However, we needn't have worried as these were all UKIP members and we got on really well with all of them as naturally any UKIP member would.
The trips are organised by Lyndda Robson, Gerald Batten's Researcher and she does an excellent job; we go from one sight-seeing extravaganza to the next, apart from scheduled breaks to catch our breathe, there is never time wasted hanging about.
This is also a chance to get some of our tax-payers money back from the EU as if, during our five days, we spend three hours in the headquarters, we get a sum of money, per head, back which subsidises our trip. For example, we got a reduction of £75 a head when we visited Brussels, this year we got a whopping £150 off when we visited Strasbourg, and next June, when we visit Luxembourg, our trip price is reduced by £100.
The trip next June to Luxembourg filled up within three weeks and there is such a long waiting list (25 people) that Lyndda has decided that we should try to get twenty more UKIP members to make a second coach. So, if you have a UKIP membership card and would like to come, email firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send you further details and put you in touch with Lyndda. I'm doing it this way in case you might like to ask me questions as I am in no way connected with the organisation of these trips.
I have to say, I think their (EU) authorities dread it when we visit. We are polite but we do let them know how we feel and put them right when they make any mistakes with their propaganda!!
The trip next June is listed in full, after the two previous trips, listed to you can see what you have missed! After the two previous trips you will see a full itinerary for next June's trip.
Tuesday 5th October 2010
0730 Assemble at London pick up point
English Grounds, off Tooley Street, near London Bridge station (see enclosed map). Any problems contact Lynnda on 07771 730620
0745 Prompt departure from London
1015 Arrive in Dover and check in P & O Ferries
1045 Ferry sails to Calais
1320 Arrive in Calais and depart for Ghent
1530 Arrive Ghent – check into hotel and rest of the day at leisure
Wednesday 6th October 2010
0930 Coach departs for optional visit to Bruges (€3pp to be paid to Lynnda)
1100 Meet guides in Bruges coach park for optional 2-hour walking tour
1700 Coach departs coach park back to Ghent
Rest of the evening at leisure in Ghent
Thursday 7th October 2010
0900 Depart for Parliament (suitable dress please and remember to bring passports)
1015 Arrive at the Visitors entrance
1030 Parliament programme will include talks from Gerard Batten MEP and also EU
Parliament Visits and Seminars representative.
1200 Visit gallery of debating chamber to watch debates and voting
1300 Depart gallery for lunch
1330-1530 Lunch hosted by Gerard Batten MEP in private members' dining salon
1545 Depart Parliament and return to Ghent
Rest of the evening at leisure in Ghent
Friday 8th October 2010
0800 Breakfast is served
0930 Check out and load coach
0945 Depart for Lille
1030 Arrive in Lille – free time to explore and have lunch
1400 Rejoin coach and depart for Calais
1530 Arrive in Calais and check in
1655 Ferry sails to Dover
1725 Arrive in Dover and depart for home
2000 Approximate arrival time back in London
Day 1: Monday 12th September – Departing English Grounds, London at 07.00hrs we journey to Dover for your P & O Ferries channel crossing. On arrival in Calais we journey through to the historic city of Troyes, with a comfort stop en route, arriving there early evening. Having checked in to the Mercure hotel, dinner is included at an adjacent restaurant, the ‘Taverne de maître Kanter’. The menu tonight will be a local Chaource cheese quiche with a bouquet of salad, Beef Bourginon & a Champagne flan. House red and white wine, water and coffee is included with this meal.Day 2: Tuesday 13th September - After a continental style breakfast at the hotel we start the day with an included 90 minute guided walking tour of Troyes which will commence promptly at 9am.Troyes was founded by the Romans in the 1st century A.D and remained relatively small until the early Middle Ages. In the 12th and 13th centuries the Counts of Champagne gave their prosperous capital a series of fortifications. These were all demolished in the 19th century and replaced by the present boulevards. If you look at the town map you will see that they form the outline of a champagne cork.The origins of the 1st settlement date back to prehistoric times and Greek geographers mention a ‘celtic’ tribe called ‘Tricasses’ that gave Troyes its name. In the 9th century Charlemagne took control and the origins of France were born. Troyes is today an important city with ancient monuments