Hi, I'm Cathie, your local bespoke and luxury travel expert covering the West London area and beyond. In fact I have clients all over the UK and also overseas.
I have been in the travel industry almost since I left school nearly 50 years ago so it's not just a job nor even just a career, travel has been a big part of my life, my hobby and my passion for literally decades. I have kept bang up to date in an ever changing industry from the days of manuals and telexes in the 70's when I first worked in business travel, my experience with British Airways and many years with Thomas Cook on the high street to the most up to date apps and technology and the flexibility I can offer as a self employed independent so I can create dream holidays, business trips, visiting friends and family or a combination of these tailored just for you.
I get really excited about experiencing new destinations for myself as well as visiting a few of my old favourites. Having visited hundreds of amazing places in around 75 countries on five continents, I can pass on lots of personal recommendations, advice and useful tips for your chosen destination. During the past year alone I have been to Majorca, the Norwegian Fjords, a Rhine and Main River Cruise visiting Basel, Frankfurt, Miltenberg, Wurzburg and Bamberg, Fuerteventura, the fabulous MSC Bellissima, Italy and Sicily. My next trips planned will be Crete, Thailand Germany (Dusseldorf, Leipzig, Dresden and Berlin), Ireland, Taiwan and Cyprus
Even if you are planning to go somewhere I haven't had the opportunity to visit yet, I can easily call on the expert advice and support from my many friends and contacts in various sectors of the travel industry.
I can help you with just about anything from very small and simple requests, a flight only, an overnight airport hotel, car parking, airport lounges, holiday centres in the UK, experiences, tours, car hire, rail tickets, transfers, attractions and theatre tickets, right up to once in a life time honeymoons, bucket list trips and very complicated round the world itineraries, from a basic hostel or a self catering apartment to a super luxury hotel, private villas with pools, safaris, private jets, extended business trips, sea and river cruises and lots in between. Travel Counsellors are independent so I can use and combine a wide range of airlines, accommodation, ground arrangements with Destination Management Companies, packages from well known companies and also small independent specialists to create a holiday or business trip to just about every area of the world.
Please feel free to like me on Facebook, link with me on LinkedIn or follow me on Twitter using the links below. You can also check my extensive travel photography portfolio at 'cathieo' on Flickr, you can follow me on Instagram at 'cathieodea' or follow my blogs on Wordpress - My Travel to You - https://mytraveltoyou.wordpress.com/ and Round the World in 80 Days Challenge -https://roundtheworldin80dayschallenge.wordpress.com/ and you can follow my current photostream #MagicalMemories across the various social media channels. I also like to paint destinations digitally and you can see some of these on my blogs below,
Thank you so much for taking the time to read my profile and I look forward to hearing from you regarding any genuine travel enquiries you may have.
Please email email@example.com or call 020 3432 4740, mobile 07912 889964 or you can message me on facebook or Whatsapp or use the MyTCapp available on Apple or Android to contact me at the touch of a button whenever you need me.
Whatever your holiday needs I'm here to help you, so please either fill in and send the form below or simply give me a call and I can get things started for you:-
Sent in by Jo Clifford
Peterborough, 21 June 2019
Definitely should be a 10! Cathie arranged my forthcoming hen weekend for 14 of us with absolutely no hassle and pure professionalism. Cathie is a pure perfectionist and goes that extra mile to make sure you get the best deal. Her attention to detail is why she is the best. Definitely recommend Cathie to all my friends and colleagues.
Sent in by Pandora Mather-Lees
London, 21 June 2019
Very happy to recommend Cathie O'Dea 's services. Very fast, responsive, keeps me updated on travel issues and I feel very reassured about all the travel arrangements. Cathie has saved me lots of time and money trying to figure it all out and offers a highly personalised approach. Thank you very much Cathie!
Sent in by Tony Hill
Dorset, 21 June 2019
Always provides fast efficient and professional service
Sent in by Pat Maher
London, 10 June 2019
Cathie was very helpful from start to finish, spent time getting us exactly the flight we wanted
Sent in by Julie Mitchell
London, 30 May 2019
Cathie is a wealth of information and really helpful.
Sent in by Jane Cresswell
Surrey, 18 April 2019
Thank you Cathie we had an amazing holiday and it all went so smoothly. The hotels and flights were great. Good job would definately recommend you
Sent in by Kim Parsons
Bucks, 18 April 2019
Cathie is efficient, friendly and reliable. She came up with some great suggestions for our trip and everything went to plan. I would not hesitate to recommend her to friends and family.
Sent in by Christine Lees
France, 29 March 2019
As always Cathie gives an excellent service, and goes to extra trouble to find bookings that suited me, even though on this occasion I was just booking flights and hotel accommodation at the beginning and end of a holiday.
Sent in by Ian Makgill
Sussex, 29 March 2019
Cathie is amazing. :)
Sent in by Lynette Webb
London, 29 March 2019
Excellent Quality Service as always from Cathie O'Dea. I recommend Cathie to all my family and friends and use Cathie as she always goes above and beyond to tailor make my holiday itineraries and to make them so special and unique. I cannot recommend or praise Cathie highly enough!
Sent in by Susan Tomlinson
Nottingham, 23 March 2019
Very fast and efficient service. Saved me so much time and money trying to work out the best flights, hotel booking and transfers. Thank you.
Sent in by Marika Stivanello
Portsmouth, 10 March 2019
Cathie is great! Patient, very knowledgeable and has a true passion for what she does. She keeps working until she finds the perfect solution for your travel requirement, no matter how small.
