Based in Dubai

Andy Pearson

It's Nice To Meet You

Hi and thanks for visiting my website.

I can say I've been an avid traveller all my life and even though I came into the travel industry later in my working life I feel this is where I was always heading. I worked most of my previous career as a packaging engineer in the packaging industry but always my highlight was travelling the world. This combined with a lot of personal travel made me realise I was a good and well-organised traveller always finding delightful places and hotels, making the progression into working full time and owning my own travel company a natural decision.

The difference between Travel Counsellors and other companies is the fact I make it a personal experience from the first idea right through the planning and booking process to the actual going away. The ethos of Travel Counsellors is 'With's personal' and I certainly live by that every day with my clients.

Whether you're the adventurous type of traveller or prefer flopping on the beach, or indeed anything in-between there's a holiday out there for you. Together, we could plan your perfect getaway.

Travelling these days has become more difficult due to the pandemic, but booking through myself and my partner Travel Counsellors gives you the peace of mind that someone has your back should a problem arise. Our 24/7 triage service can react immediately to any situation you could find yourself in.

Please read through my travel blogs to discover more about my travels up until now plus the destinations and offers pages. If any of them sound interesting to you, don't hesitate to get in touch, I would love to hear from you and discuss your wishes.


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My Blog

I absolutely live and breathe travel and I love to write about my experiences! Please take a look through my posts - you might find your own holiday inspiration.

Norwegian Cruise Lines FAM Trip

12 September 2022

I was lucky to be invited on the first fare-paying cruise of the Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL) brand-new ship Prima. I wasn't disappointed. The first part of the trip started the night before in Amsterdam, a city I had never visited before. I arrived at lunchtime a few hours before my friend who was joining me on the trip arrived. I spent the time wisely by visiting the Heineken brewery, this is my form of culture when visiting a new city and I couldn't pass up the chance to visit the world-famous brewing site. It was a beautiful day weather-wise with the sun really showing the beauty of this city. Once my friend arrived, we went for a walk around the city and found a nice little eatery to have dinner. I must mention at this point that we had left our suitcases in the locker facility at Central Station, this was a smart move or so I thought, to save time by not having to take the 10-minute train journey to the hotel until later. We found upon a nice little bar run by an American guy and let’s just say the night rolled on and we came out at around 2.30 am to a closed and locked up train station. This is the point where I realised leaving the suitcases there wasn’t a great idea as now, we had a 70-Euro taxi ride to the hotel and no luggage. However, it was the quickest check-out I ever had with no packing to do. We picked up the ship the next day at the cruise terminal, which is very conveniently located behind the Central Station, handy for picking up our cases, if be it not a day later than planned. The check-in process for the ship is very efficient and all done in the shoreside cruise terminal. This meant that we could leave our cases to be taken to the cabin from there and all we had to do was a board with our cabin key. Upon arriving in our cabin, I was very pleasantly surprised by the décor and the size of it. We had a nice balcony that was great for sitting out in the sun of Amsterdam and watching the world go by and admiring the infinity pools on the deck below. We didn’t stay long in the cabin as it was time to go and explore the delights of this brand-new ship. It was a good time to start with the outside deck areas and take in the many activities that are on offer. A beach club, sundeck with several infinity pools, go-kart track (yes you read that right) spiral slide going down 10-decks on the outside of the ship, crazy golf, darts, tennis plus kids’ playground are just some of the activities on offer. Once inside there was a wide and varied selection of bars and restaurants catering for everyone’s taste. I tended to migrate to the Local Sports Bar, but that’s just me. There were cocktail lounges and an American bar too. You would never get bored. There was no shortage of places to eat and there was no chance for me to try them all in the short time I had but I did my best. There were restaurants that were more buffet style, right up to fine dining that comes with a small premium. I visited the steakhouse that came highly recommended and was not disappointed by my meal and the service I received. One of the highlights was the second full day at sea, watching the theatre show in the evening followed by the transformation of the theatre into a 3-deck indoor nightclub. That was a show in itself watching the rows of seats folding electronically away to create this huge space. Let’s just say, it was quite a late night. The next afternoon we arrived in the port of Kiel Germany. It was a short stop due to a delay leaving Amsterdam, but it gave us enough time to get ashore and stretch our legs before returning for our last night's dinner. After a short cruise around the coast, we arrived at 6 am in the port of Warnemünde where we disembarked and headed onto our transfer to Berlin and the flight home. It was only to be a short 3-night cruise, but I managed to pack plenty in during my time at sea.

