My husband and I are not tour travelers. We picked Amber Roads because they stayed in towns for at least 2 nights, promised small groups, and had no ‘forced’ shopping. All true. We found our group of 10 had similar minds. We enjoyed each others company and learning about our shared interests. The time in each city was very well planned. We arrived late afternoon after a jam-packed day to a great hotel. Bags were either in our rooms or arrived shortly. The first evening was generally free allowing time for us to unpack and explore on our own. Each morning in a new city began with a tour by a well-informed local guide. There was always free time in each city for personal exploration or shopping. I was amazed how seamlessly everything was handled. I needed a trip to the doctor and Sean, our guide went with me to translate the doctor’s evaluation and to make sure that every restaurant prepared the foods that I was suppose to have. Could not have been better. I very much appreciate his attention to detail and my good care. Speaking of Sean, he is a font of knowledge. Any question we had about the history or culture of Spain provided him with an opportunity to impart his vast knowledge. If anything, he killed us with knowledge. As we look at photos and think about all the special things we did–the bull farm, the horse show, the olive making farm, paella cooking lesson, etc., etc., it is a wonder that we did so much. We will have oh so many memories for years to come. If we ever travel to places that we have not seen, there is no question that we would travel with Amber Road again.
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An exceedingly high standard was set with our first evening welcome Tour dinner. We enjoyed absolutely delicious food and excellent wines at a delightful restaurant with a commanding view towards the Alhambra Palace. At sunset, flood lights automatically lit up the Alhambra – what a first class ‘wow’ factor. I said to Sean, the Tour Manager, “I trust that you will maintain this standard.” Sean just smiled and nodded his head.
For the next 12 days, we were spoilt with our centrally located, premier and charming hotel accommodation, yummy traditional Spanish food and wines as well as a wide range of sightseeing and activities. If variety is the spice of life we had a very spicy time as we visited and learnt about historic buildings with layers of history (especially churches, mosques–the Mezquite or Great Mosque was the most memorable-and palaces); admired the Andalucia landscape with its abundance of olive and cork trees; assisted with cooking a Paella dish; admired the energetic Flamenco performances; tasted a range of Sherries; learnt about how olives are processed; enjoyed the “dancing stallions” and visited the oldest bull ring in Spain and a bull farm.
A thank you to Sean, our very competent, organised and personable Tour Manager. His passion for his country was very evident through the range of information he conveyed to us throughout the trip. He looked after us extremely well. We appreciated how he selected interesting coffee stops during our travels, ensure that we sampled authentic tapas at several lunch breaks as well as arranging visits to a range of produce markets. Also a big ‘tick’ to the local guides. They were very knowledgeable, entertaining and easy to listen to.
It was so easy to fall in love with Andalucia. Every day the overwhelming beauty of the landscape, the magnificent architecture, the exquisite archaeological artifacts, the friendly locals, the amazing food and, of course, the wine made the tour an intensely wonderful experience. The local guides and Sean did a fantastic job providing the significant historic details and interesting facts at each location.
A few things really set this tour apart. Everyday there was one or more jaw-dropping sites/venues that literally took your breath away. The sensory overload at times simply left me saying “Wow, unbelievable” or “This is crazy”. In addition, we had the pleasure of Sean’s graciousness, taking us to sites and places beyond the scheduled tours. Sometimes we would just pull off the road to visit a small church or monastery or view some amazing scenery. Of course, he always included food in our adventures whether it was coffee with churros or other regional specialties and always tapas along with a beverage or two. He even seemed to time our arrival in Cordoba so we would be among the hundreds of locals witnessing a beautiful procession with life size images. Talk about full immersion into the culture! Everyone in our wonderful group got caught up in Sean’s contagious enthusiasm, love, and passion for his country and Andalucia. There were so many memorable moments on this tour – from the first night’s dinner overlooking the Alhambra to the last night in Seville listening to a charming trio in a square. Our time together just flew by. This was my second tour with Amber Road but certainly not my last, whether it’s back to Spain or another country. Thanks for a fabulous tour, start to finish.
