The places in Andalusia we visited - Cordoba, Seville and Granada were beautiful. However, the inclusions in the tour were limited. For example, if you don't take the optional tour on Day 2 to see amongst other things, the Alcazar Palace, the programme ends at 11am after the tour of the city. The optional tours should be made known to us including the cost at the time of booking especially since they don't accept any other form of payment except cash. The Catedral de Santa María de la Sede is also not included neither in the city tour nor the optional which we thought is a pity given that it is the largest Gothic Cathedral and third largest church in the world. We visited that on our own but as it was already quite late in the day and near closing time, we only had half an hour there. On the third day we visited the Alhambra which was truly magnificent. While the local tour guide was knowledgeable and friendly, we were not given any time to explore on our own and taking photos was at your own peril because you ran the risk of being left behind. So we were briskly ushered through the Alhambra and the Generalife Gardens and then to the bus at 2pm, only to be told that we would be dropped off at the hotel and with the rest of the day free. In this case, we thought we should have been given perhaps an hour more at the Alhambra. The good thing was that the hotel in Granada was in the centre of town so we had fun exploring the shops. On the last day, we stopped at La Mancha made famous by Don Quixote but it was a ghost town with nothing to do. The stop in Toledo was nice with whom we regard as the best local guide of the entire 4 day trip. However the factory where we stopped for local jewellery and swords is a bit of a rip off as you can get similar items in the shops for a bargain. Again it was a brisk tour with no time for browsing. We could have been given some time to explore or shop as we ended up arriving in Madrid at 5 instead of 6.30pm as originally indicated.
We always take the hop on hop off bus tours in most cities we visit in the US or in Europe. It's allows us to explore at our own pace and see the places we want to see. In Madrid most of the touristy things like museums and the Real Palace and Puerta del Sol can be explored on foot but its nice to be able to thaw ourselves for a while after the chill of the outdoors in the bus. Overall it was worth our money.
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