Coach Holidays: Breaking the Stereotype

You could probably stereotype any type of holiday, from an 18-30s or a couples’ retreat, and if we don’t usually associate ourselves with those we assume we would be travelling with, it could well be a make or break factor.

But, what about coach holidays? Who exactly would you be travelling with? What sort of people would go on a coach holiday? Well… everyone!
We asked a collection of passengers, who have previously travelled on a coach holiday, a series of questions to shine some light on the mysterious passengers on board your coach and what it is you can really take away from a coach holiday.

Let’s take a look at your fellow passengers…

A common question we get asked from people who are thinking about travelling on a coach holiday is about the age of fellow passengers. Will they feel that they are too young or too old?

71% of people we asked thought, prior to their coach holiday, that their fellow passengers would be over 50 years old with 9% thinking all of their fellow passengers would be 70+. Once on board their coach, 47% of these people actually travelled with passengers that were under 40.
But, if you’re thinking about going on a coach holiday for the first time and your age is playing on your mind, you may be glad to know that only 2% of those surveyed said that the age of their fellow passengers was an important factor in their holidays with 59% saying they would recommend a coach holiday to any age group. So no matter how old you are, you’ll always be made to feel welcome on board.

A comfortable setting for a solo traveller…

When the itchy feet set in, you just want to go. It’s not always easy to have your travel companion free to travel at the same time, or circumstances might make it difficult. Solo travel is a coach holiday speciality.
You get the benefit of being able to head off where and when you want and with the sociability of being in a group. And, you have the option to travel on our Single Traveller holidays, alongside a group of like-minded individuals, or join our main tours and feel welcomed into the Leger family with a wider variety of passengers.

And, don’t worry too much, everyone is different and enjoys different things, and a coach holiday doesn’t have to be restrictive. Whilst 29% enjoyed their holiday with their group as whole, 70% enjoyed the best of both worlds, having a great time with their group, also enjoying time to themselves, doing exactly what they wanted to do. What more could you ask for?

Social and relationship benefits of a coach holiday…

Following their coach holidays, our passengers weren’t thrown back in the real world with memories alone. In fact, 21% of our customers flouted the post-holiday blues, and came back feeling happier than before they left.

But, for the people travelling with a friend or partner, 83% have taken away lasting memories with each other, 9% feel it has brought them closer together and 3% have said it’s even made them want to spend more time together!

The benefits of being an experienced traveller…

Stories, experiences and the ultimate travel envy, there are many ways in which others can influence your holiday choices.
When travelling on a coach holiday, you visit many destinations within your holiday, ticking off those bucket list destinations or visiting places you’ve never even heard of, you’ll certainly come back at least a little more knowledgeable in travel. And, it makes you far more interesting too…

The coach holiday also broadens horizons with a whopping 76% of people feeling they are more likely to visit new places. But, it can also create a new love story with the destinations you’ve visited, 23% of people said after a coach holiday, they were more likely to go back to the places they found themselves to love.
The benefits of a coach holiday means you can really make the most of escorted touring. In fact, 70% of people feel they return feeling more enlightened and 80% feel they are more knowledgeable, and how incredible is that?

Travelling for long periods, how would I pass the time?

Luckily, with our Luxuria coach, with your own touch-screen TV at your seat, you’ve got plenty to keep you entertained. But, even without that, our previous passengers have found passing the time a breeze.

And, then you’re hooked…

An incredible 62% of people surveyed have enjoyed 5 or more coach holidays and 88% of passengers would consider them to be their main holiday! And, with so much on offer, from short breaks to our impressive Grand Explorer holidays, the choice is almost endless.
Has this got you thinking a coach holiday might just be for you? Well, take a look at our incredible collection of exciting itineraries available to book, now: leger.co.uk
Survey conducted with 144 previous Leger travellers who are members of the Leger Holidays – Very Important Passengers Facebook group.

Best live events to catch in 2017

With some of the best live events of 2017 in our programme, if you’re looking for a trip with a little more than just stunning scenery, we’ve got you covered.

