Venice Carnival – The Ultimate Costume Party

The Venice Carnival is an annual spectacle that all lovers of parties and dressing up should attend, at least once in their lives! You can go in your regular clothes and just watch, but it’s much more fun to get fully involved.

Dressed for the Carnival in Venice

From left to right: Geoff, Sue, April and Andy

In February 2012 my wife Sue and our friends Andy and April, set off for 6 days of fun and celebration. Whilst it’s possible to buy or hire costumes on arrival, if you plan carefully in advance like we did, you can buy your costumes or ‘fancy dress’ (as we call it in the UK) quite reasonably

Plenty of people push the boat out and hire expensive costumes

Global Coach Tours takes all the hassle out of the scramble for flights and accommodation by offering a Carnival package with Cosmos from just £549, new for 2013. This wasn’t on offer in 2012 so we booked it ourselves and overall we paid a bit more than you would with this package. However, here’s how we did it.

We booked a self catering apartment a year in advance after careful research on various web sites. We booked the flights at least six months ahead with BMI one way and Easyjet the other direction. We bought return transfers by waterbus online which saved a few euro by getting them in advance. Finally we booked two activities in advance. A Venice carnival ‘pub crawl‘ and a ‘Secrets of Venice Carnival and the Life And Times Of Giacomo Casanova‘. With a title that long we thought it had to be good. We had a FAB time on the pub crawl visiting four different historic bars the locals go to. The guide was very informative and a drink was included at each bar. In the last bar refills of decent red wine were available for 2 euros a glass!

One of the highlights of the week was afternoon tea at the Hotel Danieli  This was an affordable indulgence. For 35 euro you could have as many cakes as you liked and several glasses of Prosecco, the Italian sparking wine. The reason it’s so special is the spectacular unrivaled view from the roof terrace. We were advised to arrive early, but were surprised that there was no rush for tables.

Geoff and Sue Monk on the roof terrace at Hotel Danieli

One thing to consider doing whilst you are in Venice must be the Gondola ride. A 20-30 minute ride will cost an average of 80 euro based on two people sharing. Singing will be extra. Instead of a highly polished vessel as in the picture below, you could have a shorter ride experience in a gondola ferry called ‘traghetti’  These are used by locals everyday instead of the bridges over the grand canal and cost as little as 50c.

The real deal tourist gondolas

Whatever time of year you visit Venice, there’s never a shortage of shops, sights and sounds. If you can’t make it to the carnival, check out our other tours of Italy with Trafalgar Tours, Insight Vacations, Cosmos Tours and Contiki Tours for 18-35s


Young and Carefree with Contiki Tours

Most young adults are looking for trips that have plenty of options and an exciting edge—both qualities that don’t quite fit into the agenda of a traditional tour group. From Europe, Australia, and New Zealand, to Asia, North America, and Latin America, no matter where you go with Contiki Tours you’re sure to find thrilling journeys and exhilarating getaways.
Their tours are designed exclusively for the 18-35s.
Traveling abroad often ranks as a defining moment in many people’s lives. Not only does experiencing a foreign country allow you to be a part of unforgettable adventures, but it also makes you friendships that can last a lifetime. Tours designed for a younger crowd are affordable to fit your budget no matter how tight money is.
There’s something for everyone with these action-packed tours. For those who love adrenaline-charged experiences, diving and snorkeling are just a click away with last-minute trips you can book during your tour. With the holidays coming up and spring break just around the corner, a relaxing beach or resort vacation may be just what’s in store for students who need a break from the books. Any lover of winter sports can appreciate an escape from their responsibilities, complete with skiing, snowboarding, and other extreme winter adventures.
Many people choose to travel at a young age because they know it is a time with freedoms that you’ll never be able to get back. Take advantage of this unique time in your life with tours catered to your age group for once-in-a-lifetime excitement.Some of the best prices in the world for Contiki Tours of Europe and the UK can be found on the Global Coach Tours web site, with average 10% savings.

How school projects and Remembrance Day led to a tour across Europe.

I’ve got 3 children who were all covering some aspect of both the 1st and 2nd World Wars in their school studies and wanted to find a way of giving them some hands on experience that would help them appreciate the impact of these Wars. Remembrance Day was also upon us which placed even more emphasis on a need for more insight into war in general. We had also recently found some old photos that my Husband’s Mother had given us depicting a trio of soldiers whereby one of them was a relative.

Old photo found of relative from the 1st World War

I also wanted to book a holiday, as one was well over due, and thought it would be nice to combine the two – in other words, a restful trip that also provided some interesting knowledge about the past Wars. Looking at the Internet, I came across a website that specialised in coach tours across all of Europe as well as other countries across the world – Global Coach Tours.


I found an Insight Tour which was especially of interest called World War 1 Battlefields (Summer 2016) which provided an excellent and fascinating tour where the memorials and cemeteries testify to the futility and tragedy of the Great War to this day.

The World War 1 Battlefields (Summer 2016) tour takes you on an emotive and poignant journey through the countryside of northern France, dotted with war cemeteries and memorials.


This Insight tour World War 1 Battlefields (Summer 2016) has the lot – beautiful places to visit combined with rich and fascinating historical facts. Just hope my children can absorb all what there is to see and do and take the wonderful experiences back with them to the classroom – a worthwhile coach trip indeed.


