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Meet Angela and Chris

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First-time guided holiday travellers Angela and Chris share their unforgettable Trafalgar memories.

  • AngelaAngela
    • Describe one of your insider experiences.
      I really enjoyed our visit to meet Uncle Jimmy at Aunt Sandra's Sweet Shop, a traditional Irish sweet shop with sweets in jars. The real surprise was a whole factory operation out the back where they hand-make the sweets. Uncle Jimmy showed us how to make toffees and lollipops. Although that was a light-hearted experience, Uncle Jimmy was really like Paddy from the Black Cabs in that he was proud of his city and genuinely keen to share it with us. The Sweet Shop was slightly out of town so the real benefit of being with Jill our Travel Director is that she’s a local and knew this place. It's the sort of thing we wouldn’t have found on our own.

      What was the highlight of your trip?
      The highlights of the trip has been the people I've met through Trafalgar – people like Paddy who are really enthusiastic about meeting you and proud to share their home towns. My favourite experience in France was our Travel Director Cindy – she knew everything! I don't think there was a single question that she couldn't answer. We were really lucky as we had such a friendly group of people travelling together.. It was like being part of a group of friends, except one happened to be a Local Expert! Cindy made the France experience for me.

      What's the Trafalgar difference?
      We've seen all the obvious things like the Giant's Causeway but Trafalgar has also introduced as to so many hidden gems which we wouldn't have found by ourselves. You'd drive by the sweet shop without even knowing it was there. The murals were in little residential streets where once upon a time you wouldn't have been able to just show up and start taking pictures. And having Paddy take us through them meant we learnt so much more about the peace process and what life is like in Belfast today.

      How have you enjoyed travelling with a group of people?
      It's been great meeting new people. We've been really lucky because we all get on. They're a great bunch of people and we've had a real laugh. We had a bit of that as well as the freedom to go off and do our own thing in the evening. The other thing that's been really good is having a Travel Director as we've been able to ask where we can get an Italian or Indian meal, or see some traditional music. So even when we've gone off by ourselves, it feels like we've had a really authentic experience. It's been a series of highlights rather than maps, guidebooks and getting lost.

  • ChrisChris
    • Describe one of your insider experiences.
      The experience was amazing, bewildering, sobering and fascinating. Things you remember happening in the 70s/80s are part of the reality of people's lives. We went around these streets, observing big wall paintings which were beautiful but confronting. Paddy, the guy who takes you there, has lived through it. It's a real privilege being welcomed into a sensitive area by those who have lived through it.

      What was the highlight of your trip?
      We went to this amazing pub called the Duke of York which is covered in posters and paintings. We tried Guinness, a Black and Tan, Whiskey Mac, Baby Guinness…We got chatting to locals, who were really friendly, in this Dickensian alleyway outside. That day we also went to the Giant's Causeway – where a geological freak of nature meets this myth of Finn MacCool. It's an extraordinary natural phenomenon, well worth the trip. It's a fantastic vantage point as you can see Scotland in the distance, along with the far tip of Northern Ireland right down to the South Coast.

      Did you have any favourite points along the way?
      My favourite experiences over the whole trip have been those off the beaten track – unusual things which I wouldn't have had the expertise or time to research or find; things you normally would've driven past. A lot of these things are in muddy fields surrounded by cows – there are no signposts. Foraging for various kinds of seafood on the beach on Ireland’s West Coast was probably my favourite overall experience. And then having this amazing meal prepared from that. That experience will live on in the tastebuds and memory forever.

      Describe some of the relationships you developed with your Travel Directors.
      The Travel Directors are amazingly knowledgeable. You've got the sense that they've got this amazing amount of information that they can just recall at will. They're like mates after half a day. They are very hospitable, welcoming, informative and flexible. If you've got a question, they'll stop and answer it with great insight. It's like someone opening the door into this world you're allowed to be a part of. You don't feel like a cliché tourist – you're shown things hidden behind closed doors. As locals, they're very well prepared and make the experience. They reveal the fine, microscopic detail around these historical monuments.

      How would you sum up your Trafalgar experience?
      Trafalgar opens up the door to another world you normally wouldn't enter. I feel I've gotten under the culture of both Ireland and France in a way I've never experienced before. When you travel independently, you don't get challenged. You don't meet new people, speak the local language, or go that step further as you're more insulated. You chicken out of taking that further step into the experience. With Trafalgar, you meet fantastic friends and look at the big landscape rather than a map. It's a much more rewarding way of doing it – you get to taste, smell and see more in every place that you visit.

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