Sent in by Janet Walls
co. Durham, 01 March 2019
Cathie was very quick to respond to my questions and help out with suggestions
Sent in by Michael Markwell
Ireland, 22 February 2019
Just a wee note to say thank you. It was 9 years ago that we met you. The trip to Iceland was yet another reason to keep recommending you to anyone who we hear is even thinking about going on holiday! We really appreciate your help and all the small touches - the bag labels already filled out, the lip balm in the pack, and the fact that you are always working! (I think you should stop answering emails on Sunday - you deserve a break!). Iceland was fantastic and once again you’ve been at the heart of an amazing trip! Thank you and no doubt we’ll be in touch again soon! Michael and Doreen
Sent in by Ferida Fernandes
Barbados, 17 February 2019
Sent in by Teresa Turner
Chertsey, 12 February 2019
I have been a friend of Cathie for many years and have already recommended her to family friends, I would only do this because I know how thorough, knowledgeable and honest she is. This is the first time Cathie has booked a holiday for me personally and it won't be the last as I can now see what a professional service she provides.
Sent in by Alanah Ashfield
Yanchep, Western Australia, 08 February 2019
Cathie was very helpful sourcing the best price for my flight enquiry. She processed my documents and payment in no time. I’d recommend her services and knowledge of the travel industry. Thank you
Sent in by Sarah Fitton
Rochester, Kent, 04 February 2019
Cathie Odea is fantastic! Always happy to help - Cathie's response time to our questions are always ASAP - Nothing is too much trouble. For myself and family - Cathie always manages to make our annual holiday run so smoothly.
Sent in by Jacqui Hazell
Northwood, Middlesex, 03 February 2019
The best Travel Counsellor ever, so professional and so very helpful 10/10. Bravo
Sent in by Kazumi Sakikubo
Kobe, Japan, 02 February 2019
Cathie O'Dea is perfect!
Sent in by Dean Robinson
Surrey, 17 January 2019
Thank you for your excellent service. I was so impressed with how fast and efficiently you addressed all out our travel requirements. It couldn't have been easier and we were really pleased that you were able to arrange better flights than we'd looked into and still stay within our budget. I will definitely be contacting you for future trips.
Sent in by Sue Sevenoaks
London, 09 January 2019
Cathie has helped my husband and I book our annual holiday for three years now, our next trip being this June, her standard of service is superb and we couldn’t be happier!
Sent in by Graham Sheppard
London, 31 October 2018
I could not have booked this holiday without Cathie. A day and a half after I asked her to have a look at it, it was all booked. Everything I asked for and a little more she’s the best!
Sent in by Tony Hill
Lyme Regis, 21 October 2018
Cathie provides exceptional service and always goes the extra mile.
Sent in by Dave and Doreen Hyde
Austin, Texas, 16 October 2018
Thanks Cathie, you are our heroine! Now back home in Austin.
Sent in by Anna Harries
London, 26 September 2018
We all would like to thank you for our trip to Vietnam – a great time was had by all and everything was truly fabulous, everything fulfilled our expectations – most grateful for all your efforts in organising this for us
Sent in by Dominic Hart
London, 22 September 2018
Quick, organised, meticulous and painless. Travel heaven.
Sent in by Josephine Clifford
Peterborough, 16 August 2018
Cathie goes that extra mile to give customers what they want, nothing is too much for her, a true professional.
Sent in by Carole Ann Rice
London, 27 July 2018
Always reliable and great personal service
Sent in by Jon Milne
High Wycombe, 20 July 2018
Cathie has been very helpful especially as we only gave 2 weeks notice to find us a holiday. And even better than that Cathie was also cheaper than the internet. I will be using Cathie again as she has taken care of everything that we asked of and even bits we hadn't thought of.
With independent access to thousands of travel suppliers around the world, I've got an eye for added value. Take a look through my latest selections below. But even if nothing particularly catches your eye - don't worry! Let's chat and I'll take the hassle away from tailoring a perfectly personalised holiday just for you.
Contact me on 020 3432 4740
I absolutely live and breathe travel and I love to write about my experiences! Please take a look through my posts - you might find your own holiday inspiration.
15 July 2019
It is a very long time since we were last in Berlin. In fact, it was so long ago that my only pictures were taken on a rubbish film camera and East and West were still very clearly defined. Now a couple of decades later, there is no longer a definite East and West Berlin. Germany’s bustling capital city is one united Berlin with a proper and fully integrated transport system. This time, we arrived by train, and stayed near Potsdamer Platz, just 15 mins walk from Checkpoint Charlie. As we expected, it is quite busy but still very walkable. Berlin...
15 July 2019
I have always liked Cologne, a city I have visited many times and thought of Dusseldorf as more of a business and shopping city somehow. The two cities are easily linked by rail and the Dusseldorf airport train stops at both Dusseldorf and Cologne. The train from the airport to Dusseldorf is quick and easy and less than 3 euros and then a fairly short walk to our hotel. The city is very walkable with some pedestrianised areas near the river. The U-bahn is frequent and cheap if somewhat confusing. We did get the hang of it eventually. Our hotel...
15 July 2019
I remember way back in the seventies, BA had a very limited service just to cover the big yearly trade fair, otherwise it was really difficult to get to as it was on the “wrong” side of the Berlin Wall. How things have changed. There are still currently no direct flights from the UK now but links by train and domestic aircraft are excellent, so we arrived on a small turboprop from Dusseldorf. I had always wanted to see the magnificent architecture that I’d seen in the brochures and I wasn’t disappointed. When we first arrived, there were a few dodgy...
15 July 2019
As soon as we stepped out of the station, there is a really lovely feel about Dresden. It is very green and spotlessly clean. If going to Dresden as a tourist, it is best to do plenty of research before going and work out what you want to see beforehand. The tourist board’s main purpose is to sell maps and guides rather than give useful free information about the city, which is a real shame, as some useful guidance there would have been a bonus. We took a bus tour which was only in German and boring so really not the best...
