PANDEMIC TRAVEL Outstanding two-week trip to 5 cities in Spain. Entire trip was planned by Pablo Calvo. All planes, trains, and automobiles were coordinated flawlessly. The highlights of the trip were the guides he picked to take us through each city. Knowledgeable, experienced, easygoing, flexible. They brought an entirely new level of understanding to our travel experiences. Interesting anecdotes, stories, historical context, an understanding of art, architecture, culture, and even horticulture. COVID was a non-issue, by the way. Each city was 90+% vaccinated and everything was clean. Didn’t wear a mask except for a few small places. Testing prior to US return just ended, but that was a pain.
Madrid was fabulous. Next time we will spend more time there to see all 3 major art museums. Our itinerary: Madrid, Granada, Ronda (day), Sienna, Cordoba (day), San Sebastian, Barcelona.
Staying on site in the former monastery at the Alhambra was a unique experience. The gardens are stunning and the place is lush compared to how it looks in photos (like a desert). The nearby Sierra Nevada white-capped mountains were gorgeous. Barcelona was small and crowded, but Gaudi cathedral and park were not to be missed. Cordoba was rather touristy, so we should have allocated less time to there and more to Madrid and Seville. San Sebastian had the best food by far. I hadn’t heard of it before, but it was amazingly different from the rest of Spain. We even went to Southern France, which was only 20 minutes away.
Pablo arranged full-day tours and tapas food tours with local experts for us to sample the sites and food of each area. From flamenco dancing to scenic views, he made sure we didn’t miss anything. We didn’t have to navigate or get frustrated with travel schedules because he did all the planning. All 5 hotels (small, non-chains) were exceptional, centrally located yet away from tourists, with amazing amenities, location, views and service. Including breakfast was a nice way to start each day.
Pablo’s recommendations were perfect for us. He took the time to understand us as individuals, and was flexible as we adjusted the plan along the way. We came away with a much better understanding of how Spain really feels like several different countries and is worth exploring further. We are now thinking about scheduling a trip to Portugal with Pablo as our expert guide. Thanks to Pablo and all of our wonderful guides Alfonso, Ellie (Eli), Vicky, Paula, Marianne, Lola, Manfredo, and our numerous classy drivers including Eduardo, Francisco, Daniel, Pablo, etc.
Random advice to travelers: Carry your hotel name and address on a handy card to show to taxi drivers. Taxis were cheap within cities (~$6-12). Be sure to check whether hotels have instant coffee or Nespresso machines in the room. Makes a big difference to coffee lovers! First class on trains has 3 seats across; regular class has 4 seats. Otherwise, not worth double the price for each ticket. Take express trains when you can, and consider flying. Purchase tickets in advance (everything is online) to avoid waiting in long lines. We didn’t use cash the entire time, so no need for money changing. No place accepts dollars, but credit cards are accepted everywhere. Make sure your bank’s ATM doesn’t charge a foreign transaction fee.
Take photos of local maps so you don’t look like a tourist if you get lost. Pickpockets were only an issue in Barcelona (be careful there).
Meal times are very different. Breakfast is an espresso. Lunch is at 2:30 or 3pm. Dinner starts at 9pm. There are separate shops to go for coffee, drinking, tapas, fine dining, quick meals, and they open and close at unpredictable times. Expect them to be closed when you are hungry. Tapas (small food plates) provide a good excuse for people to go pub hopping and socialize with different friends. We saw mostly the same food tapas menu everywhere, but some people go to 3-6 places in one night: Iberian ham, croquettes (yummy), bread with tomato topping, fried potatoes and chorizo topped with fried egg, gazpacho, tomato soup, Russian potato salad, fried calamari, garlic shrimp, fried anchovies, etc. Each tapa is ~4-5 euros (roughly $5). I recommend staying away from cheap pizza and hamburgers (most American food). Bring multiple charging adapters and USB hubs. Youll need them!
Talk with locals whenever you can. They are the best part of Spain!
PANDEMIC TRAVEL We cannot say enough good things about Pablo. Four of us took a 13 day trip to Spain in mid-May that included Barcelona, Seville, Granada, Madrid, with day trips to Toledo and Cordoba. Our hotels were superb, our guides excellent, and our transfers seamless. Pablo helped us in our initial planning to decide on how much territory to cover and the number of days in each place. We told him our interests, and he tailored the trip accordingly. We would not have seen so much, learned so much, or enjoyed it as much without his expertise.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL We just returned from 2 weeks in Spain and Portugal planned by Pablo Calvo and Goncalo Correia. In the planning stage we had asked for the trip to include Michelin star restaurants, Foodie experiences, private experiences and Wine experiences. They certainly delivered on all of those and we were very impressed with the guides they selected for us, some of the best guides we have ever had! We loved San Sebastian and the Hotel Favorita, that was a great start to our trip. The highlight for my husband was our day spent while in Portugal at Casa de Juste where he cooked with the chef / proprietor and I got a tour of their amazing property with the chef’s husband. In retrospect we would have liked a slower pace itinerary and maybe we should have communicated that better. All in all it was a terrific 2 weeks.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Thank you so much Pablo Calvo for creating an amazing trip for us to Madrid. Our guide Alfonso was fantastic; full of knowledge, so friendly and fun to be with. We explored Madrid and Toledo and loved every minute of our 3-day adventure. Looking forward to working with you again!