From high-speed action at the famous European F1 circuits, to the classical concerts of Andre Rieu and Andrea Bocelli and the grand finale of the Tour de France. We’ve got something for everyone looking for a live experience that will stay in your memories for a lifetime. But don’t just take our word for it, take a look at what to expect from the best live events of 2017, and see what takes your fancy…

Formula 1


After a Mercedes dominated season – which saw the now retired, Nico Rosberg finally beat Lewis to become the 2016 world champion – what can we expect from the 68th round of the sport?
With twenty races on the calendar this year, new regulations being introduced and new owners- Liberty Media, following Bernie Ecclestone’s departure after forty years running the sport- we’re sure to be in for a thrill.
New Year, new start, new regulations, yes, yet again we see major car updates coming into play. In 2017 the cars look a lot meaner, thanks to the wider tyres and revised bodywork. They’re also expected to be a lot faster, with teams hoping to take up to five seconds off their current lap times!
As well as regulation changes, there has also been a stir in the driver line ups. After an extremely extended ‘silly season’, which saw Nico Rosberg retire mere days after winning his first, and, well, only, championship, we were all left to wonder who would join his team mate Lewis at the mighty Mercedes.
With the likes of Fernando Alonso and Pascal Werhlien being rumoured to secure the seat, Toto Wolf and his team decided that the Finish driver, Voltari Bottas was the man for the job.
We also have some new-comers entering the sport, such as the likes of Stoffel Vandoorne, former GP2 champion, replacing the now retired Jenson Button at McLaren. And, with drivers like Max Verstappen already being one to watch, along with the uncertainty of how teams such as Ferrari and Red Bull will fare with the new car updates, we’re in for some ‘edge of the seat’ excitement and brilliant on track battles.
Will we see a shake up on the grid and will the Silver Arrows finally be thrown from the top spot? Although, at the moment, it’s a difficult question to answer, if the results of the pre-season testing are anything to go by, Ferrari certainly look like the team to watch, with Williams and Red Bull not far behind.
Wanting to see how the season will play out? Why not join us on one of our European F1 tours, and witness the on track action first hand.

Andre Rieu


The King of Waltz has inspired a generation with his beautiful music, but it’s his sheer love for his fans and his adoration for what he does that draws people in their millions to concert halls and arenas, all over the world.
Best known for creating the waltz-playing, Johann Strauss Orchestra, his early fascination with orchestra began at the tender age of five, when he first started playing the Violin. From then on he followed his love of music through school, studying under the likes of Herman Krebbers. But it wasn’t until university that he decided to pursue the waltz, and boy are we glad he did!
Forming in 1987, it’s no wonder that the Johann Strauss Orchestra’s range of work is astounding. And, over the years they have turned classical and waltz music into a worldwide concert touring act.
Providing fans with an evening of spectacular showbiz, humor and audience interaction, Rieu’s ability to speak six different languages allows him to tap into the local feel of the place that he is performing so that each and every concert has an intimate feel, which you would struggle to find anywhere else!
So, if you’re looking for an evening filled with beautiful music and utter and sheer joy, then you do not want to miss out on one of Andre’s concerts.  With Vienna on our programme for 2017, enjoy an evening with the King of Waltz, on one of our fully escorted tours.

Moto GP


After an exhilarating 2016, with a total of nine different race winners, fans from all over the world have been left wondering just how the 2017 season is going to play out.
With over half of the twenty-three drivers starting the season in new teams, we’re ready to see familiar faces in new places. With Lorenzo’s move to Ducati meaning that he and his two main rivals, Marquez and Rossi, will all be riding for three different manufacturers, we’re sure this season will make for an exciting watch.
Over the last three years, Marquez, Rossi and Lorenzo have finished first, second or third in the championship, albeit, not always in the same order. But, it wouldn’t be a surprise for any of us if the trio were to pull it off again this year. It’s certainly no guarantee that Marquez will be able to retain the championship that he regained last season, but, with such a strong field, we couldn’t possibly guess who will come out on top this season.
One thing we can say, with the preseason testing already underway, Rossi’s team mate Maverick Viñales, certainly looks like one to watch this year, posting some of the fastest times in testing at the moment. Rumoured to be the next big thing in Moto GP, he was a rookie in the Moto GP class last year with Suzuki, and could potentially be a threat to the triumphant trio.
New to our program this year, we are offering guests the opportunity to join the action at Assen, on our first, fully escorted, Motogp weekend break.
Redesigned in 2003 to comply with safety regulations, the original Assen track was built in 1955 (not including the road circuit that was first used to host racing in 1925), and had a length of 7705 metres. Part of the redesign involved shortening the track, which now has a length of 4555 metres, extending gravel traps and adding in a mixture of flat out and slow corners to make the racing more varied and exciting. However, there is one part of the original track which remains unchanged, and since it was first built, the location of the finish line has remained in exactly the same spot.

