Posted in Travel

End of an Era

So in the very week that I was gearing up to write about all my previous travels, the company I have travelled most through has gone into administration. Farewell my beloved Caledonian Travel.

Specialist Leisure Group LTD

Apparently this company owned Caledonian Travel and its sister company based in England, National Holidays. I was not aware of all the other companies and I’m very sad and sorry for all the shop workers, hotel staff, and behind-the-scenes staff who’ll now be out of work. The shop front for Caledonian Travel was a wee local post where you could go in and book your holiday in person. Bare in mind that I’ve travelled with them for so long that back in the day there wasn’t a facility to book online, in person was the only way to do it. To be fair, I always went in anyway. It was great to chat with the staff and just have that personal customer service experience to make the holiday process that bit more exciting. At one point I was booking and going on so many holidays that some of the staff remembered me!

The times they are a-changing

I promise I am going to cover all the holidays one at a time but to set the scene, the very first Caledonian Travel trip we took was in 2008 and it was a 14-day coach tour to Italy. Then I did it again in 2009 and 2010 alone. I also did a mini cruise to Bruges with them in 2009 prior to going to Italy, it was only 3 days but just to make sure I could travel myself at 20. There was a gap for a bit when I got a flat and was perpetually skint, but a quick cheap weekend in Liverpool in 2011 helped. Pater treated me to a mini cruise to Amsterdam in 2012 as a wee treat for getting into university. Then the unholy trinity (Mater, Pater and I) did the whole Italy trip in 2013 (first time for mama) which was insane and great. Since then I’ve not been back to Italy with them but I’ve done Belgium and the Netherlands, and a fairly disappointing trip to York (the hotel was hellish). And now I’m sad that I won’t get to do these trips anymore, I never got to Paris nor Ghent or Antwerp. I know flying is faster but I love the whole ritual to coach travel; stopping in Gretna for a pit stop, arriving in Hull and boarding the ferry, getting the meal deal and eating until I’m bursting at the buffet and hanging out in one of the three bars on the boat, or going to the cinema. Unless another bus company starts running these trips then no way is it cost effective for me to travel to Hull and do it as a foot passenger.

Like I’ve said, coach tours are pretty much the reason I saw so much so young and on a tight budget. I met so many wonderful, crazy, interesting people on the tours that I wouldn’t have if I’d flown. We all became a tight-knit group, especially on the 2009 trip but given that I was about 30 years younger than most of the others I didn’t really manage to keep in touch with them, but I’m sure they remember me as the baby. I do hope there is a way to continue the coach trip tradition… that can survive Corona and Brexit.

Anybody ever travelled with Caledonian Travel or another company? Who prefers coaches to planes? I didn’t fly until I was 24 and I’m still freaked out by it!

e x

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Posted in Day Trip, Travel

Rosslyn Chapel

I’m sure everyone has at least heard of Rosslyn Chapel, mostly thanks to the spotlight given by Dan Brown in the Da Vinci code it helped bring even more tourists and conspiracy theorists to the church located on the outskirts of Edinburgh.

Day-Trippin’

Back in March, I’d planned to visit Rosslyn Chapel with the family in April but obviously the tour company cancelled it when it was announced that churches across the country had to close for the foreseeable future. I was miffed to say the least, April is prime day-trip season in Scotland and I’d blew through most of my holiday allowance at work so doing something on my days off was a perfect idea. It started as a random conversation of somewhere different we could go to, love Arran so much but Scotland has a lot to offer and I still feel I’ve barely seen anything. Given that none of us have a car, it looked a bit awkward to travel from Glasgow to Rosslyn. The website does suggest trains and busses from Edinburgh… but then, a chance advert in a newspaper Pater found Strathmore Travel running day trips to Rosslyn chapel of all places! It included pick up from Glasgow, travel there and back and a wee lunch/tea in the cafeteria for £49 a head. Freaking bargain.

The New Normal: Virtual Tour

Alas, it’s as tragic as everything else we’re missing out on. Scotland has had some of its best ever weather in the couple of months since lockdown started and it’s grating on us all – especially considering how rotten the winter was and it lasted until the second week in March. But the kind folks who look after Rosslyn Chapel also know how to look after their fans and disheartened would-be visitors and have released an online virtual tour of the chapel. Please see here. (I would recommend viewing it on a laptop or computer, my Chromebook froze trying to view it!)

It’s lovely that we can view it while safe at home, and I think it really plays into how lucky most of us are to have access to technology and be online during this crisis. The fact that we can virtually visit the places we can’t physically go to right now is comforting. Remember google street view exists! You can walk down the main street of your favourite city and pretend you are there.

Not the review I wanted

I wanted to have a series of great pictures and to detail the whole day on here, which I can’t do. Obviously there’s a great deal that we can learn online about it, like now I know you’re not allowed to take pictures inside the church, so thankfully there is the virtual tour. It looks quite small, but given how old it is and the detail in the carvings it more than makes up for it. While researching this, I found a great post on the Rabbie’s website about Rosslyn Chapel. Rabbie’s are a travel company that do tours around Scotland including to the chapel. This post isn’t sponsored, I’m just trying to throw some good karma in the way of local companies that they’ll survive Corona.

Featured Image Credit: RCT/Vic Sharp Via Rabbie’s Website.

Let me know if anyone has already visited Rosslyn and what you thought of it? Anyone planning to go (want to road trip)? Do you do day trips in your home country?

e x

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Posted in Blogging Challenge, Travel

30 Day Blogging Challenge – Day #10

Best Trip of Your Life

Obviously it has to be Italy.

The first time I went with my family in 2008 was great but I always feel you never get the same enjoyment the first time you go to a place as you do subsequent times when you know what you’re looking forward to.

So, in 2009 I went on the coach tour again but all by myself! And it was perfect. It was a tad lonely sometimes but for the most part the rest of the people on the bus were decent company and took to watching out for me since I was only 20.