This tour was a wonderful introduction to Spain, a country I have wanted to see since childhood. Sean was a fabulous tour director who set a good pace where we were able to see and be informed about so much history of Spain and the cities and towns we visited, which was balanced with just enough free time for us to explore on our own. Sean was knowledgeable, fun, informative, kind and happy to help with anything and so unbelievably patient. I was ill (had an allergic reaction to something that saw my face significantly swollen) on this trip which required a trip to hospital. Sean didn’t leave me to deal with it – instead he made sure the other tour participants were set for a walking tour of the town we were in and he came to the hospital to translate for me. I was so very appreciative of his support and cannot thank him enough for doing this for me. I would highly recommend this tour to anyone – in fact I would recommend Amber Road to anyone! This was my third Amber Road Tour, and I know it won’t be my last.
Madrid & Central Spain tour Comments Leave a comment
I really enjoyed my journey on the Madrid and Central Spain tour with Sean who was a really great tour director. The pace of the trip was good the experiences that we had along the way were wonderful. I especially enjoyed the picnic lunch that we had with the local products outside La Alberca, including the special efforts for me to be able have something tasty to eat that contained no pork. The local tour guides that we had throughout the trip were very knowledgeable and enjoyable. This was another wonderful Amber Road tour – my fourth one to date and it won’t be by last.
This was an amazing tour! Sean, our guide, was excellent: knowledgeable, personable, and professional. The hotels were very good, our bus drivers were great, the pace was much more relaxed than other tours I’ve taken, and we had so many amazing experiences that time and space will not allow me to list them all here. Suffice it to say that every day was wonderful. We were a group of ten, and every one of my “travel mates” was delightful. I went directly to the Andalucia/Southern Spain tour, and three days into it, I’m just as impressed. I’d travel again with Amber Road, most definitely.
This was our second trip with Amber Road Tours and we were not disappointed. Sean was an excellent, courteous, upbeat tour guide who helped us understand the history, culture, art and the natural beauty of this region. Our accommodations were centrally located with comfortable rooms and the planned meals were also interesting with regional specialties we might not have tried otherwise. The cooking demonstration with hands on participation was an especially fun evening in Caceres. The organic farm with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and cheese tastings in a beautiful setting was also one of the highlights. We are looking forward to our third trip with Amber in the spring of 2018.
Well organized program with varied and thoroughly interesting itinerary from start to finish. Sean was an excellent and convivial guide, well versed in all things Spain: which he willingly shared during our visit. Local guides were all very informative and responsive. All lodging was conveniently located and accommodations were very comfortable. Provided meals were very good with the chef prepared meal and organic farm lunch particularly enjoyable. Sean also suggested a picnic lunch which was a nice interlude on a beautiful sunny afternoon.
Having enjoyed Sicily with Amber Road in 2014, it was an easy choice to take the AR ‘double’ of Central Spain/ Andalucia for our first foray in Spain, and we are so glad we did! For Central Spain our group was a great team of 8, and together with our guide Sean Retana, we started in Toledo, which has so much to see, before embarking on a circle which took us through the flat endless plains of rugged La Mancha, to Caceres,Trujillo,and Merida, then pushing up through the Sierras into true ‘bull country’ and La Alberca,before descending to the university town of Salamanca. From there it was Zamora and Toro (with a call into a small Bodegas with great red wines!), up the range to picturesque Segovia and then on and down to Madrid. For first-timers, Spain presents a rugged landscape,stretching to the horizon with endless grapevines,and has such a huge plethora of well preserved legacies of Roman,Visigoth and Moorish civilisation,all seamlessly and progressively renovated,rather than destroyed, by each culture, and finishing with the Christian ‘reconquesta’, which lives and breathes today. History can be a dry topic, but the way in which Sean presented his well researched Spanish view of it, we all came away seduced by his passion and zeal for his country’s glorious past… as well as his favourite ‘wet’ topic of tapas in bars with beers and great wines … and how best to enjoy them. This aspect melds the tour into a lifestyle, so different from the USA or Australia! Our accommodation was not shabby either – all 4 or 5 star Parador or Hospes Group,and set in the intimate sections of towns, a short walk from everything we came to see. Could say the set meals were ‘formal epicurial’, and were all hosted in great restaurants and some panoramic settings that simply stimulates the libido as the sun sets! We look forward to more of Spain!!