A very interesting and thoroughly enjoyable tour of Andalucia led by our well informed, thoroughly entertaining and top notch guide Sean. From highlighted and spectacular sights such as the Alhambra in Granada and Cathedral in Seville to less heralded stays in Ronda and Cadiz this tour had an excellent and varied itinerary. The flamenco show, olive oil producer and bull farm provided a perspective of Spanish culture and were also quite interesting. The last section of the ride to the bull farm was a bit bumpy though! Hotels were all good quality and located in central locations for venturing on your own; of which there was a nice balance of free time and included activities. The local guides were all well versed and offered suggestions to enjoy their areas. Included meals were on balance good. Sean also added informal stops that gave us an opportunity of understand the long history of Spain as well as sample the local cuisine. Our fellow travelers were all a pleasure to travel with. We would take this tour again.
What a fantastic tour, start to finish! This was our second time in Spain (Catalonia, 2010) and our third Amber Road tour. We loved Andalucia – Granada, Malaga, Cádiz, Cordoba, Seville, Ronda. So many unique experiences: tours of the Alhambra, cooking paella, central markets, the Equestrian center, bull farm, etc. we’re not sure how our guide, Sean, had such complete control of the weather… nearly two weeks of warm, beautiful, cloudless days!
The local guides ranged from good to fabulous – most were very, very good.
Sean’s guidance of our group was excellent. His range of knowledge of Spanish history, culture, social mores is extensive and his passion for it all gave such energy to every experience. He clearly loves what he does. Not least, his care and concern for everyone in our group was most admirable. Of note, consistently when there was free time he would offer to lead an informal adventure which always led to an opportunity for a glass of wine or beer and more sharing among the group. He set a very high bar for any future tour we may take and we miss his humor and warmth!
This was our second tour with Amber which was just as great as our first in Tuscany. So we can say that all the hotels were well thought out and usually located in the old districts of the cities that we visited. What makes each tour so interesting and exciting is first, Amber’s choice of our tour guide/ administrator, and in this case did Sean ever deliver the goods.Not only does he have the most extensive knowledge of his country, but he also adds a special spice by sharing his opinions which sometimes may be controversial but has the effect of always engaging the group. Often his knowledge surpasses the local guides in each city and would later add more interesting information, especially over a glass of beer and tapas, which was the case everywhere we went. The things we learnt while having a beer was fun, interesting and was instrumental in getting to know more about Spain and the people in our group. For us planning a paella meal for the group on the second day that we were together was pure genius because it was a fantastic way to break the ice (so to speak) and really start to get to interact with each other, including Sean who was the master of this ceremony and right in his element. Another great highlight was the visit to the farm raising bulls for the bullring and learning about this fascinating way of life for many Spaniards. The host made sure that we saw a demonstration up close, and we even were shown a few basic movements by the matador. Leaving for home was an emotional experience, as saying goodbye to our group seems so final. Part of us wants to stay with each other and yet we know it’s time to go back home.
This was my second tour with Amber; the first to Sicily, and both were exceptionally informative, relaxed, and pleasurable. Amber tours are special, not merely because of the itinerary, but the selection of the tour guide/ coordinator/ administrator – the master of ceremonies — who is engaging, personable, and who has extensive knowledge of the culture, the flavors and history of his country. Most hotels are full of local charm and ambiance (with modern comforts) and are well located. Sean’s enthusiasm and knowledge often surpasses the local guides in each city, adding interesting bits of information about the intersecting cultures sprinkled with humor and a bit of chauvinism. Beyond the multiple jaw-dropping monuments of past civilizations, and gorges carved by nature, highlights included the communal preparation of the paella meal, which encouraged the group to interact with each other, a first-rate flamenco performance, a visit to a olive mill press in a picturesque landscape where a memorable lunch was served, a visit to the Picasso Museum in Malaga, a visit to a horse breeding farm, and much more. Sean is exceptionally generous with his time, beyond the scheduled activities, ensuring that everyone in the group was engaged. This was especially welcome for a woman traveling alone.