03 July 2019
You do have allow plenty of time to get from A to B because it’s such a sprawling city. But there is a very handy taxi app called Grab which will tell you what you should pay in advance. This avoids the headaches of haggling over the fare with drivers with mysteriously “broken” meters. We found this invaluable since public transport doesn’t reach many of the main tourist sites. There is a metro network (BTS) which is fast, cheap and efficient but it isn’t really extensive enough to provide a useful service to all parts of the city yet. On...
01 June 2019
An early memory is sitting in front of a tiny black and white valve TV watching Neil Armstrong step on the moon and utter those immortal words “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”. That was on 16th July 1969. For those of us of a certain age it’s difficult to believe it was actually 50 years ago, even more difficult to believe that Apollo 11 had less technology that a smartphone that you are probably holding in your hand today. The USA is certainly the place to go this year and there are some great deals...
16 May 2019
The last time I was in Sicily, Catania airport was so small and insignificant, we had to collect our suitcases from a yard outside in the dark. However, that was a long time ago and nowadays Catania looks much like any other international airport. As expected, Sicily is also considerably more built up than it was in the mid seventies. In fact, if anything, Taormina has far too many tourists. Taormina itself is very historic and interesting with a Greek amphitheatre (10 euros) and the tiny cathedral which has a sculpture of the Last Supper. The entrances at each...
07 May 2019
You can pretty much combine an interest in Leonardo’s paintings, drawings, technical drawings of machinery and flight and his understanding of the anatomy with a tour of classic Italian cities but to enhance your trip here some ideas based on an interest in the life and works of the Master of the Renaissance himself. The Leonardo trail is a fairly well-trodden path and already millions of visitors visit the Uffizi Gallery and The Last Supper. Our trail begins in Florence with the Leonardo da Vinci Museum which is right in the centre of Florence. This concentrates on working models of the...
07 May 2019
Fairmont Hotels & Resorts in its current for is a relatively young company, established in 2001 as a merger between Canadian Pacific Hotels & Resorts and Fairmont Hotels. They are predominantly Canadian and most of the Canadian and some of the USA properties are iconic buildings that were built around the turn of the last century in a very distinctive 16th century French Chateau style. As many of the hotels were built in connection with the Canadian Pacific or Grand Trunk Railway, many of them are situated very close to the station and are very centrally located in cities...
04 May 2019
Salvador Dali’s life began in Figueres. He was baptised in Sant Pere Church and his funeral was also held in the same church although the mausoleum is in the basement of the Theater Museum. He was named after his dead brother and believed he was the reincarnation of his brother. This probably led to both his eccentricity, his personality and his genius. His trademark was his long pointed moustache. He was probably the world’s best and most renowned surrealist painter. I visited Figueres a few years ago. Figueres is easy to get to by train from Barcelona and Girona, so if you...
04 May 2019
For such a comparatively small country, England has a staggering 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, ranging from Roman to the Industrial Revolution to the natural beauty of the South West Coast. Our journey begins in London which has 4 UNESCO World Heritage Sites of its own. If you stay in the City of London, you get the feel and atmosphere of Historic London and it is a good base for getting around. The Guoman Tower has a fabulous view of Tower Bridge but there are apartments in the area too for a more affordable option. Tower of London has been a...
04 May 2019
Have you ever dreamt of driving a Ferrari, a Lamborghini, an Alfa Romeo or a Maserati? Hertz can offer this service in Italy but you do need deep pockets to make it happen. I could also get a voucher experience to drive a Ferrari or Lamborghini on a race track closer to home from £86. This is a great idea for a christmas, birthday or anniversary gift. If you want to settle for just being able to sit in some of those classic cars, experience the simulator and have a factory tour, there are plenty of opportunities in Northern Italy to do...
30 April 2019
I first went to Odense by sea on a mini cruise with DFDS via Harwich/Esbjerg. The crossing across the North Sea in March was very cheap but pretty rough, nowadays it is easier to fly to Copenhagen or Billund and then get the train. The original Legoland is also in Billund so you may want to spend a night or two there. Denmark has many different types of accommodation to suit all budgets. There are cottages and houses as well as hotels. It is a very friendly country, said to be the happiest in the world and virtually every Dane...
29 April 2019
The Van Gogh Trail can be done almost entirely by train apart from a few little bus or taxi journeys from stations to villages, making this a reasonably eco friendly trip, beginning with the Eurostar to Amsterdam. You could even begin and end your tour at the Hotel Van Gogh since there is one in Amsterdam and one in Saint-Remy Amsterdam A visit to the Van Gogh Museum is a must as it is the biggest display of his work anywhere in the world although many of his works are in private collections. This summer there is a David Hockney exhibition which...
28 April 2019
Italians take their pasta very seriously. My approach to pasta is to pick up whatever is in the cupboard, be it farfalle, conchiglie or tagliatelle, cook a few mushrooms, stir in a bit of sauce, cook the pasta a little softer than it should be et voila, cheap, quick and easy meal. In Italy, pasta is almost a science, different pastas go with different sauces and fillings, each region has their own specialities and it should be served al dente, to be chewed and enjoyed or al Forno, in the oven which is how the filled pastas such as Cannelloni...
28 April 2019
Viking influence can be seen in place names ending in by (eg Whiby, Rugby or Thorpe (Scunthorpe)). Although some stones and remains can be spotted in churchyards and inside churches, there is little that remains south of the border. Our Viking Trail in the UK begins in York where you can visit the Jorvik museum where you can learn everything Viking. Apart from the museum, York itself is a very interesting city where you can also visit the National Railway museum, see many examples of Roman and Medieval influences too and of course York Minster with its beautiful window. There are many...
