The Holocaust Remembered | Leger Holidays

With the atrocities of the Holocaust brought firmly back to the forefront of our attention this week, it’s important for us to remember the millions of victims who suffered at the hands of evil during one of the most horrific parts of World War 2.

Our Holocaust Remembered tour follows the moving story of Anne Frank as well as the story of Oskar Schindler. Our specialist guide, Charlotte Czyzyk, who also works at the IWM North, specialises in the Holocaust, and here talks us through some of the most moving and thought provoking aspects of this emotional tour.

The Holocaust Remembered – Charlotte Czyzyk

This tour covers the history of the Holocaust in which 6 million Jewish men, women and children were murdered, as well as countless others because of their race, religion, sexuality, nationality, or disability. We follow the footsteps of those whose lives were affected by persecution, and include testimony from individuals such as Anne Frank to bring our excursions to life. We visit beautiful, vibrant cities where Jewish culture thrived before the war, including Berlin, Krakow and Prague, which reminds us of everything that was lost in the Holocaust.

We see the traces of Nazi architecture in the German capital of Berlin, and visit the villa outside the city where senior Nazis held the Wannsee Conference in January 1942. This secret meeting sealed the fate of European Jews, and it is always striking to think that such a beautiful lakeside location could provide the setting for such cold and calculated decision to murder millions of people. We also visit one of the earliest concentration camps at Sachsenhausen, where barracks have been preserved to gain a sense of the prisoners’ daily life. 

Achsenhausen Concentration Camp
Achsenhausen Concentration Camp

Moving onto Poland we walk through the sites of the former Krakow ghetto and Plaszow concentration camp, which during the war were plagued by overcrowding, violence, hunger and squalor. Later in the tour we also visit the so-called ‘model ghetto’ at Theresienstadt near Prague, which deceived the Red Cross inspectors into thinking that conditions were acceptable for the people held there. 
Krakow Ghetto
Krakow Ghetto

For many passengers, visiting the former concentration and death camp at Auschwitz is a particularly emotional experience. Seeing the huge displays of confiscated belongings – shoes, spectacles, even women’s hair – is overwhelming, and it helps us to begin to come to terms with the human tragedy that unfolded there.  The remains of the vast death camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau, including the railway lines, prisoner barracks and gas chambers, show how the Nazi machine was geared to destroying people using industrial methods. 
And yet amongst the suffering and loss, there are tales of hope and courage. We look at stories of inspirational individuals such as Oskar Schindler, and visit the museum at his former factory in Krakow where he employed and saved 1,200 Jews. We also move to the Czech Republic to see the church in Prague where the brave assassins of SS leader Reinhard Heydrich met their fate, a building which still bears scars from the fighting that took place there over 70 years ago.
Auschwitz
Auschwitz

The end of the war created new challenges for survivors. We visit the former concentration camp at Bergen Belsen, which was liberated by the British Army in April 1945. At this emotive site we think about the difficulties that soldiers faced in providing the food, clothing, and medical assistance required to save as many people as possible, as well as the psychological support needed to help survivors to make sense of all they had come through and all they had lost. Some people poured their efforts into seeking justice from the perpetrators, and we end the tour by visiting the Nuremberg courtroom where the trials of leading Nazis such as Herman Goering took place. 
Bergen Belsen
Bergen Belsen

This tour follows journeys of many kinds:  journeys of death in trains, in ghettos and in camps; journeys of escape, hiding and survival; and journeys made after liberation to a new life. I hope that you will join this special trip to unforgettable sites, which create evocative memories for all those who travel with us. Click here to view WW2 Battlefield Tours.

Italian Süd Tyrol & the Dolomites – A Passenger's View

The Dolomites

Amazing, Beautiful, Spectacular, Wonderful, Fantastic, Stunning…. You really do run out of words to describe some of the places you visit and sights you see on this Dolomites tour, but I think the coach crew would sum it up in their own word ‘Amazeballs’ as that’s just what this tour was.

Day One – Outbound to Liege

We were lucky enough to join our tour coach at our pick-up point and were able to sit in our allocated seats from the start. Once on board, Mum had a lovely surprise as her seat had been decorated by our drivers, Paul & Lisa, to celebrate her birthday. This was a lovely gesture and Paul & Lisa also made sure that they presented each passenger who celebrated a birthday on tour with a personal card & gift. This made the tour extra special for those 3 passengers who celebrated their birthdays on this tour of the Dolomites with us.

Following the usual efficient service at the interchange, we re-joined our tour coach and continued on to our overnight hotel in Liege. We arrived at a reasonable hour and were able to enjoy a drink at the bar and the chance to get to know our fellow travellers. One thing we love about Leger tours is the opportunity to make new friends and discover wonderful new places. This tour was no exception!

