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 Team Profiles

     
 
  WHO: Robyn Galloway
WHAT: Managing Director - The Innovative Travel Company
WHERE: Resides in Christchurch, New Zealand

CURRENTLY:
* Chair of the NZ-Turkey Business Council
* Managing Director - The Innovative Travel Company
* Board Member of the NZ Middle East Council and a member of Canterbury Employers Chamber of Commerce until October 2015 when she stepped down after a 6 year term
* Mentor - to future business leaders and opera singer Polly Ott
* Committee Member - Christchurch Woman's Refuge fund raiser
* Guest Speaker - to business owners on controlling what is controllable in business and having    to deal with the 'uncontrollable' aspects of business such as earthquakes, economic downturns, and the fluctuating NZ dollar.
PREVIOUSLY:
* Tourism Adviser to Government Trade Missions to the Middle East & Gulf Regions
* Trailblazer for employers 4.5 shorter working week initiative during the Global Financial Crisis
* Organiser of the first 'Opera at the Pyramids' event in Cairo, 1997 with Dame Malvina Major, Hassan Kamy and the Cairo Philharmonic Orchestra
 AWARDS RECEIVED:




  * Egyptian Tourism Award 2010-recognition by the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism for outstanding contribution     to Egyptian tourism from New Zealand
* RAMESES Award 2005-outstanding contribution towards developing tourism in Egypt
* Business Woman of the Year - 2005 - Winner of the Best Managing Director in the SME Category

TRAVELS:

 





  * Europe (Croatia, Italy, Malta, France, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Austria, Belgium, Holland); Middle East & North Africa (Morocco, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Jordan, Egypt, Tanzania, Dubai, Kenya, Gulf States, Libya); Eastern Europe (Ukraine, Russia, Romania, Bulgaria, the Baltics); Caribbean (Jamaica, Barbados, Cuba and more...), Asia, Australia & Pacific, NZ, USA, Canada, Mexico, South America. 
Robyn has a special interest in WWI and WWII battlefields and has visited El Alamein, Gallipoli,  Passchendaele and The Somme, the Suda Bay War Cemetery in Crete, and Yalta where the post WWII Conference was held to discuss the reorganisation of Europe.

 
  WHO: Elhamy Elzayat MNZM
WHAT: Business Partner - The Innovative Travel Company
WHERE: Resides in Cairo, Egypt

CURRENTLY:
* Chairman:Emeco Travel; Nile Cruises & Investment Group; Alpha Airlines Agency; Egyptian    Tourism Federation (The body that represents all Egyptian Travel Agents, Hotels, Restaurants,
   Souvenir Shops & Diving Centres in Egypt); Phoenix Automotive & Free Zone
* General Assembly Member: Egypt Air Holding Company, Egypt Airport Holding Company
* Vice Chairman: National Egyptian Heritage Revival Association
* Board Member: Supreme Council for Airline Services Pricing.
PREVIOUSLY:
* Honorary Counsel General of New Zealand
* Visiting professor in tourism & hotel management to Helwan University Post Graduate studies
* Chairman of Regional Tourism Association for Egypt, Palestine, israel, Jordan, Malta, Cyprus,    Tunisia, Morocco & Turkey).

 AWARDS RECEIVED:





  * Recipient of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM)  Queens Birthday Honours 2007
*
IMEX Academy Award 2005
* Twentieth Century Achievement Award 2000
* Man of the Year 1997
* World Peace Through Tourism - 1997
* Personnalite de l'annee - Distinction International - Tourisme - 1993 France
 TRAVELS:

  Widely travelled in Africa, Asia, North & South America, Central and Eastern Europe,
Middle East, Australia & New Zealand; Elhamy has also travelled to such offbeat countries
such as Uzbekistan!

   

Tour Host and International Security Advisor to Innovative Travel

Roy Ferguson has been a career diplomat serving in a variety of posts over a 40 year career.  He was New Zealand's Ambassador to the United States from 2006 – 10 and prior to that Ambassador to Korea.  He has always had a passion for New Zealand's military history dating back to his student days studying history and enriched by the opportunity to see many of the places where New Zealanders have served abroad.  His grandfathers fought in the Boer War and the First World War.  His Dad served in the Pacific and in Italy in World War II and Roy accompanied him on a return to Italy in 1995. 