Andrea Bocelli


Registered blind after a footballing incident aged just twelve, there was no stopping Bocelli, who was already a confident musician. Having learnt how to play the piano, saxophone, trumpet and guitar, to name a few, the Italian is also blessed with a tone that is versatile and powerful, and which ultimately led to his big break in 1992.
This came after a tape of him singing, fell into the hands of arguably one of the most popular classical artists in history, the one and only, Pavarotti. They went onto perform a duet together, which led to Bocelli becoming a household name throughout Europe, and then the world.
Since his initial success he has gone on to record fifteen solo studio albums and nine complete operas, selling over 80 million records worldwide! With massive hits, such as ‘Time to say Goodbye’, a star on the Hollywood walk of fame and a Golden Globe to his name, it’s no doubt that Bocelli is a classical music legend.
In 2006, helped by funds from the star himself, his home town commissioned the opening of the Teatro del Silenzio. Named the Theatre of Silence, the Italian open air amphitheater remains literally silent all year. However, on one spectacular night each summer, the Tuscan hills of Lajatico are brought to life, as Andrea Bocelli returns to his home town, with an abundance of famous guests, to provide fans with an evening of moving music, in the warm evening breeze. And this year, you could be there, too, as we head off to Italy for this incredible Tuscan show.

Tour de France


This year, the Tour de France 2017 will return to Germany for the first time in thirty years, as the Grand Départ gets underway from Dusseldorf.
The 104th round of the sport will see the riders being put to the ultimate test, as the men are separated from the boys, when they tackle Frances’ five mountain ranges, Vosges, Jura, Pyrenes, Central Massif and Alps, in that order.
Before they actually reach France, though, they will have to tackle the tough roads of Belgium and Luxembourg. From there they will spend many days enduring various different terrain, gradients, and time trials etc., before the traditional final day in Paris, with the finish along the Champs Elysee.
In 2017, join us in Paris and witness the grand finale of what is thought to be one of the most diverse and exciting routes the Tour has seen in years. With the likes of Chris Froome, who can climb with the best of them, being poised for the win again this year, it certainly is an exciting event to witness.
 
But, which live event has you all geared up for 2017? Let us know in the comments!
 

Coming Soon to Leger Blog

Coming soon… Paul Reed’s Battlefield Blog.

Join in and experience the battlefields from Leger Holidays’ Head Battlefield Guide’s perspective as Paul Reed takes us on his personal journey through the Battlefields of Europe.

Our new feature will include regular updates from Paul. From personal encounters to new tour updates, sharing his wealth of military knowledge and research.

 
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Coach Holidays: Tips for First Time Travellers

So, you’re considering taking your first coach holiday? Or, maybe you’ve just booked it? We know how excited you must feel at the prospect of visiting so many spectacular destinations in one holiday! But, you’re probably wondering just what you’ve let yourself in for.

What will it be like? Will I enjoy it? Well, earlier this week, we asked our fantastic Facebook fans for their top tips and advice for a first time traveller, and they didn’t disappoint.
We’ve pulled together our favourite snippets of advice for you to take a look over to give you a better understanding of just what to expect as you step on board a Leger coach for the first time…
 

Your drivers are always there to help…

Anne Greaves Brilliant company to travel with. knowledgeable drivers. been to Austria in 2009 and just come back from a St Patricks day tour.you meet great peopke on the coach from all ages. wouldnt hesitate to book with them again.
[quote]Anthony Okell As a driver I have worked for company’s who have worked for Leger they are a first class company with top class holiday’s, I would holiday with them any time.  They will go the extra mile to help you.[/quote]
Lynn Cooke Leger holidays are fantastic from start to finish, the drivers are fantastic they take care of you and tell you about the places you visit.
[quote]Tony Lewis Listen to your drivers, and you won’t go wrong. Your driver’s do the journeys week in, week out, they are all very professional. Enjoy your holiday, you won’t go wrong with Leger[/quote]
Karen Selby Love Leger. Very professional drivers who make your whole experience a holiday of great memories to reflect on and savour forever. Can't rate high enough. I have no worries about travelling alone either. There are always so many interesting people to meet. You even get very helpful advice. I recall when visiting Rome in 2014 one driver in particular was very helpful with regard to protecting us all from being victims of thieves. He did it in such a subtle and jolly way, but it did impress the thought firmly in your mind. Can't wait for my next trip
 
 

Elizabeth and Meinir’s tips are great if you’re considering some optional extras…

Elizabeth Wallis Listen to your drivers take the optional excursions relax take it all in and enjoy your holiday. Leger are the best
 
[quote]Meinir Ann Thomas Do all the optional excursions – best way of seeing everything.[/quote]

 

Meinir also says, treat yourself on your ferry crossings…

Meinir Ann Thomas Have a meal at the brasserie on the ferry - perfect way to start and end a holiday. Best to book a table in advance at Christmas though as it tends to get very busy - you can do this on the P&O website.
 