Day Two – Liege to Uttenheim

It’s an early start and a long day, but travelling through some wonderful scenery, as we did, it’s a very enjoyable journey. There were plenty of refreshments available on board, regular stops to stretch your legs and the lounge on board is a great place to spend some time getting to know the new friends you meet on board. During the journey, Paul explained the itinerary and provided additional information & interesting facts about the planned excursions and places we passed during the day. His knowledge of the area and enjoyment of the tour was obvious and both he & Lisa were more than happy to answer any questions about the tour, or indeed any other tour we were thinking of booking after perusing the brochures on board.

At the end of the day, we arrived at the lovely Zum Schlossl hotel in Uttenheim to find a warm welcome from our hosts Anna & Peter along with a lovely 3-course dinner waiting for us.

Day Three – Dolomites

I think this Dolomites tour has to be one of the highlights of the holiday. Stunning scenery around every bend, and plenty of stops for that perfect picture postcard photo opportunity. Our lunch stop on the Pordoi Pass, in the Dolomites, was fantastic with more than enough time for those who wanted to take the cable car to the top. I can thoroughly recommend doing this if you get the chance as the views were stunning…. snow, ice, blue skies and amazing vistas. The first of many lunches with a view this week….

After dinner, those who didn’t want to watch the football tonight had a fun evening of Bingo provided by Lisa & Paul …. It did get a bit competitive but was a great end to our day. There were a lot of laughs and everyone really enjoyed the fun end to a wonderful day exploring the mighty Dolomites.

Pordoi Pass, Dolomites
Pordoi Pass, Dolomites

Day Four – Lake Garda

This optional excursion was well worth booking. We travelled to Lake Garda and had time to explore Riva before catching our first boat of the day to Limone. Once there, we had plenty of time to explore this lovely town and enjoy lunch in one of the many cafes offering views of the lake. Our last boat ride of the day took us to Malcesine where there was time to visit the castle, browse the local shops and of course enjoy the obligatory ice cream in the Italian sunshine before re-joining the coach for our journey back to the hotel. On board the coach for our return journey we enjoyed our first taste of Meloncello which was lovely and the perfect end to the excursion.

Riva, Lake Garda

Day Five – Brunico & Lake Misurina

In our opinion, this was the best day of the tour and is an optional which really should not be missed. Our first stop of the day was Brunico, where we were given plenty of time to explore both the new and old parts of town and enjoy coffee & cake in one of the many cafes.

Some of us climbed up to the Woodland Soldier Cemetery which Paul had suggested we visit and the castle and I can recommend both on a visit to this beautiful town.

Brunico Soldier Cemetery is a forest cemetery and is unlike any other war cemetery I’ve seen. Set amongst the woodland, overlooking the town, all of the graves are carved from trees. Amongst them, you can find Hungarian-Austrian & German army next to Russian & Serbian Prisoner of War graves. Every one of them, whether Catholic or Orthodoxy, Mohammedan or Jewish, were buried according to their religious rites, and all of the graves are equally cared for and decorated all year round by the town. When visiting Brunico it is well worth the walk up to visit this woodland cemetery and we were so glad Paul told us about it.

Brunico Soldier Cemetery
Brunico Soldier Cemetery

Walking across the bridge from the Woodland Cemetery we found Brunico Castle, which overlooks the town. We had the time to go in and explore the castle and were glad we did. There is so much to see within it that we could have spent a lot longer there and would definitely go back again. The views from the castle over the town and surrounding area are worth climbing the stairs of the tower, although a lift is also available if the thought of the stairs is too daunting.

Brunico Castle
Brunico Castle

Lake Misurina

What a place for a lunch stop! There was the chance to walk around the lake if you wanted, which many of the group did. We chose to take our first chair lift ride and enjoyed a very nice lunch (& being at the top of the mountain we couldn’t not try the apple strudel for dessert!) with a spectacular view overlooking this beautiful lake and the surrounding snow-topped mountains.

Without a doubt we would recommend that you do this optional excursion if you get the chance….it’s just Wow!

Lake Misurina

Day Six – Venice

This is a long day with an early start and because of that, not all the passengers joined this optional excursion. Those of us who did had a lovely day in Venice with perfect weather. We enjoyed our first gondola ride and enjoyed wandering around the streets of Venice exploring before finding a lovely local restaurant for lunch. There was time after that to take photos at the Rialto Bridge and enjoy another ice cream while we walked back via St Mark’s Square to catch the boat for the optional Lagoon cruise.

