I have had a few weeks off and am now on my way to Munich where I am to pick up a group of American students for a busy tour of Central and Eastern Europe. It will be my first tour with Americans since last April, when I had the group from hell. They were students from Florida and drunk, rude and spoilt for the whole trip.
My driver relies totally on his Sat Nav and refused to listen to my directions to the hotel as we arrived in Budapest. This resulted in us going all the way around the city in heavy traffic unnecessarily and wasting at least half an hour.
We finally arrived at the road where our hotel was situated and it was very very narrow. It was a tight turn and my driver had to reverse and in doing so crashed into a car. He actually didn’t realise and it was only when a man came to the coach and was shouting and swearing in Hungarian that he realised he had hit a car. The coach was stuck – we could turn left or right as the corner was too tight; we couldn’t go straight on as the road was too narrow and we couldn’t reverse as ,by now, there was a huge traffic jam behind us – all sounding their horns and swearing in Hungarian. What a nightmare.
I could see the hotel so decided to walk my group there and let the driver sort this mess out. So we unloaded the luggage in the middle of the road with everyone in the traffic jam swearing in Hungarian and sounding their horns.
All in all an exciting day!
After yesterday’s excitement, today should be straight forward. We have had a long journey to reach Budapest but are staying just one night, so this morning we checked out of the hotel before starting a city tour. Budapest is really beautiful and the weather is great.
After the city tour, I gave the group a couple of hours for lunch and shopping before we headed to Vienna.
I was going to have a break at one of the service stations on the Hungarian motorway but as the whole group were fast asleep, I decided to push on. I love it when the group sleep on the coach – peace and quiet.
By the time we reached the border, it was time to make a break. I hadn’t been this way for a long time and things can change. I spotted a Hotel Paprika just off the motorway and my driver agreed that this would be a good place to stop. Big mistake! when we arrived at the main entrance to Hotel Paprika, I realised that it was a brothel/ strip club. Those boys in my group all started to whislte and I told them to close their eyes and shut up. We made our exit and then made a break on the Austrian side of the border.
One of my clients fainted there but she was ok.
On to Vienna and dinner in the city centre before checking into the hotel for just one night.
City tour of Vienna this morning, with a rather strange local guide. She did not seem with it and then made comments about Americans not liking Muslims. Totally inappropriate. After lunch we made our way to our next and final port of call, Salzburg.
My driver got confused again and whilst trying to make another tight turn, crashed the rear end of the coach into a bridge. The windows broke but fortunately nobody was hurt.
Had to report it and get the driver replaced because if a serious accident happened later on in the tour then it would look bad, that we had a driver who had crashed the coach twice in 3 days.
The driver wasn’t happy but I told him that it must have been one of the group who phoned to complain about him.
It rained for most of our walking tour of Salzburg this morning and I was a little worried about what the group would do for the rest of the day, if the rain persisted. Anyway, they all seemed happy to have a free afternoon, so I went back to the hotel to chill out for a while.
Salzburg is a lovely old city, nestling on the edge of the Alps. It has quite an Italian feel to it and was ruled for six centuries by the Catholic Church.
Finished a tour and now I am back in Munich to meet the next group. I am in Munich a day before the group arrive. Have to be at the airport at 8.30 tomorrow morning. Early night tonight>
It has certainly been a strange start to this tour. I got an early night and was all set to get up at 6 am and be at the airport by 8 am to meet the group. Then I got a call at 1 am to tell me that the group had missed their connection in Atlanta and were to be rerouted via Barcelona and would arrive in Munich at 12.30.
I slept in a bit and caught the underground (known as the S-Bahn) to Munich Airport. Now what happened next is a sharp reminder to me that I am a woman often travelling alone and have to be careful.
I was sitting on the train looking at my paperwork and someone sat down opposite me. I didn’t look up but the person, a woman, asked me in German how far it was to the airport. I replied ½ an hour. She then asked if the airport was nice and I repied that it was ok. The she asked how far she would have to walk. For the first time I looked up and there was a very scary looking, scruffy woman opposite me. She said that she didn’t have a cent and would I buy her a ticket to Africa, as she wanted to see the elephants, tigers and n—–rs.
I moved seats but she followed me and then my phone rang and she heard me speaking English so started shouting in English about having a knife and killing people and bombs at the airport. I got off the train at the next stop and then got on another carriage and sat myself down next to a policeman.
Met my favourite driver at the airport and the group didn’t arrive at 12.30. They arrived at 4.20 pm but some were still in Barcelona and wouldn’t arrive until 11.30 pm. Hardly any luggage arrived either. I did feel bad for the group – what a start to their tour, but they seemed in good spirits.
Took the group to the hotel, checked them I, walked them into the city centre for dinner, had a couple of hours break before heading back to the airport at 10.30 pm to pick up the rest of the group. I went by taxi – after today’s experience there was no way that I was getting on that train on my own late at night.
The group were in good spirits today, considering the start to the tour. All the luggage has turned up except for one suitcase.
We spent the morning in Munich and then went to Dachau to see the former concentration camp. I studied German history, so explained a lot to the group about this tragic period in Germany’s history.
Today was an easy day as we left Munich and headed off to Vienna via the Abbey of Melk. I really enjoy giving the group surprises, so I told them yesterday that I had a surprise for them. And what was the surprise? Well, I did an extra stop in the Austrian Lake District in the lovely village of Mondsee. It wasn’t on the programme but I like to show my groups as much as possible. The group were delighted.
Vienna was wonderful as usual, though the weather changed and it was rainy and windy.
We had dinner in a strange restaurant and it was a buffet in a cellar. The Schnitzel was great and we had the Austrian speciality of Bludenzgrostl – potatoes fried with what we in England call black pudding but the Austrians call blood sausage – sounds wonderful. I told my American group that it was fried potatoe with sausage and didn’t mention the blood bit. They ate it. I will wind them up about it for the rest of the trip.