Skipping Out in Spain
We skipped out. It was as simple as that. On a warm spring evening in Madrid, while the rest of the travelers on our Trafalgar Tours Europe trip went out for a group dinner, my husband and I and two other travelers went to see a site that was technically not on the tour.
Related: Need a laugh and some advice on what NOT to do in Europe? Check out our post about being Trapped in a Bathroom.
What’s Worth Skipping Dinner For?
The Museo del Prado is one of the greatest art museums on the planet housing the world’s single best collection of Spanish art. Highlights of the collection include a large number of works by Francisco de Goya, Diego Velázquez, El Greco, Titian, Peter Paul Rubens and Hieronymus Bosch. The museum has over 7500 paintings and about a thousand sculptures and we were surprised it wasn’t on the list of tour sites in Madrid, because it is one of the most visited tourist sites in all of Spain. Though it did not make the tour list, El Prado was definitely on our list.
How to Make the Most of Trafalgar Tours in Europe
One of the most important things to remember when you are on a group tour is that it is still your trip and you can’t let tour priorities keep you from seeing the sites you came half way around the world to see. That doesn’t mean you keep the entire group waiting while you see the sites, but if an opportunity arises to skip out on a group function in favor of going somewhere else, you should feel okay about that. You can keep your independence — even on a bus tour.
Insider Experiences Make Trafalgar Tours a Great Way to See Europe
Modern motorcoach vacations have come a long way. Tour operators have developed a wide variety of tours that cater to every age and interest and allow guests to more than just skim the surface of a place, but have an experience in the process. Trafalgar Tours Europe include “insider experiences” that take you to places you wouldn’t be able to find on your own. During our tour, we visited the ranch home of a famous bull fighter, watched a young bullfighter in training and ate dinner with the family. We also drove past the famous cave homes in Barrio Troglodyte and popped in to visit an acquaintance of our tour guide. Those were two experiences we never would have found on our own.
Economical and Convenient
Our Trafalgar Tours Europe itinerary covered the major sites in Spain at a price that was cheaper than if we had done the trip independently. That said, it didn’t cover all the sites we wanted to see, so we chose a few key moments to skip out of other group events and experience those sites on our own.
After discussing our plan with our Trafalgar Tours Europe tour guide, we headed to El Prado. As luck would have it, admission to the museum is free after 5 p.m. each day. For my part, I didn’t truly appreciate the genius of El Greco (1541-1614) until I had personally seen The Resurrection and The Adoration of the Shepherds, arguably two of his greatest works. I was also incredibly moved by the black paintings of Goya (1746-1828). I pondered the inner turmoil, despair, and loneliness Goya felt near the end of his life after losing his hearing. The paintings in the museum are actually copies of those he painted all over the walls of his home, which was popularly known as La Quinta del Sordo (The Deaf One’s Villa).
Paella for Dinner
Since we missed the included dinner, our biggest challenge was figuring out where we were going to eat. It was a Sunday evening and many local restaurants were closed. When we returned to the hotel, the concierge recommended a place called La Paella de la Reina. The restaurant specializes in Paella, a Valencian rice dish. We tried the traditional Valencian paella made with white rice, green vegetables, beans and several types of meat including rabbit, chicken and duck and seasoned with saffron and other spices. It was our first authentic paella of the trip and we thoroughly enjoyed it. As it turns out, skipping out can be a positive choice.
The Art of Skipping Out
- Choose a Trafalgar Tours Europe itinerary that includes most of the major sites you wish to see.
- If there is a site you wish to see that is not part of the tour, see if there is an activity you might forgo in favor of visiting the site.
- Discuss your plan with your tour guide and enlist their advice and help.
- Sometimes skipping out is simply not possible. Don’t be disappointed if you can’t make it work.
- Keep the guide’s phone number on you as well as the name and address of your hotel.
- Get back to your hotel well in advance of the bus departure time. You cannot expect the entire group to wait for you.
Why Book Motorcoach Tour?
A motorcoach tour can be a stress-free economical way to scratch your travel itch. Trafalgar Tours Europe itineraries cover a wide variety of destinations. When you consider that ground transportation is included, first class hotels, some meals, entrance fees and the help of excellent local guides, seeing Europe with Trafalgar can be less costly than doing it on our own.
There are some additional costs to Trafalgar Tours of Europe. Always remember to keep some cash on hand for tipping local guides. You’ll also need cash for tipping your main tour guide and the driver at the end of the tour. Optional tours can also add to the cost of the trip. Guides promote these tours, because they and the companies they work for make commissions for selling them. These tours can be a good value, but you may prefer free time to explore on your own.