What People Say About Maribel's Guides

Hello Maribel,

As usual you are the best! I can’t believe how much info you passed along to Lynda without charging anything. You truly are so generous and have earned her future business as well as ours (but you already knew that)! I hope all is well with you and yours. We moved to just outside Park City Utah last year and are liv by it. Let me know if you are get in the area! Would love to meet you!


Thank you,
We are back in the States, and I wanted to send you a note thanking y'all for all of your assistance.  Everything went impeccably, and the restaurant recommendations were outstanding.  Your routes really allowed us to see the incredible variety of Spain, and the flow of the trip would not have been possible without them.  We'll be heading back one day, hopefully soon.  Thanks again,

Richard H, Atlanta, GA


I just wanted to let you know that we had a great time in La Rioja, and really enjoyed the varied types of wineries you suggested.  The only scheduled visit we did not make was Marques de Terán, which was closed with no one around when we arrived.  This was not a problem though, as we had an excellent and extensive tasting at Luis Cañas that morning, and followed up with a wonderful 2+ hour lunch at Eguren Ugarte which was paired with four complete, excellent bottles of wine (two white, two red) and a Patxaran.  It was heavenly (Flintstone architecture notwithstanding).

We did not make it to the
Boragos restaurant and cancelled that reservation as Ms. Induráin was not able to join us. The winery visits with Miguel went very well and he enjoyed them very much (note to self--we would have done well to add extra time for the photo requests/well wishes). The winery owner conducted the Remirez de Ganuza and the wine maker did the one at Contino (probably the best wines, in my opinion).

We enjoyed the detailed information you provided, and the hotel was perfect. Miguel joined us for breakfast at the hotel, which Jose Luis was very excited about. All in all, the trip exceeded our expectations. The only initial problem we had was with the Google driving instructions, which were hard to follow at times, but this became easier after the first day.

Thanks again for your help on a trip that we will always remember.

Manuel, Austin, TX

Hi Maribel,

I just wanted to finally let you know that we are having a wonderful time with your excellent itinerary and city guide!  I intended to touch base with you earlier, but we have just been so darned busy!  Thank you for all your hard work.  It paid off!
Joanna, Malibu, CA

Dear Maribel,

We returned from a wonderful two weeks in Spain yesterday.  I simply want to thank you for contributing to the success of our trip.  The accommodations were fine and my niece & nephew thoroughly enjoyed themselves.  Me too!

I truly appreciated your advice and your wonderful reference guides.

Muchísimas gracias!


Dear Maribel,

Bud and I have safely returned from our beautiful trip to Spain.  We had a glorious time, and so appreciated your terrific suggestions wherever we went.  Thank Heaven we flew home through Chicago the day before the collapse of services there!  
We are now happily relaxing (while sipping a lovely Crianza), looking at our amazing photos and reliving our WONDERFUL touring, wining and dining experiences.

The only difficult times we encountered were those driving to and from La Rioja, which we vow to never do again without a detailed road map showing the overall area with the big cities and all the little towns in the region.  The Michelin maps and existing road signage were OFTEN confusing, and we now know that having a detailed map would have helped us get a much better lay of the land.  

Ultimately, we loved our trip... and now, also love Spain.  Thank you, Maribel, for making it as traffic as it was.  Hopefully, we’ll be able to return (maybe with some friends) SOON.


Gail and Bud, Sedona, AZ


I thought I knew Segovia and surroundings until I hit on your brilliant guide to the area.  So well researched.  I live in Spain and am just finishing a long weekend around Castilla -- your Segovia piece was marvelous.

Muchas gracias

Colin, Madrid

Hi Maribel and Philip,

I just wanted to thank you for all of your help without trip to Spain this summer. We had a great time and really appreciate all of the advice and tips you provided.  Some of our favorites were:

Fabulous restaurant recommendations in Barcelona
Spanish Trails Trip - Costa Brava
Astoria 7 in San Sebastian
San Sebastian things to do and day trips

Happy Travels
Alan & Jody, Mill Valley, CA

Dear Maribel,

I've never met you, but I've used you online guides often, for the first time when my husband and I traveled to Spain about 6 years ago, again when we spent a month in Seville, and now, 4 years and kids later, we are living in Madrid for a year and have found your suggestions helpful again. Last night we went to Retiro for some tapas on your recommendations and happened upon an amazing place, Taberna Marcano. We enjoyed Arzábal, but this place was even better, the best piece of tortilla Española I've ever had yet came with our wine, followed by the best anchovies and croquetas I've had yet for our order. I highly recommend you check it out.


