My wife and I took this trip as a slightly delayed 25th wedding anniversary and our hopes for it were met in every possible way. We loved doing the many things we did in the cities we visited - Barcelona, Girona, Seville, Cordoba, Toledo, Madrid - and were delighted as well with adventures that took us slightly off the beaten track - Zuheros, Lucena, Segovia.
Our travel company put together an outstanding itinerary for us. We had several exchanges in the planning stages where our budget, goals, and schedule to map to our interests were refined. Our agent was wonderful to work with. Everything went very smoothly in terms of guided tours, selection of hotels, transfers, time in between for exploring on our own. We felt as if each day was an adventure that kept us busy and focused but not rushed.
Our travel company welcomed us to Spain with a gift at our first hotel check in that was lovely, and which also included all train tickets and useful information on what we should expect. We also appreciated the way in which our itinerary was captured on a mobile phone app which we could check easily. Telephone numbers of contacts made it easy to make sure we were on track in terms of planning and scheduling.
We had some glitches of course - you always do with overseas travel - but they were mainly attributable to our limited understanding of how things run, or what we should have thought of ourselves, not what this company did for us. I truly cannot think of anything negative to say about our experience in working with them.
It's hard to say, because just about every experience was fascinating. We really enjoyed just about everything we did. I will specify three parts of the trip that we enjoyed in particular.
First, the two tours we had in Barcelona were very different but both great. The first one, during the evening of our first day in the country, focused on the cuisine and lifestyle of Barcelona, with a guide who clearly knew the city well and could share some things we would never have even thought to go looking for. The following day, we took a tour of the main attractions of city, as well as one that we chose as a starting point - Torres Bellesguard that got us slightly away from the core urban area. The other stops along the way were the usual places - Park Guell, Sagrada Familia, Gothic Quarter - but it was really wonderful throughout. Our guide was very relaxed and informative, and the only slight problem - not making it in time before the Hospital de Sant Pau closed - was really not a problem. It only meant we had more time for other places to explore!
Second, Seville - really everything about the city was intriguing, and our guided tour of an art restoration studio was really wonderful. After the tour, we had time for a drink and a snack with the people we were meeting and got into a broader discussion of national culture and patronage of the arts. Really fun and a great inside peek into being in the world of Spain.
Third, must be a tie ... Cordoba - a great counterpoint to Seville as the very related but more "serious" city. A different vibe - not quite as colorful and carefree but in some ways more interesting and authentic than Seville. Apart from the fact that the Jewish history there - which we were particularly interested in - is a vibrant symbol of Spain's past, the old city itself seemed more refined and sober - and definitely a little less overrun with tourists! We made plans to leave a little earlier than we hoped, to spend time with friends in Madrid, and that was fine, but it made me wish we have just that much more time the next time we visit. The tie goes to Toledo - we had a fabulous tour guide who was so enthusiastic about sharing his city with us, and so full of interesting things to say about it, that it almost felt like stopping to take photos was detracting from the experience!
There were many other things we enjoyed, but these were just the highlights.
Make it longer! We had to cut a few "must-see" destinations - most notably, perhaps, Granada - because we gave ourselves 10 days in the country. I think a two week trip would have been much better but it did not work out that way, because we had other commitments on both ends of the trip. Also, it was a rather unusual trip for my wife and I in that we gave ourselves a generous budget. It may have been even too generous, because we probably could have got ourselves from point A to point B without some of the pre-arranged transfers, but they were nice to have anyway.
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