5 Great Countries For You To Explore!

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See some of the great countries Expat can take you to Explore!

France

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France is the world’s number one tourist destination, and it’s certainly not hard to see why.

From Paris with its vast amount of cultural history, amazing monuments and architecture, to the beauty of the French Riviera and the stunning region of Burgundy, France has it all.

You can explore the Mont Saint-Michel and the historical Normandy beaches in the north, and the medieval citadel of Carcassone and ancient Roman aqueduct Pont du Gard that crosses the Gardon River in the south.

Expat Explore has many coach tours that visit Paris. See the Champs Elysees and famous Arc de Triomphe, visit the the Louvre Museum or infamous catacombs. Enjoy a cruise up the River Seine, Climb the Eiffel Tower and explore the many museums, galleries, boulevards and restaurants, as far as places to go, the ‘City of Lights’ is truly a remarkable experience not to be missed.

Germany

Germany sits central at the heart of Europe and boasts stunning rural scenery and natural landscapes dotted with historical architecture. The Rhine Valley is a picturesque glacial alpine valley that cuts between enchanting hillside castles and rolling vineyards.

See the stunning Neuschwanstein Castle, a nineteenth-century Romanesque Revival palace seated on a rugged hill above the village of Hohenschwangau in Bavaria. You have to see it to believe it as this extraordinary castle takes you to a world of fantasy and fairy tales.

The magical countryside is contrasted by urban cities which are steeped in thousands of years of history. This urban culture reflects a dynamic and creative force that can be seen in cities such as Berlin and Munich. Berlin has an enticing mixture of history and contemporary culture, so you can witness the historical Berlin Wall while enjoying the bustling cutting edge social scene.

Likewise, in Munich enjoy the Oktoberfest beer festival on a guided tour with Expat Explore tour to get a true feel of German culture as it is meant to be.

Netherlands

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The Netherlands is one of the most unique if not smallest countries in Europe, and is recognized by its many canals and iconic windmills.

It may be small, but it has also provided considerable power and influence over the years. In the 17th century, the Dutch Empire grew to become one of the major economic powers, excelling in science and the military. The Dutch also had considerable cultural influence which can be seen in its legacy of master painters such as Van Gogh and Rembrandt.

Amsterdam is the Netherlands’ capital, and is well known for its artistic heritage and bustling nightlife. You can visit the Van Gogh museum and Rembrandt House museum there and see the truly wonderful work of these great artists, or take a trip down one of its many canals to see the true spirit of the city.

If the countryside is more your thing, why not take a trip to the famous Keukenhof Tulip Garden, and be blown away by the outstanding beauty of the place, especially in spring. Whatever your preference, the Netherlands will have something for everyone, and is a truly inspirational place to be.

The Netherlands is perfectly situated for an Expat Explore Europe multi-country coach tour, and is often the first or last destination to visit depending on which way round you travel.

Switzerland

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In the heart of central Europe lies the outstanding beauty of Switzerland, home to numerous enchanting lakes and valleys, and the founder of the intricate Swiss watch. Sample the famous cheese fondue and indulge in the finest Swiss chocolate, arguably the best in the world.

Switzerland is also known for its alpine peaks and glaciers, especially the 11,400 feet Jungfraujoch which is one of the highest peaks in Europe and one of most famous landmarks in the world. Take a train ride up to the peak and witness breathtaking views.

Visit the beautiful Lake Lucerne, which can be found in central Switzerland, and embark on a boat cruise on either an elegant salon motor vessel or historic paddle wheel steamer.

With France to the west, Germany to the north and Italy to the south, Switzerland is also perfectly situated for Expat Explore Europe multi-country coach tours.

Italy

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Last but not least Italy, what isn’t there to love about Italy – a truly extraordinary place!

As well as boasting the famous Colosseum, Roman Forum, Trevi Fountain and  St. Peter’s Basilica, Italy also has the greatest number of UNESCO World Heritage sites in the world!

Home to the Pope and the Catholic church, Rome has more than its fair share of  beautiful architecture and incredible history. Explore the Vatican city and see the Sistine Chapel painted by Michelangelo, or wonder at the beautiful Saint Mark’s Basilica.

Explore Venice, famous for its canals, gondolas and amazing festival; visit the Leaning tower of Pisa, or bask in the glory of Florence. The Romans surely did leave a wealth of legacies to behold.

