About the author: My name is Gayle Mackie and I´ve been living in the city of Granada for over 10 years now. I fell in love with the place as a student and basically ended up staying. I worked in several different fields but then the challenge of setting up on my own got the better of me and I decided to launch Granada Tapas Tours. It´s a simple concept based on showing visitors to the city the best tapas bars in town, ones that they wouldn´t dare venture into if they were wondering around on their own. And so far, so good. It´s going from strength to strength.
My love affair with tapas and Granada began over 10 years ago. I arrived as a student and after finishing my studies thought the city was a good place to live, so stayed. Professionally I´ve done a bit of everything - translator, English teacher, marketing, aerobics instructor, tour guide...
I realised there was a gap in the market for a tapa business because there aren´t an awful lot of activities to do in Granada if you don´t speak Spanish. And I became aware that many visitors wouldn´t dare venture into some of the best tapas bars simply because they WERE the best and therefore packed full of locals. I also became just more than a little fed up with the treatment that I was getting professionally. Being relatively young, female and foreign, some Spanish employers blatantly took advantage, assuming I was a silly "guiri" ( i.e., foreigner)
Moreover, the Granada tapa experience in practically UNIQUE within Spain because the tapa that you´re offered is completely FREE. For anyone who has been in Granada you´ll know that I´m not talking about a few crisps and olives! You could easily get a hamburger in a mini bun, a hot dog and helping of paella or meatballs in tomato sauce.
So I went about setting up Granada Tapas Tours. It has been a long and somewhat tricky process, especially when trying to get into the good books of the bar owners! Another small "difficulty" I´ve had has been finding decent tapa guides. The job isn´t for everyone as it requires a chatty, happy personality and a high level of spoken Spanish. The tapa guide has to make the customer feel at ease and that is not something everybody can do. Plus the hours don´t suit everyone. Tours run from 1300 to 1530 more or less and then an evening tour takes place from 2000 to 2300. And the guides have to be careful not to eat the tapas - otherwise they would easily gain a few extra kilos/pounds/stone. Not to mention the endless research we did to find companies interested in collaborating with us.
It´s hard to go up to a big established travel agency and offer them your service. Persistance I suppose has paid off. But as equally important was the contact we made with all the hotel workers, holiday home owners, and direct leads from the webpage. The customers generate from these areas are in my mind what the company was set up for - to show the individual what Granada has to offer. Of course no matter how big of a group we deal with, whether 2 or 10 people, we try to make sure everyone has a thoroughly enjoyable time!
It was hard at first to get things all up and running with the bars and also collaborating companies but slowly and surely we´ve succeeded. The tours are never big, that´s not what Tapas Tours are about, so even with travel agency groups and wedding parties, the tour size remains a maximum of 10. Otherwise I feel that the quality of what we´re offering is affected.
I was so impressed with the whole tapa system on arriving in Granada that I wanted to let the outside world know about it. You don´t get much for free as they say, but Granada´s tapas are just about as free as they come. Forget what you´ll see and get in Madrid, Barcelona or Seville, eating tapas on a Granada Tapas Tours, I can assure you is much more pleasurable!