Have you ever travelled to a city before and beheld all of its best kept secrets during your short stay? Have you seen its splendour through the eyes of a local and sought out its innermost delights?
For most of us, unearthing the heart of a city is somewhat challenging. You can research all you like but there is nothing better than an insider's perspective and if you don't have a pal in Barcelona, it is likely that you will end up eating paella with a big jug of sugary sangria in a Xiringuito full of English-speaking meatheads, with an English waiter and hell! Even the cockroaches will doff their caps and offer you a chipper cheerio.
This is why, one day, when pals Carolina and Marianne were strolling through the city they both wistfully mused 'why can't we have a best friend in every city to show all the pearls, the rough diamonds and all the hidden secrets?'. Looking at each other, a little spark flew, a seed took root and the tentative baby 'The Treasures' emerged from the womb of their conversation.
I was fortunate enough one bright morning last week to probe Carolina for more info on her recently born company (2011) that offers a personalised guide service in Barcelona and Madrid and events just about anywhere... focusing on what the cities have to offer in terms of gastronomy, fashion, interior design and shopping.
Carolina, where are you from?
I'm from Malaga in the South of Spain where I used to work for an events company. One day, I decided to leave in a van and I travelled through Nepal, India and Australia for a long time before my heart led me to Barcelona almost two years ago.
Tell me about The Treasures...
Well, I'm not a huge believer in astrology but there is a theory to do with the planet Saturn in which, in accordance with its alignments as the 7th planet, every 7 or 8 years your life will dramatically change somehow before things almost magically fall into place. It's called the 'Seven Year Itch'. So around my 28th year, I left Malaga, went travelling (as you know) and was drawn to Barcelona where, by chance, I met my future business partner in a bar. She recognised me from a mutual friend's Facebook pictures! And so it was that we started to meet for coffee during our spare time. Little by little, we compared ideas and shared inspiration until suddenly one day, we were completely on the same page.
The Treasures became a way to provide fellow globetrotters with a trustworthy guide to show them the crème de la crème, while saving not only money but also time spent researching web sites or poring over restricted travel books.
We want the idea of The Treasures to be as if your best friend were showing you around the city. Our tours are very small and personal and tailor-made to suit different tastes. We offer tours for gastronomy, interior design and boutiques... along the way, we also share stories of the city's history and secrets but none of our tours are ever the same. We stage a small interview with our client beforehand and meticulously plan which secrets to reveal them...fitting our tours to them like a glove.
With us by their side, we share the best-kept secrets from the more traditional establishments with that special something only the locals know, to vanguard places where all eyes are on you.
You also organise personalised events. Can you give me an example?
Well, recently we did an event for a German company. We hired out a wine place in Mallorca, a bodega, and we filled the whole room with wild flowers. Everyone sat around eating and drinking the wine from the land. It was beautiful. Also, do you know San Miguel Market in Madrid?
It's an incredible old iron building, surrounded by glass so you can see everything. We like to take our tours inside to sit and try all the wonderful food they have there. We just sit and talk and eat all night long.
What's your favourite thing to do in Barcelona?
On a Saturday or Sunday, I like to go for brunch at Picnic and walk around the Born and the Gothic Quarter and its mysterious streets, finishing the day with great, yummy food at Quimet y Quimet.
For more information, simply go to www.thetreasures.es or add the lovely ladies on Facebook and Twitter for up to date news.