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