Ron and Chris are retired grandparents, making the most of their retirement by travelling the world.
When a couple who they had previously travelled with asked if they were interested in a trip to Cuba, their interest was immediately piqued.
The four friends started to plan. They knew they wanted to do more than just Cuba, particularly if they were travelling all that way.
They started throwing around destinations like Panama, Colombia and Ecuador.
Ron and Chris have been Penshurst locals their whole married life. They had spotted Forward Travel near the train station so one day they decided to pop in. They immediately felt at ease with Rose and confident in her knowledge of the region.
“Rose is very personable and she is an easy person to talk to. We didn’t have any qualms that it wasn’t going to be okay. We felt very much at ease. I know she is widely travelled herself. We never felt that she wasn’t capable. It was great to just be able to pop in and see her as we went through our planning.”
The itinerary forms
Ron and Chris gave Rose an idea of where they wanted to go, their likes and dislikes and the itinerary formed from there. With four different people travelling together, there was some back and forth with the group to ensure everyone was happy with the plan.
Rose had a good understanding of the likes and dislikes of the four travellers.
Ron and Chris’s friend wanted to travel to the Panama Canal but his wife didn’t want to do a cruise. The group didn’t want meals included in their itinerary so they had the freedom to explore at their leisure.
Chris had read about the Devil’s Nose Train in Ecuador and wanted to include that on the trip. None of these requests were a challenge for Rose – she just built the itinerary to suit the four travellers.
An A class itinerary
More than just the itinerary, Ron and Chris loved The Book that Rose gave them before they left on their trip.
“The itinerary that Rose put together was A class. It had every single thing in it – the whole works. I’ve never had anything like it and it was such an advantage to have. You aren’t having to pull out different sheets of paper with different etickets.
It served us so well. That was the best format I’ve ever seen.”
More than guiding them as to their daily itinerary, Ron and Chris were able to use The Book to help with a misunderstanding at a Colombian airport. Airport officials were questioning Chris and Ron about when they were returning to Australia. There was a communication barrier with neither side understanding the other. Chris and Ron simply showed them The Book and the issue was resolved.
So many highlights
If the 100-page photobook Ron and Chris have had printed of their favourite 700+ images of the trip is anything to go by, this was a trip full of highlights.
The lovely people of Cuba and the delightful accommodation they stayed at. Learning about the history of the Panama Canal – a part of the trip their friend was particularly keen to do but which all of the group thoroughly enjoyed. The colourful Cartagena and the beautiful Peñol-Guatapé Reservoir in Colombia.
Ron and Chris particularly loved Ecuador. They recall that the tour guide in Ecuador, booked by Forward Travel, was outstanding.
“The tour company in Ecuador was first class. We had a small hiccup that a restaurant we had booked at for lunch didn’t receive the booking. It wasn’t the guide’s fault at all but he sorted it out. And then we received a complimentary meal at the hotel on our second last night, paid for by the tour company. The guide was absolutely delightful and so was the driver. They really looked after and cared for us.”
From Penshurst to where next?
They’ve been to India twice, Sri Lanka and much of South America… and now Ron and Chris are starting to plan their next journey possibly to Borneo and Thailand. They’ve already mentioned the idea to Rose. The Philippines and Malaysia are also on their bucket list. Who knows where Forward Travel will take them next…