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Itinerary: Tests 1, 2, & 3 + Northern Ireland & Scotland with Merv Hughes

Wednesday 31st July – Arrive Birmingham / Pre Match Function

We arrive into Birmingham today in readiness for tomorrow’s 1st Test Match at Edgbaston. The once drab, industrial city and UK’s second largest has spectacularly reinvented itself as a vibrant, cultural hotspot. Huge regeneration projects have breathed life into the industrial landscapes and canals that crisscross the city; now there are more glamorous shops, buzzing pubs and jumping nightclubs than you can wish for.

Overnight: Hilton Garden Inn Birmingham

Thursday 1st to Monday 5th August – 1st Ashes Test Match @ Edgbaston, Birmingham

Today sees the official start of the 2019 Ashes Series as Edgbaston plays host to the first Test. It could be a new look Australia team taking the field for the match and one that will be looking to improve on our recent trips here. Each morning before the day’s play our Tour Host Merv Hughes and Geoff Marsh will conduct their pre-match briefing’s dissecting the previous day’s play and offering up their insights into what to expect for the day ahead.

In 2015, we made a terrible start by making a paltry 136 runs with only Chris Rogers defying the bowlers with 52 runs of his own. In reply, England asserted their authority getting out to a 145-run lead at the half way point with Lyon and Hazelwood being our best bowlers with three wickets apiece. From there we never got back into the game forcing England to only chase down 124 in their 2nd innings which they did with the loss of just two wickets.

Overnight: Hilton Garden Inn Birmingham

Tuesday 6th August – Birmingham to Belfast / Walking Tour

This morning we depart Birmingham and take the short flight to Northern Ireland and its capital Belfast. This city has transformed over the years from its political and religious turmoil into one of Europe’s must-see city’s full of surprises and hidden gems.

On our guided walking tour we will get to experience the lively atmosphere that now exists and understand the history, the people and the stories that have helped shape the city. This is one sightseeing tour not to miss. 


Wednesday 7th August – Giant’s Causeway & Antrim Coast Tour

Sometimes referred to as the 8th Wonder of the World, the UNESCO listed Giant’s Causeway remains one of Europe’s most majestic and mysterious landmarks and today we will see firsthand the unique rock formations that have stood the test of time. Also on our tour today, we will visit the 16th century Dunluce Castle which is one of the most iconic monuments in Northern Ireland thanks to its historic ties to the McDonnell’s from Scotland and their attempts to consolidate their place in Northern Ireland. Finally we will visit Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge which is suspended almost 100 ft above sea level and has connected Carrick Island and County Antrim mainland for over 250 years. 


Thursday 8th August – Belfast to Inverness / Loch Ness & Urquhart Castle

We depart Belfast this morning and take our flight to the heart of Scotland – Inverness. Upon arrival we head straight for the mysterious waters of Loch Ness where we will cruise the Loch in search of Nessy! Our boat has food and bar facilities onboard.

Following the cruise we will visit the historically important Urquhart Castle perched on the banks of Loch Ness. Seized by the English after Edward I’s invasion in the 13th century, it was reclaimed by Robert The Bruce, King of Scots in the 14th century before being under constant attack in the 15th & 16th centuries by the Macdonald Lord of the Isles eventually ending as one of the most visited castles in Scotland today – it has led a very busy existence.


Friday 9th August – Malt Whisky Trail Tour

Scotland’s Speyside whisky region is home to the world’s largest concentration of Scotch malt whisky distilleries and luckily for us it is on our doorstep. Today’s tour will include a visit to the well renown Glenfiddich amongst others. Here we will encounter the men and women who are guardians of generations of know-how and gain an insight into Scotland’s national drink.

We will stop for lunch at Glenfiddich to sample some local fare as well as their famous whisky


Saturday 10th August – Inverness to Edinburgh via Stirling Castle

Setting off this morning for the spectacular Scottish city of Edinburgh, we will stop en route in picturesque Perth for lunch before we stop at Stirling Castle for a tour and learn about why this Castle was considered the key to the kingdom of Scotland.  The Castle played its role as a stronghold in many significant battles and was also childhood home to some of the most famous people in Scottish and British history, such as Mary Queen of Scots and James VI and I.

