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Sep 2016: Beautiful Bruges – perfect for a short break or an excursion. By Audrey Connor

From the minute I boarded the Glenton coach I had a fantastic time on my Belgian adventure. A delicious dinner on the overnight crossing washed down with a nice little chardonnay, dancing to the ship’s band, a wee flutter at the casino then a good night’s sleep in my cosy cabin. The following morning I tucked into the eat all you want buffet breakfast before our sunshine bathed arrival in Zeebrugge. We were quickly through passport control then a short time later our Glenton coach glided into the impossibly charming city of Bruges. Okay, the fact that it is the chocolate capital of the world may have something to do with my fondness for this medieval metropolis but even without the chance to indulge in my favourite hobby of scoffing the odd soft centre or two, Bruges is an unmissable destination.

Enchantingly romantic with pretty canals, stunning architecture and cobbled squares, it is little wonder it was declared a UNESCO world heritage city. From the coach park, we ambled through the Minniewaterpark stopping to absorb the serene splendour at the inner court of the Beguinage – a tranquil oasis where it feels like time has stopped and the world has fallen silent.

Afterwards, we made our way to the centre of town where we stopped for coffee and waffles in a captivating little cobbled square. Soaking up the ambience as the street musician turned the handle on his barrel organ filling the afternoon with ‘that’s amore’ whilst horses hooves clip-clopped by taking tourists on an carriage ride through the historic streets.

Cruising Bruges’ canals is a delightful tradition and as we glided along the waterways listening to the guide giving his commentary in a variety of languages, the exquisiteness of this splendid city unfolded. Sailing under elaborate bridges, past ornate buildings and by old world squares we appreciated the striking sights from a different angle. Later, it was time to hit the chocolate shops for some serious tasting! Well, I’d come all this way, after all....

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Aug 2016: Meet the GLENTON operations team

If you’re a regular visitor to our premises in Gordon Street you might have wondered where the familiar faces of Stuart and Michelle have disappeared to... well, we can reveal that they are still being kept extremely busy – only now in our operations office working alongside Harry and under the helmsmanship of Pete - our newly promoted Operations Manager. So, what do they all get up to?

Pete Anderson - Operations Manager

• I joined GLENTON’S Operations Team as an assistant in March 2008 and I’ve seen the company go from strength to strength throughout the years. I was promoted to Operations Manager in July 2015.
• I manage the Operations team overseeing all the day to day tasks connected with transport and tour itineraries
• My most recent GLENTON holiday was our Party Break staying at the Queens Hotel down in Blackpool. It was a fun weekend and it was great to meet so many of our customers.
• I enjoy working with the team - to me it’s important to get all of the little details right so we can make our customers holiday special.

Stuart Adamson - Operations Supervisor

• I joined GLENTON’S reservations team six years ago and enjoyed helping customers choose and book their holidays. I have a good all-round knowledge of the company so when a role in operations came up, I decided to apply. It was a step up and I moved there in May 2014 and in March 2016 with the team expanding I then became the Supervisor
• My duties include assisting the Operations Manager in the day to day running of the department, working on tour timings and cruise manifests as well as administrative duties.
• I’ve enjoyed many GLENTON tours over the years and look forward to many more.

Harry Dulger - Operations Assistant

• I joined GLENTON way back in 2008 and I’ve always worked in operations.
• I’m the mainstay of our weekend cover so I’m on duty when most of my colleagues are off! My duties include assisting customers with lost property or any other problem and I work closely with our drivers and coach companies.
• I love travelling and my favourite places are Malta and Cyprus.

Michelle Kane - Operations Assistant

• I’ve worked at GLENTON for over three years, starting out in our reservations department. I was promoted to the operations team in July 2015.
• Duties include booking admissions to attractions and making sure tour itineraries operate as advertised. I’m also a point of contact for driver and customers.
• GLENTON tours I’ve been on include a shopping trip to Newcastle, Malta & Northern Ireland.

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Jul 2016 - Grapevines & Olive Branches by Robert Harvey

GLENTONEER Robert Harvey recalls his army days of grape picking and peace-making in Germany.

There I was en route to London on the GLENTON coach when I opened The GLENTONEER magazine and the memories flooded back as I read the article about Bernkastel and the Moselle...

In 1963 I was a young soldier in the Royal Dragoon Guards, stationed in Munster, West Germany. At that time the winegrowers of Bernkastel-Kues contacted the British Army asking for help with the grape harvest. Impending bad weather was putting the vineyards at risk of ruin if the grapes were left out much longer. So early one morning, forty enthusiastic ‘volunteers’ including yours truly, found ourselves in the back of army lorries en route from Munster to Bernkastel-Kues. We arrived about 6pm and were greeted at the beautifully ornate Rathaus (Town Hall) by the Burgomaster - the mayor to you and me - along with some of the townsfolk.

After refreshments and tasting of the local produce, we were billeted with various families. Along with three colleagues, I stayed with a lovely family - Mum, Dad, Nan, son Axel and various pet dogs on Gartenstrasse, Bernkastel. It was late October and for the next six weeks until early December 1963 we were woken at 05.30 hours, given a large breakfast, then it was up onto the back of a tractor and trailer, across the bridge over the Moselle and up to the vineyards to Kues. We picked the grapes and emptied them into the vat ready to be taken back to our hosts’ farm on Gartenstrasse where they would be loaded into the press. After a hard day’s toil we joined the family for a well cooked and over-generous portion of German food.

The family and villagers treated us like royalty. The days were long and sometimes the work a bit back-breaking, but we enjoyed every moment of it. We did have time off to go sightseeing and fitted in a trip to the ancient city of Trier. Being soldiers, I will gloss over that visit! During our stay, the people of Bernkastel-Kues dedicated a new war memorial to all the local men and women who served and fell during those dark years. We were invited to attend, along with local signatories and contingents from the French, Italian, Dutch and American armed forces that were also stationed in Germany.

I fondly remember standing alongside the River Moselle on that cold, damp morning. A gathering of representatives of nations, who only eighteen years previously, had been at war were now embraced in a common goal: peace. I do assure you it was a very emotional, uplifting and inspiring occasion.

At the end of our stay the Burgomaster and the folks of Bernkastel-Kues gave us all a huge thank you and fond farewell at a reception in the Rathaus. The story was covered in the local press as well as in a selection of newspapers back home. We also received a few bottles of wine to take home and I have warm memories of sharing them with my family that Christmas of 1963.

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Jun 2016 - GLENTON is a proud sponsor of Classrooms for Malawi

GLENTON is both proud and honoured to have taken part in a recent fundraising event for Classrooms for Malawi. This commendable, registered charity is a network of volunteer groups based in Scotland who work throughout Malawi to improve schools for some of the world’s poorest communities.

Putting the fun into fundraising, the charity hosted their annual Classrooms for Malawi Ball in the Hilton Hotel Glasgow on Saturday 30 April. Lindsey McLaughlin from the GLENTON Marketing team and her partner, Barry White donned their glad rags and joined over 600 guests at this stylish black tie event where guests were entertained by a piper, cabaret and disco.

GLENTON donated a Summer Sun Party Cruise for two people to be auctioned, raising a fantastic £600! This exciting prize consists of a fun-filled voyage and an excellent opportunity to explore Cruise and Maritime’s handsome Marco Polo along with sampling the delights of ocean cruising. Marco Polo is a classic ocean liner with teak decks, comfortable lounges and a choice of bars and restaurants. The prize – departing in August - includes a guided tour of Liverpool followed by dinner, bed and breakfast in a conveniently located hotel as well as a stop in the lovely Lake District on the homeward coach journey.

The hugely successful event raised an amazing total of £30,000 and this money will go directly towards the charity’s 2016 building programme. Classrooms for Malawi are currently committed to fourteen projects in the poorest parts of Malawi, building or renovating fifty classrooms. Once completed, 4000 children will have access to a suitable learning environment from the start of the new school year in September 2016.

GLENTON is proud to have played a small part in this worthy cause and delighted with the outstanding success of the event.

Please call our Reservations Team on 08000 24 24 24 if you would like information about our Summer Sun Party Cruise.

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May 2016: The Grand Duchy of Luxermbourg - by Audrey Connor

Nestling between Germany, France and Belgium, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg is an enchanting little country of striking contrasts and a beguiling history sprinkled with Counts and dynasties. This fairytale haven is a land of verdant valleys, historic fortresses and picture-postcard hamlets. Based in tranquil Vianden, we ventured out to visit historic Echternach, ancient Trier and Luxembourg City...

Delightful Vianden

Tucked-away near the border with Germany, this picturesque little village is towered over by an impeccably restored medieval castle. Lying in the valley of the Our River, it features relaxing riverbank walks and a chairlift up the mountain giving panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. After checking into the Grand Hotel de Vianden, we quickly unpacked then headed out to hop aboard ‘Benni’, the little land train for a forty minute circuit of the town complete with commentary from driver, Stefan. To find Benni, simply turn right as you leave the hotel and follow the footpath the short distance to the River Our. Turn right again before the bridge and you’ll see the “Benni” signpost where the train leaves regularly from 11am onwards. You can pay on the train or buy your ticket from the tourism office which is on the corner just across the bridge. Stefan whisked us up the winding cobblestoned street passing pavement cafes and quaint terraced dwellings with steeply sloping roofs and wooden shutters. We stopped at a lookout point offering truly stunning views of the magical castle. Here you will also find a tiny remembrance garden dedicated to soldiers who gave their lives freeing Vianden during the Second World War