Rialto Bridge, Venice
Rialto Bridge, Venice

Venice is a lovely place to visit and we enjoyed our day, but because of the long drive, it deters a lot of passengers from booking the excursion. It may be worth changing this day and including some of the other wonderful places in the Tyrol which are closer to the hotel. Some of the passengers who didn’t come to Venice had a lovely day exploring the local towns or going for walks from the hotel. Whether they joined the excursion or not, everyone enjoyed their day.

Day Seven – Bolzano

A nice short day after Venice but we still had plenty of time to explore this lovely town. The architecture of the buildings and the beautiful surrounding countryside provide some great photo opportunities. We took time to look around the local shops, visit the castle and enjoy lunch soaking up the sun with overlooking the Cathedral with its beautiful mosaic roof which stands at one end of the central square, Piazza Walther. In the centre of the square is a statue of the poet and bard, Walther von de Vogelweide and we found it was a wonderful place to sit and enjoy lunch whilst watching the world go by.

Bolzano
Bolzano

Hotel Zum Schlossl, Uttenheim

There is not one bad thing to say about this hotel. We had a room in the annexe which had a balcony with fantastic views over the mountains. The hotel is run by Anna, Peter and their son and is just across the quiet road from the annexe. The food is all fresh and homemade by Anna and, believe me, you will never leave the dinner table hungry. After dinner, there is a very nice terrace where we enjoyed a drink in the evening with our fellow passengers and I am being totally honest when I say we really can’t fault anything about this hotel or the wonderful staff. We only wish we could have stayed there longer!

Coach & Crew

There is not one negative thing to say about the coach or Paul & Lisa, our fantastic crew for this Italian Sud Tirol and the Dolomites tour.

The coach was always kept spotlessly clean inside & out, and with plentiful refreshments on board, there was no chance of spending any part of the tour thirsty or hungry.

Paul & Lisa are a wonderful team and they work extremely well together. Their obvious love of their work and knowledge of the tour and the places we visited was infectious and I don’t think one person left the tour without having a thoroughly enjoyable time.

Throughout the week, both Lisa & Paul were happy to answer any questions about any tours that we saw in the brochures on board the coach. Then, on the Friday night, they had the great idea of a ‘Booking Night’. This gave the whole group the chance to talk to each other and ask any questions of Paul & Lisa about future tours they were thinking of booking. We were lucky enough to make some wonderful new friends this tour and by the end of the night, we had booked another 3 tours to look forward to with our new friends.

To find out more about our Summer in the Italian Süd Tirol & the Dolomites tour, click here to find out more. 

Will you be my Valentine? From hearts to hogs, Valentine's Day around the world

Ah… being in love, there’s nothing quite like it, so it’s no surprise that countries from all over the world have a special day dedicated to celebrating ‘that special someone’… Valentine’s Day.

So, wouldn’t you like to know a little more about the different Valentine’s Day traditions, past and present from countries near and far?
Whilst some are what you might expect – traditional chocolate hearts and bright cards scrawled with adoring messages – there are others that are a little unorthodox!
So, if you’re looking for a truly unique way to surprise your loved one this Valentine’s Day, we might just be able to help!

Germany

Let’s start with one that’s a little out of the ordinary, shall we?
Although the celebration of Valentine’s Day in Germany is not as commercial as it is in places such as the UK and America, it’s a popular tradition with the locals there.
And, whilst lovers will exchange gifts of chocolates, flowers, and gingerbread cookies displaying romantic messages, they also like to exchange… pigs!
Yes, that’s right, pigs! Pictures of pigs, chocolate pigs, statues of pigs… even a real pig for those who want to really go for it!
In the country, the pig symbolises lust and luck.
It’s also pink, and so we can see why this little animal could be synonymous with the festival of love.

Italy

Going back to a more traditional way of celebrating one’s love for another, in Italy, Valentine’s Day is celebrated by way of a classic spring festival.
Couples shower each other with romantic poems, enjoy sweet ballads and scrumptious meals together, and often exchange boxes of ‘baci perugina’ – chocolate hazelnut ‘kisses’.
However, Italy also has a strange legacy surrounding its Valentine’s traditions, which states that the first man a girls sees when she wakes on February the 14th, she will marry within the next year…
To all those singles out there, keep an eye out this Wednesday morning!

South Africa

If you’re a hopeless romantic who likes to wear their heart on their sleeve, then the South African Valentine’s tradition might just be the one for you.
As well as the traditional celebrations, women in South Africa can often be seen to, quite literally, wear their hearts on their sleeves, by pinning the names of their significant others (or crushes!) to the sleeves of their tops.
A perfect way to let that special someone know you’re interested, perhaps?