From here we will venture onwards to Edinburgh which has always being one of Europe’s most beautiful cities. Contrasted from the medieval Old Town piled high along the Royal Mile that runs into the famous Edinburgh Castle, to the elegant 18th Century Georgian 'New Town' – its easy to see why it is given such accolades.


Sunday 11th August – Walking Tour and Edinburgh Fringe Festival

This morning we will be treated to a guided walking tour of this beautiful city.

Centred mainly around the Old Town, we will wander along centuries-old cobblestone streets and passageways discovering the best bits of the Royal Mile which form part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Edinburgh Castle, St Giles Cathedral, Parliament Square and John Knox House are other significant sites within walking distance.

This evening we will take in some entertainment as part of the world-famous Edinburgh Fringe Festival where some of the world’s best comedians and entertainers perform over three fantastic weeks making this the largest arts festival in the world.


Monday 12th August – Edinburgh Military Tattoo

In summer Edinburgh is alive with all the action of the festival season and there will be no shortage of entertainment on offer with street performers, comedy acts, theatre shows and of course, the famous Edinburgh Military Tattoo.

Tonight, we will have reserved seats for this iconic show as the British Armed Forces, Commonwealth and International Military Bands and other artistic performers light up the esplanade of Edinburgh Castle.


Tuesday 13th August – Edinburgh to London / Pre Match Function

This morning we take the short flight from Edinburgh to London in anticipation for the start of tomorrow’s 2nd Test match at Lord’s.

London is an iconic city and everywhere you look there is a monument or building that you have seen in a book or on television. From Trafalgar Square to Tower Bridge, Big Ben to Buckingham Palace, there is something for everyone in London.

Tonight, following our arrival into London, we will be guests at the Cricket Australia Pre Match Function which includes a 3 course dinner, a drinks package and special guest appearances.


Wednesday 14th to Sunday 18th August – 2nd Ashes Test Match @ Lord’s, London

An Ashes Test Match at Lord’s is something that all Australian cricket fans want to tick off their bucket list and today we get to experience it for ourselves. Whether it’s your first or tenth trip here it is always a special feeling.

Each morning before the day’s play our Tour Hosts Merv Hughes, Geoff Marsh & Terry Alderman will conduct their pre-match briefing’s dissecting the previous day’s play and offering up their insights into what to expect for the day ahead.

Australia will be hoping to draw some inspiration from their last Test here at Lord’s where they crushed England by 405 runs to tie the 2015 Series at 1-1. Batting first Australia declared on 8/566 with skipper Steve Smith making a classic double century (215) and Chris Rogers assisting greatly with 173. In reply, our bowlers did a great job restricting England’s batsmen to 312 with Hazlewood and Johnson both taking three wickets. Our 2nd innings was about building a lead big enough to defend with all batsmen contributing to the 2/254 declared total, then England were bundled out for 103 thanks to another great bowling display from all five bowlers.


Monday 19th to Wednesday 21st August – Berlin or Amsterdam or London City Break

Today is the start of the two nights of choice - either travelling to Amsterdam or to Berlin.

Amsterdam Itinerary 

Day 1: Today we fly  the wonderfully laid back bohemian city of Amsterdam in The Netherlands. Home to a stunning network of canals and a famously liberal lifestyle, this afternoon you will have the opportunity to explore the city and take in some of the many cultural delights on offer including the Van Gogh Museum and Rembrandt’s House before enjoying the treats and temptations of the famous cafés or the plethora of great restaurants and bars.
Day 2: Today you will be treated to a guided walking and canal boat tour of Amsterdam where the extraordinary history of this unique European city comes alive along its cobbled streets and tree lined canals. Some of the city’s most renowned cultural and historic landmarks will be on display including Rembrandt’s House, Anne Frank’s House (whose diaries of WW2 have been published worldwide) the Royal Palace, the National Monument, 'Skinny Bridge', Albert Cuyp Flower Market and the famous merchant houses that line the network of canals..
The afternoon and evening are yours to experience life as a bottle of beer at the interactive Heineken Factory, or to take a walk in the infamous Red Light District.