and magnificent listed buildings including 16th century timber-framed houses, nine listed churches including a cathedral and the church where the King Henri V was married. In the church, there is an important collection of stained-glass windows, original statuary from the Troyes school of the 16th century and by way of contrast, the capital of the French knitwear industry. Walking around the streets of Troyes is like going back several centuries and the magnificent buildings have been sympathetically transformed to provide an atmosphere unmatched in all of France.Following this tour, you will have a little time to purchase lunch to take with you on the coach before departing at 11.30am as we continue on to the Alsace region and your hotel in Obernai. Having checked in to the Hotel la Diligence, dinner and the evening is at your leisure.Day 3: Wednesday 14th September - Today we travel to Strasbourg for your visit to the European Parliament, leaving Obernai promptly at 9.30am. Please make sure you bring your passports as the Parliament officials sometimes request these. Your visit will last approx 2.5 hours and will include a general introduction by an EP official to the role and work of the European Parliament. Two of our UKIP MEP’s, Gerard Batten and Trevor Colman, will then talk to the group about their work in the Parliament and answer your questions. We then adjourn to the visitors’ gallery to observe the extraordinary and undemocratic voting procedures.You will then have free time in the city centre where you can purchase lunch. This afternoon, for those who have pre-booked the 90 minute guided walking tour you will depart the Tourist Office at 2.45pm whilst the remainder of the group will have free time to explore at leisure.We return to Obernai where this evening there is a Gala Dinner hosted by Gerard Batten & Trevor Colman at the Hotel Restaurant A la Cour d'Alsace, which is a short walk from the hotel. A welcome drink is scheduled for 7.30pm with dinner booked for 8pmDay 4: Thursday 15th September - This morning you will have a some free time in Obernai when you might like to visit the traditional market. This town located on the Wine Route and tucked into the foot of the Vosges mountains and Mont Sainte Odile, is truly enchanting. This historic town was one of the Imperial towns which made up the Decapole and is in an impeccable setting. Its charm is built on its ramparts, its traditional, half-timbered houses, its Belfry and its town centre which are all steeped in history.We depart Obernai at 10am as we travel south to Ribeauville, a charming small town, where you will have a couple of hours at your leisure for sightseeing and lunch. In the Middle Ages this was the seat of the family Ribeaupierre (hence the name of the town of Ribeauville). The Ribeaupierres built three castles here, whose ruins still dominate the majestic city and surrounding hills; these include Castle St-Ulrich (the oldest and most important of the three castles), Castle Girsberg and Castle High Ribeaupierre (as its name suggests, the highest of the three castles). The town still retains some of its walled fortifications and defensive towers and the Grand Street and its picturesque surroundings are bordered by flower-filled structures from the 15th – 18th centuries and Renaissance style fountains.This afternoon, for those who have pre-booked, there is a guided tour at the Castle of Haut-Koenigsberg commencing at 2pm, whilst the remainder of the group have the opportunity to relax on a cafe terrace with a coffee or drink, where there will be some panoramic views of the vineyards in the fertile valley opposite Haut-Koenigsberg. At the castle, the moment you step over the threshold of the great door, you find yourself in a whole new world: the Middle Ages. Cross the lower Courtyard with its inn, forge and mill then climb the spiral stairways leading to the Lord's furnished apartments. Plunge into an environment of architecture and furnishings steeped in history. The omni-present drawbridges, armoury, keep and cannons are a constant reminder of the purpose of this mountain fortress, which has been besieged, destroyed and pillaged numerous times since its construction.Our last visit of the day at 4.30pm is a wine tasting at the Becker Winery, a perfect way to end the day, before returning to Obernai where the evening and dinner is at your leisure.Day 5: Friday 16th September - Today starts with an early breakfast as departure from the hotel is at 7.30am today. We re-trace our steps through France, with comfort/lunch stops en route, arriving back in Calais for a late afternoon ferry crossing. Once back in the UK, we will return you to your original departure point(s).
