Travel Stop

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Dear All

Welcome to 2019. And our news from 2018 in brief, is as follows …….

In April we were once again shortlisted in the TTG (Travel Trade Gazette) Awards and we were awarded the runner-up for the East of England, the accolade which we had won the year before. Whilst obviously delighted, I must admit that I do prefer to win - perhaps I’m just too competitive! However, it was a lovely evening and we were pleased to come away with something. 2018 also saw the opening of shop number four in the delightful town of Buntingford in Hertfordshire. In July, 27 years to the day that Travel Stop began, we opened the doors to our latest shop. A premises became available in a town which reminded me so much of Hadleigh, and it just seemed like an opportunity not to be missed. I would like to thank all of the residents who have welcomed us so warmly and who are using our services and entrusting us with looking after their holiday arrangements. I assure you that you are in good hands and for those locally who have not yet visited our office, Lorna and Rachael would be delighted to meet you.


Unusually, this year has seen several staff changes. We have had three retirements and one very significant one was that of Nancy Bagnall after 25 years of service. Nancy joined Travel Stop in 1993, not long after the opening of the Elmswell shop. She has given both myself and the company a long and loyal service and, more importantly, has become a close friend, not only to myself, but to the staff who have worked alongside her. We made sure that we gave her a good send-off (a surprise one at that) and she is already missed by the team.

In April we welcomed Louise Wright and Jackie Hall to the Elmswell team. They have already proved to be great assets to the company and are now working under the management of Hannah Moore, who transferred from our Claydon office at the same time. We are also pleased to welcome Tracey Dark and Cheryl Hutchins. Tracey is based at our Hadleigh office, whilst Cheryl has become ‘Cheryl No.2’ at Claydon. Both have previous experience in the travel industry and we feel that both will add strength to the existing teams.

Many of you will know Anita as, over the years, she has worked from each of the offices and who had been with Travel Stop for 16 years. She has departed for a new challenge. Instead of a client facing role as a travel agent, she will be planning and putting together itineraries, working for a tour operator. We wish her the very best of luck in her new venture. The upstairs at Hadleigh has been completely renovated and now has an area which will prove ideal to hold presentations and consumer events. We are in the process of planning many such events and look forward to seeing you in the days to come (see ‘Save The Date’ on the back page).


Elmswell office has also had the benefit of a complete refit which has seen huge improvements to the old premises. Owned by the railways, we have always been limited as to what we can do but, with the changes we have made, the improvements are significant. So, if you haven’t visited the office recently, please do drop by and meet the team. CLAYDON

The new signage for all the four shops is looking superb. The love and attention that has been given to the hanging baskets outside the Claydon office has created a lot of attention and admiration.

In September Travel Stop’s annual Escorted Group Cruise sailed from Southampton to the Canaries and the Azores. I hope that I can say that a good time was had by all with some already joining Paul and myself on next years escorted departure. This will be to the Western Mediterranean aboard the Celebrity Silhouette, departing on 8th September 2019. More details of this can be found opposite on page three but, if you would like any further information, please do not hesitate to contact one of the team in the shop near you.

This last year also saw some wonderful ‘working’ travel opportunities for several of the team and you will read many of their reports throughout this newsletter. Due to their passion for travel and their desire to provide an exceptional service, they are always so happy to share their experiences with you. Please feel free to make an appointment if you would like more information about any of the destinations they’ve visited.

In 2019, our charity is Headway which is UK-wide and works to improve life after a brain injury. Throughout the year I give talks about my year long “Clipper Round the World Yacht Race” adventure, for a donation to our chosen charity.

That just brings me to say a big thank you once again for the continued support from all of our existing customers and we look forward to continuing to be of service to you, and to all new customers, during 2019. Yours,



Tel: 0147301359 828728 ELMSWELL 242555 CLAYDON 01473 832111 Tel: 01473 832111

HADLEIGH 01473 828728 BUNTINGFORD 01763 788222

Join Travel Stop’s Escorted Cruise from Southampton to the Western Mediterranean, 14 Nights on the Celebrity Silhouette sailing 8th September 2019. SOUTHAMPTON









PROVENCE(Marseille) FLORENCE/PISA(Laspezia) ROME(Civitavecchia)





Limited time offer

Price includes classic drinks package

Limited time offer

Price includes gratuities

Balcony cabin from £2478.79* Outside cabin from £2403.79 per person*

*Prices may change. Based on 2 people sharing. Price correct at time of going to press. email: 3




The Land of the Thunder Dragon calls those with a sense of adventure high into the mountains of the Himalayas. Buddhism here is not just a philosophy but a way of life: government policies are created in pursuit of Gross National Happiness, monasteries and temples dot the landscape, and monks in burgundy robes are ever-present in the community. Visitor numbers are strictly controlled so that the local way of life and the pristine environment an be protected. Visiting Bhutan is an exclusive experience, and certainly one to be treasured. Trust Indus Experience to take you there.

The Jewel in the Crown seems like an entire continent within a single country. Everything you have heard, everything you have dreamed of, can be found here somewhere. You might want to take an architectural tour amongst the royal palaces, historic temples, and desert fortresses of Rajasthan. Perhaps what appeals is the Buddhist culture of Ladakh, visiting the UNESCO archaeological sites of Karnataka, or a laid-back expedition by houseboat along the waterways of Kerala. India has it all, and Indus Experiences’ destination specialists will create a unique programme for you to make the most of your time and budget.

Prepare to be awed by the beauty and the variety destinations in Southeast Asia. Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam have their distinct identities, but in each place you’ll find ancient cultures, dramatic landscapes, and a warm welcome from local people. The temples of Cambodian Angkor Wat are incomparable, but we’re sure you’ll be equally enthralled by Laos’ Pak Ou Caves with their thousand Buddha carvings, and the magnificent temple of Chiang Mai, Thailand. Indus Experiences creates both detailed single country tours and programmes for you to explore the entire region, comparing and contrasting destinations across Indochina.

Experience Asia like never before with a tailor-made itinerary or specialist small group tour from the award-winning Indus Experiences. 4

Venture east with the experts. For 23 years, Indus Experience has been creating bespoke travel experiences for discerning travellers who want to see and understand Asia through local eyes. Join us on an unforgettable journey.



Sri Lanka

Mighty Myanmar — known often as Burma — is still relatively unexplored in spite of its numerous attractions. Cruising along the Irrawaddy River reminds you of the importance of the water for irrigation and transportation; and on stunning Inle Lake you’ll discover almost all aspects of life can happen afloat. Float across the temples of Bagan at dawn in a hot air balloon. Follow the road to Mandalay. And shop and people watch in the vibrant markets of Yangon. Indus Experiences’ local guides will shape your experience of Myanmar to reflect your interests, helping you form unforgettable memories.

You’ll fall in love with Nepal for its dramatic nature. Everest and a host of other snow-topped peaks rise strikingly above lush green valleys, meadows, and rivers. In the depths of the jungle stalk Royal Bengal tiger, and the Chitwan National Park is home not only to wild boar, leopard, and honey badger but also to more than 500 species of birds. Nepal offers serious opportunities for mountaineering, rafting, and climbing, but Indus Experiences also encourages more leisurely walks and picnics in the great outdoors. Breathe in the fresh mountain air, and survey the beauty of the natural landscape.

Sri Lanka — colonial Ceylon — is an island paradise in the Indian Ocean. The long white beaches are lined with palm trees, and inland you’ll find jungles and tea estates, fascinating archaeological sites and living places of worship. Nothing beats the sight of the sun rising from holy Adam’s Peak having climbed to the top with the pilgrims, or the mouthwatering flavours of fresh fish and prawns caught by local fishermen and cooked with local spices before your eyes. Sri Lanka may be small but the concentration and quality of things to see make it an ideal introduction to South Asia.




where applicable, does not apply to extra nights’ *Saving is based on B 10% Early Payment Discount. Early Payment Discount is on the land-only portion of selected holidays and can be combined with other brochure discounts accommodation, optional extensions, airfares, flight supplements and surcharges, taxes and fees and airport transfers. A deposit is required on booking and the full amount must be paid by 'FCSVBSZ 2019 or no later than 45 days prior to departure from Australia for land only guided holidays (whichever comes first) Subject to availability at time of booking and may be withdrawn at any time.


From the taste of refreshing sundowners with wild hippos on the banks of the mighty Zambezi River, to embracing endless freedom in the Masai Mara, standing atop skyscraper high sand dunes in the Namibian desert or following in the footsteps of Prince Harry and The Duchess of Sussex in the Botswana’s Okavango Delta, Africa really has something for everyone. Experience untouched wilderness, breath-taking views, sunsoaked beaches and the pulse of vibrant cultures in the bustling cities – exhilarating no matter your age.

