Its always a delight to visit the Marriott Hotel in Swindon, very comfortable, attentive staff who are eager to please and excellent facilities.
Weather was kind to us for weekend and very good group, pleasant company.
Usual stops for the weekend, all very interesting but this weekend coincided with a fete and craft fair with also some classic cars on the village green at Broadway. It was lovely and in essence very quintessentially English. Time was extended to enjoy before a later departure back to the hotel.
The late afternoon was clear with good visibility making the journey over Cleeve Hill, the highest part of the Cotswolds, a real delight with beautiful views of the valley below as we went from Winchcombe to Prestbury outside Cheltenham .
Sunday was such an interesting visit to Bath with an excellent City Tour with my favourite guide Jan – knowledgeable, charming, witty and a pleasure to work with. The passengers loved her too!!
After picking up all my clients we started our journey north. We stopped at Newark for lunch before continuing our journey to our hotel, arriving about 16.45. It was a pleasant journey, weather fine but windy.
Tuesday dawned bright and clear. We went to the Beamish Museum today, spending the day there. The weather was very warm ( a part from the wind ) and sunny – a good day was enjoyed by all.
Wednesday the weather was awful, pouring with rain. We first went to the city of Durham but it was very wet all the time we were there. We then left Durham for a drive across part of the Yorkshire Dales ending up at Barnard Castle for a visit. Whilst here the weather changed, blue skies and clear views.
Thursday was a fine sunny day. First a visit to Helmsley, a lovely market town, then onto Pickering – here some clients took a train ride ( Steam Train!! ) to Grosmont. We then finished the day by coach at the seaport of Whitley before returning to the hotel. A nice day was had with the weather staying fine and warm all day.
Weather this weekend was changeable, showers, cold wind and occasional sun. Perhaps ideal for this tour, as I pointed out, when you visit cemeteries out here in sunny warm blue skies, it protects you against imagining the truth of it all – mud, blood and utter despondency.
Highlight was, with a little diversion, to find one couples Grandad at Strand Hill Cemetery. We all joined in a little tribute (eulogy) and shared a tender moment.
Tour was arranged to give free time Monday morning to visit Flanders Field Museum, St George’s Church (a delight) and last minute shopping for Belgium Chocolates before our journey home.
For this tour I have George’s tri-axel Setra coach. I get out from the Interchange just after 09.30 and head down to Medway and Ashford to pick up a couple more passengers on the way down. We still made good time for the 12.05 ferry which was the Spirit of Britain.
We had a good run to our overnight hotel and got there for 20.30. I met a driver from another coach company who I knew so we had a chat.
We leave the hotel and set out on my route via the Rhine falls. I go by Triberg and the Back Forest to Schaffhausen with coffee stops on route. On the way there was heavy cloud followed by snow and sleet. We had no trouble at the German border this week; the policeman was very helpful and wanted to talk about Cornwall.
We arrived at the falls for lunch and the sun starts to shine. We then headed to our resort hotel via Switzerland. The weather was good for the rest of the journey and we arrived at the Hotel Weisses Kreuz, Feldkirch at 16.30.
We are joined by a local guide by the name of Albert to go to Arosa. Our drive takes us to Chur where we board the Chur – Arosa Rail Journey ( Snow Coach Arosa ). The train takes us up to about 1800 metres in the mountains as it makes its way to Arorsa. Compared to the last time I visited a lot of the snow had gone, however when we got to the end there was plenty of snow and it was about 7 degrees. We enjoyed some lunch and walked up to the town. Our return train journey was at 14.48 which was on time. Once back in Chur we returned to the hotel. In the evening we had a very pleasant singer for entertainment.
The weather forecast was not good for today as we headed up to the village of Schwarzenberg. My route took us over the Bodele Pass where it was foggy when we reached the top and plenty of snow. The temperature was a cold minus 3 degrees.
We enjoyed a short stop by the church that Angelika Kauffmann lived in and painted some of the Frescos. From there it was a short drive through the town of Egg to the Snapps Brewery for tasting.
After the Brewery we visited the Bavarian town of Lindau, on the way it starts to snow so after lunch most passengers were back on the coach early to warm up. We then went onto Bregenz, the capital of Vorarlberg but again only a few passengers wanted to walk into town so we headed back to relax at the hotel.
Tuesday was my drivers rest day. It was still snowing as I enjoyed a walk into Feldkirch with some of my passengers.
We called at Suchards Choclate Shop for a little chocolate shopping on our way to the famous ski resort of Zurs. On the way the sky cleared and we could see the tops of the mountains, it was wonderful scenery. The roads were clear so when we got to Zurs we enjoyed a coffee stop. Most of the passengers used the opportunity to take photos and watch all the skiers. From here we visited the mountain village of Lech. I called to see a friend of mine and lost my sun glasses somewhere! It was so warm in the sun that it was hard to think it was still mid March in Austria. On the way back we drove to Zug for a photo stop of all the people skiing. After an enjoyable day we then headed back to hotel for a relaxing afternoon in the sun.
We left our hotel for Luxembourg but not before the staff kindly give a small present from the hotel and wave us off. Soon after we cross into Switzerland we drove into snow and a lot of spray on the roads, we stop at the services after Zurich for a coffee and then on to Basel and in to France. We enjoyed lunch at Koenigsbourg Services followed by a good run up to our hotel where we arrived at 16.30.
We travelled up towards Brussels and on to Calais and got the return ferry at 14.20 so again a good drive
Below are a selection of photos taken by Martin during his Snow Coach Arosa tour.
Day One: Thurrock to Bad Salzig, Germany
We Left Thurrock at 09.40 and had another pick up in Canterbury for remaining guests before heading down to Dover. We caught the 12.05 ferry which left at 12.25, a good crossing.
