Adeo on the Road – Small-Group Familiarisation Tour

One of our packages we offer here at Adeo are small-group tours, so you can imagine my excitement and expectation when I learned that this month I would have the opportunity to go on a small-group tour myself! When enquiring, guests sometimes ask us what makes our small-group tours unique. Hopefully my personal experiences can help you out if you are stuck on deciding which type of Britain vacation is for you.

Upon my arrival in London, I looked forward to a chance to broaden my knowledge of our products (along with a chance to get out of the office!). My suitcase was then taken off my hands and loaded into the coach, as was a theme for the rest of the trip. Porterage is one of the main focal points in small-group tours; your suitcases will be handled from the moment you start the tour to the moment you leave. Please note that there are luggage restrictions, but I found these were comfortable; typically you will be allowed one suitcase and one bit of hand luggage.

Once the luggage was loaded, we made our way to into the coach wMini-Bushere I sat down in my comfortable leather seat with ample legroom – each with its own air conditioning system above keeping the coach feeling fresh at all times. There were four single seats and four double seats on each side of the bus, with seats across the back of the coach as standard – the coach seated a maximum of 18 people.

The tour driver then introduced himself formally using his microphone where his voice was projected around the coach – the speaker system loud enough so that all passengers could hear. Looking around me I noticed the general demographic of the people on the tour were those over the age of 50. Small-group tours tend to be fairly laid back, with the group rejecting the opportunity to go around one-by-one introducing themselves and choosing to get to know each other naturally as the tour progressed – a fine choice I might say! Before I knew it, conversation in the group started to flow as we all started to get to know each other. Every single passenger on the tour was a delight and an asset to the experience of the tour itself.

All of the small-group tours we offer have breakfast included and our premium tours will have three-course evening meals, both are a great chance to bond further with your fellow passengers while stuffing yourself full – it’s safe to say I may have to diet for a bit after my time on this trip!

While socialising with the other passengers, I got the feeling that many of them chose a small-group tour as their mode of travel in Britain as they found it more relaxing than driving themselves and allowed more opportunity for socialising with others that have similar interests. Small-group tours are also less regimented and offer regular comfort stops; the small size of the group meant that the itinerary was not so rigid and could be personalised slightly with de-tours if enough of the group agreed.

When it was time to depart the tour, it was fairly sad as the group went their separate ways. However, the driver guide asked for our email addresses and soon after sent a group email where people could keep in touch with each other if they hadn’t already exchanged contact details.Inside

Overall, the tour itself was a fantastic and invaluable opportunity for me to enhance my knowledge of what we are selling to our guests and I would like to thank everyone involved for the experience.

In conclusion, the expectation I had before this tour was not in vain. If you are a sociable person wanting to visit Britain without the hassle of driving, I would recommend checking out the many small-group tours we have to offer – enquire today!

There is no better time to book a small-group tour with us here at Adeo Travel – availability is high as our 2017 dates have recently been released, with some of our small-group tours offering an early-bird discount for those that pay in full before the end of November. We look forward to working with you in booking your Britain vacation!

adeo Insights – Kevin Murray’s Diary, Week 7: End of the Road(trip)

It’s all very well us telling you what to see and do when you come to visit Britain but who can give you a better insight into what you can expect from an adeo tour than our guests themselves! Our guest Kevin Murray has been kind enough to allow us to publish his trip reports detailing his travels through England, Wales and Scotland this Spring.

This week Kevin and Glenys travel through England’s most northerly counties to cross the ancient border into Scotland.

We continued travelling north, following the picturesque lochs and valleys to Mallaig. Here we boarded a car ferry for a somewhat “bumpy” voyage to the Isle of Skye where we drove across the bare, windswept, mountainous spine to reach the blue waters and sheltered bays of Skye’s beautiful north coast.

img_1191The Isle of Skye has a reputation for wild, wet and windy weather and it well and truly lived up to this reputation for our journey around its coasts. However, we saw enough through the horizontal rain and obscuring mist to enjoy Skye’s rugged beauty, to appreciate her volcanic geology, and to admire those hardy, tenacious individuals that were able to make their livings here.