 

If you’re wondering about what happens when you get to your destination, here’s that June has to say…

June Rice We have travelled abroad with other Coach Companies, but always return to Leger, as they are the best. The drivers really look after you and you are taken into the Cities and dropped off and picked up. We travelled with another Company to the Classic Cities of Spain. We were dropped of at our hotels, most times and told what local buses to get into the Cities. Not good. We had a great time on our Leger's Russian Spectacular. Fantastic experience.
 
 

And, what about the Leger comforts?

[quote]Julie Bessant Wouldn’t book with anyone but leger professional drivers really comfortable journey and drinks prices were excellent.[/quote]
Pat Armstrong Simkin About to take our third holiday with this fantastic company. Silver Service all the way, two drivers, lounge to relax in, fantastic tours what's not to like
[quote]Jackie Thornton My friend & I are one our 3rd holiday with Leger we sit back,relax and enjoy[/quote]
 
 

A couple more…

[quote]Yvonne Riley Prepare yourself for the first of many holidays you will take with Leger. A great company[/quote]
[quote]Tim Forster Bring an open mind and a sense of humour.[/quote]

 

But maybe most importantly…

 
[quote]Sheana Kenyon Enjoy the ride and enjoy your holiday[/quote]
 
And these are just a selection of tips and tricks, see the full thread, here. Why not join in our conversation and get to know fellow travellers over on our Facebook page? We also have dedicated pages for our Battlefields and Motorsports tours. See you over there soon!
 

Germany: 8 of the Best Places to Visit

Brandenburg Gate, Berlin, Germany

Germany, it’s a big and beautiful place with plenty to see and do. But, with plenty to see and do, how do you decide where to start?

Cosmopolitan Cities, marvellous mountains, fantastic forests and riveting rivers and that’s just the start!
Well, if you’re ready to start your discovery of Deutschland, here are our top 8 places to visit.

Berlin

Berlin, the German capital
The beautiful capital city of Germany, packed full of landmarks and history. From the remains of the Berlin Wall to impressive landmarks such as Brandenburg gate, you’ve got plenty to keep you busy if you’re an avid sightseer.

Rhine Valley

River Rhine, Germany
One of the most popular destinations for relaxing river cruises, the Rhine Valley is steeped in beauty. And, within the beauty, hides a number of fantastic vineyards. So, of course, this is the place to give wine tasting a go.

Neuschwanstein Castle

Neuschwanstein Castle, Bavaria
If you’re really into romance and fairytales, here’s the one for you. An inspiration to Walt Disney himself, the castle receives over 1.3 million visitors a year and is the most photographed building in Germany, it’s easy to see why. It’s stunning.

Cologne

Cologne, Germany
Germany’s fourth biggest city, Cologne is known as the city of churches, and, to be honest, you can’t miss the impressive cathedral – The second largest religious building in Germany. If you’ve got the energy to climb its 509 steps, reaching the top of the building will reward you with some spectacular views.
If not, there’s a museum completely dedicated to chocolate and even has its own beer, Kolsch. Here’s an interesting fact, the name Kolsch is actually protected so that only beers brewed in cologne can hold this name.

Harz Mountains

Harz Mountains, Germany
Looking for some breath-taking scenery? The Harz Mountains are known as the ‘Land of German Fairy-tale’. Dark forests, cobbled streets and medieval houses. It’s long been known as an important source of German Folklore with famous stories such as Cinderella, Hansel and Gretel, and even The Frog Price coming from these parts.

Black Forest

Black Forest, Germany
The Black Forest region is known for its three distinctive features, highlands, scenery and woods. And, they sure are impressive. It gets its name due to its size and the fact that it was uninhabited, others say it is down to its dark green colour from the fir trees found there.
And, If you’ve got this far without thinking of Gateau, we’re about to ruin it. The dessert takes its name from this area as its recipe features the main crop of the forest. Cherries.

Dusseldorf

Dusseldorf, Germany
Known for its fashion industry and art scene, Dusseldorf is certainly an interesting place to be. It hosts one of the biggest fashion fairs in Europe, the Collections Premieren Düsseldorf. Whilst it may not be as popular as it’s close neighbour, and rival, Cologne, there’s still plenty to see.
Konigsallee – Germany’s most elegant shopping street, the Museum of Art and the old town to name a few. There’s also a famous song about this fantastic town, it goes by the name of Warst Du doch in Dusseldorf geblieben (“You’d have better stayed in Dusseldorf”). Who are we to disagree?