28 April 2019
Ireland is steeped in history and nature, really surprising then that Ireland has just three World Heritage Sites, Bru na Boinne in County Meath and Skellig Michael off the Kerry coast and Giants Causeway North of the border. Of course everybody is familiar with Giants Causeway but the two in the south are relatively unknown. The year in brackets is the year that each were declared World Heritage Giants Causeway (1986) The first declared World Heritage site in the island of Ireland was of course Giants Causeway. The columns are not unique but they are the biggest and most spectacular example...
24 March 2019
We were so excited at the prospect of seeing the magnificent MSC Bellissima, the largest ship to sail out of Southampton. Would one night be long enough to explore the 20 bars and 12 restaurants? All the shops? The spa? The gym? The shows? Of course it wasn't, but we certainly tried our best. It would be difficult to get bored with so much to do whether you are 9 or 90. The first challenge on any large ship is finding the cabin and my cabin on Deck 12 was larger than I expected. One new feature on the MSC...
03 November 2018
I have always loved rail travel above other means of transport, just to sit and relax and watch the world go by, but my favourite journeys are still in Switzerland, so wonderfully efficient and very scenic but slow enough to actually see the scenery. 1. Bernina Express runs from the Italian border to St. Moritz. This passes through winding aqueducts, many glaciers, waterfalls and tunnels and although a lot shorter I think the scenery is more dramatic than Glacier Express. The scenery changes from the wrought iron balconies of Italy to the wooden chalets that are so typical of the German-Swiss...
12 October 2018
An early start from Heathrow got us into Basel to give us a few hours to explore Basel before setting off on our AMA Waterways cruise down the Rhine and Main. When arriving into Basel you must be careful which exit to follow, the Swiss side or the French side. In order to reach the Rhine, we needed the Swiss side which means turning right after collecting luggage. Home for the week was on AMA Dante which was a new experience for us. AMA include drinks with meals and all excursions which is useful in places where you cannot just...
13 September 2018
A very early start at Gatwick, there were 4 of us all from different agencies and our hosts from Inghams. They were a lovely group and we got on very well. Our arrival into Alesund was with Norwegian which was easy since they are one of the few low-cost airlines that will check your luggage straight through to the destination in Norway. Changing in Oslo was simple with good connections both ways. Gardermoen is modern and efficient, a nice airport redesigned as an international airport in 1998. Our home for 3 nights was the Alexandra, a historic hotel in Loen in the...
05 June 2018
What is this all about? I have been set a challenge to create a social media project vaguely along the lines of the original “Around the World in 80 Days” by Jules Verne. Of course, I don’t have endless wealth or the stamina to actually do this journey for real and Phileas Fogg is fictional anyway, but I will base it on places I have actually seen and experienced for myself sometime in my life, so I can from memory, photographs, and a bit of googling and with the help of contacts and tourist boards, recreate a virtual experience to share...
02 May 2018
It was our second trip to Fuerteventura in just a few months, but we felt we had only seen Corralejo and loved and we decided we wanted to see a little more so we came back. We found there was a lot more open in April even though the weather was actually better in December. We had been recommended a tapas bar called La Playita and this time it was open and what a fabulous feast we had! We chose a selection of tapas for two people and four of us struggled with the eight dishes for 30 euros, amazing...
12 April 2018
I have been to Paphos and other parts of Cyprus many times, but I have never before had the chance to join in the traditional Easter celebrations. Greek orthodox Easter or Pasxa, is nearly always on different dates to here in England and in 2018, it happened to be the week after our own Easter. We were privileged to be invited by Constantinou Bros to join in their Easter celebrations at the fabulous Asimina Suites and to visit their portfolio of hotels. Easter is the biggest celebration of the year in Cyprus and as the weather is so mild, a lot...
08 March 2018
Cebu is reasonably easy to get to from the UK with a change in Manila. After the very long flight, the hotel zone is only about 20 minutes from the airport. Our four-star hotel was of a very high standard with a huge room with a balcony. Much of Cebu was destroyed during the Second World War. There is a lot of reclaimed land so it is now much bigger than it was 100 years ago and there is a huge American influence so there are many signs in English, probably more than there are in the native Filipino language...
31 January 2018
Luxembourg City is close to the airport and it is served well by public transport. They are currently building a tram system from the airport into the city. This should be finished by the end of 2017. My first impressions were that it is very green - even in and around the main city. The main language spoken is Luxembourgish which is mostly a combination of German and French, but most of the people we met spoke very good English as well as German and French so language isn't a problem and passable French worked well in shops and restaurants. Luxembourg City...
31 January 2018
I have booked many spa days and weekends over the years, but I never really went on one myself. I was invited by Classic Collection to sample three of the wonderful spa hotels in Tuscany that are featured in their Italy brochure and all part of the Italian Hospitality Collection. I had always believed that spa weekends were an expensive luxury by way of celebration, a detox or perhaps to re-energise following a major life change, perhaps a redundancy, a divorce or bereavement but this weekend has taught me that there are additionally many health benefits to spa weekends and...
31 January 2018
Madrid is a very affordable city break with all sorts of accommodation, from basic hostels to beautiful deluxe hotels. This time we stayed in a basic but well-equipped hostel very close to the Puerta del Sol, the lively hub of Madrid. There is always something going on, entertainers, characters dressed up, and on the weekend that we were there, a few demonstrations to back the government against Catalan independence. In the side streets there are many shops, cafes, tapas bars and pubs. Madrid is a very easy city to navigate with a lot of pedestrianised areas and there is the...
31 January 2018
Having previously visited five of the seven Canary Islands, Fuerteventura was long overdue a visit. In case you were wondering, I have yet to visit the least developed of all, El Hierro. It seems that Fuerteventura is a little like Marmite, people either love it or hate it. I was very keen to see it for myself for the first time and form my own opinion. The Canaries as a whole tend to lack culture and personality and that, I believe, is the reason that the islands appeal to some and not others. What the Canaries do have is a year-round...
