Sent by Ellen Hickey
Newcastle upon Tyne 16/04/2022
Based in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne
Hello and welcome! I am delighted you have found me.
My name is Paul, and I am proud to be a personal Travel Counsellor based in Jesmond in Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
Like all of us here at Travel Counsellors, travel runs in my veins and I have travelled extensively both for holidays and with my job – at the last count I had travelled to 60+ countries globally. This has allowed me to experience wonderful places and cultures, from climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge, to the powder white beaches of Mauritius, The Caribbean and Zanzibar, safari in Kenya and South Africa, trekking in rainforests in Thailand, kayaking in Vietnam and city breaks in Europe and the USA. I could go on and on. Travel is truly mind opening and I have no plans to stop – time spent with my head in a travel magazine, getting inspiration for the next trip is bliss!
The excitement of planning travel for me is (almost) as exciting as the trip itself and for as long as I can remember I wanted to work in travel and help others feel the same excitement. I joined the travel industry in the mid-1990s, originally as a travel consultant, before spending many years working in training and development roles in the industry.
As my customer, you are truly at the centre of everything I do. I am passionate about understanding your needs and finding out what is most important to you. Being part of the Travel Counsellors family means I have access to countless options all of which can be booked safe in the knowledge they are 100% financially protected.
I will happily share my experience and knowledge to tailor-make your perfect trip. No scrolling through countless websites, and unlike booking through a traditional travel agency with limited options and set opening hours, I am available at times most convenient to you.
When you are ready, I am ready. Send me an email, or call me from the comfort of your home to discuss your requirements, safe in the knowledge you will be receiving the very best, genuine and knowledgeable service.
I hope to hear from you soon!
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.
30 March 2022
It always gets to this time of year and I am craving some sunny weather...the winter is LONG in Newcastle. This time we chose Ras al Khaimah just an hour outside of Dubai so easily accessible from multiple airports in the UK If you are wanting perfect weather but with a slightly lower price tag than staying in Dubai, this could be a great option for you. Very family friendly but laid back and a variety of hotels to suit varying tasters and budgets but all with the same excellent service you’d find I’m other Emirates, let’s chat and plan your perfect UAE getaway!
30 September 2020
Grecophile; One who is friendly to or is an admirer of Greece and the Greeks. That sums me up. Greece must be one of my all time favourite European destinations. Many of us are lured by the islands dotted throughout the Ionian and Aegean seas, but mainland Greece has so much to offer too. On our most recent holiday, we flew to Athens and stayed in the Kolonaki neighbourhood, said to be one of the most elegant neighbourhoods in the city. Paved streets lined with cafes and bars make it the perfect spot for people watching while enjoying Greek dishes such as Gigantes plaki, a dish made with slow cooked butter beans, and Spanakopita, a tasty filo pie filled with spinach and feta! Delicious! If you can tear yourself away from the sun-soaked cafes, try and make time to visit Syntagma Square and see the changing if the guard, it really is a spectacle. The Parthenon and the Acropolis are a must too. We took a guided electric bike tour of the city in the late afternoon which was an amazing way to see so much of Athens and great fun too. From Athens we headed to the Peloponnese. If you wanted to go straight there, the nearest airport is Kalamata, famous for world-class olives. If you don’t want to drive, there are buses from Athens to Kalamata every 3 hours and they take approximately 3 hours 15 minutes (driving would take 2.5hours). All seats are pre allocated and tickets cost approximately €23 and someone else doing the driving means you can take in all the breath-taking views including the Corinth Canal. Kalamata and surrounding areas are popular with Greek tourists as it is a great location from which to explore other parts of the Peloponnese, including archaeological sites, Venetian castles, or approximately a 45 minute taxi ride from Kalamata and you will find some of the best beaches in Greece such as Stoupa which boasts a selection of smaller hotels and apartments, restaurants and tavernas and a crescent shaped beach – if you are lucky at some times of the year, turtles lay their eggs in the sand. The Peloponnese delivers an authentic and typically Greek experience, especially when combined with a few days in Athens. The people are as warm as the weather, friendly and welcoming. It would get my vote for a memorable European holiday! If you are looking to take a holiday to Greece, let me help you find your perfect Grecian getaway!
