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TRAVEL AND TOURISM - 2016 Activities

Travel Group Meeting Monday 11th January 2016

After a warm welcome to another year for the group and a brief discussion on future trips this year we enjoyed seeing and hearing about Barrie and Elaine James trip to Finland. This was an activity holiday organised by the Activities Abroad company and the highlight was hoped to be a good view of the Northern Lights. Although many of us have seen pictures of them Barrie explained a bit of the technical aspects of what we see and said that ideally one must be within the arctic circle, have darkness and a clear sky and most importantly luck. They travelled at the end of March via Helsinki to Ivalo by plane and then by coach to Nellin, which is a lake and forests area. The Wilderness hotel – the only hotel for miles – was their comfortable base from which they ventured out in thermal suits etc to try various activities - ski mobiles, sleighs, husky dog sleds, ice fishing as well as snow shoeing.  They visited a reindeer farm during the day and ate reindeer meat of an evening. They also enjoyed evening safaris over the lake which is frozen for 8 months of the year. Fortunately they also saw the Northern Lights on four separate nights so were very lucky. Barrie warned that you need good camera batteries to photograph them. The photographs were quite spectacular and many of us would like to see them for real if we could cope with the cold!

Travel Group Meeting Monday 8th February 2016

With regret the group learned of the death of John Wheeldon who had been a member for many years and we sent all our best wishes to his wife Margaret. Another member Anne Bubear-Baker has moved into Stowlangtoft Hall home and is able to have visitors now. After the usual updates on this year’s trips and some discussion on ideas for next year we looked back on our last trip to the Austrian Lakes. Ann Sear has already written about our trip but suffice to say we all enjoyed seeing the collection of photos, principally from Tony and Jim, while Brenda reminded everyone just where we were on which day!

Travel Group Meeting Monday 14th March 2016

Brenda Last gave a brief talk and slideshow on Singapore which she and Harry had visited twice on stopovers to New Zealand and Australia. After a very short summary of Singapore’s history the pictures covered the usual tourist haunts. The visit to the National Botanic Gardens showed the wonderful colours and forms of their orchids and the old Chinese Temple was also very colourful.  A cable car trip up Mount Faber gave great views over the island and an excursion by taxi to the Jurong Bird Park was exciting and quite cheap. A brief visit to Raffles hotel for a Singapore Sling was followed by an open air dinner on the waterfront. The photos also showed the colourful housing and shops in the ethnic areas as well as the modern office blocks and hotels. The second trip 5 years later enabled some interesting visits to their museums where unfortunately no photos could be taken and the astonishing development of their Marina Bay area on artificial land since the first visit. Brenda and Harry really enjoyed their visits there and would recommend it as a stopover destination although the hot humid weather could be off-putting.

Travel Group Meeting Monday 11th April 2016

After various bits of business on trips and summer party arrangements, the group enjoyed part one of Maggie Cooper’s talk and slideshow on her route 66 trip last year. This was a 17 day coach trip with her daughter starting in Chicago and travelling 2400 miles across 8 states. A cloudy start was not surprising in October but the weather improved during their travels and nothing stopped the sightseeing. Following the route brought out how some towns have reinvented themselves to cope with the fact that the new interstate highways have passed them by but others now are almost like ghost towns. The journey went west and south via Pontiac, Springfield (the Illinois state capital), Litchfield, St Louis, Joplin, Oklahoma City and Amarillo. Lots of places with memorabilia but also a chance to see Lincoln’s home, a 600 foot arch, fantastic caves and much more. Having been left half way through the trip the group look forward to seeing the second part later this year.

August meeting 2016

The August meeting is always our summer lunch and yet again we had a very good time at the New Green Centre. This year instead of doing it all ourselves we had a hog roast provided with salads etc and only the desserts brought by members.  As usual we had a quiz which involved identifying some Suffolk village names and after struggling with some of the more obscure ones everyone had a good appetite for our meal.

Travel Group Meeting Monday 12th September 2016

Preparations for the first of next year’s trip involved getting booking forms in for a short holiday in Italy based near Genoa and hopefully we will have about 35 on the trip. Our talk from Daloni was of a place much further afield – New Zealand. Daloni’s son and daughter in law had lived there for some years and went back for a visit taking Daloni with them. This meant that in addition to the more usual tourist sights they were able to see more of the local way of life. Starting on the north island they could relax in a cottage about an hour north of Auckland. This was quite tropical area with much lush vegetation. The photos showed the thermal pools at Rotorua and later on the South island, the tourist hotspots of Queenstown, Arrowtown and the Milford Sound.

Travel Group Meeting Monday 10th October 2016

Lots of apologies for this meeting particularly from our chairman Mike Bergdahl who has been unlucky enough to fall and break his hip. After updates on the proposed 2017 trips and our Christmas lunch we enjoyed a slideshow by Ann and Tony Sear on their visit to Sri Lanka last March. After an 11 hour flight they joined their tour of a number of sights. Sigiriya rock fortress at 600 ft above sea level required some energy to tackle the steps to the top for an amazing view. The ancient city of Polonnaruwa at over 1000 years old was mostly in ruins but not the Dambulla cave temple with a wonderful golden Buddha statues. There were other temples to see but also lots of animals including at an elephant orphanage and in the Yala national game park . Their tour ended with a nice restful stay at Ahungalla on the coast.

  Travel Group Meeting Monday 14th November 2016

After the usual review of trips to come and request for volunteers for talks for 2017 we enjoyed listening to part 2 of Maggie Cooper’s Route 66 odyssey.  Part 1 had been Chicago to Amarillo, now part 2 was on to Santa Monica, the end of the road in California.  Lots of interesting places enroute including the lovely old town of Albuquerque, where they have an annual balloon festival and Santa Fe which was really nice even though the railroad never actually reached it. Flagstaff in Arizona was very high up at nearly 7000 ft, part of the area once known as The Badlands. Going on through Arizona of course had to include a flight over the Grand Canyon. Lots of places have now been bypassed by the new interstate road and most but not all of those are looking rather desolate. Into Nevada and Las Vegas which has to be seen at least once and on to Los Angeles and Long Beach to see the Queen Mary and finally Santa Monica.  A really interesting slideshow.