Immense yourself in the Italian culture with Expat Explore on one of their regional coach tours of Italy, and enjoy a holiday of a lifetime.

Spring Gardens Around the World.

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The stunning beauty of a spring garden in all its glory is amber nectar to the soul and makes us feel that little bit more humble about our world.

Beautiful gardens are there for a reason, they have been created for us to enjoy and basically give us time in our lives to “smell the roses”.

Sample the Dutch delights of the Keukenhof tulip garden in Spring on the Amsterdam Tulip Long Weekend coach tour, or find below some more of the worlds most extraordinary gardens:

 

1. Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew

Kew, Richmond, Surrey, England

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Explore the world’s most famous botanic garden – Kew Gardens, and immense yourself in the wonderful landscapes, astonishing historic buildings and glasshouses,  and a vast range of beautiful and rare plants.

Witness the glorious awakening of spring beauty and surround yourself with the stunning colours of the rainbow which are erupting around you.

The Kew Gardens are particularly enchanting in spring when flowers start to come alive and take over the gardens.

Not to miss is the Cherry Walk when in bloom, the Davies Alpine house with its displays of unusual and exotic bulbs, the magnificent magnolias and of course, the bluebells which carpet the Woodland area at Kew in April and May.

 

2. Château de Versailles Gardens

Versailles, France

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An outstanding example of  French garden design, Versailles’ vast gardens are notably famous for stunning tree-lined paths, ingenious geometrically aligned terraces and magical ponds, fountains and canals. The Versailles Chateau Gardens cover in excess of 800 hectares of land and were designed by the landscape architect Andre Le Notre.

One of the main focal points of the garden are the 50 fountains which come to life from late spring to early autumn. Other features include the horses and chariot of the Apollo Fountain and the Grand Canal, amazing sculptures and the Orangerie.

The splendour of the gardens are at their best in the spring and summer where you can wander all day long soaking up the wonderful surroundings of water features, sculptures and enchanting flowers.

 

3. Villa d’Este

Tivoli, Italy

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A Renaissance cardinal, Ippolito II d’Este, brought this extraordinary Italian garden to life by first starting the transformation of a dilapidated Benedictine monastery into what Villa d’Este is today.

This recently listed UNESCO wonder has one of the most enchanting and fascinating garden and fountain complexes in the world, built in the mannerist and baroque styles.

You can find the large shell-shaped Fontana del Bicchierone, the Avenue of the Hundred Fountains and the Rometta fountain which has a wolf-suckling Romulus and Remus.

With its vast array of fountains and grottoes, nymphs and bewitching water features, the gardens of the Villa d’Este is an experience not to be missed.

 

4. Sanssouci

Potsdam, Germany

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The Sanssouci Palace was commissioned by Frederick the Great in 1744 and built by Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff in the Rococo design. The style of  architecture became known as “Frederician Rococo” because of the King’s considerable influence.

You can stroll around the beautiful gardens and take in the impressive architecture of Sanssouci Palace as well as the many  temples and follies in the park.

Sanssouci and its extensive gardens became a public museum in East Germany after World War II, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1990.

Walk through this beautiful landscape and see the vision the King saw.

 

5. Butchart Gardens

Vancouver Island, British Columbia

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The Butchart Gardens were created by Jennie Butchart in 1921 and are filled with excess of 700 varieties of extraordinary plants that bloom from March to October.

This visually outstanding garden has to be seen to be believed. Every corner of this magnificent place bombards your senses, from the fountains to the bronze statues, the Rose Carousel to the many ornamental birds, all lit up at night with illuminations.

This enchanting place will leave you wanting more, not just in spring , but through all the seasons of the year.

 

 

 

 

10 Reasons to go on a Winter Holiday!

Why go on holiday in winter?

Well, there are many reasons why going on a winter holiday is a great idea.

Take a look below to see 10 fab reasons why a winter getaway to Europe is the best way!

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Winter Wonderland

 

1. You can travel for less and view major attractions at a cheaper rate.
Winter is the cheapest time to fly to Europe. Airfare prices drop after the high season, and you get cheaper deals and better service at major attractions and local restaurants.

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Fly Cheaper

 

2. You will have more of Europe to yourself.
Winter and autumn time in Europe means less crowds and and fewer queues. This means you will have extra time to fit more into your itinerary every day and have a complete and satisfying experience of each destination.