Roy has spoken at ANZAC Day Services in the Republic of Korea at the time of the Fiftieth anniversary of that conflict and also on several occasions in the United States at the National Cathedral in Washington, where he also established links with the Ataturk Society. He is an Honorary Member of the New Zealand Korean War Veterans Association and an Honorary Life Member of the United States Second Marine Division.


 
  WHO: Lynda
WHAT:
Office Team Leader & Groups Manager

WHEN:
Wholesale travel for 21 years - of those over 16 years with Innovative Travel
WHERE:
Travelled extensively in Middle East, UAE,  Europe, Eastern Europe, Russia, Scandinavia, India, Nepal,  Caribbean, Asia, USA, Australia &  Fiji
MOST INTERESTING TRIP:
2 weeks cruising on the Black Sea & Dnieper River .. something completely different.   The amazing and memorable people, architecture and sights. It was also really relaxing as I only had to unpack once!
 LYNDA'S TOP DESTINATIONS:







 
  * Egypt & Turkey still do it for me  - as every time you go back there is more to discover in the history, landscapes and hospitality
* Tunisia has to be up there as has the most spectacular beaches, scenery and landscapes. Bordering on the Sahara Desert you see the villages and desert  used in the Star Wars movies and it has a fabulous mix of French/Arabian people  and food.

* Israel - there is no place on earth that compares with the history, sites and mix of cultures
* Morocco - Fantastic sites, food, people and shopping.  A visit to Ricks Cafe in Casablanca is a 'must do'.
 LYNDA'S TRAVEL TIPS:

 

 
* Don't drink your cocktail under  the shade of a fully laden coconut tree.
* Always take small plastic zip lock bags to put your different currencies in.
* Wear waterproof mascara in the monsoon season & avoid white t-shirts

    WHO: Leigh
WHAT:
Inbound
WHEN:
7 years as Campsite Manager in the South of France, Incentive Travel Companies in New Zealand, Travel Agent Outbound, Inbound Travel
WHERE:
UK and Europe, Canada and USA, South America, Middle East, Africa, Hong Kong, Japan, Bali, South Pacific Islands, Australia including Arnhem land, New Zealand - North and South
MOST INTERESTING TRIP:
Egypt and Jordan when I escorted an Incentive Group for 2 weeks. The history and culture was fascinating and the warmth and friendliness of the locals was amazing.
LEIGH'S TOP 3  DESTINATIONS:





* Egypt – The Pyramids, Sphinx and Kings Tombs have to be seen to be believed.
* New Zealand – Beautiful scenery, easy access to the outdoors, great food and friendly locals make New Zealand a wonderful place to visit.
* Jordan – Petra is simply stunning and the tapestry of colours and rock formations is out of this world
.
 LEIGH'S TRAVEL TIPS:


  * Take half as much luggage and twice as much money
* Transfer creams, shampoos etc into small travel bottles
* Take an empty water bottle container to fill up on the plane so you can stay hydrated


    WHO: Nicholas
WHAT
: Product - Outbound
WHEN
: 6 years at Innovative Travel, 10 years Travel Experience in Australia including wholesale, CRS and loyalty and incentive travel and 4 years Europe and the Middle East & Africa
WHERE
: Travelled extensively through Europe, Middle East, Africa, South East Asia, India and Pacific
MOST INTERESTING TRIP
Damascus and Aleppo (Syria) – sensational food, incredible hospitality and cities that permeated history.  Extremely sad what is happening in Syria currently and how it is effecting the people and sights.
 NICK'S TOP 3 DESTINATIONS:


  * Morocco -
* Vietnam -
* Israel -
 NICK'S PERSONAL TRAVEL TIPS:


  * A little bit of the local language goes a long way.
* Try street food but make sure it is cooked in front of you.
* Always carry a handful of US$1 notes change

 
  WHO: Anthony
WHAT: Product - Outbound
WHEN: 4 years experience in the NZ Travel Industry and 7 years in the wholesale travel industry in France