31 January 2018
It is so easy to get to Leeds by train from many different parts of the country or even to fly from Heathrow. Much of Leeds is pedestrianised making it a very easy city to negotiate on foot and it is often quicker to walk into the centre of Leeds than to get public transport or even by cab as both have to go right the way round the outside of the city. There is so much beautiful Victorian architecture in Leeds including covered arcades. There are lots of quaint old pubs hidden down alleyways so it is a city...
31 January 2018
The Windy City wasn't originally so called because it is windy, although it actually is. It was because the politicians at the time talked a lot of hot air and the politicians elsewhere nicknamed it the Windy City and it stuck. Chicago is a large city, but the centre isn't that big and most of it is quite walkable and it feels relatively safe. Public transport is excellent too, so it is perfectly feasible to visit Chicago without being dependent on a car and anyway it's really expensive to park. The metro, affectionately known as "The EL" because it's elevated, is...
31 January 2018
At the southern end of my recent Rhine cruise, I visited Alsace for the first time, but it is also easy to fly straight to Strasbourg for a short weekend break or to hire a car and explore the region. As long as there are no European Government meetings, hotels are actually very reasonably priced. Because of its history, Alsace has been both German and French and since the end of the war it is French. It is on the German border and the German influence is still very apparent and is what makes the region so unique. The Alsatian language...
13 October 2017
Lyon is easily accessible by flights with Easyjet, by Eurostar direct from London, or by rail from other parts of France and Switzerland. I had been told that both Lyon and Marseille are France’s second largest city. Mystery now solved. Marseille is indeed larger in population but Lyon is larger in area. We had amazingly good weather for mid-October and the sun shone with hardly a cloud in the sky. Lyon is very fortunate to have two rivers, Rhone and Saone, and we had the chance to see some of sights from both on our dinner boat. The food on board was...
28 June 2017
Our arrival was very touch and go due to our delayed flight so it is advisable to either go the previous day to make the most of Amsterdam or to get a very early flight just in case. Thankfully as Amsterdam airport is very close to the city we just about made it with less than half an hour to spare Check in on board was seamless and we were soon enjoying afternoon tea in the lounge on the sundeck enjoying the Amsterdam heatwave over a welcome blue champagne cocktail. Day 2 - Cologne We got a good view of Dusseldorf on the...
31 May 2017
Where in Europe can you get a city with a beautiful sandy beach, plenty of green space, lots of museums, magnificent architecture, gastronomy, shopping and history? Yes Valencia really does have something for everyone. Thanks to EasyJet and a good range of accommodation from self catering to de luxe, it is a very affordable break. The city has a very efficient transportation system consisting of metro, trams and buses. Buses are very frequent so it's really easy to get around and there are plenty of pedestrianised side streets if you prefer just to stroll. If you would rather cycle it...
31 May 2017
We only spent less than 36 hours in Indiana but they were so friendly and welcoming, we felt we had been here a lot longer. Here in the UK, if you asked anyone to name all the states beginning with The letter I, I think some would struggle to even mention Indiana but now I have been there and seen it for myself, Indiana is definitely one that will stay with me forever. Did you know Indiana National Park is not the biggest but it is the most bio diverse in the USA. We arrived at Indiana Dunes Visitor Centre in the...
31 May 2017
You may never have hear of this delightful little town but you may well have heard of University of Michigan, the learning center for many future lawyers and doctors. Where is Ann Arbor? Just 45 minuted from Detroit but chalk and cheese to its bigger neighbour. Detroit is the city of cars. Ann Arbor is for strolling, studying and socialising. I tried to google the origin of the name and it is uncertain. Speculation is that it was named after two of the founders' wives both called Ann who used to sit under a tree (arbor is latin for tree). At first sight...
01 April 2017
I have been to Cyprus many times but never to the north. My expectations were that it would be a different experience but I don't think I realised how different it would be. They still use UK 3 pin plugs and they still drive on the left but there the familiarity ends. So what makes the north different? It is much greener which surprised me as the climate is the same. The general feel is that of a Turkish resort the signs are all in Turkish, the street names are Turkish, kebab shops are plentiful and the currency is Turkish...
24 December 2016
Slovenia is much closer than you probably think - our easyJet flight was just short of two hours from the UK. Ljubljana airport is less than half an hour from the city itself, it’s a similar distance to the ski area, and just a bit further to Lake Bled, so you can have three different kinds of holiday less than an hour from the airport. The coastal areas of Portoroz and Piran are within an hour and a half, too, so within this tiny country a two-centre holiday is easily doable. We began our weekend at Lake Bohinj, which is...
07 September 2016
In September we took a river cruise along the stretch of the Danube from Budapest to Passau covering four countries - Hungary, Slovakia, Austria and Germany. It was interesting to see the contrasts and different cultures of each place. The Danube cruise we felt was generally less picturesque and leisurely than the Rhine but it is a great way to see the classic cities of Budapest, Bratislava and Vienna on one trip and it is extendable at both ends. We also felt that we didn’t get enough time to appreciate each place. Budapest is an interesting city which has a lot of...
20 June 2016
This was my first visit to Vietnam and my first experience on a Dreamliner aircraft. We arrived in Vietnam early in the morning and it was a short drive to the centre of the very crazy city of Hanoi. After a quick nap we got an early lunch in the cafe virtually opposite our hotel, the first of many delicious meals we would experience in Vietnam. Our half day tour began at 2pm and it was excellent value as we had an informative guide. We were all quite tired by then as jet lag had caught up with us but...