Less Crowds

Less Crowds

 

3. You get to see all of Europe (and not just the main attractions).
Travelling in autumn and winter can include visits to places you would not normally have time for. Art galleries, museums and places of worship for example. Plus, because you do not get the stifling summer heat, you would not mind being indoors.

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Visit York minster and the Christmas shop on Stonegate.

 

4. Cultural Paradise.
In Europe the cultural calendar swings into full action during winter. Revel in late night exhibitions, enjoy  the warmth of heated indoor museums and take advantage of the busy schedules at opera houses and theatres.

Take in a Show - enjoy some ballet!

Take in a Show – enjoy some ballet!

 

5. Enchanting Christmas Markets! 
Christmas in Europe is a sight to behold! European capitals have their city squares decked out in festive finery and Christmas markets can be seen in almost every European city. Be mesmerized by Christmas markets in Vienna, Munich, Nuremberg, Bruges, Berlin and Krakow to name a few. Indulge in some some Christmas shopping, enjoy some traditional Glühwein and savour the many delicious Christmas treats available at this time of year!

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Christmas Market in Ulm, Germany

 

6. Food! Glorious Food! 
Talking about food, winter time in Europe is the perfect time to eat, drink and be merry. Top winter treats not too miss are Belgian Waffles and Belgian hot chocolate, German cinnamon stars, Swiss Fondue, gingerbread, and of course, the traditional Glühwein!

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Ginger bread treats

7. Ice skating, sledding and skiing.

Travelling through Europe in winter means you can do activities that are not possible to do in summer. Ice Skating is a must during the festive season and Europe is home to some of the best outdoor ice skating rinks in the world. Sports enthusiast can also indulge in their passion for skiing in the Swiss or French Alps and sledding is a great way to experience the great outdoors in winter.

Why not try dog sledding

Why not try dog sledding

 

8. Winter walking and great photo opportunities

Enjoy the fresh air in the Countryside where the crisp air, freshly fallen snow and frozen lakes will make you want to grab your camera for a snap shot of the wonderful scenery.  The quaint cobbled streets found in the medieval cities of  Europe will make you to stay outside even if the weather is cold!

Taking photos in the snow

Taking photos in the snow

 

9. The locals are in town.

Winter is the perfect season if you are out to meet people! The cafe & pub culture in Europe is on fire over winter months and the locals are everywhere. Meet up for a coffee, beer or wine and soak up the warm atmosphere. It’s the best season to get cozy and chatty inside, and to find out more about the local history and culture of a place!

Cheers!

Cheers!

10. You can experience New Year celebrations in a different country.

European capital cities celebrate the New Year like no other.  Millions of people  gather around major attractions like the Eiffel Tower in France, the Piazza in Florence, or Oosterdok in Amsterdam, counting down the minutes to the New Year and amazing celebrations. Scotland in particular is a popular place to celebrate the new Year, calling it Hogmanay and  throwing one of the biggest parties full of huge firework displays and musical performances.

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New Years Eve celebrations

 

So, as you can see, travelling to Europe ‘out of season’ makes absolute sense and can make for a truly amazing experience to cherish and never forget!

Trafalgar’s Insider moments!

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When touring different countries, Trafalgar provide a more in-depth exploration of the diverse cultures and help people travel deeper with ‘Insider experiences’

 

The insider experience

With Insider Experiences you meet the locals; eat with them and join them at work and play. Together with your incredibly knowledgeable Travel Director, they’ll help bring your destinations to life. Trafalgar Travel Directors are a diverse group of characters who all  share one thing in common: a passion to help you discover more by sharing their stories and knowledge with you. So wherever you are you’ll enjoy a real insider’s point of view.

 

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 So for instance if you’re in Amsterdam, they’ll take you to the Royal Delft Pottery workshop to see porcelain being hand-painted by expert artisans. Similarly if you visit Seville,  you’ll also have the opportunity to learn flamenco dancing.

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Learn flamenco dancing

 

Local Specialists are also there to help you experience what’s new and different in a fresh and vital way. These local characters can be dancers, archaeologists, geologists or artisans whose remit is to take you deeper into the local culture – they supply you with fresh insights and anecdotes to make your trip that much more memorable.

