Wednesday, 2 October 2013

India Travel Questions Answered

With the recent launch of a new Birmingham to Delhi direct flight, operated by Air India, our resident India specialist, Dave Archer, answers your questions in August's edition of the Journal, the Midlands No. 1 Luxury Magazine, about travelling to one of the most culturally rich and interesting countries in the world...




I have been looking at holidays to India but there seems to be so many places to visit where should I start?
Mrs Wright of Barton-under-Needwood

Most first time visitors to India begin with a visit to Northern India and in particular Rajasthan. Home too many of India’s most famous cities, Northern India is the starting point for India’s famous Golden Triangle Tour of Delhi, Jaipur and Agra (and of course to the iconic Taj Mahal). For a standard Golden Triangle Tour you should allow around 7- 9 days and if you have the time the tour can be extended to include places such as the ‘Pink City' of Jaipur, Udaipur the ‘City of Lakes', Jaisalmer the ‘Golden City’ or Jodhpur the ‘Blue City’.

Jaipur, the pink city
If the idea of trying to see a tiger in its own habitat appeals, then you should also consider adding on a visit to Ranthambore, one of India’s most famous wildlife reserves. Alternatively if you prefer some relaxation time, then head to Goa and its beaches or why not experience a stay at Shimla the British summer capital during the days of the Raj.



When is the best time to go and how long is the flight?
Mr Wilson of Burton-on-Trent

Climate in India varies considerably depending where you are visiting but if you are looking to begin your adventure with a visit to the Golden Triangle then generally the best time to visit would be October – March. Early morning and night temperatures in Northern India especially December to early January can be quite low so please make sure you take some warm clothing. Flying time from London to Delhi is approximately 9 hours. If you are looking to fly from a local airport then do remember that Air India started a new service from Birmingham to Delhi (August 2013) which will operate 4 times a week using the new Boeing 787-800 Dreamliner Aircraft.

The Taj Mahal

I don’t like spicy food – will I have a problem?
Mr Simpson of Lichfield

Indian Food is delicious! Very different to the Indian food on offer in the UK – rice still forms the basis but is complimented with delicious breads such as naan, roti or Paratha (a pan fried Indian flatbread).
Curry type dishes in India are not generally hot and have an aromatic and quite a delicate flavour. Much of the food is flavoured with spices such as cinnamon, garlic and cumin, and vegetarian food is extremely popular as many Indians do not eat meat.
Breakfasts are generally buffet style and have a wide range of breads, fruits, cheeses and eggs. There are also American-style fast food outlets, Chinese restaurants and most hotels will also offer continental food.


I hear so many stories of people being over whelmed by India what can I expect on arrival?
Mr Knowles of Logdon

Well there’s the heat, the noise and the smells to contend with plus the chaos that greets you after an 8 and a half hour flight from the UK as you emerge into the sunshine at Delhi Airport. The sheer amount of people, the noise from hundreds of car horns and the shock of seeing live animals in the street are enough to send many people into a state of shock and a wish to return home as quickly as possible. Please don’t panic, as those first feelings quickly evaporate and by the end of your stay you are already planning your next visit to this wonderful country. India can be a little overwhelming at first but by following some simple guidelines and planning your visit through someone who knows the country you will be well prepared for the sights that greet you.

Delhi

Do you have any tips for a first time visitor?
Mrs Ray of Lichfield

Yes I do and I have listed these below:

  1. Don’t try and cover too much of India in one trip – journeys take much longer than in the UK.
  2. Go with an open mind and be prepared for some amazing sights.
  3. Avoid Tap water and any food that may have been washed in it. Do not have ice, salads and any fruit that you have not peeled yourself.
  4. Don’t try and visit the Taj Mahal on a Friday – it’s closed!
  5. Do see your GP for up to date medical advice.
  6. Beggars – always difficult but best not to give money much better to make a donation through the hotel you are staying at.
  7. Always book through a company which offers specialist advice and read one of the many guide books on offer.
  8. Be prepared to tip and carry a lot of small denomination Indian rupee notes.
  9. Allow time to obtain your visa before you travel and make sure your passport has at least 6 months validity.
  10. Try and schedule your visit so that you can experience one of the many Indian festivals such as Diwali or Holi.
Lights for Diwali

To book your holiday to India call us on 01543 258631 or e-mail vip@rbcollection.com

Or if you have a travel question you would like to put to us, e-mail vip@rbcollection.com with ‘Journal Travel Question’ as the subject.



Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Holiday Questions Answered

This month Nathan answers some more of your travel queries.  E-mail us yours at vip@rbcollection.comvip@rbcollection.com with ‘Journal Travel Question’ as the subject.