Andalucia was my second trip with Amber Road Tours in a four month period which indicates my regard for this small boutique firm. Again, as in Sicily, the small group was both interesting and very compatible. The itinerary was perfect offering enough free time for independence and enough planned time with our remarkable guide Sean. The hotels were well centered and quite interesting…the included restaurants offered plentiful, good food. The sightseeing was interesting and gave a wonderful background to all we saw. Sean was remarkable. His knowledge and pride in his country created an exciting background to all we saw and experienced.
After two months walking the Camino, we were ready to relax, unwind and be pampered and that is exactly what Sean and Amber Roads delivered. The hotels where we stayed were not only central, they were spacious, luxurious and quiet. The bus was comfortable and spacious – no need for seat rotation, we all had great views. Our driver was friendly and punctual and actually extra helpful. Our guide Sean was just the best! What doesn’t he know about Spanish history and culture? His indepth knowledge, enriched our experience. Of course the Andalucia area is spectacular as well. We saw so many historical highlights both natural and man-made, which combined with Sean’s narratives, put the cultural aspects into context. The special lunches and dinners that were arranged, were well thought out and showcased the local cusine, the locations were spectacular and the food was sumptuous. The daily itinerary was busy, yet well balanced with free time. The local guides were excellent especially our guide in Ronda named Jesus who was funny but so professional. He gave us so many suggestions as to what to do in our free time, that our time wasn’t wasted. We had a great time and not only will we be returning to Spain, we will be returning to Amber Roads.
This was our third Amber Road Tour and our first of Spain and it did not disappoint. As usual with a terrific guide Sean, we had a wonderful experience in a beautiful part of Spain. Like other AR tours we stayed in small, boutique hotels in the heart of each city. We were shuttled around in a large comfortable bus with an experienced and talented driver. A lot of our time was spent eating and drinking which I think is the best part but certainly not to be outdone by the outstanding attractions and cultural icons of Spain. Amber Road has a winning formula for mixing tourist attractions/food/hotels/free time so that there is something for everyone. Sean goes out of his way to make sure everyone is comfortable and happy. Can’t think of anything negative about this or any AR tour that we have experienced. They just get it perfect!
This was our fourth tour with Amber Road and the memories still linger. Let your imagination take you back a few centuries. Andalucia embodies the classic image of Spain from flamenco dancing and bullfighting to lively nightlife and ancient architecture. Our tour guide Sean’s singular background and easy conversation made our days with him a pleasure. He was passionate about his country, very knowledgeable and gave us an insight into Spanish life, history and traditions. The hotels were charming and in excellent locations. The tour provided a perfect balance of planned events and time on your own. The awe-inspiring visits to the Alhambra Palace in Alhambra and the Mezquita in Cordoba were spectacular, but so were the stunning Tajo Gorge in Ronda, the white town of Setenil de las Bodegas, beautiful seacoast city of Cadiz, and the Alcazar and Plaza de Espana in lovely Seville. We packed so much on our trip – flamenco, sherry tasting, bull farm, paella class, olive oil mill, an equestrian school, and delicious meals and wine with a great group of travelers. Thank you for creating such an inspired itinerary, which most people don’t get to experience. Hemingway was enchanted with this region and you too will fall under its spell.
We had travelled to Spain in 2014 with Amber Roads on their first Central Spain tour, so we had no hesitation in joining their tour to Andalucía. They did not disappoint. The itinerary took us to amazing spaces and the scenery and places we visited just got better each day – the Alhambra in Granada was everything we had heard that it was, the Mezquita in Cordoba was incredible, the gorge in Ronda was breathtaking and then when you thought you had seen it all we arrived in Sevilla. It was a wonderful trip with so many beautiful things to see and a variety of interesting experiences like the Bravo Bull farm. Sean, again was a wonderful guide and worked very hard to ensure that everyone had a great experience. Bravo AR. Sicily is looking good….
