on this trip as Spain is perhaps the only place on earth where Christians, Jews and Muslims actually coexisted in peace for the better part of a century. Among the more modern enjoyments we experienced were the caves of Granada and the exquisite artisans we found tucked away in the hills, the Sommos winery on the way to Peralada near the French border and the Castel de Peralada. And then there's the food. It was pretty amazing everywhere we went and we tried many new things - but I'd be lying if I didn't say that the jamon Iberico and Spanish olives quickly became the main staples of our diet. But if you go to Madrid, the Botin Restaurant is a MUST! Also, the Michelin listed restaurant in the Parador de Granada is superb!
We particularly loved our private guides and drivers. Each was more charming than the next and they were a huge part of what made our trip so special!
Honestly, we took well over a thousand pictures and packed so many things in our 12 days that this review could just as easily be a masters thesis with a 2-hour video presentation but we think you get the idea from what we've given you here and, suffice it to say, we could have never planned a 1st class, concierge trip like this on our own. From the moment we landed in Madrid and then at every hotel and train station along the way, there was always someone standing there with a sign waiting to swoop us up and take us to the next stop on our journey. We felt like rock stars and my wife got the trip of a lifetime she wanted and more than deserves.
Quite simply, it was the best money I've ever spent on a vacation getaway and we've been on some really good ones!
We would have either eliminated one stop or added two days as you really need 3 days in each of the main cities and some down time at each stop or else you're just riding trains and living out of a travel bag. The first 8 days were perfect in that way but toward the end of our trip we moved so much we were absolutely spent by the time we made it to the airport to go home. In fairness, our agent tried to talk us out of them but we adamantly dug in on a couple of things (lol). In the end she knew we were pushing it but she made sure we made the most of those extra destinations nonetheless - including a private (and I mean just the two of us in the whole facility) tour of the Sommos winery which is the 2nd largest automated winery in the world.
We also would have eliminated Peralada and just gambled in Barcelona. If you're going to Peralada, you need to stay for at least a couple of days at the resort to fully enjoy all that this luxurious 5-star facility has to offer and also, perhaps, take in a concert while you're there. That stop was a 2 hour drive for less than a 12 hour stay and, as mentioned, she tried to guide us away from that leg for this particular trip but we insisted on seeing the casino in a castle - which did not disappoint. It was rather intimate and like something out of a Bond film so we enjoyed what brief time we had there but in the end, we would have preferred more time in either Seville or Barcelona. Also, after you've seen 3 or 4 alquezars, palaces, cathedrals and/or basilicas, you pretty much qualify as a tour guide so we would have opted for some different sights after the first week (although the Catedral de Seville, Alhambra in Granada, Toledo mosque, Gaudy cathedral and alquezar in Alquezar are a must). But the trip was laid out in a historically chronological order so we really came to understand the history of Spain - and that was AWESOME!!
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