China

In China, they don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day exactly, but they do celebrate Qixi.
During Qixi, young women gather, prepare and offer fruits to Zhinu, in the hope that the goddess will send them a good husband.
Qixi falls on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month each year and pays homage to an old Chinese legend.
It is said that Zhinu, a heavenly king’s daughter, and Niulang, a poor cow herder, fell in love (against Zhinu’s father’s wishes), married and had twins.
Once her father learned of their marriage, he sent for her to be brought back to the heavens.
However, upon hearing the cries of Niulang and her children, the king allowed Zhinu to meet Niulang back on Earth, once a year, hence the start of Qixi.

Denmark

And finally, we have Denmark, located in Scandinavia which adds its own little Danish twist to this celebration of love.
Whilst friends and lovers in the country do exchange flowers, it’s not the traditional red rose, as the Danes instead swap pressed snowdrops to show their love.
It’s also common for men to give their secret admirers a ‘gaekkebrev’, which is a form of funny love poem presented on intricately cut paper.
For even more fun, the poems are signed off as anonymous and the receiver then has three guesses to work out who their poem is from.
If guessed correctly, the receiver will also be given an Easter egg by their admirer, later in the year.
If not, they must be the ones to buy the admirer an Easter egg – a great way to keep the gift-giving going, and get even more chocolate!
If this blog has given you some inspiration for a unique gift, or maybe even a unique trip, visit our website and discover a world of romance!

2018: Our 5 Top Travel Trends

New Year, new you, you’ve probably heard that a lot. Yes, It’s that time of year again where everyone seems to be kick-starting those New Years’ resolutions for 2018…

Joining the gym, eating healthily, maybe even giving up your usual tipple for a dry January… but is there a truer tonic for pressing that reset button, introducing yourself to new experiences and enlightening yourself, than heading off on a new adventure?
Travel is said to be the only thing you can buy that makes your richer, but with so many places to visit and so much to see and do, choosing where to book for your next holiday is quite the decision.
But, in the spirit of trying new things, and enjoying new experiences, we’ve put together our top destinations to travel to in 2018. Perfect if you’re looking for a little travel inspiration.

Vietnam

Vietnam
If you’re looking for somewhere exotic, packed with plenty of memorable experiences and that once-in-a-lifetime feel, Vietnam has it all. From the serene views over Ha Long Bay, dotted with junk boats to the buzz of the capital city Hanoi.
With waves of moped cyclists weaving through the traffic, some with pigs strapped to the back (yes, really), pyjama fashion and cà phê Chồn, a rather curious coffee, partly digested by the weasel-like civet. You will feel a world away from normality in this fascinating country.
But, beyond the outstanding natural beauty and unique cultural experiences, Vietnam also has a complex and diverse history. The impact of the infamous 19-year-long Vietnam War can still be felt this day, from the War Remnants Museum to the Dien Bien Phu War Cemetery.
A fascinating destination and one that will leave you awe-struck, gratified and completely enchanted by what it has to offer.

Berlin

Berlin, a top city break for 2018
Another hub of culture and history, the German capital is a must when it comes to places to visit in 2018. Whether it is part of a longer holiday or even a short break (especially for the Christmas Markets), Berlin’s combination of charisma and character is certain to appeal to almost anyone.
The iconic buildings, such as the Reichstag and the Fernsehturm TV tower are high on many visitors to-do list whilst in the city. But, digging a little deeper, there’s much more on offer than the popular postcard places.
The Treptower Park is host to an impressive Soviet War Memorial, set amongst a huge cemetery for 5000 Soviet soldiers. You can visit Checkpoint Charlie, the former crossing point between East Berlin and West Berlin and the nearby Mauerpark, a former part of the Berlin Wall and its death strip.
And, of course, you can visit the East Side Gallery, a 1316m long section Berlin Wall itself, or see the impressive Brandenburg Gate. There’s so much to fit into your time in Berlin, it will more than likely leave you wanting to visit again.

Sicily

Sicily
Are you talkin’ to me? Yes, we are! If you’re a fan of The Godfather, that is. Or, just anyone who is looking for a taste of the less trodden parts of Italy, really, Sicily could just be your cup of tea in 2018.
Yes, the small Italian island is the famous ancestral home of the notorious Corleone family, who you’ll know from being at the centre of the classic cinematic saga.
Perfect for any film buff, you can head to the foothills of the Peloritani Mountains where you’ll find some rather recognisable surroundings in the town of Savoca. You can even watch the world go by on the shady terrace of Bar Vitelli itself. And, best of all? The bar hasn’t changed since the film’s release in 1972!
But, it’s not all movies and the Mafia in Sicily, in fact, it’s one of Italy’s most beautiful islands.  Taormina offers beautiful views of the east coast and a perfect perspective of Mount Etna. It’s easy to see why this has become the summer playground of the rich and famous
Many big names have been spotted seeking the dolce vita in the Taormina, from Oscar Wilde to Elisabeth Taylor, and a whole host of big-screen stars jetting in for the Taormina Film Festival, you’ll certainly be in great company wandering the streets of this glitzy hill-top retreat.

