This is a thank you note, and love letter, to Gourmand Breaks for designing the 40th anniversary trip of our dreams. Our expectations were very high, but Madrid and Andalusia, and your caring attention to detail, exceeded them! As close to a perfect vacation as we´ve ever had together, and we´re talking 40 years!
First of all, we loved our guides – Olga, in Madrid: In addition to expertly guiding us through the magnificent El Prado Museum, she introduced us to sizzling prawns in garlic at Cervantes, which became our favorite tapas place! Paloma, in Seville, guided us through Barrio Santa Cruz, and the Reales Alcazares. We easily fell in love with Seville. In Cordoba, we were introduced to Marie Jose, whose passion for her city and its history was infectious. We spent hours with Marie. Obviously, we hated to say goodbye. While in Seville, Gourmand Breaks arranged for us to see a thrilling Flamenco show. The dancers, musicians and singers were truly artists. Not to be missed! We loved the all the hotels Gourmand Breaks selected for us. My favorite was in Granada. The room was stunning, but best of all was the lovely, private patio. Our first night, someone rang our bell at about 11. Enter a lovely young woman carrying a tray of delicious fruit. As if we weren´t already charmed out of our minds! Downstairs, next to the restaurant, was a beautiful courtyard where we enjoyed relaxing and people watching. We ordered simple appetizers but out of the blue were treated to a five course feast straight from heaven. The best paella we´ve ever tasted, served with such panache! The wait staff were heavenly, too.
And then there was the patio/balcony in Ronda with a magnificent view of the white houses on the cliffs on the other side of the gorge. Breathtaking! And in Seville, the courtyard outside of our room where we spent enchanted evenings lounging on couches, dining on tapas and inhaling the scent of orange trees. In addition to our superb hotel meal in Granada, our favorite restaurants (suggested by Gourmand), were Viridiana and Alabaster, both in Madrid, both unforgettable.
As a special treat, Gourmand arranged for us to see an opera, at Teatro Zarzuela, upon our return to Madrid. Not only were the lead performers exceptional, the staging was outstanding, with circus performers such as jugglers and a man on stilts, all in colorful costumes. Fortunately, a small screen at the top of the proscenium provided English translations! It was great fun to be in an audience of local people, many of whom had brought their children along. I´ve never been an opera buff, but this trip may have converted me!
Knowing that Ursula, Joanne and their team were looking after us was very reassuring. We knew that, were anything to go awry, they would see to it that things were set right again. We will be talking about our Spain trip for years to come, and plan to do it again with our grown children and their families! We eagerly look forward to another brilliant vacation with Gourmand Breaks