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These are my thoughts on booking and experiencing my first ever solo trip with Riviera Travels. I normally book trips via my travel agent Sue at Holiday Please but this time I do not know why but I was just excited. That morning, my redundancy arrived and I just wanted to book a holiday. And I did, and paid in full on the website. This was all before 8am but by mid day I had not received an email confirming that I was booked on the tour. I then phoned them and was confirmed that it was all booked. But I did not get confirmation by email until four days later. I had booked a tour called Charms Of The Baltics For Solo Travellers. This is what was on the website
Experience more with so much included
- Discover Rīga’s UNESCO-listed Old Town with a local guide and see its renowned Art Nouveau architecture
- Experience Latvian culture through a collection of remarkably preserved homes throughout history at the Ethnographic Open-Air Museum
- Visit the magnificent Rundāle Palace, designed by the architect of the Winter Palace in St Petersburg
- Delve into riveting Lithuanian history on a guided tour of Vilnius’ medieval Old Town
- Visit the fairy-tale island castle of Trakai, a formidable monument to Lithuania’s glorious past
- Join a local guide in exploring Kaunas, Lithuania’s second city
- Enjoy a farewell meal in the pine-fringed coastal resort of Jūrmala
- Return flights from a selection of regional airports, plus all hotel transfers
- Seven nights in four-star superior and four-star accommodation inclusive of all local taxes, plus breakfast and dinner
- A welcome dinner on the first evening to meet your fellow travellers
- The services of our experienced and insightful tour manager throughout
The reason I booked this tour was The Hill Of Crosses. I could have just done it all independently but when I priced it all up it was much more different cost wise. I do not book hostels or budget hotels. And this trip was just perfect on paper. You have to remember that I need to rest up when I am away. My condition does not let me walk around a city all day. This trip has tours in the morning and then the afternoon is yours. Then you meet up for dinner every evening. So you can do as little or as much as you want.
A week before the trip, the paperwork arrived. And as the flights booked are with Ryanair, you are told how to check in and print off your own boarding passes. For me this was fine. But if you were older and not tech savvy it would be a problem. I could not understand why they did not just print them off themselves and included them with all the other paperwork.
The day of the flight, there were four flights for this tour coming into Riga, three arrived roughly the same time. But the Gatwick one left four hours after the Stansted, East Midlands and Manchester ones. So we were picked up and taken to the hotel. We arrived about 1pm. Unfortunately check in time is set for 3pm so while everyone from the tour group went out to explore. I stayed and rested awaiting my room key. My 3.30 am start meant that I needed to not move.
The next day, we had a two hour walking tour. However, I could not continue after an hour. Hugo our Spanish tour manager, advised me of the quickest way back to the hotel. And he was so nice and understanding how I felt. This was nice and I feel looked after. But that is also when it went down hill. Every tour that we took, every day myself and another passenger who also had mobility issues were left behind. We never heard much from the tour guides. And we got to know each other very well. He is an 83 year old grand grandfather and he made my holiday. We spent time laughing so much and he was just lovely.
Every day, we had early starts, and the tour was very heavy going for me and my condition. It was the day, we have driven from Riga, Latvia to Vilnius, Lithuania. That it got worse for me. I started looking at flights home as I knew I could not continue. I slept on my thoughts, as I struggled with sleep and all the walking. The tour was just too much for me.
In the end, I booked an earlier flight home. I missed out on a two hour walking tour of Kaunas, but I can not walk for two hours. There was also a four and a half hour coach journey back to Latvia. I am not sorry that I missed that. Flying home was the best thing for my health both physically and mentally. Buying a new plane ticket was money well spent. Would I book again with Riviera Travel ? If the trip and price was right. But this did show me, that I am more of a independent traveller. I enjoyed exploring the cities we visited at my own pace listening to my music and taking my time.