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Pablo Calvo crafted a wonderful itinerary for my wife and me in the Ribera del Deuro and the Basque Country of Spain. We had guides take us to a couple of wonderful wineries and the Guggenheim in Bilbao. Guides also introduced us to the wonderful world of pintxos (tapas) in the Basque Country. Something we will always treasure is the morning we spent with the owner/chef of a small waterfront pintxos bar learning how to make pintxos. We and our guide got to enjoy our creations washed down with a bottle of local txakoli wine outside on the terrace. It was a truly special experience. We have a new appreciation for anchovies!
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Pablo helped us plan an incredible trip to four different parts of Spain – we had many unique and memorable experiences and the guides were fabulous! Would highly recommend working with him.
The trip was terrific!
Hotels: All the hotels were well-located and the hotel personnel were attentive, helpful and just wonderful. Breakfasts were fine.
Meals: All our meals were terrific! Pablo made our dietary restrictions known everywhere. Lourdes in San Sebastian introduced us to loads of new tasty dishes and was fabulous! I would delightfully dine with her anywhere!
Guides and drivers: They were superb and really a pleasure! Having Alfonso for two days was a treat! His knowledge of the artists and their paintings was superb! And Gaudi! — Bernard was a treasure as well!
The wine tour? Lorraina was wonderful. I wish we had had more energy and drank more. It was a splendid day — even though the weather tried hard to not cooperate.
In total: Pablo did a fabulous job for us! He listened and responded in a timely fashion always. He gave us great ideas and executed our wishes with good cheer and helpfully! I am very grateful for all his help!!!
Thank you so much!
P.S. One more comment that you might impart to future travelers; We had some difficulties with Iberia Airlines. For one domestic flight, I thought our seats included being able to have one bag each. That was not so and we were penalized by having to pay $40/bag at the airport. That was not at all clear when I bought the seat. And, Jeff and I travelled home on Iberia, booked through AA. We were not ever allowed to select a seat and had to wait until we got to the airport to be assigned. We spoke with several people at Iberia on the phone and at the airport, and got the feeling that Iberia is not an easy airline with which to deal. We certainly would not recommend them.
Pablo (and his assistant Joana) planned our Spain trip, including Madrid, La Rioja, San Sebastian, and Barcelona. The hotels chosen were excellent for a pair of travelers experiencing those locations for the first time, with easy access to the main attractions of the city. We had asked for a focus on food and wine, so we had full guided days in La Rioja and Penedes, a cooking school and pinxtos tour in San Sebastian, and a session in an anchovy cannery in Getaria. The guides we had were prompt, informative, and really flexible (which is always the advantage of paying for a private guide rather than opting for a group day tour). I would not hesitate to contact Pablo for our next trip to the region.
Pablo helped organize a trip for me and my 3 teen/tween-aged daughters to Barcelona, Costa Brava and Costa del Sol this past summer. Initially he organized an action-packed trip for us however took feedback along the way in the planning process to accomodate for beachside/poolside days as well as fun activities like e-biking and kayaking. In the end this was a blessing as we travelled in the height of the European heat wave and this did not melt our enthusiasm for Spain!
Pablo was very responsive and flexible during the process of planning our trip. He listened well to what we wanted (an adult trip with lots of time to wander on our own), and booked us a lovely small hotel in Barcelona (The Mercer) and at the amazing Torrent del Mas in Costa Brava. All logistics went very smoothly, and Pablo was quick to answer the few questions we had during our trip. They gave us good restaurant choices in Barcelona (Bar Canete is a must go) and in Costa Brava (Pais del Mas). We can’t say enough positive things about Costa Brava – gorgeous beaches and farmland, amazing meals everywhere, not overly touristy…and Torrent del Mas was one of the most beautiful hotels we have been to. It was a bit challenging to leave each day to go sightseeing! We would go back to these parts of Spain in a heartbeat, and would definitely recommend Pablo as a travel planner.
I recently used Pablo to arrange a celebration trip for my son Jordan and his wife Deanna’s 2nd anniversary trip to Spain. They traveled to Barcelona, San Sebastian and Madrid and just returned a few days ago.
Overall, Pablo was a pleasure to work with throughout the trip planning process. He was very communicative – from the beginning – and was interested in crafting a personalized vacation for them. Pablo was easy to reach via email and always responded promptly and with thoughtful, intelligent answers. There was a lot of back and forth in the planning process and his insights were welcomed and helpful.
Specifically, one of our interests was to try different exclusive restaurants and wineries during the trip. Pablo was able to secure reservations at three different Michelin star restaurants in Barcelona and San Sebastian and he arranged wine tours to various boutique style wineries. In fact, one of the highlights of the trip was a special wine tour and bike ride that he recommended and arranged during the stay in Barcelona.
I had also asked Pablo to try and get my son Jordan a Spanish guitar lesson, since my son is a guitar enthusiast. Pablo was able to do this and that was another highlight of the vacation. Another highlight was a Flamenco show that Pablo had personally recommended.
All of the hotels were outstanding and all of the personal guides were great. In fact one of the guides helped Jordan with his guitar learning!
All of these arrangements and recommendations, allowed them to experience Spanish cuisine and culture in a way that I am sure would not have been possible otherwise. He was attentive to details and creative in his suggestions and he had the ability to secure unique, private and culturally enriching activities.
I would give my highest recommendation to Pablo and he is a deserving member of the WOW list.
Pablo proved to be of exceptional value on our trip to Spain. He has excellent connections to the best guides and upgrades at all hotels. Changes of plans during travel and special requests on the go seem to be regular for Pablo. He had all small details taken care of, and we will use him for the next trip to Spain.
Working with Pablo was a joy. I appreciate his knowledge, high level of service and fabulous attitude. He delivered exactly what we wanted. He made a great itinerary that was the perfect mix of history, culture, and physical activity. Our tour guide in Cordoba was perhaps the best guide that we have ever had. The hotels were delightful, the dining recommendations were superb! He was very conscious about staying within our budget (even more exacting than me!). He cautioned us about doing too many day trips from Seville and instead enjoying the vibe (which was the right call). He also gave me some great recommendations for when we had down time for some do-it-ourselves destinations. I was surprised that Spain is now my favorite European destination. I can’t wait to get back and will definitely book with Pablo the next trip.
In September, a group of 8 family members ranging in age from 19 to 70 spent 11 days touring Portugal and then in doing a partial walk of the Camino into Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Goncalo and Pablo did a faultless job of organizing this trip according to our interests. We wanted to see the important sights, but yet have some athletic activities. We had 3 very athletic people on this trip. I told Goncalo that having excellent, informative guides was very important to us and he delivered. Tiago, our Portuguese guide, speaks perfect English, has traveled to the US and elsewhere, has inexhaustible energy and an encyclopedic knowledge of Portugal. Teresa Oliveira, our guide for the Spanish hike, was also very knowledgeable, as well as fun and extremely accommodating to the diverse needs of our group. Most notable was the way that Teresa and Pablo accommodated a last minute schedule change at the end of our trip. Due to Hurricane Florence, 2 of our group moved their return flights up by a day, 20 hours before flight time. While driving to our hotel, Teresa et al managed to move up all the next day’s activities, ie guides & private visit into that afternoon so that the early departees wouldn’t miss out on anything. Somehow they got it done and later Pablo refunded people for the hotels/taxis they didn’t use! That afternoon’s private visit was to Pazo do Faramello. We did a few private visits during this trip, but this was exceptional. Beautiful place, fascinating history, charming host—go if in the vicinity. Without hesitation, I would recommend Goncalo and Pablo to anyone.
Great job, great trip, can’t wait to go back!
Thanks to the knowledge, experience, planning, and outstanding logistics management by Goncalo and his Spanish colleague Pablo, we had a spectacular 21-day trip to Portugal and Spain. It was everything we could have wished for. Each venue was interesting, enjoyable, different, and memorable. Highlights included Lisbon, Porto, Sevilla, Granada, and Cordoba, but we also enjoyed Coimbra, Evora, Cadiz, Ronda, and other venues.
The quality of Goncalo and Pablo’s selected guides was exceptional. All were knowledgeable, responsive, personable. The guides in Lisbon, Granada, and Seville were especially impressive. All the guides were responsive to our needs and wishes and helped us understand the surprisingly complex history and uniqueness of the sights we visited. Not surprising, the Alcazar, la Alhambra, and Mezquita will be memories for a long time to come. But less well-known venues such as the cork markets in Evora and the white-washed village of Grazalema were also enchanting.
All the drivers were well-dressed, professional, and courteous. The cars were clean and terrific. The high-speed AVE train from Cordoba to Madrid was terrific, a great choice.