06 November 2020
If you are looking for a weekend in a European city any time soon, Amsterdam should definitely be on your list. With KLM Royal Dutch Airlines flying to Amsterdam from most UK airports as well as it being a destination for many low cost carriers and British Airways, you can be there within an hour, so it is a great place to go from Friday evening to Sunday evening and not dip into that precious annual leave entitlement. If you have more time, Eurostar taking less than 4 hours also helps make Amsterdam a really accessible place to visit. Amsterdam is far more than the coffee shops and red-light district that it is synonymous with. Buy a tram pass, or tickets for a hop-on, hop-off canal or bus tour to get a real feel of the city. An “I Amsterdam” card will give you free or discounted access to some of the city’s top attractions and free public transport too, so a great way to keep your spending on track! Amsterdam is infinitely walkable too if you prefer. From an accommodation perspective, there is something to suit every budget and taste, from the global chains through to individual boutique hotels. We prefer to stay slightly outside the centre and on our last visit we stopped at the Hotel Notting Hill Amsterdam, a 4-star boutique hotel on Westeinde. If you want something more central, the 5-star Barbizon Palace just a few steps from Amsterdam Centraal station would get my vote too. If soaking up culture is your thing, popular attractions include the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, Rembrandt House and the Stedelijk Museum which displays more contemporary and modern art. A visit to Ann Frank House is recommended, but queues are long at many times in the year, so booking a ticket in advance allows you to swerve some of those queues which is worth its weight in gold if you are only in Amsterdam a short time as there is so much to see. Visit the Amsterdam dungeon, or one of the windmills in the Amsterdam area, one of which is a brewery serving a selection of cheeses and cured meats as well as craft beer and wine. On the subject of food and drink, Amsterdam leaves you spoilt for choice. In that Indonesia was a former Dutch colony means that good Indonesian restaurants are plentiful in Amsterdam. Try Rijsttafel which translates literally as rice table. This is a selection of side dishes and small plates that allow you to try a wide array of Indonesian dishes in a single sitting. In some places as many as 40 different dishes are served! Restaurant Blauw Amsterdam would be my recommendation, but it is important to book ahead. If a formal meal is not what you are looking for, pick up a cone of hot, fresh vlaamse friete (chips and mayonnaise to you and I), you will not regret it, but my advice would be to always grab a few napkins if snacking and walking. For a quirky, cheap snack on the go visit a Febo too. Founded in 1941, Febo has 22 shops in Amsterdam where piping hot, fresh snacks can be bought from an automat – trust me, the krokets (filled will bechamel sauce and chicken, beef or vegetables are addictive!). If walking and eating is not your thing, drop into a bar for bitterballen and a glass of Genever (Dutch gin), maybe followed by a portion of poffertjes – mini yeast and buckwheat pancakes served with icing sugar and butter…delicious! If you have some energy left and some Euros to spend, Amsterdam is also a great shopping destination. Each of Amsterdam’s neighbourhoods not only offers a different vibe but different shopping options from all the big brands through to sustainable and conscious shopping and uniquely Dutch design. Just writing this has made me feel I am long overdue a weekend in Amsterdam. If it is something that you like the sound of too, let me know and I can plan your perfect breakaway.
05 October 2020
Morocco, the north African jewel that borders both the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea. As a true melting pot that brings together Arabian, Berber and European influences of both France and Spain and Portugal, many travellers ask “where do I start?” For many Marrakesh springs to mind, but I would also like to share my experiences of trips to Casablanca too. One of the most important cities of the Berber kingdom, Casablanca has been under Portuguese rule and in the 20th century was colonised by the French until Morocco gained independence in 1955. With a population of over 3.5 million it brings together French colonial style and traditional Moroccan buildings that sit alongside some ultra-modern architecture and that confirms its place as a city focused on progress and innovation The Hassan II Mosque with beautiful mosaics and painted ceilings and can welcome 25000 worshippers at any one time. Enjoy a tour, however, remember that being respectfully dressed is essential. The old medina provides shopping opportunities galore –heady spices, colourful leather babouches (traditional Moroccan slippers), hand painted ceramics and twinkly glass lamps, but remember haggling is expected. If that feels too overwhelming, visit Quartier Habous for your souvenirs. It is near the Royal Palace which was built in the 1930s with an aim to combine Moroccan tradition with French culture. After shopping head down to The Corniche an area popular with Moroccan holidaymakers. This area brings together a selection of hotels, bars and restaurants and a fabulous place to take in a sunset! No visit is complete without a visit to Rick’s Café. Set in an old courtyard-style mansion built against the walls of the Old Medina it is designed to recreate the bar made famous by Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman in the movie classic. An hour away from Casablanca is the Pullman Mazagan Beach & Golf Resort, one of my most favourite getaways. Set on 7km of sandy beach, this 5-star hotel brings together contemporary design and Moroccan culture with rooms overlooking the gardens or the hotels pool. Choose from a variety of restaurants and bars, a world-class spa, a vibrant casino, a nightclub, and endless sports and leisure facilities including Morocco’s largest golf course. There is a huge central pool although it never felt crowded. Just a few steps away is the Atlantic Ocean, where there are comfortable sun loungers and cabanas, or for those in search of adventure wind and kite-surfing, horse-riding, camel riding and quad biking are available. If you would like to talk more about Morocco and planning your perfect trip, I would love to hear from you.