Does all of Andalusia smell of orange blossoms? It seemed so to us. We were expecting to be overwhelmed by the Alhambra, the Mesquita, the Alcazar and Cathedral of Seville; but the beauty of the gardens and courtyards was a surprise. Sean was a joy. His enthusiasm and love of his country was contagious; his knowledge of history profound. He managed to watch over all of us and added special and unique experiences. The hotels were unique and very special. The setting of the dinner our first night overlooking the Alhambra at night was spectacular, as was the view of the gorge from the terrace at Ronda. The itinerary was very thoughtful and the planning wonderful as always. Thank you for a wonderful experience.
The trip exceeded my expectations. I am a 1st time traveler with Amber Road and was looking for a small group tour of Andalusia. I had done sizable research on the area about six years ago focusing on the Moorish influences in architecture and gardens. So, at the last possible time, I was able to sign up for the Amber Road trip. The area is a wealth of layering of history. The guide, Sean is excellent about specifics of the region and his animation and love of Andalusia is apparent. I appreciate Sean’s pointing out urban planning and garden design for me. The group meals were wonderful, a treat of Iberian food, wine, tapas, and more. Also, the staff person, Lisa, is terrific. The trip was a good time!
Fabulous Tour – Andalucia was more than I could have ever anticipated. Each of the towns and villages we explored was unique, and each with it’s own degree of Roman, Moorish, Jewish and Christian influence. The blend was a phenomenal array of enjoyable culture, cuisine, sites, monuments … and shopping. From Flamenco to Sherry Bodegos to Andalucian horses, the history and sense of discovery was all there to be absorbed and appreciated. The quality of the local tour guides was excellent. Our Tour Director, Sean, was exceptional, brilliant and so knowledgeable, which added considerably to the overall experience of Southern Spain. Sean took care of everyone’s needs and made sure each of us could maximize all that the Tour had to offer. Accommodations met or exceeded expectations, and were perfectly located to take advantage of exploring the towns’ old quarters. Granada, Cordoba, Cadiz and Sevilla were amazing — the Cathedrals, churches, Royal Palaces, plazas and gardens. But Ronda had a certain unexplainable appeal for me. Bravo to Sean and Amber Road Tours! I never thought any tour would match the Sicily tour; Andalucia ranks right up there with the best.
Our Amber Road Tour of Andalucia was a delightful revelation of the cultural roots, important history, fascinating traditions, remarkable monuments, marvelous foods, striking landscapes and welcoming people of the region. The balance between tour time and our own time was just about perfect. We didn’t feel overwhelmed by all the knowledge we were soaking up but had the opportunity to explore on our own if we wished. Our guide Sean, made the tour exceptionally comfortable, meaningful, and enjoyable. He was not only a font of valuable historical and cultural information, but went the extra kilometer to make certain we were taken care of, if we wanted, during our “free” time.
This was our second trip with Amber Road. We found the first trip through Sicily everything that Amber Road promised. This one was the same and also exceeded our expectations. The hotels were of a high standard, some with superb views and others with interesting quirks. The included dinners featured extensive menus with five or more courses of typical regional food. The balance between time on guided tours and free time was good as it did not leave us feeling exhausted at being talked at as well as leaving time to explore on our own. In summary, a most enjoyable 12 days which left us with the intention to travel with Amber Road again.
