Trading Cows For Magic Beans… 2019

Firstly, thank you; to the many of you who have asked.

And, there have indeed been many questions.

This, in addition to being an expression of real gratitude for the interest you have shown in my ‘disappearance’, is therefore also intended to be an answer to many (most?) of those questions. Let’s see…


YES, I still very much guide. NOPE, not on your nelly for Road Scholar (a long sad story, but what a sorry agency it is evolving into). Yes, still freelance and for various agencies. NO, no longer exclusively in Europe (have broadened horizons to South America and Israel).

YES, I do still remember everyone who has been kind enough to email and to whom I am have not yet had a chance to reply. It has been wonderful to hear from you and I am trying…

YES, I still live in Spain, but now in Barcelona with a small, but expanding family (we are currently 3 humans, a dog and one – they say cranberry sized human – in the ‘oven’). Though to escape we still have our little ‘cottage’ in the hills of Andalusia.

There you go. Can one catch up in three short paragraphs?

So… the future? Well 2019 will see Mireia (an official local guide to the wonderful city of Barcelona) and I start our very own modest agency as we would like to do things ourselves.


Many of you who have travelled with me before have asked; ‘why don’t you create your own agency?’ If I have answered consistently over the past 19 years as a guide, you will have heard me say because I cannot do it alone.

In Spain they talk of meeting one’s ‘other half orange’. In meeting Mireia, our citrus fruit is finally complete. With her unparalleled local knowledge and business acumen, together with my experience of creating and leading tours – for others – we are now ready to start slowly.

I can assure you the majority of guides sit around whilst groups are on ‘free time’ and lament how out of touch agencies are. ‘If only they’d listen to us,‘ they say. A great friend and colleague of mine – Lucy, took the step last year to set up Lucy Loves Travel (which I can highly recommend) – now it is our turn…



We have some planning to do yet (in between nappy changing), but over the winter we will create a website as well as fashion what we believe to be marvellous and different itineraries. No one has greater knowledge than Mireia when it comes to Catalunya and I for example love the Cathar history and everything connected to Alpine Cultures. Between us we speak 10 languages and have travelled to more than 100 countries, so watch this space…

In the meantime – if any of you have any ideas for PLACES you would like to visit, TOURS or even DATES… well Mireia and I would be delighted to hear from you. We can assure you – we – unlike so many large agencies out there – will… listen. Chances are if YOU are thinking of going there so are a few other likeminded travellers we know.

We hope to hear from you – for now just email me

With so much experience between us as well as regular tours we both lead, the safe (and boring?) choice would be to keep guiding just for others. But where is the magic in that? We too have dreams – in fact, we are together because of one. So for 2019 it’s time to act on these, our dreams. The time has finally come to trade our cow, as surely…

You should never hesitate to trade your cow for a handful of magic beans                     – Tom Robbins

~ by Support on November 20, 2018.

59 Responses to “Trading Cows For Magic Beans… 2019”

  1. Congrats Thomas. So glad to hear this! So many things that made me smile in this post!

    • Hey there Michelle… Thanks so much. Hope things are good in Oz – enjoying the summer? When you next come to Europe, please do let me know. I’d love to see you guys again soon…

  2. SO wonderful to hear from you!

  3. Please keep us posted as your plans progress. You provide such a special experience when you lead a tour. Hal B

    • Hello Hal and Sue – thanks so much for you comment. From the response so far, it seems that a trip to the Holy Land (Israel) in on the cards for 2020 if interested 😉 Many hugs…

  4. So wonderful to hear from you after a long quiet time. So thrilled for you and your wife!!

    • Thanks Sheila – I really appreciate the comment. I have lots of stuff nearly written, let’s see if I can find the time over the winter to post a little more… hugs

  5. Please keep us up to date on your plans and trips (and dreams)
    We’d love to travel with you again. We took the barge trip up the Marne, in April 2015 (can’t believe it was long ago) which you made, not only very interesting and informative, but was also great fun.
    Sissy and Charlie
    Raleigh, NC

    • Thanks Sissy and Charlie – goodness that is a while ago. You know, I never did that trip again – such a pity as I LOVE being on barges. I’ll be cruising on the Douro next season, but for other agencies. As for OUR trips – front runner is Israel 2020… Many many hugs to you both – so lovely to hear from you…

  6. Congratulations!!! On everything xx

    • Ah ah ah – my Swiss partner in crime… I can’t believe we missed each other back in GA. However, I am back I think 2nd week of Jan. Hope you are around… x x x

  7. Thomas! You’re back!!! And in such fine fashion. I have been worried about you but clearly that was not necessary. Congratulations to you and Mirela. Many changes in your life and the best is yet to come. I would love to have the opportunity to travel with you again, but this time I will be traveling alone. Vic died in February — all the more reason to look for stimulating distractions. I have been thinking about Croatia or perhaps a river cruise in Eastern Europe, maybe the Danube, but I would be interested in seeing what you come up with. Look forward to hearing more details.