Munich

Munich, Germany
Last but certainly not least, it’s the capital of Bavaria and the home of Oktoberfest. It could only be Munich. Home to stunning architecture, such as the Neues Rathaus and the Frauenkirche, and its white sausage, there’s plenty to experience here.
The English Garden is one of Europe’s biggest city parks, even beating London’s Hyde Park and New York’s Central Park! Although, it’s not as English as you may expect. It’s actually filled with Japanese inspired sculptures, a Chinese Pagoda and even a Greek Temple.
And, for the automotive fans, Munich is also home to the German car company, BMW.
Start your discovery of Germany now, click here to see all of Germany tours

Simon Calder Q&A: Tips and Travel Advice

Simon Calder, Travel Writer and Broadcaster

Here at Leger Holidays, we’re celebrating holiday inspiration, and who better to get involved than travel writer and broadcaster, Simon Calder? We invited the Twittersphere to ask the travel man himself for his ideas and experiences. We’ve distilled the best for you here …

What are the strongest triggers to deciding on a particular trip?
My usual motivation is a word in my ear from a friend with taste – but a film, chance conversation or just a tweet can work.
Your greatest drive in Europe?
So many roads, so little time – but most of Italy’s coast, so long as someone else is driving.
Is there a secret European location waiting to be discovered?
Yes, and almost all of them are behind the old Iron Curtain, particularly Slovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Ukraine.
What was the last film that inspired you to travel and why?
Er, is it very uncool to say Sound of Music? Many of the locations in it, in and around Salzburg in Austria, are still exactly the same
What’s the latest about the hole in Rhodes airport runway?
The runway on the Greek island had a malfunction earlier this week but is now back in action – and a great destination in Sept/Oct.
Your favourite Christmas Market?
For me the surroundings count for as much as the stalls, chalets and cafes. So: Cologne, with Bruges, Hamburg and Frankfurt as good alternatives.
You were in Castellon last week – what’s it like?
The latest Ryanair route from Stansted and Bristol serves Castellon Airport on Spain’s Costa Azahar – the Orange Blossom Coast and mostly beautifully unspoilt, with Peniscola the best place to stay. The airport also serves as a cut-price gateway to Valencia if the fares to that fine city are too high.
Where are you going skiing this winter?
Haven’t decided yet but Slovakia and Germany are possible locations – they don’t experience the usual half-term price surge. However, Austria is also very appealing.
How far in advance is too far to book a holiday?
Booking too far in advance can be a real problem, particularly for non-refundable plane tickets. Package holidays are less risky because you can transfer them to someone else if you can’t go. But of course anticipation is sweet – and I’ve already booked an eclipse-hunting coach holiday in the US for 2017.
Former Yugoslavia – your favourite component?
I’m fond of them all, but besides Croatia (a given) I have particular soft spots for Slovenia, Montenegro and Bosnia.
What type of coach holiday would be most appealing to you?
A good guide and good company are essentials, but after that it’s terrain that you can really enjoy from a coach. So lakes (or lochs) and mountains work for me, but some UK motorways are also excellent – the M62, M74 and upper reaches of the M6 are all best seen from a passenger seat
Do you ever ask locals for tips on things to do and places to see?
Yes. Online research and guidebooks are invariably trumped by local recommendations. So, always ask.
The best place to visit in Reykjavik?
I’m just back from the Icelandic capital and it’s in great shape, with more flights from the UK than ever. Eat at the newly opened Tacobarinn, which brings Latin American style (and almost prices) to the city. Don’t bother with the Blue Lagoon – overly commercialised – but take the 5-min ferry rider to wonderful Videy Island.
Any other relatively undiscovered wildernesses in Europe, other than Iceland?
Many. In the UK: Knoydart Peninsula in Scotland. Eastern Poland/western Ukraine also wonderful.
Based on what you’ve seen so far this year, what do you think will be the travel trends for 2016?
Niche Latin America, eg Costa Rica and Puerto Rico, eastern Europe and Canada for sheer good value.
Where has reading a book led you?
George Orwell made me hitch-hike to Barcelona after I read Homage to Catalonia. The Fruit Palace by Charles Nicholl is an inspiring introduction to the marvels and madness of Colombia. And the European Rail Timetable is full of wild and wonderful places to add to the list.
Croatia, Greece or Turkey?
Great question – all offer value, beauty, history and a warm welcome, but right now Greece is the word.
Where are the best places to travel to in Europe that are still warm in autumn/winter?
I’d choose an island from Crete, Malta, Sicily, Mallorca and Ibiza, with the Canaries best for the real depths of winter.
What’s not to miss in Berlin?
The Reichstag (Parliament building) is free and brilliant. Ditto East Side Gallery. And take a trip out to Potsdam.
Which TV show or movie has inspired you to visit the filming location?
It’s only been out a week, but Everest is spectacular. I don’t want to climb it but I do want to visit Nepal.
Thank you to Simon, and huge thank you to everyone for your questions! You can take a look at all of our once in a lifetime Grand Explorer holidays by clicking here.