Magical Sri Lanka Part One of my wife Marie's Birthday trip

20 February 2023

Ayubowan Sri Lanka – This is a travel blog about one of the most diverse and friendliest places I have visited so far and it was so good I had to split it into two parts. You will have to know that I travelled to Sri Lanka with my best friend during a time when many people would shy away to go there due to the economic crisis the country is suffering from in 2022. The president just announced his resignation and fled from the country in July. Many of my friends were concerned that we planned to go to Sri Lanka in a time of disturbance but there was never a situation where we felt unsafe. Even before we travelled we received up-to-date information from the government reassuring us that the tourism sector is not affected. The country is heavily dependent on tourists, especially in times were foreign currencies are needed to buy fuel, medicine and other essential goods. But let me now take you on a journey through Sri Lanka and hopefully it will spark your interest to visit this beautiful place and help the people there at the same time. On the first day, we were picked up by our tour guide Chanaka. He was so much more than just a driver or tour guide and very soon part of our little group. He expected a couple to come but as I said, I travelled with my best friend and there were 2 blond girls coming out of the airport instead. As a father of 3 girls himself, he took extra care of us and always made sure that we were safe all the time and well looked after. We drove from Colombo to Habarana and before checking into the hotel, we had a little stop-over in a safari park to see the elephants. Coming from the buzzing city of Dubai the contrast between beautiful nature and those majestic animals couldn’t be greater. The Minneriya National Park has so much to offer if you are into nature, birds and of course elephants. Big, heavy clouds announced an upcoming thunderstorm and made the scene even more dramatic and the colour contrast greater. Later that day we checked into the Cinnamon Lodge in Habarana which is a lovely hotel with little houses in the middle of nature. It is the kind of place that is expected in more rural countries and the people were exceptional. Everyone was so friendly and we felt even more welcome in Sri Lanka. On the second day, we got up very early to climb the famous Sigiriya rock, also known as the Lion rock which is an ancient fortress. Arriving there early is definitely a good idea in order to get ahead of the crowds. This was not so important when we went as there weren’t that many tourists but it can also get quite hot during the day. You can walk all the 2160 steps up to the top and enjoy the history along the way as well as the breathtaking view from the top. The fortress built a palace for the king to protect him from the immigrants from South India. Even back then the architecture was very clever in order to keep the king happy, safe and entertained. The immigrants mostly came on their elephants and then encountered the first mechanism of protection. The fortress is surrounded by rice fields through which the elephants didn’t like to go as they avoid wet surfaces. All those who made it through the fields were welcomed by a 40-meter-deep water channel with crocodiles in it and a bridge that could be pulled up if enemies were expected. Even the 2160 stairs are a protection mechanism with their narrow staircases making it difficult for even 2 people to walk next to each other. Another one-time weapon can be found along the way as a massive rock that was sitting on top of smaller rocks and can be pushed down the hill if needed. Other than keeping the king and his entourage safe, it provided him with a place of comfort and “entertainment”. You might read about the mirror wall at the front of the rock that reflects the sunlight on the precious paintings of the king’s women. This is a world heritage site and no pictures are allowed which is one more reason to go and check this place out yourself. The king also had plenty of swimming pools and at most of them, you would find a throne where he could sit and watch the women bathing. You will also notice the rock cuts behind one of the thrones where water can run through, building a natural aircon system to keep the king cool. In the afternoon we went to visit a local family who showed us the way they lived years ago. At first, we thought it might be a bit touristy but meeting the two women in the little villa changed our minds. They showed us traditional cooking methods and we helped as well (the food still tasted really delicious). They also explained to us that in a Sri Lankan wedding tradition, it is the groom’s family’s responsibility to sponsor the land and the bride’s family’s responsibility to give the furniture to the couple. This is why when a baby girl is born, the parents would plant a tree in the garden to make the furniture later. The divorce rate in Sri Lankan marriages is very small. On the third day, we visited a fruit and vegetable market just outside Kandy where you can find all you can ever wish for. The variety and colours of all exotic fruit and veg were amazing. Later that day we visited a traditional Sri Lankan Dance show where a small group of people presented very different local dances bringing Sri Lankan culture even closer. The highlight of the show was the fire dance with fire-breathers and some of the dancers walking over hot coal. We then checked into a very small boutique hotel which is probably my favourite spot in Sri Lanka. Tucked away in nature on top of a hill you had breathtaking views and could enjoy sitting in front of the little villa listening to the sounds of nature. You had your own pool but could also walk up to the main hotel using the even bigger one and enjoy food on the big terrace.

