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Is This a Typical Trapsatur Coach Tour Experience?

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Sugar Land Texas USA
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Is This a Typical Trapsatur Coach Tour Experience?

Of our 4-week 2012 European vacation, I decided to spend the last week in Spain. Although aware of postings on TA that could serve as a warning I was determined and had not been successful arranging through a UK vendor. We spent the day before and the day after a 5-day, 4-night tour visiting Madrid art museums (a good idea).

My observations:

(1) Do not believe that extensive multiple web sites in English have any prediction of tour group composition -- only 4 people on our tour spoke English as their primary language. Considering this might happen, we weren't disturbed.

(2) The tour manager and bus driver kept us on schedule. The bus was in good condition, the air conditioning (mid-June) was fine and bottled water was constantly available. The bus driver (monolingual) was excellent and helpful and highways in Andalucia were excellent.

(3) Two of three hotels were excellent (we selected the upgrade). We were very surprised that either Trapsatur or Spanish tourism has determined what "tourist food" should be: bland salad or soup and uniform bland selection of protein (fish, chicken, pork -- doesn't appear to be any beef in Spain) always with overcooked canned vegetables. The only dinner with any variety was a buffet on the Costa del Sol in a very run-down hotel. Buffet breakfasts were the culinary highlight of the tour (we were basically too tired in Madrid to search out good/typical food).

(4) The greatest disappointment was the variable quality of tours offered in various locations. Trapsatur must assume that its passengers will read nothing about Spain or Spanish history. Tours in Cordoba and Granada were excellent. In contrast, our non-stop talking tour manager sold, even before we had driven out of Madrid, his "supplemental tours." This was serious business -- he marched through the bus with his own credit card machine! Our major city was Seville -- if we had not purchased the "supplement" we would have had to find our own way back to the hotel and would have not seen the inside of any historical building. Tours of Seville and Toledo intentionally excluded their cathedrals and many were disappointments. "Tours" often consisted of long walks to avoid paying bus parking fees. Rhonda, Costa del Sol, and Toledo were especially disappointing. Indeed in Toledo we were unbelievably rushed so that we could be bused out to a store so we could purchase souvenirs with our Toledo "guide."

My travel experiences over the last 4 years up til this June consisted of city visits with self-planned experiences (from London, we took the train to Hampton Court, the underground to Kew Gardens, and the bus to the British Museum -- all great. We have also participated in cruise port excursions (mainly private with preselected content) and have had substantial success as well. Obviously, we would prefer to speak the common language and experience a quality tour experience? I made three attempts to send comments about the tour's "private tours" to Trapsatur and never received a reply. My conclusion has been that they don't care and really want to cultivate Spanish-only customers. Have any readers prepared for a coach tour and then have been pleased by their experiences? I'm not certain that we want to try again.

DJ

Is there a Spanish-language equivalent of TA? I'd consider making a posting there if one is available.

Madison, Wisconsin
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for Madrid
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1. Re: Is This a Typical Trapsatur Coach Tour Experience?

Re: Beef is not usually eaten except at expensive restaurants. Pork and lamb would be typical fare...and of course, any fish with seafood being expensive as well.

Have not been on a tour like that but nothing would surprise me. In other words, I completely believe you...sad as it is.

Here is the Spanish Trip Advisor.

www.tripadvisor.es/

Madrid, Spain
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2. Re: Is This a Typical Trapsatur Coach Tour Experience?

I am sorry to read about your disappointing experience, it sounds as though you were subjected to continual sales pitches for added extras which is not acceptable and not what you would wish for on a tour.

I am also sorry to read that the food you had was not too pleasant either! There really is some very delicious food in Spain including some excellent beef and veal. The beef from northern regions in Spain, such as Galicia is renowned for it's quality and taste and is widely available in restaurants, supermarkets and markets. There are many restaurants in Madrid which serve it. If you ever return to Madrid I would be happy to recommend some places to you.

O Savinao, Galicia
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for Galicia
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3. Re: Is This a Typical Trapsatur Coach Tour Experience?

Beef is served. In Galicia you should look for churrasco. We have an excellent one just "down the road" to us. We also serve beef from time to time.

Traditionally pork is the main diet meat in Spain.

The best way to explore any country is with your own itinerary.

I hope you come back to Spain and explore it in depth.

Madrid, Spain
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4. Re: Is This a Typical Trapsatur Coach Tour Experience?

Casa Santo: I would recommend the OP visits Galicia on a future trip to Spain - the food in Galicia, particularly the beef, veal and seafood, is superb! Never fails to impress.

O Savinao, Galicia
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for Galicia
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5. Re: Is This a Typical Trapsatur Coach Tour Experience?

Dont forget the wines too!

Thank you for your kind comments on Galicia, you seem to know it well :-)

Brussels, Belgium
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for Seville
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6. Re: Is This a Typical Trapsatur Coach Tour Experience?

indeed galicia paradise on earth, especially summertime

Madrid, Spain
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7. Re: Is This a Typical Trapsatur Coach Tour Experience?

Ahhh how could I forget the wine......... a lovely glass of chilled, crisp Albarino!!

Edited: 9:38 am, September 28, 2012
Madison, Wisconsin
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8. Re: Is This a Typical Trapsatur Coach Tour Experience?

Sorry about the beef comment, but as I recall except for the ubiquitous "filete" I can't really remember eating beef in Spain, and as I thought of "filete" it wasn't beef in my mind. What is it? In any case, I haven't had "filete" in recent years, but I have heard of friends going to fine restaurants for a T-bone...that I have never had in Spain.

BTW, I put "filete" in quotation marks since it's hardly a filet of beef in my mind. Maybe this reflects my Midwestern US background, where my father instructed, "When you travel don't order a steak. We have plenty of that here. Try other dishes (seafood, for example) that we don't have so available here" Of course, those were other times, Anyone can get whatever if willing to pay, but Spain does pork/ham, lamb and seafood still

better that Midwestern US...although I might get some push-back on that from locals...but they aren't reading this.. or are they?

Olathe, Kansas
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9. Re: Is This a Typical Trapsatur Coach Tour Experience?

I would like to sympathize with the Original Poster. Bus tours are not my favorite mode of transportation, having just returned from a 2 week tour of Spain. That being said, I was very pleased with the professionalism of the tour guide we had on our Globus tour. Kaye was always considerate of her group. She made sure that we had adequate stops along the highway to stretch and use the facilities. Although some of our stops included the usual truck stop facilities, she always tried to find the best among them for us. The hotel food that we were served was not always of Gourmet quality it was good. We were offered optional tours but we were never pushed to take any. We were given a 2 hour walking tour in Toledo.

I am not sure where he found the tour he took, but I am sorry that he had such a bad experience. Obviously not all tours are like that.

Brussels, Belgium
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10. Re: Is This a Typical Trapsatur Coach Tour Experience?

sorry to hear you were disappointed with some of the items on your trip to spain.

nevertheless, I'd like to say that spanish food in general, when compared with american food, is usually bland, as it is not cooked with many spices or salt/pepper, a common feature in american cuisine.

also, tour hotels' menus are not, in general, the best you can get out of spanish kitchens.

spanish food is very diverse and rich, completely different from one region to other, and it includes beef (Avila's beef being very famous, also Northern beef, galician/asturian). It's a pity to hear you couldn't take advantadge of it due to bad restaurant choices of your tour company.

Also the fact that you visited so many places in just one week makes me think you didn't really enjoy other things spain has to offer.