A grand way to tour on a budget.

I hadn’t really thought about going on a short break in a while but was soon prompted when I found out some long lost relatives would be visiting from abroad! I really had to rack my brains for a solution to make sure they all would be entertained without us all having to fork out a lot of money. Image my relief when I came across a travel website that offers budget short and long breaks by coach travel. Not only that, it also ticked all the right boxes for all my family’s needs regarding dates and costs.

The tour we chose was the Taste of Britain 4 day tour which covered a lot of the places my family wanted to see. The tour started in London and we travelled on a luxury air-conditioned coach with reclining seats and on-board restroom.


Our first stop was at Cambridge with its famous University. We viewed the colleges which are part of the University and these were truly fascinating to see. Next we headed to York where we went on an orientation walk to be shown all the splendours of the city. These included the beautiful Minster and the famous Shambles. We also noticed a lot of ghost walks!


On day 2 we headed to the City of Edinburgh for a lot of sight seeing including the magnificent  Edinburgh Castle. We also saw  Hadrian’s Wall on the way which is a  very, very long defensive wall built by the Romans in 122 AD.


The very long Hadrian’s Wall ( 80 Roman miles).


The magnificent  Edinburgh Castle.

Day 3 was special as we travelled through the stunning views of the Lake District before stopping at the village of Grasmere where  the great poet William Wordsworth lived.

Enjoying the view.

We next went on to Liverpool before arriving at our very comfortable hotel for the night in nearby Haydock and enjoyed an excellent dinner and breakfast the following morning. After breakfast we travelled to Chester and particularly enjoyed the sights of the black and white timbered buildings which are known as the ‘Rows’.


The ‘Rows’ in Chester.

We next visited  Stratford-upon-Avon, the birthplace of Shakespeare, before arriving back where we started from in London.

The family fully enjoyed this trip and went on for weeks afterwards about their wonderful experience. I can truly recommend this tour and may even go on a longer coach tour of Britain in the future. Try it for yourselves – you won’t be disappointed.


Trafalgar Tours coach vacations

Trafalgar tours

 Vacation travel offers a way for people to relax while visiting exciting new places. This is why all inclusive coach travel packages are so popular with today’s savvy travellers. Coach travel tours offer convenient, well planned itineraries that are perfect for families, couples, and single travellers.

Coach Tour Package Destinations

Coach travel companies offer a variety of tour packages throughout Europe, the United States, and the Middle East. Tour packages allow travellers to visit well-known, historic sites as well as hidden gems within the tour area. The average tour lengths offered by coach travel companies range from four to seven days. No matter the destination, experienced coach travel companies provide a quality vacation experience to each of their customers. Click here to see options.

What Does A Typical Tour Package Include

Coach travel packages provided by Trafalgar Tours include guided tours, first class accommodations, and comfortable transportation throughout the vacation. While countries in the U.K. remain a favourite vacation spot, countries such as Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Jordan are popular as well. Visitors may leisurely explore the museums, cathedrals, and ancient ruins of their destination city with the help of knowledgeable tour guides.

Dining and up-scale accommodations are also included in the coach tour packages. Coach travellers get to enjoy full breakfasts and dinners as part of the vacation package. This allows travellers the option to choose lunch at a local spot of their choosing if desired. Coach travel companies have partnered with the premier hotels within their travel destination areas to offer their clients comfortable lodgings.

Customers of coach travellers expect to arrive at their sightseeing destinations via luxurious, air-conditioned coach bus lines. This mode of transportation is especially attractive to senior travellers and those who may have difficulty getting around efficiently. The travel director assigned to the tour ensures that clients comfortably arrive to and from their tour destinations.

Christmas Wishes on a Rivercruise

I’m so excited – just been told I’m going on a Christmas Markets River Cruise by my wonderful husband . Apparently it’s going through Alsace and Germany which I can’t think of any better place to be during the festive season to savour Gemütlichkeit, Glühwein and Lebkuchen? I can’t wait to be enthralled by the beautiful decorations adorning the magnificent buildings and the twinkling lights on the market stalls.The festive atmosphere which these Christmas Markets conjure would be one to beat on a beautiful crisp winter’s day.


We fly to Zürich on the 26th November (which will soon come round) and go on to a place called Basel for four nights where the cruise ship is based. Apparently we are all to meet the crew at a welcoming reception so we can get to now them and vice versa.

I’m particularly looking forward to the second day as I believe there is an excursion to the famous Black forest which is best known for its cute cuckoo clocks, fabulous woodcarvings, Black Forest ham and the delicious Black Forest Gateaux!

The following day we should be visiting Strasbourg which has the oldest and most finest Christmas markets in Europe which date back to 1570! The City’s famous Christkindelsmärik‘ is also found around Place de la CathÈdrale and Place Broglie and  a giant Christmas tree is traditionally seen as its centrepiece.

I’m also very excited for day four as we can either explore the magnificent and ancient imperial city of Speyer or join an excursion to beautiful and romantic Heidelberg with its ancient castle, ice rink and wonderful Christmas Market.

Basically, I can’t wait to spend my whole time exploring the wonderful Christmas Markets whilst savouring the aromas of mulled wine and cinnamon cookies and listening to the sounds of festive Christmas songs – roll on November 26th!