BARCELONA AND NORTHERN EUROPE
Tour Director Laura María José Fernández Nuñez
As we arrived several days early, we first met Laura at the Welcome Meeting at the Hotel Catalonia La Pedrera. Go Ahead Tours (GAT) and Laura provided everyone with wine, water and juice.
A smiling, welcoming, and friendly demeanor put everyone at ease from the first. She briefly talked about the GAT nametags saying they were not really necessary as they flagged everyone as tourists. She gave us a brief introduction of her tour guide background and then asked all of us to introduce ourselves to the group.
She finished by asking if anyone had dietary concerns or preferences. Gennie mentioned that she did not consume alcohol and asked if she could have a Coke instead. Every meal that Gennie had as part of the GAT she was given a Coca Cola without having to ask. Impressive!
We then walked to our Welcome Dinner at the Balthazar Restaurant where we got an idea of what to expect from GAT in their provided meals; lots of food. Laura told us that we could stay at the restaurant to talk to our new travel companions or, as many had just flown in this day, we could walk back to our hotel.
On Saturday morning Laura greeted all of us in the lobby of the hotel and provided us with Whisperers, (voice enhanced listening devices). She worked very hard to make sure, throughout the trip, that we all had working electronic devices. In our opinion, she spent way too much time on an issue that should be functioning properly - we had too many problems with these on this trip.
She introduced us to our city tour guide and then accompanied us on the limited city tour of Barcelona. As it was raining, she still braved the weather, took abuse from trip members, and kept the group together. We were impressed.
Many Tour Directors (TD) use this time to stay in the hotel or bus, do their own work, and not accompany the group. Laura went on EVERY city tour throughout the trip.
As we noted all activity and situations every day, we could go on for pages about Laura and her excellent job as the TD. We do need to reinforce that Laura is only the second TD in all our tours that would face the group when she presented her material.
We would drive for hundreds of kilometers and she would be facing us and presenting. That is extraordinary. We enjoyed and learned from all the material she gave us. Speaking with complete knowledge, she was a great spokesperson for her country.
Another notable aspect of her TD ability was providing little things for the group. From our own background we know this is usually done in collaboration with the parent company, in this case GAT. Still, she could have chosen not to do these things.
One day, after a meal, she had napkins and a cheese cake like dessert for the group on the bus. Another, she brought a local liqueur and cookies for those of us on the bus. She even had the glasses. Then on the last day, she gave all of us a special pin that signified the Peregrinos and their trek to Santiago de Compostela.
In conclusion, we would rank Laura in our Top 10 of over 64 tour directors.
Day 13 - Saturday, April 22, 2022 - Depart for U.S.
The hotel prepared a box breakfast for us as we had to be in the lobby way before the breakfast room was open.
Last night we found out that our departure flight back to...