I chose Green Hills Travel Centre to make the bookings for what was to be a tour to Norway and developed into a seven weeks odyssey to Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Austria Switzerland Ireland and UK.
Warwick and his staff made bookings for 2 tours, Eurail pass, hotel accommodation air travel and travel insurance.
It all seemed straight forward enough except for several changes of plan and extensions of time.
Warwick and his staff were very patient and helpful and had helpful suggestions to offer as well.
I chose an 11 day ferry cruise from bergen to Kirkenese and return to Trondheim. Due to a ferry mishap, this ended being a 10 day return Trondheim Kirkenese Trondheim. I was very pleased with this tour. The ship was comfortable staff very customer focussed and well organised social and side events.
I went on side excursions to North Cape (excellent) dog sledding at Kirkenese (not good value or productive use of time) and a horse ride and land tour through Lofoton Islands (total waste of time and money. Regrettably I chose this instead of a midnight concert in the glass cathedral at Kirkenese which those who went enjoyed). All of these events were expensive
In going early in the season, i knowingly missed an included visit to the heritage Gereinger Fjord which was not available until later in the season.
I have no hesitation in commending this cruise, with the reservation of being selective of side excursions as noted.
I also chose an 8 day rail tour of Switzerland with Trafalgar Tours This was rated as the top tour in Switzerland and was very expensive. Unfortunately this tour was cancelled and i opted for an alternative coach tour with Insigh Tours which was offered instead. Overall i enjoyed this tour. I think it included most of the key features of the rail tour but at less cost. Accommodation was in 4 star hotels and better value than higher level hotels. The guide and driver were good and informative and as tours go it was good.
In the case of both tours I chose to go early in the season because i wanted to see snow and ice and cold climate. I was not disappointed in this respect, however It would have been more scenic about a month later, although with much less snow.
I had decided to travel Premium economy with the expectation of a more comfortable flight. This expectation was only partially fulfilled. Yes the seats were more roomy and comfortable with more leg room,BUT the seats were above the wing and there was a constant loud roar from the engines which was painful and uncomfortable ( BA Boeing 777).
I arrived at Bergen to join the Hurtigruten Ferry Tour to Kirknese and return to trondheim without incident.The day before I was due to depart Bergen (April 1 ) turned out to be real April Foll’s Day.
The ship I was supposed to join was involved in a damaging incident and was withdrawn from from servbice. I had heard rumours to this effect but could not get any confirmation.
It was only due to Amanda sending me an E-mail that I read about 3.00 am That i became aware
Fortunately Amanda got my message as she was about shut down her computer and was able to provide assistance. Hutigruten had advised Green hills that They had been in contact with me and they were assisting me!! This the first I had heard about it
The situation was resolved with the help of the hotel manager in Bergen and I was sent to Trondheim to join another ship that had left Bergen the previous day. Hurtigruten reimbursed me for all out of pocket expenses and I was impressed with their efforts.
After leaving the ferry in trondheim I had planned to visit each of th Scandanavian capitals travelling independently by rail before joining the Swiss tour
I had 2 full days in each of the Scandinavian capitals, although Easter came in the middle and restricted what was available.
I made changes to my departing itinary and Amanda was able to rearrange changes to accommodation which was ver helpful and much appreciated
I enjoyed train travel during daytime from Copenhagen to Stuttgart which allowed me to see the countryside ( glad I chose not to travel at night). Visits to Porsche and mercedes museumds in Stuttgart. 3 full days in Munich with a day tour to Salzburg in Austria before joining the 8 day tour of Switzerland.
Switzerland was enjoying an exceptionally heavy snow fall during the tour and our tour guide advised us that it was the heaviest snofall they had at that tme of the year! He also told me that within 2 weeks the snow would have gone from the peaks
I had asked Warwick to prebook budget hotels which for the most part were satisfactory after all you get what you pay for (mostly)
I chose to travel via Singapore (or Hong Kong) rather than via Gulf States, Hence British Airways.
I could have gone via HK by flying Cathay but the cost was several Hundred dollars more.
B A was fine, flight crew pleasant buut thie PA terribly garbled (seems to be stock in trade with airlines and airports)
Having been to Uk previously I jade my own bookings for accommodation, some very good most ok some so so. Likewise I chose to travel by train throughout Uk and an 8 day Britrail pass worked out just fine. I probably could have done it a bit more cheaply if i could be sure of catching off peak trains. with a rail pass i could travel at any time regardless of individual train fares.
I had cash flow problems on a couple of occasions, partly because of flawed advice from the bank about using travel cards, partly through trying to do on too little on the card initially and partly because the ship locked funds which reduced available currencey seriously
My impression is that it is best to load the travel card with AUD and bear the cost of conversion fees at the ATM because you only pay once If you load it with other currencies here you pay and if you need to convert to another currencey you pay again and then you pay at the end to convert back to AUD. Also, the Scandanavian countries do not use Euros which i had. they use their own currency. Likewise in Switzerland. They use Swiss Franks; some will tale Euros but they do not like it. So i had a lot of euros left which i could not use and it cost to convert to AUD.
so you could be paying 10 or 20 percent in bank fees instead of about 4 or 5 percent!!
It is better to prepay tips where that option is available than to pay on location, for one thing it is less to fork out in transit and there is no misunderstanding about how much to pay.
Also your travel agent should explain how cruise operators manage your on board expense account. Hurtigruten froze 2x the amount of my account which shocked me and left me in a hole until it was released afdter they got their money.
In conclusion I was well pleased with Warwick as my travel agent and with Hurtigruten and insight tours.
Having a travel agent who took the time and trouble to organise what I wanted and was willing to help sort some of the issues which developed while i was away was a great help
I am pleased to recommend Green Hills Travel Centre as a caring and helpful Agent