Magical Sri Lanka Part Two of my wife Marie's Birthday trip

20 February 2023

On the next day, we drove from Kandy to Ella stopping at one of the most famous Buddhist temples. The temple is home to the Sacred Tooth Relict and attracts many worshippers and tourists every year. This temple is also known for being partially destroyed by the bomb attack in 1991. If you wanted to visit it, you should be dressed moderately and completely in white and you can buy flowers to offer them in the temple making wishes. If you have a chance try and go in August to see the unique Elephant Parade called Perahera which starts at the temple. This event went straight on my bucket list, just have a look at a few YouTube videos and you will see why. On our way to Ella, we stopped at the 2nd oldest and largest tea plantations which are a must-see for everyone. More than 2000 people are working at the tea plantation still using the old mechanisms brought by the British. The tea plant itself though was brought from China and the tradition of tea apparently began when a tea leaf fell by chance into some warm water of the Chinese emperor Shennong. All the old machines come originally from Belfast and are still in use. Even the climate up in the mountains is completely different and it makes you feel like you travelled to a different country altogether. Later we arrived in Ella which is very different and is the temporary home for a lot of backpackers. If you are there try having dinner at the Chili café, a vibrant place which serves really tasty food. When you are in Ella you will have to try and get up early one day and start your trek to Adam’s peak at 5 am. You will be rewarded with stunning views of Ella and the surrounding mountains. Ella is also the starting point to see the Nine Arch Bridge which is one of the most famous tourist attractions. The bridge was built of stone in 1921 by the British to transport tea, spices and especially cinnamon. The train is only coming from one direction every few hours and hopefully, you are lucky to see it or even catch it for a little ride. We spent our last few days relaxing in a beach resort in Unawatuna. From there you also have the chance to visit the ancient fortress in Galle built by the British, Portuguese and Dutch. I am not going into too much detail as you will be able to read all about this yourself when you are there. I will share however one interesting fact that is not as obvious. If you see young couples sitting around hiding under their umbrellas, you are witnessing young love who are hiding from their parents ;-). I cannot close this blog without at least spending a few words on Sri Lankan cuisine. I think we have never eaten better and if you are into it, you will have to try some of the very fresh seafood. Another one of my favourites is Egg Hoppers which are made out of rice flowers. If you like it spicy, you can try it with some coconut sambal which is made of grated coconut, lime juice, chilli and onion. The breadfruit curry is also really delicious and try out the vegetable Kottu Roti. If you are a Vegetarian, you will not starve in this country. This was definitely not my last time in Sri Lanka and I can only recommend everyone to go at least once to check out this magnificent place, meet the friendliest people, eat delicious food and experience the variety this country has to offer.