On another day we explored the majestic castle. Constructed on the foundations of a Roman fort, it is one of the largest and most beautiful residences from the gothic and Romanesque periods. Once the seat of the influential Counts of Vianden, inside this enchanted fortress we found intriguing relics like middle-ages stocks, sumptuous bedrooms with four poster beds, lavish banqueting halls and an opulent chapel

Vianden Fact File

Benni l Le Petit Train - Ticket 6.50 Euros - departs regularly from the Our Bridge
Vianden Castle – 6 Euros (5.00 for senior citizens) open 10am – 6pm (closes earlier off season)
Vianden Castle Guide - available at the entrance 3.50

Grand Hotel de Vianden

This charming hotel is ideally situated and boasts excellent features including an outside terrace with a pretty sculpture of horses and cute cupids. There is also a conservatory, a comfortable lounge, traditional wood panelled bar and the Au Jardin de Hercule Poirot Restaurant where we tucked into delicious four course dinners served by friendly staff.

Owned by the Peverelli-Bruinsma family, it is bedecked with quirky objects d'art such as a leather saddle and a Singer sewing machine not to mention over 1700 hippopotamuses! From ornaments to stuffed toys, you’ll find the creatures everywhere. I had to ask owner, Bart why. “My wife wanted to collect something so I bought her a stuffed hippopotamus and said why don’t you collect hippos? Since then, I’ve only actually bought about fifty – the rest have all been given to us by guests.” Keen musician Bart who once played in a band also has walls adorned with photographs and paintings of legends like the Beatles, Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix. I noticed a photo of Bart playing guitar and asked his wife if Bart also sings. She rolled her eyes long-sufferingly saying “Yes, unfortunately...”

Atmospheric Echternach

Travelling through the Mullertahl region, known as “Little Switzerland” we arrived at the captivating border town of Echternach, the oldest town in Luxembourg with over two thousand years of history. Architectural treasures include the Romanesque Basilica with its eight century Carolingian crypt, Benedictine Abbey and the St Peter and Paul Church. As we wandered the historic streets listening to the melancholic peel of the church bells we found an inscription about Echternach by writer Marcel Noppeney: “Adorable small town – tourism would have invented you if you hadn’t been invented before it.” Gazing around at the fairytale steeples and the baroque style architecture, we decided that we couldn’t agree more.

Triumphant Trier

Founded by the Romans around 16 BC, Trier is Germany’s oldest metropolis. A city of culture and shopping, Trier is also a centre for the wine trade and a harbour town on the banks of the Moselle. Our Glenton coach glided into a space on Franz Ludwig StraBe next to a tiny kiosk where we picked up a city map. Remember to head first to the Puerta Negra, the imposing Roman city gate just five minutes away as here you will not only find the tourist office, but this is also where you can hop aboard the “Romer Express” land train or catch the double deck city sightseeing hop on, hop off bus.

The sun was shining when we arrived so we grabbed some take-away pizza and settled down on a bench opposite the glorious cathedral admiring its exquisite Romanesque facade and soaking up the historic ambience. Other points of interest in this ancient town include the fascinating Roman amphitheatre and the splendid palace with its ornate gardens.

Trier Fact File

Romer Express –9 Euros
City Sightseeing bus – 11 Euros
City map – 1.50 Euros

Sophisticated Luxembourg City

Our Glenton coach glided into La Place de la Constitution where a poignant ceremony was underway commemorating the anniversary of the end of WWII. We watched in silence as impeccably attired soldiers stood solemnly in line while a military band played a lament and local women wiped away their tears.

Our guide, Francois arrived and we set off on the coach part of our tour driving along the Avenue John F Kennedy past the JFK centre and the financial sector with its huge statue of a British banker complete with brolly and copy of the Financial Times. The walking part of the tour followed taking in places of interest like the impressive Cathedral de Notre Dame as well as the ornate Palace and the adjoining Parliament, both guarded by an armed soldier.

In this clean and classy city we found all the sights within easy walking distance of each other. So later we wandered back to the Bock Casemates, a honeycomb of rock passages carved by the Spaniards in the seventeenth century and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We roamed the dimly lit network of underground galleries passing menacing cannons and absorbing the foreboding atmosphere with its gloomy secrets of times gone by when Luxembourg was an envied fortress. Afterwards we headed back to the main square which is bordered by restaurants. We sat in the warm sunshine enjoying lunch and watching the sharp suited, laptop carrying entrepreneurs going about their business in this stylish and affluent city.

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