Jeff & Jerod, Renton, WA & Falls Church, VA
Jerod and I are both back in the US now. I imagine you are both enjoying some well deserved R&R somewhere quiet after the fiesta in Pamplona!
Jerod and I had such a great, memorable time in Pamplona. Thank you so much for everything! I especially enjoyed all of our conversations about local culture, tradition, and history. We would have like to stayed throughout the entire festival, but we decided to go north and we had a wonderful time there exploring San Sebastian.
We stayed in San Sebastian for two nights. The only room near town was on the beach, so it was a little more expensive than we had hoped but the central location was great for exploring all of the shops and the old quarter. We closed the first night in San Sebastian enjoying the Monte Cristo #2's we bought in Pamplona while reflecting on all that we did in the first part of our trip. On the second day we hiked to the top of Mount Urgull and explored the Castillo de la Mota. We had some great pintxos, did a lot of window shopping, and listened to various street musicians along the beach. The weather was overcast with only brief periods of light mist/rain and just warm enough to not need a jacket (especially given all of our hiking and walking). On the last day it was very warm and sunny and we could have stayed another day, but we had to check out at noon.
We entertained the thought of trying to get over to Barcelona and/or Ibiza, but decided it would be more prudent to go to Madrid since we both had to fly out of there anyway. We took a bus back to Pamplona, then caught the train to Madrid. We stayed at the AC Hotel Carlton Madrid (Marriott), which turned out to have excellent rooms at a reasonable price and was in a great location. Our first night there we had an excellent dinner (I had veal cutlets), a good bottle of Rosado, and they brought us a dessert liqueur named "Crema con Orujo". We went to a local nightclub named "Kapital" that was amazing - seven floors of nightclub and the rooftop floor was open to the air. We stayed up in the open air portion and met some nice locals and also a group of students from Boston. The place opened at midnight and we were there until after 5:00 A.M.! haha. Good thing we had a respite in San Sebastian because we go no rest in Madrid (wound up back at the same club the next evening).
On our last day in Madrid we took a bus up to the stadium where Real Madrid plays and got some souvenirs, and we took the city bus tour in the double-decker bus with the open top. The architecture in the old parts of the city is amazing. We also walked around a lot to explore and search for places to eat. Madrid is huge!
Sorry for the rambling - but wanted to give you a high-level recap of our travels. Thank you again for all of the wonderful experiences in Pamplona and for your hospitality. I had the experience of a lifetime and incredible memories and stories to share. We'll see if any of my friends become infected with the desire to go to Spain after hearing of my travels, but if they do I'll send them your way. There's no way I could have experienced Pamplona like I did without you.
Best regards and please keep in touch!
Harvard HILR Group, Boston, MA
Dear Maribel and Phil, Thank you for providing us with a wonderful experience of Barcelona, Bilbao, and Madrid. Everyone on the trip had a terrific time, and all sang praises of the two of you. It was really fabulous.
Our hotel in Madrid, the El Prado, proved to be much more than a little hotel: we loved it! Our breakfast the following morning was quite elaborate, more like the Carlton than the Avenida Palace, and we ate it all. We enjoyed the Reina Sofia and the Prado, and we found great restaurants for more wine, more food.
Once again, thank you for your terrific planning, and please keep me in mind for a summer jazz experience in northern Spain for next year.
Julie & Jason, La Jolla, CA
Hi Philip - We returned safely Friday night and had an AMAZING trip!! And I guess you may know, we are engaged! Jason proposed in Granada on the rooftop terrace of our hotel (we were the only ones there, aside from the bartender) and had views of the Alhambra and Cathedral. It was perfect! I might be biased, but Granada was my favorite city and the Alhambra our favorite site! Here's a pic of where he popped the question.
We made it to many of the tapas restaurants you recommended and all were fabulous. The hotels were also all great. Cordoba probably our favorite and Barcelona our least favorite just because of the no free wifi and what we felt like was lack of information with the strike. Roberto (manager I think) however was extremely helpful and if we could talk to him every time, we would have been very happy. We did get some interesting video in Barcelona during the strike, that's for sure!
We definitely could have used the extra day in San Sebastian and were blown away by the views and the amazing food there. We'll have to make it back someday. Your recommendations for sightseeing and eating were great and overall we were extremely pleased with everything. Thank you so much for all your help! I think we have the travel bug now. I will recommend you to anyone I know going to Spain.