Club Med Phuket FAM Trip

24 June 2022

Thailand is one of my favourite countries to visit, hence I was delighted to be invited on a familiarisation trip to Club Med in Phuket. I have to be honest and say I was not so familiar with the Club Med brand before I left but that soon changed. Despite feeling tired after an overnight flight from Dubai I landed excited to begin my adventure. I was travelling with a group of fellow travel counsellors and the mood was good when we arrived after an hour’s journey from Phuket airport. These good spirits continued when we were met by resort staff at the main entrance. Ushered into the reception area we were warmly welcomed with a refreshing towel and a cold drink, our Club Med experience had begun. I was shown to my room that would be my home for the next four nights, although you will realise later that I didn’t see much of it. After a quick shower and change, it was time to meet the group at the pool area. This quickly turned into a nice get-to-know-you session as some of us didn’t know each other beforehand. The day quickly turned to night and it was time for dinner. The restaurant had a great selection of cuisines from around the world and there was definitely enough to cater for everyone’s tastes, including a vegan section. The cooking stations that had a chef creating more speciality dishes also didn’t disappoint. Plus as I came to realise, there was always a warm welcome from the staff on arrival to dinner. After dinner, I got to experience some of the Club Med's famous entertainment. This was also a new experience for me as I normally wouldn’t choose a resort that has this kind of program but I was pleasantly surprised. The first impression of the night was the guy behind the bar leading the party, I asked who he was because he was really getting everyone in the spirit. Turns out he was the general manager or the Chef de Village as they call them in Club Med. My previous experience with hotel GMs is they are usually a bit more reserved, but this guy was really leading from the front which created a great atmosphere in the resort that was noticeable throughout all the staff over my entire stay. After a short night's sleep, it was time for breakfast followed by a complimentary snorkelling trip. This is included within the price as the resort only offers all-inclusive rates. A short drive to the jetty it was a 45-minute boat journey to the snorkelling spot in the Andaman Sea. It is a nice way to properly start the week. It was an early start the next day as I and a few of the group had booked a paid excursion to Phi Phi Islands made famous by the James Bond movie The man with the Golden Gun and Maya Bay made famous in the Leonardo di Caprio movie The beach. An Hour on a rather choppy speedboat ride boat brought us to Maya Bay. It was nice there because we were early and there weren’t many tourists, which meant I could get some nice shots of the picture-perfect bay, typical postcard stuff. There were a couple of stops after that for snorkelling before we stopped at the main island of Phi Phi for lunch and a walk around the island. I took the chance to get a half-hour foot massage as I had been there before. Then it was off to another island close by to chill on the beach for an hour before heading back. Thursday morning was another early start to going on a sightseeing tour of Phuket and the old town with a local guide. The first stop was the Big Buddha which has taken thirty years so far to build and it’s still not finished. You really need to see it up close to appreciate how big it is and also to appreciate the view from the top of the hill over the bay. A walking tour of historic Old Phuket Town followed. This is not what I would say is typical Thailand and that is what makes it special to the region. Once back in the resort there was a Thai cooking class laid on for us where I got to try my hand at making green papaya salad, be careful this is a spicy one if you add one chilli too much! Although my dish tasted good and I was surprised by my efforts. I even made it when I got home and it wasn’t too bad. Thursday evening we managed to fit in a trip up the road to Patong Beach which is probably the most famous part of Phuket due to its nightlife. In that area just about anything goes and I’ll leave it up to you to discover it whenever you’re there. Friday was already the last day but we had, in my opinion, saved the best till last. We had the pleasure of visiting the Phuket Nature Elephant Reserve. Now I’m sure some of you are aware of the bad press that Thailand has had over the years regarding animals used for tourist attractions. I’m happy to say this place is breaking the mould and really working hard to shatter that image. The reserve has presently two elephants, Lotus and Boe and they have a great life wandering around freely. When I think about it who wouldn’t be happy being fed all day your favourite foods followed by a wallow in the mud with a wash and scrub down later, Idyllic. The whole experience of seeing those great beasts in their natural environment and being able to get up close to them was just magical and will remain in my memory forever. It was soon time to pack the suitcase again and leave the resort for another overnight flight back to Dubai after a thoroughly enjoyable, if not exhausting few days. I always find it fascinating on trips like this one. You start the week not knowing anyone and gradually over the space of a few days you create friendships for life. That’s my life as a Travel Counsellor and I love it!

