Except for problems getting there and returning home (issues with the airlines, NOT Amber Road or the tour itself), this was another Amber Road success story..the third for us! We can’t say enough about our Tour Director, Andrej who combined knowledge, flexibility, efficiency, and humor, to help make this a wonderful and memorable trip for 13 people from 3 different continents! The Fruili area of Italy, including Trieste, was lovely as expected, but we weren’t really prepared for the diversified beauty of Slovenia…changing day to day depending on what part we were traveling through…Italian, Austrian, and Hungarian influences were all in evidence at one time or another. The hotels were terrific, with very spacious rooms and often with views that were amazing. Waking up to incredible views of Lake Bled from our balcony each morning, was a wonderful way to start our day. The food in Italy and in Slovenia was delicious and VERY plentiful, and everything we saw and did was interesting, often unusual, and well worth our time. We particularly loved Aquileia with its archaeological and architectural sites, a wine tasting and incredible homemade lunch by the young owners of a vineyard, the cosmopolitan city of Ljubljana, the incredible Postojna Caves, and of course, Lake Bled! The fact that we spent 3 or 4 nights in each hotel was an enormous plus for us, as well as the free time we were given to explore and eat on own. Thank you again to Amber Road, to Andrej, and to our fellow travelers for your contributions in making this such a great/fun trip!
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Mariaelena is an exceptional tour guide: knowledgeable, dedicated to her job, compassionate for those in need, and a great all around gal. It was my pleasure to meet her and I really appreciate the help she gave me. I got a 24 hour virus early on in the tour and she immediately went to the pharmacy for products that helped me recover soonest. She was always there for those on the tour in need. I loved talking with her; she has a depth of understanding of human nature that is impressive and ever so meaningful. I’ve been on many tours, and Mariaelena is at the top of my list of tour guides.
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.
After breakfast our Andalucia Tour finished and then our Portugal Tour commenced with a private car transfer from Seville to Tavira. We really enjoyed the unique characteristics, history and fascinating features of all the principal towns and villages as well as the local guides’ knowledge and lively presentations when guided walking tours were included.
There was one day that was extremely special for us from the moment we set off in the early morning until we arrived back in our hotel at 6pm. We drove through undulating country from Porto to Amarante. Once in Amarante we were mesmerised by the wonderful reflections of trees and buildings in the Tamega River. After our coffee break we continued on the bus through autumn coloured vine covered hills until we saw the Douro River in the distance and arrived at Quinta Nova. A middle aged man explained the history of his family’s vineyard and then invited our group to partake in tasting a white wine, a red wine and a port wine with accompanying ‘nibbles.’ It was very enjoyable. Then we headed off to the Douro River to board a traditional rabelo boat for a 45-minute cruise to the village of Pinhao. Here we disembarked to be seated outside amongst palm trees with a stunning view over the River to indulge in delicious food and excellent wine provided by the Vintage House Hotel. Sadly it all came to an end and we had to hop on the bus to return to our special Porto Hotel located alongside the Douro River. A perfect day, we will never forget.
Our Tour Manager, Miguel, was very caring, considerate and competent. We really appreciated all the historical, cultural and social information he told us about either as we travelled on the bus as well as orientation and guided walks. Miguel’s passion for his country was very evident.
This was our third Amber Tour which we can add to the fond memories we have from our first and second Amber Tours.
Our tour manager, Saverio Renda, was the best of any tour we’ve taken. So caring and was always ready to assist with any special needs such as when my husband injured his foot. He was well educated, knowledgeable and spoke English well. Saverio did his very best to make our tour special.
We want to express our gratitude and thanks for our recent tour with Laura. This was our third journey with Amber Road, so our expectations were high – Laura just surpassed all of our hopes. Bright, involved, and so, so supportive of our diverse group of travelers. We learned so much from her and the local guides were also great. We especially enjoyed the “Iceman” experience in Bolzano, Verona, the Palladian Villas, the long visit to the Giotto frescoes, and we learned so much about architecture, art, culture and wine with the other local guides. Venice now sort of makes sense for us, and the smaller cities were packed with fascinating history. As we expected, the accommodations, transportation and dining were wonderful as well. Thank you for the unforgettable experience!