The Andalucía Tour was our fourth with Amber Road Tours and we were delighted with it. The trip was wonderful from start to finish with historic and lovely boutique hotels in central locations, amazing sites in every city and town, unique experiences at off-the-beaten track places like the olive oil mill, horse show, and bull farm. Our experience was especially enriched by Sean’s passion for Spain, his sense of humor, and his enjoyment in sharing his deep knowledge of Spain’s history, architecture, culture, customs, and cuisine with us. Among the many things that stand out in our memory are the welcome dinner overlooking the moonlit Alhambra, the paella cooking class, the gardens and parks everywhere, the Mezquita in Córdoba, the view of the gorge from the hotel in Ronda, the fish markets in Málaga and Cádiz, and the bull farm which felt like a movie set. Group meals were carefully planned to introduce us to delicious local wines and typical dishes. All in all a perfect trip!
The Andalucia tour was fantastic and exceeded my expectations! All aspects were very good: the sites, the cultural experiences, Sean the guide, and the other tour members. Really enjoyed the little bull fighting demo (and guest participation!) and lunch at the bull farm. We could not have had a better guide than Sean – a very knowledgeable and passionate individual with a great sense of humour. Enjoyed the unplanned tapas session outside the Cadiz market! All in all definitely going to look at some other Amber Road tours!
This was my first Amber Road Tour and I suspect it won’t be my last. I was impressed by the well crafted itinerary: a thoughtful balance of group activities and free time. I especially enjoyed the expert tour guides, the Moorish palaces, the Andalusian horses (my favourite) and the Flamenco dancers. What an interesting bunch of people in our group too. I felt very comfortable as a single person on this tour.
Sean is so proud of his heritage and knowledgeable about Spanish history and culture. He went out of his way to resolve any glitches that came along. Value for money it was a winner.
I enjoyed the varied countrysides, the hotels (especially the one in Ronda on the edge of a precipice), the small/exquisite stained glass windows tucked away in inaccessible spaces that were hardly noticeable in several churches and cathedrals, the Flamenco dancers, the Spanish horse show, the bull farm and the “bull fights” with the female calf! Most of all, I appreciated Sean, who provided not only details about cities and monuments, but also shared the soul of Spain with us, through his insights.
I thoroughly enjoyed our tour and appreciate Amber Road’s ability to provide excellent quality by attending to all the parts that contribute to making their tours top rate. The generous assistance of Lisa Sample with our plans before and after the tour is something I have only experienced with Amber Road Tours. Their itineraries seem to be the right mix of everything. They attract people on their tours who contribute to making it such a pleasant experience. Of course, Sean is the one who made the magic happen. I am grateful for his ability to make all we learned and saw real and come alive, adding depth by being the person he is.
An excellent look at the Moorish culture, Christian rulers, amazing architecture and artwork, flamenco, sherry, bullfighting, Andalusian/Spanish horse and bull breeding. Foodies will marvel at the bounty of seafood and fish, not to mention the variety of inexpensive tapas, wines and beer available around every corner. The paella cooking class was loads of fun; Caleta Beach in Cadiz offered an opportunity to spend some relaxing beach time; climbing down to the bottom of the Tajo Gorge in Ronda was rather challenging; and mile after mile of some of the 70 million olive trees in Andalucia really helped explain the economy of the region. I so appreciate that we spent so little time on the bus during this trip. Fellow travelers and a knowledgeable, gentle and fun guide, Sean, who loves his country and delights in sharing it with others, made this trip stand as one of the best of the many tours we have taken. Sean was very giving of his time, often accompanying some of us for non-included meals and tapas. Included meals were varied, tasty and expansive. Try the tinto de verano — much better than sangria!
I absolutely loved this tour and the places that were visited. This was a wonderful introduction to both Spain and the Andalucia area. There are too many highlights to mention, but I will make an exception. Sean is a marvellous tour director and his love and passion for Spain is totally infectious.
Wonderful tour-Who would not love such a beautiful country with such magnificent architecture- great food and wine and love the tour guide with a wonderful sense of humor- passionate about Spain and of course a charming brogue when he speaks English -Sean is a pleasure to be with,