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Christmas on the banks of the Rhine! Newmarket Holidays Coach tours
Newmarket Holidays Coach Tours
Member Name: Shannock
Newmarket Holidays Coach Tours
Advantages: Expert drivers, knowldgeable and efficient courier, excellent hotel, friendly professional service
Disadvantages: Coach seats were not the most comfortable, loo not working
It all started when I broke the last of our favourite wine glasses - green-stemmed with grape vines etched on the bowl. No question about it, we would have to go to Alsace or Germany to replace them - but when? And what do we do for Christmas? An advertisement in the local paper led us to book a 5-day Newmarket Coach Holiday in a family-run hotel on the banks of The Rhine. Problem solved. We had never been on a coach holiday before, so didn't know quite what to expect. The feeder taxi took us to our pick-up point, our luggage was transferred to the coach, and we climbed aboard to meet our fellow travellers. So far, so good. As our tour manager, Norman, was doing his final passenger count before moving off he realised that there was one person too many. Luckily, at that moment another man appeared with the same surname as two people already on the coach, who were hoping to go to the New Forest. Panic! They hastily got off our coach, and the right man took his seat. That was the first of many delays. For some reason our scheduled Tunnel crossing was cancelled; over two hours delay; passenger was ill and we had to stop to clean up; a bridge was closed with half-hour delay; a really heavy snowfall meant that we were stuck behind a snowplough with the autobahn reduced to one lane. Norman kept us informed all the way and sounded cheerfully confident that we would make it, and that the hotel staff would be waiting up for us. Oh yes? Some four hours late? Our drivers, Phil and Alex, were magnificent and coaxed us gently to our hotel, arriving just after midnight. The hotel staff couldn't have been more welcoming, and at half past midnight we were all sitting in the dining-room feasting on steaming plates of turkey stew, the waiters bringing welcome glasses of wine and beer.
After breakfast the next morning we all climbed aboard the coach for a trip to Koblenz. Norman and the drivers were gob smacked to find the coach park closed - did Koblenz not want the revenue tourists brought in? No matter, we could park in the road by the river - oh, no we couldn't! The police had closed the road because the Moselle had burst its banks and the road would soon be flooded. The trip was fast turning into a pantomime, so when Norman announced that a rival coach party had pinched our city tour guide, we all burst out laughing. Somehow that broke the ice and set the scene for the rest of the holiday. Our city guide eventually found us and gave us an excellent and informative tour of the old city, ending with many glasses of gluwein at a most convivial pub.
The hotel, The Rhinelust in Boppard, was well chosen. The staff were friendly and efficient, the buffet-style food was delicious and plentiful, a well-stocked bar and live musical entertainment completed the picture. One evening Norman arranged a quiz and regaled us with jokes and stories, which was good fun.
Because of the overflowing Moselle, our Christmas Day trip to Cochem had to be cancelled, but Norman and the drivers took us to the delightful villages of Bad Neuenahr and Ahrweiler, where we stopped for drinks to wash down our packed lunches provided by the hotel. Boxing Day brought a mini-cruise on The Rhine to St Goarhausen, then on by coach to Ruddesheim and back in time for a last evening of wine, dine and dancing!
All too soon, we had to board our coach for the journey home. Yet more delays at the Tunnel as not only were there were extra security checks, but one of our party had a problem with his passport!
To sum up, the journeys to and from the hotel were long and frustrating, but the holiday in Germany was most enjoyable. Norman was a fountain of knowledge (and a few fairy tales!) of the countries we travelled through, and we felt he did his very best to make our holiday an enjoyable experience.
Would we travel with Newmarket Coach Holidays again? Praise to tour guide Norman, drivers Phil and Alex, and The Rhinelust Hotel in Boppard. On the downside, although the delays were emphatically not Newmarket's fault, the journeys to and from Boppard were over-long, the seats were not that comfortable and the loo was out of order from the start.
Summary: Overall, a memorable Christmas!
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