• >
  • A great success!

“Hi Karen

Thought I would just drop you a line to thank you so much for organizing our recent trip to Iceland and also to give some feedback.  Basically we had the most wonderful adventure, loving the spectacular landscapes and delightful friendly people of Iceland.  Our tours were absolutely amazing.

Firstly we really recommend Icelandair.  Superb website, check in and inflight service.  Seats with plenty of room even in Economy Class.

Flybus+ service excellent and reliable.  As we chose to fly with Icelandair we had a very early start on the return journey, having to be at the pick up bus stop 5 minutes walk from our hotel at 4.30am and the weather was decidedly “Icelandic”!! But that was our choice and we weathered the storm!!

The Alda Hotel.  Absolutely superb.  Tasteful décor, excellent and extremely helpful and friendly reception staff.  Lovely varied buffet breakfast and the Brass Restaurant serves a fairly limited menu but the food it beautifully presented and very tasty.  Hotel residents receive a 10% discount on restaurant meals in the evening.  Hoping to return to Iceland we would most definitely be staying here again.  Wouldn’t bother looking at anything else.

We wanted to buy traditional Icelandic jumpers and had previously researched and found only five minutes walk from the hotel the Handknitting Association of Iceland shop.  Expensive but so worth it to be supporting the local industry and not some foreign import from China.  Visitors need to bear this in mind.  Staff in the shop were very helpful and we were very grateful to have our jumpers on a couple of occasions in the somewhat inclement weather!

Basically we were very lucky with the weather.  We had a crystal clear but blisteringly cold first night for our Northern Lights hunt and ….. we saw them first time out.  Full credit to the expertise of the Superjeep team who had 250 customers out with them that night as weather had been inclement and the aurora forecast low for the previous few nights.  We were supplied with hot chocolate fortified with vodka while we waited for the light show and all the guides had cameras set up which see the Lights before the human eye can and subsequently everyone has the opportunity to have photos taken with the Lights in the background.  A real bonus as unless you have expensive photographic equipment and a tripod with you it is virtually impossible to get anything like a decent image.  

Full day tour with Superjeep to The Golden Circle.  Again a spectacular tour right off road and up into the mountains through deep snow on another crystal clear and blisteringly cold day.  Our guide for the day was not the most informative but we still thoroughly enjoyed the day.

Restaurant recommendation in Reykjavik…..Rok…..which is up the hill near the Lutheran Cathedral.  Tapas style Icelandic meal which is great as each person choses 3 – 4 dishes so you have opportunity to sample several different dishes.  Icelandic food is fresh and the emphasis is definitely on the healthy.

Two day tour to the south coast, Vik, waterfalls, Vatnajokull glacier, Jokuslaren ice lagoon, complete with wild ride up onto the glacier itself and tour down into a stunning natural ice cave, Black Beach and Diamond Beach.  Cannot pronounce, let alone spell or remember any other place names unfortunately.  Our overnight accommodation was Hof Adventure Hotel which was bunkhouse in style but very clean and adequate for the night.  We were glad we didn’t stay in one of the cottages as a storm hit overnight and the occupants of the cottages said they got no sleep and their beds were shaking it was so windy!!  The sleet, snow and rain comes down horizontally!!  Iceland is the third windiest place on the planet and not many people live in the first and second places!!  Our tour was with Arctic Adventures and our guide was superb.  Very informative and friendly and included a couple of unscheduled stops for us on the way back to Reykjavik on the second day as his Northern Lights Tour was cancelled that night and he had extra time to take us up to another glacier, one of the locations used in Game of Thrones, and also to an extra waterfall and a mountain canyon.

All in all a wonderful experience and the next time we hope to go in April, May or June, feeling that we have only scratched the surface of what Iceland has to offer.

So thank you so much Karen.  We will be returning to you again in the future and would have no hesitation in recommending Spa Travel.

With kind regards V “

Take an unforgettable railway journey and experience your holiday from a different perspective by train, witness incredible scenery, enjoy first-class comfort and outstanding service. We’ve put together ideas of three incredible railway journeys from our friends at Newmarket Holidays.

  • Scottish Highland Railways

Acclaimed by Michael Palin as one of the ‘Great Railways of the World’, the breathtaking run from Inverness across to Kyle of Lochalsh is just one of the trio of journeys included on this hugely popular break in Scotland. A train journey around Scotland can be one of the best ways of admiring the stunning landscapes around the country. The dramatic 42 miles of the famous West Highland line from Fort William to Mallaig, and the nostalgic trip on the steam-hauled Strathspey Railway complete an unforgettably scenic few days in one of Scotland’s most beautiful regions.  

You can book a rail holiday from Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh from £489 per person, including return flights to Edinburgh, coach travel, transfers throughout and fully escorted by a friendly, experienced tour manager. Enjoy a journey on the steam-hauled Strathspey Railway, cross the famous Glenfinnan Viaduct on the 42-mile journey from Fort William to Mallaig. This amazing holiday also includes four nights stay at either the Highlander Hotel, Newtonmore or the Carrbridge Hotel, Carrbridge, including dinner, bed and Scottish breakfast.