The Azores

The Azores
When you think of Portugal, you’ll be forgiven for thinking the sun, sand and the Algarve. But we’re thinking somewhere a little more exotic. The Azores islands are an autonomous region of Portugal, sitting deep within the North Atlantic, and offer a truly unique and really quite breath-taking experience.
It’s been called Europe’s answer to Hawaii and one of Europe’s best-kept secrets, a cavern of volcanic enchantment, you will bear witness to some pretty spectacular scenery, and who could say no to that?
Furnas City is host to botanical gardens, hot and cold springs and a lush, green, mountainous setting. The mystical lake, Santiago, is almost other-worldly, with its green waters sitting 334 metres above sea level, surrounded by the borders of a small crater, it’s a must-see whilst in the area.
You can even head over to Pico Island, the largest of the Azores. Dominated by Pico Mountain, it became a nature reserve in 1982 and has been producing delicious wine since the 15th century.
You won’t be disappointed by these beautiful islands, in fact, they could just prove to be the exotic adventure you’re looking for, all without leaving Europe in 2018.

Santorini

Santorini, Greece, a must-see for 2018.
A bucket list destination by the very definition, the remarkable island of Santorini is stealing hearts and keeping travellers flocking in for the 2018 season.
The world-famous view over the iconic caldera, whilst perched in the popular cliff-side towns of Fira and Oia, is one that you won’t get over for a while, especially at sunset. It’s a scene you’d see on postcards picked up throughout Greece, and that’s how you know you’re in an incredible location.
With the beautiful blue church domes scattered around the whitewash towns, seemingly clinging to the cliff edge, met by black, volcanic beaches at the foot, you’ll certainly get the best of Greece in Santorini.
Not to mention the old saying that there is more wine than rain on the island, and you have the delicious Greek cuisine to pair it with, from mezze to a moussaka, it’s a holiday for your taste buds as well as your sense of adventure.
If these incredible destinations have whet your appetite for a holiday to remember in 2018, why not see more on an escorted tour? At Leger Holidays, we have tours that encompass all of the above and lots, lots more. So what are you waiting for? Head over to www.leger.co.uk, today.

Christmas Holidays: The Beauty of Escaping it All

Set the scene of Christmas… big family dinners, drinks with your nearest and dearest, festive cheer to set you up for the next year.

What you don’t see on these picture-perfect Christmas cards and in the adverts for this years’ must-have gadgets, is the stress, the expenditure and the mountains of washing up.
For some people, that first chorus of this year’s Christmas carol bombardment fills them with dread. If this is you, we’ve got some advice… it’s time to take back Christmas!
Forget about the sprouts and put down the turkey baster… this year, it’s all about you!

Escape the Country


The odds for a white Christmas might leave you more likely to win the lottery, but winter scenery is within reach.
Sure, we can’t predict snow, but the Swiss Alps and the Italian Dolomites will give you that winter cosiness that every traditional Whovillan wishes for.
Snow-capped peaks, outstanding natural beauty and a chill in the air, the first gift of Christmas away from home is certainly the change of scenery.

Be Looked After


Forget about being the people pleaser, and the ‘who wants trifle, who wants pudding’ fiasco, you can have everything taken care of for you.
Your days expertly planned to maximise your experiences whilst you’re away. Like, a ride on the Swiss Glacier Express or just a Boxing Day stroll around Rome.
You also don’t have to worry about cooking, as all of our Christmas breaks have a festive dinner included. Yum!

Be Around Like-Minded People


You certainly don’t have to be lonely at Christmas. The great thing about escorted tours is that you’re around people who have the same love for travel as you do!
And, if you’re all enjoying Christmas away together, then you’ve all got something in common.
Our Single Traveller Christmas holidays offer a great way to surround yourself you great people, and the best part of all is that there is no single supplement!

Treat Yourself


When was the last time you put yourself first? We all do it, whether it’s work, family or friends, the easiest option is to satisfy others before yourself.
So, why not treat yourself at Christmas? And, we may be biased, but is there any better present than the gift of travel?
Ticking destinations off your bucket list, sightseeing in some of Europe’s most impressive cities – and, when there’s less crowds to stifle your views – a Christmas getaway could be just what Santa ordered.

