Contiki provides travel packages that are geared towards a younger traveler ranging from the slow-pace explorer to the high energy adventurer. Thomasina Henn had the opportunity to attend a Contiki training where she explored the rich history and the fun touristy attractions that can be found in both England and Scotland. In this particular trip, she visited Big Ben, learned the history of York, explored Scottish architecture, enjoyed the Beatles Museum all while staying at fabulous hotels and eating at delicious restaurants.
Tell us about your day to day activities and highlights of this trip.
April 29th London Ibis Earls Court Hotel – It was very basic but clean and comfortable. That evening I met up with the rest of the group and we loaded the bus and headed down to the Contiki Basemen, it is the London base for Contiki Tours in Europe. ‘The Basement’ is located downstairs in the basement of the Royal National Hotel. Then down to Westminster Pier where we boarded our sunset cruise down the River Thames. We got a great view of the Houses of Parliament and the iconic Big Ben, followed by the illuminated London Eye and Shakespeare’s famous Globe Theatre, a gorgeous Elizabethan playhouse. Then under the London Bridge and past the Tower of London and the monolithic Shard building (London’s tallest building). The final leg of the cruise took us by Canary Wharf, the Naval College and the Cutty Sark clipper ship, one of the remaining three clipper ships from the 19th century. From there, we made our way back to Westminster Pier, where we disembarked for a fabulous dinner and drinks.
April 30th Sightseeing tour of London. Again, all the sights from the night before but now from the bus. We walked to Buckingham Palace for the changing of the guard and a full day on our own to tour around. Fabulous day riding the Tube going all over London. That night we were jetted off to see Stomp at a quaint local theater. I have seen that a few times through the years but never like this… fabulous time.
May 1st London to Liverpool – headed north on the bus to Liverpool passing my favorite soccer stadiums (even the one my own dog is named after 😊). We enjoyed a sightseeing tour with a local guide where we learned all about the history of the Beatles. Spent some time in a Signature Training/Updating session. The remainder of the day at leisure where my roommate and I went to the Beatles museum where even a non-fan like me had a blast! That night we were treated to dinner at Blakes in the Hard Days Night Hotel. Fabulous atmosphere and food. From there headed to the Cavern Club. That night we stayed at the Ibis Liverpool Centre Albert Dock directly from the dock where the cruise ships dock. Fabulous location for an everything in the city.
May 2nd Liverpool to York – Sightseeing bus ride through some of England’s most historic cities through rolling hills and sheep filled fields to York. We took a fabulous walking tour through the narrow cobblestone streets exploring York Minister, the Shambles of Clifford Tower where I walked up then back down over 200 steps. But worth it as every one with a beautiful view from the top. We earned the right to have “pasties” for lunch… YUM. That night we took a walking ghost tour with a local guide and learned more than you would ever want to know about the history of York and its people. That night we enjoyed light drinks outside on the terrace of the Holiday Inn Leeds hotel. Great location and great for any travelers.
May 3rd York to the Lake District – Made our way to the beautiful Cumbria’s Lake District, filled with endless green mountains, 16 lakes and streets of stone homes. Our first stop was in Gretna Green. Since 1754, Gretna has been synonymous with weddings. It was first made popular by young couples eloping to Scotland to take advantage of the country’s more relaxed marriage laws and performed by the local Blacksmith. Two of our fabulous traveling companions took this to heart and we had a fabulous wedding to attend… loads of laughter and fun. Took a boat tour of city from Windermere Lake and then the day to explore and shop the town. Stayed at the Ibis Carlisle. Absolutely Loved York!
May 4th Lake District to Edinburgh – Spent the day exploring the city a combination of medieval and modern with its buildings perched on top of the hills, shadowed by cliffs, and overlooking the sea. The Castle was amazing perched high above the city. We had a fabulous guided tour through the castle including whiskey and haggis tasting. That night the Scottish tourist board hosted a fabulous dinner for us with fabulous ghost stories, history lessons and fabulous selling tools. Stayed at yet another Ibis hotel in Edinburgh City.
May 5th Spent the day exploring more of the city on our own shopping at the Royal Mile in search of Tartan and other treasures of Scotland. In the afternoon we had a Contiki training session and then a fabulous last night dinner with an official bagpipe player who knocked our socks off playing until the wee hours of the morning.
What a great trip … fabulous mix of travel and training.