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Author: sealionlady

Joined: 8/1/2010
Posts: 102
Trips Taken: 12
Traveler Since: 2001

October 09, 2013

 Several times now I have sung the praises of the new "Spain's Cultural Capitals" trip; my review was even quoted in "Harriet's Corner".  Well ..... I'm at it again.  A new review has just been posted under the Traveler Review section of the trip description.  That reviewer echoes many of my opinions as to what makes this such a lovely trip; he or she even mentions our wonderful guide, Francisco Valle for special praise.  

If you are considering this trip I believe this new review will tip the scale in favor of signing up.  And, if you've never considered it, well ...... maybe 2014 will be your year for Spain.

 

 

Author: calistogababe

Joined: 11/21/2013
Posts: 2

November 21, 2013

 I've only been on 3 OAT tours and love the small size of the group.  I'm considering this tour on April 15th and have a couple questions.  

 

1. What are the tipping guidelines for this tour?  

2. Are there any additional personal expenses I should budget for...like average price for dinner.

For those of you who travel OAT, how did the size of this tour group affect you?  

 

Thanks so much for your replies! 

Cheers, 

Suzanne

 

Author: nanaandpapa

Joined: 3/30/2011
Posts: 445
Trips Taken: 15
Countries Visited:

Aruba, Austria, Australia, Bermuda, Belgium, Botswana, Canada, China, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Rep., Egypt, England, Fiji, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Luxembourg, Mexico, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Russia, South Africa, Spain, St. Marten (fr), St. Martin (nd), Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, USA, Vatican, Zimbabwe

Traveler Since: 2002

November 21, 2013

 Suzanne,

In general GCT tipping guideleines are in line with OAT's, but you can download the Travel Handbook from the main page on each trip, as you can with OAT trips. In here are the tipping guidelines and other information on the trip.

Having not taken this specfic trip, I can't comment on spending other than meals. It is a few years since we've been to Spain, including all of the cities on this trip, and found food to be reasonably priced, as long as you were not looking for fancy restaurants, which we were not. I believe that you are a Spanish pseaker, so you should be able to do very well.

We have taken 11 GCT trip and 3 with OAT, with 2 moreOAT trips scheduled. Although the GCT maximum is generally around 40, we have had trips with 14 and 23 people. Frequently, unlike OAT, GCT will have local  guides in addtion to the PDs (TLs), so that the maximum ratio is 20 or so to 1, as opposed to 16 to 1 with OAT. The This varies by country and city. They also use personal radios, so that you can hear the leader from a distance, and therefore don't have to crowd together. Of course the local guides increase the tipping recommendations. 

We have enjoyed bot the OAT and GCT trips and have not found the group size to be a problem. With GCT, particularly in Europe, you will probably find more "shoppers" and more discoveries (shopping opportuninites), which are not my favorite part of the trip. There generally is more free time to explore on your own, and more optional  tours available.

 

Author: sealionlady

Joined: 8/1/2010
Posts: 102
Trips Taken: 12
Traveler Since: 2001

November 21, 2013

 I have travelled about 50/50 OAT/GCT and the larger group sizes don't bother me at all.  It didn't seem like I was lost in a crowd or anything like that.  

As to tipping, it was endless, but I sort of expected that.  I equipped myself with maybe $100.00 in $5.00 bills and used those.  I just couldn't keep enough smaller Euros on-hand; many other members of our group did the same thing.  Guides are in the travel business, after all, and with a pocket full of dollars, I'm sure they don't mind popping into a bank and doing the exchange.  I really don't mind tipping and I noticed that our group seemed to be generous.  I also tipped the hotel maids .... I tried to use Euros for that.  We tipped our guide and bus driver at the end of the trip, and for that I used my larger-sized Euros.  In total, I spent around $250.00 on tips, as I remember. 

Food .... wow! ..... they provided us with excellent meals.  Many days we had one meal on our own, but I was glad to back off with a sandwich or salad and a glass of wine.  Our hotels were always located in great areas with tons of restaurants, cafeterias, and coffee shops.  This was a very small expense; of course, I was not dining in expensive up-scale restaurants, but in nice small places.  The very last thing I needed was more lavish meals!  So, I spent maybe $10.00 or so for each meal on my own ..... twice I had only ice cream ..... hey! .... I was on vacation!

Frankly, I found the shopping uninspiring.  The only things I bought were a few magazines, a lipstick and a pottery piggy bank.  We went to the Lladro factory, but, while they are lovely, I just couldn't use any of the items.  

If you are going in April, it could be cold and rainy.  Carry an umbrella and some warm clothes.  Don't just take shorts and t-shirts!  My trip was in mid-May and we had snow.  Long pants and a heavy hoodie shoud be adequate .... some in our group had to go out and buy them. 

GCT seems to have put a lot of effort into creating a great trip.  The provided meals, as I mentioned, are wonderful; the hotels are nice and in great areas.  A special treat:  the transfer days (Madrid to Valencia; Valencia to Barcelona) are fun, with stops in fascinating towns, such as Tarragona and Cuenca.  

I do hope you go on the trip and enjoy it as much as I did!

 

Author: calistogababe

Joined: 11/21/2013
Posts: 2

November 25, 2013

Sealionlady!   
Thank you for your detailed reply.  I am booked for this on April 15, 2014. 

I appreciate your suggestion about taking a bunch of $5.00's for tipping...that's great. AND thank you for the weather warning and clothing suggestions.  I live in Cuenca, Ecuador and am so looking forward to seeing Cuenca Spain!   People often get the two mixed up.   I definitely plan on eating ice cream for dinner every chance I get!   
 

Happy trails to you....

Suzanne 

 

 

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