Alhambra, Granada

I miss Europe. While I am lucky enough to live in southern California, just a few minutes from the Ocean, to me there is nothing as beautiful in the world as Europe and all that it has to offer.  Whether I am taking a train ride with my husband through the mountains, driving on scenic country roads, or visiting our family and friends in towns untouched by mass tourism, the moment I cross the Atlantic I am truly at home.

Travels With Audrey gives me the opportunity to share these wonders with my clients, and there are few things that I enjoy more than surprising them with all that Europe has to offer. All of my clients have one request in common – they want their European vacation to be ‘unique’. If they want to see exclusively the Sistine Chapel or the Louvre, there are bus tours that will take them there alongside 40 other couples, and they’ll have a lovely time. But my clients call Travels with Audrey again and again because they want that unique experience, and that’s exactly what we aim to achieve.

Last year I had the pleasure of showing Marcia and Jim some of my favorite parts of Spain. Marcia and Jim are the most active empty-nesters you’ll meet, and love travelling the world and exploring new places. They are wonderful clients to work with because they are always ready for an adventure, and welcome a fun surprise. Last year, before they left for Spain, Jim called me and let me know that he and Marcia had recently taken up dance lessons, and would there be a way that I could arrange a dance lesson for them in Spain.

That was all the inspiration that I needed! I grew up in the South of Spain, as my parents owned a property about 60 KM from Malaga on the Costa del Sol, and I have a very dear friend, who happens to know a great dance instructor in Seville. I told her when we would be arriving and she offered to arrange a private lesson for Marcia and Jim to teach them the Sevillana, which is a traditional dance of southern Spain that is easier to learn than the Flamenco. I told Marcia and Jim that I was sending them to see a friend of mine one day after lunch, and they got all excited! They fell in love with Carla and the Sevillana, and I loved seeing photos of them laughing and dancing the afternoon away.

Another favorite family, the Silvas, recently hired me to send them on a private tour of Portugal. I had worked with Joe and Nancy before, but this time they were travelling with Nancy’s brother Marco, and his wife Natalie. I had not met Marco and Natalie before, but Nancy told me that he was a chef, who had traveled through much of Europe but had never been to Portugal before.

My eyes lit up when I heard this! As a foodie myself, I have been lucky enough to sample some of Portugal’s finest flavors, and could not wait to set the family up with some amazing dining experiences. Alberto, a private guide I often work with to help show clients around Portugal, originally trained as a chef in Lisbon, and still had a number of friends with small restaurants throughout the country.

Every night of their tour, the Silvas were at a different boutique restaurant, with Alberto introducing them to his friends and arranging private tastings with some of the country’s hottest chefs. We also set them up for a private baking class to learn how to make “pasteis de nata”, the famous Portuguese custard tarts. The family emailed me months later to tell me they were making them back at home, but it wasn’t quite as authentic as actually being there.

My best advice for those looking to see Europe is to see it the way that you want to see it. The Eiffel Tower and the Leaning Tower of Pisa are remarkable pieces of history, and being in the same room as the Mona Lisa is definitely a thrill. However, if you really want to see the beauty that Europe has to offer, let Travels With Audrey take you off the beaten path. My lifetime of experience wandering through Europe has taught me that the adventure that you’re looking for is usually hidden away on the road less traveled.

Planning a vacation to Spain & Portugal? Audrey helps you make your vacation truly memorable by creating a unique itinerary that promises a personal experience you will not find anywhere else. Contact Audrey to book your very own private tour to Spain & Portugal with an exclusive itinerary designed around your wishes or learn more about the Travels with Audrey Difference

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Audrey De Monte

About Audrey De Monte

Born in New York City, raised in Western Africa, I have studied, lived and worked on three continents (Africa, Europe and North America), and have traveled extensively throughout the world. Travel has shaped my life, who I am, how I look at the world and continues to be my biggest teacher. Together with my native Italian husband, we speak 5 languages. Western Europe is my backyard, in particular Spain, France, Germany, and Italy—countries where I have spent my life, since early childhood, visiting family, friends, studying, living and working.