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Osprey Holidays Blog

Posts Tagged ‘FAM trip’

Amy’s Adventure in Belfast & Derry

The Team June 7th, 2024

I was lucky enough to be invited on a FAM trip hosted by Tourism Ireland and what an adventure it was!

Day 1:

I arrived at Belfast City Airport where I was met by a transfer to take me straight to the Titanic Museum. I wandered back into the past and learned about the industrial city in the late 19th Century, the lives lost during its construction and when the ship was fatally hit by the iceberg. It was a very moving experience, one I didn’t expect to feel quite so affected by, but when faced with the list of survivors compared to those lost, I would be surprised if anyone didn’t at least have a lump in their throat.

Afterwards, we headed up to the city of Derry/Londonderry to meet with the rest of the group and had a beautiful lunch at the Stitch & Weave restaurant, located in the newly renovated Ebrington Square. There are lots of exciting new things coming to this part of Derry which should continue to bring what was an old army barracks to life, whilst preserving it’s importance to Derry’s history.

We took a walk across The Peace Bridge and headed to The Tower Museum, spending some time at the ‘Derry Girls’ Exhibition and seeing the iconic Spice Girls costumes that made the show what it was! Definitely worth a visit!

From there we met with a real life ‘Derry Girl’, Charlene from Martin McCrossan Tours who took us on a walking tour of Derry’s city walls, talking so passionately about her heritage and painting a clear picture of what the city was like during the troubles. She was also a fan of Derry Girls so made many references to different filming locations which made the tour even better!

We stayed in the beautiful Ebrington Square Hotel and Spa, a new luxury spa hotel. This is definitely going to be a firm favourite with the tourists this year, it’s in an excellent location with lovely restaurants within short walking distance accompanied by views of the River Foyle.

After a quick freshen up we headed to the Walled City Brewery for Dinner and Beer sampling. All beer is themed around the city and its culture which adds that extra touch of charm to the experience.

Myself and a few others headed across The Peace Bridge to The City Hotel for a drinks reception, followed by some live music at Derry’s most iconic pub Peadar O’Donnells and it did not disappoint! The Guinness was flowing and the atmosphere was certainly welcoming, you would expect nothing less!

Day 2:

It was another early start for me as we headed down to the Bogside to visit the new Peacemakers Museum, opening in approximately July/August 2024 which takes you on a journey from the start of The Troubles and the long journey to peace in Derry. I can’t wait to go back and visit when it officially opens!

Even though the sun wasn’t shining we hopped onboard a speed boat provided by Foyle Adventures and took it for a ride down the River Foyle! It was a brilliant experience, however next time I will make sure I pack my waterproofs as you may just get splashed…

To warm ourselves up we had a lovely lunch at the Bishops Gate Hotel located in the heart of Derry, before setting off to Belfast for the remainder of the trip.

Once we arrived, we met with a tour guide James from DC Tours who showed us around the centre of Belfast. He discussed its history and gave his own experiences of The Troubles which really brought the tour to life. I love to hear about personal experiences especially when it is so hard to imagine life ever being this way in the not so distant past.

We checked in to our hotel for the night, a lovely new hotel centred around sustainability and supporting local businesses which was apparent in every detail. It was right in the centre next to all the shops, bars and restaurants so it certainly ticks all the boxes for location!

We took a short walk to the Home Restaurant in Belfast for dinner, a Michelin star restaurant and the food was absolutely stunning! We couldn’t go to Belfast and not have a drink in the most famous pub there – The Crown! Its décor is so well preserved and it’s really maintained its character and charm for tourists and locals to enjoy for many years to come.

Day 3:

On our final day we headed out on a Street Art Walking Tour of Belfast. This showcased amazing artwork done by locals and artists who have travelled from all over just to make their mark on the city! Here are some of my favourites –

Afterwards we headed to Waterman House Cookery School located in the Cathedral Quarter to learn how to make some of the more traditional dishes Northern Ireland had to offer! I love to cook so this was right up my street! We made Guinness Bread followed by a Seafood Chowder, finishing off with a traditional Irish Lamb Stew and Champ which was gorgeous. Even though I am not a huge seafood fan I really enjoyed the Chowder!

We then said our goodbyes and I hopped back on my short flight to Edinburgh, with the intention of returning very soon!