    • Dear Jody, I am so sad to hear you are no longer with Vic. What a gent. I loved travelling with him in Paris – through the rain; always his sense of humour accompanying him. River Cruises are FAB – do one. I have not yet done the Danube, but lots in France and next year The Douro. Croatia I could also lead for you – we’d need to get a few people together. But as I have mentioned on hear to a few people now – Israel 2020 has received the most votes 😉 Much love from Barcelona

  8. What a special surprise. We have missed you so much. You look so very happy and Dave and I are thrilled you found your magic beans. Look forward to more wonderful stories and adventures. Enjoy the little one. Hugs – Dorothy and Dave, Boulder CO

    • Hello you guys… Just wonderful to hear from you. Still turning the wood? I’ll try to get a few more half-finished stories out over the winter. It really means so much people read and appreciate them… many hugs

  9. Thomas it is a joy hearing from you again. I was just on a tour with Libby Chandler in Alsace. We both spoke fondly of you and the great trips you managed
    I’m so glad you have found a good life. That is wonderful. Two children! Wow! Names?
    I’m still doing a lot of art and mostly enjoying life . Planning to be in the Hebrides next spring. Sorry you and Road Scholar have parted ways but sounds like you have lots of great plans

    I’d love to hear more from you so keep in touch and be happy!! Cheers. Susan Fuller

    • Susan!!!! My favourite artist. Jai is the first one and the second one – still in the oven – we are still deciding on 😉 Yes Road Scholar – like so many start of so well meaning, and then turn too big and too non-listening – to US and to clients). Far too run from America now I think. Anyway their reaction to your (my) Corsica – Sardinia trip, said it all. However NOW I am free to do what I want 😉 If you make it to the Hebrides and paint a little, send me some photos… Much love

  10. Just yesterday as I was driving to the grocery, you popped into my mind. I was wondering how you were since there hadn’t been a post for so long and here you were today! I’m glad life is going well for you and can picture you leading tours with a baby carrier on your back. I will be courious to see what tours you come up with and hopefully can join the fun. I have a slide show of my trip to Brittany and Normandy running on my digital picture frame where I can see it all the time.
    Peggy Grayson Road Scholar tour June 2016

    • Hey Peggy – I sure remember you…And THAT – Brittany and Normandy trip – will always remain one of my favourites. I am so sorry we lost Lionel. I hope to tweet the trip a little and lead one of my own up there in the future… Anyway, thanks for thinking of me and a big big hug from Barcelona x

  11. Congratulations!!!! So happy to hear from you again and to hear all the new plans. Amelia, my daughter, is going to study s semester in Sevilla next fall and I will definitely visit her, maybe with Michaël depending on his schedule. We would love to tour with you! Anything of the beaten path. Again lots of love sent your way!

    • Oh it is VERY VERY nice to hear from you again 😉 I am so happy – PLEASE when you come and visit Amelia, come and see us here in Barcelona. (I am going to lead a tour in and around Seville in Jan actually)… I also still have my little house near Granada, so you’d be welcome to that also… Stay in touch – just email if you need anything or Amelia does (Mireia’s cousin lives in Seville) Much love x x x

  12. Pamela and I echo all of the good wishes expressed here and are delighted to learn that you are well, healthy and sort of mildly settled. We look forward to a future journey with you. Walt Barry

    • Dear Walt and Pamela, I LOVE the ‘sort of mildly settled’ – you know me well 😉 You’d be most welcome on any future trip, you know that. It would be both and honour and a delight… hugs from Barcelona

  13. What marvelous news! I look forward to traveling again with you.

    • Sheryl, it would be wonderful to one day have you along ‘under my own steam’ so to speak. You’ll see from the other comments – Israel 2020 is the front runner. Any good? Hugs

      • Israel is a distinct possibility – but how could I not join you on the European fairytales trip…still looking for my prince! 😉 Have you given any more thought to the niche idea we talked about-travel for those with functional disabilities?

