This company advertises that "it’s all about the PEOPLE; what really counts are the people you encounter, and the genuine experiences you share with them." This exactly describes their approach and the experience I had of the tour they uniquely designed for me and my partner for our 40th anniversary. I gave them a list of my desired destinations and we entered into a phone and email exchange over several weeks to refine a 30 day tour that fitted my budget and my interests. I always felt treated as a person and never as a tourist/ customer.
I did not want an overly structured tour - I wanted plenty of "leisure days" and I wanted to organise my own apartment accommodation in two of the cities in which I was staying for a week. In all the tour comprised 11 guides - one in each city I visited, 4 specialist food tours, and 2 car transfers in Andalusia where public transport was not an option. Our travel company organised guides, special tours, hotels (in historic buildings and including two paradors), car transfers and train travel. In two instances - one an unsatisfactory hotel experience and one where our driver could not reach us because of a half marathon being run in the city on a Sunday morning - they were immediately contactable and sorted out the issues quickly and efficiently. The guides had been advised of our particular interests and tailored their tours to them - they were warm and wonderful people and we felt we were being shown their cities by friends. In sites where the number of tour groups was overwhelming (Segovia, the Alcazar in Seville, Alhambra in Granada, and Mezquita in Cordoba) the guide shepherded us through, skilfully finding more secluded corners, gauging gaps between groups etc. which greatly added to our experience of these "loved to death" destinations.
The app. they use was particularly good - enabling me to easily check the next step of the journey and to message the agency about our progress.
A health condition arose a few months before travel affecting my mobility and stamina. All the guides had been advised of this by the agency and adjusted their tours accordingly - using taxis where possible and allowing for sit-down time.
This was the trip of my dreams. I have never used a travel agent before, having been proud of my own travel planning abilities. But having the guides enabled us to engage more deeply with Spain than we would have had we travelled independently - "to go beyond all the clichés and discover the heart and pulse of both historic and contemporary Spain".
The guides, train travel (Spain has the second most extensive high speed rail network in the world after China), the pintxos tour in San Sebastian, the sherry tour from Seville, the Guggenheim in Bilbao (with personal guide), the Casa Pilatas in Seville, and the St Pau hospital in Barcelona. The hotel in Salamanca was unique and we enjoyed the experience of staying in paradors in Cáceres and Merida. This was an eating tour so those long Spanish lunches starting after 2pm were always bliss.
Delete a couple of destinations in order to stay longer in others - but which ones? Forget about hotel breakfasts and always have breakfast out. Choose some destinations in Spain that have not yet become overwhelmed by tourism. I travelled in October 2017 and Spain was having exceptionally hot and dry weather - I had all the wrong clothes and the shops were only selling winter gear. In Spain the tourist season is now extending from mid March to mid November which doesn't allow much time for off-season travel!
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