Does this sound like the adventure of your dreams? Introducing Trafalgar, a worldwide travel operator with over 72 years’ experience in curating once in a lifetime guided holidays. This award-winning family travel operator has origins in Africa – it’s the homeland of the Tollman family who own and operate The Travel Corporation, of which Trafalgar is part. The company’s firm roots in Africa brought immeasurable passion, unrivalled expertise and personal connections to Trafalgar’s all new African journeys. Each trip has been crafted with first-hand knowledge thanks to the brands’ close connection with local African heritage, something that you won’t find anywhere else. As recently seen on the popular BBC One nature documentary ‘David Attenborough’s Dynasties’ you can now experience the extraordinary world of lions for yourself on game drives through some of Africa’s top national parks. There truly is no better way to see the best sites in Africa, spot incredible wildlife encounters and share the unforgettable memories with likeminded travellers than with a group guided holiday operator like Trafalgar. Choosing to travel with Trafalgar makes a real difference to the communities we visit and wildlife we encounter. Trafalgar puts the protection of wildlife and local communities at the forefront of everything they do through partnering with TreadRight— a non-profit foundation that protects the people and wildlife in the destinations they operate so that future generations and local communities can benefit for years to come.

Africa has so many opportunities to see the Big Five – Lion, Buffalo, Elephant, Rhino and Leopard. So the big question is, which African country should you choose? Well there is only one that offers such varied wildlife encounters, tasty local food and exciting culture, and that’s South Africa. Not only can you see the famous Big Five on an included game drive across the private game reserves of Kruger National Park with a Local Specialist guide, you will also find yourself surrounded by many species of birds and the unique Boulder Penguins found on the Cape peninsula. For budding photographers, South Africa offers varied landscapes and flora - from standing on top of Table Mountain, to the shade of the ancient baobab trees. Trafalgar offers two South Africa trips lasting 10 or 15 days, both giving you the opportunity to experience these highlights.

There is such a vast range of stunning accommodations featured on Trafalgar’s South Africa trips. For example The Oyster Box, a 5 Star luxury boutique hotel in Durban, part of the Tollman family’s award-winning Red Carnation Hotel Collection, is an iconic property that stands majestically on Umhlanga’s beachfront. You will also stay in authentic luxurious game lodges and handpicked 4 & 5 star hotels across the country with Trafalgar.

South Africa is famous for its melting pot of food and flavours, none more popular than the traditional Braai, or South African barbecue. An average Trafalgar Africa trip includes up to 50% of meals and breakfast every day, giving you plenty of free time to explore and design your own evenings too. Wine lovers can sip a glass of Pinotage or two on a Trafalgar’s special Connect with Locals lunch in the heart of South Africa’s wine capital, Stellenbosch. You will join the De Waal family at their Stellenbosch winery for a wine tasting intertwined with stories from the family’s history, which is linked to the history of wine in South Africa dating back to 1715. Tour their spectacular family home, one of the few remaining Cape Dutch Manor houses, built in 1791, and feast on a traditional Cape lunch with wine (as experienced on Trafalgar’s Essence of South Africa trip). Trafalgar’s Africa 2019 brochure features 10 guided tours in nine countries. Our trips are suitable for everyone, whatever age and families are warmly welcome. We want you to experience real ease when travelling with Trafalgar, which is why we include private door-to-door transfers from/to your doorstep on every trip*. FEATURED SOUTH AFRICA TRIPS:

The Best of South Africa, 15 days from £4,036 pp** including flights, departing from London.

Connect with the culture of South Africa and Swaziland as you travel from the north to south to encounter South Africa's legacy of Mandela and the cosmopolitan spirit of Cape Town. Essence of South Africa, 10 days from £4,108 pp** including flights, departing from London.

Bush, beach and two vibrant cities — capture the essence of South Africa on this culmination of a Cape Town to Kruger experience, including Johannesburg, the 'City of Gold'.

And if you’re looking for something more tailored, consider a bespoke trip to South Africa with Luxury Gold, sister brand to Trafalgar who also offer bespoke African luxury journeys and safaris to destinations including Kenya, Rwanda, Mozambique, Zambia, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Tanzania. **Prices Subject to Availability. Terms and conditions apply


Stop searching start seeing ■

Daily departures all year around

Our famous route sails in the Arctic’s Auroral Zone and to 34 ports along the beautiful Norwegian coast

Choose from a range of winter excursions such as husky dog sledding, snowmobiling, and king crab safari Nordic gastronomy at its best on board, using fresh, local ingredients, sourced at ports during the journey

© Bris Studio

FREE VOYAGE if the lights don’t occur on your 12-day voyage between October and March

Flight-inclusive departures from GATWICK 17 Oct 2019 24 Jan 2020 09 Feb 2020 17 Feb 2020 28 Feb 2020 02 Mar 2020 21 Mar 2020

12 DAYS FULL BOARD including flights FROM


Terms and conditions apply. Enquire for details.

Honeymiles Over 100 couples have approved our free ‘Honeymiles’ service, the easy way for you to solve the wedding present dilemma. What are Honeymiles? The perfect way for guests to contribute to your honeymoon as their wedding gift to you. What should we do? Firstly, just come and see us and we will find and book you the perfect honeymoon.

What next? Inform your friends and family that their wedding gift to you will contribute to your honeymoon. We can provide you with an insert for your wedding invitations that will explain how they can donate towards the cost of your honeymoon. How do guests donate to your Honeymiles? Contact us and quote your name and file number. Travel Stop will send them a receipt card and, should they wish to use it, an insert suitable for enclosing in their wedding card to you.

What if guests want to buy a more individual gift? Guests can buy any special excursions or experiences taken from a list that you have previously chosen. For example, this may be a sunset cruise, a candle-lit dinner on the beach, a city tour or open-top bus sightseeing trip or even a shark encounter! What if my friends and family are really generous? Any amount received after the balance has been paid in full (12 weeks prior to departure) which exceeds the value of your honeymoon will be refunded to you. Alternatively, it can be exchanged into the appropriate currency for your destination to go towards your spending money. How will we know who has contributed? We will provide you with a list of all the guests who made a contribution.

What could be simpler?

Reward yourself with

“TRIP” POINTS Recommend a new customer and we will reward you with points when they book. Rewards include: A bottle of wine from 100 points Afternoon Tea from 195 points An Airport Lounge Pass from 250 points A set lunch at Gordon Ramsey’s from 700 points London West End theatre tickets from 850 points and more

We have already rewarded customers with wine, champagne, afternoon teas, airport lounge passes, theatre tickets, holiday vouchers and weekends away. More details on our website - Terms and conditions apply


Peru’s HISTORY & CULTURE is a rich melting pot of pre-Inca, Inca and Spanish colonial influences. The result is a huge number of spectacular historical sites and ancient traditions that survive into the modern day. From the Pre-Inca cultures who built the mud brick city of Chan Chan and the enigmatic Nazca Lines, to the Inca master masons who intricately carved huge slabs to construct their monolithic fortresses and terraces, and the Spanish conquistadores who founded their own colonial cities literally on top of the conquered Incas’ buildings, Peru has it all. 10

Peru is home to a huge wealth of WILDLIFE. A short flight from Cusco there are a number of comfortable lodges which allow you to experience the wonders of the Amazon rainforest first hand. Howler Monkeys swing from the trees and piranhas patrol the rivers! Experienced guides will help you spot and understand the abundance of flora and fauna in the region. Alternatively, from Iquitos in Northern Peru you can cruise down the Amazon on a range of small luxury boats that make stops along the way.

LUXURY TRAIN TRAVEL is one of the best ways to explore Peru. Belmond offer a range of 1-night and 2-night itineraries on their Pullman-style ‘Andean Explorer’ train which allow visitors to see the highlights of Peru in comfort and style. Belmond also operate the famous ‘Hiram Bingham’ train which is the most luxurious way to travel between Cusco and Machu Picchu. Inca Rail and Peru Rail also offer their own luxury train services, including the ‘Titicaca Train’ which operates the spectacular high altitude route between Cusco and Lake Titicaca.

To plan your holiday to Peru, please contact Travel Stop at or visit

Distinctive Americas is a tailor-made specialist selling Latin America and Antarctica. Our aim is simple; to provide you with high quality travel. arrangements based around exactly what YOU want to do. WHEN TO TRAVEL TO PERU April to November.


Machu Picchu and much more…

HOW TO GET TO PERU British Airways fly direct from Gatwick to Lima 3 days a week (Mar – Oct only). Other airlines include LAN & Iberia via Madrid, KLM via Amsterdam, or American Airlines via the USA. PERU COMBINES WITH Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador & Galápagos.