      • Hah – the Prince is out there somewhere… it seemingly just takes time. Anyway, the dates would never be the same as I would obviously Tour Guide ALL the trips. I haven’t given up on the idea of more accessible travel – but to be really good, you pretty much have to do that exclusively… meanwhile – some people are ahead of the game

  14. Thomas! So lovely to hear of all the joys in your life. And what a terrific photo. All the best.
    Helen and Phil

    • Hello hello – and thanks so much for the Sicily photo. I bet that was a great trip. I love that island. I’m so happy so many of you from that France trip all those years ago have stayed in touch and indeed become friends. Thanks for reading and hope to see you somewhere soon… Hugs

  15. Tillykke Thomas så dejligt for dig 🙂
    Knus Pernille

    • Tusind tusind tak. Haaber alt gaar godt paa Groenland. Jeg var ked af ikke at faa det job, men som du har kundet laese, var det maaske meningen… mange knus fra Barcelona x x x

  16. Well done Thomas. So glad you come back swinging! All the best to you and growing family.
    Edith & Tom Nardone

    • Edith and Tom – so nice to hear from you. I still remember our Languedoc/Catalonia trip of course. I love that itinerary. Hopefully, as you know, one day I’d like to lead my own trip to that area – the Cathar history is so interesting… Many hugs and thanks, really for reading…

  17. Wonderful news! I called Road Scholar about you wanting to take your Cathar trip and they told me you were gone. I, for one, would still be interested in that with lots of hiking. Much luck on your new endeavor.

    • Hey there Sue – thanks for asking after me with RS. Yes they decided to part ways with me early this year after booking me for the entire season – oh well, long story. I am very much hoping to return in 2020 with a new, improved – MY OWN – version of that trip and indeed with some hikes… Watch this space… Many hugs from Barcelona

  18. Fabulous news Thomas. Finally flying again. And congratulations to you both. Look forward to seeing pictures of Thomas jnr (or Miss Mireia). Will be very happy to promote your site when it is online. Glad to see that smile again.

    • Whayyy-laaaa Colin!!! It is a real delight to hear from you. I am so happy you still read these posts. How is the island? I can send you some pics – email me… if you EVER fancy a trip to Barcelona – even a short break – just let me know. Massive hug… x x x

  19. SO relieved that you are well and thriving.
    I recently returned from a trip to Japan with a marvelous guide and everyone on the tour (Odysseys) kept saying she was the best ever, but I had to say, “well, she is the 2nd best guide I have ever experienced. There will always be an untouchable #1.”

    • Hellooooooo Karen (and I the same to Alice also)… How is that map of yours? How was Japan? I would love to go there… And THANK YOU for your comment – that is one of the nicest things anyone has ever written to me – so touched. Well, if still interested in Normandy and Brittany email me – it would not be through RS of course, but it will be one of Mireia’s and I’s new tours for sure… Big hugs to you and Alice too… x

  20. Thomas, SO wonderful to hear that you are happy and will be starting your own your company in the near future! I, too, have thought of you often and the many wonderful memories I ( we) have of our trips together. As a group leader now, and, sometime tour manager, I do understand the rigors of group travel and the toll it can take on you.

    As I continue to travel with my small groups of adults, “ my ladies” have recently mentioned that they are interested in doing an “Athens and the Agean” – type tour in 2020. I would love for you to do a trip for us similar to that one. That was an unforgettable trip for me, and I would love for my adults to experience that gorgeous part of the world with you as well.

    Let me know what your plans are as you begin to build your business. I would definitely love to travel with you again! Congrats on everything wonderful in your life. It is terrific to see you smiling again. Please keep in touch.


    • Dear Sue (and Brian too)…

      So nice to hear from you. And congrats on becoming a Tour Guide yourself. Where have you been travelling?

      Anyway, you’ll see I have adhered to your request (latest post). We are more than happy to create an Athens and The Aegean Tour for you and your ladies for 2020. We can do a closed tour – just for you – or open it up to others also.

      Best is just to email when you can and we can take it from there – so exciting. Really you will see like this, we can make something far more special and tailor-made than the large agencies can. Much Love T x x x

  21. Awhh it’s such a pleasure to hear from you!!! And congratulations!! So many positive changes I’m sure you will rock in your travel agency! With such a knowledge and experience, it will be pleasure to travel with you!! Next year I will probably go to Greece so if you have some suggestions… Once again great hearing from you!! So happy that you’re happy! Keep it like that! Kisses and hugs. Agata

    • Dear Agata – I love Greece so much. In fact one of our first trips (2020) we hope will be to there. But if you prefer to travel solo I have so very good contacts – just email me and let me know how I can help. Bisous T x x

  22. Wonder, Wonderful news. Congratulations Thomas. I am so glad to hear about those dreams coming true. It is high time that you find true happiness.