Glenn & Laura, Park Ridge, IL
Laura and I wish to express our gratitude for all of your assistance and the great service that you and your wife supplied in connection with our trip to Spain in July. As you predicted- we fell in love with Basque Country and the Basque people. Abalos and La Rioja were terrific. Our stay in the Pyrenees was all too short before we had to head down to Barcelona. Our favorite town nearby in the wine country was LaGuardia- Laura is already thinking about an extended trip to get to know that part of the world as well as San Sebastian a bit better for an extended time when work commitments slow down for me in a few years and we can take a month or two off at a time.
Of course, we did not find the time to do all of the things that you outlined but experienced many of them while we explored a bit on our own with the freedom of the car and some good maps. Food and wine were fantastic too! But plenty of walking and other exercise to work it off.
I hope that you had a good summer season with many adventures and great trips for all of your customers around the country. At some point we will discuss another trip with you - this time trying to make it to see Moorish Spain and places south.
All the best
Aaron & Rebecca, TX & Saudi Arabia
Greetings from the Eternal City. Rebecca and I got in late Tuesday night and made it to our apartment. There was an hour at the Pamplona airport when we got pretty nervous about missing our flight to Madrid - the terminal was crazy, crazy, crazy. Nonetheless, everything went well and we arrived safely with our bags.
Rome is beautiful, but we've both let our minds wander back to Pamplona and sometimes wonder whether we should have stayed there for the duration of our trip...
Just wanted to drop you a quick note to let us know how we're doing. Thank you for an AMAZING experience. Hope you're still enjoying San Fermin and we'll talk to you again soon.
Joe, Melissa, Jaclyn & Nicolette, Palm Beach, FL
We want to thank you so much for all you have done - we will be back!!
Tony & Ruthann, Cathedral City, CA
We want thank you and your wife for a marvelous trip. The accommodations and planning were excellent. I especially enjoyed Pamplona.
Henry & Family, Chaska, MN
Just a quick note to let you know how much we enjoyed the Pamplona experience, and that you came through for us in every respect. Everything you arranged -- from the trip to and from Madrid, to the bullfight and the balconies was superb It was also great to have you there as a resource, and appreciate your taking the time to walk us through the running route the day we arrived. Michele has a few pictures of you and our group that she will be emailing to you attention. Would you also pass along David's (the guy who ran with us) address and/or email if you have it. We have a couple pictures of him, and I would also like to thank him for his assistance as a running veteran. In any event -- our experience has stirred an interest in many of our friends -- and you may be hearing from some of them at some point regarding the 2007 festival. Again, thank you for helping to make the trip an experience we will never forget. Best Regards.
Niv (Bronx) and Phil (Miami)
I wanted to drop you a note of thanks for the wonderful time my brother and I had in Pamplona. We're very sorry we couldn't find you to say good-bye. We tried your old haunts, Cafe Luis and Embrujo, and were sad we couldn't give you a proper farewell. I hope you received the Cafe Iruna passes I left you. I thought you could pass them along to the next lucky Sanfermines.
This trip was a lifelong dream for me and I'm very happy to have found two people who helped me make it a reality. I salute you on your travel business and fiesta knowledge. Our stay was well organized and thoughtfully scheduled around the many fiesta activities. The room was superb. I was very pleasantly surprised and grateful you gave up your Avenida Hotel room for us. The space was roomy and much needed for two nutty obsessive-compulsive brothers.
Your restaurant knowledge and Basque culinary expertise came in handy to someone, such as myself, who shares a discriminating taste in food. I agree with you that one couldn't have a bad meal in Pamplona even if one tried! Felipe particularly enjoyed the evening meal we had in Embrujo. Thank you for making that happen. We enjoyed the bull stew dish so much we had it again at the Hotel Avenida for lunch the next day.
Our only regret is that we didn't stay longer. Our Madrid to London flight was canceled due to the Iberia pilot's strike so we were stuck there for 5 hours. If I had known they were switching us to a later flight we would have left Pamplona later and gotten another run notched on our sashes!
We are very happy we met such warm souls who truly love the fiesta and have found a way to share that with others. I wish you continued success in your travel business and future endeavors. San Fermin not only blessed our run in the encierro but also blessed us with the many new friends we shared our experience with through your organization.
Many thanks again and take care.
Stacy, De Pere, WI
I wanted to drop you a short note to thank you for an experience of a lifetime. I have dreamed of going to Spain to watch the Running of the Bulls for over twenty years. The experience I had has been difficult to put into words as I describe the trip to friends and family. I'm already planning the next visit.
