Entries by Mike Silford

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Have The Best Day In Lapland

Why you need to book Newmarket Holidays day trip to Lapland

Visiting Santa in his home in Lapland is a dream come true for most children. The magical feeling you get when you arrive with all the snow surrounding you is an experience that you will never forget.

Newmarket Holidays have a dedicated day trip to Lapland and we have noted down a few reasons why we believe it is the best day trip available and why you a day is plenty of time to enjoy the magic.

Reason 1

Unlike some of the Finnish resorts, Newmarket Holidays fly into Pajala which is EXCLUSIVE to the company. They are the ONLY plane to land that day, so unlike other resorts where you will have 2,000-3,000 people arriving, with this Lapland holiday, there is just a total of just 𝟭𝟴𝟵 people. Creating a very intimate and personal feeling to the day

Reason 2

ALL the activities are included and because there is only 189 passengers in this resort it means there are no long queues standing in the cold and so more free time to have fun!

Reason 3

Most of the day trip experiences means you arrive and it is already dark. Due to Newmarket Holidays early flight times guests have approximately 2-2.5 hours of natural daylight, which is superb for taking those all important photos, doing activities and just seeing where you are.

Reason 4

All resort prices are in £ Sterling so no need to change money over. Amazing!

Reason 5

You will search for the main man through the enchanted forest and have a private meeting in Santa’s grotto. There is no sense of being hurried with a long queue of people waiting behind you so if you want to spend 10 minutes convincing Santa you’ve been good, then carry on (and that’s not just the children talking to Santa). 

santa and child

Prices start from just £539 per adult and £519 per child.

This day experience sells out so you had best book quick before it gets full. Call Mike or Penny on 01582 349480 for dates and more information or complete the form below.


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Iconic Rail Journeys Around The World

Opulent rail travel has come back into our minds in recent times with film and TV shows releases. Even Michael Portillo with his pastel coloured trousers, clutching a copy of Bradshaw’s 1913 railway guide of Europe, has given us inspiration to travel and explore by rail. Filled with adventure, mystery and romance, trains have long appealed to the discerning traveller with a sense of adventure. Step on board as we take a sneak view of some of the ultimate rail journeys that can make that memorable holiday.

Bergen Line

At 308 miles long, you’ll have plenty of time to look out for a troll or two whilst travelling into the snowy mountains of Norway. The famous Oslo to Bergen train connects the country’s two largest cities and also prides itself in being the highest railway line in Northern Europe when it reaches the dizzying heights of 4,058 feet above sea level as it crosses the Hardangervidda plateau.

 

Bernina Express

Not only will this four hour long railway line from Chur and St Moritz in Switzerland to Turin in Italy take you on an adventure through the alpine landscapes but you’ll also travel through a UNESCO World Heritage Site. From snow-capped mountains and glaciers to dramatic waterfalls and palm trees, the 90 mile long journey covers 55 tunnels and 196 bridges on its journey from Switzerland to Italy.

 

Darjeeling Himalayan Railway a.k.a The Toy Train

It might not be the height of luxury travel but it’s certainly one of the most thrilling. The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, also known as the Toy Train, is only two feet wide and runs between New Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling in the Himalayan foot hills. This tiny train runs along a 53 mile track and peaks at 7,218 feet high when it reaches Darjeeling. With its track up in the clouds and an explosion of colour and excitement along the way, you won’t regret buying the £16 first class ticket for the Toy Train.

Venice Simplon Orient Express

Step back in time to the roaring twenties with a trip on board the exquisite Art Deco style Orient Express. Originally running between Paris and Istanbul, the train now runs various routes including the destinations of Berlin, Prague, London, Vienna and Venice where you’ll witness everything from snow topped mountains to palm tree lined streets. The Venice Simplon-Orient Orient Express is as authentic as they come and still uses the original cars from the 1920s.

