Ivan Ricoy helped us plan a truly wonderful trip to Andalusia. As we have come to expect with WOW List travel planners, Ivan Ricoy had every detail covered, and changes were easily accommodated. The highlight on this trip, though, were the guides that Ivan provided; they made the trip special. While they were all excellent, the two that we will remember are Pablo, an art historian who showed us Madrid and The Prado, and Manu, an architect who specializes in the restoration of old/ancient buildings, who walked us through the Alhambra, perhaps the most memorable site we walked through. We learned things that we could not have found out on our own. We had asked Ivan to show us the ancient Jewish sites and we were walked through the old Jewish quarters in the cities we visited. Take note, though, that there is pitifully little to actually see. For instance, we were supposed to see the old synagogue in Cordoba, but it was locked and, from what I understand from several others, it’s rarely, if ever, available to see. However, on our last day in Toledo, our guide Adolfo (also excellent!) showed us a 14th-century church that had previously been a synagogue and a Jewish museum with artifacts that were 100s of years old. He was very knowledgeable about Spanish Jewish history and helped us better understand that, after The Inquisition, nearly everything Jewish was wiped out or made Christian. Our final stop with Adolfo was the Cathedral in Toledo. It is beautiful and grand, and also contained artwork that any museum would be proud to have, including and especially a gorgeous Caravaggio! If I had to redo the trip, the only thing I would change is the timing. December was bitter cold and none of the sites are heated. Spring weather, I believe, would have been preferable.
We just returned from a one-week family trip to Barcelona (my husband, myself and our adult “kids” ages 24 – 31). It was terrific, and I can’t thank our travel planner, Ivan Ricoy, enough for all he did to make it so. Ivan was a pleasure to work with, from our first in-depth phone conversation and the many MANY emails that followed. Ivan helped us put together an itinerary that captured all of our interests and allowed to us to see the many beautiful and important sights and neighborhoods of Barcelona as well as various surrounding areas like Montserrat, Girona, Besalu and a wonderful local vineyard. Our trip included a number of private tours including transportation, and I have to say we thought our driver, William, who was with us for the whole week and our guides, Alessia (with us for one day) and Nestor (with us for four days) were exceptional. In fact, because we shared so much time with William and Nestor, by the end we were taking pictures together, exchanging contact information and feeling as if they were friends! I was also impressed that Ivan sent us an email every day asking how the tours and travels had gone. It was so nice that he maintained that level of interest and involvement throughout.
As has been with the other trips I have planned using The WOW List, this was a total success!
Ivan promises a memorable private trip to Spain and he delivered just that to help us explore Andalusia. We met Ivan via Zoom and immediately felt that we were in good hands. He got to know us and learned what our interests are. Taking that information, he crafted the perfect 14-day itinerary for us. Each day touched on at least one of the elements that are important to us when we travel — food, wine, history, culture. We learned about the production of Iberico ham, olive oil, cheese, bread and salt. Our education on sherry included a visit to a vineyard with a tasting in the private bodega of the owner, and a multi-course traditional lunch. We were fascinated with the culture surrounding the brave bulls. We were immersed in the history of each of the towns we visited. What tied all of this together was the interaction we had with everyone we met, from our hosts to our guides to our driver. We were warmly welcomed by everyone, saw Andalusia through their eyes and came away with a better understanding of this region and its people. Thanks to Ivan and his planning, this was one of the best trips we’ve taken. His attention to detail, his care in making sure that everything went well during our stay, and his love for his country was a winning combination. We are so happy that we had the chance to meet and work with Ivan and give him our highest recommendation.
Everything went seamlessly. Ivan’s recommendations based on our preferences were perfect. Prior to our travel to Andalusia, he also set us up with a guide in Barcelona who was wonderful, and gave us a great feel for the city and surroundings. And after we headed to Andalusia we came away with a good understanding of the great beauty and remarkable history of this part of the world. Our guide was a bright, personable and very knowledgeable young man who helped us see both Granada, as well as the Costa del Sol and the Costa Tropical. We enjoyed him so much that we asked him to join us for a couple of our lunches, which added nicely to the overall experience. He was able to paint a cultural and historical picture of the significant history of this part of Spain, and we walked away with a greater understanding of the complexities of this culture through the ages. Overall, Ivan made our experience very rich and enjoyable!