    For the past 2 years I have been searching for a tour of Spain that visits all of the places that are on my list. It would be so great to finally do this trip with you. I will be in touch.


    • Dear Chalice – great to hear from you and have read your comment. If you email with your list, Mireia and I can certainly create something very personalised – as a closed tour or open it up to a small group. You know how much I also love Andalucia and we have contacts all over, so… Looking forward to hearing from you. Hugs…

  23. Wonderful news Thomas. And I am very interested in your new venture. I have spent the last 3 winters in Andalusia, with last winter driving from one end to the other as I rented a very small car. Rode an Andalusian mare with the owner of the “estate” Jerez, didn’t realize he was the owner until he invited me in for a sherry…..not too many customers who want to ride in January….it was an experience of a lifetime as we spoke of our mutual interests in animals and agricultural
    Now my travel plans involve my teenage grandchildren, 18 to 15…6 of them left to take to Europe. Now that’s a Rhodes Scholar tho, so please keep in touch

    • Dear Cheryl – I am very envious of your winters in Andalusia. I still have my small house there and now we go as often as we can as a family. I’ve always wanted to learn to ride horses too… sounds like YOU could advise me.

      If you want any help/advice or even to organise something for you and your grandchildren – just let us know… You know how to reach us… Hugs

  24. So glad to hear from you! We of your France trips (Brittany, Normandy, the Cathar Trail) with the travel company “who cannot be named” have been wondering if you were ok. carry on!

    • Hah 😉 Majorie that’s ok – we can name them. I guess guides and agencies just grow apart… And when our differences in philosophy or travel as well as attention to detail become too great, it is time to move on… I am so so happy to have travelled with you TWICE.

      In case you fancy a third time lucky one day, just be in touch… Ciao ciao and hugs from Barcelona

  25. Thomas! So surprised and happy to hear from you! Your life sounds ideal– and well deserved. Leslie and I went to Ireland this past spring with Road Scholar, but we missed your daily drawings and en-route stories. So, I’m happy to learn that I can travel with you again. I look forward to seeing what your scheduled trips will be. And, by the way, I’ve never been to Spain!
    Take care, Karleen Erhardt

    • Dear Karleen – NEVER been to Spain??? Oh my goodness. Well then hand on heart I can tell you, you are in for a treat. Maybe we need to create a best of Spain, in addition to the Best of Catalunya we have planned… You have to see the Alhambra in Granada at least once (and ideally twice – as a night time visit is magical)… Anyway, send an email when you are ready to go, and we can create something… Many hugs from…. Spain 😉

  26. Great news. Congratulations on this new adventure. Missed hearing from you. This is exciting.

    • Dear Linda – thanks heaps. I will try to be better at up-dating you all a little more frequently. I have been really touched by the response… A big hug from Barcelona

  27. I will join the chorus of those who missed you, worried about you, and are absolutely delighted to hear that your life has brought you some well-deserved blessings. Sorry to hear that you are no longer with Road Scholar but happy to learn you will be starting your own tour company, which, I hope, will be friendly towards us older singles who delight in good food, wine, and adventure. The Cathar trip was one of my favorites; would love to do other trips like it. Looking forward to hearing more about future plans. All my best!

    • Dear Ilene. I think it was probably that Cathar trip which inspired me to launch this venture. What a great trip – and all the time I was thinking – if they only knew how much more there is out there I could show you…

      As for the clientele of the new Agency (heaven knows what we will call it) – yes indeed, older singles as you say, no worries and wine?? I think you know we well enough… Indeed trying to install an element of exactly that – adventure back into travel is what we’d like to do… Hope to see you with us one day… hugs

  28. Congrats on all of it!! I’m so happy for you!

  29. Hi Thomas,
    I’m so happy to learn that you are doing well and now have a thriving family. I thought I wrote to you last week but my message doesn’t seem to be here. Also, this site disappeared for me for a few weeks earlier this month. I enjoyed traveling with you in Andalusia in 2015 and Languedoc to Barcelona in 2017. I’m very interested in your fairytale trip if it comes to pass. Please keep me in your information loop.

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