HOW DOES BILLY’S BEST BOTTLES TOURS DIFFER FROM OTHER TOURS?
We must start by telling you that we never set out to conduct tours. However, after a few just-for-fun trips we sensed that there was an interest in our style of travel.Â We “found our niche”, as they say. Original and generous were the two most used words we heard to describe what we offered, and not surprisingly, as our itineraries were of our own making. We did not see the point of taking people to over-crowded â€˜guide bookâ€™ places. We still wanted to deliver WOWs, but without the hassles and crowds. And â€˜generousâ€™ might have something to do with how much wine we were pouring.
We have always sought out parts of a country that offer a sense of the whole, thereby delivering the experience without long travel times. Spending less hours on the road attempting to â€˜see it allâ€™ gives us more quality time in towns, galleries or cafÃ©s. Feet on the ground as opposed to bum on a bus, seeing better, over seeing more.
For each of our destination we concentrate on the things that are special or unique: rural pubs in Ireland as they are the hub of a community, historic grandeur combined with sleek contemporary design in Portugal, and the effortless, indescribable sense of style in France. Crafting beauty in everything is Italyâ€™s great skill, and that includes food and wine. We ask that our travellers take the time to know something of, and respect the culture we are visiting â€“ your comfy Adidas and gallon of Pepsi are not a fitting image beside a Roman ruin.
Most of the experiences we offer are either not available off-the-street, or would require a lot of work to secure. We love the time at table so most evenings we all dine together, at a hand-picked restaurants where we are know by the chef or owner. These dinners â€“ with generous amount of wine â€“ are a feature and are included in our price.
Have to admit we are not huge history buffs, but we do enjoy social history â€“ family feuds, murders, drunkards, witches, etc. However, there is usually enough free time for those who want to visit churches and museums. Think of us as the anti Trip Advisor, seeking instead the alternative and the unexpected. The kind of tour youâ€™d imagine from a local, as opposed to a tour company. If you have never travelled with a group before, fear not. It may be the best party you ever attended. We promise to give you a genuine experience of the place, its people and culture. And to do it with enthusiasm, respect and a generous dose of fun. And wine! We spend hundreds of hours working out details, fine tuning and researching to give you a holiday that you’ll never forget.
P.S. While itâ€™s unlikely that we will be adding new locations, we are always fine-tuning, and shaking up our existing ones. Many have repeated the same (but different!) tour.
ABOUT OUR TRIPS
If you were ever hesitant about taking a â€˜tourâ€™ â€“ rest assured that this is the most â€˜NON-TOURâ€™ you could sign up for! Think instead of being on an â€˜insiderâ€™ trip â€“ going to interesting places, doing exciting things, and meeting locals â€“ all orchestrated by a couple who know and love the region. Think also of the shared enjoyment and FUN that happens in a group â€“ â€˜adult campâ€™ as Kato calls it. There is some free time (mainly in the cities), but very little of the usual tourist sight-seeing.
We stay at smaller, non-chain hotels away from the tourist bustle. Lunch is included when we feel it is an integral part of the dayâ€™s itinerary, and most evenings we dine together at restaurants where we have arrange something special â€“ for an experience not available to the general public. You can expect everything from gourmet to rustic â€“ always with a generous amount of wine. And seating in small groups for an intimate experience. But weâ€™re not opposed to a little rowdiness! We create the mood of a good dinner party where conversation and mood play off the food and wine for memorable times.
Instead of taking you to all the â€˜guide book sightsâ€™ we like to show you something better, and less crowded. It is impossible to catch the â€˜feelingâ€™ of a place when youâ€™re lost in a sea of fellow travellers. We spend hundreds of hours travelling in search of genuine and exciting experiences that are not in the â€˜guidesâ€™. For sure we wonâ€™t let you miss the best main attractions, but most of our days are off the grid.
WHO SHOULD TRAVEL WITH US?
Those with a love of adventure and social interaction are obvious candidates. On the physical side, good walking ability and drinking stamina are not only essential, but mandatory. Meals are on the European clockâ€“ starting late and finishing late â€“ celebrating time at the table. Basically we invite people who are interested in stepping outside their comfort zone and embracing a European experience. Filling the eyes, bellies and imagination with things unfamiliar. We welcome people who come hungry for activity and participation â€“ â€˜adult campâ€™ as Kato calls it â€“ and FUN. While we are certain that you will enjoy our many activities, we do allow â€˜free timeâ€™ for exploring self-interests. The more you know about our destinations before heading-out, the more fulfilling your trip will be. Do NOT come with us if you want a conventional â€˜sightseeingâ€™ tour with no participation on your part.
Finally, a word on why we do not publish daily itineraries. One reason is we like to remain flexible and work around weather and local events. But more importantly, we believe that the best travel experiences are built around daily surprises â€“ a trust between the host and the guests. Those who have travelled with us have said that they enjoyed the surprise element as it kept them â€˜in the momentâ€™. We ask that you greet us with enthusiasm, a trusting open mind, good health, and an empty wine glass (not for long!).
“The well planned itinerary included many surprises, and was the perfect balance between organized activities and free time. We loved every minute.”
“Billy and Kato have the uncanny ability to fine incredible places and create events that ordinary tourists could never experience on their own.”
“From the moment we arrive, we were treated to first class food, accommodation and hospitality â€“ every day was a new adventure. This was by far the best organized trip that we’ve been on: well paced and the perfect group size.”
“Your planning and attention to detail was impeccable, the venues beautiful and beyond expectation. And the food and wine â€“ wow! What a team!”