Kelli and Frank, Oakland CA
Just wanted to drop you a line and thank you very much for your services during San Fermin. Frank and I had a wonderful time and it was a great way to experience SF for us "first timers". FYI...Frank made it in and out of the bullring - Alive and "untrampled".
Harold and Clare, Chicago, IL
It was great to see you again. Thanks for helping to make the Fiesta the best ever. We really enjoyed the Avenida and enjoyed the time we spent together. It's nice to know people who feel and understand what it's all about. That's worth more than anything.
Hope to see you in the near future. Our best to both of you.
Mike, Philadelphia PA
Just wanted to drop you a line, as I am about to leave for stateside from Madrid. I had a great time during the San Fermin festival. The hotel was great, easy access via the #12 bus, and very clean and modern with high speed Internet, which I appreciated.
The view from the balcony of the running was great, and so was the seat for the bullfight, which was a little like a car wreck. You didn't really want to watch but you couldn't look away. I found myself watching Saturday bullfight in my hotel room in Madrid as I relaxed from a day of seeing the sights.
Sunit, Washington, DC
Before I settle back into my daily routine here, I wanted to thank you on behalf of Joe and myself for facilitating a safe and enjoyable vacation in Pamplona. I am confident that we'll meet again in Spain; I only hope that it is sooner than later.
Charlie and L. Maria, Des Moines, IA
2007 will be a year to remember for us. Seeing the beauty of Spain, the running of the bulls and meeting wonderful, interesting people.
Ron, Troy, MI
I just got your "final review" and was glad to see that your trip this year was a success for you and your guests. As I mentioned in the early going, my daughter and I had to find a way to cut some costs, so we were not able to "officially" join your group. To your credit, however, you generously included us in your pre-trip newsletters and otherwise shared your thoughts and knowledge with us. That was a huge help to us and very kind of you, and I really mean that. With your help, we felt that we were pretty well prepared for the trip and we were totally comfortable with things when we got there. The result was an awesome and memorable experience for both of us! Andrea had a great time watching the run on the 9th from a balcony in Ayuntamiento Square. Thanks again for making that opportunity available to her.
Margie and Jay, Montebello, CA
We both thoroughly enjoyed Pamplona - especially, the encierros and of course the bullfights. The only downside was making the decision not to attend the last night's closing, since we had to get up at 4:45 a.m. July 15 to get to the airport. It was good that we did, since a lot of people were already in line when we arrived to check in.
Like coming over, our flights home were excellent - thanks to the seating Sara at Travel House arranged for us.
We look forward to another trip to Pamplona in the future. Just watching the news clips on TV will never be the same again now that we know what it is to be on a balcony in person. Truly an incredible experience!
Michael and Barbara, Tampa, FL
Our trip was VERY substantially enhanced through your help. Your excursions are a very substantial addition to the Festival. I truly wish we would have found you first instead of after finding a hotel and trying to pull things together on our own. But we had no idea until we happened upon your website while attempting to pull off San Fermines and France in the same time frame.
I can appreciate the trouble it represents trying to coordinate, assist and corral so many people in the midst of one of the largest fiestas we've ever seen. And you and Rogene appeared to handle everything so seamlessly without upset. Making so many people pleased. Helping with so many problems. And introducing so many people to the intricacies of the Festival and its customs. Very impressive.
By the last night at the bull fights, we had it ALL down. Bocadillas. Good wine we shared. Deserts for everyone (we often didn't have time to procure such). After the 3rd or 4th time in the same seats we knew all the neighboring folks. Following your instructions and having time to gather things worked very well.
We are talking about repeating the trip for San Fermines 2006. And encouraging friends. Several have said they are in. I am forwarding them your newsletters & web site as the best starting point.
Thanks again for all of your help and making San Fermines 2005 GREAT for us.
We would love to come again to the festival, but this year we are vacationing in the US. I hope to be back overseas summer of 2007. Please keep me on your email list.
Ed B. & Family, Stow, Ohio
We were traveling nearly 8 weeks last summer and the country meal we had with you and the festival itself, especially being on the street with the bulls, were some of the highlights of the entire trip. One of the few things my son took to college this year were his scarf/necktie and sash from the festival. Myself, and my wife and sister especially enjoyed the meal and the company. The balcony was perfect as it was right above the spot I picked as the best chance of being on the street during the run and surviving unharmed. We will certainly recommend your services to others.