I have always wanted to Safari but I don’t want to end up surrounded by too many other vehicles and tourists chasing the same wildlife – where can I go for something more exclusive for our Wedding Anniversary?
Mr Jones, Kings Bromley

This is a fantastic question, as it is something that you have to be very careful about when planning a safari holiday. There are many factors that will determine my answer here, i.e. time of year? Have you been on safari before? How much are you looking to invest in your holiday? For those on a more restricted budget I can suggest some fantastic remote parts of Kenya. Combining these areas with the more exclusive conservancies bordering the world famous Masai Mara will make a fabulous trip. But be warned, as there are two very different sides to Kenya and some can be distracted by attractive low prices which will inevitably mean ending up with hoards of fellow tourists, the opposite of what you want for your special trip. 

Masai Mara

For those of you with slightly deeper pockets, then there can be no better wilderness experience than Botswana, and especially the Okavango Delta. Here you will be one of a select few out on game drives exploring some of Africa's most magical game viewing areas. You will really get a sense of wilderness as you fly in by light aircraft and you will be able to experience a number of different ways to safari, whether that be on foot, game vehicle, motorboat or the famous mokoro (dug out canoe)!

Mokoro in the Okavango Delta

HELP! I am visiting family in Australia and hate flying and so do my teenage sons, what do you suggest?
Mrs Smetherson, Lichfield

Locally you can fly with Emirates from Birmingham via Dubai to Australia which is really handy as you don’t have to worry about flying out of Heathrow.  Dubai is great for a stop-over, especially for families as there is so much to do. From swimming with dolphins in Atlantis to skiing at the world’s largest indoor ski slope to skydiving over the Palm (like my fellow Director Oliver did for charity recently!) We know a great selection of hotels away from the building work that can offer a relaxing break. If Dubai is not your thing then just 1 hour away is Abu Dhabi which is a more laid back Emirate state with a wonderful Mosque, the Ferrari World indoor theme park, the Middle East's biggest water park and a wonderful building-site-free beach. Abu Dhabi is also home to a wonderful Desert Island property as part of a nature reserve adding an interesting experience for all the family, especially teenagers. Approach your flight as if it is part of the trip creating some adventure along the way. If your budget allows, upgrade to Business for more comfort and space.

Abu Dhabi

I am looking for a City Break destination with a short flight, history, culture and plenty to see and do.  I don’t like small cities but at the same time don’t like crowds, is this too much to ask?
Miss Townsend, Sutton Coldfield

Crowds in cities are heavily dependent on the time of year so pick an off-season time to travel; depending on the city we can suggest when is a quieter time to go. A city that ticks all of these boxes, believe it or not, is Prague – there is a great area we know away from the hustle and bustle of the tour groups and stag and hen parties (of which there are much less nowadays anyway). The flight is just under 2 hours and you can fly from East Midlands so it is a convenient destination to visit. The castle is superb and a combined ticket allows you to visit other sights in the city too. It is great city for walkers and living costs are low and so your spending money will go a lot further than some of the other European cities.

Prague

I’m looking to plan ahead for some winter sun for but don’t want to fly more than 5 hours, where should I visit?
Mr Coates, Lichfield

The Canary Islands are a firm favourite with British holidaymakers, each island offers something different and all are around 4 hours away. Tenerife is the most popular island and has a good selection of properties including self-catering apartments up to 5* luxury resorts. The Costa Adeje area is popular with our clients as it features a lovely boardwalk style front, with shops and restaurants with an air of quality about them. You may be surprised to hear that Gran Canaria is the second most popular island in the Canaries with British holidaymakers and the Maspalomas area features a wonderful small hotel that we have visited offering excellent service and food. It is a real hidden gem on an island usually dismissed by many, but the white sandy beaches are vast and I am sure you would be pleasantly surprised. For a different Canary Island experience La Gomera is less about beaches and more about scenery, walks, flora and fauna. Fuerteventura has a range of good quality large resorts with white sandy beaches. Each island is very different and so do get in touch to discuss which one would be best for you.

Feuerteventura

I have heard from friends that some countries can be difficult when travelling with medication, what is your advice?
Mr Ansell, Tamworth

Certain countries do ask you to declare any medication you may be carrying. Ideally, if you are travelling with prescription drugs, take the original prescription with you and if possible a rubber stamped letter from your doctor explaining why you need them. Also only take enough supplies for your holiday, and lastly do declare them on any customs forms that you need to complete. If you are unsure whether this affects your holiday, just ask when you book and we can check for you.

Monday, 8 July 2013

Nathan Answers readers' Holiday Questions

In July's edition of the Journal, the Midlands No. 1 Luxury Magazine,  our Director Nathan answers readers' travel queries, here are those top travel tips...