 

The Rocky Mountaineer

Look out for bears, coyotes and wolves as you travel the on the multi-award winning Rocky Mountaineer train through the Canadian Rocky Mountains. With various routes on offer, the Circle journeys will let you witness the dramatic mountainous landscapes of Canada so you won’t miss a thing. Go the extra mile and book the Gold Leaf seats which gives travellers spectacular views of the scenery by offering full length windows and a glass domed roof.

 

Trans-Siberian Express

The legendary Trans-Siberian Express is the longest railway line in the world and probably one of the most famous. Built between 1891 and 1916  it spans eight time zones from Moscow to Vladivostok over the course of 15 days. But the most popular journey is Moscow to Beijing an ultimate rail journey that travels through the wilderness of Siberia and the Asian Steppes of Mongolia.  

Rovos Rail

The Rovos Rail offers fine service, luxury accommodation, and amazing scenery through the African wilderness. Step aboard the restored classic wood-panelled coaches and enjoy the most luxurious journey through Africa you’ll ever experience. Established in 1989, the Rovos Rail company provides of the finest luxury train journeys in the Southern Hemisphere. And covers some of Africa’s greatest destinations such as Victoria Falls, Cape Town, Namibia, and Dar es Salaam.

 

The Ghan

The Ghan train was named after the hardy Afghans and their camel trains, which, in the early pioneer days, provided the only means of transport into the unforgiving Red Centre. Today, The Ghan offers an incomparable way to travel to the two jewels of the Northern Territory: the barren Red Centre and the tropical Top End. The train offers comfortable overnight accommodation with the Gold Service twin cabins having an en suite bathroom and a three-seat lounger that converts into upper and lower sleeping berths. In the evening, while you dine in the restaurant, your cabin will be converted into a bedroom. In the morning, the bed will be put away during breakfast and the cabin returned to normal. Gold service includes breakfast, lunch and dinner served in the Queen Adelaide restaurant; access to the Outback Explorer lounge car; selected drinks throughout the journey; bedding; towels;…

 

Why Small Group Tours Can Be The Best Way To Explore Somewhere New

The world is a really big place and we all like the idea of exploring as much of it as we can. Doing so in an escorted tour means you don’t have to worry about the logistics and make the most of your time having fun. Whether you are doing so as a couple, with your family or your best friend or travelling solo, doing it in a small group escorted tour can sometimes be the best way to do so. Here are Suitcase Travel’s top reasons as to why.

Young Or Old, Families Or Honeymoon Couples – The Tours Are For Everyone

We have a wide variety of customers walking through our door each day seeking something different for their next holiday. Some might be youngsters looking at tours as part of their year out travelling the world. Some are people who are now retired and want to start ticking off their bucket list. There are honeymoon couples that want to do something different to their usual holiday that is worthy for Facebook and Instagram.  We even have people searching for a family holiday that offers more activities that create cherished memories for both the children and parents compared to the usual week or two on the beach. A small group escorted tour is just the thing for everyone.

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More Variety In The Tours Available

Being in a smaller group means you can see and do more that larger groups can’t do meaning there is more variety in the tours available. There are some places and activities that are too small for a large group to squeeze in for example you can’t do Machu Pichu in a large group. It also means that with a smaller group, there is more flexibility on what can be done as part of the holiday.

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It Can Still Feel Like You Are Travelling Independently

The smaller group tours tend to allow you more free time to go and do some further sight seeing by yourself as well as to hunt for the best food spots. They create the perfect balance between the important ‘you’ time as well as the important ‘group social’ time. All of this allows you to adapt the holiday to how you want it without the stress of organising the main itinerary.

More Choice In Accommodation

Some people may only want to stay in hotels, which is totally fine, but some people enjoy immersing themselves a bit more in local society and therefore like the idea of staying somewhere a little different for part of their holiday. Whether this is in a home stay, a lodge, boutique hotels or authentic B&Bs style of accommodation to name a few, being in a smaller group gives each person the chance to enjoy somewhere a little different to rest their head at night.  

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They Offer Superb Value

Seeing a country in an escorted group tour can offer you amazing value without ruining the experience and by being part of a small group can even improve your holiday.

