A passionate football fan and an Irish coach driver with a gift for the ‘craic’ recently provided Travellers Choice’s top 10 agents with some charming memories during a journey from the Emerald Isle to the Venetian canals, courtesy of Emirates, Viva! Holidays, Tourism Ireland and the Venice-Simplon Orient Express.
The 10-day tour of Ireland, England and Europe – an exclusive reward for winners of Travellers Choice’s annual Gold Choice awards – started with an Emirates flight to Dublin, from where the group explored Ireland’s West Coast.
Following the ‘Wild Atlantic Way’ tourist trail, the agents travelled through Donegal, Sligo and Galway, along the way cruising beneath the Slieve League Cliffs (Europe’s highest sea cliffs), golfing at the notoriously difficult County Sligo links course (founded in 1894), and paying their respects at the beautiful Benedictine monastery, Kylemore Abbey.
Back in Dublin the agents took in tasting tours of the Guinness Storehouse (Ireland’s number one visitor attraction) and the Old Jameson Distillery, and lunched with Ireland’s Tourism Minister at the Dublin Horse Show. Countries such as Ireland, Great Britain, France and Sweden were represented, but it was the team ‘Born in the USA’ – which included Bruce Springsteen’s daughter as one of its members – that finished top at the end of the day.
Travellers Choice CEO Christian Hunter says one of the highlights of the journey was the group’s bus driver Patrick, who added a uniquely Irish flavour.
“One of the agents asked if Patrick could turn off the air-conditioning because everyone was getting cold,” says Christian. “He turned around and shouted “put a coat on”. The air conditioning stayed on, with the coach in fits of laughter.”
A quick stopover in London followed for some shopping in Harrods, a trip on the London Eye and an evening at the theatre to see the award-winning play War Horse.
The group was also lucky enough to receive tickets to the 2014 Community Shield soccer match at Wembley Stadium from Etihad Airways, which this year featured Manchester City and a victorious Arsenal. While the game itself was a bit drab, Michelle Everson from Jamison Travel (ACT) says a post-match discussion in a local pub with one friendly but inebriated Manchester City fan provided plenty of colour.
Under the impression the Travellers Choice group had flown all the way from Australia just to watch the match, the City fan kept apologising for his team’s performance.
“When I made the mistake of mentioning Manchester United it sent him into 45 minute rant about how much Manchester City fans hate their red rivals,” Everson says. “When he’d finished I asked him where his wife was and without missing a beat he said, ‘oh ‘she’s at home, she goes for United!”
The group then boarded the legendary Venice Simplon Orient-Express for an unforgettable 1920’s-style overnight journey to Venice showcasing picturesque scenery and five-star cuisine. Once in Venice, the group enjoyed a relaxing tour of St. Mark’s Square, the Basilica and the Doge’s Palace, along with a cruise down the Grand Canal.
Travellers Choice presents Gold, Silver and Bronze Choice Awards (10 in each category) each year at its Annual Shareholders’ Conference, with winners determined by their level of support for strategic suppliers.
Share this story