WHERE: Travelled extensively throughout Central & Eastern Europe, Central and South America, South East Asia, India and the Pacific, including Easter Island
MOST INTERESTING TRIP: A motorcycle trip around the Boloven Plateau in the South of Laos. Unsealed roads, waterfalls, coffee smells, tyre punctures… all combined for a fantastic experience and memorable encounters with the some of the friendliest people I have ever met.
 ANTHONY'S TOP DESTINATIONS:





 

* Laos: a country that is still unspoiled and blessed with fantastic laid back people and a rich culture mix of Buddhist, traditional culture and French colonial heritage.
* Morocco: varied landscape, friendly people, beautiful architecture, colours, flavours…
* France: it's home!  And even if NZ wines and cheeses are getting there, one can't beat a freshly baked baguette served with "saucisson" and a glass of "rouge", savoured while seated on a terrace looking at the petanque game taking place on the village main square. Cliché but true !

ANTHONY'S TRAVEL TIPS:





  * Learn how to say hello, please, thank you and goodbye in the local language
*
Don't plan too much. Leave room for the unexpected…your best memories may well be when all didn't go to plan
*
Carry photos of your family and friends, your home town, your house, your pets…this could start some memorable conversation and giggles with the locals, curious to know more about you and your culture


  WHO: Kirsty                
WHAT:
Sales Consultant - Outbound

WHEN:  12 years experience in the New Zealand Travel Industry and 3 years in the UK Wholesale Travel Industry.
WHERE
: Travelled extensively in Europe, North America, Middle East, Asia and the Pacific.

MOST INTERESTING TRIP: Travelling around Rajasthan in India. Jodphur with it's indigo washed houses and the peace and tranquillity of Udaipur's lakes was definitely a highlight. There is a photo opportunity every 3 seconds in India from cows on the streets to parades of  the most dazzling and colourful saris to the spectacular old heritage palaces, forts and of course the Taj Mahal.
NOTE: as of 07 December 2015 Kirsty is on maternity leave

 KIRSTY'S TOP DESTINATIONS:



  * Barbados – Sun-drenched white sandy beaches, tropical fruits and fresh seafood.
* Jordan – Magnificent Petra and its Nabatean history, Wadi rum with it's awesome moon landscape and floating in the Dead Sea.
* Spain – Tempting tapas, cultural arty and regal cities, infectious flamenco beats.

 KIRSTY'S TRAVEL TIPS:





  * Buy a local phone sim card in the country you are travelling in. It is much cheaper than international roaming charges leaving you extra spending money!
* If you see something you would like to buy while travelling then buy it - there is nothing worse than getting home and having shopping regrets.
* I always find travelling lightly is much less stressful when transiting airports. On occasion I have just travelled with hand luggage and shopped on arrival for  a whole new holiday wardrobe.



 

WHO: Michelle     
WHAT: Sales Consultant - Outbound
WHEN: 20 years' experience in leisure
and corporate travel; and 4 years working in London
WHERE:  UK & Europe, Canada & USA, India, Vietnam, Cambodia, Africa, Caribbean (Jamaica, Barbados), Pacific (Fiji, Vanuatu, Samoa, Cook Islands), Australia, Dubai.
MOST INTERESTING TRIP: I love Africa because seeing wildlife in their natural habitat is something special.  Tanzania ticked all the boxes for me – it had the Big 5 (rhino, lion, leopard, buffalo & elephant); the flamingos and birdlife of Lake Manyara; the diverse landscapes of Ngorongoro Crater and the plains of the Serengeti.  Learning about the culture and Maasai way of life and seeing them roaming the countryside and living like they had for the last hundred years has been an enduring and special memory of my trip.

MICHELLE'S TOP DESTINATIONS:


  * India - the colour, history & buildings.  A place teeming with life at every corner
* Tanzania - the spectacular wildlife & natural landscapes
* Egypt - the romance of the Nile and history of ancient civilisations

MICHELLE'S TRAVEL TIPS:


  * Take a spare photo card - you always take more photos than you expect
* Take a small bottle of hand sanitiser
* Pack an 'open mind' and 'patience' because things don't always run to plan