  • Steam Railways of Austria

Austria is an incredible destination with a unique landscape, which include a combination of beautiful lakes, charming mountains and imperial architecture.

Enjoy a stunning holiday to the scenic Austrian Tyrol, a land of green pastures, towering mountains and flower-decked villages, where in addition to a stay in a wonderful Alpine paradise, you’ll enjoy journeys on some delightful vintage railways through incredible countryside, and a visit to Imperial Innsbruck, the glorious Tyrolean capital.

Journey on the nostalgic Zillertal Steam Railway, visit the glorious Innsbruck and the Imperial Tyrolean capital from £789 per person. This holidays also includes return flights to Munich, seven nights’ carefully chosen dinner, bed and breakfast accommodation at the three-star Hotel Gerloserhof, Gerlos, coach travel and transfers throughout and fully escorted by a friendly, experienced tour manager.

  • Historic Railways of the Isle of Man

Take a marvellous short break to a corner of our island where it seems life is lived at a slower pace – TT races aside – against a background of rolling hills and wonderful beaches blessed by clean air and unpolluted skies. An independent Crown dependency governed by the world’s longest established parliament, the island is full of fascination, with its unique heritage railways offering a marvellous way to discover and explore this very special place.

Book a holiday to this stunning island and you will have the opportunity to see ‘Seven Kingdoms’ from the summit station and discover many of the island’s attractions with your included ‘Go Explore Heritage’ card included. Journey on the narrow-gauge Isle of Man Steam Railway, visit to historic Laxey, where Lady Isabella is the world’s largest working waterwheel and take also the opportunity to a visit to the classic resort Port Erin.

Price starts from £789 per person, including return flights to Douglas, four nights’ carefully chosen dinner, bed and breakfast accommodation at the Chesterhouse Hotel, Rutland Hotel, Welbeck Hotel, Ascot Hotel or the Empress Hotel, Douglas, coach travel and transfers throughout and fully escorted by a friendly, experienced tour manager.

Newmarket Holidays is one of the UK’s largest independent tour operators, specialising in Escorted Touring. Its award winning and quality holidays are offered at affordable prices with something for everyone – from Coach Holidays in the UK to cruising Europe’s majestic rivers, but our core lies in escorted touring in Europe, the Americas, India and the Far East. The Newmarket team is continually striving for customer service excellence and in our 36th year of operation we are proud to be a multi award-winning tour operator with over 200 staff.  We have won Best Large Escorted Tour Operator at the BTA’s 5 years in a row – voted for by the public! Not to mention accolades for our India, Canada and Italian programmes to name but a few, so you really can book with confidence!

Another strength of the Newmarket portfolio is how they have developed programmes that bring choice to customers, something that is evident in these railway holidays. For years Scottish Highland Railway tours with its three famous railway journeys has been the bedrock of our Scottish program, which has led to other fascinating itineraries in Scotland and at the same time has fuelled customers desire to experience more railways – not just for railway enthusiasts! These holidays albeit with a railway theme still offer something for everyone, seeing cities like Innsburck and Vienna on our Steam Railways of Austria tour or exploring the whole of the Isle of Man and its fascinating history on the Historic Railways of the Isle of Man holiday – both offer customers the opportunity to experience more for their money with so many inclusions.

Contact our travel specialists today if you’d like more information on how to book a holiday to any of the holiday ideas mentioned on this blog.

We have been closely monitoring the latest travel advice relating to BREXIT from both the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and from our tour operator partners as well, and as such wanted to update you accordingly.

As we assume you are aware, there is still a great deal of uncertainty as to what will happen but we feel that there are currently a few steps you can take to avoid any disruption in the event that the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

Passport validity

Currently your passport should be valid for the proposed duration of your stay; you do not need any additional validity period on your passport beyond this. If we secure the proposed transition period, this won’t change.

However, if the UK leaves the European Union with NO DEAL the passport validity rules for travel to most countries in Europe will change from 29th March 2019. As a precaution, the UK government recommends that you have six months left on your passport on the date of return travel from an EU country. These six months should not include any extra months that may have been added to your passport’s expiry date at the time of renewal (i.e. if you renewed prior to the expiry date of your document). You can check whether your passport is/will be valid by visiting the below website:

https://www.passport.service.gov.uk/check-a-passport

Driving aboard on holiday

Currently you only need your Great Britain or Northern Ireland driving license to drive in Europe when on holiday. You can use a photo card license, or a valid paper-only license issued before 31 March 2000, if you still have one. This situation may change and so, if you are planning to hire a car whilst on holiday you might also consider purchasing an international driving permit (IDP).

Permits can be purchased from the Post Office for £5.50 and will be valid for 3 years from the date of issue. For further information on this visit the below website:

https://www.postoffice.co.uk/international-driving-permit

Please remember as always you need to make sure you have adequate travel insurance in place to cover all aspects of your trip.

Should you have any concerns or further questions please do no hesitate to contact the office.

Why Book With An ABTA Member ...