A very happy New Year to you all for 2012, and we hope that everyone enjoyed the Christmas Festival. For those of us remembering our lovely tour to Syria just over a year ago the news has been particularly painful. Our friend Ghassan and his family in Damascus are well – he ends cheerily: “Hopping next year will be ok and see you with your peples”, but of course he has lost his livelihood as a guide as have our drivers & hotel staff. Several of our other tours have been affected by the Arab Spring, but John & Karen Osborne’s last visit to Iran in October was another resounding success. Let us hope that recent developments there will not jeopardise next April’s tour. On a brighter note, the news coming out of Burma is modestly encouraging, with some relaxation of the oppressive regime: evidently a lot of people think so as it is now rather difficult to book hotels there, with a huge increase in demand, which will no doubt be encouraged with the release of the new film ‘The Lady’. We have arranged several tours for people travelling there independently in 2012 and our own group tour (Burma – The Grand Tour, November 7 – 30) has fortunately secured all our favourite lovely little hotels and the charming river steamer for the journey on the Irrawaddy. This tour is already partly full but there is room for a few more people. Have a look at the group tours that are on offer with a few new ideas to consider.
Jill and I have just returned from a short trip to DRESDEN, full of admiration for the wonderful restoration of a city that was so destroyed by bombing in 1945. We enjoyed a spectacular ‘Nutcracker’ at the beautiful Opera House and many of the galleries of painting and applied arts in the former palaces of the rulers of Saxony. The charming little town of Meissen with its porcelain factory is nearby, as are vineyards along the banks of the Elbe River, served by a small fleet of paddle steamers. Our guide, Susanne, is perhaps the best I have met, and she would be very happy to welcome us again. We plan a short 5 night city break to include all these highlights in NOVEMBER. Keep an eye on the website.
A NEW MUSIC FESTIVAL IN CROATIA BRINGS BACK THE GLORY DAYS OF OPATIJA, ONE OF THE COUNTRY'S MOST FAMOUS RESORTS. A fabulous new tour has the Festival Kvarner at its heart. Close to the Italian & Slovenian borders, Opatija was the place that aristocratic Viennese established as their beloved winter bathing resort when they brought the first visitors by steam train in 1873. Think grand hotels, a beautiful seafront promenade & elegant villas. Add concerts, parties, "Kristal" balls, Royal families of Europe and the great & good (including Mahler, Chekhov & Puccini) and it is easy to see how Opatija became famous. Our 7 night tour from 6-13 June 2012 includes three concerts in the original Crystal Hall of the Hotel Kvarner or in the beautiful, outdoor open-air theatre (options for more). The programme includes Nigel Kennedy & musicians linked to the Vienna Philharmonic orchestra.
Among our visits are the famous city of Pula, with Roman amphitheatre & forum. Tasting of award winning olive oil and wine from the neighbouring Istrian peninsula, a visit to the Roman mosaics at the UNESCO listed Basilica of Euphrasius in Poreč and tea on the lawn at one of the famous villas will also feature. Cost from £1225 including flights to Rijeka (flight time 2 hours), all ground and sea transfers, excursions and sightseeing, 3 concerts & accommodation in the Hotel Kvarner in Opatija (half board). We are very fortunate that our tour leader will be Julia Berg-Warren, an enthusiastic Croatia expert and journalist who has a home near Opatija. See her article in The Daily Telegraph .
One of the highlights of the past year was The Travellers’ Club Grand Summer Garden Party on a cloudless 3 July. A jazz band played in the afternoon and after our swimming and feasting The Rude Mechanical Theatre entertained us marvellously with their Commedia del Arte production of a gentle satire of English country life in the 50’s: ‘Gentle Harry’s Farm’. Six actors played 25 parts, including cows, sheep, magpies and assorted humans, singing and playing numerous instruments to an audience of over 200! Some people camped in the garden, others stayed with friends or in hotels and others just travelled long distances for this event of the year. Now, the good news is that The Rude Mechanicals have asked if they can return next year so we are giving you advance notice of a very important mid-summer date for your diary - note the change of format from previous years! Plan to come mid-day and leave later!!
GRAND SUMMER GARDEN PARTY – SUNDAY 8 JULY 2012
THE DAY ENDS WITH An open air PERFORMANCE OF
“Who saw Marjorie daw?”
By THE RUDE MECHANICAL THEATRE company
At Halnaker Park Cottage, Sunday 8 July. Picnics & Music in the garden. Barbecues from 5pm Theatre at 7.00 (£12, children £6) Everyone is invited. Come to meet tour leaders and fellow travellers. We always promise a warm sunny day, with old roses in bloom, the swimming pool ‘invitingly warm’. We hope that everyone who has been on a trip or may be thinking of joining one will come, and you are certainly welcome to bring family and friends of any age. This year we are charging £15 for a delightful theatrical experience in the garden. A lovely talented group: look at www.therudemechanicaltheatre.co.uk. Please bring contributions to the barbecue (to cook & eat), and items to share at the bar & buffet. Don't forget towels for swimming, garden chairs or rugs (also for the theatre), plates and glasses. Bring photos to show old friends and to astonish but not alarm potential travellers! PLEASE mount some photos on a display board to exhibit in the barn. The event of the year - not to be missed. RSVP & book on line
Don’t forget that we tailor-make tours for individuals, couples, families or groups of friends, or even larger groups from clubs or societies. Several DFAS branches ask us to plan their shorter tours in Europe. We are always interested to know of your ideas, so please don’t hesitate to suggest destinations, hotels, places to visit and places to avoid. If you have moved, or there is any mistake in your name and address, or you would prefer not to receive further information, please tell us. It will be very helpful if you can show our information to all your friends, let us have their contact details - ‘phone, address, email - and invite them, or better still bring them to the Summer Party & Theatre on Sunday 8 July. We rely almost entirely on ‘word of mouth’ to spread the news about The Travellers’ Club, so please help us wherever or whenever you can.
We look forward to seeing you.
With best wishes,