So you are a Solos Tour Leader – what does that mean?
People always ask what I do – they say, ‘Oh, you’re lucky.’ It’s actually a tough job but I’m privileged, and yes, I am lucky to do it. I love it. My office can be in a forest, up a mountain, in a hammock with a beautiful vista. But there are of course many responsibilities.
My job really is to facilitate someone’s holiday. People today live by routine, they live by deadlines but on holiday there should be no deadline. You should be able to get up when the sun rises or leave the beach when the sun goes down. People need to escape routine. And it’s my job to make sure that everyone is able to do that, of course to look after things if there is a problem, but really, the less work there is to do for me the better the holiday for everyone else!
How long have you been a Solos Tour Leader?
I think this is possibly my 12th season!
What did you do before you were a Tour Leader?
For eight years I ran holidays for a disability charity, providing holidays for visually impaired or physically disabled people.
When you’re not Tour Leading, where do you call home?
Home is Bran Castle, in central Romania, that’s Transylvania. I went to Romania with Solos on a Ski Holiday and fell in love with the place. Beautiful mountains, stunning nature, lovely people. Fabulous.
And how do you relax?
I am a totally outdoors person. I live on a mountain surrounded by beautiful forests. I also run a small hotel as a B&B. I look after children’s summer camps and winter camps for skiing.
You must have visited a lot of interesting places.
I have many fond memories. And I always say to people, I’m happiest where I am at the present moment. But if I had to choose it would be anything to do with nature. Probably the best places I’ve visited would be: Iceland, where I went walking on a glacier – its worrying to see how fast these things are melting. And Antarctica – just awesome, it made me really appreciate green! Everything is either black or white. You have a lot of penguins and they eat red krill, so everything is either black, white or red and sometimes a blue sky – but no green. So when I got back to South America, it was ‘Oh wow! Green!
You must have also encountered some real characters – any favourites?
Quite a few! But really, I genuinely love everybody. My parents are hippies and I was brought up to respect everyone and everything. I take pleasure in meeting people – particularly on active trips when they achieve something. When people do things they personally didn’t think they could do. I remember people for their mini victories and mini successes. I find that really positive. Things like getting up a hill, or doing three walks back to back. Or that they may had have a hip replacement and they’re walking in the Alps. And they achieve it.
Or if their biggest concerns was that they were going to hold everybody up – which is nonsense. Your holiday is your holiday. It’s not about how fast a journey takes, it’s about what you see along the way. And it’s also about sharing those victories. If you live on your own and you see something, you tell the dog! You’re lucky if you get an eyebrow or tail wag. So when you’re with other people and you can relate to others, it’s just fantastic.
What would you say to anyone who fancies the idea of being a Tour Leader?
When I first started, I was told I would need skin tougher than a rhino’s backside! But really, you need to be a people person with good diplomacy skills.
The biggest thing, I think, is a sense of humour. In life everything is so serious and holidays shouldn’t be. If you like people, and respect culture and history and have a passion for folk and travel –then it’s marvellous.
I didn’t expect to be doing it 12 years later. I still have the same energy as I had at the beginning and most of that comes from happy people. Surrounded by happy people, you can’t beat it.