  WHO: Karen                 
WHAT:
Part time website management & back-of-house
WHEN:
 Travel Agencies, International Coach Tour Company, International Airlines, Travel School.
WHERE
: Australia, Asia, USA &  Canada, UK, Iceland, Europe (Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, France, Italy),Pacific (Fiji, Tahiti), Mauritius, Dubai, Turkey, Israel, Jordan
MOST INTERESTING TRIP:
A blissful 5 week trip round Italy in a little Peugeot with my husband.  We stayed for a week in a Villa in Tuscany and every day made site trips to cities of interest.  Other highlights were our 3 nights in an Apartment in Rome, and 2 days in Manarola on the Cinque Terre.
KAREN'S TOP DESTINATIONS:





  * India - an explosion of colour, squalor & beauty, a feast for all the senses.  India is a land of contrasts - in parts very lush.  I loved the forts and both British and Indian buildings such as the stunning Taj Mahal.
* Cinque Terre in Italy - particularly Manarola.  So peaceful and scenic. Make sure you have a week free to make the most of the whole area.
* Israel - such a diverse culture, exciting places to visit, lovely food & people. Israel met and exceeded all my expectations
(Photo is taken by the Dead Sea)
KAREN'S TRAVEL TIPS:


  * Do a practice pack, and then reduce the contents of your suitcase by 30 - 50%
* I always take 'Sard Soap' with me - to keep on top of washing
* Take comfortable walking shoes, a sun hat and a sense of humour

    WHO: Christine (Chris)
WHAT: Sales Consultant Outbound (part time)

WHEN: Previously worked 6 years with Innovative Travel
WHERE: Travelled extensively in the Middle East, Europe, UK, Scandinavia.Thailand and the Pacific Islands 

MOST INTERESTING TRIP:
India - an amazing experience.  The country is ALIVE - the sights .. the sounds .. colours .. people.. all make for an incredible experience.  There is such a variety of culture and experiences in this fascinating country from the north to the south.
 CHRIS'S TOP DESTINATIONS:




  * Greece - I loved Santorini with it's spectacular views of the Aegean Sea and it's stunning white washed architecture.
* Jordan - The hospitality of the Jordanians, fascinating Petra and the history and culture
* Barbados - beautiful white sand beaches, warm turquoise waters and a laid back and relaxing island.  Paradise with a capital P!

 CHRIS'S TRAVEL TIPS:


  * A swiss army knife is always handy to have in your luggage
* You can't go wrong with a portable solar charger
* Keep an open mind and immerse yourself in the local culture



  WHO: Diana
WHAT: WW1 tour specialist for The Somme & Passchendaele

WHEN: 
Battlefield Tour Specialists, The Innovative Travel Company welcomes Diana Chamsoutdinova, to their team in preparation for their WWI tours to The Somme and Passchendaele for the 100 year anniversary commemorations.  With both French and Russian heritage, Diana was born in Russia and lived in Paris from the age of 6. Having studied in Paris, plus the USA and Spain, Diana achieved a Bachelor of Political Science & International Business, graduating with high honours from Paris University.  Her studies involved WWI political proceedings of the war and its economic and social consequences.  Diana has carried out extensive historical research around the NZ involvement on the western front, plus practical research visiting the Somme battlefields, memorials and cemeteries. "Fluent in French, English, Russian and Spanish, Diana's input, especially in our specialist area of Battlefield Tours, will be invaluable," says MD Robyn Galloway "and we are very excited to be welcoming her to our team".
     

     
Innovative Travel Tour Hosts
  
...read more

   
Rene Wilson      Rev. Mike Hawke    Colleen Pasley     Mike Yardley         Roy Ferguson    Fr. Chris Skinner     Dr Stephen Clarke
     

 Team Travels

     
     

   

Moscow 2016

In August-September this year, Diana and her partner went on a month long trip to Russia & Europe to visit family & friends.

Russia is probably one of the most exciting and intriguing destinations with monumental architecture, heavy history, friendly people, lots of street music & entertainment and most interestingly, according to Diana's partner, delicious food!

Travelling through a well known country with a visitor is a great experience - allowing you to reaquaint yourself and view through fresh eyes what can have been taken for granted in the past.

photo: outside the Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow
 

 


 

 

Barcelona & Morocco 2016

What a fabulous combination - so much to see and do in both countries.
I have to say, from a female point of view, the shopping is FABULOUS in both countries (not to mention the food!)