Gamarjoba Georgia!

10 July 2022

Arriving in Georgia felt somehow familiar coming from a European Country and new at the same time. Georgia is a country rich in culture and famous for its even richer cuisine and wines. I know that Ireland is well-known as the "Green Island" but I can promise you Georgia is not far off it. But let me start where it all began...we were going to spend the first couple of days in the wine region Kakheti to decompress followed by a visit to the vibrant capital of Tbilisi. We were picked up from the airport by our amazing tour guide Georgi who turned the 140 kilometres journey to our hotel in an adventure by itself. We drove through the wine valley stopping by old churches, local restaurants and little Georgian villages. You would find little pop-up stands from local farmers selling fresh juices, "Churchkhela" - a local sweet made of nuts and grape juice and of course wine. We visited one famous wine factory that is producing 25 million bottles of wine and 10 million bottles of other spirits a year. seems that they like drinking a big proportion of that themselves. Georgian food is really as good as people always say if not even better. For lunch, we had a salad with the best tomatoes you will ever taste, Khachapuri, Georgian cheese bread and little dumplings called Khinkali (my favourite). The Kakheti wine region is surrounded by large green mountain ranges bordering Russia and Azerbaijan. To get to our hotel we had to drive through the entire valley until we arrived in the middle of nowhere at our stunning hotel facing a picturesque lake to one side and the valley with the partially snow-covered mountains to the other side. The two nights we spent at the Kvareli Lake Resort hotel were just what we needed to start our relaxing break. You can go for walks around the lake, rent a bike or hang out at the little Spa area. Reenergized we were ready to discover the capital of Tbilisi where Georgi showed us around on the first day. We took the cable car which connects Rike Park on the left bank of the Mtkvari River with a steep rise on the other side from where you can enjoy stunning views of the city. Afterwards, Georgi showed us the old town and places where he grew up but left us at the entrance of the famous Sulphur baths to discover the rest of the city by ourselves. Having a Sulphur bath was definitely one of my highlights and we came out of there feeling 10 years younger again and ready to enjoy the Georgian nightlife. Tbilisi has so much on offer from amazing restaurants to little wine cellars and nightclubs. We had dinner in a place called Balcony No 12 recommended by one of my Georgian friends. It was the most amazing dinner sitting in a little backyard with a local woman playing the piano, dinner was served by a really friendly waitress and the wine came from the winery next door. A go-to place in Tbilisi! The next day it was already time to think about heading home. But not before a final walk around the city with a very traditional lunch at Pasanauri. It ticked all the boxes with a menu full of all the things we had come to love during our short time there. In summary, I will definitely be travelling back to Georgia in the future and I'm getting hungry already just thinking about it.