I have heard mixed reports about when is best to visit Marrakech?
Mr James, Lichfield

Marrakech conjures thoughts of souks, sunsets and, well, sunshine! But be careful, it can get very cold in the winter months. In November for example it can get chilly in the evening and a jacket is essential when waking out for dinner. The daytime temperature can rise to low 20s (Celsius) in the sun, but the air or breeze adds a chill. Visit further into December & January and it can be very cold in the day. On the other hand the summer months can be extremely hot and so our spring or autumn are ideal. Morocco is a big country and so the weather does vary depending on where you go. Further north towards Casablanca it stays pleasantly warm all year round and there is a great 5* coastal resort offering excellent family and golfing facilities that rivals many of the top hotels in other winter-sun destinations such as Dubai, however, it is not only cheaper but also only a 3 hour flight – even closer than the Canary Islands! 

Marrakech

There are so many islands in the Caribbean, which one is best?
Mrs Stevenson, Whittington

Many people get hooked on the Caribbean and spend many years returning, exploring different islands. It is true that there is a wide range of islands and they are all very different, even with their weather patterns. Barbados is the most popular island with British tourists, offering a range of hotel standards but certainly some of the best 5* luxury properties in the Caribbean including the legendary Sandy Lane. The luxury hotels tend to be more geared towards bed and breakfast board, acknowledging the islands appeal for dining out locally. It is a great island if you like to eat out as it has a good social scene. It is, however, very flat and not as picturesque as say, for example, St Lucia with its UNESCO-protected Pitons. 


Sandy Lane, Barbados 

St Lucia offers predominantly all-inclusive hotels with fewer options to eat out locally as some of the hotels are a little more isolated. Transport around the island is slow due to the mountainous terrain and so visitors tend to opt for helicopter transfers or they can also take to the sea to move from one bay to another. The island’s deep rooted history has seen it swap hands 14 times and there are some great activities for teenagers such as zip lining and even a drive in volcano! It is one of our favourite islands and is perfect for a luxurious beach holiday but also for those who are a little more active. 


St Lucia's twin Pitons

If you are a beach lover then Anguilla is perfect, or Antigua offers a wider selection of properties. If you’re seeking the ultimate island escape experience in true luxury then follow in the footsteps of royalty to exquisite island of Mustique. Made famous in the 1970s by Princess Margaret, today the island still attracts some big names, but you wouldn’t know it, as it is such a private place. It is one of the very rare holiday destinations that has not been spoilt by tourism and is certainly an island where time stands still.

I am planning a late summer beach holiday, where do I start’?
Mr Coffey, Little Aston

First thing is to work out how flexible you can be on your dates, the more flexible the more chance of finding the perfect trip. Secondly think about how far you want to travel, if it is just a week do you want to stay within Europe or are you happy to fly mid-haul (6 hours) or long haul (8 hours +). And thirdly have a serious think about how much you want to invest in the holiday. Keep in mind spending money, as countries will differ greatly with regards to how much things cost once you get there.

Dubrovnik, Croatia

Whilst the children have gone back to school in September, it can still be a peak travelling month as so many people wait for the school holidays to end, you will find less children abroad, but at the same time prices can still be high and resorts are busy. If you can hold off until the end of September then prices tend to drop and it can be less busy. Let’s look at some suggestions within Europe… Portugal is offering excellent value for money at the moment and good quality accommodation. Croatia is very popular and we now have two flights from Birmingham, one to Dubrovnik and a new service further north to Split. A coastal cruise along the stunning Adriatic Coast is a great way to see a lot of the country in a short amount of time. Unlike a Gullet cruise in Turkey, you can eat your evening meals on land, allowing you to sample local restaurants and caf├ęs. Travelling by boat also allows you to visit hard to reach beaches. The weather in Greece will still be good at that time of year and the islands of Mykonos and Santorini are perfect in September and are a class above the other Greek islands. If you like activities but also want to relax on the beach then the Cape Verde Islands are a great choice. The list really is endless as the weather stays warm into October in most of the Mediterranean resorts.

Santorini

What is the best currency for Croatia and is it easy to access money?
Miss Angelo, Yoxall
 
There are many ATM machines from which cash may be withdrawn in local currency (The Kuna) these generally provide a better rate of exchange than cash or travellers cheques. The Kuna can also be ordered in advance if required. The Euro can also be used in Croatia for some items such as taxis, accommodation and some restaurants but it is not an official currency and is accepted only on an unofficial basis.

Croatian currency - the Kuna

If you have a travel question you would like to put to Nathan, e-mail us at vip@rbcollection.com with ‘Journal Travel Question’ as the subject.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Day Trip to Downton Abbey

On Tuesday 30th July, 2013, we are returning once again to the ever popular Highclere House, more commonly known as ITV's Downton Abbey.