18 May 2016
Although we have visited Cyprus many, many times, this time we visited parts that we had not covered on previous visits. Using the brand new flight service from Luton to Larnaca we picked up our hire car in Larnaca and using the satnav on my phone, it was a really easy drive to Makronissos an area of Ayia Napa. This area was a real suprise to me as I had not expected it to be so family friendly. Apart from the gorgeous beach at Markronissos, there is a range of accommodation from very affordable self catering to some really...
27 April 2016
There are plenty of flights both to Belfast International and also to Belfast George Best which is much closer to the city. There is a regular bus service number 300 which goes from Belfast International into the city centre and takes about 45 minutes. Twenty years ago I would have chosen to go almost anywhere else but things are very different now. Belfast is a city that has been thoughtfully modernised but has preserved its cultures and its architecture. It has learnt to shake hands, move forward and perhaps agree to disagree over politics and religion but instead of...
28 March 2016
Getting to Las Vegas has never been easier now that British Airways and Virgin operate direct flights to the destination. There are a number of shuttle buses from the airport to the hotel. Super Shuttle was the only one open and this is $20 return. Hotels in Las Vegas are typically huge (MGM has 5,000 rooms) and most of them have a theme and a casino eg Caesars, Venetian, Paris so you can travel all over Europe all in one street, unofficially called “The Strip”. The official name is Las Vegas Boulevard. The hotel part of The Strip is a...
18 December 2015
Getting to Tel Aviv is easy. From London there are flights with BA, El Al and Easyjet. Security is very tight so they do like you to check in 3 hours beforehand but since security has been stepped up generally at uk airports anyway we didn't feel it was particularly awkward. Tel Aviv airport is between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem so both cities are very easy to get to. Jerusalem is an amazing city steeped in culture and history. Whatever your beliefs you cannot fail to be impressed by this ancient multi cultural walled city. It is easy to walk...
18 October 2015
It is possible to fly direct to Bratislava but it is equally simple to get there by Danube River Cruise or from Vienna by bus, train or boat. We got a EURegio ticket which is valid for up to 4 days and you can use pubic transport in Bratislava included in the ticket. The train takes about an hour. We took passports but we were not required to show them. We took the 93 bus to what we assumed was the centre as there was a sign pointing to the Castle so we got off and followed the sign to...
16 October 2015
We got into the city late at night but the fast CAT train gets into the centre of the city in just 16 mins and this costs 17 euros return, much cheaper than a taxi and then it was just a few stops on the metro and a short walk to the hotel. Public transport is cheap and so easy to use. There are 4 U-Bahn lines and tram services. The weather was roughly the same as in London, autumnal, not too cold with a little rain on the last afternoon. This is perfect for a city visit, not too...
27 September 2015
Tapestry II is the newest ship on Avalon’s River Cruise fleet and we were lucky enough to be invited to sample the Paris to Rouen section of the itinerary. Many of the clients are American and for most of them, their purpose is to see the Normandy Landings Beach of Omaha during their cruise. This cruise starts and finishes in Paris which is so easy to get to from anywhere in the world and it is very easy to extend before or after the cruise to incorporate a stay in Paris or elsewhere in Europe. Our trip began in Paris so...
07 June 2015
This year we decided to fly to Chania and explore West and Central Crete as well as our usual haunts. We stayed in Platanias which was a lovely little place full of nice restaurants and almost all centred around the main road and the alleyways leading to the sea with an old village up in the hills with a beautiful sunset view over Platanias. We took one of several Little Fun Train routes on theor Grand Canyon route taking us to not only beautiful scenery but also an olive oil factory and fresh fruit and wine on the roadside so...
02 March 2015
We arrived on Air Asia from Singapore via Bangkok. Unlike low cost airlines in the UK our luggage was booked straight through so all we had to worry about was getting our entry visa stamp and getting to the gate on time. This was really easy and transfer from International to Domestic at Don Meuang was easy too. It is worth remembering as we discovered that even if you arrive on a domestic flight from Bangkok, if your origin is outside Thailand your luggage will arrive at the International Terminal and that is where you should arrange for your driver...
27 February 2015
So much has changed in Singapore since my last visit and continues to do so at an alarming rate. It is such a clean and efficient city where everything works. This time we arrived quite late at night so we just took a cab which is around £13 into the city which is about half an hour drive. We had a lovely rooftop pool and gardens in our hotel so it was lovely just to relax and swim in the morning and then go out in the afternoon. We bought an EZ link card in the local 7-11 which is...
27 February 2015
Sri Lankan currency is difficult to get in the UK but the rate is best on arrival anyway. Go straight to the Thomas Cook exchange at the airport where you will get the best rate currently 200 to the pound. This is quite difficult to work out so it’s best to remember that 1000 is about a fiver. We had planned a packed itinerary over our four days in Sri Lanka. Our first night was in Waikkal, just north of Negombo which is around 40 minutes from the airport. We really enjoyed our stay at Club Dolphin, the service was excellent,...
21 February 2015
I last visited Dubai in 2008 and at that time, nothing seemed finished, there was scaffolding and cranes everywhere and a half built metro. I can report in 2015 that things have improved, Dubai metro runs from 6am to midnight and although the trains run every few minutes, they seem to be very well used. Even in the middle of the day the trains are crowded but it is a really efficient way to get from A to B or even from the airport to the city and many of the hotels improving transportation around the city A metro day...
07 July 2014
“There are no strangers here; Only friends you haven’t yet met” I thought this quote was appropriate so I checked on Google and was interested to see that it was written by the famous Irish poet, William Butler Yeats. The Old Ground Hotel in Ennis was the venue for our gathering and this attracted 170 of us, many of whom had come for the first time. It is always interesting to meet the people behind the emails. I have met many of the clan before and I have been speaking to a few of them on Facebook prior to my visit. Back at...