Rebecca, Madrid


Thank you sooooo very much. I've already recommended you to 3 of my friends who will be traveling in the next year or two. I am so happy I found your service!

Nora G, Oakland, CA

Hi Phil & Maribel - I can't remember if I sent this pic to you or not, but just saw your great newsletter on Portugal and was having fond memories of the trip you put together for my Dad and I last fall!

You really did a such a fantastic job and had such great insightful recommendations as well...we especially loved that local Fado bar in Lisbon!

We will definitely use you again in the future and always recommend your company to anyone we come into contact that is planning to go to Europe.

Hope 2012 is going well for you so far~

All The Best
Tanya :), Seattle

What an amazing resource your website is! Thank you. I am traveling with my son to Segovia and you have basically answer all my questions. However, our situation is a bit especial given that my son has a physical disability, we will be using either a walker or a wheelchair during our trip. I know this will be a challenging but others have done it anyway. We will be in Madrid for the World Youth Day 2011 and will attend the pre program in Segovia, although this is optional, we would like to try it. We have selected Segovia for many reasons one being the proximity to Madrid and its historical richness, however, I wonder how difficult and realistic will be for a person with disabilities to enjoy the city. Any suggestions are welcome. We will be in Segovia from August 11 to 15 then in Madrid for the WYD from the 15-20 and we leave on August 24. We have two free days to do something else in Spain.We are looking for ideas or a customized tour for the two of us. Do you do this or do you know someone else or agency that would be interested in working with us?

Please let me know your thoughts. We are coming from Canada and we both speak Spanish as well.

Thank you,
Anayancy, Canada

Hi Maribel,

My goodness - I just finished printing THE ULTIMATE ITINERARY and can't believe that after months of planning and volumes of email exchanged, our journey starts in twenty-four hours. Such a comprehensive, well-written piece. You ought to write guide books and teach Rick Steves a thing or two....

THANK YOU so much for the amount of work that you've put into planning our vacation itinerary.  No words can express my gratitude, and that of my family's, for helping us plan our Spanish reunion and celebration of my parents' golden anniversary.

On behalf of my family, thank you, and we wish you and Philip, a joyful and blessed Christmas!

Gigi, Indiana & the Philippines

Dear Maribel,

I'm just writing to thank you for you guide to Rioja. I'm not preparing a 4 days trip for me and my wife and without the help of your guide I would be totally lost. The trip plan is almost done, i'm just looking for a nice place to stay to celebrate our wedding anniversary (Marques de Riscal is unfortunately out of my range at the moment). Hotel Eguren Ugarte seemed like a great choice until they have sent me the menu and it does not look that good. Have you dined there?

Anyway, keep the good work up and a wish you a great time on your future trips. You have certainly made mine great!

best regards from Poland,

Dear Maribel,

Although everyone else has already said what I have to say I feel the need to thank you for helping us on our first trip to Spain through trip advisor I became aware of your guides. I have been planning our trip, which we are completing today, since March of this year. Over the months I have checked out guides from the library, purchased guides on a whim (I think I had 10 at the last count) and in the end, because we are such particular packers, downloaded your guides onto my Apple notebook and my husband's iPad, and did not take another guide with us.

We have been here 17 days visiting Barcelona, San Sebastian, Seville, Granada and Madrid. Your food suggestions really made our trip over the top! We actually made it a tapas only trip and could not have been happier. We used your guide daily to decide where to eat and sometimes what to eat. When we deviated to our own devices we always said we should have looked at Maribel's Guides.

Thank you for all you wonderful insights!
Helene, Mobile, AL


Just wanted to say THANKS for such an incredible pack of guides. Even being Spanish (is my case), is really nice and fully useful to have this reliable information about the best places to sleep, drink eat and enjoy. After asking for information about La Rioja for a wine tour, my friends (from there) recommended me most of the places of the guide!

Hope your job and invested time is being rewarded and you continue with new guides all around Europe!

Congratulations and continue like this!
Luis Garcia, Segovia

Thank you so much for your reply. I have found your website to be a great resource and most informative. Funny enough my husband is a vegetarian - so appreciate the info there too.

I was able to purchase an Estrella fare online after all. It took quite a bit of effort, credit card company has to preauthorize for US to Spain transaction, but it did finally work, so thank you so much. I had been trying for two weeks and was only able to figure it out with the assistance of your information.

With much appreciation,
Carrie, Bronxville, NY

I just got back from a 9-day trip to Spain with 5 days in Barcelona and 4 days touring vineyards in La Rioja (by car). Your guides were invaluable to me and thanks again.


Hi Maribel,

I have to say that I loved your guide to Spain! My family and I traveled last year to Spain and used your guide throughout our stay. It was great! I am now trying to plan a trip to Paris, France and was wondering if you have a guide for Paris?

Thank you,

Laura and I wish to express our gratitude for all of your assistance and the great service that you supplied in connection with our trip to Spain in July. As you predicted - we fell in love with Basque Country and the Basque people. Abalos and La Rioja were terrific. Our stay in the Pyrenees was all too short before we had to head down to Barcelona. Our favorite town nearby in the wine country was LaGuardia - Laura is already thinking about an extended trip to get to know that part of the world as well as San Sebastian a bit better for an extended time when work commitments slow down for me in a few years and we can take a month or two off at a time.

Of course, we did not find the time to do all of the things that you outlined but experienced many of them while we explored a bit on our own with the freedom of the car and some good maps. Food and wine were fantastic too! But plenty of walking and other exercise to work it off.

I hope that you had a good summer season with many adventures and great trips for all of your customers around the country. At some point we will discuss another trip with you - this time trying to make it to see Moorish Spain and places south.

All the best
Glenn & Laura, Park Ridge, IL

Dear Maribel,

First off I would like to thank you for all your advice both written and via email. You helped to make our trip to Spain such a wonderful experience. My husband was so impressed that I was able to connect with you and for all your suggestions and knowledge.

Thank you for your recommendation for dinner at Piñera. You were right on. Although the restaurant was hard to find, we did have an honest cab driver, who shut off the meter when he was lost. We arrived early as we still had not gotten used to European dining times but to be honest we were glad we did. We had the pleasure of being educated about Spanish wine by Jorge Davila, the Director of the restaurant who took excellent care of us. He suggested and we loved our bottle of Altos de Losada 2006. We then engaged in a tasting menu, which was wonderful. It started with an aperitivos, which showed up in a little fish can but turned out to be a beautiful tuna with a mussel. We loved the tartar de atun rojo and bonito ahumado. The tempura vegetables were delicious and very light. All the food was beautifully presented. (Foam is still the rave)

My husband had the Morcillo de Wagyu and I had the Mero Negro. Both excellent! Jorge then presented us with some tastings of dessert wine. We loved the vino de Jerez Pedro Ximenez Alvear 1927 (px/mantilla) the apple flan I must say was outstanding. A great finish to great meal. We have already recommended this restaurant to other guests at our hotel.

Dinner at Balzac - We arrived early and again were the only ones there. That worked to our advantage as Jose Maria Marron de la Vieja took great care of us. Spain had just won the world cup so likely everyone was at the parade. While we had hoped to see it en route, it was delayed and we ended up watching it on TV later. We had best of both worlds.

Jose recommended and we enjoyed a bottle of Pago de Larrainzar 2006. We then engaged in the tasting menu. While we are not fans of partridge, Jose was very flexible and allowed for us to have the sirloin steak, which was cooked perfectly and sliced. This was a culinary delight! We started with a refreshing melon soup and tapenade. We then had one of the best foie gras we have ever tasted. There was a caramelized finish like a creme brûlée and it was outstanding. The scallop was also perfectly cooked and delicious. The John Dory dish was served with a mushroom risotto that was excellent. The dessert, which you wrote about in your guide finished our tasting and did not disappoint.