Mount Kilimanjaro

16 April 2022

Jambo - A dream for some and now a reality for myself and my wife Marie. Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest stand-alone mountain in the world and the tallest peak in Africa We can proudly say we conquered it! I can't even remember when we came up with the idea to climb Kilimanjaro but what seemed at the outset a crazy idea soon became an actually planned trip. Before we knew it we were on a plane landing at Kilimanjaro airport. These kinds of trips always start with a night in a hotel before setting off usually the next day on the climb. We however decided on two nights in Moshi to give us the chance to explore the city. It was our first time in Africa and the experience had already started. We spent a day walking around the city exploring the markets and shops with a couple of breaks thrown in for coffee and to try the local cuisine. My first impression of the place was just how friendly the people are and how incredibly sweet the young children are. They were always coming up to us wanting to touch and hug us. Then it was time to get down to the business of the day and get ourselves up that mountain. Sounds easy right? That's what we thought and to be honest, as we arrived at the start point of the Machame Route (1800 meters) we were excited and nervous at the same time. Day 1 - A nice gentle pace up to the first camp Machame at 2835 meters. The guides were always saying to us 'Pole Pole' slowly slowly and that is exactly the way to approach it. On this day spirits were high and there was lots of chatting and laughter as we had met another couple starting their adventure too. On arriving at the camp after around 6 hours we were amazed to find our tent had been set up with a table and chairs plus hot water waiting for us to refresh ourselves. We didn't really know what to expect but this was a great surprise. They even make us tea with popcorn. Day 2 - Up early and keen to get on the way again. A fantastic breakfast of porridge, soup, fruit and coffee to send us on our way. This day started already to show us how quickly the weather can change the higher you go. We were on our way to Shira Cave Camp at 3750 meters and the weather just changed to heavy rain and a lot colder. This was the main reason why there were not many people on the mountain with us because we were in the rainy off-season. But this didn't deter us and we had come prepared. Upon reaching the camp, cold and very wet all we wanted to do was sleep and Marie will freely admit the altitude was starting to give her a headache. I will freely admit she was also a bit grumpy because of it but completely understandable. Day 3 - The sun finally came out again and we were able to quickly dry our clothes from the day before. One thing we quickly realised is the power of the sun in that part of the world being so close to the equator plus the thinner air can burn you very quickly. Off we set for the day and this was to be a tough one because the plan was to go up to Lava Camp at 4600 meters have lunch and head down again towards Baranco Camp at 3900 meters to spend the night. This was to give us a short experience of the high altitude but the lower altitude camp would be better for sleeping at. Baranco Camp was amazing. Set in a valley flanked on one side by the Baranco Wall. I remember sitting in the late afternoon with Marie and talking about how we go around this wall because obviously, we wouldn't go over it. How wrong we were! Day 4 - This was the big day and we had already realised the magnitude of our task. Starting at first light we set off towards the wall. This was to be the first 'real' climbing we had done and if you see the pictures it looks fairly extreme but actually, it wasn't too bad and quite exciting. Once we were at the top of the wall the view from above the clouds was just breathtaking! After a brief stop for lunch, it was the last push to the Barafu base camp at 4673 meters. It was here that we could really feel the lack of oxygen in the air plus we only had a few hours of a break before we had to start the overnight ascent to the summit. Night 4 - We had to be up, ready and dressed for 11 pm and it was time to lay up the clothing because it was biting cold. The ascent started just after 11 pm and was expected that we reach the summit at around 6.30 am. The distance was 'only' approximately 5kms with around 1300 meters of altitude to navigate but we weren't fooled by it sounds easy. This was one of the hardest things I ever had to do in my life and I've run marathons before. In the previous days, Marie had struggled with the altitude but she found her mojo on this night, whereas I struggled a lot. It was the first time in my life I had hallucinations, that was weird not just for me but for Marie to see me like that. However, we carried on and reached the Stella point just before 6 am expecting to see a lovely sunrise. This however was not the case as we were battling through a snowstorm and -15 degree temperatures. Once we reached Stella Point poor Marie thought we were finished and I had to break it to her that there was another 45-minute climb to the summit. She had to be 'gently' persuaded to carry on. At just after 6:30 am we finally reached Uhuru Peak at 5895 meters, an incredible feeling even though we were absolutely exhausted. This feeling was quickly replaced by our guide informing us that we couldn't stay up there and we had to go all the way back to the base camp again. That was a feeling that I still can't describe to this day. All I can say about the journey down because I don't remember much of it is that it was really a battle of will to find the mental and physical strength to fight through the wind, snow and then rain but we did somehow make it. Day 5 - Arriving back at base camp at 10 am totally drained of all energy we could only rest for 2 hours before we had to make our way down the 10km descent route to the last camp Mweka at 3060 meters. This was quite challenging however the weather had brightened up and with each meter, the air improved and we slowly began to feel the energy coming back. All I can say about that camp as we arrived and within an hour were asleep and slept like babies. Day 6 - Was an easy stroll for a couple of hours down to the start point where we could collect our certificates and be driven back to the same hotel we stayed in before we started. I certainly enjoyed a nice cold bottle of Kilimanjaro beer that evening. Karibou

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