 

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Trafalgar’s ‘Be My Guest’ experiences are also hugely popular – food tastes so much better when it’s shared with local people who have a story to tell. You’ll dine with local families in their homes, learn how to cook regional dishes and share a glass of wine or two with winemakers at their vineyards. This takes the ordinary to the extraordinary by giving you a deeper understanding of local people’s lives and history.

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Have a glass or two at the local vineyard

 

Book a coach tour with Trafalgar and let them bring every destination to life – you won’t be disappointed!

 

Awesome Amsterdam Weekend!

Amsterdam is the sort of place you just have to experience in a lifetime. It’s also a destination you can enjoy for a long weekend to celebrate any kind of life event or just for a long, lazy break from work.

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However, if you only visit Amsterdam once in your life, try and make sure your visit coincides with April 27 which is where the Dutch people celebrate King’s day – the worlds largest street party!

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Expat Explore offer a 4 day tour of Amsterdam and the Dutch country side where you can explore the Dutch capital and enjoy the world’s largest spring flower garden, the Keukenhof, in full bloom. Even better, the dates coincide with the King’s day celebrations!

You start the weekend extravaganzas by travelling from London to Amsterdam. Arriving in the evening, you then get to enjoy a complimentary Amsterdam canal cruise before having the chance to explore the canals and Dam Square, browse the many boutiques and enjoy your time in this fascinating city.

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 The following day, head for the Dutch countryside and stop at Keukenhof, the world’s largest spring flower garden, where around 7 million flower bulbs explode in a riot of colour.

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The next stop is Zaanse Schans, a beautiful Dutch windmill village as picturesque as a postcard and ideal for those fabulous photos. 

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Further along the day, you will visit a cheese farm, where cheese is still made using traditional methods,  see a clog-making demonstration, detailing the processes behind the manufacture of traditional Dutch clogs or ‘klompe’ and then off to the famous Dutch fishing village of Volendam, where you’ll see old fishing boats and locals wearing colourful traditional dress.

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  Back in Amsterdam, why not visit some museums such as the Van Gogh Museum and the Anne Frank House which is a historic house and biographical museum dedicated to Jewish wartime diarist Anne Frank. Why not also visit the Heineken Museum which has an interactive tour through the beer giant’s history in its former brewery, with a tasting room finale.

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On day 3, soak up the atmosphere as Amsterdam gears up for a massive party as it’s officially King’s Day and the celebrations will continue well into the night! Head into the centre of town to catch the party in full swing where locals and visitors alike will be enjoying themselves in the city, celebrating this Dutch holiday. Hire a bicycle or board a barge to explore the city further, every corner of this vibrant city has a story and can be a truly rewarding city for those who seek out its best bits. Explore the bars and the street-party atmosphere of Amsterdam – this is the biggest party of the year!

 

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What’s more, the ‘Amsterdam King’s Day Weekend’ tour travels back to London via the Belgian city of Bruges! This popular medieval city has delightful historic old churches and lofty towers to admire and explore. It is also famous for its beer, waffles, chocolate and moules et frites, so take to the cobblestone streets and find exactly what you are looking for!

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Go Christmas Crackers on a Coach Tour!

We know Christmas is just round the corner when we start to see more of this little fellow.

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Our wonderful little robin.

 

We also know that we have to get those Christmas gifts sorted, so what better way to do this than at a wonderful Christmas market!

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Bearing gifts!

 

But rather than go local, why not try something different like on a continental shopping trip!

Combine that all important present buying with an amazing discovery of sights and sounds you have not experienced before.

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Holland at Christmas time.

 

European Christmas Markets are a seasonal event, and if you’re looking for a short trip, Bruges Christmas Markets are perfect and run from the end of November throughout December every year. See an assortment of handmade gifts, decorations, food, drink, clothing and everything else Christmassy that you can think of. While you’re there, go and climb the Belfry Tower for wonderful views of this stunning medieval city.

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Christmas treats.

For something a bit longer, try a multi country tour and visit places like  Paris, Switzerland, Rhine Valley, Amsterdam and Bruges!

See the stunning ‘City of Lights’, marvel at the Swiss Alps, relax on board a Rhine riverboat in Germany’s famous Rhine Valley, revel in the traditional Dutch style and indulge in beer, waffles, chocolate and moules et frites in Bruges.

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Beautiful Christmas market.

 So when all the shopping’s done and you eventually have a little time for yourself,  celebrate Christmas in style this year on your European trip and crack open that bottle!!

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Crack open that bottle of bubbly!

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.