Clients happy with the new Crusader Holidays bus, good run until after Mons, France when one muppett bumped into another muppett, cost us about 30mins. We arrived at our hotel in Bad Salzig, Germany at 22.00. Most of the guest stayed up and had a night cap, the landlord’s daughter Sondra reminded me that I had known her Mother and Father for 30 years, so after that I went to bed with a lightly boiled aspirin!!!
Day Two: German Wine Tasting
Our first call was a short visit to the historic city of Boppard. The Guests visited the all year round Christmas Shop. We then made our way into Koblenz where guest had the opportunity to go on the new chair lift across the Rhine from Wilhelm Monument to the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress on the opposite side. The ladies in the group mostly went up into the town to sample the shops.
At 3 o’clock we left to make the short drive along the Mossell to the village of Alken to meet Anton for traditional German Wine Tasting. All the guests enjoyed the experience and a lot purchased Wines which were then delivered to the coach. Then we returned to Bad Salzig via the Hunsruck Hills which gives good views as you climb out of the Mosselle Valley, especially good views of the River. Then good views of the Rhine as we descended down the Rhine Valley.
In the evening after dinner there was music in the form of a keyboard player. There was dancing from the start ( lots of ladies ) so it was a very good evening. The clocks went forward tonight which is a pain but everyone was ok.
Day Three: Rudesheim
We explored more of the Rhine Valley today. We drove the short distance to St Goar where most of the guest went on the KD River Boat to Rudesheim. Whilst in Rudesheim, most guests looked for lunch. It was very cold and snowing for a little. Some of the guests managed to visit the music museum, which is well worth it. After leaving Rudesheim we went up to the Germania Monument or the Niederwalddenkmal, which commemorates the unification of Germany in 1871. We then headed back across on a river ferry and returned to our hotel. This evening was a little less noisy than Saturday evening, guest sat, relaxed and enjoyed a class of wine and chatted.
Day four: Return back to England
We made our return to Calais via Brussles and Ghent for our Ferry to Dover. A very nice weekend.
Day 1: Thurrock to Beaune, France
This was my first tour of the year. I stayed at Thurrock overnight ready for the drive to Beaune. As usual the first day can be stressful, waiting for all the feeder coaches to arrive, but today not too many rolled in late. I had a pick up in Maidstone then onto Dover for the 12.05 ferry. The Ferry was on time for a nice afternoon sailing and we arrived at Caliais 14.30 local time. We stopped in Reims for our dinner and by then it was very dark so not much for clients to see. We arrived in Beuane at 22.00. Nice hotel with a good breakfast.
Day 2: Beaune, France – Diano Marina Italy
We left Beuane at 8.00am. It was damp this morning but nether the less a nice drive down past Macon and the exits for Geneva and Milan ( Monte Blanc Tunnel ). We drove past Lyon and made a lunch stop at the Catalan Village Service Area; it was a nice day now. The temperature had gone up about 6.7 degrees. After lunch we began a run down past Avignon towards the Cote D’Azur, past Cannes, Nice and Monaco then across the border to Italy. We arrived at the Hotel Corallo, Diano Marina at 17.30.
Day 3: Ventimiglia & Menton
Today we left our hotel at 10am with our tour guide Marrisa. We attempted to exit motorway at Ventimiglia, but there was a big hold up so I did an 18 point – 3 point turn back onto the motorway. We took the exit for Menton which was a bit slow through the town as you can imagine but I got the clients and guide dropped off on the seafront. I left the group with Marrisa and met a friend in Menton. I had lunch and saw some of the floats for the parade, very impressive.
The pick up worked well and we returned to the hotel by 18.00 and we had a ‘Candle Light’ Dinner – 7 course!! After dinner I went to the hotel Nettuna to see a friend called Dave and his family. It was a free day tomorrow so I was out quite late. Nice evening.
Day 4: Lunch on the promenade
Today was a free day and the weather was cool but very bright and sunny. Most clients like me spent a lot of time strolling along the promenade in the sun. Met most of them and had a coffee with two of the clients. I found a little café for lunch then headed back to the promenade with my book and sat in the sun, lovely. I spent the evening in the hotel chatting with clients.
Day 5: Monte Carlo
Another sunny day, we drove straight to the Rock ( Monaco ). We headed up to the palace and cathedral. Unfortunately there was a funeral taking place so couldn’t get in straight away. After lunch we made the short drive to Monte Carlo, through the Grand Tunnel and the clients went up to the Casino Square with the tour guide. I walked the other way and just above the underground parking is a Japanese Garden and ponds full of Koi Carp. A little further on I checked out the Rolls Royce Dealership and found a nice convertible, art deco style, a bargain at 58,000 euros, so I put my name down for two. Then the clients came back and we drove back to Diano Marinia for dinner and once again after dinner people just relaxed and chatted. p.s I put the Rolls Roycess on expenses hope that’s ok?
Day 6: Upper Corniche Road
Today started bright and sunny. As we couldn’t visit Fragonard yesterday it was our first stop today, which meant I could pick up my aftershave.
We used the motorway as far as the Monaco turn and then the Upper Corniche Road with its spectacular views. You could also see the road that ‘Grace Kelly’ had her fatal crash on. After Fragonard we used the Upper Corniche Road and drove by way of Roquebrune-Cap-Martin to drive along the promenade at Menton where guest were able to go and see the flower show. From Menton we stayed on the coastal road back into Italy passing the small Amphitheatre at Ventimiglia and saw the walls decorated with Bougainvillea. We then headed inland a few miles to the medieval town of Dolceacqua where I think most of the guest indulged in a large gelato ( Ice Cream ). From here we returned to the coastal road to San Remo. We re-joined the motorway for the short journey back to hotel, arriving after 17.30.
Day 7-8: Italy – France – England