Graeme & Susan
Great tour- accommodations excellent – as were restaurants. Guides very informative and entertaining, Group of 8 and everyone very friendly and comparable. This is our second trip and will not be our last.
The May Central Spain tour was exactly what I’ve learned to expect from prior Amber Road Tours: small groups, a great itinerary, fabulous tour leader, ample free time and great hotels. Sean, the tour leader, is very passionate about his country, a veritable encyclopedia of Spain’s history and art, extremely helpful and has a great sense of humor. This was my first visit to Spain and it did not disappoint. I loved it all. Thanks for another great trip!
Shortly after returning from the Central Spain Tour we were asked “What was the favorite part of your trip?”. A question that proved quite difficult to answer. As with our previous tours with Amber Road, Central Spain was filled with memorable days and nights. From the unique and quiet village of La Alberca to the sobering Valley of the Fallen, to the streets of Madrid every day had its own set of highlights. As is usual with Amber Road, all aspects of the trip were so enjoyable . . . the well thought out itinerary, quality hotels, excellent meals and pace of planned and free time. Also, as has been our experience with Amber Road, the tour manager was simply outstanding. Sean went out of his way to make our days eventful, entertaining and educational. A few examples . . . finding a way, with the help of Paulino (our driver), to visit a small sixth century church in an equally small village; preparing a barbecue, with advice from Paulino; taking us to a roof top terrace for a night time view of Madrid. Likewise, Sean’s knowledge of Spain seemed limitless. He really knows his way around Spain! To everyone at Amber Road, Sean and Lisa in particular, thanks for another wonderful holiday.
This was our 3rd tour with Amber Road and nothing disappointed us. There is nothing we can fault with this tour company. We have read the comments of our fellow travelers regarding this tour and hardly feel we can add to their superlatives. We fully endorse their glowing comments. Apart from value for money, we wanted to highlight just a few things which truly impressed us about this tour and, indeed, the previous 2 tours we have done with Amber. So we have narrowed it down to variety of experiences from day to day and amazingly great local food and wine. Great guides too. On this tour our guide Sean was knowledgeable, passionate and generous in every way. He counted us so many times we are sure he counts to 20 in his sleep!
Amber Road Tours was recommended by some dear friends and we decided to join them for this trip. We were not disappointed in any way and had a wonderful time. This itinerary was most interesting and we enjoyed seeing the beautiful countryside as well as the many Midieval cities and churches. Our accommodations were all lovely as were the meals and the plentiful pouring of great Spanish wine. Two highlights for us were the surprise cooking class in Caceres and our fabulous tour of the Prado by our guide. Sean was an outstanding guide in every way. His knowledge of history, art, architecture and his passion and love for his country were very evident. He was very friendly, attentive and eager to help in any situation. Our small group of nineteen people was delightful and we enjoyed meeting and getting to know interesting people from around the world.
This was our first tour with Amber Road Tours and we were very pleased. Close friends recommended Amber Road as a great small tour company. We liked the size of only 20 people and thoroughly enjoyed the itinerary. The lodging and food was all very good. Sean our tour guide was excellent. He is passionate about his country and it comes through in his detail descriptions of the places we visited. We really enjoy the Spanish people and the incredible history of Spain. The kana beers with tapas were a real treat. We are already planning our return to visit the Andalucia region!
Excellent tour. Sean was our guide. He was very good & was really fun. He was knowledgeable but sometimes liked to push his own take on things – like bullfighting. His tour of the Prado was really excellent where he did just enough & gave superb explanations. Thanks Sean.
Our group was just great & we all got along really well. The pace of the tour was just right with enough time to relax & enjoy ourselves.
The best meal we had was in Toledo – which was super. Also the view across the river to the city was just stupendous.
Our second Amber Road adventure was even more fulfilling than we had hoped. We were continually surprised and delighted by the sights, sounds and tastes that Spain had to offer. Our hotels were uniformly excellent, and the meals and wine were outstanding. Two highlights were perhaps one of the world’s largest paellas for lunch one day, and our final dinner at the oldest restaurant in the world! It was also exciting to know we were in many places seldom visited by non-Spanish tourists. By far the greatest treat was spending 12 days with Sean Retana Vallely, our outstanding Amber Road guide. Sean demonstrated expertise in history, architecture, art, botany, geography, agriculture, and so much more. In addition to his incredible knowledge, Sean was pleasant, accommodating, warm and companionable throughout the trip. No request was too small or too difficult for him to fulfill. For us, Amber Road Tours is two for two. We look forward to number three!