Something for the Inner Scrooge


Maybe, you’re just not a Christmas person. And that’s perfectly okay! You are allowed to walk away from the cold weather and family gatherings, because this is about you.
In fact, the ultimate treat for the self-professed scrooge could well be a Spanish fiesta! Swap the sprouts for sangria, sit back, relax and enjoy the Spanish Coast.
There’s nothing wrong with a real winter warmer, after all.
 
If the thought of all this and more sounds like just what the doctor ordered, it’s not too late to book your Christmas getaway. Click here for more information.

Inside India: The Highlights of an Incredible Country

Beauty in architecture, the thrill of experiencing a new and exciting culture, incredible cuisines and fascinating wildlife, sounds like the perfect travelling experience, don’t you agree?

Few places in the world offer authentic experiences these days. With the world becoming more and more commercialised, you may not feel you’re getting the real deal when visiting new places. After all, you can fly half way around the world and still find a burger chain restaurant you’d thought you’d left behind on your local high street.
Of course, some of us embrace it. And, why not? Home comforts can certainly make travelling more familiar and, well… comfortable.
But, if you’re looking for something a little out of the ordinary, somewhere where you can really feel you’re embracing a new culture… say hello to India.
We’ve recently launched our brand new tour and an exciting new destination, exploring India and its incredible Golden Triangle. And, we’re pretty sure this is one of those tours that will really fuel your wanderlust.
We’ve left no stone unturned when it comes to experiencing the very best of India. From iconic destinations to coming face to face with the majestic tiger, here’s just some of the incredible things you’ll experience on our brand new tour…

The Golden Triangle

Jama Masjid, Old Delhi

 
You may have heard of the Golden Triangle in reference to India before, or maybe not if this is your first insight into the country. But, the Golden Triangle is a must. It refers to India’s three most visited cities in the north-west, Delhi, Agra and Jaipur and is a major tourist route packed full of fascinating sights.
Jaipur is home to some of Asia’s best Bazaars, a city buzzing with activity, nicknamed the ‘Pink City’ from the hue of its buildings, you’ll certainly want to visit its main attraction, the Amber Fort, just on the outskirts of the city.
The capital of India, Delhi, is a real contrast of old and new, from its turbulent past to its thriving future, it is host to a wealth of fascinating historical monuments as well as modern symbols of the present day such as India Gate and Parliament House.
And Agra, well… Where do we start? Obviously the world famous…

Taj Mahal

The taj Mahal

Topping many bucket lists, a trip to the Taj Mahal is a must when visiting India. A wonder of the world and universally admired, the mausoleum of white marble is a spectacular sight.
Built in Agra between 1631 and 1648, by order of the Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan, in memory of his third (and favourite) wife who died during the birth of their 14th child. The iconic building is a true symbol of eternal love and romance.
Easily one of the most photogenic pieces of architecture in the world, you’re probably wondering just when are the best times to visit? Two pieces of advice, early morning and evening. Although, in the morning, your view could be slightly shrouded by mist, but in the evening… expect perfection.
The orange glow of the evening sun, the warm air clearing any lingering residue and the views of the Yamuna River opening up, you don’t have to be an avid photographer to capture the most incredible photos during the golden hours of the evening.
As many as 28 different varieties of semi-precious and precious stone were used to adorn the Taj Mahal, making this more than just a gem on your journey through India, but a truly treasured experience.

Agra Fort

Agra Fort

Staying in the city of Agra, there’s more than just the Taj on offer in the former capital city of India. The Agra Fort is a sandstone and marble masterpiece.
It runs along a 2.5km stretch of the Yamuna River and was built as a military fort by Emperor Akbar. It was repurposed as a palace by no other than Shah Jahan, who spent his last years under house arrest there by his own son, Aurangzeb.
Despite being held prisoner following an illness, which saw four of his son’s embroiled in a war of succession, Shah Jahan was given a room with a view, in a tower overlooking the Taj Mahal.
The Shah Burj, as it is known, has an exquisite marble balcony where Shah Jahan spent his final days close to his late wife, overlooking his masterpiece.
If the Taj was the jewel of Agra, Agra Fort certainly shines just as bright. The walls house a number of stunning structures such as the pearl mosque and many hidden rooms, a fantastic experience learning about the grand legacy of the Mughals in India.

