Tag Archives: Spain

Cruise deals in Europe – less than $100 per day

La Sagrada Familia
La Sagrada Familia

Travelzoo.com and Royal Caribbean Cruises have partnered to offer incredible cruise deals in the Mediterranean. Sail aboard the Rhapsody of the Seas or the Jewel of the Seas for as little as $799 per person for a 10-day itinerary.

$799 roundtrip Rome, Venice, or Barcelona to Venice. Visit Croatia, Turkey, Greece and Malta, depending on which getaway selected. There are select dates, so visit Travelzoo.com by Friday, October 16 for the dates and itineraries.

Like this article? Click the subscribe link at the top of the page to get the latest information by email when it’s published. For more fun deals and information, follow Deb on Twitter at debtalkstravel.

These deals are subject to change or cancellation at any time, and restrictions may apply. Book early for the best deals.

Getaway to Prescott, vist San Clemente, airfare deals to Spain

La Sagrada Familia
La Sagrada Familia

This week’s travel deals include a two-night stay in Prescott, Arizona, airfare deals to the Spanish coast and a great deal on rooms in San Clemente, California.

For those who are interested in a beach getaway, the San Clemente Inn in San Clemente, California is offering a great deal on rooms into mid-June. Two guests stay in a studio starting at $67 per night, a room for four in the Breaker Suite starts at $79 per night, or six guests stay in the Crest Suite starting at $85 per night. The San Clemente Inn is located less than a mile from the beach and has an on-site restaurant that specializes in hearty breakfasts, burgers, sandwiches, soups, and salads. Each guest room has a kitchenette including a microwave and dishwasher and the property includes a heated outdoor pool and hot tub. Activities in the area include miles of biking trails, swimming, fishing, and surfing. There are plenty of great restaurants along the coast to have a meal and people-watch. Visit Groupon.com soon for more information and to book your getaway.

A trip to Spain is never a bad idea, and the Norwegian Air Shuttle is offering great deals on airfare to some of Spain’s most popular destinations. Currently Norwegian Air Shuttle is flying out of five markets: Fort Lauderdale, NYC, Los Angeles, Orlando, and Oakland. From Los Angeles, fly to Malaga in April, May, and October starting at $662. Fly to Barcelona April, May, September, and October starting at $696. Norwegian Air Shuttle was named the Best Low Cost Airline in Europe by Skytrax. The sale fares are their LowFare class which includes fees for checked baggage, seat reservations, and meals. To include these extras, check the LowFare+ class for pricing. Visit Travelzoo.com by March 31 for more information, including links to the reservation system. Book soon for the best selection.

If you love Arizona but the heat of Phoenix and Tucson is problematic, then visit Prescott, one of Arizona’s best preserved 19th-century towns. For fans of the Old West, Prescott boasts more than 800 buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places and home to the World’s Oldest Rodeo. Stay at the Hotel Vendome, right in the center of town. The hotel includes oak furnishings, patchwork quilts, wireless internet, off-street parking, and an on-site pub. Prescott is about a mile above sea level and a short drive from five mountain lakes. Visit Livingsocial.com by March 28 for more information and to buy your voucher.

Like this article? Click the subscribe link at the top of the page to get the latest information by email when it’s published. For more fun deals and information,  follow Deb on Twitter at debtalkstravel.

These deals are subject to change or cancellation at any time, and restrictions may apply. Book early for the best deals.

In Spain – no Spanish allowed

Villas at Abadio de los Templarios
Villas at Abadio de los Templarios

What’s it really like to participate in one of those English-language immersion programs in Spain?

I’m nervous and chilled standing outside a non-descript office building in Madrid. It’s first thing in the late November morning, and folks are gathering with their luggage and looking around wondering what we do next.  A friend and I have volunteered to be native English-speakers in an English-language immersion program in Spain, and the group of about 40 folks is gathering on this sidewalk during the Madrid commute. Soon, we board the bus and leave the big city behind for the quiet of Northwestern Spain, about an hour south of Salamanca.

As the bus smoothly moves into traffic, the directors give us the first of several sets of instructions. The most important instruction: no Spanish allowed. Although the bus is quiet now, a few moments ago the low murmur of twenty or so conversations had filled the space. Each English speaker, or Anglo, was sitting next to a Spaniard having a conversation in English. This is what we’ve volunteered to do, and being nervous or uncomfortable is not an excuse to avoid talking.Schaffer_Spain_Templarios

There are several of these volunteer programs available in Spain. Native English speakers apply to volunteer for a week at one of several different resorts around Spain. Once accepted, volunteers are required to speak English for the entire week, following the instructions and the daily program outlined by the directors. This sounded very appealing while back in my office in Colorado and now it just sounds daunting.

We arrive at the resort

After a stop near the walled city of Ávila, we arrive at Abadio de los Templarios. The group from the week before is finishing up their farewells. They seem to be so sad to leaving one another. Will our group be like that at the end of our time together? The directors gather us for room assignments and we are put two to a villa, the Anglos downstairs and the Spaniards upstairs. The villas are very nice, though not luxurious with common living quarters and separate bedroom suites. We don’t spend much time there anyway as we drop our luggage and head back to the dining room for lunch. Luckily, we already know at least one person in the group. Unluckily, for the timid among us we’re asked to sit four to a table, with someone we haven’t yet met. It’s time to get social.

Lunch is three courses with wine and by the time lunch is over folks are much more relaxed. More rules of the road are announced, including requests to be on time for meals and to have patience as everyone gets used to the program. The directors ask the Anglos to work with the Spaniards on common language errors, and to be gentle. The Spaniards look much more anxious than any of the Anglos, and they are working very hard to maintain their side of the English conversation. I can see frustration on a few faces.

The schedule

The each day starts at 9:00 in the morning with breakfast and goes nearly non-stop until about 11:00 p.m. There are a few hours break from the activity mid-day. I find myself looking forward to the late afternoon siesta for a quick nap and some downtime. It also turns out to be a good time to get to know the other Anglos in the group. Since the Anglos are always paired with Spaniards, we only spend time getting to know the other English speakers during mealtimes.

It can be as difficult for the Anglos to listen to Spanish-accented English as is it for the Spaniards to discern our English inflection. The program brings together Anglos from around the world, and in our group we’ve got folks from Britain, Wales, Australia, Canada, the U.S., and Malta. In Spain, English is taught with a British twist, so our Canadian and U.S. accents are puzzling for some of the Spaniards. As a group of English speakers, we try to speak carefully to help our new Spanish friends understand.

La Alberca Sign
La Alberca Sign

As the week progresses, we take a few field trips from the beautiful resort. The town of La Alberca is a short walk away, and we spend an afternoon there learning about small-town Spanish life and the famous “jamon” (ham) of the area. We’re all getting much more comfortable with each other, and the nerves are receding. Sitting in the town square having coffee in the warm November sunshine, the group watches the community pig snuffle around the table for a handout, and then the owner of the café shoos the pig away. After the stress of the first couple of days, it’s fun to unwind in town.

Our own brand of crazy

After the first few “one-on-one” conversations, we’re all starting to enjoy the process. No one could have convinced me before I got here that one could speak to an emerging English speaker for an hour and not have many awkward silences. We talk about our families, our work and jobs, and the Spanish economy. Conversations flow about online classes, gathering mushrooms, what it’s like to live in the U.S, and the best shopping in Madrid. The Anglos huddle to come up with an explanation of the idiom “to be cheeky.” Members of the group do funny skits, play games, and tell stories into the night. The Spaniards are required to prepare and present two different talks during the week, and the Anglos spend time with each presenter perfecting their English to sound as natural as possible.

By the end of the week, we’re like a crazy family. The Spanish women have taught several Anglos the Sevillanas, a local folk dance. Our resident guitar player has entertained us during breaks and parties with traditional Spanish ballads. Our new friends arranged for a trip to the top of a nearby mountain to visit a centuries-old monastery during a siesta, rounding up enough cars and drivers. And a small group played hooky just long enough to buy some jamon from the best butcher in the area. We gathered between activities at the fireplace to warm up when it was cold and rainy. We truly bonded.

The week was a grand success. Those of us who were anxious forgot our fears. As we laughed with our friends through the final skit of the program, we were sad that it had to end. Spaniards started to realize that they really did understand the Anglos much better by the end of the week. One of the Spaniards mentioned that as he packed to leave, he realized that he had actually heard and understood the English-language songs coming over the radio. Invitations to visit families flew around.

Wrap-up

The next morning, we all gathered to say our goodbyes to those driving home and climbed on the bus for the trip back to Madrid. Back on the sidewalk in Madrid we all said good-bye one more time and headed off to our next adventure. Between the photo-sharing sites, social networking, and email we’ll keep in touch and remember our week of “no Spanish allowed.”

Want to volunteer as an English speaker in Spain? Contact Diverbo or Vaughn Town to apply for their programs. Your resort stay is free and transportation is provided to and from Madrid.

A private club stay in Buenos Aires, glamping in Montana, a walking tour in Spain

Sagrada Familia
Sculpture near the door on the Passion facade of the Sagrada Familia

This week’s travel deals include a stay at a classy club in Buenos Aires, glamorous camping at Glacier National Park, and a walking tour in Northern Spain.

As the summer winds down in the Southern Hemisphere, the hotel deals start getting better in Buenos Aires. Jetsetter.com has partnered with The Clubhouse in the Palmero district of Buenos Aires, offering a queen room for $115 per night. Included in the room rate is a welcome drink and light breakfast for two. The Clubhouse is part hotel and part private club. Guests have easy access to some of the hottest restaurants and nightclubs, as well as a delightful pool area for relaxing. Visit Jetsetter.com by April 5 for more information and to book your stay.

If Barcelona is on your bucket list, then a walking tour is a unique way to see the area. Goahead Tours offers a Spain’s Coast and Islands Walking Tour, a ten day adventure visiting Barcelona, Mallorca, and Menorca starting at $3,049 per person. Spend a total of four nights in Barcelona, two nights in Mallorca, and two nights in Menorca. In Barcelona, experience the venues that are Gaudi, including the Sagrada Familia and the Parc Guell. Then it’s off to Mallorca’s exquisite beaches and olive groves. Your visit to Menorca includes the Cavern of the Dragons and the S’Albufera Natural Park, a UNESCO World Heritage-named Biosphere Reserve. The package includes airfare and transfers, three 3-course dinners, daily breakfast, hotel accommodations, tour director, guided walks and select entrance fees. Visit goaheadtours.com for more information and to book your tour.

If a long airline trip is not on your agenda, experience GlacierNational Park in a luxury tent. Glacier Under Canvas is offering its Safari Tent for as little as $139 per night. This room has a King bed, rugs and throws, with bathrooms only steps away with hot and cold running water, flush toilets, and showers. The staff at Glacier Under Canvas is happy to assist in planning daily activities, including horseback riding, hiking, and biking in the park. The rates are for two people, but children can be accommodated in the tents as well.  Visit Vacationist.com by March 31 for more information and to book your “glamping” stay.

Vacationist.com is a members-only site that anyone can join. Visit Vacationist.com to sign up.

Like this article? Click the subscribe link at the top of the page to get the latest information by email when it’s published. For more fun deals and information, follow Deb on Twitter at debtalkstravel.

These deals are subject to change or cancellation at any time, and restrictions may apply. Book early for the best deals.

Travel deal roundup

Travel deals found on the web today, Thursday, January 30, 2014.

Sanibel Island Condos – for those of us stuck in the cold of January, Sanibel and Captiva Islands are a welcome escape to the warm beaches of Florida. Sanibel and Captiva Islands are on the Gulf Coast of Florida, and have plenty of rental condos and houses to choose from. Visit Sanibel-Captiva.org for more specials on rentals.

La Sagrada Familia
La Sagrada Familia

Travelzoo.com just announced pre-sales for the Denver engagement of the newest Cirque du Soleil show “Varekai.” The shows are scheduled at The Budweiser Events Center in Loveland May 1-4 and the 1st Bank Center in Broomfield May 7-11. Tickets start at $35, and are available to Travelzoo.com subscribers now, though the sale to the general public begins on February 4. Visit Travelzoo.com for more information.

Wave season is still in full swing for the cruise lines. Norwegian Cruise Lines is offering great deals on all its sailings, including the re-positioning cruises. Sail on the Norwegian Epic from Miami to Barcelona, departing April 27, 2014 with prices starting at $499 per person for the 11-day cruise. Onboard benefits include dinner for two at Cagney’s Steakhouse and dinner for two at Le Bistro French Restaurant  (per stateroom), a bottle of wine, and eCoupons worth $300. The only stop on this adventure is Madeira before disembarking in Barcelona, Spain. Visit NCL.com for more information and to book your cruise.

These deals are subject to change or cancellation at any time, and restrictions may apply. Book early for the best deals.