Returning to Barcelona’s Mobile World Congress (MWC) day after day in the early part of March wasn’t without its stresses. As fun as it was throwing yourself headfirst into technological oblivion, all of this futuristic stuff can get a little too much. It’s only natural to need a break and take stock of your surroundings. The build up to MWC was most notable for the flood of emails from just about every company in the world who has even *thought* about electronics. Wave after wave of bright, capitalized and overtly-punctual emails clogged up my inbox like a mouse in a drainpipe.
The chink of light in this dark business-related spam vortex came in the form of trip4real, whose emphasis on the personal experience – that is to say what an individual WANTS as opposed to what somebody else thinks – is its major selling point. As they themselves state, it’s a ‘mission4real’: to give a bit more happiness to the world. The world could always do with some more happiness. With bases in some of Europe’s most prestigious and historical capital cities – Paris, Rome, Madrid, London – to their name as well as Barcelona, it was a tough email to ignore.
It was a unique pitch, sure… and it wasn’t phone-based. There was no other option but to step out, and I’m grateful I did because the narrow, winding streets of Barcelona become a lot more manageable once you’ve undergone the experience of the wonderfully-named Tapas and Wine Tour with a Charming Foodie. Led by a local guide named Sonia, I was taken through the key markets in the bustling city centre. We visited the churros joints, the best wine bars and tapas sellers in the city and even if you want to know where to get the best apples in the morning, then Sonia is the person to ask.
At two and a half hours long, the tour is the perfect length to be able to try your hand at experiencing genuine Catalonian culture, with its exquisite wine, food and traditions, without the tourist trap nonsense. The problem with travel is that sometimes you’re too busy getting lost or having misunderstandings to actually follow a coherent narrative. Those two and a bit hours practically fly by as you look through shop and café windows, revel in the architecture and breathe in the moist evening air. Life isn’t too bad sometimes, you know?
One thing I took away from my whistle-stop tour of Barcelona’s secret culinary hideaways: they sure do love their candy, sugar and chocolate. The experience ends with a meal at a vibrant and loud restaurant with eager staff practically giving away stacked plates of top quality cuisine. The only worry you’ll have is dragging your full belly back to your room or another bar afterwards.
Buoyed by my trip and keen to learn more, I spoke with Natalie, a representative of trip4real who was only too keen to spread the word.
What led to the creation of trip4real?
It was one of those a-ha moments. The founder of the company, Gloria Molins, was working in Sydney at the time and found herself surrounded by new friends and people from the city showing her around and making the experience a better one. The ideology behind our mission is super simple, we believe the most authentic experiences are not in guides, but in people. That’s when you really get to know a place and discover the culture.
We created trip4real as a way for travelers and locals to have a community to connect and discover the underbelly of a city together. It’s a much more intimate way to travel and see the world! Try a trip4real the next time you go exploring. We promise the experience will change your perspective and introduce you to a local world you never would have expected!
What some of the most popular experiences that people opt for?
It really depends on taste, someone traveling to Paris in search of the city’s best cafes and boulangeries can link with a local food lover and go exploring together, while an art collector might be more interested in finding the best galleries and studios in Paris. To do so they can connect with a local artist to discover the scene with someone in the know, while sharing fresh perspectives and inspiration! To date – our foodie tours sell really well, as do our art walks, sailing trips and day trips to local wineries, especially those in Catalonia, Spain.
What experience/trip would you love to add to your options that you haven’t got yet?
We are looking to get more into the events and music space. Our locals are so creative, and we have a lot of musicians interested in sharing their world with the public so we’re working on creating more music and theater inspired experiences like a private jam session in Barcelona or a DJ experience in Paris.
What has the feedback from your customers been like?
It’s so great when we get the reviews in! We are finding that once someone has one trip4real experience they don’t look back – it becomes a new way to travel. Our locals are also extremely positive – we enable them to make extra income doing something fun and enjoyable. One of our locals told us about a really sweet proposal story that happened on his sunset sailing tour in Barcelona. The boyfriend phoned in before the tour to let the local know he planned to propose, and asked him whether he had speakers to bring music. He wanted to play her favorite song. When our local heard the news he went beyond! Planning a surprise of his own he stocked the boat with cava and cakes and brought his camera along to take pictures of the candid moment which he sent them after. There are many stories like this, but it shows you that you don’t need to spend a ton to make a moment truly memorable. People hosting people rips apart the notion that luxury has to be a novelty.
What differentiates trip4real from other experience-based companies?
Well right now we are the European leader when it comes to bespoke and offbeat experiences – our platform is host to over 4,000 activities in Lisbon, London, Paris, Rome and all of Spain. Our diversity is what separates us, each trip4real is as quirky and unique as the person who leads it! Trip4real lends itself to really unique experiences, because each and every one of our experiences is made by someone local. There’s an activity for anyone looking to discover a new place through the lens of a local!