Creating Lifelong Friends

We all like to make new friends and what better way is there than whilst enjoying the same experiences with like-minded people? If you are travelling on your own, it can be daunting to do it all by yourself as well as being part of a large group. Small group tours offer the best of both worlds – you won’t be on your own but you won’t be intimidated by being on your own in a large group of people. Also, 99% of the time, you will not be the only solo traveller on that holiday.

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Get The Best Out Of Your Tour Leader

 By being in a smaller group, you get to know your leader more and they get to know you more. As a result, they can give each person in the group individual tips to make it the best holiday possible. Whether that is pointing out the best local restaurant or the secret spot to get the best views or the best market to dive in. Whatever you want, the tour leader will know how to do it.

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The Best Way To Spot The Northern Lights

To spot the famous Aurora Borealis (or more commonly known as the Northern Lights) is on many people’s bucket lists and it is no wonder as to why. This natural spectacle is simply stunning. As a travel agent, we often get asked where is best place to go and what is the best way to spot the Northern Lights? Our answer is always simple – you need to travel along the Norwegian coastline with Hurtigruten.

The classic 12-day voyage with Hurtigruten is a unique holiday and can be one that is hard to understand at times but luckily we are here to help explain it. You spend 12 days travelling along the Norwegian coastline from Bergen to Kirkenes (which is right at the top by the Russian border) and back down to Bergen. It is like a cruise on the basis that you sleep, eat and travel on board a ship but that is pretty much where the similarities end.

It isn’t like any ordinary cruise. All the ships in the fleet are working ships – they are used by Norwegians to deliver post to various towns and cities and they even use it like a ferry to get from place to place. Plus the ships are smaller in size, no more than 1,000 passengers stay on board at a time, which means that they can get further into the beautiful fjords than the larger ships, giving you plenty of chances to take photos of views you won’t see anywhere else in the world. Another bonus to this is that Hurtigruten has to visit each port enabling you to always see the true Norway.

So why is Hurtigruten the best way to see the Northern Lights? The first and main reason why is because you spend half of the 12-day voyage above the Arctic Circle. It is in fact above the Arctic Circle where you have the best chance of seeing the Northern Lights, which is the key reason why this trip is better than going to somewhere like Iceland. It doesn’t mean that the lights are better here, just that you are pretty much guaranteed to see them.

Another reason why Hurtigruten is the best way to see the Northern Lights is that you are not in the cities or towns at night where there is lots of light pollution that can affect your chances of seeing them clearly or at all. The ship travels close to the coastline keeping you away from this (yet not too far into the sea so you shouldn’t really experience rough seas and sea sickness should you be worrying about that) giving you yet again more chance to catch them.

Finally, our favourite reason why Hurtigruten is the best way to hunt the Northern Lights is because you always have someone looking out for them – the ship’s captain and their team. There is always someone sailing the ship and therefore will be able to spot the Northern Lights no matter what time it is. Consequently, if they make an appearance in the middle of the night, you can request the team to give you a call in your cabin to let you know where you can then grab your coat and shoes and head to the deck with the other guests to marvel at the spectacle.

Can Hurtigruten really guarantee to see the Northern Lights? Well yes and no. Of course they can’t officially guarantee that you will spot them as it is a natural phenomenon and nature has a mind of its own. Nevertheless, it is extremely rare that they won’t been seen whilst on a 12-day voyage. As a result, Hurtigruten have their Northern Lights Promise on all of their Classic 12-day Voyages. This is simple – if the Northern Lights don’t make an appearance during your trip, Hurtigruten will give you a free 5 or 6-day voyage for another time free of charge (excluding flights). They can offer this as they are so confident in you seeing the Northern Lights.

Have we peaked your interest yet? For more details on the full experience you whilst on the Classic 12-day Voyage have a read here. Hurtigruten have some chartered flights throughout the winter season departing from various UK airports. Nevertheless, if those dates don’t fit with you, don’t worry as the voyage runs daily and there are also daily flights so there’s plenty of days for you to choose between October and March for your adventure to begin.