The best tour we have ever experienced! Marielena was excellent as were the itinerary, hotels, local guides and food/drink. Great tour plan as the basic strength and Marielena implemented the role of tour director flawlessly. A joy to travel with her!
We had a wonderful time on the Tuscany/Umbria tour, our first time to visit Italy, and would strongly recommend Amber Road Tours to others. It was great being with a small group of travelers who enjoyed each others’ company as well as the different places and things we experienced. The walking tours were interesting and informative, and we loved the gourmet food and wine that were generously provided. Our tour manager, Tiziana, was exceptional in terms of her knowledge of the places we visited, helpfulness, and all around kindness and cheerfulness.
There were many highlights on this tour but the group meals were special. Most memorable for me were those at A Ver Tavira in Tavira, our first taste of excellent Portuguese cuisine, and the wonderful Momentos in Evora. Here the host and chef came out to meet us and then appeared before every course to explain how he was about to cook it. The young staff were exceptional.
Portugal has a long and eventful history and our tour manager, Miguel Silva, was well versed and gave us detailed insight into both the history and culture. He even taught us some Portuguese. Miguel was a delightful young man who looked after us so very well, to the extent that he guided a friend and I to a special fish restaurant in Tavira and then ate with us on our free evening. From Tavira, via Evora, Lisbon and Coimbra to Porto, from the stunning cathedral in Evora, the beautiful Jéronimos Monastery and Cloister in Lisbon to the Biblioteca Joanina at the Coimbra University, this well thought out itinerary gave us an interesting and very enjoyable experience. Our comfort was ensured in the care shown by the staff in the beautiful hotels in which we stayed.
As expected, a well organised interesting tour. Our tour leader and driver were both exemplary.
We were so pleased with this tour. Laura was amazing, so knowledgeable and caring. All of the local guides were excellent. The itinerary was thoughtful – I loved the double booking to have time in the Scrovegni Chapel. There were many delightful surprises like the cicchetti lunch on Torcello and that wonderful journey up to the high plain in the Dolomites above Bolzano. Even the small stops along the way were well-planned and charming. We enjoyed our time in Moena and Belluno. The included dinner in Follina was just fantastic, as was Al Pompiere in Verona. Thank you for a wonderful trip!
Once upon a time, Portugal sailed forth and “discovered” much of the globe. Right now, that little jewel of a country with its gorgeous scenery is being discovered with a vengeance by tourists and investors, so one needs to rush to see it before it is overrun and changed. At the moment, with its unique, ancient history and complex cultural heritage Portugal remains largely unspoiled. On my FIFTH Amber Road Tour and with the genial assistance of our outstanding, well informed guide Miguel, I greatly enjoyed exploring the dramatically different towns and cities from the Andalusian-inflected far south up all the way up to Porto, which somewhat resembles Portland, OR (!) As always with Amber, our local guides were excellent, and all the elements that go into making a trip hassle-free, comfortable, and interesting had been thought through with each day arranged so that the experience was consistently stimulating and rewarding.
Your new Tour of Portugal is excellent. Starting in the south in beautiful Tavira and nearing the end with a perfect day in the Douro Valley were great bookends. Experiencing the transition from south to north provided varied and always interesting experiences. The hotel locations, always close to city centers, provided easy walking access but just enough separation. Without restating what other reviews mentioned, we do want thank our Tour Leader. Miguel could not have been better. He was well organized, knowledgeable, flexible and always available. Also, your choices for local guides were quite good. In particular, the Lisbon guide and University guide in Coimbra stood out. Thanks for adding Portugal to your Tour options. And, please, don’t change hotels in Tavira . . .attractive, historic with a great staff. Glad we arrived a couple of days early.