EXPLORE PERU 11-days from £2,295 pp

Peru is fast becoming an P ADVENTURE TRAVEL mecca. Its abundance of spectacular landscapes and natural resources mean that it has plenty of activities to keep adrenaline junkies happy From whitewater rafting to ziplining, from mountain biking to horseriding, as well as numerous challenging treks, including the world famous 4-day Inca Trail. For those with a head for heights you can climb a 400m rock face on a metal Via Ferrata, enjoy a champagne lunch in a spectacular hanging pod and then zipline back down to solid ground!

Peruvian CUISINE has come a long way from Guinea Pig! It’s now a major force internationally with many of its restaurants voted amongst the world’s best. A rich fusion of traditional Andean staples with Asian, African and European influences. it is one of the unexpected pleasures of a visit to Peru. From spicy stir fries, to rich soups, from refreshing seafood Ceviche to hearty stews baked in a traditional ‘Pachamanca’ earth oven. And to whet your appetite a Pisco Sour, one of the world’s tastiest aperitifs. ‘Buen Provecho’ as they say in Peru!!

CLASSIC PERU 16-days from £4,195 pp

ACTIVE PERU 16-days from £3,475 pp

LUXURY PERU 11-days from £5,695 pp


• • • • • • • • •

Tailor-made itineraries Grizzly bear viewing lodges Self-drive holidays Ranches, resorts & lodges Wildlife viewing experiences Iconic rail journeys City stays Escorted & independent tours Alaska cruises

Ask your Travel Stop specialist to call us for all your Canada & Alaska holiday plans...



Friday was the day that I was delighted to join a small group of Travel Agents on a 4 night break to Canada’s largest city, Toronto. After arriving into Toronto Pearson International Airport we made our way to the Chelsea Hotel where we were based for the next 4 days.

Saturday we had the Niagara Falls Tour - departing from the bus station at 10am, we were told to layer up with clothes to accommodate both cold and warm periods throughout the day… and to take extra socks in case our feet got wet. On route to the falls, we visited Niagara-On-The-Lake, often described as the prettiest town in Ontario. It is a well preserved 19th Century Village in the heart of Ontario Wine Country – hence, we were invited to take part in some wine tasting at a local vineyard.

Niagara is deemed one of the greatest natural spectacles on the planet and despite seeing Niagara Falls on a very grey, gloomy & wet day, it was certainly spectacular. A hearty lunch at the Sheraton Hotel with one of the most iconic backdrops in the world was very much appreciated. After lunch, a cruise on the Hornblower left everyone soaking wet but worth it. Our guide drove us to Table Rock, at the top of the falls, for some more photo shots and allowed us time to browse around the gift shop.

Lunch was at the Hot House Restaurant & Bar, one of Toronto's destination food and wine eateries, located in the historic St. Lawrence neighbourhood. We had an afternoon visit to Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada, an interactive attraction consisting of 9 carefully curated galleries, featuring one of the world's most extensive jellyfish exhibits, the longest moving sidewalk, stingray and bamboo shark touch pools, and daily live dive shows. We returned back to the Chelsea hotel for a little relaxation and to refresh before dinner at Pappas Grill for some traditional Greek food in Greek Town, a 15 minute taxi drive.

Monday was another early start with breakfast at the Chelsea, followed by a site inspection of this property - the largest hotel in Toronto with 1590 rooms. This hotel is centrally located, surrounded by good restaurants and will suit all walks of life. It will appeal to families too with a swimming pool and a waterslide on the 2nd floor as well as an adult pool situated on the top floor. The newly completed Bisha Hotel is a mecca for celebrities with its unique exquisite rooms, an amazing rooftop restaurant and infinity pool with stunning views. After an amazing lunch we boarded Segway’s for a tour – a fun way to travel about. Monday evening was very chilling!! Just before Halloween …. a cold night with a biting wind, we did The Original Haunted Walk of Toronto Tour….ghosts, graveyards, hangings and haunts.

Tuesday we had time to take pictures of the CN Tower, which defines the Toronto skyline at over 553m tall and was the worlds tallest tower up until 2009. I had some free time to enjoy the scenery from the harbour front. I sat on the beach, yes a beach in Toronto, for a while. Then walked the full length of the harbour and caught the free ferry back. An exhausting 4 days but nevertheless a fantastic trip.

Sunday morning was an early rise for breakfast at the Sheraton Centre Toronto followed by a brief site inspection - perfectly situated in the heart of downtown's Financial and Entertainment districts, this four-star hotel is ideal for every visitor. All of Toronto's attractions, from the Eaton Centre for shopping, to the CN Tower, are within easy reach of this family-friendly hotel. We had a Toronto city tour in a private luxury mini bus where we could sit back and enjoy the sights of the city's fascinating past and vibrant present unfold.

(For the full report by Jackie Hall see our website blogs)


For personalised luxury, look no fur ther.

Classic Collection Holidays - the award-winning independently run specialist tour operator, celebrating 30 years in the travel industry. With luxury tailor-made holidays and our friendly and knowledgeable service we look forward to working with the staff at Travel Stop to create your perfect holiday for 2019. Together with our range of destinations including the Mediterranean, Lakes & Mountains, North Africa, Bermuda and the Caribbean, we feature specialist holidays from family to adult-only, to those looking for more of a cultural experience with our luxury European city breaks. We offer an excellent range of four and ve star hotels, multicentre options, city and train travel. We pride ourselves on our service in designing and delivering, personalised luxury holidays at competitive and affordable prices. Private transfers are included on all of our holidays and we offer departures from numerous UK airports, allowing you to travel in comfort and style. Our holidays are 100% nancially protected (through the CAA & ABTA) and our price promise ensures that you receive the best value for money for your holiday. |

Croatia - a hot pick for 2019 Where are the best places to visit in Croatia? This is a big question and in answer, there is no best place, just the right place for YOU. If you are the type of person who likes more beaches and coastal relaxation the Croatian islands or Makarska Riviera could be the best choice for you. If you’re looking for some charming seaside towns the Istria Riviera is a great choice. Without a doubt Dubrovnik holidays have something for everyone; nice beaches, culture, rich history and easy access to other cities. Wherever you choose, a visit to Croatia is likely to leave you with lasting memories and a yearning to return for more. There are no rail services in Croatia and for those that don’t want to take a bus, it limits you to getting around by car. Thanks to a favourable exchange rate with the Croatian Kuna you can get a lot further for your money by car than you would in say Italy or France. Ferry travel is increasingly frequent, making a multi-centre in Croatia much more feasible. There are a huge number of routes including Split-Dubrovnik, Venice – Pula and Rijeka to Split, easily connecting the main coastal areas. When is the best time to visit Croatia? If you have the choice and the exibility the months of May, June, September and October are the best time to visit Croatia. Croatia’s coastline follows a Mediterranean climate with warm summers and

mild winters. Although be prepared, availability of the best hotels is limited in June and September so best to book ahead if your schedule allows. When thinking of Croatia, often beaches don’t really spring to mind immediately, yet travellers are still ocking to Croatia in search of beach holidays. In reality the beaches in Croatia are mostly shingle, rocky platforms or imported sand. Sandy beaches are rare in Croatia, but you ll nd a few beach gems to add to your multi centre holiday. Rab island is a great choice and Banje Beach, a mix of pebbles and sand, which is located in the heart of Dubrovnik. The town of Omis is an attraction in itself, the long golden beach has made it a very popular choice. Brac, Croatia’s most famous beach, Zlatni Rat is a distinctive ‘tongue shape’ surrounded by azure waters. Brac is a 50 minute ferry journey from Split. The island boasts gorgeous pine fringed beaches, isolated bays and the highest peak of the Croatian islands (Vidova Gora 778m). Its many towns have delightful cobbled streets, romantic squares and an indulgent selection of bars and restaurants. Multi centre holidays and where to choose? When choosing a multi-centre holiday in Croatia your options are endless. You can easily hop on a ferry to Italy or cross the border to Montenegro or Slovenia. Popular locations such as Pula, Makarska, Dubrovnik and Split make choosing one destination a hard task. Not to mention the several Adriatic islands and stunning national parks!

One perfect combination would be to have a holiday in Split paired with a city break in Dubrovnik. This multi-centre holiday matches the two best cities together for a delightful week away. This holiday choice gives a real taste of Croatia’s history and culture, as well as a good dose of relaxation. If travelling for a week, we recommend four days in Dubrovnik to see the sights, then hop on a ferry to Split for three days relaxing by the sea. Split boasts some beautiful beaches and several historical sites. In the evenings the delightful harbour comes alight with superb restaurants and waterfront bars. Dubrovnik, also known as the Pearl of the Adriatic is top of the list for most visitors to Croatia. Discover the walls of the ancient old town, dive in to the warm soothing sea and take the cable car high above the city for spectacular views


It was over 20 years ago that Wendy’s first tour departed; ever since Wendy Wu Tours have been perfecting the formula for creating extraordinary touring experiences. The comprehensive range of tours are designed to capture the very essence of your chosen destination, so you’re not just admiring the country’s top sights but truly discovering it - award-winning national escorts and their unparalleled knowledge are an integral part of this.