We depart Boley Park at 10:30am to join a tour of the house at 1:30pm. The return journey to Boley Park will begin at 5pm. Tickets are priced at £35 per person and include entrance to the house and gardens, please note: this does not include entry to the Egyptian exhibition.

As this is always an extremely popular excursion with our clients, please do make sure you book your places early to avoid disappointment.

To book call into Robert Broad Travel or call us on 01543 258631.

Monday, 3 June 2013

New flights from Birmingham


New flight routes from Birmingham…

(As featured in Journal Magazine)

With the summer season upon us, my colleague Kirsty keeps you up to date with all that is happening at Birmingham Airport, you local gateway to the world. 



The majority of the team at here at RB Collection were recently lucky enough to visit the brand new No1 Traveller Lounge at Birmingham airport, and we were all extremely impressed with the standard and facilities on offer.  A fantastic way to begin your holiday, the lounge can be accessed three hours prior to your flight departure time, and offers complimentary cold food items, as well as one hot dish, along with a selection of drinks from the bar including wine, beer, spirits and soft drinks.  You can relax in the comfortable seating area with access to free unlimited Wi-Fi, complimentary newspapers and glossy magazines and TV’s to keep you entertained. 


For 2013, there are various new and exciting routes being offered from Birmingham.  Firstly, from May 1st you will be able to fly daily to Barcelona, gateway to North Eastern Spain.  Combining both beach and city, Barcelona makes for a perfect city break destination, and with the increase in flights from Birmingham, offers travellers greater flexibility on the length of duration of their stay.  Always a popular choice with our clients, Barcelona offers something for everyone, from fantastic architecture to shopping, and music festivals to sporting events.  Why not travel down the coast from the city to visit the Port Aventura theme park, the beautiful and historic town of Sitges and the scenic resorts of the Costa Dorada.  The new daily service from Birmingham airport is sure to be very popular.


Another new service from Birmingham is to Gibraltar, with the route operating three times per week throughout summer 2013.  Gibraltar, or ‘the Rock’ as it is otherwise known, is very popular with British tourists, and travellers in the Midlands now have the opportunity to visit the destination whilst having the convenience of departing from their local airport.  With an average of 320 days of sunshine per year, and its short flight time from Birmingham, Gibraltar is perfect for a short break, or a longer stay combined with other destinations.  The Costa Del Sol is within close proximity of The Rock, making it an ideal twin centre combination.   A day trip to Seville or Jerez is possible from Gibraltar, as well as a visit to Tangier which is just a short ferry ride across the Strait of Morocco.


Next up is France; there is a new service to Bordeaux as well as six flights per week to the country’s fourth largest city and centre of the European aerospace industry Toulouse, as well as Lyon which is the second city of France.  Both routes will be extremely popular with business travellers, but with UNESCO World Heritage Sites in both destinations and skiing options near Lyon, we’re sure they will also prove very popular with leisure travellers too.   


Whilst you can already fly to Dubrovnik in Croatia a new service commences in May to Split opening up more of this beautiful country to visitors.  Ask to speak to John who has visited Dubrovnik and the surrounding area.


In Sweden, a new service is being introduced is to the lively coastal city of Gothenburg.  The city is the gateway to West Sweden where you will discover beautiful islands, lakes, forests and coastline to explore, but if you are looking for a short city break, Gothenburg certainly has plenty to offer.  With four Michelin starred restaurants, and some of the world’s best fish and shellfish on offer, Gothenburg is a food lovers paradise.  Keen gardeners will also love the Botanical Gardens which are the largest in Sweden, and the plentiful parks and gardens dotted throughout the city.


For families or the young at heart, a trip to the original Legoland in Denmark is now more easily accessible a new flight to Billund.  The service commences on 3rd June 2013 with flights operating from Sunday to Friday.  With its conveniently close location to Billund airport, the original Legoland theme park is home to mini landmarks from around the world, and with a beach and waterpark close by, it makes an ideal destination for families with young children.


Don’t forget Birmingham also offers flights further afield with United to Newark (New York) offering connections onto many other USA cities including Washington DC, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles.  Emirates continue to fly to Dubai, another gateway city for services onto Asia, India, Southern and Eastern Africa and Australia & New Zealand.  Other long haul destinations from Birmingham continue to include Barbados, Orlando and Toronto in Canada.

The great news for all travellers using Birmingham airport is that in the last quarter of 2012, it was the UK’s most punctual airport with 85% of scheduled flights and 84% of charter flights operating on time, with the national average being 79% for scheduled services and 74% for charter services.

To book your holiday from Birmingham Airport, call Robert Broad Travel on 01543 258631 or email vip@robertbroadtravel.co.uk.