11 June 2014
We took the fast ferry from Heraklion which takes just under 3 hours to Santorini Santorini is a stunning island, full of picture postcard views. Much of it sits on top of volcanoes and slopes down the edges. Picture postcard views are in abundance round the island but particularly in Oia which is everybody’s idea of Santorini, the white houses and churches, with blue roofs and gates. Unfortunately, there are now far too many tourists, literally thousands arriving daily by cruise ship and day trips from Crete and Mykonos. There are lovely little artisan shops down narrow cobbled alleyways. From Oia...
15 May 2014
I was looking forward to today as it is our wedding anniversary and these are are 3 places I’ve always wanted to go to but haven’t been I absolutely loved Monte Carlo, so lovely and clean. There is much more to do there than I thought. Apart from the casino there is an oceanography museum, changing of the guard and some quaint alleys with souvenir shops. At 11 there is the changing of the guard daily. There are a mixture of old houses and modern skyscrapers and it is so clean and nice. The race track was just being dismantled after...
13 May 2014
I liked Florence a lot despite the crowds. We mostly managed to beat them as the cruse ships began to arrive about midday. One advantage that rail travel has is that I realised that our coach was parked quite a long way from the city so we lost a good 40 mins or so just walking backwards and forwards. We started off in Piazza Signores where the is a statue of David and fabulous views of the city. Ponte Vecchio is an odd and unique bridge. There are jewellery shops all along the bridge but the main industry here is leather. There...
12 May 2014
Early morning start, up and out for the 0825 ferry to Venice Island. I now have a much better understanding of how the system works. Our ferry takes about 20 minutes past cruise ships that are in port to our convenient parking space just 4 bridges away from San Marco. Most of our group went on gondolas. We didn’t, preferring to meander round the narrow alleyways and canals. We met back for our short visit to a Murano glass factory. The pieces are so beautiful, colourful and intricate. San Marco itself is so recognisable, the gateway, Doges Palace and the cathedral. When...
11 May 2014
After breakfast, we were on our way to the Vatican. It was far less crowded than last time I was here but still a very long and wet queue to St Peter's Basilica and Vatican museum. It was worth the wait. The interior was truly stunning, a must see and surprisingly you are allowed to take photographs. We got a postcard with the unique Vatican stamp and sent them to some of our family members. From there we went to make a wish in the Trevi and then choose from the huge array of pizzerias for lunch. From there to the Colosseum...
10 May 2014
Driving through Switzerland is less spectacular by coach than by train but there are still spectacular patches as we pass through 29 tunnels including the 17km Gotthard Yunnel from Lucerne to Chiasso at the border with Italy. We had problems getting through Milan because of hundreds of cyclists were cycling through the city and half the roads were closed to traffic. Finally we managed to get within walking distance of Piazza Duomo. Milan is a busy but quite compact city. The Duomo is as magnificent as I remember it. The piazza seems to have less pigeons but many more people. It...
24 November 2013
After our delayed flight from Gatwick we arrived much later than planned. This wasn't a problem since the shuttle runs from just outside the terminal building on demand to your hotel for $43 return. Our hotel, Dolphin Beach Resort was right on the beach and had a decent pool and restaurant. Conveniently right opposite our hotel was a shopping plaza with a Publix supermarket and a Dollar Tree. There is also a nice little pizza restaurant tucked away in the corner. The main attraction is the gorgeous and still fairly quiet talcum powder sand beach which stretches for many miles along...
07 May 2013
Dubrovnik airport isn’t very far from the city, but traffic is very heavy so the journey takes much longer than you would expect. There is a bus literally outside the terminal building that meets all scheduled flights and is much cheaper than the taxi. The bus arrives at Pile Gate which is the busier side of the walled city. We were staying at the other side of the city near Ploce gate. Walking between the two gates is about a 15 minute stroll. Inside the walls is car free so it is a pleasure to wander round, however it is...
15 April 2013
As I have been fortunate enough to travel to Cyprus twice in as many months, I will roll two trips into one to get a full taste of the diversity and the uniqueness of this Mediterranean island. Cyprus manages to be both Greek and British and also to be uniquely Cypriot. Only Cyprus has bought halloumi, lountza, Commanderia wine and Keo lager to the world, yet the language, religion, architecture and culture are definitely Greek. However they drive on the left with easy road signs in English and Greek, familiar names like Debenhams, Next and KFC exist alongside opticians and Greek...
07 December 2012
On my recent trip to Athens, our group met at Gatwick South Terminal and we left punctually with Aegean Airlines. Full marks to them for a spacious and comfortable seat, a generous luggage allowance and a very nice vegetarian meal with wine. Before I went, my family and friends (even some in the travel industry) were full of scepticism about austerity and riots. Now it’s time to dispel a few myths. Our approach to Athens airport revealed a clear blue sea, the lovely coastline of the Athenian Riviera and of course the city itself, just in time as the light faded...
26 October 2012
Amsterdam is an easy destination to get to from almost every airport in the UK, so as my own family live in London, Cheshire and Yorkshire it was fairly easy to organise a weekend for my son's 21st for seven of us consisting of an age range of 20-67. We didn’t arrive until evening and, from the airport, there is a fast train which takes 15 minutes into Centraal Station and costs 8.30 euros return. Botel as expected was quite basic, but still far better than many of the B&B's in the centre of town. Getting the ferry there wasn't too...
27 September 2012
I arrived in Lima for my very first visit to South America after a very long flight via Amsterdam. Our first hotel in Lima was a few streets from the craft markets and bars of lively Miraflores. We began the day with an early morning city tour starting taking in the unique sights and interesting Inca artefacts. The main square in Lima is very pretty with the Cathedral being the focal point, with beautiful gardens. We enjoyed the Monasterio San Francisco, a fantastic sight, and then wandered round the market in Miraflores. There are so many bargains to be had, with...
