New Options for Experiential Travelers
When we are asked about ContemporaryNomad.com, we often refer to it as a blog devoted to “experiential travel.” We travel to experience new things whether that is diving with thresher sharks, eating exotic foods or discovering the world’s art and architecture. Wouldn’t it be great if there were some kind of menu offering up a virtual smorgasbord of new experiences?
So when I was introduced to the Spanish service Trip4Real, I was intrigued. Trip4Real is to experiences what AirBnB is to accommodation. It’s a virtual marketplace where individuals can offer up their own services to travelers visiting Spain. Experiences range from city tours to cooking classes to photography workshops to guiding you through outlet stores. It sounds good, but what is it actually like?
Trip4Real invited our motley group of bloggers to sample two of their offerings.
Tour of Old City with Professional Photographer Joan Figueras
Our first experience was a guided tour through the old city of Barcelona with professional photographer Joan Figueras. As we moved through the narrow streets of the city center, Joan pointed out hidden treasures along the way. My personal highlights included Roman ruins hidden in an apartment courtyard and the tranquil and tragic Sant Felip Neri Square, both of which I had not seen on my previous trip to Barcelona. Fellow blogger Laurel details the tour in her post Barcelona: Secrets of the Gothic Quarter. It was quite obvious that Joan has an excellent knowledge of the history and architecture of Barcelona. But there’s more.
Beyond the tour aspect, Joan adds a special twist. As we moved through the old city, he documented our experience with a series of wonderfully candid shots. We, the blogger photographers, suddenly became the photographed. In fact, he even photographed us photographing the city. He ducked here and there, angled away, and, at moments, he was virtually lying on the ground. He goes out of his way to make sure he captures the moment. I think his pictures speak for themselves.
Catalonian Hospitality with the Vives Family
Our second experience was a dinner at the home of Lluis and Roser Vives. I have to say that I was initially somewhat skeptical about an “organized visit” to experience Catalonian hospitality in a private home. That skepticism lasted about ten seconds. Lluis, Roser and their son Matias greeted us like we were old friends with a lavish dinner, glass after glass of wine, and FANTASTIC gin and tonics the size of fish bowls. (The secret to the perfect gin and tonic is “fresh ice,” a totally new concept to me.)
Lluis and Roser were the best representatives Catalonia could possibly imagine. They were both hilarious and hospitable beyond belief. Roser didn’t speak English but I understood everything that came out of her mouth because she has the innate ability to communicate across all language barriers. Lluis and Roser are clearly not doing this simply to make money; they are doing it to bring the world into their home and provide an authentic glimpse of Catalonian life. Our dinner with the Vives family will, without a doubt, be the best thing I experience in Barcelona or Catalonia. Period.
But remember that these are real people.
Both of our Trip4Real experiences were very positive, far more rewarding than I ever would have guessed. But I do feel an instinctual need to remind our readers that this business model is based on normal, everyday people who have experiences to offer visitors. The experiences will vary as people vary. As with AirBNB, there is an element of risk which often leads to great reward, but I do assume that quality will vary. And even the best people have their off-days.
With that one caveat, I expect great things of Trip4Real and I assume that they intend to expand into additional countries. (If they don’t, they should.) We are definitely going to be keeping an eye on them.
Thank you to Catalonia Tourism and Trip4Real for providing these experiences. As I acknowledge in the post, both experiences were provided free of charge. All views expressed in this post are MINE, and they are true! If I didn’t like it, I wouldn’t be writing about it.