Posted by: travelrat | August 17, 2012

Coach Trip

Note: Dartline is NOT the tour operator; they just provided the coach.

Although we often take short, conducted day trips on a coach, the idea of a multi-day trip, being carted around from city to city in a coach, cooped up with a horde of ‘coach potatoes’ does not normally make me go into raptures. However, it’s not too horrendous an experience if the tour chosen is one with a definite destination, where you stay for a few days.

The kind of hotel at which they’ll accommodate you will usually just be satisfactory, and will hardly be the subject of many postcards home. There are exceptions, though. When I took a trip to the Keukenhof Gardens many years ago, the accommodation, although quite a distance from the gardens themselves, was a charming family hotel, where they made every effort to entertain us. The Tour Manager organised a ride through the woods on a horse-drawn wagonette, and the hotel management arranged for a local folk-dance club to come and perform for us after dinner. And, there was plenty to do if we wanted to do our own thing.

Not so, however, on this trip, which we took to see this year’s André Rieu Homecoming concert in Maastricht. Although, when we attended the concert two years ago, we had little difficulty finding convenient accommodation in Maastricht, it’s not so easy when you have to accommodate one coach-load, let alone several. Coaches from all over Europe filled the Markt … it took us a good 20 minutes to find ours after the concert.

So, all they could promise was accommodation within 90 minutes’ drive of Maastricht. No problem there; maybe they’d put us somewhere nice, like Aachen, Liege or Valkenberg? They put us in Brussels! Which just fitted the bill! I timed it; 86 minutes to Maastricht. The hotel chosen was the NH Airport Hotel … and I’ve often said the only people airport hotels are useful for are folk who need hotels convenient for the airport, and nobody else. They’re usually miles from anywhere, situated in an anonymous business park, and devoid of anywhere to eat except the hotel dining room.

But, although there were other issues with this tour as well, Tour Manager Jay agreed that the arrangements weren’t the best, and he and the two drivers did their utmost to make things right as best they could. And, when we wrote to the Tour Company, we received a very polite reply saying we weren’t the only ones to complain, they regretted any inconvenience and they would do their best to address these concerns for future trips.

 

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