Duayne K USA
El Escorial is a beautiful structure.
The Valley of the Fallen is something you have to see to understand the scale of the place, it is enormous.
It is hard to think of the majesty of the setting and the grander of the basilica, and know that it was all done on orders of Franco, for his mausoleum, and was done with concentration camp labor. Truly a place to see and to contemplate.
The Aranjuez place is magnificent
The sights are fascinating. The guide also knew her stuff. However she was very impersonal and fairly patronising and condescending to the tourists
EUGENE K Canada
This trip actually is a two-part excursion provided by two different guides in two different buses. El Escorial itself is impressive but they take straight into the building. The scale of the building is so immense that it can be viewed only from some distance. The tour operator should adjust this visit to give tourists full impression this grandiose monument. Aranjuez is a jewel for those into baroque and palace architecture although the premises of the palace are run down.
Poor quality, disorganized, no time for pics, it was always running from this to this to that, do not book tours with this particular local tour operator, horribleeeee
Nice places to visit, with some drawbacks
1. This is a combination of two different tours, so you will spend two extra hour getting back to Julia's office in Downtown Madrid, waiting for the next departure and leaving again the congestion of Downtown
2. The departure to Escorial was a bit disorganized and we left 20 minutes late (not because any passenger was missing)
3. The driver had no idea where to go, he was constantly getting lost, taking wrong entrances...he almost took a wrong way when we exit Valle de los Caidos
4. The guide was a very unpleasant woman. She was shouting to the driver all the time, in front of all of us. Actually she was so mean that all the passengers were laughing.
5. She said she could not do the guide tour inside the Basilica at Valle de los Caidos for some political prescription, but there were another guide tour inside.
6. They did not give us time to walk around the gardens of El Escorial, which seems to be beautiful
7. The visit inside El Escorial was too fast, we were almost running. She kept repeating that we needed to be back in MAdrid because some passengers needed to go to some lunch before their tour to Toledo.
The Aranjuez tour was much better, the guide was a nice laid back guy, with better attitude and a lot of humor.
The places were definitely worth the visit. Poor communication at Julia's travel. Guide did her best to work with a large group. We were the only couple who spoke English and part of the on- time minority. Most of the communication was in Spanish.
Two problems. First, I booked a full day tour that was supposed to included lunch, only to discover at noon that my wife and I were not to be given lunch and would have to find a place to eat by ourselves. Second, the guide at Aranjuez was bored and boring, and responded with dismissive and annoyed arrogance to a very simple question (I looked up the answer myself after our return home, and found that I was right and the guide was wrong.)