To find out more about Amy’s visit to Belfast & Derry or if you’re interested in a similar trip,
give the team a call on 0131 243 8098 or send us an email.

Two In One: Shona Explores Paris & Val d’Isere

Shona Anderson May 20th, 2024

I was lucky enough to attend a fabulous FAM trip hosted by Experimental Group. Experimental are currently in the midst of an exciting new project building the new Experimental Chalet Val d’Isere, which is due to open at the end of the year. For all ski related enquiries, our sister company, Ski Independence are on hand to help create the perfect ski holiday for your clients.

Day 1

After a smooth flight to Paris Beauvais airport, I hopped on a bus and arrived at Porte Maillot. From there I took the metro to the first hotel I was staying in, Experimental’s Hotel des Grands Boulevards. Wow, what a place! The hotel was marvellous and I was greeted with a warm smile by the friendly reception staff. As I was handed a set of real keys to my room, I already started to feel right at home.

After dropping my bags, I strolled along the beautiful Parisian streets and visited a selection of our fabulous featured hotels:

Once I had rendezvoused with the rest of the lovely agents in the group, we wandered around and saw some iconic Paris sites and headed back to the hotel to freshen up for dinner at the hotel. The restaurant has a wonderfully relaxed atmosphere, offering a great selection of dishes and unique cocktails made with ingredients from their very own on-site garden!

Day 2

Off to an early start, we had a fabulous continental breakfast with plenty of pastries and had a tour of the hotel. Afterwards, we were treated to a superb food tour run by Through Eternity Tours, which included wine, French onion soup, galettes, chocolate and a lot of cheese!

Very happy and our bellies full, we took the scenic route back to our next hotel – The Grand Pigalle Hotel, a smaller, yet equally sophisticated slice of Paris. The Grand Pigalle hotel had a classically Parisian feel, with chic bedrooms and an elegant interior. My room had a beautiful balcony, perfect for a coffee and watching the world go by in the mornings.

In the evening, we had dinner at the hotel’s restaurant, Frenchie Pigalle, restaurant of the one-starred chef Gregory Marchand. The waiting staff were incredibly professional and knowledgeable, offering a description of each dish we had and the food was just to die for!

Day 3

After a blissful sleep in the comfiest beds, we had another delightful breakfast and were all feeling very excited for the journey ahead to Val d’Isere. Experimental will soon be opening new accommodation in Val d’Isere, which will be replacing the current L’Aigle Des Neiges.

We set off to Gare de Lyon and had a very easy journey to Chambery, before being picked up by our transfer to take us to our next accommodation.

When we arrived, snow was gently falling down around us. The resort of Val d’Isere is stunning, surrounded by cosy looking lodges and picturesque mountain backdrops. We stayed in the Chalet Marco Polo, which was absolutely breathtaking. Kitted out with a swimming pool, hot tub, games room and gym, it was a dream!

As the construction works of the new accommodation are still ongoing, we were taken on a tour of the showroom, which was mocked up to replicate one of the rooms at Experimental Chalet Val d’Isere. Equipped with hard hats and welly boots, we visualized what the accommodation will look like.

We were given a presentation from the Val d’Isere Tourist Office and afterwards treated to a mixology class by one of Experimental’s specialist mixologists. We had a private dinner which consisted of a spectacular 3-course meal, which was also to die for!

If you want to find out more about ski holidays with Ski Independence, visit our dedicated travel agent pages here. If you’re already registered with Osprey, that means you’re also registered with Ski Independence, and you can enquire today.

Day 4

After a wonderful breakfast with views of the mountains and gently falling snowflakes, we set off on our final activity – snowshoeing. I had never done this before and it was a great opportunity to get on the slopes and see the Alps in all their glory!

Sadly it was time to say goodbye, and after an incredible 4 days we packed our bags and headed to Geneva airport. The entire experience was the perfect mix of city sightseeing with a glorious alpine setting, and a fair few laughs along the way!

‘Til we meet again!

To find out more about Shona’s trip to Paris & Val d’Isere or if you’re interested in a similar trip,
give the team a call on 0131 243 8098 or send us an email.

