Untourists of the week: Bob Crossley and Monica McAlpine

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Monica and Bob….and the endless olive trees of Andalusia in the background.

1.Tell us a little bit about your most recent Untour.

Tell us a little bit about your most recent Untour.     Our two weeks in Andalusia last September may have been our most unique Untours trip so far.  (This was our fourth Untours experience; all have been wonderful.)   What we liked most was settling into a single town for two weeks—Priego de Cordoba—and getting to know it intimately.  By living in town—in the oldest quarter in Priego—we could use our rental car whenever we wanted to go to nearby cities and towns.  But we could also choose not to use the car and explore by foot, getting to know local restaurants, shops, street vendors, using our extremely minimal Spanish and abundant hand signals to communicate with local residents, most of whom speak little or no English.  Priego is a picturesque and charming place and its history is etched into its architecture and narrow winding streets and even its sidewalks—there are beautiful marble sidewalks in the eighteenth-century merchants’ district when the town was at its peak of prosperity.  Our landlord, Juan , was a delight and we had many laughs over his efforts at English and mine at Spanish, but the language difference was never a barrier and he pointed us to many things we wouldn’t have been able to know on our own:  the location at the other end of a town of a local farmers’ market, an unpublicized and free equestrian performance at the town bull ring (one of the highlights of our stay), and special religious processions with music at night.  The apartment itself was the most spacious one we’ve enjoyed on any of our Untours—utterly comfortable and very private, occupying the entire third floor of Juan’s house.  Although there were excellent, unpretentious restaurants in Priego which we took advantage of (mostly for lunches) we cooked a lot of our own meals in the well-equipped kitchen, and that made the trip fairly economical.  Our day trips to Granada and Cordoba, our overnight to Seville, smaller excursions to nearby hill towns, a visit to the workshop of one of the most famous potters in Spain, and hiking in the nearby national forest all lent variety and excitement to an otherwise quiet and serene vacation.

2.   What is your favorite Untours memory?    

 

Probably our most unforgettable memory of Priego was marching in the annual procession of The Lady of the Dawn (one of the tips Juan gave us).  Neither of us is a believer but it was extraordinary to watch the massive statue of the Virgin being extricated inch by inch through the doors of the local church on a huge silver platform carried by thirty-six men.  The procession was accompanied by music on a splendid variety of instruments: saxophones, trumpets, tambourines, flutes, tubas—you name it.  There were performances at virtually every street corner in the old town.  It was one of those exhilarating experiences that seem to happen only on Untours.
 

3. How is taking an Untour different from other ways of traveling?

The great thing about Untours is settling in to a comfortable, neighborhood apartment where you can essentially continue your life while having a vacation.  We’ve found that we can pack very minimally since we could do our laundry as often as needed and hang it to dry in Juan’s courtyard.  And, of course, getting oriented to the place by the knowledgeable and genial Untours representative lets you jump into the new experience with two feet.

4. If you could describe an Untour in just 3 words, what would they be?

Un-common, Un-troubled, Un-surpassed.

 

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