Here at Inntravel, we’re constantly reviewing and updating the route notes for our self-guided holidays, and we like to involve as many people as possible in the process.
In that spirit, we sent one of our newest recruits, Jon Conroy, to Spain’s northern coast in June to test out our ‘Rugged Hills & Coast of Asturias
’ holiday. We managed to catch up with him recently (no easy feat – Jon is a very speedy walker and cyclist!) for a quick de-brief about his visit…
Q: So, how did you find your first Inntravel re-walking experience?
I loved it! It was quite strange at times, though, as I felt like I was on holiday and had to keep reminding myself that I was actually working. Although this was my first ‘official’ Inntravel trip, I had visited the Algarve earlier in the year and walked the routes of our ‘Coast of Many Colours
’ holiday. The contrast between the two was really interesting, with ‘Rugged Hills & Coast of Asturias
’ being a single-centre holiday and the Algarve an itinerant walk, which I think I do prefer.
Q: You travelled with Peter, who's a bit of an old hand at these things (sorry, Peter!). What did you learn from him?
He reminded me of the importance of putting yourself in the customers’ shoes, by which I mean it’s crucial to stop and try out some of the cafés and bars you pass along the way, as they may not be that great and we wouldn’t want the customers to have a bad experience! Seriously though, things don’t always work out perfectly and if we can ‘intercept’ some of the issues and provide recommendations that are as informed and up-to-date as possible, then so much the better for the customers.
Q: How did the trip differ from your own walking holidays?
I usually carry everything on my back, so it made a nice change not to for once. I also have a tendency of walking straight from A to B, and I did enjoy Inntravel’s more meandering routes – on one walk, we came across a traditional, water-powered mill and met the old miller who gave us a bit of a tour and posed for some photos. Even though he couldn’t speak any English, he was clearly really happy to meet us and couldn’t stop grinning! We were looking out for the mill as it was mentioned in the route notes – I can’t imagine that I would have found it on my own.
Q: Did you get lost at all?
Well, I did (Peter kept sending me ahead for some reason!)… We were re-walking a route in the fog – which we specifically advise our customers not to do but time was quite short – and I just took the wrong path. We returned to the same area a few days later when the sun was shining and the views were incredible – basically, we should have followed our own advice and waited for better weather before attempting that walk.
Q: Favourite memory?
I love my food so it’s probably got to be picking cherries from one of the trees we passed, or stopping in a local café for a pastry. Getting up above the clouds when walking in the mountains was also pretty special.
Q: You've recently taken part in our annual office note-writing course. What did you learn and will it make you approach your next trip differently?
Record everything! As Peter was mainly writing the notes in Asturias, I sort of took for granted all the recordings he was making but it’s so important to be one step ahead and note down all the distances – you never know quite what you’ll need until you’re back in the office writing up the route notes. I also learnt that you can’t assume things will always look the same as when you visit – houses can be re-painted in a different colour and what is an overgrown path for you might be completely empty by the time a customer visits.
Q: And lastly, what would be your ideal next trip (no promises!)?
Probably Norway. I just love the mountains.