Offering a range of different touring styles from culturally immersive to solos to tailormade, Wendy Wu Tours takes travellers to explore the best bits to spectacular continents; Asia and South America. Let us tell you more…

South America South America is one incredible land. Why? Well, where do we begin! It’s full of unbelievable nature – from the Amazon to the mighty Iguacu to ragged Patagonia, and magical wildlife like penguins, sloths and toucans; there’s fascinating indigenous heritage, like Machu Picchu and tribal communities who call the rainforest their home, and colonial history too, with many cities boasting plenty of beautiful architecture. And let’s not forget the great food and wine to indulge in – Peru’s foodie reputation is on the rise and Argentinian and Chilean wines are world class.

We challenge anyone to resist the infectious fun and fiery Latino rhythm that pulses through the continent, so why not discover it

with us on tours to Argentina, Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Costa Rica and Panama, plus two multi-country explorer tours through South and Central America. You can even add Easter Island or the Galapagos Islands onto your tour!

Asia The world’s most populous continent, Asia is an eclectic mix of people and cultures, each bringing their own characteristics to the mix. It is a paradise for any type of traveller, from the staunchest culture vulture to the most relaxed of beach bums, offering a breathtaking diversity of culture, heritage, history and spectacular landscapes. Find your inner explorer as you discover Angkor Wat or the Great Wall, get swept into China’s glorious history, India’s colourful culture or Japan’s ancient traditions, stand awestruck by the beauty of Halong Bay or Mt Fuji, or get back to nature in the rainforests of Borneo or national parks of Sri Lanka.

Exuding an air of the exotic and encompassing some of the world’s most captivating countries, Asia is a destination that few can resist – in fact, it’s best not too! Discover its many wonders with Wendy Wu Tours on holidays to China, Vietnam, Japan, Cambodia, Laos, Burma, Borneo, Indonesia, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka. 17

HOW TO ACE DISNEY by Camilla Packard

When I begin to think about a Disney & Florida Holiday, what immediately springs to my mind is take me back home to the magic! Back to the Disney bubble where nothing else matters apart from when you are going to meet Mickey Mouse or where you are going to stand to watch Tinkerbelle fly over the castle… It really does hold a special place in my heart.

Since visiting the Sunshine state for the very first time as a young child, and staring up in adoration at the princesses, to visiting now with my partner for a ‘slightly’ more adult holiday, Florida never ceases to amaze me, and continues to draw me back year after year. Even though I have countless photographs of Cinderella’s castle, and have strolled down Main Street USA numerous times, I still get butterflies when I walk underneath the sign stating “Here you leave today and enter the world of yesterday, tomorrow and fantasy” Disney really do know how to make you feel like a big kid again! I have just returned from my 6th trip to Walt Disney World and already have trip number 7 lined up for April next year… the countdown is on. So, with this in mind, I would like to share my experiences and expertise with you.

Florida is the number one holiday destination in the World, and it’s not difficult to see why. From the world class theme parks and attractions to the huge array of shopping and dining on offer there truly is something for everyone. There is also a huge part of Florida which many tourists (even the ones who return year on year) have yet to discover. Despite what you may think, there is more to Florida than the bustling theme parks of Orlando. The state also offers award winning beaches, beautiful wildlife and year round sunshine. I would like to think that after my many visits, I am a bit of a ‘dab hand’ in planning the perfect Florida Holiday, and have certainly been dubbed the Disney Queen by my colleagues, but trust me, planning the perfect trip takes hours. Let’s face it, in the world we live in now, technology does play a huge role, and many people feel that they are able to book their Florida holiday online themselves. Well, this is true but the booking element is the easy part. It is the hours of planning and organising that follows which can make or break your experience. Trust me, if you haven’t been before, you wouldn’t know where to start.

Here at Travel Stop, my role has evolved into our Disney expert, and I can help you arrange your once in a lifetime trip, (unless you love it so much you decide to go back a further 6 times!). I can share my knowledge and my hints and tips with you so that you can fully enjoy everything on offer at the “Most Magical Place on Earth”. I can put together tailored day by day plans to fit around your family’s requirements and your budget.

From setting up your “My Disney Experience Account” online, to checking the crowd calendars and working out which park to visit which day, I can help with it all. Dining, for me anyway, is a huge part of my holiday, and many of the restaurants at Walt Disney


World get booked up 180 days in advance, as soon as the Dining Window opens. I bet you didn’t know that you can eat inside the castle at ‘Cinderella’s Royal Table’, or that after you have finished your dinner at the California Grill, you can stand outside in the warm Florida heat overlooking the Magic Kingdom and watch the Happily Ever After Fireworks show as the music is piped in. When you book your trip with me, we will have already discussed which restaurants you want to visit and I will have a diary note made to get these reservations made as soon as they are available.

Fastpasses also can be a tricky element to any Walt Disney World holiday. You have to know which park you are visiting on which day before any fast pass bookings can be made. What would happen if you wasted one of your precious 3 fast passes on it’s a small world, when really you should have booked it for the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train? Believe me, you don’t want to find out.

Did you know that if you add in 1 night at one of the preferred Universal Hotel’s you will get unlimited express passes for your whole party, on both the day you check in and the day you check out? This is totally worth doing, as these express passes cost about $99 per person per day when purchased locally! Just another tip I have learnt through my own experiences.

I have now stayed at 2 of the premier Universal Hotels and am visiting the final one when I go in April. I can advise on which would suit you best. If you are planning a trip to Florida, then come in and have a chat with me, I would be more than happy to help you plan the most unforgettable holiday. Clients who have returned from trips which I have organised have said that my tips, knowledge and expertise is invaluable, and they couldn’t have done it without me… it’s good to be appreciated.

STAR CLIPPERS Tall Ship Cruises That Dreams Are Made Of Star Clippers operates three of the world’s largest and tallest sailing vessels. Visiting intimate ports often untouched by larger cruise ships and offering passengers the activities, amenities and atmosphere of a private yacht, Star Clippers is recognised as one of the premier speciality cruise lines. Passengers can enjoy the romance of sailing on board a true tall ship in a relaxed atmosphere with high standards of service provided by an attentive crew. All three ships have expansive teak decks, swimming pools, informal dining, a convivial Tropical Bar and a comfortable piano bar.


£2,799 per person Departs UK 31st January 2020 | 9-night package 7-nights aboard Star Clipper Visiting: Phuket | Ko Butang | Penang Ko Adang, Butang Group | Ko Rok Nok | Phang Nga Bay | Ko Hong | Phuket Price includes return flights from London, 2-nights post-cruise stay at the SALA Phuket, all private non-UK transfers and port charges included. Lead in fare is cruise only based on 2 adults sharing a category 6 cabin, full board cruise sailing on the 1st February 2020, return flights from London, 2-nights post-cruise stay at the SALA Phuket, private non-UK transfers and port charges. 5% Repeat passenger discount also available. Single supplement ranges from 50% when booking a Category 6 – Category 2 Cabin and 100% for Categories 1 and above. Flight prices are estimated and may vary upon booking. All prices are correct at time of print, are subject to availability and/or change, and can be withdrawn at any time.


For the flight to the Galapagos all passenger’s luggage has to be specially screened and tagged, and a tourist card purchased – which was totally pain free. The flight landed on Baltra Island about two and a half hours later. We found the guide fairly quickly, and the other people who were all going to be on the “Beluga”, our boat for the week. There are a total of eight cabins on the boat, so a total of sixteen people. First though we had our own minibus that drove thirty minutes to a ranch for giant tortoises.

Pelicans were coming in from all angles and diving into the water to get their breakfast. More and more were coming all the time – it was mesmerising to watch. There were splashes and fish were jumping out of the water – the birds seemed to have them surrounded. And all this before our breakfast!

After breakfast we all got kitted out for the panga ride to a dry landing to the west side of the island of Isabela. On the way in we saw fifteen or so penguins all swimming with us.

The main town was where we got into a “panga” (a zodiac type boat) to take us over to the Beluga. We shared the pier with several sea lions that had made their way up the ramps and were laying on or under the benches. There were turtles and sea lions swimming around us – crabs on the rocks and a blue footed boobie.

Our overnight sail took us to Floreana Island. A panga ride later and we were on the brow of a hill looking down on a beautiful beach. Perfect! There were turtles all around, some having laid eggs and then making their way back into the water. There were sting rays in the shallows and crabs of the most vivid colour you have ever seen.

