Three hours spent at the Abbotts Travel Showcase and all our 2020 travel plans are drawn up.
Guests arrived at the beautiful grounds of West Essex Golf Club, where they helped themselves to mini burgers and fish and chips, before an opportunity to shop the gorgeous holiday collection of Sue’s Beach To Bar Boutique. Who doesn’t love a chance to buy a new kaftan?
The night started with a bang, as Anna from Azure Collection took centre stage. She took her husband, who had never travelled before, into the depths of Africa to share with him her love affair with the beautiful continent. On Thursday evening, she shared the same experience with us and it was magical.
From the magnificent landscapes of South Africa, to the natural beauty of Kenya and the abundance of wildlife in Botswana. Anna shared photographs of her wedding at Victoria Falls and her love of the continent flowed through the room. From the wildlife, to the food and the warmth of the people. I think everyone in attendance, including me, will soon be booking a flight.
She finished her presentation with some solid advice, “make sure you book with people who know what they’re doing”, otherwise you may end up with an elephant sitting on your car.
Next on the agenda was a trip to Sicily, with Shubhra from Prestige Holidays. With warm, friendly locals, a wonderful climate, delicious food and wine, stunning beaches, beautiful and diverse landscapes and an intoxicating mix of fascinating cultural attractions, this wonderful Italian island really does have something for every visitor.
Shubhra offered a fantastic deal for guests booking a five-night stay in the beautiful seaside town of Castellammare del Golfo. From a full-day street food tour of Palermo to a hands-on cooking class and a delicious seafood lunch at Vittorio’s Ristorante. You’ll get a chance to explore the highlights of western Sicily, its people, and its long history - with ample opportunities for sampling the region’s best wine in between. Sign us up!
Matt from InsideJapan Tours followed to break all our preconceived ideas of a trip to the beautifully diverse country of Japan, by saying it’s more than just sushi and big cities. Even the pickiest of eaters will find wonderful food to sample and the diverse landscape is brimming with beautiful scenery, particularly during cherry blossom season, and natural hot springs. Shy about going starkers in front of the locals? Hire your own hot spa for complete privacy and total relaxation.
The range of accommodation is probably the most intriguing aspect of any trip to Japan. From Western style hotels, to traditional Japanese hotels, family run b&bs, temples lodgings and even capsule hotels. And the language barrier? It’s all part of the fun!
Karen from Premier Holidays and Andy from Deep South USA were up next, to give us a taste of tours in the South. Andy carefully navigated us through the states of Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. Sharing lots of similarities, the region is easily drivable and can fit inside the state of Texas. As the heart of the Civil Rights Movement, travelling through here is a history lesson in itself.
The “best restaurant” in the whole of America is also located in Alabama, so if you’re hungry after all that learning, you know just where to go for something to eat. Still not convinced? 95% of the world’s bourbon is made in Kentucky and when it comes to American music, all roads lead to the Deep South.
Next we followed the footsteps of the bible, with Mark and Sarah from Abercrombie & Kent. Romantic Jordan teems with historical treasures. Explore iconic sites - including magnificent Petra - in unqualified comfort and style. As the birthplace of three of the world’s greatest religions - Judaism, Islam and Christianity - Israel has been a pilgrimage site for millennia. Discover for yourself Israel’s larger-than-life historic sites and incredible beauty. Sarah shared the possibility of adventuring through both Jordan and Israel, as well as Egypt, with an A&K tour. Whilst hotels in Petra fill up fast, the team at A&K have special availability, which means everything is possible. Escorted tours and tailor-made itineraries are available.
The penultimate stop on our tour was Latin America, with Jess and Charlie from Latin Routes. They shared with us their five favourite travel experiences in the region, and my entire table were blown away.
Included was trekking to Machu Picchu in Peru, where Charlie travelled with his dad, sharing how accessible the trek really is (if you can make it on the plane, you can make it up the Andes Mountains). Jess picked cruising to Antarctica, where she shared a beautiful video she captured of penguins in the wild.
Their next three favourite experiences included a visit to the Galapagos Islands, to see the seals, tortoises and blue-footed boobies, an adventure through Patagonia and an Amazonian experience. It will continue to blow me away that native Amazonians call such a remote part of the world ‘home’.