A tale of two coach parties

News stories are free to read. Click here for full access to all the features, articles and archive from only £8.99.

Alan Payling considers, in a light hearted way, some of the differences between a German coach holiday and a tour on an English coach

Coach holidays for some are fairly leisurely affairs. This definitely includes the English. In the main, they’re relaxed occasions where there’s no urgency to life – but initially, you have to get to the resort fairly quickly. The first day of a tour can therefore feel like a bit of a rush as the driver gathers up all the passengers and then has to keep to a tight(ish) schedule while travelling to the group’s ultimate destination. Perish the thought that the coach party arrive at the hotel so late that the passengers have to go straight into the dining room for their evening meal.

The English

On the first day in resort, things wind down a bit – quite a lot in fact. They certainly do if you’re on an English coach tour. You see this particularly when everyone is getting on the coach for the first excursion. This is usually the pattern for all the other outings too. When they first arrive at the hotel, while telling them about the following day’s outing, the coach driver will have said to the passengers something along the lines of: ‘We’ll get going at about 0930hrs in the morning.’ In the minds of English coach passengers, the word ‘about’ and ‘0930hrs’ are interpreted very loosely; more a rough guide than a precise starting time. To some it means on the dot, but they are few and far between. There’s always one – mainly the oddballs who don’t understand what it’s like to go on a coach holiday with English people.

To most, it’s a very vague term that means they are expected to amble, shuffle, stroll, limp or dawdle out of the hotel in the general direction of the coach so that sometime between 0930 and 1000hrs, the coach will actually get going. The delays start when the passenger who is about to board the coach and has one foot on the coach’s step suddenly remembers that they can’t remember where the coach is going. ‘Where are we going driver?’ When the driver patiently reminds them of the day’s destination(s), the passenger will suddenly remember the time when they first visited that particular place way back in 1964. They then proceed to tell the driver all about it, completely oblivious to the passengers they’re preventing from getting on the coach. Never mind, everyone’s on holiday. The passengers who are waiting to get on board are probably chatting about the previous night’s entertainment in the hotel or commenting on the weather, so there’s no rush. Well, not unless it’s actually pouring down or they’re at a hotel right on the front and are being blown about if a gale is sweeping in from the west. Whatever you do, don’t leave your passengers out in the rain too long. The drivers themselves don’t help speed things up. They will be asking everyone if everything is all right in the hotel, and if it isn’t, s/he will hear all about it, chapter and verse. If it is, they will still hear about it in some detail. Somehow, everyone eventually gets on the coach.

In Alan’s experience, German tour participants will board their coach promptly on the understanding that a departure time means just that, rather than an approximation for their English counterparts. GARETH EVANS

Are you enjoying this feature? Why not subscribe to continue reading?

Subscribe for 4 issues/weeks from only £2.99
Or login if you are already a subscriber

By subscribing you will benefit from:

  • Operator & Supplier Profiles
  • Face-to-Face Interviews
  • Lastest News
  • Test Drives and Reviews
  • Legal Updates
  • Route Focus
  • Industry Insider Opinions
  • Passenger Perspective
  • Vehicle Launches
  • and much more!