Then some pelicans, and a cormorant sitting on the nest. So much to see. We hopped off onto a bank of lava. The whole area was lava fields as far as the eye could see. As we walked further in, there were large pools of water that had made its way through the lava tunnels and which transported fish of all sorts – and turtles. We were spotting all sorts of small fish, when we came upon a small reef shark. The other fish soon moved out of the way. Then we came upon a pool with a couple of turtles. They must be able to find their way backwards and forwards quite easily.

The lava was mostly sharp rock, but some was a smooth “lava lake” and other lava, sausage shaped. Some of the lava had gorges through the middle, so you had to jump over – some had become loose and was like coal that you got out of the fire the morning after. We played a game of Jenga with slabs of lava – the loser buying the beer. Guess who was the loser! It was now getting extremely hot – there were very few clouds in the sky to help with the sun, and apart from a few cactus’s, no shade at all. That was a very hot couple of hours.

We had to get down quite a steep bank of lava to get back into the panga – luckily everyone making it without falling in. It only takes one….

Our next little outing was for snorkelling. We moved the boat a little, and then went out on the pangas to snorkel around a rock. We saw a six foot white tipped shark, an octopus, penguins, sea lions, stingrays, four huge turtles and lots of other fish. The marine wildlife here is truly amazing.

The next morning I got up early – I could hear some doors already opening and closing so decided to go and take a look. At the front of the boat between the land and us was a huge pool of birds – a mixture of pelicans, boobies and frigates. There must have been a large shoal of fish underneath, as it was a bit of a feeding frenzy.


We then got changed into wetsuits, and headed off in the pangas to another bay for snorkelling. Our guide had warned us it was going to be cold – and it was! Quite a shock when you first got in, but with my secondary built it wetsuit I coped better than some of the thinner ones. Being fat has to have its uses once in a while! I think the temperature was around 16 degrees Celsius – much colder than we are used to. It was very good snorkelling though – puffa fish, sea horses, turtles, large shoals of other fish and a sea lion came to play with us. Amazing. But we did have a little boat envy. Another boat – I think the Petrel – anchored a short way away from us, and they sent a couple of pangas of snorkellers over to the bay too. In lovely new looking pangas, and the people in them had lovely new looking wetsuits on, unlike ours which had bits hanging off everywhere.

Half an hour or so into today’s journey the ship did a bit of a donut – there was a pod of about thirty bottle nosed dolphins all around us, which stayed with us a good twenty minutes performing back flips and belly flops for our entertainment. They swam under the boat, around the boat, backwards and forwards, and then just all disappeared.

There were pelicans and cormorants intermingled with crabs and iguanas – everyone just let the other be. None of the famous iguana fighting that does go on. Just not today. There was even a huge spine of a beached whale that came in with an extra high tide and then could not get back out. Poor thing.

A 7am start today on the pangas and we headed to Santiago Island's James Bay. It was a wet landing on a black beach, with eroded rock formations in the background. We left snorkelling gear on the rocks as we headed inland slightly.

Walking along, we came across a Galapagos Hawk – another juvenile. He was so tame – he let us get very close to take pictures. There were sea lions giving birth around this time, and apparently they like the placenta. Lovely! We walked over the lava and rock pools, and just marvelled at all the wildlife that to us is mind blowing – but here it is just another day.

Today we were landing on Fernandina Island – the island where David Attenborough filmed the famous documentary about the baby iguanas trying to outrun the snakes. We landed at a little man-made pier, and after walking through a few yards of mangroves, came out to lava rocks and beach. All around us. And they were covered with iguanas. Hundreds upon hundreds of them. Big ones, small ones, green ones, black ones, some all piled on top of one another.

Pelicans diving into the water to fish, sea lions playing with iguanas tails, oyster catchers screeching when you get too near to their “back yard” and baby sea lions suckling from their mothers. It is hard to put into words all that you can see, and each visit is never long enough. We got back to the beach hot and sweaty – so what better way to cool off than to jump in the freezing cold water. With a wetsuit of course. Our guide spotted the wing of a manta ray just beyond a rock, so off went a few in search of that. I just snorkelled at my own pace, where I wanted. The snorkelling here probably matched any dive that I have ever done. The fish were amazing – and so many of them. And the obligatory turtle.

Back to the Beluga, and then we motored for about three hours on to Bartholomew Island. Paul noticed that there were a dozen or more birds just floating on our air stream alongside the boat as we were travelling. Not flapping their wings or making any effort – just gliding along. They did that for ages.

You had to watch where you stepped, or you would have taken one out. They were clinging to the rocks, even when a wave came in and covered it with water. When the water drained away, there was the iguana still clinging to the rock. And lots of sea lions – families playing in the rock pools. The little ones were using shells as balls, and flinging them up in the air and catching them. They were having such fun, whilst the mother was at the side keeping a watchful eye.

We must have just watched life going on in its own little way for a couple of hours – the other boats started to make landings, and we ran into a couple of other groups, but it wasn’t a problem.

So, to sum up the week in the Galapagos. The wildlife and the experience you have is second to none. On a small boat like the Beluga your fellow guests make up a big part of your enjoyment, and in this instance we were lucky. As we all got on extremely well. They were friendly, funny, and generally good company. The crew were excellent – they gave good service all the week. The guide was average – although some in the group thought he was excellent. Obviously personal taste – or they haven’t had guides as good as we have had in the past. The cabins were all different, but all very small with no hint of luxury. The food was average, but we never went hungry. By the end of the week, we had accepted what it was and didn’t really notice. Would I come back again? A definitive yes, on a different boat though. 21


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NORTHERN PORTUGAL by Helen Pardy-Taylor

I was invited to Northern Portugal for a short 3-night break, as a guest of Kirker Holidays. On arrival at Gatwick South Terminal we checked in with TAP Air Portugal, and then proceeded to have lunch after finding our flight was delayed for approximately 2.5 hours. Air Portugal economy class was very comfortable and offered more leg room than British Airways, which I had experienced recently. TAP also offer a free in-flight service of a drink and snack. We were met at Oporto airport by Kirker Holiday’s local agents, Joanna and Malfelda, who organised everything throughout our trip, which ran extremely smoothly.

Our first night was spent at The Yeatman, a 5 star Relais & Chateau hotel, which presides over a large area of Oporto’s ‘Gaia‘ district amongst the city’s port cellars. All 82 rooms have a large private balcony with unobstructed river & city views. You can reach the city via a 15-minute taxi ride, 35-minute walk or the hotel’s boat, which costs 3 Euros per person each way.

After a quick change we had a tour of Taylor’s Port Wine Lodge, located right next to the hotel, followed by a port tasting. Kirker automatically includes a tour of Taylor’s Lodge within their holiday arrangements.

We enjoyed dinner at Barrao Fladgate, located beside Taylor’s, which overlooks the city and river. Service was impeccable, and the food was delicious and beautifully presented. I would certainly recommend reserving a table by the windows for the views, or on the terrace during better weather.

After breakfast at The Yeatman we had a tour of the hotel, which included the ‘ arrel Suite’ and the ‘Baccus Suite‘, either of which would be a great option for a special occasion.

We drove into Oporto, set up on the hills with a labyrinth of narrow cobbled streets which meander down to the River’s edge. Good walking shoes are required!


Oporto is synonymous with the fortified wine that originated here. The city is not yet over-run by tourism but everyone speaks English very well. Traditional architecture & excellent restaurants await you.

We drove to Pinhao in the heart of the Douro Valley arriving at The Vintage House in Pinhao, a 4 star deluxe hotel. The hotel sits by the River Douro to the front and the railway line to the rear. The hotel has beautiful gardens with a swimming pool, surrounded by wine growing countryside. The boats dock just by the hotel to offer the opportunity of a river cruise. It dates from the 18th century, converted from an old port storage warehouse and offers 50 bedrooms.

Next day we had a tour and wine tasting at Quinta do Bomfim, approximately a two minute walk from The Vintage House. The Quinta is run by the Symington family, whose family’s links to the wines of the Douro span 14 generations. After we drove onto Viseu, famous for its artist, Vascos Fernandes. We continued to Coimbra for our last night. Quinta Das Lagrimas, my favourite hotel, is a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World.

The hotel is set in its own beautiful wooded estate, a twenty minute walk across the river from the old town. The hotel is a mix of an 18th century palace with some contemporary modern additions. Whilst here discover the legend of Prince Pedro & Ines do Castro on which Shakespeare based Romeo & Juliet. After breakfast we took a walking tour of Coimbra. The cathedral is the oldest in Portugal, located in the pedestrianised centre of Coimbra, with alleyways of cobbled streets. I would recommend attending a Coimbra Fado at Fado ao Centro. The Fado is performed with a Portuguese guitar, classic acoustic guitar and male voice. I would recommend Northern Portugal for those who enjoy learning about it’s architecture and port & wine tasting. (For the full report by Helen see our website blogs)


I was invited by Africa and Beyond to join them on an exciting trip of the KwaZulu Natal area of South Africa. Upon arrival into Durban airport we headed to our hotel at the foot of the Drakensburg Mountains. After breakfast we were treated to a relaxing massage, followed by a guided walk of the surrounding countryside.