Dinner at Gelonch - I had found this restaurant on chowhound and we loved it. It was almost more entertaining to see how the food would be presented than eating it. We had the tasting menu and were happy we did. This food experience was amazing. The menu we had is online now as the tasting menu. We were just blown away when the mussels pate came in a toothpaste tube.

Maribel, we are headed to Beijing this fall and we are wondering if you have any knowledge or contacts there that can put us into the same hands of wonderful chefs. As well we are looking for an English guide. Thanks so much again.


Hi ‚ I had learned about your guides thru Fodor's and we used them extensively on our trip to Spain I can't thank you enough for putting them online! They so enhanced the enjoyment of our trip. I don't think I've ever found any guide to be as useful as yours were  I wrote a note on Fodor's thanking you, but just saw contact info

Dona, Bethesda, Maryland

Ola Maribela,

My wife found your guide to the Basque country - we follow your recommendations and thank you for your insight. We have decided that Maribel does not fail nor does she disappoint us. Today we are in Neguri - Hanna who follows Frommers on all of our trips has not consulted it even once.

Thank you.
Hanna and Alan, New York, NY

Went to several of the restaurants and tapas bars that you recommended and can report back that they were all brilliant. Thanks for all your excellent help.

Samantha, Oldbury. UK


We don't who or what you are (a fairy godmother maybe?), but you were the crucial factor in making our trip to Spain the fantastic vacation that it was. Just a day or two before our departure, while searching for info on Barcelona restaurants recommended by a friend's sister, I stumbled on your guides. It was clear your take on food was the same as ours ("live to eat" and not the other way around) and from this I deduced that your other tips would suit us too. Frantically, I downloaded and printed as much as I thought I could squeeze in the suitcase.

Consulting those pages ("What would Maribel do?") became our daily sacrilegious joke  ... but it's no joke that you led us in the right direction every time. From helping us find all the perfect tapas bars, onward to your detailed walking directions through Granada's Albaizin, and down to filling our last morning in Sevilla with a very satisfying visit to Casa de Pilatos, your advice was spot-on every time. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Now that I've had time to actually look at your web site, I see you lead tours. Hmm! 'Food' for thought.

With real gratitude,
Holly and Stephen, Livermore, California, USA


Thank you for your speedy reply to my questions.  I appreciate the input. It is very helpful.  I think we will enjoy having lunch at the Parador - I've read such good feedback about it. We are so excited about our trip. We are walking the Grazalema Park area for 4 days then staying a couple nights in Seville, followed by Madrid then Barcelona.  I have not been to Spain in 20 years and then it was only the Basque region. So this is all new territory. Once again, your guides are most informative and the fact that you post them is really refreshing.

Kind regards,

I just wanted to take a few moments and thank you for the comments you made on Fodor's and the guides you have put together for all to use. You are a fantastic resource and we used many of your recommendations for restaurants, tapas and pintxos bars, walks, wines and so on.

A few comments I wanted to provide based on our experiences:
Tenedor Tours: This was one of the highlights of our trip. Gabrielle and Aitor (sp?) were fantastic hosts. Unfortunately, the chef had a family emergency and was not able to make it but Gabrielle filled in wonderfully and we spent a great afternoon cooking, eating, drinking wine and most certainly, talking endlessly. We had a fantastic time!

We ate at several of your recommendations (and Tenedors from your guide) and your descriptions of them were right on the money in our opinion. We ate at Mugaritz, Casa Urola, Kukuarri, Aldonando (from Tenedor) all in the San Sebastian area. We also did almost all of your pintxos recommendations and were not disappointed. While in the Rioja we ate at Hector Oribe, El Portal del Echaurren , Asador Txisko and a couple others that slip my mind at the moment.

