“In my mind, there are 3 categories on which you would judge such a tour:
(1) Content of the places visited.
(2) Quality of the specific tour guide.
(3) Quality of the overall experience with the booking agency.
In all three categories, this tour should get 6 stars, but I'll start from (3) and work up to (1). On (3), the Barcelona Guide Bureau clearly wants to make sure you have a positive experience. We booked this tour at the front desk of our hotel simply by asking the front desk staff to call and make a reservation. I confess that I thought this tour was a little pricey, but I really wanted to go, so I booked it anyway. I don't think I fully understood the value of what I was getting though. In the morning, a cab driver met us at our hotel and delivered us to the train station where someone from BGB was there to greet our taxi driver and pay him. From there, Carla (the person who met us) gave us 3 sets of train tickets: 1 set for getting to Figueres, 1 set to get to Girona, and 1 set to get home from Girona. These train tickets already added up to 34 Euros in cost. I didn't have to deal with booking them, and I didn't have to deal with checking in at the train station. BGB handled all of this, which was nice, since we were on "Spanish time" and the tour had such an early start.
After the first stop of the train (Girona), another tour guide, Jessica, came onto the train, introduced herself, and told us she would be our guide for the day. When I booked the tour, I didn't fully understand/appreciate that we would have a private guide taking care of us all day long. I quickly was beginning to see where the value was in the trip. When we got off of the train in Figueres, Jessica led us to a van, where a driver was waiting to drive us to the Dali Museum. Jessica gave us a very nice tour of the museum (more on that later), and then the same driver took us back to the train station so we could go to Girona. In Girona, she gave us time to have lunch, and then she gave us a very nice walking tour of Girona (more on that later).
Finally, we took a taxi back to the Girona station and boarded a train for Barcelona. When I total what all of the different transportations would have cost me and my husband together with the three museum entries (one for the Dali museum, one for the Dali jewels, and one for a church in Girona (these alone add up to 22 Euros)), I actually am concerned that the trip is priced too low! When I initially saw the price, I did not understand that train tickets would cost 34 Euros, that in order to see both sites, I would need to take 4 taxi rides (probably another 20 to 22 Euros in total), that going to the three museums would be another 22 Euros. We are already at 78 Euros, and I didn't have to book anything, or think through any of the timing issues. Meanwhile, our guide was superbly trained and knowledgeable.
Really and truly, it was a very very high touch service. They took care of so many things (pre-booking museum tkts, so we didn't have to wait in line, printing out train tickets, having coaches ready to take us to the next destination, etc.) The day was just so nice and smooth.
(2) Our tour guide Jessica was beyond amazing. My husband and I are not scared to explore on our own. We were in Barcelona already for a week, and we took public transit everywhere, and never got into a taxi. As nice as the "high touch" service was, I really think the two of us could have managed getting out to Figueres on our own; however, we both said that going to the Dali museum on our own would have been kind of interesting, but nothing more. We don't know enough about Dali to even begin to appreciate his works. We needed a knowledgeable tour guide to show us some of the most important works and fill us in on the background behind them. My only real complaint about this trip (other than maybe the issue that Jessica was under-compensated for how wonderful she is) is that I would have liked an additional hour in the Dali museum to explore. I felt a little rushed at the end, and so did my husband; however, we both agreed that the alternative (going there on our own and having no clue about the background of the works) would not have been better. My suspicion is that BGB is somewhat at the mercy of the Renfe high-speed train schedule, and that maybe "giving us an extra hour" would have cost 3 hours in terms of the overall schedule. I did not look closely at the AVE schedule to really know. But seriously, Jessica knew so much. She was so interesting, and so kind. She was really lovely to be with all day.
In Girona, she was also a tremendously excellent guide. I was confused by the sheer breadth of her knowledge. How was she able to field absolutely any question we had about the town's ancient history? Again, I had wanted to see Girona, but it's not clear what the point would have been in going on my own. I would have gotten there and just looked at everything and not known where to begin. She took us on a great walking tour which included both the large cathedral there, a museum about the cathedral, and the old Jewish quarter. (And by the way, she drops you off in a plaza for lunch that has just about the best gelato ever…=-))
(3) The content of the tour: IT's possible that even though Jessica is amazing, and the BGB put together a very nice day for their customers, that the Dali museum or walking around Girona might not be your thing. Here is why I enjoyed it: Dali is super interesting. We had gone to both the Picasso museum and the Miro museum. My husband and I enjoyed the Picasso museum, but found the Miro museum a little underwhelming. We had had a tour at both museums. Once you see Dali's work and have a window into his mind (through Jessica!), Miro's work didn't seem as interesting or novel to us. Dali seemed like a complete genius (if also a little interestingly crazy!) In any case, I really really enjoyed the Dali museum, and I think I would have even if I didn't have a great guide, but obviously, having a great guide who knew how to help me navigate the museum did make the experience that much better. I also would have simply missed a lot of important aspects of many of the works there.
Finally, I think if you've enjoyed any of the walking tours that are given in Barcelona, you'll find the walking tour of Girona very historically interesting.
My husband and I went on this trip without our kids. I do not think young children would thoroughly enjoy this trip, as the history might not seem interesting to them.”