Day 2 Two site inspections at the Cleopatra Mountain Farmhouse and the Fordoun Hotel & Spa were the order of the day. The latter has two African therapy rooms and Dr Eliot Ndlovu’s consulting room. Eliot is a medicinal and spiritual healer who gave us an informative talk on the wisdom and healing powers of Africa.

Day 3 Following a leisurely breakfast we were transferred to Fordoun Farm Village and Montusi Mountain Lodge for inspections. After lunch we had the most breath-taking two hour guided Horse Riding experience.

Day 4 The day started off with a two hour hike to Bushman’s Cave. Then we headed to our next destination and after a two hour drive, our guide dropped us off at Nambiti Plains Private Game Lodge, which was home for our next 2 nights. This Lodge is an exclusive Big Five, bush retreat, in the Nambiti Game Reserve in KwaZulu Natal. We set off for our first three hour game drive at 4pm and returned to a traditional African Boma Dinner.

Day 5 An Early morning wakeup call had us ready for our 5am game drive, al fresco breakfast, afternoon game drive and picnic.

Day 6 Following our final game drive, we were taken for a tour of one of the Battlefield sites – Rorke’s Drift. This is the site where 150 British and colonial troops successfully defended the garrison against an intense assault by 3,000 to 4,000 Zulu warriors, winning 11 Victoria Crosses.

Day 7 We had an early breakfast before heading out on a site inspection of the neighbouring guest house. The guest house and the self catering cottage are a more cost-effective alternative to the lodges. After this we took a short walk to the nearby grave sites of the warriors following on from the Battlefield tour we had yesterday. Next it was time for the transfer to Durban – by helicopter! This provided the most amazing views across the Drakensburg area and took approximately 1 hour rather than 4 hours by road, so well worth it!

Also worth noting, is Fugitives Drift offer Battlefield Tours by air, which run in peak season from January through to March. On arrival we transferred to the iconic Oyster Box. One of the Red Carnation Hotels, the hotel was voted number 1 in South Africa for the last 2 years running and after a site inspection, it is very evident as to why. We spent the afternoon at our own leisure with a few of us enjoying the sea air on the beach and the others doing a spot of shopping. We then retired back to the hotel for a shower and change before our final evening which, after a cocktail reception, was spent in the Grill Room. This restaurant has been known for it’s fine dining and outstanding cuisine for almost 70 years. Day 8 After a few hours sleep it was unfortunately an early alarm call for our 7:35am flight back to Heathrow.

This trip has exceeded the expectations I had of South Africa. The KwaZulu Natal is such a diverse area with something for everyone. The area is often overlooked in favour of it’s more famous Western Cape. I will not hesitate to recommend this diverse destination. (For the full report by Louise Wright see our website blogs)



Sail the crystal clear waters of Croatia’s captivating coast. There are over 1,000 unspoilt islands, every one beautiful in its own way where Mediterranean Maquia-scrub, plants and wild herbs thrive.

CRUISE ITINERARY Day 1 (D) Arrival. Transfer to Dubrovnik (Gruz) harbour, and embark the MS Providenca for seven nights of glorious sailing. Overnight: Dubrovnik Day 2 (B, L) Visitors to Dubrovnik always marvel at the beauty contained within its ancient walls. En route to Korcula, a swimming stop will be made close to the Elaphiti Islands. Upon arrival, join an optional walking tour of Korcula, once a Venetian stronghold and the alleged birthplace of traveller Marco Polo. Overnight: Korcula

port is Omis, located at the mouth of the Cetina River with an awesome gorge at the mouth of it. Our included boat trip continues inland along the river passing traditional, wooden fishing boats. Overnight: Omis

Day 4 (B, D) A coach tour to Skradin and Trogir. Passing by the small town of Skradin, the guardian of the River Krka, and the gateway to its National Park. Enjoy free time in Krka National Park. Continue to Trogir, once a small island, now bridged to the mainland. Trogir is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. Finally, we reach Split, another Day 3 (B, L) UNESCO listed site. Explore Breakfast is served with stunning independently or join the optional views of Korcula, and followed by a walking tour to learn about scenic sail around the tip of both Diocletian’s Palace. the Peljesac peninsula and the Overnight: Split island of Hvar. The ship continues onward to Day 5 (B, D) Pucisca, nestled in a beautiful bay The next destination is the island on the island of Brac. Upon arrival, of Hvar. Join an optional walking join an optional visit to a tour and discover the history of stonemasonry school. The final the town and the island.

A swimming stop will be made close to the beautiful Pakleni Otoci islands. Dinner in the company of the Captain, served on-board. Overnight:Vela Luka, Korcula Island

highlights some of these features. Make a swimming stop off Lopud Island as you return to Dubrovnik. This evening, you are free to explore Dubrovnik Old Town at leisure and choose your preferred dining venue. Overnight: Dubrovnik

Day 6 (B, L) This morning, we cruise to the green, picturesque island of Mljet. Day 8 (B) Nature enthusiasts can hike, cycle Departure and even kayak over to the small islet in the middle of the lake, or KEY FACTS join the optional excursion with Depa e da e : 22 J n 2019 some free time in Mljet National 14 Sep 2019 Park. P ice pe pe on: F om 2,199 Spend the evening in the small Ba ed on lo e deck in occ pancy former fishing port of Slano on the Fligh Info ma ion: mainland, once a favourite summer O bo nd: Ga ick o D b o nik Inbo nd: D b o nik o Ga ick resort of Dubrovnik sea captains Regi a de a e a ai ab e e e . and their families. Overnight: Slano 10 km

Day 7 (B, L) Close to Slano, is the small historic town of Ston, known for its 5km fortified walls, strong Dalmatian wine, ancient salt production and succulent oysters. Our exclusive included excursion the ‘The Taste of Dalmatia’ tour


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CROATIA by Annette Ross

In September I was invited by Cyplon Holidays to Croatia for a short break. We flew with Norwegian Air to Dubrovnik and I was impressed with the leg room offered. Cavtat is a picture postcard destination with easy access to Dubrovnik which is steeped in history, and one that I would describe as quaint and traditional. On arrival we made our way to the Hotel Croatia where we spent the next 2 nights. A large impressive 5 star hotel on the clifftops above Cavtat. They provide good sized rooms, facilities and nice views from the balconies. After a short stroll downhill into the town we had lunch at the Posat Restaurant on the waterfront which is a magical spot.

The Adriana Hvar Spa Hotel, on the waterfront in the centre of the town is a super property. The Riva Hvar Yacht Club, which overlooks the Hvar Yacht Club is the place to enjoy lunch outdoors, overlooking the harbour – perfect position for lunch on a beautiful day.

Over the next two days we did a guided tour of Dubrovnik and took a ferry to Korcula, an attractive harbour town and with an interesting history. Marco Polo was born here, at the time the island was part of the Venetian Empire. It is one of the largest islands in the Adriatic, with peaceful coves, vineyards and olive groves. We enjoyed a nice lunch at the Hotel Korcula, which is nicely situated on the waterfront.

Our final day meant another early start, taking the Catamaran from Hvar to Split. Our hotel provided us with a breakfast pack.

Split is the second largest city in Croatia and from here, trips can be taken to local islands. The sights and attractions here have an interesting mix of beautiful architecture and buildings. This is a theme repeated in all the places we have visited on this trip. In Split we visited two hotels. The first - The Luxe Split, is an absolutely lovely, boutique 30-room hotel with gorgeous interior design and warm colours. A very popular hotel with a lot of TripAdvisor Awards. A great place to stay for a city break or to stay a few nights prior to going on a cruise out of Split.

The late afternoon catamaran from Korcula to Hvar takes about an hour. We arrived into Hvar in the evening and transferred to the Pharos Hvar hotel. We enjoyed a fun evening at the ‘Mizarola’ restaurant, where the pizzas were huge! We also dined here on our second night, this time eating the pasta dishes. Night life in Hvar offers a good choice of venues and has a nice atmosphere, both during day and night with its stone paved, narrow streets with beautiful old buildings and its very pretty harbour.

The second hotel, the Hotel Park Split, is a stunning 5-star hotel with all the facilities you would expect and, although a 15-minute walk from the town centre, it is still well situated for access to various attractions and with a shingle beach below it. We enjoyed a delicious outdoor light lunch here overlooking the lovely pool. Then sadly it was time to go home. I loved what I saw of Croatia and will definitely go back. I absolutely loved the narrow streets winding through the towns with the traditional buildings, rich history, wonderful picturesque harbours and spectacular scenery. It really did exceed my expectations.