 

We crossed back to the mainland via the gracefully arching Skye Bridge… with an icy cold south-westerly gale doing its best to get us airborne. We visited two castles on our way to Inverness, both of which revealed the usual stories of invasions, medieval arms races, ever-changing alliances, inevitable betrayals, and power-seeking, war-mongering, egomaniacal despots – with brief periods of peace between the senseless, wasteful, bloody battles. But the views were superb.

img_1192Scottish highlanders have never forgotten “the 45s”, those clans who rallied to the cause of installing Bonnie Prince Charlie to the throne in 1745. Charlie’s ill-conceived plans, however, came to a terrible, bloody end a year later at Culloden, an otherwise unremarkable field just outside Inverness.  Standing where 1,500 “rebel” highlanders were cut down in less than an hour, and listening to real stories from the perspectives of the routed Jacobites and the victorious government troops, sent awful chills down our spines.

img_1194Heading east from Inverness, we explored the Moray Coast, surprised to find long sandy beaches on parts of it. Not so surprised to find ruined forts, ruined palaces and even a ruined cathedral (at Elgin). We also stumbled upon the remains of a very ancient Pict fort at Burghead, and a tiny 17th century man-made harbour at Portsoy that was still partly operational. We passed through several very neat little fishing villages trying to survive after the collapse of their traditional fisheries.

On our last day with the car in Scotland we felt that we just had to visit Dunnottar Castle. It was as if we had been saving the best ’til last. Dunnottar was breathtaking – slowly revealing itself as the whisps of morning mist rolled away, perched on an island of sheer-sided basalt, tenuously tethered to the mainland by a single steep, sinuous path. The defenders of this imposing fort were able to withstand the onslaught of Cromwell’s army for eight months, thus saving the Scottish Crown Jewels!

img_1195We left the coast and drove on to Edinburgh via the tortuous roads that wind through the majestic Cairngorms National Park, following the River Dee for much of its path through the deep glacial valleys where, in its quieter moments, it reflected the snow still clinging to the looming mountains above. Wow!

img_1196Edinburgh presents a harmonious mix of the very old and the very new, and tangibly buzzes with the melting pot of humanity coursing through its labyrinthine, cobbled streets. Naturally we explored its iconic Castle, perched atop those dark, dolorite cliffs, ominously dominating the city below. But we also investigated the pokey 17th Century alleys and houses hidden beneath the streetscape of today, providing us with a fascinating insight into those smelly, unhygenic, crowded and generally impoverished times.

What would a visit to Edinburgh be without paying homage to Grayfriars Bobby? Or spending time in the not-quite-as-austere-as-it-should-be St. Giles Cathedral? Or climbing Calton Hill to view the unfinished “Acropolis” at its summit and to take in the view over this magical city

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adeo Insights – Kevin Murray’s Diary: Week 6, Heading North

It’s all very well us telling you what to see and do when you come to visit Britain but who can give you a better insight into what you can expect from an adeo tour than our guests themselves! Our guest Kevin Murray has been kind enough to allow us to publish his trip reports detailing his travels through England, Wales and Scotland this Spring.

This week Kevin and Glenys travel through England’s most northerly counties to cross the ancient border into Scotland.

Leaving Chester, we crossed the bleak, browned grasslands of the high Pennines into Yorkshire. York itself was like a living museum; the presence of the Romans was still palpable and the subsequent Viking and Anglo-Saxon influences are also obvious. One place which typified this was the huge Minster that dominates the town. Below its floors can be found whole Roman walls and roads. Above the floors one can read the chequered history in the many architectural changes to this magnificent structure.

York - Shambles
York – Shambles

From York we now headed northwest to the Lake District. But on the way we detoured first to the little town of Ripley where we explored the enchanting walled garden belonging to the local castle/mansion. We then stopped off at Fountains Abbey, another huge Cistercian abbey destroyed by Henry VIII’s mob. The beautiful 17th century water gardens here are now under the protective wing of the National Trust and are superbly and lovingly preserved.