Day 3: This morning we depart Amsterdam and take our flight back to Manchester in readiness for the first day's play in tomorrow's 3rd Test match at Headingley. Tonight we will be guests at the Cricket Australia Pre Match Function which includes finger food, a drinks package and special guest appearances.


Berlin Itinerary

Day 1:  This morning is a short flight to Berlin, a city that has disproportionately shaped the the destiny of Europe and one frantically on the move since the demise of its famous wall in 1989. Today Germany and Berlin continue to play the lead role in steering the European Union through economically uncertain times thanks to its strong social structures and influences in science, technology, commerce, architecture and the arts. Take a walk this afternoon and explore some of the city's galleries, cafés and classic courtyards, or if you would prefer, visit one of the world famous beer halls and experience German hospitality at its best.
Day 2: The coach departs on a panoramic sightseeing tour of Berlin this morning, taking in such famous sites as the Brandenburg Gate, Charlottenburg Palace and the Reichstag with it's iconic glass dome designed by Norman Foster. You'll see the remnants of the Berlin Wall that divided the communist East from the capitalist West and the legendary border post Checkpoint Charlie that controlled all movement between the two. The afternoon is yours to spend at leisure enjoying a local stein or perhaps taking one of the many themed walking tours of this fascinating city.
Day 3: This morning we depart Berlin and take our flight back to Manchester in readiness for the first day's play in tomorrow's 3rd Test match at Headingley. Tonight we will be guests at the Cricket Australia Pre Match Function which includes finger food, a drinks package and special guest appearances. 

London Itinerary

The next two days you have the opportunity to explore on of the world's great cities.

The possibilities are endless - Cruise the Thames, see the Crown Jewels at the Tower of London, or visit the prime meridian and Greenwich Royal Observatory. If museums are your thing, try the Tate Modern, the National History Museum, the Science Museum, or Churchill's War Rooms just for a start. For sports fans, why not take a tour of Wimbledon, the new London 2012 Olympic sites, or state of the art Premier League Football facilities at Chelsea's Stamford Bridge or Arsenal's Emirates Stadium? For the more adventurous, there are also some great day trips from London, including Oxford, Brighton and Windsor Castle.

Or now that the Test match is completed why not take to a guided tour of Lord’s - 'the traditional home of cricket'. Visit the famous old Long Room and the state of the art media centre, plus see the original Ashes Urn in the Lord’s Museum. This is a rare chance to see behind the scenes and marvel at the immense history of one of the world's most revered sporting venues.

The evenings are great times to visit some of the city’s many bars and restaurants or perhaps enjoy a visit to the London Eye for simply amazing views of the London skyline. 

Accommodation: Doubletree by Hilton Westminster
On the 21st August, you can get yourself from London to Leeds via train or bus in readiness for the first day's play in tomorrow's 3rd Test match at Headingley. Tonight we will be guests at the Cricket Australia Pre Match Function which includes finger food, a drinks package and special guest appearances. 

Thursday 22nd to Monday 26th August – 3rd Ashes Test Match @ Headingley, Leeds

We reach the pivotal 3rd Test at Headingley, Leeds which is back on the Ashes fixture for the first time since 2009, and the visiting Aussies will be hoping for a repeat of that match where they dominated England winning by an innings and 80 runs.
Each morning before the day’s play our Tour Host Merv Hughes will conduct his pre-match briefing’s dissecting the previous day’s play and offering up his insight into what to expect for the day ahead. 
Australia's bowlers set up the Test win with a fantastic performance in the 1st innings where they dismissed England for only 102 runs on the back of 5-21 from Peter Siddle and 3-18 from Stuart Clark. Australia only needed to bat once and compiled 445 with Marcus North scoring a century, before our bowlers again did the job rolling England for 263 with Mitchell Johnson claiming 5-59 and Ben Hilfenhaus taking 4-60

Overnight: Crowne Plaza Leeds  

Tuesday 27th August - Tour Concludes 

Today we say goodbye as our wonderful time in the UK comes to a close. If you have purchased your international flights with AST, you will be transferred to the airport for your flight home. 


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