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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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Apr 2016: Glenton Holidays - 10th Anniversary

Doesn’t time fly! Here at Glenton we can hardly believe that a decade has flown by since our company was established. Over the years Glenton has steadily grown into Scotland’s largest ABTA bonded coach holiday specialist. We’ve attracted an ever-increasing band of much-valued regular customers, carrying over forty thousand passengers annually. And we’ve made many new friends along the way.

The number of holiday-filled pages in our main summer collection brochure has more than doubled and we’ve added an easy to navigate website so computer savvy customers can make internet bookings at any time of the day or night. Always moving with the times, we joined social media so you can follow Glenton on Facebook and tweet us on Twitter.

Glenton coach holidays now cover the length and breadth of Britain, Ireland and Europe. We play a role in fulfilling customers’ dreams by providing wonderful ocean cruises at affordable prices and sailing from easy to reach ports. Glenton also presents a tempting range of air holidays so the sky’s the limit with enticing resorts in Spain, Italy, Malta and Cyprus as well as firm favourite, Jersey. And did you know Glenton was the first coach operator in Scotland to organise getaways exclusively for the solo traveller with our outstandingly popular Good Companions programme?

But here at Glenton, we’re never content to rest on our laurels. Our ongoing mission is to make sure our valued customers have the best holiday experience possible. Glenton Managing Director, Harriet Boyle who has twenty years experience in travel said, “We want you to keep coming back to Glenton. We’re always on the lookout for great deals, new hotels, fantastic resorts and exciting excursions. Quite simply, we want to be your first choice when you think of taking a well earned break.”

Here are some fascinating facts you may not know about Glenton:-

1. We’re bonded by both ABTA and ATOL so you can book with Glenton knowing your hard earned money is fully protected. Don’t risk your cash by booking with an un-bonded company!

2. As well as our ever-popular coach tours, Glenton also offer fantastic value air and ocean cruise holidays.

3. We include a door to door*service on many getaways so your holiday starts from your own front door!

4. Our state-of-the-art Select coaches present the opportunity to travel in the epitome of style.

5. We have introduced a range of Active breaks to meet the needs of our more energetic customers - holidays with added thrills where you can improve a skill, learn a new one or simply discover your chosen resort away from the beaten track.

6. We can offer a comprehensive holiday insurance policy at a competitive price.

7. We go the extra mile for single travellers by offering a limited number of rooms for sole occupancy without supplement on many holidays.

8. Our incredibly popular Good Companions holidays are specially designed to give solo travellers the confidence to travel. They feature a host to welcome you and introduce you to your fellow guests so you are not alone for long. Plus there are never any annoying single supplements to pay on Good Companions breaks both at home and abroad!

9. Our booking lines are open seven days a week as well as bank holidays so you will always have a member of our happy, helpful reservations staff to advise you on your holiday choice.

10. We organise group travel for parties of fifteen or more with free places and personal pickups. If you’re a member of a club, take the hassle out of getting away together by letting Glenton Groups arrange it for you!

11. Our brochures are jam-packed with holiday ideas and we regularly publish newsletters chock-a-block with our latest great value getaways!

12. You can keep up to date with all our up to the minute offers by providing your email address so you receive our weekly e-newsletter.

13. You can like us and follow all the latest Glenton gossip on facebook.

14. And you can tweet us on twitter!

15. We meet our customers and showcase our wares at special events such as the 50+ show.

16. Most of our customers come to us through word of mouth – a big thank you for recommending us!

17. We regularly advertise in popular newspapers like the Sunday Post, Daily Record and Saturday’s Daily Mail.

18. We are always open to feedback/suggestions from customers to help improve your holiday experience. In fact, we take time out every week when we get together at our quality control meeting to address all feedback from our valued customers – that way, we can really address our customers’ wishes.

19. We offer a ‘Recommend a friend’ reward.

20. Our much recognised logo is, of course, the Glenton Scottie dog!

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Feb 2016: A Day in the Life of a Good Companions Host

Jim McAleese

Not everyone gets to do a job they love so I guess I’m one of the lucky ones. Meet new people, enjoy a bit of banter, stay in welcoming hotels, see amazing places – what’s not to like!

My day usually kicks off at the bus station in Glasgow where I say a cheery hello to our GOOD COMPANIONS and help the driver load the luggage onto the coach. Once all the passengers are onboard and relaxing in their seats I introduce myself before the driver gives his safety talk. On Ireland tours, once we’re on the ferry I make sure everyone knows which colour-coded staircase or lift to go to when it’s time to disembark – that way they’ll find our coach easily. I then wander around the ferry chatting to customers and answering any questions. At our last comfort stop before we reach our destination I phone the hotel to update them on when to expect us and find out what time dinner will be served.

The welcome reception on the first evening is a fantastic way for all the GOOD COMPANIONS to get to know each other. I make a wee speech welcoming everybody on behalf of myself, Glenton and the hotel then circulate to get to know folks’ names. I make sure our GOOD COMPANIONS know I’m there to help if needed but try to find the balance between being there and not being a nuisance! I tell everyone that the hotel reception has my room and phone numbers in case anybody needs assistance. Often after dinner, I take the folk who feel like stretching their legs out on a leisurely walk around the town so they can get their bearings, see where the nearest shops are or just soak up the local atmosphere. Out and about on excursions most folk do their own thing but if there are any passengers with mobility problems I show them where they will find shops and facilities within a small area or point out the nicest tearoom to enjoy a cuppa.

I like chatting, I’m a great listener and I make new friends on every tour so I always look forward to hosting my next GOOD COMPANIONS holiday. I hope to welcome you onboard a GOOD COMPANIONS tour soon!

Jim McAleese
Good Companions Tour Host

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