A Grand Alpine Adventure by Carole Russell

As a 73-year-old lady not used to travelling alone, I was very apprehensive about going on holiday, but one of the best decisions I ever made was to go on the Grand Alpine Adventure in August last year. The Silver Service coach was beyond all my expectations and, once we’d crossed the channel I really felt the adventure was beginning

Right at the start Stuart, one of our drivers, said “remember, you are not on holiday – you are on tour!” We very quickly understood what he meant.  Staying in no less than 9 hotels over a 2 week period certainly meant having to be organised with the packing and, if you are expecting a relaxing, restful holiday, do NOT go on this tour!

One of our first visits was to a wine tasting in the Rhine Valley. What better way to get me talking to my fellow travellers who I was to share the next 2 weeks with!

We had so many wonderful experiences and saw the most spectacular sights, travelling through the Alps and Lakes of Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Italy, Switzerland and France.

I was simply enchanted by all of the towns we visited, particularly Rothenburg, Innsbruck and Salzburg, feeling I was part of a storybook. And the Alpine regions we visited – welI the splendour, magnificence and beauty of what I saw was simply awe inspiring.

You’d have thought one mountain would look much the same as another, but every area we went to, the scenery was so spectacularly different.  We stayed in some lovely hotels along the way and the variety of food was excellent.

The only lady amongst five other ‘singlies’, I wonder if I may have earned a bit of a reputation as we did tend to end up together as a group!  But the whole camaraderie of all the passengers and crew was really good and I felt very safe and secure.

I would certainly say to anyone who is on their own that this type of holiday is probably the best they can take.  You can spend time on your own when you want, but there is always someone else around who will happily have you join them for a meal, or whatever.

Our crew, Stuart and Ralph, were tireless in their endeavours to ensure everyone was happy and that everything ran like clockwork.  Their commentaries were so informative and interesting and their driving – well how they get that huge coach around those Alpine bends beats me!

I very soon decided that I wanted to experience more of the world with Leger as it is such a splendid way to have holidays, particularly when you are travelling alone. So I’m off again soon, this time to Eastern Europe. Who wants to lay on a beach when you can go on tour!

Would you like to be a Leger Blog star? Get in touch at [email protected]

 

Will and Pat Nicol take on our Highlights of Eastern Europe Tour

Will and Pat Nichol recently travelled with Leger on our Highlights of Eastern Europe tour, after sending some great photos to Leger HQ, they have kindly taken the time to answer a few questions for our blog.

So, if you’re looking to head off with Leger shortly, here’s what they have to say about their experience:

What was it about the tour that made us want to book? We had planned to visit these cities on a backpacking trip booking as we went, until, your brochure dropped onto our mat. It was going to every city we wanted to visit. Now, having reached a mature age, we decided to let you take the strain.
Which day were we most looking forward too from the itinerary? The day we were looking forward too, was the trip to Auschwitz and Krakow. Both places have been high on our list, due to the fact we have always been interested in WW 2 history. Auschwitz, what can we say, the impact  was exactly as we had imagined. Krakow, we had been told the old town was stunning, yes it was, both by day and by night.

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“Thanks for laying on a flypast of a Lancaster at the Mohne Dam. Surprised everyone one on the coach. Took a model of a Lancaster with a loop of fishing line and my wife held it in a suitable position near the dam – looks brill.”

How did we find the travelling aspect of the holiday? It was easy, sit back and relax, comfortable seats, excellent drivers, plenty of refreshments, good choice of DVD’s to pass the time on the long days, what more could you ask.
Which city that you visited, was the most memorable? Prague, without a doubt, so much to see, so much to do. A city to re-visit, finished off with a boozy ride around the city in a vintage tram – brill.
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“Mike and Keiran try to recruit a new Leger driver”

Did we find any hidden or unexpected delights on our tour? Yes, we did. Being aircraft enthusiasts we found a hidden aircraft museum in the middle of Warsaw.  Amongst all the hidden gems were four WW2 Russian aircraft, which we never dreamt of seeing, they are as rare as hens teeth!
What was the best part of the trip? the evening tour of Budapest. A fantastic champagne organ recital followed by a stunning tour of floodlight Budapest. We took hundreds of photographs!
"Keiran and Mike present the Budapest guide with two cuddly sheep for her children"
“Keiran and Mike present the Budapest guide with two cuddly sheep for her children”