Barcelona surprised me - I could have spent 2 weeks there and still  not seen everything there was to see and do.  I highly recommend the hop on hop off bus for a great orientation.  The highlight for me was the Gaudi Cathedral, closely followed by the Ramblas and numerous museums.

In Morocco I did the 'Moroccan Magic' small group tour with a Riad upgrade visiting Marrakech, Casablanca, Rabat, Meknes,Volubilis Fes.  What a remarkable country - much greener than I was expecting with friendly people, great food and fascinating sights.  I highly recommend the riad experience - a type of accommodation that we do not have in New Zealand.  Palais Sebban Riad was one of the many highlights of my trip.

I would love the time to explore both countries more in the future, especially Spain where I saw so little of the country.  In Morocco I would have loved extra time to stay in a desert camp and visit the Atlantic Coast city of Essaouira...perhaps a return visit?

photo 1
: Gaudis' Cathedral ceiling (Sagrada Família) in Barcelona
photo 2: Riad Palais Sebban, Marrakech
Team member: Karen P.




 

Egypt 2016

Innovative Travel, MD Robyn Galloway hosted a group of travel agents to Egypt in May 2016. The group were from many NZ centres from Dunedin to Auckland and all met up for our Etihad Airlines flight where they travelled together from Sydney.  Robyn says one of the things I like most about flying into Cairo is being met by our local meet & assist service which occurs INSIDE immigration where we all received our pre-paid visas and were fast tracked through immigration, a key benefit of an Ancient Kingdoms Holiday with Innovative Travel. 

We stayed for the first couple of nights at the majestic Mena House hotel,  which offers outstanding views of the Pyramids.  Our Nile cruise on the Mayfair from Luxor to Aswan was outstanding first class service,  the crew were very friendly and the service was outstanding.  It is very relaxing sailing down the Nile,   knowing we're following waters that have flowed for thousands of years. There is a timelessness which is captured and as we visited incredible ancient temples such as Kom Ombo our busy world was a million miles away.   Flying to Abu Simbel and being met by our local representative was another huge highlight.  We were driven to the entrance of the Abu Simbel Temples and after a 10 minute walk to the entrance, were staggered by the enormity of the statues moved to their new resting place, during the construction of the Lake Nasser Dam.  

Throughout our journey,  we were looked after fantastically well by our local representatives in each city and by our wonderful female guy Nahil, whose knowledge and insights into ancient Egyptian history were incredible.  Absolutely everyone commented on how safe they felt and how wonderful it was to be in Egypt and beat the tourists who are returning.  Thanks to Elhamy ElZayat our Egyptian Business partner and the Egyptian Tourism Office for making this journey into history so memorable. 


    Sri Lanka 2016

Michelle Baldwin is just back from escorting (in conjunction with Bev Daniels of Singapore Airlines) a small group of agents to beautiful Sri Lanka.  They visited Colombo - Pinnawala - Kandalama - Sigiriya - Polonnaruwa - Dambulla - Matale - Kandy  - Ahungalla - Galle and Kalutara.  In addition to the stunning scenery and UNESCO heritage sites they made friends with baby elephants at an elephant orphanage, and baby turtles.  Michelle reports "Sri Lanka is fantastic value for money - even in the 5* resorts". 

A highlight for the whole team was climbing the Sigiriya Rock Fortress (and the wonderful views from the top).  The photo at left shows the group with Sigiriya Rock in the background.




India 2015

Res Team member Christine travelled to India in September 2015, leading a group of Travel Agents from all over NZ.  The group are picture on the left at the Amber Fort in Jaipur.

Starting in Delhi, the group then visited Jaipur, Agra, Jhansi and Varanasi before returning to Delhi.  Some memorable moments on the trip were:

* a tour of New Delhi including time at the UNESCO World Heritage site of Qutab Minar
* An elephant ride up to the Amber Fort in Jaipur

* A viewing of the Hawa Mahjal (Palace of the Winds) - a great photo opportunity, followed by a rickshaw ride through the old part of the Pink City of  Jaipur
* Shopping opportunities throughout the trip
* Visiting the amazing Agra Fort prior to a sunset visit to the iconic Taj Mahal
* Experiencing an Indian train ride from Agra to Jhansi
* Temple visits in Khajuraho
* Witnessing a Hindu Prayer Ceremony on the banks of the holy Ganges River in Varanasi, followed by a boat cruise the following morning
* Extending my stay with a relaxing 2  night stay in Kumarakon (near Cochin) enjoying the beautiful scenery.