(For the full report by Annette Ross see our website blogs)



When you picture The Great American West, undoubtedly it is a vision of expansive prairies, majestic mountains, shimmering lakes and awe-inspiring scenery. It will usually bring to mind reallife cowboys riding rodeos and ranch lands, historic legends in Wild West attire, iconic national park scenery and a vast wilderness rich in wildlife. This intriguing and colourful world, known as The Great American West, comprises the American states of Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming. Montana, known as Big Sky Country, gives new meaning to the phrase ‘wide open spaces’. Montana represents the untamed, the wild and the natural; a blend of spectacular scenery, intriguing history and outdoor fun. To the north you’ll find Glacier National Park and to the south Yellowstone.

Between, expect ranches, cattle drives, rodeos and old mining towns. Exhilarating adventures abound with countless opportunities for white-water rafting, horse riding, fly fishing, zip lining and mountain biking. Create your own legend in North Dakota.

The rugged, untamed landscape of Theodore Roosevelt National Park unfolds across more than 1,500 square miles. President Roosevelt’s love for the American West was born here and today, it is still clear why. Step back in time at the Custer House in Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park, soak up the atmosphere of the United Tribes Pow Wow in Bismarck every September, or dig for dinosaurs at one of the many paleontological sites.

South Dakota is renowned as the land of ‘Great Faces, Great Places’. It offers infinite variety, reflected in the rolling prairies, glittering lakes, granite peaks and towering pines you will find here. The urban areas are just as unique, ranging from old western towns to bustling cities. The Black Hills, Badlands and Lakes region in the west, has one of the largest concentrations of National Parks, monuments, memorials and caves in the Midwest including the spectacular mountain carving of Mount Rushmore, the nation’s Shrine to Democracy.

Wyoming is perhaps the best known of the cluster states. Visitors adore the 100,000 square miles of mountains, prairies, crystal-blue rivers and alpine lakes. This is the place to witness geysers bursting skyward, bald eagles soaring overhead and herds of bison roaming the plains.

This is also the perfect location to discover Native American heritage and the rich history of the American West. Explore Yellowstone National Park’s 10,000 geysers, hot springs and mud pots, discover Grand Teton National Park’s wealth of wildlife from bears to moose, watch a small town rodeo in Lander or Cody, ski or board some of the USA’s most challenging terrain. There’s never a shortage of things to do in Wyoming.

Always include a ranch stay on your itinerary. It is the only way to have a completely immersive Great American West experience and you don’t have to partake in the activities.

May, June, September and October are the best times to visit for cooler clear days and fewer visitors to the National Parks. In the peak of summer temperatures can reach 100 degrees Fahrenheit and during the depths of winter snow and ice may cause some road closures.

The Cody Nite Rodeo runs from the beginning of June to the end of August every year and is a must for all visitors to Buffalo Bill’s Cody.

When visiting Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse be sure to drive the Iron Mountain Road anti clockwise for perfectly framed views of Mount Rushmore.

Try to time your visit to Badlands National Park to coincide with a spectacular ranger led night sky viewing of constellations, stars, planets and even the Milky Way. The programme usually runs Friday to Monday during the summer.

Don’t miss driving The Enchanted Highway in North Dakota, which features a series of unique giant metal sculptures including Geese in Flight, the World’s Largest Grasshopper and a Tin Family.


See everywhere, stay anywhere For all the explorers out there, get this Australian adventure ticked off the list. Cruise the coastal highways from Cairns to Brisbane over 14 days in total comfort with Apollo campervan hire. Life’s a beach on this coastal route, with plenty of sandy spots to pull up and take in the stunning surroundings. Snorkel in the Great Barrier Reef, meet Koalas on Magnetic Island, explore the natural landscapes of Noosa National Park and see the awe-inspiring Glass House Mountains.

Whitehaven Beach, Australia

Route highlights

Great Barrier Reef

Magnetic Island

Experience one of the most iconic natural wonders of the world littered with tropical islands, incredible coral and sun-soaked golden beaches. This UNESCO World Heritage Site has watersports aplenty, dive into nature with scuba-diving, surfing, snorkelling and even the chance to swim with dolphins.

Meet the locals on Magnetic Island, home to Northern Australia’s largest colony of koalas. Discover a unique ecosystem, with eucalypt forests and over 23 beaches to bathe on. Be sure to hike one of the many trails throughout the protected national parks on this picture-perfect island.

Noosa National Park

Glass House Mountains

Get the best of both worlds as you can go from a thriving town centre to outstanding landscapes in just a short walk. Enjoy all the wildlife the Sunshine Coast has to offer from whales, cockatoos and if you are lucky, even sea turtles. Hells Gate is a must visit for a heavenly coastal walk.

Cast your eyes upon the 11 epic volcanic peaks, take one of the many trails to lead you up to unforgettable look out points. This area is perfect for cruising in your campervan through country roads, with outstanding road side views and little towns filled with eateries.

Luxury campervan accommodation This deluxe campervan offers all the comforts needed to ensure a relaxing stay for guests. The Apollo Euro Tourer is equipped with an air conditioned cabin and living area, shower and toilet, large double bed and fully equipped kitchen including microwave, gas stove and refrigerator. Ample storage space and a powerful and reliable 2.4 Litre turbo diesel engine complete this perfect touring vehicle.

Australia East Coast Self Drive from £1,495pp

Offer includes: Return flights with British Airways, 14 day Apollo Euro Tourer Campervan Hire, 1 night at the Pacific Hotel Cairns, Airport taxes.

Prices are per person and based on 2 adults sharing. Valid for travel from 1 May – 29 Jun 19 and must be booked by 30 May 19. Please call for more details. Subject to availability. All flight inclusive holidays are protected by ATOL scheme.

Venice Simplon-Orient-E xpress travel in style on board the legendary luxury train For those who wish to celebrate a special occasion in style, or if you simply would like to travel between Venice and London in a unique and luxurious way, the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express is the ultimate choice. There has never been a better time to travel on the Venice Simplon-OrientExpress, now fully air-conditioned and with three exquisite new Grand Suites, the train transports you back to a bygone era when discerning travellers sought to travel in elegant style. Today guests can rely on the highest levels of personal service, with delicious cuisine served in a stylish dining car, combined with a private sleeper cabin and civilised bar carriage. The handsome livery of the Belmond British Pullman train and the immaculate Wagons-Lits of the Continental train combine to provide you with a unique and unforgettable experience (supplements for cabin suites on request). Throughout the journey you will be attended by your cabin steward, and you will enjoy outstanding food prepared by expert chefs - all meals on board are included at no extra cost.

3 night holiday price from £2,698 per person including 2 nights in a Venice hotel and 1 night in a private cabin on board the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, saving £500 per person WHAT’S INCLUDED:

r One way flight between London and Venice r One night on board the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express from Venice to London in a private cabin with all meals included (excluding drinks)

We are delighted to reveal an exclusive new special offer for Kirker clients, valid for selected 2019 journeys on the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express journeys from Venice to London.

Depart 16 March, 3 April, 24 July 2019

r Water taxi transfers on arrival and departure to/from hotel

Save £500 per person

(arrival only for Hotel Ca’ Nigra) r 2 nights’ hotel accommodation with breakfast r Entrance tickets to the Doge’s Palace, Accademia or Guggenheim r Our unique Venice Guide Notes and map r The services of the Kirker Concierge to book concert and opera tickets, arrange a private walking tour or reserve a table for a delicious dinner.

Ca’ Nigra **** Superior This intimate hotel is located in a quiet, residential area, 200 metres from the train station and 20 minutes from Rialto. If you would like to explore an authentic, less visited part of the city, before boarding the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, this is a good option. A boutique hotel with 22 bedrooms, it’s unique style combines original 18th century elements with modern design and oriental antiques. Price from £2,698 per person for a 3 night holiday

Valid for new bookings only, made between 1 November 2018 and 31 January 2019

Splendid **** Deluxe Ideally located between St. Mark’s Square and the Rialto Bridge, the Splendid has 165 rooms have comfortable beds and restaurant ‘Le Maschere’ which offers a modern take on traditional Venetian recipes. Price from £2,798 per person for a 4 night holiday SPECIAL OFFER: 3 nights for the price of 2 in March & April, saving £98

Baglioni Hotel Luna ***** Deluxe Ideally located close to the entrance to the Grand Canal and Piazza San Marco, the Luna is the city’s most historic and oldest hotel. There are 118 sumptuous bedrooms and a wonderful gastronomic restaurant. Breakfast is served in the magnificent former ballroom, and Harry’s Bar is around the corner. Price from £2,988 per person for a 3 night holiday


In April I was lucky enough to fly to Venice with a small group of 7 other agents. Upon arrival into Venice, we went by private water taxi to the Londra Hotel, located in a superb location along the Grand Canal. Here, we enjoyed the warm hospitality and a lovely lunch. Recently refurbished, this property is a lovely choice both in location and standard. The décor of all rooms is both beautiful and tasteful and even the lead-in room here is of a lovely standard. Following this, we enjoyed a tour of Doges Palace with a private guide. After a brief walk around St.Mark’s Square, we were then taken to Giudecca Island, a five-minute ride by private launch from St Mark’s Square, where the Hotel Belmond Cipriani is located – a true film-star arrival. This hotel is of timeless elegance and I can totally understand why it is one which George Clooney frequents. Well, if it’s good enough for him!

