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KAK

KAK

Oct112013

Tour/Activity

Toledo Half-Day or Full-Day Trip from Madrid

Madrid, Spain

My Rating
1 star rating: I do not recommend this

My Review

I took the full-day tour and it was the biggest disappointment I have encountered with Viator. The operator is the most unprofessional tour company. For starters, the bus was 30 minutes late. Nobody would tell us what was going on or why. When we were hearded out the door, the woman leading us lit up a cigarette on her first step outside. We then had to walk down to a busy intersection under a bridge where the smell of diesel fumes was unbearable. The reason the bus was late was that someone at the first pick-up location was late. I'm sorry, if the rest of the bus can get there on time, that person should be held accountable or leave without them.
The walking in Toledo was not as tough as advertised and was too slow for me. I could have probably stopped to get a drink along the way if I had wanted and still made it to the location before the rest of the group.
Toledo is a city where three cultures existed peacefully for centuries, which was the main reason I paid for the tour. While we did see a little of the Jewish Quarter and Moorish influence, the tour was still focused too heavily on Christianity/Catholic churches. One can get Catholic churches anywhere in Europe so it was a letdown we didn't spend more time in the synagogues.
Toledo is also known for Marzapan and pottery from nearby Talavera. Unfortunately, there was no opportunity to buy either. Instead, we were forced into a tourist trap of "artisans" which was of no interest to anyone on our tour. The items were overpriced and rather boring and few people bought anything.
It was not worth the cost or the time. I gave the tour one star because there was no ability to give it zero.

My Photos

  • Toledo
  • 16th Century Monestery
  • Monestery
  • Synagogue Santa Maria
  • Synagogue Santa Maria
  • Synagogue Santa Maria
  • San Martins Bridge
  • Toledo
  • Jewish Quarter
  • Ancient Bridge
  • Jewish Quarter
  • Toledo

Oct102013

Tour/Activity

Avila and Segovia Day Trip from Madrid

Madrid, Spain

My Rating
4 star rating: Recommended

My Review

Segovia was one of the highlights of my trip. Seeing the Aqcuaduct built in the first century was truly a delight. I would recommend not taking the lunch and forgoing the Suckling pig with the option of trying the local cuisine, which was both delicious and much cheaper.
Avila was just ok. I realize Avila is the most important religious city in Spain, but when you have seen so many catholic churches in Spain its hard to get excited over another.

My Photos

  • Panoramic of Avila
  • Avila
  • Palacio Aranjuez
  • Favorite city in Spain
  • Aquaduct
  • Roads of Segovia
  • Alcazar
  • Alcazar
  • Scenic view of Segovia
  • Aquaduct

Oct082013

Tour/Activity

Spanish Wine Tour from Madrid

Madrid, Spain

My Rating
5 star rating: Highly Recommended

My Review

One of the two best Viator tours that I have taken. We had a small group of 9, and very comfortable small tour bus and a fantastic guide, Ismael. Each of the three wineries was very different and all had interesting histories:
-Carlos, the rock star-turned-wine maker, at the newer vineyard had good insight on his craft,
-The family-owned vineyard on the site of a 15th century Franciscan monastery had an interesting history including remains from the giant kilns and a cave-like wine cellar,
-Consuelo, the organic wine maker (and former pharmacist) that not only shared her wines, but her home make olive oils too.

I would highly recommend this tour to anyone visiting Madrid as an option to the typical touristy sites. It really shouldn't be missed.

My Photos

  • Palacio Aranjuez
  • Harvest Time
  • Processing the grapes
  • El Regajal
  • El Regajal
  • Removing sediment
  • Colmenar de Oreja
  • Organic Olive Oil
  • Castillo de Chinchon
  • Chichon
  • Plaza Mayor in Chinchon
  • El Ragajal

Oct072013

Tour/Activity

Madrid Cooking Class: Learn How to Make Paella

Madrid, Spain

My Rating
5 star rating: Highly Recommended

My Review

If there were more than one class when I was in Paris that Julia conducted, I would have gone out of my way to take it. We had a very small class -- just 3 of us -- and it was a morning to remember.

I loved shopping at the market where Julia prompted us to help purchase fresh items from the vendors. We prepared and ate a traditional four-course Spanish meal and still walked away with left overs. I have no complaints at all and hope that I can do this again when I get to Madrid.

My Photos

  • Mercado
  • Instructor
  • Paella
  • Tortilla
  • Dessert
  • Paella
  • Paella
  • Dessert
  • Tortilla
  • Tortilla de Potata
  • Shopping for seafood
  • Market

Oct052013

Tour/Activity

Madrid City Hop-on Hop-off Tour

Madrid, Spain

My Rating
3 star rating: Worth doing

My Review

It was a typical city tour that one gets in any major city. I took it on a Saturday, which was probably the most crowded day of the week. Tourists were all fighting for the upper level. For the most part, this was fine, but people were jockeying for other seats at each stop when someone would get up to leave.

Oct032013

Tour/Activity

Madrid Card

Madrid, Spain

My Rating
2 star rating: It was OK, but could have been better

My Review

I typically recommend this card and buy one wherever I travel primarily due to the skip-the-line features and not because of a savings. I purchased the 48-hour card and wish I wouldn't have.

The only attraction where there was a line was Palacio Real. The other problem was the lack of up-to-date information, such as attractions that were closed for the season, incorrect hours that a building was open and buildings closed for renovation. Overall a huge disappointment.

Oct142012

Tour/Activity

Paris Shuttle Departure Transfer: Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG)

Paris, France

My Rating
4 star rating: Recommended

My Review

He was only 10 minutes late, which is good, since my arrival transfer was 2 hours late. We got to the airport quickly.

Oct122012

Tour/Activity

Mont Saint Michel Day Trip

Paris, France

My Rating
3 star rating: Worth doing

My Review

I'll start with the bad: this was a very large group with many languages spoken, particularly Japanese. There were also many tours (1-day, 2-day, 3-day, guided, unguided) so it was confusing. The trip is VERY long (about 5 hours each way). The lunch was just ok. The good: our tour guide had the English and Spanish groups (I speak both) and he was very knowledgeable about the abbey. Amazing place.

Oct112012

Tour/Activity

Skip the Line: Chateaux de Chambord, Chenonceau and Loire Valley Wine-Tasting Day Trip from Paris

Paris, France

My Rating
5 star rating: Highly Recommended

My Review

Best trip of the week. Our tour guide, Adam, was terrific and very informative. We were very lucky to only have 6 travelers, so it was very intimate. Loved the vineyard and the family who owned it.

My Photos

  • 429372_10151130104643141_674437801_n
  • 68724_10151130082073141_306648239_n

Oct072012

Tour/Activity

Paris Shuttle Arrival Transfer: Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG)

Paris, France

My Rating
1 star rating: I do not recommend this

My Review

Awful. If I could give it zero stars, I would. He was 2 hours late. Every time I called, they said 15 minutes. I purchased this because it was faster than the bus. That was a mistake.

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