29 June 2012
My most recent trip was to Switzerland; this time it was just a short break. During the time of my visit, Switzerland had an unexpected heatwave so it was very hot and humid We began our trip in Zurich and already had our rail passes ready for our trip. Rail travel is so easy in Switzerland, whether the journey is direct or with several changes everything works like clockwork. Our first stay was to be in the mountain village and winter ski resort of Wengen. The quickest way is via Berne but the journey is so much nicer via the...
11 May 2012
This was my third visit to the beautiful island of St Lucia, but the first time I had been on holiday rather than racing around viewing hotels. So unusually for us, we spent a week totally relaxing. The Caribbean is perfect for this as time slows down and after a day or two, the hustle and bustle of London life seems a lifetime away. St Lucia has large areas of rainforest so the island is very lush and very pretty with abundant birdlife. This does mean that the rainfall is higher than most of the other islands but there is also...
09 April 2012
Even as a Londoner and being used to a busy city, the intense sights and sounds of Delhi take a little getting used to. Our tour began in Old Delhi at the largest mosque in Asia, Jamal Masjid, a massive sandstone and marble construction. Then it was off for a wild ride on a rickshaw round the narrow market streets. After lunch at Waves, a new restaurant in Delhi, where we had a very enjoyable meal, we saw the palaces, war memorials, embassies and tidy gardens of the British colonial era in New Delhi. The contrast between Old and New...
01 December 2011
We arrived on TAP the airline of Portugal, which is part of star alliance and leaves from Terminal 1 at Heathrow. I can honestly say that they provided the best flight snack I’ve had in years and the leather seats were very comfortable. Lisbon airport is very close to the centre of the city and taxis are reasonably priced. Parque de Nacoes, originally a barren wasteland has been transformed since the Lisbon Expo into a conference centre, aquarium, cable cars, many fine restaurants, landscaped gardens and a couple of hotels. Lunch was in Terreiro do Paco which boasts a fabulous location right...
18 June 2011
We really looked forward to our second visit to the Indian Ocean and this time we went on Qatar via Doha. This was an interesting little stop and we had a day room in town to freshen up. Even Mahe, the largest island is not very big so the drive to our hotel was quite a short one. We stayed close to the main resort of Beau Vallon Bay, which was walkable during daylight hours. There are a couple of restaurants and bars there serving mainly local creole specialities. It doesn't take long to believe that you are actually in paradise...
16 April 2011
We started our New Zealand adventure with a private tour of Auckland, Piha - the main wild black beach on the west coast, Kitekite Falls, Kelly Tarltons Underwater World, famous for its penguins. Auckland has some lovely parks, beaches and open spaces on the outskirts and we visited Mount Eden for a wonderful view of the city. Ipipiri is a small overnight cruise to the Bay of Islands. We were lucky enough to have good weather for our trip and the clear night, which meant that we were able to see millions of stars, the Milky Way and Magellan galaxies and...
14 November 2010
Due to our three hour delay we did not arrive until the evening. Our pre-arranged transfer was still waiting for us and it took about an hour to get to our hotel in Playacar. Playacar itself has a strange set up, a paved road, guarded at each end with Playa del Carmen at one end and only taxis and buses are allowed through. There is a small shopping Plaza with a variety of shops and some stalls.There are a mixture of private houses and hotels. Most of the hotels on this strip are 4-5* chain hotels, mainly on the beach side....
10 September 2010
This was our first visit to Stockholm. Stockholm is a very pretty city built on 14 main islands. The entire archipelago has around 30,000 islands so there are many places to escape to in the summer months. We stayed in Berns hotel which is very central and close to all of the highly efficient transport systems, which includes metro, trams, buses and boats. Stockholm is mostly very flat and walkable but difficult to find your bearings at first because there are so many rivers and canals in all directions. Our visit included a 48 hour Stockholm card, three extra...
11 July 2010
Our journey to Alaska was on Norwegian Pearl, a family ship. Norwegian Pearl had a lot of small children on board. For a more adult experience, Celebrity, Holland America and Princess also follow the same route. After passing whales and dolphins and hundreds of small islands and the odd iceberg which looked like sapphires in the Pacific, we arrived at the capital Juneau in the afternoon of the third day. We had booked a tour which included Juneau and Mendenhall Glacier. It was raining heavily in Juneau which thankfully didn’t spoil our enjoyment of the glacier. Apparently if it is overcast, the...
08 July 2010
Whistler is totally purpose built as a ski and summer sports resort. The station is in the oldest part of Whistler which is the Creek area. Whistler village is at the base of the two mountains. The village itself is pedestrianized. Cars and buses are only allowed on the perimeters. Whistler village is clean and modern and nicely designed with plenty of hotels, shops and restaurants. We stayed at Delta Whistler Suites which is in the heart of the village so everything you could possibly want is right on the doorstep. If I had more time I would have...
02 July 2010
I feel privileged as a travel agent to have seen some beautiful places and some wonderful hotels but one place that was on my wish list was Canada and Alaska. This year we decided we would do this in style and after many months of precision planning of flights, coaches, tours, trains and a cruise, July was finally here. Once we arrived in Calgary we really knew we were in Canada. Immediately we were greeted and assisted by airport staff dressed in red waistcoats and cowboy hats. The Calgary transit in the arrivals hall is really easy and costs $15...
02 June 2010
After a very long flight we arrived into Mauritius, where procedures were very fast and efficient and we were in our prebooked taxi very quickly. We were surprised at how green Mauritius is. The vegetation is very diverse and it seems that almost everything grows there from palms to pine forests. The Maritim is a good hour from the airport in Balaclava in the north west of the island. Our room was upgraded and we very quickly experienced the excellent service and friendliness that was consistent throughout our stay. Food is extremely good and not overly spicy, a...