18 February 2021
A couple of years ago, I ticked off one of my bucket-list destinations with a trip travelling in Vietnam and to say it surpassed my expectations is an understatement. We flew from our local airport in Newcastle with Emirates Airline which not only was convenient with no long journey at the beginning and end of our holiday, the connection times in Dubai are so well organised to connect with flights coming in from the UK, that within just a couple of hours, we were en-route to our first stop in Vietnam, capital city Hanoi. Hanoi, on the banks of the Red River delivers a sensory overload (but in the best way in my opinion). It is bustling and full of life with mopeds weaving in and out of the tiny streets carrying HUGE cargoes in addition to whole families in some instances, fruit sellers selling their wares from baskets or the back of a bicycle, my advice is find a café with a view, order a delicious Vietnamese coffee (or a cold beer) and just watch it happen around you. Hanoi is perfect to explore on foot. It is a French colonial city but with Chinese and Russian influences too and there is no end of choice when it comes to delicious food (try Bahn-Mi, a traditional Vietnamese sandwich or the translucent Vietnamese spring rolls filled with the most colourful vegetables, herbs and seafood – delicious!) My preference is always to stay at smaller, boutique hotels, however there are hotels to cater to every taste and budget. We stayed in the Old Quarter in an area called Hoan Kiem where you can easily walk to Hoan Kiem Lake and even take in a water puppet show! From Hanoi, the next stage of the journey was to Halong Bay where took a two-day, one-night cruise. If you do nothing else in Vietnam, do this. Just magical. Halong Bay is a UNESCO world heritage site where you will be awestruck by the limestone karsts and crystal clear waters as well as enjoying a visit to Titop Island which is regarded as one of the most picturesque islands in the bay. We also chose to kayak into the Luon Caves. Back onboard the boat we enjoyed the most spectacular sunset and at sunrise (equally amazing I add) there was the opportunity to join a Tai-Chi class which was bordering on spiritual. After Halong Bay, the next stop was Hoi-An. A short flight from Hanoi to Da Nang, Hoi An was a short transfer ride away. Another heritage site, Hoi-An is really pretty; yellow buildings line the canals, but my opinion is that when the sun sets Hoi An becomes more magical with an array of colourful lanterns hanging from buildings and in the markets that transforms it. Stand on the bridges and watch as paper boats with tea lights are set a sail down the river, buy one and make a wish as you let it go. One afternoon, we hired bamboo bikes (yes bamboo) and cycled to the beach just outside the town. There is so much to see in Vietnam, I would advise you factor in a couple of days for rest and relaxation. That is just what we needed so from Hoi-An, the next stop on our journey was taking a flight to Phu Quoc. This little island is closer to Cambodia than Vietnam, but is home to white-sand beaches and resorts, most of which are along the palm-lined southwest coast. More than half of the island is part of Phú Qu?c National Park, where you can enjoy the mountains, dense tropical jungle, hiking trails and wildlife. After 3 nights in Phu Quoc, the final stop on our Vietnamese adventure was to the south of the country for time in Ho Chi Minh City. Commonly referred to by its previous name, Saigon, it is the largest and most populous city in Vietnam. With a population of over 8.9 million. With multiple contemporary hotels, modern restaurants and shops, Ho Chi Minh City still retains character, with French-colonial architecture, flourishing markets and peaceful temples. It is possible to visit the hidden network of Cu Chi tunnels dug by the Viet Cong during the French-Indochina wars. You can go down enlarged sections of tunnel and see first-hand what life was like for the soldiers, but if you suffer any form of claustrophobia, this may not be the excursion for you, instead maybe go the opposite route and find a rooftop bar and enjoy a cool drink with some of the best views of the city. Truly a magical and diverse place, if Vietnam sounds like something you would enjoy, get in touch and we can create the perfect, bespoke trip for you to look forward to.
Newcastle upon Tyne 16/04/2022
Newcastle upon Tyne 30/03/2022
Newcastle upon Tyne 21/08/2021
Jesmond, Newcastle upon Tyne 14/08/2021
Newcastle upon Tyne 21/02/2021
Milton Keynes 18/02/2021
Newcastle Upon Tyne 05/01/2021
Hayes, Middlesex 28/10/2020
Seaham, County Durham 16/10/2020
Ascot, Berkshire 30/09/2020