What would we say to someone who was thinking of booking this tour? Don’t think about it, just do it, you will not be disappointed.
What was our favourite part of the whole experience? Spending a whole day wandering around Prague, its bridges, its squares and shops… and a pint of beer (or two!), watching people and the river activities. Ending the day with the vintage tram ride as already mentioned
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Do we have any funny stories from the tour? Yes, I spent twenty minutes riding the lift. Having forgotten my room key card in haste to collect my suitcase from the lobby. The keycard was designated to the floor we were on, so it took considerable time  to find a guest staying on the same floor. I thought I would be spending the night in the lift and without dinner too.(Moral, always carry your door key when leaving the room).  Four fellow travellers after hearing about my dilemma decided to take the stairs to breakfast the following morning. Not realising they were using the fire exits, once the door had closed behind them, they were trapped. After shouting and banging on the doors to no avail for over half an hour, they thought to call Mike Brannon on their mobile phone to come and release them. They made breakfast, just (Moral to this one, don’t use fire escapes except in an emergency).
Finally, would you head off on  tour with Leger again? Yes, already thinking about taking the Bavarian Castle’s tour.
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“My wife Pat really appreciated the coach named after her, seeing as it was her 60th birthday, she thought I had arranged it, I haven’t said I didn’t.”

One of the most rewarding things from a travel company’s perspective is to hear that customers have had great experiences on their holidays and we’d love to hear from you too!

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WW1: The Barnsley Pals by Edward Slater and Jill Morrison

A century ago, in August 1914, Great Britain plummeted into war. Involved in the battle were millions of soldiers and by 1916, conscripts. More than ¾ million men were never to return home. Hundreds of thousands more wounded or damaged mentally by what they had witnessed on the battlefield. Having been a professional soldier, and experienced active service, I can only comprehend in a minuscule way what these brave men must have endured.

My grandfather was a volunteer in the 14th Battalion York and Lancaster Regiment – “The Barnsley Pals”. The “Pals” Battalions were a phenomenon of the Great War. The volunteers consisted of men from different social backgrounds, coal miners, office workers, young professional gentlemen. Mostly from the Barnsley area, designed to give them a common bond. Once recruited, they were trained and welded together to form a close knit
supportive unit called the 13th and 14th Battalions of the York and Lancaster Regiment and adopted the identity of the “Barnsley Pals”. They went into action for the first time at “Serre on the Somme” on the 1st of July 1916.
The only way for me to gain an insight into the conditions under which this war was waged in 1914/1918, was to take a specialised battlefield tour, using the expertise of a tour guide. Therefore, we chose Leger and we were fortunate in having available to us a well-known military historian, Paul Reed.
In both areas of conflict – Flanders and the Somme – battle conditions were almost identical. The futility of lives wasted in capturing a few yards of territory, at times costing hundreds of lives, sometimes only to be lost later in a counter attack. Existing in trenches, with constant shelling and sniper fire, sometimes knee deep in water and mud, with vermin ever present. Winter temperatures could be as low as -25â—¦C so keeping their circulation going to be able to fire their weapons was a constant problem. It is amazing how morale was maintained, they were also expected to go “over the top” when the order was given, knowing they faced near certain death. I can only assume that the comradeship of the “Pals” Battalion made this possible.
In Flanders, I could not see anything other than the stark reality of war; even in the villages which have been rebuilt there was an emptiness and chill in the atmosphere. The many military cemeteries maintained the aura and futility of war on both battlefronts. Because of this, I fear there can be no feeling of peace in either place.
The high point of the tour for me was when Paul Reed made an unexpected detour enabling me to visit my Grandfather’s grave at Hebuterne Communal Cemetery on the Somme, which fulfilled my desire of many years. A beautiful village cemetery with only twelve military headstones, my Grandfather’s head stone flanked on either side with two of his “Barnsley Pals”. The tribute to my Grandfather is written in the Book of Remembrance at Rotherham Minster. It reads as follows:
“ A Tribute to a Gallant Soldier and Leader of Men 14/396 L/CDL Edward Slater, 14th Battalion York and Lancaster Regiment. On the 2nd of November 2014, I was privileged to visit your grave at Hebuterne Communal Cemetery, France, one day before the anniversary of your death on the 3rd of November 1916.
 Mr-Slater
On that day you led your Section into action, knowing that you were facing near certain death. Fearful, but determined, you paid the ultimate price with others of the “Barnsley Pals” who are buried either side of you. Grandad, I salute and admire your bravery. Your Grandson and proud bearer of your name – Edward James Slater – Army Veteran of 24 years’ service.”
I am most grateful to our Battlefield Guide Paul Reed for making the tour such a memorable and emotional experience.
 