Lisa and Stephanie’s Trip to Reykjavik

The Team November 20th, 2023

Day 1:
We arrived in Reykjavik later on in the evening where our transfer bus Gray Line was waiting for us. With a 50 minute journey into the centre we were well on our way to soak up the Icelandic culture. Arriving at the Fosshotel Reykjavik, we dumped our bags and headed back out for a bite to eat. We found a great little pizza stop called Devitos – definitely one of the best pizzas we’ve ever had!

Day 2:
It was an early start for us, so we enjoyed a hearty breakfast and headed to the coach for our first tour of the day, The Golden Circle. With a 6 hour tour ahead of us, we were excited to see the 3 main attractions that we had heard so much about from colleagues and friends. It was a 45 minute drive until we reached our first stop, Iceland’s National Park. The sun had just begun to rise as we arrived, giving amazing views over Lake Þingvallavatn with the stunning greenery around us.

Our second stop was the one we were most looking forward to out of the 3 attractions. From the National Park to The Geysirs the journey took 50 minutes. The Geysirs were incredible to witness with several at the beginning of the trail and the largest, geyser Strokkur, just a 5 minute walk up a gentle hill. The hot springs erupt every 5-8 minutes so it wasn’t long before the action happened right in front of our eyes. The wait in the cold was completely worth it – an experience neither of us have had the pleasure of seeing before.

This was our longest stop so we treated ourselves to Icelandic fish & chips for lunch. With full tummies all round, we set off for our third and final stop of the tour, the Gulfoss ‘Golden’ Waterfall, just 15 minutes along from the Geysirs. We decided to brave the stairs to the viewing platform and get as close as possible to the powerful falls. Let’s just say, we weren’t disappointed! The waterfall was stunning, almost like looking at a picture from a magazine.

Soon enough, the time had flown by and the temperatures had dropped; it was time to head back to the hotel. Arriving back into Reykjavik late afternoon, we had our first hotel visit of the trip, Fosshotel Reykjavik. As we were staying here, we already had a good idea of the facilities on offer. After our tour, we decided to check out the main shopping street Laugavegur, a 5-minute walk away. The Laugavegur is a long street lined with many shops, restaurants, and bars, ranging from tourist to high end. The street itself takes around 30 mins to walk from one end to the other.

After having dinner at the Fosshotel Reykjavik it was time to layer up in search of the Northern Lights. Unfortunately, it wasn’t our night and the lights didn’t make an appearance. Luckily with Reykjavik excursions you can book again every night for up to 2 years, so we booked again for the next day.

Day 3:
We started our 5 hotel visits, all within walking distance of each other. Each hotel had different personalities with unique characteristics. The hotel’s we visited were:

Hotel Holt – 4*
Center Hotel Plaza – 3*
Reykjavik Centrum -4*
Hotel Borg by Keahotels – 4*
Apotek by Keahotels – 4*

With our successful hotel visits completed, it was time to make our way back, grab our swimwear and head to the Sky Lagoon.

The Sky Lagoon
The lagoon was like stepping into a bath, exactly what we needed after our morning visits. The views across Reykjavik alone are out of this world, with the infinity ledge over looking the Atlantic ocean you could very well be in paradise. The swim up bar was a must because let’s face it…. who doesn’t want a picture holding a glass of fizz while floating in a natural lagoon surrounded by incredible nature!

The 7 step ritual is unique to the Sky Lagoon and we both managed 2 minutes in the cold plunge pool. For us the sauna was a much better ritual!

Back to Reykjavik we went for another hotel visit, the 5* Reykjavik Edition. We also had the pleasure of dining in the Tides restaurant, the food was out of this world. After dinner it was time to head back out to try to catch the Northern Lights! Despite conditions being better it just wasn’t meant to be. Nevermind, it’s a perfect excuse to return to Iceland…

Day 4:
More hotel visit visits for us to complete our trip. Each hotel was in a superb location and walkable to the main Laugavegur and each hotel was unique in its own way. We visited:

Fosshotel Raudara – 3*
Hotel Klettur – 3*
Sand Hotel by Keahotels – 4*

Sadly our time in Iceland was coming to an end, so we headed back to the airport for our flight home. Iceland, its been a blast!

To find out more about Lisa and Stephanie’s visit to Reykjavik or if you’re interested in a similar trip,
give the team a call on 0131 243 8098 or send us an email.