   

Morocco 2015

Marie Coles (BDM) and Lynda Morrison (Groups) have just returned from taking a small group of agents on a tour of Morocco, and have some marvellous tales to tell and photos to share.

Marie reports "Been lots of highlights. Everyone loved the cooking class and Marrakesh in general was a lovely city. The desert & drives over high passes were awesome, the camel ride great was a magical memory we'll all remember for many years to come, topped off with a fab night having dinner in luxury tent. We all enjoyed the shopping and the medina in Fez".  

A highlight for Lynda was the last night dinner in Rick's Cafe in Casablanca - a wonderful end to a fantastic trip.


   

Russia 2015

Maria travelled to Russia in June 2015.  During her time in Moscow and St. Petersburg she inspected quite a few hotels as well as seing the main sights.

She had this tip for people travelling to Russia "It makes so much difference if you have an English speaking guide with you. They are super knowledgeable people. Makes your life easier, you don't have to think where you can buy a bottle of water (please do not ever drink tap water in Russia), how to get metro tickets, how to get entry tickets to museums/galleries.  Peterhof Place and Park was a perfect example of why having a tour guide is crucial. There were 5 large groups lining up to get in to the palace. Because it was just two of us with the guide, she managed to talk to all staff members to let us in without waiting. The guides try to provide 110% of a tour booked, really impressive

 
Overlooking the Bahai Gardens in Haifa, and Petra by candlelight

  May 2013 - Karen & Lynda's trip to Turkey - Israel - Jordan.
During an action packed 10 days away we visited Gallipoli & Istanbul in Turkey; Petra, The Dead Sea, Madaba, Mt Nebo and the new airport in Amman in Jordan; and in Israel Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Akko, Caesarea, Capernaum, Haifa, the Galilee, Masada, the Dead Sea, Tiberias.

One (of the many) highlights during our trip was getting to see Petra by Candlelight on the night we arrived, in addition to spending time there the following day.  A magical experience.  Both of us were also impressed by the new airport at Amman.

Turkey was wonderful, and gave Lynda a chance to experience the 2013 Gallipoli Anzac celebrations first hand and fine tune arrangements for the 2015 packages we are offering.  It was Karen's first trip to Turkey, and she loved Istanbul.  Two days was definitely not enough time to do this beautiful city justice, but she packed in lots of sightseeing.

Israel was such a lot of fun, and a stunning country.  We both enjoyed the time in the Galilee staying on a Kibbutz and the 'St Peters Fish' dinner and boat ride on the Sea of Galilee.  Making the border crossing at the Allenby Gate from Israel to Jordan gave us both a chance to see exactly how things work, and an idea of the time needed.

All in all we both gained some invaluable knowledge to help us in our work at Innovative Travel.  Although our trip was primarily work (checking out hotels etc) we also managed to gather wonderful memories of 3 stunning and diverse Middle Eastern countries.

    August 2012 - Kirsty's trip to India - Visiting: Delhi - Agra - Jaipur - Jodhpur - Udaipur

Together with Katrina and Kristine from New Zealand Travel Brokers, Rosalind from United Travel Fielding and Billy from House of Travel Invercargill we started our Golden Triangle journey of Rajasthan. One of the most romantic and iconic parts to the country.

We found New Delhi to be surprisingly green and our rickshaw ride around the local markets of old Delhi was a great way to explore local life. Onto Agra and the magnificent Taj Mahal did not disappoint! Photos really do not do this wonder of the world justice. The pink city of Jaipur was our last stop and the City Palace and the fort were impressive. A complex of palaces, halls, pavilions and temples all intricately decorated.

Driving through Rajasthan was like being at the movie theatre, I found myself glued to the window and every 3 seconds there was a photo opportunity. Camels, cows, monkeys, donkeys carrying baby goats, pilgrims walking to the temples, rural villages and country roads.  

Any traveller who has embarked on an adventure to India will know it is an experience that engages all of your senses. From the colourful sights of saris and the mind boggling array of street life to the sounds of chanting from the Hindu temples and horn beeping auto cars on the streets to the divine tastes of regional speciality curries to the smells of incense and spiced chai, India is sure to surprise and delight!