On we drove towards the west passing through the rolling hills of the Yorkshire Dales under increasingly threatening skies which decided to unleash their bucket loads of snow just as we were entering the steep mountain passes leading to the Lakes. Around every corner was a Christmas-card scene of snow-covered ground and conifers bending under the weight with bewildered sheep wondering where their grass had gone. The steep, narrow, icy roads made for some treacherous driving but it was well worth it in the end – as we gazed with delight out the window of our Ambleside hotel at a spectacular view of towering snow-shrouded peaks!

IMG_1185With our intended cruise on Coniston Waters cancelled because of the “inclement” weather, we drove down the western side of Coniston Waters to Greenodd and back up along the eastern side of Windemere, with the snow-capped mountains providing a dramatic backdrop to the windswept lakes. We had 10 minutes of rare sunshine just as we left Windemere, allowing me to capture a few stunning reflections. Near Carlisle we stopped at Birdoswald, the site of an excavated Roman fort, built in the second century as part of Hadrian’s Wall, which marked the northernmost boundary of the vast Roman Empire, keeping those pesky marauding Scots at bay. We even got to walk a little of the famous Wall itself.

And so, on to Glasgow, which, like Cardiff, is another industrial city successfully re-invented as a cultural capital. The miserable weather encouraged us to explore Glasgow‘s museums, including the newly opened and very modern Riverside Transport Museum and the fabulous Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. Each in their own way defining the considerable impact this city has had on the social, industrial and technological milieux not only of Britain, but on the rest of the world.

IMG_1188Northwards once more; but first we decided to climb the 400 steps to the remains of the historic Dunbarton Castle, perched strategically atop a massive volcanic plug, guarding the windswept River Clyde. We journeyed alongside the enigmatic Loch Lomond, experiencing brief periods of sunshine and rain in equal measure, following a waterlogged zig-zag path into the Scottish Highlands.

If you would like to explore the wild and beautiful North of England why not try our Yorkshire and the Lake District self-drive tour.

adeo Insights – Kevin Murray’s Diary: Week 4, South Wales

It’s all very well us telling you what to see and do when you come to visit Britain but who can give you a better insight into what you can expect from an adeo tour than our guests themselves! Our guest Kevin Murray has been kind enough to allow us to publish his trip reports detailing his travels through England, Wales and Scotland this Spring.

 

This week Kevin and Glenys cross the border to Wales, land of Dragons, and make their way along the beautiful South Wales Coast.

Next stop, Cardiff in South Wales, reached via the gigantic Severn Bridge. Here we visited Cardiff Castle, another spectacular site just oozing with history. The last family to own it undertook extensive (and expensive) renovations, restoring the ancient Roman walls and creating a sort of medieval dream world in the opulent residences.

Cardiff - Cardiff CastleWe spent another whole day exploring this surprising city, beginning with the extensive riverside parklands, then the Civic Centre and the National Museum with its comprehensive and informative display of the geological and paleontological history of Wales. Under unexpected blue skies we then wandered the streets, admiring the colorful low-rise buildings, the numerous pedestrian plazas and the attractive shopping arcades which make the centre of town very people-friendly. We also got to admire Cardiff‘s iconic Bay area, cleverly transformed from being the largest coal port in the world to a lively entertainment precinct dotted with some very impressive architecture, like the ginormous copper-sheathed Millennium Centre and the historic red-brick Pierhead building.

From Cardiff we ventured deeper into the mountainous Brecon Beacons area to the north, following the tortuous course of the Wye River through valleys painted with every shade of green. We explored the ruins of the surprisingly large Tintern Abbey, learning what life might have been like for a medieval Cistercian monk – not comfortable, that’s certain!

