10 months ago
This trip exceeded my expectations in every way. I was particularly impressed by the enthusiasm, knowledge and patience of our Spanish guide, Sonja Formojo. It is amazing how much I was able to do during this voyage. There was a good balance between scheduled events and free time, and Sonja helped each of us to optimize our free time. She taught us how to use the bus and metro systems to independently navigate Barcelona and Madrid. Spanish infrastructure, including high speed rail, is impressive. The accommodations were very good and the weather was perfect.
My husband doesn't like to travel, so I went by myself and appreciated the friendly reception by all the other road scholars/kindred spirits. We had a great group and everyone always showed up on time! I was very pleased that with Sonia's help, I was always able to find delicious gluten and dairy free options for my medical food sensitivities. All of our event guides were excellent! My only constructive criticism is that we should have headed out to Montserrat 30 minutes earlier. As the day progressed the crowds were unbelievable and long lines prevented me from gaining access to the Black Madonna and the famous Boys' Choir. Nonetheless, I did have time to take the funicular to see the spectacular views from the mountain top.
There is a TON of information imparted by our excellent event guides, and I urge everyone contemplating this trip to take the time to first study a bit of Spanish history, art and architecture. In anticipation of this trip I took several Great Courses, learned basic Spanish, and enjoyed tackling some of the books on the Road Scholar recommended reading list, including George Orwell's "Homage to Catalonia". I brought Rick Steves' Spanish guidebook with me, and it really helped to optimize my free time.
I return home with a much deeper understanding of this culturally rich and beautiful complex country that sits at the crossroads between Europe & North Africa.