We had a really spectacular week in Southern Spain thanks to our travel agent. We had done enough thinking on what we wanted that we had a pretty long and specific list that needed to accommodate two parents, one 14 year old boy, and an 11 year old girl. Our agent listened to what we asked for and managed to come up with an itinerary that hit all the right notes and made adjustments as needed (including some when we arrived). As a bonus, her itinerary was also reasonably priced (not easy for 8 nights during Holy Week in Spain!). It was the perfect proof of how an individually planned trip can be so much better than a pre-packaged tour.
We got to meet a number of guides over the week, and we enjoyed them all. They were interesting and flexible (if we needed to stop for coffee to combat jet lag or wanted to learn about something specific) and kindly spoke English quite well. In particular, our guide who took us through Granada and our agent who took us around Seville, were exceptional. They were able to connect with all of us well, really knew their stuff, and didn’t get caught up in their ‘spiel’ which we sometimes find tour guides in other places. And we just loved the driver who made getting from city to city so much easier than driving ourselves or taking buses or trains!
My son loved seeing some of the places where Season 5 of Game of Thrones was filmed (Osuna – off the beaten path – and the Alcazar of Seville which is definitely on the usual path) and a day in Zahara that allowed us to linger late in bed and then hike up to the old fortress tower at our own oace. My daughter loved that our agent managed to get us to be able to see so many cool things in the limited amount of time we had. My husband loved the dinners at the hotel in Zahara and the deep dives into history that we got on all of our stops.
I really loved seeing the variety of geography and cultures that makes/made up Andalusia. Our very first day found us at an Olive Oil mill with our agent, herself, showing us around and letting us taste the oils. I will never think of oil the same way again! The Islamic influence in architecture was like nothing we find elsewhere in European travel and beyond beautiful. The Catholic dominance in the region made Holy Week put our past experiences with Easter to shame. And every one of our hotels was exactly what we asked for: charming, in great locations, and complete with wifi. I particularly loved our hotel in Seville which was an amazing collection of old homes filled with beautiful decorations and furnishings but updated facilities.
None of us can think of anything much we would do differently. Probably find a way to have a longer trip so we could have included Toledo, Morocco, and Lisbon.
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