 

If you would like more information on this trip, get in touch with our experts Mike and Penny who will be able to answer any questions you may have. Or fill in the form below and they will get in touch at a time that is convenient for you.

For more information on Hurtigruten please visit HURTIGRUTEN

 




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Why You Should Visit South Africa Next

South Africa is a beautiful country and is no surprise why it has become one of our most popular destinations. From wildlife, unforgettable train journeys, wine and  a rich culture, South Africa has it all. We love the destination here at Suitcase Travel and so have come up with our top 10 reasons why South Africa should be next on your list of places to visit as well as some ideas on the types of holidays you can go on.

1) Not only can you see the Big 5 on safari but South Africa has some of the best spots for whale watching. The country has many places where you can see the whales from land – on coastal footpaths, cafes and even your hotel. Hermanus is the place to head to for the best chance to catch a sight of these stunning creatures.

2) You can also see penguins! Head to Boulders Beach to see plenty of penguins.

3) Driving around South Africa couldn’t be easier as they also drive on the left hand side of the road.

4) Nature is all around you, even when visiting big cities like Cape Town. Did you know that you can see Zebras on the slopes of Table Mountain?

 

5) If the budget allows, South Africa has one of the best luxury train journeys in the world that is an experience that you won’t regret – The Blue Train. All your food and drink (including a selection of excellent South African wines) is included on your journey from Cape Town to Pretoria with prices starting from £800 per person.

6) The wine! Visiting the country’s winelands is a must, the 4 main ones being Stellenbosch, Paarl, Franschhoek and Wellington. Just make sure you have room in your suitcase to fit in a few bottles for home.

7) Head to Cape Agulhas where both the Indian Ocean and Atlantic Ocean meet. Where else in the world can you see this?

8) If you have an interest in battlefields, there are plenty to visit in South Africa. The battelfields in Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift in the northern KwaZulu-Natal are most definitely worth visiting.

9) If you head east of the country, it is malaria free making it perfect for any safaris in that area, including in Kruger National Park.

10) We have saved the best for last – you don’t get any jet lag! South Africa is only 2 hours ahead of UK time meaning you can get the most out of your time there. 

We have created a few examples of itineraries from our tailor-made team:

 

Cape Town & Winelands

7 nights from £949 per person – saving up to £1,020!
3 nights 4* Camps Bay Stone Cottages, Cape Town
3 nights 4*Plus River Manor, Stellenbosch
Includes FREE wine tasting

Cape Town & Garden Route Self-Drive
10 nights from £1,100 per person – saving up to £750!
3 nights 4* Cape Town
2 nights 4* Paarl
1 night 4* Oudtshoorn
2 nights 4* Plettenberg Bay
2 nights 3*Plus Tsitsikamma
Includes 8 day car hire.

Luxury City, Game & Beach
9 nights from £2,299 per person – saving up to £910!
3 nights 5* Amakhosi Safari Lodge, Kwazulu Natal
3 nights 5* Oyster Box Hotel, Umhlanga Rocks, Durban
3 nights 5* Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa, Cape Town
FREE full board and game activities at Amakhosi Safari Lodge

Don’t fancy doing it alone? Check out this escorted tour

Sensational South Africa
14 days from £2,399pp
Kruger, Cape Town and the Garden Route
Including flights and VIP door-to-door travel service.

South Africa is also great for families. Doing an escorted tour designed for families is a great way to have a holiday that both you and the children will never forget but there is no stress in organising it or worrying about keeping everyone happy.

South Africa Family Safari with teenagers
12 days from £1,076 per person
Johannesburg, Hluhluwe Game Reserve, Kosi Bay, Hlane National Park, Kruger National Park, Blyde River Canyon.
Included:
11 breakfasts, 7 lunches, 10 dinners
Soweto Cycle Tour
Hluhluwe–iMfolozi Park – Game drives
Zulu Village Visit
Hlane NP – Game Drive
Kruger National Park – Game drive
Panorama Route – Bourkes Luck Potholes

* Prices are based on 2 people sharing a room.




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