We were part of Amber Road’s first tour of Spain and we were quite excited about being ‘first cab off the rank’. If we had had any concerns they would have been quickly put aside by the personality, knowledge and pure enthusiasm of our tour guide, Sean. Thank you Sean, nothing was too much trouble, you went way above and beyond to make our tour the best it could be. It was also lovely to meet Lisa at the beginning of the tour as we had been communicating throughout the planning. Thanks for popping in Lisa. We had a fantastic time and can’t wait to go back to Spain. We were a small group and at times stretched Sean to the limit but he always came up trumps. While we found the itinerary fine for us, we have noticed some changes for the tour in 2015 and think they will add to the experience by bringing the group together early on the bus rather than in a big hotel, separated. Thanks again Amber Roads this was our third tour and won’t be our last.
We would highly recommend this tour. The itinerary was well thought out and a good balance between travelling and sight seeing, and organised activities or free time. We stayed in high quality, character accommodation in areas of the old cities which allowed us to walk the narrow streets after dark, soaking up the atmosphere and seeing the local sights by night. Our tour guide (Sean) was outstanding and one of the most knowledgeable guides we have met on our travels. Sean’s passion for Spain and all things Spanish added another level to an already excellent tour. We especially enjoyed the little treats (not detailed on the itinerary) like the chance to walk a tiny section of a Roman Road, the stops at small towns to inspect the Plaza Mayor on the way to or from our main destination, the frequent coffee stops in interesting places and the tour flexibility that allowed us to attend local fairs and celebrations that we happened upon.
I wasn’t as prepared for this trip as I have been for others with Amber Road but I still had a great time. Someone asked me for the highlight of the trip. That was easy. The night we arrived in Salamanca Sean took us for a short walk. My first sight of the facades of San Esteban and the Cathedrals was with a darkening sky, rising moon and brilliant spotlighting. It was just beautiful.
There were so many other things I loved:
- the contrasts between the various cities and towns – Salamanca, Caceres, Toledo, Merida – all so different. I loved Toledo.
- the stops in amazing / surprising places like Tordesillas, Mogarraz, Las Barrancas, Tembleque, Candelario (?) and walking the Roman road near Banos de Montemayor.
- how much the landscape changed over relatively short distances, and being on the back roads
- learning not just about the history of places we went but about the diverse people, cultures, food, geography, climate, agriculture, etc.
- Segovia and Merida were great (I’m a bit nuts about the Romans), and I really enjoyed the paella – up until then I hadn’t enjoyed the ones I had had.
- La Alberca was a real surprise and it was lovely to meet the man who runs the museum.
- We were a bit surprised to go into a car-park to see a great view of Caceres but it made sense when we got to the restaurant on the roof! We went back at night to take photos.
- Alternating a day on the bus with a day in one place works well.
- The hotels were in great locations and are of a higher standard than I would choose.
I think the tour manager really makes a trip and Sean was excellent. His passion for Spain, its history and people was evident and he shared so much with us. He made an effort to link something seen in one place with a subsequent place, or with a question asked much earlier, which helps the whole tour hang together. He seemed to get genuine enjoyment from showing us his country, which really makes a tour. He was open about recent history without being defensive, and gently corrected our inevitable misunderstandings about Spain. He was also very organised at taking group photos! I would have no problem joining tours he leads.
The tour is packed with great historical sites and dramatic landscapes. Our enthusiastic tour leader, Sean, also added several interesting stops off the beaten path. I learned a lot about Spanish history, current lifestyles, agricultural practices, economy, food, wine and much more. We benefitted greatly from Sean’s vast knowledge of Spanish history and life which he imparted to us with great zest.
This tour was very enjoyable and was a great success. The reasons for this are simple – we had an enthusiastic, warm and knowledgeable guide and a small party of travellers – less than 10 – which meant that we all gelled together quickly and easily. I am aware that some of my fellow ART travellers had some minor issues but that is to be expected with a first tour in a new country. For my part I have no complaints as the positives far outweighed any negatives, perceived or real.