The wine shops you recommended, I think we did every one of them‚ at least it felt like it. Great recommendations. We did find La Vinoteca in Laguardia open and were very happy to find a shopkeeper that spike English quite well. We were a bit relieved as our Spanish was not improving very much during our stay.

While in Elciego we stayed at Txoko del Ingles. This place was fantastic and although we spoke little Spanish, and the proprietor spoke little English, we got along just wonderfully and she was so nice! One item about the "sleepy" Elciego. It was not so sleepy the last 3 nights we were there. Apparently, there was a festival going on and they had music, very very loud music, going on in the main square until 3 or 4 in the morning. It was amazing to see and hear the friendly folk in the town enjoy themselves. But we are not quite as rested as we thought we would be by the time we left to head to Madrid. Quite an experience.

While in Elciego, we purchased some wine and the olive oil (Maja) you recommended from La Ermita. Haven't tried the oil yet but we are looking forward to it.

La Terraza del Casino (Madrid) – even though we are near the end of our trip (our last night) and admittedly, we were getting a bit tired of the continuous supply of fish, the view and the experience at this establishment were incredible! We sat outside on the most perfect of evenings and spent over 3 hours whiling away the night.

We went to most of your tapa recommendations on Cava Baja and were pleasantly surprised with the quality of tapas. Enjoyed Orixie the best (the cod tapa with honey was amazing) but they all had a buzz that was fun to be a part of.

We also went to a few places that we were not overly fond of but most of them the names escape me and none of them were your recommendations.

All in all, it was a fantastic trip, due in no small part to the recommendations in your guide and the people we met because of them. Thanks Maribel!!

Tim, Norfolk, CA

Maribel, I just want to thank you for your keen guidance of which we took thorough advantage during our recent trip to Madrid and Rioja. You clearly possess the rare combination of experience, good taste and common sense. I can't recount for you now all of the places we enjoyed thanks to your suggestions, I can only say that starting with the roast lamb at Casa Brigante we knew we were in good hands. Our 20th anniversary trip would not have been the same without your wise counsel. Thank you barely expresses the gratitude we have, but thank you all the same.

Bruce, Nashville, Tennessee, USA

Just wanted to say thank you so much for the recommendation in the Madrid guide to book train tickets for Toledo in advance - we'd never have though of buying them in advance otherwise, and the trains were booked up on the day so we'd have been very disappointed without if we hadn't.

Thanks again,

Maribel, Thanks for all the useful information in your guides. I see you are following my trip report on fodors.com. It was through you that I found all of our guides. We ate twice in Madrid at El Espejo. We did dine inside (as opposed to your recommendation on p. 53), as it was still a bit chilly in late April. The service and food were great.

Thanks for all the great tips.
Norm, San Jose, CA

Hello, I Have completely enjoyed your guides. My husband and I travel a lot, yet we never have been to Spain. I have never had the enjoyment of reading a travel guide as much as yours. I am stuck with one decision. We will be in Madrid, staying at AC Palacio Del Retiro in Madrid, Palacio de Santa Paula in Grenada but for some reason after reading hundreds of reviews I cannot decide on a place in Seville. I am thinking of Casa del Rey Baeza, Coral del Rey( worried about reviews saying bad service), Casa Imperial, Casa NR 7( a friend told me they are doing construction right across the street ), Alfonso X111( concerned about reviews saying rooms are tired, especially bathrooms. We want a great location, service that will help us with dinner reservations and directions and such, and nice rooms . We do not care about the size of the room, or meals as we like to eat out and go discovering on or own. Please tell me what you would do. Thank you very much.

Best Regards,

Dear Maribel: My husband, Tom, and I just returned from two weeks in Spain, traveling to Madrid, Toledo, Granada, Alt Emporda and Barcelona. Your on-line guides, "rife with information and suggestions" was an invaluable travel source for us. From hints on getting train tickets to the best bar from which to enjoy a sunset with a view of the Alhambra, the sharing of your experiences, knowledge and expertise proved to be accurate, reliable, and worthy of note. Even though we engage in a lot of independent study and research before visiting a new destination, you made our journey through Spain a more rewarding experience. Thank you so very much for sharing your love of Spain with us and the rest of the world.