Make or spoil a holiday: the importance of a coach tour guide

Photo by flickr user final gather

Photo by flickr user final gather

Our coach tour guide Renata met us at the airport. Just to mention guides. They can make or spoil a holiday. We are quite demanding of our guides as we just soak up information. Renata turned out to be exceptional. We boarded our coach and eventually reached the very elegant and welcoming Grand Hotel Liberty in Riva, on the shores of beautiful Lake Garda.

Lake Garda, Venice and Verona, a fantastic ten day trip. We travelled by air Dublin – Milan/Bergamo. As I wound my way though the stream of travellers heading to the Milan gate I found myself doing what I often do: you smile at the odd fellow traveller and size them up, they’d be ok to spend 10 days with or Oh! God, they look as if they’re heading to jail!

I love to see a photo or a video of some location and be able to say “We were there”. I see the professional photos on travel brochures and websites and I think my own amateurish photos are so much better! It is nice to have personal memories of one’s travels and it’s great to have someone to share them with.

I always appreciate a coach tour guide that leaves you the first day free to relax and explore and find your bearings. We strolled around Riva and visited the markets in the afternoon. Return to the hotel for dinner. We then began to mingle and people were talking about the various tours throughout the week some included in the package, some optional, which you could avail of or forego.

Going back to famous locations and the “We were there” factor, the highlight of the holiday was the full day excursion to Venice and a very informative guided tour of the city – St. Mark’s Square, Doges Palace, Bridge of Sighs. A payment of 17 euro per person collected on the bus to cover Venice, tourist tax and water taxi charge. At extra cost we just had to take the trip on a gondola. How could one not! What lovely holiday photos that little outing provided!.

Venice - Photo by flickr user Roger Davies

Venice – Photo by flickr user Roger Davies

Verona was lovely. We enjoyed the usual tourist sights, Juliet’s balcony, the Amphitheatre and, even though we’d been warned, one of our party had her purse stolen which put a damper on things.

Another memorable trip to the awesome Dolomites and a fantastic Italian lunch with lots of wine and limoncello, There was much merriment on the return journey!

Riva was our base and we travelled from there each day returning in time for evening dinner. Like kids finding all the wonders of a fun park, we availed of all the trips, organised by our coach tour guide and optional, each one of them wonderful. Maybe it was the combination of sun, food and wine but we were super energetic and super curious about every aspect of life in northern Italy.

Limone by boat, a charming little town on the other side of the Lake with lots of shops selling beautiful leather goods. Needless to say I was tempted and bought a coat there. A trip up the Alps by cable car and the mist came down around us. What a fascinating experience to hear the bells chiming as the cattle grazed about us.

On day trips the coach tour guide usually advises where to go for the BEST coffee, tea ice-cream etc. which is generally very close to the bus stop. There is always a stampede to such places. We never avail of those suggested stops but wander off and find a nice little place for ourselves with the loveliest cappuccino ever tasted! the tastiest gelato, the fruitiest yoghurt, the most tempting aperitivo. And do we like to tell of our discoveries when we get back on the bus!

After a few days we were on first name terms with most of the group, none of whom were of course those passengers at the airport that I’d decided would be our travel companions. All too soon our ten days were over and it was time to return home with lots of lovely memories, lots of email addresses and phone numbers and fingers itching to leaf through another travel magazine or, maybe this time, to browse through Personal Travels proposals which at this stage could pinpoint my needs and come up with an even better travel option than I myself ever could.