Fantastic trip, beautifully organized. This travel company took our bare-bones specifications (contemporary art, architecture, food, and music) and created a trip that felt truly personalized including intimate experiences we could never have arranged on our own. Hotels were ideally situated in each city we visited, with the boutique-style charm and service we were looking for. Guides were uniformly excellent, and even the drivers were reliably good company (relying on their good English skills, since we are typical uni-lingual Americans). All supporting materials were nicely organized both before the trip and on arrival, including itinerary, day-to-day logistics with names & phone numbers for all guides & contact people, city maps, and well-researched restaurant and additional activity recommendations for each location. The office responded immediately to questions during the trip, and exuded a warm friendly attitude from start to finish. We were startled and charmed to discover that our guides had often learned something about our interests and quirks from the office before we ever met.
A trip like this can be pretty pricey, but I believe it makes possible a deeper immersion than you can accomplish handling your own arrangements. Having private guides offers wonderful opportunities for long deep conversations with a variety of local people. The research required to duplicate this itinerary on our own would have been at least a month's full-time work, and even so there were resources (such as specially-qualified art museum guides) that we would have had no way to access.
Highest recommendation for this company.
We had an amazing evening in Sevilla. It started with a visit to the charming and exquisitely appointed home of two men who work as art appraisers and restorers, who brought us into their workshop stuffed with 15th and 16th century paintings and carvings to show us their fascinating techniques, from the secrets revealed by x-ray to chromatographic analysis of materials by "biopsy." Then we were ushered upstairs to meet their friends, a family group of professional flamenco performers. Over drinks and snacks, we were given a private introduction and explanation of the flamenco arts, with spectacular performances of voice, guitar, and dance, including a beautifully poised and talented 10-year-old brother and sister dance duo. We were then shown some palmas technique and simple steps, joined the group for our hilariously inept contributions, and ended with a villancico (joyful Spanish Christmas song) by the professionals and a rusty stab at Silent Night by yours truly. Hugs and kisses all around. We didn't stop saying "wow" for hours. Other high points included the guided tours at the Guggenheim & Reina Sofia, wonderfully-rich day-long discussions of art with two different thoughtful and exceptionally knowledgeable art-history experts; a fun private cooking class and lunch with a professional chef at a San Sebastian gastronomy club; and a happy lazy afternoon of conversation and wine with the winery owner at Descalzos Viejos in Ronda.
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