06 FEB 2019: The English countryside is just how you and your clients imagine it, right out of Downton Abbey, the movies, and books. The visitor falls over history at every opportunity. But how to access it? In England, they drive on a different side of the road, the roundabouts are scarier than a roller coaster, the roads don't look big enough for any car, let alone one going each way. Divorces have resulted in driving through the countryside.

And what about the big cities? When it comes to great cities, London makes everyone's top Ten. After all, London is home to famous landmarks like Big Ben, Trafalgar Square, and the Tower of London. It's home to some of the world's greatest museums and art galleries, just stuffed with treasures from when the British Empire stretched into every continent.

Your clients don't have to spend a small fortune to enjoy London and all it has to offer.

The British Museum is the oldest public museum in the world and an Aladdin's cave containing six million objects from all over the world and is FREE.

Lovers of the Harry Potter series can find sights, including how to find Diagon Alley, the Ministry of Magic, Platform 93/4. On line, check out the free self-guided tour of Harry Potter London locations.

And don't forget to tell your clients to see the Changing of the Guard. You can't go wrong. This is a traditional London treat that is good fun for everyone.

There are lots of ways to see the UK. Cosmos is introducing Cosmos Lite this year, with 10 tours. It is an escorted tour, but very slimmed down and would appeal to newcomers or experienced coach tour travellers.

Every day is free to spend as the client wants, whether it’s going to the races, visiting the shops, sightseeing, or simply sitting in the park. These 7 or 8-day tours include transportation in a coach, WiFi, a tour director, and accommodations. They claim it is the world's first a la carte tour style, offering hassle-free travel with the freedom to tailor your itinerary to your own interests, budgets, and pace. And that includes timing.

Schedule early tours for the early bird, or later for a night owl. The packages include city-to-city transportation, comfortable hotels and daily breakfast. With a range of MyCosmos excursions, there is the option to buy only the tours and activities that strike your fancy.

Need guidance on what to do? An expert tour director will accompany you as you travel between cities to offer suggestions for sightseeing, dining, entertainment and shopping.

Or wander and wonder at your own pace with the CosmosGO app, filled with all kinds of suggestions and directions. All Cosmos Lite excursions start later than typical tours. Tours start at $929.

I can think of many people who would like this, including myself.

Another way to enjoy this fabulous country is to book Blue Roads Touring (used to be called Back Roads Touring), a unique, small group-touring concept based in the UK. UK-specialist DHTour offers a selection of tours up to a maximum of 18 passengers. And yes, they do go down the back roads. I took one a while ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. It was nicely paced, and the accommodations were simply wonderful... a real surprise after the dinky rooms in London. It was fun!

New for this year, they offer "Historical Southern England". It is intended to cover places and people from 1066 to today. This award-winning tour company offers more than just museums and churches.  When I was on it we got off those back roads for a boat trip exploring the Norfolk Broads.

We had some leisure time and one day some people wandered over to the Norwich Cathedral and were treated to an organ recital. Others indulged in sweets in every bakeshop in the area.

Car boot sales (similar to our garage sales but in a farmer's field) turned out to be great fun and fantastic bargains were to be found. Castle Howard gathered junk from their attics and raised $4million to fix the roof.

We were encouraged to do our own thing if we wished, quite unlike larger coach tours. Some of us spent a day doing just that, visiting friends and relatives in the area. I took a local bus to a village and spent the day walking the footpaths, talking to friendly locals.

Another day, our host and hostess were having a charity fete, and invited those interested to stay behind and join the party.

June 6, 2019 marks the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy and the allies returning to northern Europe.

There are 4 tours that cover many of the battlefields including Juno Beach and the Canadian ceremonies that take place June 6th.


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Sam Ion

The expert on All Inclusives, Sam delivers up-to-date info on alternate Wednesdays in her column Not Just All Inclusives.

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