Just before we travel next June you will get an updated Itinerary in more detail.Day 1 – Departing from English Grounds near London Bridge at 7.15 a.m., we travel to Dover for a mid-morning crossing by ferry to Calais. On arrival, we journey through Belgium, with a comfort stop en route, arriving at our hotel in the picturesque Luxembourg town of Vianden by early evening.
Day 2 – After our buffet breakfast we depart for Trier, one of Germany's oldest and prettiest towns, which dates back to Roman times. A guided walking tour is included where you will learn about the abundance of Roman history, the remains of which are still visible today, including the Porta Nigra city gate and a stunning amphitheatre, and there will then be some free time to explore further and purchase lunch.
This afternoon, a cruise on the Moselle river is also included before we return across the border into the Duchy of Luxembourg. A stop will be made en-route back to Vianden at a Luxembourg vineyard/cellar where a tour and tasting is included. A group dinner hosted by our MEPs is included at the hotel this evening.
Day 3 - Today we travel to Luxembourg City where you will start with a visit to the European Parliament. This visit will last approximately 90 minutes and will include a talk by a member of the EU Visits and Seminars staff on the history of the EU Parliament in Luxembourg, and also some words of wisdom from our MEP.
Then we will drive into the centre of the city for a tour by the Petrusse Express, a sightseeing road-train, which will take you through the city’s narrow streets and parkland and offers a panoramic view of the old fortress and city. The trip takes about one hour with a commentary about the history of the sights, provided through headphones. There will then be some free time to explore further and have lunch.
The return journey to Vianden will take us through one of the country’s most scenic areas, known as ‘Little Switzerland’ or the Muellerthal, because of its craggy sand and rock formations and the myriad small streams criss-crossing the region's dense forests
Day 4 - This morning we leave Vianden after breakfast and head towards Belgium, stopping en route in the picturesque town of Durbuy, situated on the Ourthe River and with approximately 10,000 inhabitants. The town dates to medieval times and many of the original structures remain. It is often called ‘the smallest city in the world’ because of its tight network of streets, circumscribed by a promontory of limestone rocks, a 17th-century church and two former convents. It is also home to a fascinating Topiary Garden (entrance not included), which has more than 250 figures in the original garden, some of which are more than 120 years old. There will be an included guided walking tour of the town and you will be able to purchase lunch before we continue on through the Ardennes to our overnight stop at the Leonardo hotel in Charleroi.
There will be time to freshen up at the hotel before journeying into the Belgian countryside and a very special included dinner at the unique Distillerie du Biercee. Here, whilst enjoying a welcome drink in the beautiful traditional-style building, you will discover the secrets of distillation and how they transform 10 kg of fresh fruit into one bottle of their very special eau-de-vie. Dinner will be in the Grange des Belges (Belgian Barn) which is set in the splendid Ferme de la Cour. If you wish, you will also be able to purchase some of the Distillerie’s products to take home, before our return to the hotel.
Day 5 - This morning we depart after breakfast and continue homeward, towards Calais. We will stop en route in the centre of the historic and attractive city of Tournai , which has the distinction of being the only city in Belgium that was once English. In the Middle Ages, it was a major tapestry-weaving centre and its architecture influenced most of the other cities along the Escault river. The Cathedral of Our Lady of Tournai, near the town square, is one of the most spectacular churches in Belgium and well worth visiting.
You will have some free time for sightseeing and to purchase lunch here and the opportunity, if you wish, to take a trip around the major sights on the Tournai little road-train (pre-bookable @£6pp, see booking form) before the short journey to the ferry port, where we check in for our afternoon crossing to the UK and on to our original departure point, arriving back in London around 8 pm.
The second coach is already three-quarters full so if you leave it too long, try again in 2013! That is, if there are still headquarters to visit!
PS See account with lots of photos of the Strasbourg trip.