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!
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