Personal Vacation Planner

Malaga and Alhambra, Spain

This morning we arrived in Malaga, Spain. I had organized a private tour with people on our cruise roll call on one of the cruise message boards. Even though I had confirmed with everyone via email prior to the cruise, one of the couples wasn’t even on the ship. This is the first time I have had this happen. I emailed the tour company yesterday when I couldn’t reach the couple in the cabin they gave me or through guest relations but the tour company said I still had to pay for part of the couples’ tour which was surprising because nowhere in their paperwork does it say non refundable. Usually tour companies that people use for private tours from cruise ships are pretty flexible.

After having all the others meet me at the coffee café on board, we preceded ashore to find the guide. The port is brand new in Malaga. After exiting the cruise ship terminal, our guide was waiting with my name on a sign. After collecting the money from me, we boarded our mini bus and headed to Alhambra, which is a two-hour drive from Malaga.

The point of doing a private tour is not only to have a smaller group but to also have flexibility in our schedule if we want to spend more or less time at a destination. Usually the tour guide asks in the beginning our preferences but this time we were told what our schedule was going to be matter of factly and this right away seemed no different than the ship’s tour. In fact our group was the first to get off the ship so we could get a head start in front of the larger buses.

After one hour of driving we stopped at a rest stop to use the restroom. The guide told us we had 20 minutes but we said we only needed no more than 10 as we all wanted to get going. Well we were waiting the full 20 minutes for the guide. Don’t get me wrong, he was a good guide but not a flexible guide in making sure we were doing what we wanted. We were five minutes away from Alhambra when the guide told us we were making good time and he was going to give us a tour of the city around Alhambra that we would like. Well we got stuck in a traffic jam for 20 minutes and therefore had to skip that so called mini tour and proceed to Alhambra.

When we arrived at Alhambra the guide said we were going to take a three-hour tour of the grounds and meet him to go back to the ship. I asked him why it was three hours as he said because there was so much to see. Others in my group asked if we had time on the way back to stop in Malaga near the ship and he said no that there was too much to see at Alhambra. I didn’t argue because I thought this place must be grand to take three hours. However, I like the others in my group thought we were the ones in charge of the itinerary or at least had some input but that wasn’t the case. In my opinion, two hours was plenty of time to spend there as everything just started looking like the same thing over and over and I would have much rather seen some of Malaga as well. But I am sure the guide likes the three hours he gets a break from us as he hands us over to someone else at Alhambra.

After Alhambra, we headed back to the ship and had to hear about how bad the Malaga economy is and unemployment etc. I usually enjoy hearing about the local country/city I am touring but hearing two hours of depressing stuff didn’t make for a relaxing tour. I go on vacation to escape the bad news all over the news etc. It’s one thing to talk about it for five to ten minutes but not the whole drive.

Upon arriving back at the port, my mom and I got showered and ready for dinner. Tonight’s dinner featured frog legs, summer rolls, Halibut, Veal and Ivory Chocolate Mousse Cake with Salted Caramel for dessert. The nights’ entertainment was a magician. Unfortunately he couldn’t make the large waves were encountering after dinner to disappear.

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