The trip to Sicily was wonderful and our tour guide, Mariaelena, was exceptional. Thank you so much!
Amber Road Tours does not disappoint. Our tour guide Enrique’s pride in and historical knowledge of his country was truly outstanding. I would love to see the rest of Spain. Enrique provided so many personal touches like our amazing afternoon at the Prado Museum. The hotels were great and each meal was a feast. We had a good balance between guided expeditions and free time. I appreciate the small group experience. This was, indeed, a cultural journey!
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.
We truly enjoyed our trip to Sicily. Mariaelena told us that we would better understand our parents, families, and ourselves after our visit and she was right. The sights are stunningly beautiful. There was so much charm, warmth and history everywhere. Mariaelena anticipated our every thought and wish. She did so for the entire group from start to finish. She made a wonderful trip become an unforgettable experience. Our THANKS to her and to Amber Road Tours.
This was a wonderful tour and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The sites we were shown were varied, the amount of free time just right, the length of stay in each hotel good, the organization excellent, hotels good, the group size just right. Federica is simply a fantastic tour manager – knowledgeable. a great organizer and it was a pleasure to be with her. I will be happily looking forward to travelling with Amber again
Had a wonderful time on my 5th trip with Amber Roads to Sicily. Mariaelena our guide was as knowledgeable about Sicily as she is about Tuscany. She is a very caring guide who makes sure we were all happy. All the places we visited were interesting and we learned a lot about this part of Italy. Thank you Amber Roads!
Enjoyed my 4th tour with Amber Roads and Laura our tour guide! This places we traveled to were great, food delicious and hotels wonderful!
My tour of Madrid and Central Spain exceeded my expectations. The hotel rooms were well appointed and the food was incredibly delicious. Enrique, our tour guide, and our local guides shared their knowledge of the history, architecture, and people of the cities we visited. I found the tours to be very informative. The highlight of the trip was a guided tour of the Prado Museum. Enrique provided me with a unique and informed perspective on approximately several dozen paintings. It was the richest experience I’ve had by a docent.
Very much enjoyed our first tour with Amber Road Tours. The itinerary was interesting and very informative, although it seemed physically challenging at times for some of the tour participants. Our tour director, Federica, was exceptional in every respect. Can’t say enough positive things about her and her relationships with everyone on this tour. All in all, a great experience.
This tour was my first, and recommended by our friend, Pam Montague, who also attended. The most important aspect of the tour, was our guide, Enrique. His knowledge and passion were extraordinary and the size of the group was small, so we got to go to places not normally on tour agendas. I left Spain with history of culture, art, architecture, and experienced a wide selection of incredible culinary delights! I loved the farm where we saw how cheese products were made, along with Balsamic Reduction, and the Iberian pigs that ate acorns and produced the best ham! Then we had a feast after instruction on how to properly taste wine with various cheese selections. Every day had a new adventure. The hotels were incredible and so welcome after long days of discovery. I felt safe and cared for. All stress of being in a new place was replaced with pure excitement. You even scheduled perfect weather, haha! Thank you!
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.
This letter is long overdue and I apologize for that. We were on your Sicily tour in May with Mariaelena and had a superb experience. She has to be one of the most warm and caring individuals that we have ever met. She greets you with a smile in the morning and it continues all day into the night. We had an unfortunate medical emergency in Noto and she was with my wife holding her hand when they stitched her up in the hospital in Siracuse. She was extremely knowledgeable and you could tell that she had a deep love of Sicily and especially all of the people that she dealt with during the tour. The trip was well planned out with all of the hotels located centrally in the cities we visited. The hotels were all charming and each one had their own character. The local guides who assisted Mariaelena were all excellent. This was our first trip with Amber Tours and our tenth trip in Europe and we were so pleased with this tour and would most certainly use Amber Road Tours again.