Brecon Beacons - Carreg Cennen CastleAfter overnighting at the lovely little village of Crickhowell, we caught a beautiful old steam train right into the heart of the Brecon Beacons National Park. Expecting rugged mountains but finding green, rolling hills – albeit rather large hills! The scenery was spectacular, with the gleaming white new wool of this year’s Spring lambs dotting the bright green fields beyond mill-pond calm lakes and not a drop of rain in sight.

and so, on to Stackpole, our gateway to the glorious south coast of Wales, 200 miles of which is part of the Pembrokeshire National Park. We zigged and zagged along this rugged coast, exploring its windy headlands, sheltered coves and sandy beaches. We saw thousands of squabbling Guillemots vying for that crucial piece of ledge, high on pillars of rock thrusting above the crashing Atlantic waves. We wandered over headlands sculpted into magical shapes by sea and wind. We descended into a bleak stone hut wedged in a precipitous crevice where St Govan was supposed to have hidden from pirates. We explored the colourful town of Tenby whose pastel-shaded houses contrasted with the severity of the remnant castle ramparts.

Pembrokeshire - TenbyFrom Stackpole we continued northwards, hugging the Welsh coast. We followed the medieval pilgrim path to the smallest “city” in the world, St David’s. It achieves city status because of its cathedral, which is almost as big as the town. This beautiful cathedral with its impressive woodwork has been in more or less continuous use for over 700 years, even surviving the worst ravages of the Dissolution era. Next door to the cathedral was the Bishop’s Palace, which wasn’t so lucky. It is now in ruins but is intact enough to allow its English Heritage owners to use it as a background to cleverly convey what life must have been like in its heyday.

If you would like to explore South Wales, why not try our Cardiff, Castles and Coastlines self-drive tour or you could explore Wales on one of our popular small group tours!

adeo Guides: The Edinburgh Festival

Edinburgh is the world’s leading festival city with 12 major annual festivals but August is a particularly special time of year in the capital of Scotland! It’s a time where the whole city is transformed into a venue for the world’s largest annual cultural festival, playing host to a hundreds of artists from all disciplines including theatre, music, comedy, opera and dance.

Edinburgh - Castle TattooThe festival was first established in 1947 in order to create ‘a platform for the flowering of the human spirit’ and enriching the cultural life of Scotland and it has been inspiring artists and enthusiasts from around the globe ever since. Today the festival includes 3000+ events, 25,000+ performers and 4.2 million attendances from 70 countries worldwide. The event is outsold only by the Olympics and the World Cup.

Today the so-called ‘Edinburgh Festival’ consists of about 10 separate festivals which are all held in the city at around the same time each year. The most notable are the Edinburgh International Festival which is devoted to classical music, theatre, opera and dance and the Edinburgh Fringe which is an open access festival and includes a wide variety of shows including comedy, circus and cabaret. World famous comedians including Hugh Laurie, Mike Myers and Eddie Izzard can credit the Edinburgh Fringe Festival with their big breaks.

Edinburgh Fringe Festival - David Cheskin/PA Wire
Edinburgh Fringe Festival – David Cheskin/PA Wire

Also popular is the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo which is a series of Military Tattoos performed by British Armed Forces, Commonwealth and International Military Bands on the esplanade of Edinburgh Castle. This extremely popular show has been seen by an average of 217,000 people each year since the 1970s and has sold out in advance for the last decade.

Other festivals taking place in August include the Edinburgh Art Festival, celebrating visual art, Edinburgh International Book Festival, Edinburgh International Film Festival and Edinburgh Mela, celebrating world music and dance. There is well and truly something for everyone!

Edinburgh - TattooAlready a popular tourist destination, the population of Edinburgh quadruples during the Festival and touristy areas like the Royal Mile will be crowded with flyer pushing performers touting their shows. However, most visitors really enjoy the frenetic atmosphere, the buses crowded with performers in weird and wonderful costumes including Zulu dancers, Shetland fiddlers and Indian folkloric groups and the infinite choice of entertainment among the thousands of shows and events.

Want to visit Scotland during festival season? Why not try a adeo travel self-drive or rail tour? Pick one of the suggested itineraries from our website or contact us directly for a unique tailor-made itinerary.