 
Written by Edward Slater and Jill Morrison from Rotherham 
 
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Single Traveller – Become a "Yes" Person by Natalie Smith

Having passed the middle mark of January, our new years resolutions should be in full swing. But what if yours was to travel more? Taking that first step towards your first single traveller experience can be one of the most daunting experiences you can face when looking for a new adventure. You may not speak the language, may not be used to the surroundings and what if you get lonely?

Our Single Traveller tours are made to put you at ease and allow you to experience the best of Europe exploring excellent itineraries with other solo travellers and all whilst taking advantage of our no single supplement offer. Natalie Smith took the step and hasn’t looked back since. Conquering more than just the fear of heading off alone, here is her account of how she became a solo travel convert.
January 1st 2013: New Years Resolution – Become a ‘Yes’ person. This might seem like a pretty easy goal to achieve, except that I was painfully shy at the time. One thing I’d always wanted to do is travel – the only problem was that I didn’t want to go on the same places that all my friends fancied. And there you have it…the perfect opportunity to put my resolution into practice and go it alone.

Halstatt, Austria
Halstatt, Austria

A couple of weeks later I had found and booked the perfect starter trip, a week-long cruise around the Mediterranean on a ship that has specific accommodation and bars for solo travellers – Norwegian Epic. The hardest part is finding the courage to jump but once you go for it you will find that you are soon flying and that there was absolutely nothing to worry about – I now wonder why it took me so long to go for it!. The itinerary for the week was great too, on all but one of the days we would be in different ports so there was plenty to keep me occupied.
The day arrived when I set off on my new venture. I felt so ill with nerves and anxiety – I had never even caught a flight on my own before let alone spent a whole holiday by myself! What if I miss the call for my flight? How will I know which coach to get on once I arrive in Rome? How will I find my way around the dock to board the ship? Well, I am pleased to report that everything went smoothly and before I knew it I had checked onto the ship and was sipping cocktails with my fellow passengers, looking forward to the coming week.
From that moment on I knew I had made a great choice. We spent the days exploring various ports and the evenings catching up with each other’s daily activity. I was hooked, travelling became my new hobby and I had a new found confidence. Even at home it was commented on that I had become a more outgoing, chatty person and I felt taller when I walked. I now consider myself a dab-hand in the art of solo travel and I miss it when I’m not away.
Even now, I still prefer tours with a busy itinerary. Last year I went on the ‘Austrian Lakes, Salzburg & Vienna’ trip which is one of Leger’s ‘No or Low Solo Occupancy’ tours. This trip is perfect for a first time soloist as it was 5 full days of exploratioin (taking out the travelling). One day we visited no less than 4 lakeside towns. Severeal of my fellow travellers had already been to some of the places that we visited and I was able to get some great tips. I was also able to discover some hidden treasures that weren’t in the guidebooks thanks to the knowledge and personal experiences of my drivers.
This year will be quite a busy one for me as I will be heading out on Leger’s ‘French Riviera’, ‘Picturebook Italy’ & ‘Prague, Vienna & Budapest’ tours – all of which have come to me as recommendations from fellow passengers and drivers.
I now mainly travel solo as it is so liberating and I have been to some awesome places and met some truly lovely people! It has also boosted my confidence no end. I can’t recommend it enough! And for a recommendation from me to you: Simply, go for it! You will never know how good something can be if it never gets given the chance to happen!
Salzburg, Austria
Salzburg, Austria

Here are some of Natalie’s tips when it comes to travelling abroad by yourself:

  • Safety – priority number 1! The same rules apply as in general – keep your belongings hidden and safe, stick to the busy areas and make sure any services you use such as taxis, restaurants etc. are trustworthy. Also – avoid telling anybody that you are alone – you could create a fictional friend whom you are meeting later if you need to.
  • Expense – Solo holidays can be more expensive due to the dreaded ‘Solo Occupancy’ charges placed on hotel rooms. However, the rise in the popularity of solo trips has forced travel companies and hotels to look at these costs and many now offer trips with low or no solo rates.
  • Boredom – A whole week alone can seem daunting but if you pick a trip with a packed itinerary you will not find the time to be bored. I also prefer to travel on a trip that has evening meals included, that way you will be able to eat with others and you can swap information about the days activities and also tips for the coming days.