  July 2012 - Anthony's trip to Greece and Egypt

Although Anthony travelled to Greece and Egypt primarily to visit our hotels to check that they still met our standards, and to view potential new hotels, he also had time to visit a few of the main sights and update his impressions of both countries.



 

June - July 2012 - Robyn's trip to Europe

Innovative Travel Managing Director Robyn Galloway was recently in Europe on business.  During her time in Europe she will be visiting Dubai, Austria, Greece, Croatia, Slovenia, Germany, Belgium and France.

Two highlights of her time away were experiencing first hand
* A lifestyle cruise & cycle tour of Croatia
* A CroisiEurope River Cruise in France - Bordeaux

To learn all about her travels ... read more

Robyn has updated us with photos and her insights on a weekly basis.  The photo to the right is Robyn in the Plaka district of Athens on a sunny Sunday afternoon.  Plaka is well known for its restaurants, bars and shops and well worth a visit


Cuenca


Salamanca


with soccer fans in Madrid

 

May 2012 - Kirsty's trip to Spain

Spain has always been one of my favourite destinations and it has many beautiful, historical and alluring places to offer any traveller. I love everything about it, the music, be it the classical strings of the guitar or those infectious toe tapping flamenco beats or the food which is an epicurean dream where even the simplest of tapas is jam packed with flavours. But mainly I love that there is nothing rushed about Spanish life with lunch at 2.30 pm and dinner at 9.30 pm. While English is spoken by most in the cities by far the most important word you need to know when visiting Spain is "Siesta", a solid afternoon nap is sure to get you through the day and into holiday mode!
My first stop was Barcelona and this arty and cultural city has something for everyone. For the sun worshipers head to the beach, 5 km of golden sands on the shores of the glistening Mediterranean or stroll along the promenades. Las Ramblas is the city heart and it's eclectic mix of art galleries, museums, quaint shops and decedent chocolaterias are sure to lure you in! La Boqueria is THE market to go to and locals come from far and wide to buy their fresh produce. It really is a must see especially the fish section where the lobsters and crabs wiggle! This is the place to eat some tapas or buy some fresh fruit.
Head to Montjuic for the best panoramic view of Barcelona. The cable car is quick and convenient.
In 2 hrs 45 mins at over 300 km per hour in a very comfortable high speed train I arrived at my next stop Madrid. This regal and elegant city is the capital and very green with trees all around the city.  Head to Plaza Mayor the heart of the old city and what used to be a bull ring but now home to  artists at work and cafes to sit with a coffee and watch the world go by. The Royal Palace and it's gardens is also a must see and is really very impressive. Madrid also has 3 of Spain's top art galleries all within 15 mins walk from each other, don't miss the Prado Museum, the Reina Sofia and the Thyssen-Bornemisza. In the evenings sit at one of the outside bars with a sangria and some tapas or go to one of the flamenco shows.

After Madrid it was onto Salamanca a World Heritage site and known as Spain's most important university city with students travelling world-wide to come and study the Spanish language here in one of the many language schools. Legend has it that if you can spot the frog carving on the city's cathedral you will pass all your exams. For this reason you will see the frog which is the city's mascot in all the souvenir shops so don't leave town without buying one for good luck!

From Salamanca back to Madrid and an hour later by train I arrived in the medieval walled town of Cuenca which is another World Heritage Site towering above the most magnificent countryside. This really is a very pretty place to spend a night or two exploring the narrow steep streets, visit the hanging houses which now houses a funky abstract art gallery and visit the cathedral in the main square surrounded by vibrant colourful apartments. It's easy to get to by train and well worth the stop.
My last stop was Valencia and while it was hard to pick a favourite this was definitely a contender. This city has everything and felt more local and less touristy than other places I had been to. Wander round the markets, join a tapas cooking school, cycle round the parks or head to the beach for one of those afternoon siestas on the golden sands or take a catamaran cruise around the city shores. Don't miss the museum of Las Falles dedicated to a very famous annual local festival dating back to a tradition of spring cleaning all your old stuff out your house and burning them. Today it is celebrated with very colourful and comical characters that are handmade and paraded through the streets to a finale when they are burned and celebrated with fireworks in March every year.
If you haven't been to Spain then make sure it's on your bucket list. Viva Espanya!