Fatehpur Sikri

Panch Mahal, Fatehpur Sikri

Follow the Red Sandstone to Fatehpur Sikri, a small ghost city just west of Agra. Ranking among the most visited spots in India, the city was made the political capital of the Mughal Empire between 1571 and 1585.
Fatehpur Sikri is considered to be one of the architectural legacies of Akbar, hosting beautiful palaces, halls and mosques.
From the Buland Darwaza, the largest gateway in the world, to the Panch Mahal, a beautiful 5-storey ‘pleasure palace’ used for Emperor Akbar to relax and unwind and to be used for his entertainment.
The top floor offers outstanding panoramic views of the surrounding area and the brilliant architecture within Fatehpur Sikri.
The complex took around 15 years to build and is one of the best instances of Mughal architecture and is now a UNESCO heritage centre.

Ranthambore National Park

Bengal Tiger at Ranthambore National Park

One of India’s most iconic parks, Ranthambore is best known for its population of Bengal tigers. A former hunting ground of the Maharajas of Jaipur, the park now acts as home area for one of India’s most famous conservation projects, Project Tiger.
The project was launched to protect the diminishing population of tigers throughout India. With just 9 tigers in its care at the birth of the project, with the help of more tiger protection schemes around the country, India now boasts an impressive 70% of the world’s tiger population.
The importance of tiger preservation in India is more than stopping a species from going extinct, the tiger also plays a pivotal role in the health and diversity of the ecosystem.
The top predator of the food chain keeps the population of the wild ungulates (hooved mammals such as goats, cows and deer) in check, and maintains the balance between these herbivores and the vegetation that they feed on. If the tigers were to become extinct, the entire system would collapse.
Ranthambore offers more than just a chance to see the tigers up close and personal, but a real insight into India’s wildlife.
India offers one of those once in a lifetime trips of true experiences and creating lasting memories
If you’re ready to indulge in a fantastic Indian extravaganza, take a look at the full itinerary of our India’s Golden Triangle – Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Ranthambore tour, here.

The Weird and Wonderful: Superstitions of Europe

Black cats, horse shoes and not walking under ladders, we’ve all encountered some strange superstitions in our lifetime, and whether you believe in them or not, when Friday the 13th comes around, you can never be too careful.

But, it’s not just here in the UK that we’ll try out little techniques to try our luck, our European neighbours are just as superstitious. But, you guessed it, they’re completely different to ours. So, in honour of this day, why not delve deep into the superstitions of Europe?

Spain


Here we are, worrying about what Friday the 13th can bring, but our Spanish friends are more than likely left scratching their heads, because they believe that Tuesday the 13th is the unluckiest of days.
Tuesday, or Martes in Spanish, is a word derived from the name Mars, which in the middle ages was called ‘Little Evil’. Mars is also the God of War and Destruction, therefore Tuesday is ruled by Mars – and to think we dread Mondays.
But, on Tuesday the 13th, the consensus is Spain is to not get married or board a ship or a plane, as luck may not be in your favour.

Portugal


Spilling wine on any day would be considered bad luck, especially if it’s been a bad day already, but not in Portugal. It’s thought to actually bring happiness to the whole table if you topple your tipple.
But, walking backwards is a no-go. They say that by doing so, you’re teaching the devil the way you’re walking. Also, your left foot is said to be unlucky, so you should always enter someone’s house with your right.

Norway


Ward away the bad luck in Norway by setting a bowl of porridge outside the door. Why, you ask? It’s said to sweeten the old, small barn trolls. And, if it’s a nice day in Norway, don’t whistle towards the sun, it’s said to bring rain.
And, maybe a superstition we can believe in… apparently if there’s ice on the lakes on May Day, then spring will be late. Which, we think is a fairly good observation, given may day is actually in spring.

Italy


The Italians are particularly fond of their superstitions. For a start, if you hear a cat sneeze, expect good luck to be coming your way.
But, interestingly enough, the number 13 is actually considered to be good luck in Italy! But, the number 17… not so much. Friday the 17th is an unlucky day, some Alitalia planes don’t have a row 17 and hotels can skip out the 17th floor all together.
It all comes from the roman numerals for 17, XVII. Change it anagrammatically to VIXI which translates in Latin to ‘I have lived’. Or, looking at it a little more objectively ‘My life is over’. We’ll give them that one, that is pretty spooky.

Czech Republic


In the Czech Republic, throwing a shoe over your shoulder and smashing a glass is meant to be good luck, although, maybe not for the people around you at the time…
But, it’s also custom for brides to smash a plate on their wedding day and have their groom clear it up. The fragments are distributed to the guests and the newlyweds keep a piece for themselves. Quite the unusual favour.
But, on the other side, pouring beer into an old glass isn’t quite so prosperous, especially if it has the remnants of another type of beer in it. That’s said to be very unlucky, and maybe not as refreshing.
 
