There’s always a sense of occasion as a tour gets close to departure. In the case of my regular and popular train travel tour to Scandinavia every northern summer, there is the usual sense of expectation, excitement and flutters of concern that all will go well down the line. Even though I have done this journey many times I still like to take the opportunity to get myself into the zone by having my own little slice of travel before the main event gets underway. Doing some inspections, having some meetings and taking time to smell the roses and immerse in the landscape and culture is ideal preparation for leading a tour. Here is the short story of what I’ve been up to in the few days before tomorrow’s launch of the epic adventure through Scandinavia by rail, road, and sea.
Fresh off the plane- first stop, cafe outside Gloucester Rd Station, sharing a coffee with old mate.
This year I flew straight to London so I could meet with Alan Coltman, my tour leader for the Scotland By Rail, and Icons of England adventures in the middle of next year. The local operator from the travel company, Norman Allan, who handles all our travel arrangements, also came into town to meet with us. Crucial catch ups over a lovely long lunch in South Kensington was a great way to break the ice fresh off the plane. News of post Brexit business issues, general travel gossip and our own plans and dreams for future railway adventures around the world filled our conversation. Delicious Salmon was consumed and ideas were locked in for our great Railway Adventure in the UK next June and September, it was then time to take to the streets. A city bike from the rack outside the hotel was a brilliant way to explore London and a very good way to blow out the cobwebs from a long flight.
ON YOUR BIKE- TOURING LONDON
Bike paths around London are excellent, in fact, keeping up with the throng of riders on the new City of London bike Super highways is a challenge, especially on the slow and steady city bike. The Tate Modern was my destination this time as I was keen to explore not just the art but the fusion of a grand old industrial building into a world class gallery. My long ride in the long summer day found me back where I started. The Bailey’s Hotel right opposite to Gloucester Rd tube station was an ideal location. The boutique character of this freshly renovated small hotel was just the ticket for my future tours to the UK-both of which will use this award winning charming hotel in London’s fashionable Kensington. Staying in nice hotels and sampling local restaurants is all part of this tough job.
My favourite painting by Turner in the National Gallery in London- ‘Rain, Steam and Speed’.
Next day and next stop; Stockholm, and straight into the brilliantly positioned Radisson Blu Waterfront hotel. Just catch the airport Express train to Stockholm Central, walk up the stairs and along the corridor and you’re there. It also has great views of the historic City Hall and Lake from the upper business class floors, where I have booked rooms for myself and my guests for the tour (who will be joining me in a couple of days.)
The spectacular view from my room in the Raddison Blu Waterfront hotel.
TRAVEL FOR TRAVELS SAKE
A great way to prep for a tour is to simply take a day or two before the action begins to smell the roses and go exploring under the guise of an ‘inspection’. Enjoying travel for travels sake in the hope that a new potential adventure may be discovered and that the act of travelling will inspire the journey ahead.