We enjoyed all the recommended hotels. The Posada in Lisbon was terrific. We were so very happy we chose to stay at the Alfonso XIII in Seville. It was a highlight, wonderful in every way. The Parador in Cadiz was remarkable and our junior suite fabulous. And we were so very happy we had successfully attained reservations at the Parador de la Alhambra in Granada. It met our high expectations driven by feedback from friends. In general, the hotel breakfast buffets were outstanding… the pasteis de Natas and churros with chocolate were favorites! We were also greatly pleased by personal greeting notes at each venue.
Food and wine are highlights in Portugal and Spain. We had many wonderful meals based on Goncalo and Pablo’s recommendations. The Rabo de toro stew and various suggested soups were delicious. We also really enjoyed the chosen Fado restaurant.
In terms of special arrangements, we found the boat cruise and the winery in the Douro Valley especially enjoyable. The boat Goncalo chose for us was exceptionally nice and the winery lunch delicious.
One anticipated challenge for Bill involved the omnipresent cobblestones and sometimes steep grades. Thanks to heads-up from Goncalo and Pablo, accommodating guides and drivers, along with his walking stick, enabled Bill to walk almost everywhere.
Both Gonçalo and Pablo did an amazing job planning our trip. From the very first day when we were upgraded to the Bette Davis( they knew she was my idol)suite at the Maria Cristina hotel in San Sebastian to all the wonderful eating and drinking experiences, they set up for us. Some of the highlights were a beautiful sail down the Tagus to Lisbon, a private eating club experience in San Sebastian and another amazing suite at Reid’s Hotel in Madeira.
When a friend of ours was injured on a bike trip we took in the middle of our vacation, Goncalo switched all our reservations around so that we could stay in Porto near the hospital for a few days. He canceled several hotel and activities at the last moment and we didn’t have to pay for any of it.
Spain and Portugal, Honeymoon
We are SO happy we booked through this team.
We had Pablo Calvo and Goncalo Correia as our planning team. We did not reach out to WP / begin planning our trip until the first week of March. Pablo and Goncalo set up a conference call at a time when all four of us could connect. We spent nearly an hour on the phone discussing our wants, past experiences, tastes, and etc. I also have an email stream of 75 emails working out the details and asking questions during the process. The team was excellent with communication and making sure we were delivered a valuable experience.
The itinerary and gameplan they put together could not have been matched. We initially said we wanted to visit either Madrid or Barcelona, Spain and then Porto, Portugal. The team was able to put together a trip that included 3 days in Madrid (including a full day excursion to Toledo), 3 days in Barcelona, and 4 days in Porto (including a day excursion to the Douro Valley and a half day in Guimaraes), Tapas and tavern tours, private walking tours, personal transportation, prepaid entrance fees and reservations, cooking experience, boat cruise, wine tastings, proper hotels, train tickets, and I am sure I am leaving something special out. We hit plenty of history, culture, food, and drink.
The trip went off without a hitch. Reservations and timing of events were seamless and perfectly positioned. The local guides were so helpful to kick off each city. We would have never known to do some of the activities and excursions that were put into place for us. The rough draft bid was around 20% higher than our initial budget, but we worked together well to alter some of the activities without compromising the experience. They warned us that they would go with the full options and best experience they could provide, and then could work it down a bit if we could not swing it. This was a special trip for us, so we wanted to know what a top-level experience would cost, and we were comfortable with this approach. Like I said in the previous paragraph, they were great with communication, and did a good job of working with us through all concerns, questions, and needs.
Utilize one of these travel specialists! We cannot “stress” the lack of “stress” involved in planning the trip. We have spent time in Asia, Africa, and Europe before, along with tons of domestic travel via long weekends. The local guides were a great way to kick off each city. They gave a great “lay of the land”, with plenty of stories of both local history and current events. The team does a great job of learning about you and putting together the best layout for your tastes. They leave no stone unturned. I suggest asking for as many options as possible to find out what you would like to do. Like I mentioned in an earlier paragraph, we exchanged 75 emails and spent an hour on the phone to arrive at our final 10 days, 5 city adventure…. totally worth it!
Knowing the most important/enjoyable activities and sites, understanding the timing and effort needed at each, hotel and transfer accommodations, there are so many different points that the team performed better than we could have on our own. The drafts/proposals were easy to sort through, and we appreciated the printable version to keep on us throughout the journey. It was also very helpful to forward on to family members for their information (and flight numbers, hotel contact, etc).
Overall we were just well taken care of; it was very appropriate. The great communication did not end when we started the trip. I had multiple questions during the journey that were answered ASAP by the team. They were a great resource before and during. As you can tell, we are satisfied. We are very thankful for everyone’s efforts towards creating and maintaining a great honeymoon.