One thing is for sure, strange customs and cultures make for some interesting and exciting places to visit. Have you heard any unusual superstitions on your travels?

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.

River Cruise vs Sea Cruise: What Floats Your Boat?

Looking to dip your toe into cruising? We know, there’s so much to choose from. Not least whether you want to sail the 7 seas or enjoy something a little gentler. The age old question, do I choose a sea or a river cruise?

Maybe you’re an avid sea or river cruiser and are wondering what it’s like on the other side of the water, or you’re thinking about setting sail for the first time but not sure which is more you? Here are our top 5 points to consider when making your choice.

Sea Sickness

Let’s get this one out of the way to start. If you suffer from bouts of sea sickness, don’t write cruising off just yet. River cruising could just be the answer.
It’s highly unlikely that you, or even the most motion sensitive people, will suffer any bouts of sea sickness on board a river cruise. Firstly, there are no waves and secondly, you’re always in sight of the shore, two huge triggers of the dreaded illness.
In fact, the ride is so smooth, river cruise passengers have said that they didn’t even notice the boat moving so you won’t be left worrying about where the nearest bucket is. You’re free to enjoy the benefits of cruising.

The Changing Scenery

If you’re a fan of visiting the ‘must-see’s’ and the thought of traveling to many different countries, looking for dramatically changing scenery is right up your street, then sea cruising has it all.
From Venice, to Croatia and a stop off in stunning Santorini, it’s all possible in one holiday! But that doesn’t mean that river cruises are any less scenic. In fact, we could say they’re more so.
Rolling countryside, cruising through stunning cities and even flowing through world-famous vine yard clad valleys, if sailing for days on end, through epic seas and mighty oceans, with nothing but the blue sea between you and the horizon doesn’t sound like your thing, there’s plenty to see when sailing on a river cruise.

It’s not the size of the boat…

Well, it could be. There’s the thrill of travelling on an ocean cruise ship, a floating resort, almost. There’s everything you could possibly wish for and it’s every inch as glamorous as you’d think.
From cafes to fine dining, West End worthy shows and spas. Not to mention endless shopping opportunities for those souvenirs or even a little treat for yourself, there’s plenty to keep you occupied on a cruise ship.
But on a river cruise, your vessel is a lot smaller. And that doesn’t mean you’re missing out on all the fun. The smaller ship provides a more intimate environment making it easier to make friends, and anywhere you want to go is just a short walk away from where you are.
And, you can be sure that the staff will always be on hand to make your experience as enjoyable as possible. The lesser number of passengers means the service is a lot more personal, and if that’s the sort of thing you like on a holiday, it’s well worth giving river cruising a go.

Cabin Space

As you would expect, ocean ships have a huge variety of cabins to choose from as opposed to river cruise ships.
And whilst the rooms on board a river cruise ship are comfortable and funtional, the luxury/upgrade options on board an ocean liner can be truly fantastic.
Often ranging from something more modest to impressive suites, you’ll be completely spoilt for choice, whatever your budget.

Right in the heart of the action.

Sea cruises take you to some of the most impressive destinations on earth, provided they’re on the coast. And what better way to approach a stunning destination of bucket list standard than to sail in on a magnificent vessel?
However, due to the sheer size of the ships, it’s not always possible to get into port or even close to land. Sea cruises sometimes use tenders to get you into your destination. And, there is a lot of people to get to shore on a ship of that magnitude.
On a river cruise, you sail straight into the heart of where you want to be, find your spot on the dock and off you go. Of course, there may be times a river cruise has to use a tender too, but with less passengers to ferry and less distance to travel, it’s far from a hassle to get your sight-seeing trip started.
And, as an added bonus for a river cruise? You’ll most likely find yourself ashore every day of your holiday, so your days will be fun packed and fly by…well, sail by.

Ready to hit the waters or high seas? We’ve got plenty of cruises to choose from, whether you’re floating more towards sea or river experiences. Take a look at our cruise offerings over at leger.co.uk
 

Unusual Place Names: Where in the World?

Unusual place names, they seem a million miles away… from the likes of Bunratty to Honningsvag, they’re the sort of destinations you’d have to grab at atlas to find out exactly where they are. And even then, it’s finding out just how far away they are can be pretty mid-boggling.

Well, the thing is, they’re probably closer than you think. We’ve put in some research and found some of Europe’s most unusual place names (and, funnily enough, we visit them on our tours too!) and have even found out just how many miles away they really are.
So, if you’re heading off on one of our tours to places you’ve not really heard of before, your unusual destination may just be on our list. Find out how far you’ll travel to get there with our fantastic new infographic.