    April 2012 - Karen's trip to France & Italy

I recently spent 4 weeks travelling in Europe.  Originally my husband and I planned to visit both France and Italy, but decided in the end there was not enough time to do justice to both destinations, deciding to concentrate on Italy.    

To learn more about my trip ... read more

The highlights for us were:
* Basing ourself in a villa in Tuscany for a week, and day tripping from there.  It was great to come to such a well equipped base each night in such a stunning part of Italy
* Our 3 days in an apartment in Rome was magical.  I loved the 'green spaces' such as along the Tiber River and the Borghese gardens, but most especially Castel Sant'angelo
*
Venice was spectacular, and so easy to get around to see everything
* Manarola in the Cinque Terre was a major highlight with it's stunning scenery
and walks.

  March 2012 - Lynda's trip to Dubai

I have just returned from a turbo  trip to Dubai.  I had the luxury of flying business class on Emirates on the direct Sydney-Dubai A380 flights.  The service on the flights, including the bar and seated couch area, was just incredible.

I stayed at Le Royal Le Meridien Spa & Resort on Jumeirah Beach and beside the marina area. The hotel was  a true 5* on its own private beach with numerous bars, pools, 13 restaurants and impeccable service all round I had a truly memorable experience. All tours operate from the hotel and this  hotel along with the other hotels in the Jumeirah area offer free shuttles regularly through the day to the Mall of the Emirates. so after a busy day in Dubai is nice to return to your own slice of paradise.

A must see is the fountain show in the new "downtown" area of Dubai around the Burj Khalifa (worlds tallest building), with the surrounding Dubai Mall and many shops, cafes and restaurants. The show operates every half hour from 6pm-10pm daily.

I also had a day trip to Yas Island to check out the hotels, race circuit, Ferrari World and then onto Abu Dhabi to view our featured hotels. Like Dubai, Abu Dhabi has a lot of developments going on but not on such a big scale. The Guggenheim & Louvre  Museums are hoping to be completed by next year.


 


June 2010: Lynda has recently returned from an Eastern Europe cruise

I was pleasantly surprised on the cruise.   The cabins were clean tidy and compact, all with your own facilities, shower and fridge, which is all you require as not a great deal of time is spent in the cabin. The staff and hospitality on board was great, there was always something going on.   Plenty of food and a great selection for everyone.  The sites you saw on the cruise were magnificent from Livadia Palace in Yalta where the 1945 Yalta conference to the elegant tree-line boulevards of Odessa.  I would recommend doing the tour in the opposite direction as finishing in Istanbul is a real bonus and you can finish off any last minute shopping here.
My Eastern Europe Travel 14 night trip included 2 nights in Istanbul and 12 nights on the MS Shevchenko, travelling with 6 Australian and 2 New Zealand Travel Agents. Istanbul was fabulous as usual - amazing history, monuments, buildings, fabulous food, wonderful views on and of the Bosphorus and of course fantastic shopping. Our group was lucky to stay at the Okra Royal in the Old City which had many great facilities including a rooftop dining area and pool with fabulous views over the Bosphorus.


 

 

June 2010: In 2010 Robyn has travelled extensively to update some of Innovative Travel's favourite and emerging destinations for both leisure and business travellers.  She has visited: Egypt, Turkey, Greece, Malta, Oman, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Abu Dhabi, Dubai and the Ukraine.
Visiting Libya can only be described as one of the last great adventures. As the country has only opened up in recent years to tourism, there is much of history which is still very visibly intact.

Following the battle lines in the Western Desert near Tobruk was amazing; the trenches are still there along with the inscriptions written from their lookout posts or in caves. This is still a remote area and it is was wonderful to have our very knowledgeable local guide who was so familiar with the terrain and the history.   The Roman and Greek sites in Libya are incredibly well preserved and also worth a visit.  One of my personal highlights was visiting a true desert camp over 700 kilometres from Tripoli; where the only way out was to drive over 70 kms of sand dunes to an actual road.   We are honoured to have newly appointed International Coordinator, retiring Ambassador, Michael Chilton host a truly remarkable tour in May 2011 to Egypt, Libya and Greece. 


     

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