That evening we were taken to a charming Ristorante called Osteria Oliva Nera, located down cobbled back streets in the heart of Venice, 5 minutes from St.Mark’s Square. Here we enjoyed a wonderful traditional Italian meal, prepared and served by the delightful restaurant owners. The next day we were taken by the Cipriani’s private launch, to the beautiful islands of Murano and Burano. Whilst on Murano we visited the world famous Murano Glass Factory where we marvelled at the making of some of the most delicate and ornate pieces of glass. After our visit to Murano, we visited another nearby island in the Venetian Lagoon called Burano. With a population of less than 3000 people, this really was a ‘step back in time’. where the bridges, the leaning tower and the houses are all painted in the deepest of colours. Tradition has it that the fishermen painted their house bright contrasting colours so that they could identify their homes on the way home in the misty lagoon. Whilst the men of Burano still fish, the women uphold the island’s world famous lace making traditions.

In the afternoon with a couple of others, I took the hotel’s complimentary water-taxi back to St.Mark’s Square and walked through the beautiful streets to the Rialto Bridge. The old Post Office building has a roof terrace with wonderful views of the Grand Canal and Rialto Bridge.

The following morning we headed for the world famous Venice Simplon Orient Express with it’s timeless elegance of a bygone era. The carriages have been painstakingly restored to their former glory and the specialised craftsmanship which has been used for the task is awe-inspiring.

The comfort levels, service and culinary delights aboard are second to none. Local seasonal produce is used and fresh ingredients are taken onboard at stops along the route. From lobster to steak, all food was of the highest of quality and cooked to perfection, and the quality of the wines and Prosecco to accompany the food was extremely good. (For the full report by Cheryl Locke see our website blogs)



With battlefield tours, classical music performances, visits to iconic tulip gardens and more, each itinerary is packed to the brim with class and elegance, revealing the culture and history of every port of call.

In For 45 years, Great Rail Journeys, Rail Discoveries, and Great Rail Journeys Independent have been offering customers fantastic rail experiences and exhilarating tours. As a company that believes that a holiday should start the moment you leave your house, you can be assured of fantastic adventures from beginning to end. Offering first-rate rail travel, superb accommodation and sensational excursions that truly offer an immersive insight into your chosen destination, you can be sure of making memories that will last for years to come.

Taking those 45 years’ experience and putting it to good use, we are proud and excited to introduce you to our latest holiday venture - our own range of exclusive cruises set aboard specially chartered ships and sailing along the enchanting rivers of Europe from 2019. From the exquisite Danube to the magnificent Rhine, these Great Rail Journey’s cruises take in the very best of the continent’s waterways from the decks of our illustrious fleet of river cruise ships.


Created with our customers in mind, flexible excursions allow you to pick, choose and plan your day as you wish, and each cruise boasts one-way sailing, meaning you’ll never see the same sights twice during your time on board. Accompanying you from your departure point to your ship is your professional Tour Manager, assisted by your friendly Cruise Director once you’re on board.

All of the five-star vessels we use are specially designed to get to the heart of every destination they visit, and all feature a range of excellent facilities. And what’s more, our cabins are some of the largest in the industry, each with tea-making facilities, an interactive television, a walk-in wardrobe and an en-suite bathroom. In an industry first, our booking system allows you to select your very own cabin, meaning you can pick exactly where you stay on the ship. Meanwhile, dining is a delight, with fivecourse meals featuring traditional specialities as well as international cuisine, and dishes featuring fresh local ingredients brought in at each stop.

You can experience all this for yourself on our Imperial Cities & Five-Star Danube Cruise, and embrace the magic of the blue Danube whilst at the same time discovering the Imperial cities of Central Europe, all on one fantastic tour and cruise holiday exclusive to Great Rail Journeys!








River Rhine








River Danube




Nights on ship

Zürich By Rail

By Coach



LINZ 1 Nights in hotel



Days 4-11 By Ship

Czech Republic Czech Republic


Austria Austria




With Lusso you’ll discover there’s


An island idyll synonymous with powder soft sands, the bluest ocean waters and almost year-round sunshine; it’s little wonder Mauritius strikes such a chord with luxury holidaymakers. North, South, East or West, wherever you find yourself on the island you’re almost guaranteed incredible views of striking scenery, with sugar cane fields, flowing waterfalls, verdant cliffs and even a 700,000 year old volcanic ravine, Trou Aux Cerfs. The perfect destination for weddings, honeymoons and memorable family holidays, your trip to Mauritius can be whatever you want it to be plus the wide array of leading resorts offer endless choice. Experience activities both on land and at sea, from an exciting

catamaran cruise to snorkelling and diving in some of the world’s most spectacular underwater seascapes, or hiking in the hills and visiting notable landmarks. Whether reclined on a massage table in a lavish hotel spa, or seated at the dining table of a worldclass restaurant, a sense of indulgence and warm local hospitality is unmistakable. In fact, such a heady combination of scenic beauty and wonderful experiences means that few leave the island feeling anything but wowed and eager to return!

Mauritius Musts: 21

The ultimate destination for any golfer, Mauritius is home to spectacular courses dotted all over the island, ranging from simple 9-holes to challenging 18-hole world-class championship courses. Set in beautiful natural surroundings, many of the courses also boast sea views and open coastal panoramas.


Head out on an off-the-beaten-track adventure trail in a 4x4, exploring from the north to the east and south to the west. Take in the remote scenery, observe workshops of talented craftsmen, sample local delicacies and discover sugar cane, pineapple or other seasonal fruit plantations.

3 2

Feast on the flavours of the island as you pick your own produce from a local market with the help of an expert guide, before making your way to a kitchen to learn the secrets of Mauritian cuisine. Share your dishes with a local family, or watch and learn as a chef prepares an authentic meal.


Shangri-La’s Le Touessrok Resort & Spa Curved around the beautiful white sands of the Trou d’Eau Douce Bay and with stunning views of the Indian Ocean, this iconic resort provides intimacy and seclusion for couples plus ample space and privacy for families. Located just off the resort’s shores are two beautiful islands, Ilot Mangénie, which is exclusively for Shangri-La ’s Le Touessrok Resort & Spa guests and Ile aux Cerfs, with its spectacular 18-hole championship golf course. Lavishly spread over the mainland are 200 rooms and suites plus 3 exclusive Beach Villas, all offering resort-style living with balconies or terraces and direct access to the beach. Relish some of the finest cuisine on the island, from the Indian flavours and open kitchen of Safran to beachside Mediterranean dining at Republik Beach Club & Grill and modern Japanese cuisine at Kushi. Le Bazar, a dedicated restaurant with show kitchens also offers innovative Asian and international cuisine in a buffet style. Take to the ocean for watersports, play a round of golf on the Bernhard Langer-designed course, experience Sense of Place treatments at CHI, The Spa and have family fun on the beaches.

20% E A R LY B O O K I N G D I S C O U N T O N R O O M R AT E S

Save £320 per person 7 nights from £2,275 per person Prices are based on two people sharing a Deluxe Ocean View Room on a bed & breakfast basis and include private transfers plus economy flights with Air Mauritius. Offer restrictions apply - please enquire for more details. A L S O AVA I L A B L E :

Family & Honeymoon special offers Please enquire for more details


Caribbean, Bermuda & Mexico

Indian Ocean & Arabian Gulf

India, Sri Lanka, Bhutan & S E Asia

All offers are subject to availability at the time of booking, close out dates may apply. Prices are based on London departures unless otherwise stated. Terms and conditions apply; please ask your travel agent for further details. The air holidays shown above are ATOL protected by the Civil Aviation Authority. Our ATOL number is ATOL 10180. Please see our Booking Conditions for more information.

SAVE THE DATE! Saturday 2nd March 2019


Expert presentations throughout the day to be held in the new upstairs area at Travel Stop in Hadleigh, in conjunction with specialist operator Latin Routes.

Reserve your place now email: