We were coming into Bilbao, Spain via a cruise ship. I booked this tour with Zach and Irene just a couple of weeks before we arrived as it was a last minute trip for us. Zach was extremely prompt in answering my emails and any questions we had. My husband has mobility issues and we travel with a small electric scooter and I wanted to make sure that there was room in the van for his scooter. Zach assured me there was plenty of room.
I booked this for myself and my husband along with two other people from our cruise ship. The second day we were on the cruise ship, I met another woman who was interested in joining us as well. I emailed Zach from the ship and asked if we could add one more to our tour. This new friend also traveled with a walker so I wanted to be sure we had comfortable space for all five of us and both mobility aids. He responded right away and assured me there was room for all of us and the scooter and walker. He was correct. They have a Mercedes van which has plenty of room and is extremely comfortable to tour in. The last row has a second sunroof so the people sitting in the back of the van have great views as well.
We were to meet Zach outside the port at 8:30 AM. We arrived outside the port before 8:30 and he was there already. Irene brought the van through and we loaded the scooter and walker in the van, and all of us boarded and we were off. We started in the port city of Getxo. They took us around the old part of Getxo. First, we stopped at the UNESCO Heritage site of the Hanging Bridge. We walked around that area a bit and took in the sites. Then we headed up above the cliffs for a great view of Getxo.
Next we headed in Bilbao. Zach explained the history of the Basque people and culture to us. It is amazing how much he knows about the area. If he didn’t know something, Irene knew it. We parked the van at the Guggenheim and headed over to the museum. We probably spent at least an hour looking at the museum from different angles. We were not interested in going inside the museum, but if we had been they would have just changed the tour up a bit. After spending our time at the Guggenheim, we hopped on a local train and traveled over to the old part of Bilbao. Cars are not allowed in this area so we got off the train and walked all around the old city. We stopped for pintxos at a bar. Oh how we love Basque pintxos. This was the best part of the tour (for us anyways!). The tour price included two pintxos a piece as well as a wine or beer (or non alcholic drink). We were able to pick out what kind of pintxos we each wanted. We continued along the old city. What I love most about private tours is you can change things as you go or stop anywhere you want. We stopped at a candy store at one point. Zach stopped with us while Irene went ahead with the other guests. We also stopped a meat shop so we could purchase some fabulous Spanish hamone. You can’t do things like that when you are on a big bus tour. Another plus to having two tour guides is that part of our group wanted to do some extra walking and a couple of us wanted to just sit. We were able to do that because one would stay with one group and the other one would go off with the other group. After touring for a bit longer, we arrived at a local Basque restaurant for lunch. It was a fabulous lunch. As it was a local place, we needed Irene to help us navigate the menu. She was fabulous. The food was fantastic. Another reason for taking a small tour is you get to eat in a local restaurant. It was a three course meal for appx. 20 Euros per person (not included in tour price) – well worth it!!!
After lunch, we boarded the local train and headed back to the van. We headed back to the port. We took longer at lunch than usual, but we were still back at the port in plenty of time to board the ship.
Zach and Irene are wonderful tour guides. I loved having an English speaking guide but yet having a native with us as well. They were extremely friendly, knowledgeable and felt like old friends by the time we left. One of the BEST things I can say about Zach is that he was so extremely helpful to my husband and our other participant who used a walker. Zach loaded and unloaded the scooter and the walker every time. He helped all of us into and out of the van, if we needed it. He was so helpful with my husband at the restaurant as there was one big step up into the restaurant and it was a bit difficult for him to navigate that step. Zach offered his arm for support going both up and down. He brought his scooter in for him and parked it. Then retrieved it when he needed it. Also, he made sure my husband could get to the restroom with the scooter. I offer my biggest kudos to both of them. If you are looking for a great tour with wonderful people who will become your friends by the end of the day, you can’t go wrong by booking with Zach and Irene. If we are back in the Basque country we will definitely book with them again.