From the first inquiry with our travel designer at this travel company, she took the time to find out what was important to us on the trip, how we liked to travel and what we hoped to see and do. She offered a custom itinerary, which included some items we may not have considered without her guidance. She talked with us several times by phone and helped to ease our pandemic-related concerns (i.e. what’s open, what will be limited etc.).
Due to COVID-19, it took two years for our trip to finally take place and when it did, the designer’s attention to detail was evident. Every transfer, guide, and activity took place without a hitch. She helped us navigate in-transit COVID-19 testing as required by the locations we visited. COVID-19 testing was a small interruption on the days we had to test, but we knew going in it would be worth it to be able to travel again.
The guides were all wonderful and we would specifically mention:
Our guide for pintxos tour and our guide for French Basque and La Rioja with a local tour agency in San Sebastian – both were outstanding
Our guide with a local agency in Porto – excellent recommendations on local restaurants; helped us call the medical center when a COVID test didn’t come back for one member of our group; enthusiastic and genuine; having WiFi in the vehicle was especially helpful in checking COVID results
Our guide with a Lisbon food tour – we’d adopt her if we could (see next question about her tour being a highlight of the trip)
Our guide in Lisbon was amazing for the history buffs in our group
The hotels the designer recommended were all in good locations for walking to the local sites and were exactly what we asked for in terms of having some character (boutique vs. chain).
We would highly recommend the travel designer to others and hope we can use her services again in the future.
Oh goodness. There were so many.Pintxos: The pintxos tour in San Sebastian was a great way to start the trip. Our guide took us to her favorite spots and offered great suggestions about what to order. We were glad about the COVID rules that we had a guide as that made it easy to get into places and skipped past the lines out front. We found getting in to be more difficult when we went back on our own.
Basque Country: The day tour with our guide that took us to different regions of the Basque Country was wonderful. We saw some wonderful places and ate some wonderful food. Andy seemed to quickly figure out what we enjoyed and focused on the small towns, less touristy spots, and local treats.
Grape stomping and local dining: In the Douro Valley, a guide let us know grape stomping was available at one of the locations we were visiting. What fun! We also visited a couple of local (not touristy) restaurants at his recommendation. Remarkable food and experiences that fast became highlights of the trip.
Azores Islands: Timing is everything! We missed the crowds and enjoyed perfect weather. The scenery was stunning. Whale watching was definitely a lifetime memory as we saw nine sperm whales. Never in our wildest dreams did we expect to see one.
Foodie tour: We had never done a foodie tour and so didn’t exactly know what to expect, but our guide far, far exceeded our expectations. The tour perfectly blended the culture of Lisbon with food/drinks. She took us through a neighborhood we likely would never have seen and shared insights about the people. We would adopt our guide!
Lisbon: We don’t typically enjoy large cities, but they are often a necessity as you transit through areas. Lisbon was unexpected and we really enjoyed our time there.
Welcoming: We were so pleased to be welcomed by the locals most everywhere we went. More than once we were told that seeing tourists again is bringing hope that we’re starting to move past the pandemic.
Basque Country: We liked the food so much, we might have enjoyed a cooking class. Would have been nice to get out on the water in San Sebastian.
Azores: We would have spent at least one more day. The jeep tour was a lot of riding and we would have enjoyed more of a mix with some hiking. We never got into any of the towns because we were just too busy.
Sintra and Espelette: Both these towns were a bit disappointing. They were overly touristy and crowded. The surrounding areas were nice so both days were outstanding, but we could have missed those specific towns.
Douro Valley: There appeared to be a mix-up on the start time of our first tour and it was very long (but also very educational). This put us behind schedule the rest of the day. The other locations were accommodating and we may have missed one, but it was a very long day. On the flip side, we got to stop grapes, so definitely not disappointing, but the day seemed less organized than some of the other days.
Each review is written by a verified traveler who was matched by Zicasso to the reviewed agency. Traveler must have purchased and traveled.
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