Portraits of Green Spain, Cantabria, the Basque Coast and Andorra

What our previous travellers have to say about this tour

"Our holiday far exceeded our expectations. We were impressed with every aspect, the coach, the hotels, the food, the excursions and the biggest credit must to go to Simon and Steve."

Miss Cook

Miss Cook

"Now the suitcases have been put away and life returns to normal I thought it a good time to write of our experience. I personally hadn’t taken a holiday of any sort for 15 years. It was also going to be the first opportunity for mum and me to go away together, just the two of us, therefore our trip really needed to be something special. Our expectations were high.

Day one and our journey from the pick-up point via taxi, then transfer coach to Portsmouth went smoothly. Once the queueing for passport checks were complete we were welcomed on board our Silver Service coach by our drivers, Steve and Simon.

A couple of hours later we were up on top deck, waving bye-bye to the UK, watching the Spinnaker Tower fade away. We had a giggle swaying about with the movement of the ship - and possibly the effect of the naughty boozy coffee we indulged in too. What a fantastic end to the first day!

The 24 hour sailing whizzed by, thanks to the super on board facilities and the bright and breezy weather. The sea air made us ravenous and the first buffet style evening dinner, upon our arrival at the elegant Gran Hotel Suances, was very welcome and certainly didn’t disappoint. It was a pleasant surprise to find wine included too! In fact, every meal we had during our stay was superb at both of our hotels.

Unfortunately the weather was more reminiscent of a damp day in Ilfracombe than a summer’s day in Spain during our included excursion on Day 3. I actually thought the spooky mists and leaden skies added more drama to the spectacular Cantabrian scenery passing by our window. It certainly didn’t deter Mum, our driver Si and me from venturing out on to Comillas beach to boldly (but briefly) paddle where no visitor had paddled before – at least that day! Why travel all that way just to sit on the coach? “Bravery” with a hot coffee.

There were no quick dips at Santillana Del Mar, despite the name it’s located far from the sea. On arrival we reckoned Steve must have taken a wrong turning at some point and ended up in in the Middle Ages – everywhere down the little cobbled alleys was so magnificently medieval. I had heard this little gem of a location has been voted “Spain’s Prettiest Village” on more than one occasion and it was easy to see why.

In Santander the two of us decided to explore the café district and discovered a little backstreet seafood restaurant. We enjoyed a huge fish based starter to share followed by a ridiculously massive rabbit paella plus a fab bottle of red. The very friendly couple who ran the place couldn’t speak a word of English but using sign language and our basic evening class Spanish we got by and a really authentic Spanish experience was had, a true taste of Spain.

Fortunately the weather could not have been any more different for our following day’s excursion into the spectacular mountains of the Picos de Europa.

Crystal clear skies meant the optional cable car ride up to the top of the mountain at Fuente Dé became a must do. There was the option to be dropped off in the pretty town of Potes for sightseeing for those who preferred to keep their feet on terra firma.

On arrival the queue for the cable car stretched on forever, however our perseverance was rewarded as the views at the top were worth a queue ten times the length. They did take our breaths away, quite literally. Words won’t describe it. Emerald forests and flower meadows in the valley, so far below where our coach looked as small as an ant, surrounded by craggy blue-grey peaks surging up still higher, topped off with dazzling white snow in the bright sunshine with just the odd little fluffy cloud here and there below our eye level which served to further demonstrate how VERY high up we were. Black alpine choughs with bright yellow bills rising and tumbling against the deepest blue sky I’ve witnessed. A short amble further up the rocky path led us to an expanse of deeper snow to indulge in a brief snowball fight. In Spain, in summer! Mad and majestic in equal measure. My favorite day.

On to Day 6 and we said a fond farewell to the splendid Gran Hotel Suances and set off for a short visit to San Sebastian, another very elegant seaside city which warrants a longer stay, before heading east towards tiny Andorra for our four night stay at the Holiday Inn. Admittedly this was a long journey but our drivers ensured enough stops were provided to break the journey up. The scenery on route was ever changing and we reached Andorra in time to enjoy a superb dinner in the lovely dining area.

After a comfy first night in our new swish surroundings, a beautiful bright morning greeted us in Andorra la Vella. After a huge breakfast we had the whole day to do as we pleased and there was plenty to see both natural and manmade. This city is a shopaholic’s paradise.

Day 8 was Tuesday which meant..Barcelona! Si had booked up a local guide to join us on the coach for a tour of the city. So many of the buildings were stunningly / strangely beautiful and I found myself “oooing” and “aaahing” in admiration. We ventured up Montjuic where the 1992 Olympic Stadium stands surrounded by beautiful gardens and fountains. Now you cannot “do” Barcelona in a few hours. This city requires at least a long weekend to see everything. Nevertheless, in the limited time available we saw an excellent “snapshot” of the highlights and we considered it to be an excellent day out, superbly organized.

One last beautiful day in Andorra was spent exploring the smaller towns and countryside surrounding the capital. It was another good opportunity to stretch our legs and take some more photos of the area.

Day 10 started early to allow enough time to complete the 900+ kilometres up to Paris. Our drivers really did work hard! The evening tour of Paris was fabulous, we were given the chance to take some decent photos, including an eyeful of the Eiffel (sorry, that was one of Si’s, thankfully his commentaries were more polished than his jokes).

Si managed to get us onboard sailing of the Seine. Nightfall was fast approaching and as the boat set sail all the sights were starting to light up. We passed under beautiful bridges, the Notre Dame and other gorgeous buildings. But, oh, the Eiffel Tower! It was stunning and much larger than I had ever imagined, lit up like a huge burning gold phoenix! I now fully appreciate why Paris is called the City of Love. There was no chance of romance however as mum and I only had each other to cuddle, but what an experience, I cannot imagine a more magical way to have spent our last evening.

Si and Steve excelled in every way from start to finish and they must have been exhausted by that stage.

Sadly all good things must come to an end and I personally hated counting down the kilometers on the satnav as we approached Calais, as I knew that was where we would have to say farewell to our fellow passengers and our two fantastic drivers. Our adventure was all but over and as we hugged our goodbyes I struggled to keep a stiff upper lip. All that remained was the brief ferry crossing to the white cliffs and then home.

From the above you won’t be surprised to learn our holiday far exceeded our expectations. We were impressed with every aspect, the coach, the hotels, the food, the excursions and the biggest credit must to go to Simon and Steve as they really did work exceptionally hard to ensure we enjoyed every moment of our holiday.

After having such a fabulous experience it would now be unbearable not to have another adventure to look forward to!

From two delighted customers.