Meet the team…
Director Kath Bateman founded Caledonia in 1996 and still has a very active role in the company. As a linguist and avid traveller, Caledonia brings together many strands of Kath’s personal and professional interests. She is a Modern Languages and Tourism graduate and has worked as a tour leader and trilingual guide, ski rep and salsa teacher, cultural events organiser, salsa club promoter and English language teacher. She lived and studied in France and Austria and has travelled widely elsewhere in Europe, Latin America and particularly in Cuba. Kath is still very much involved in the business and is as motivated by what Caledonia does as when she first set up the company in the spare room at home all those years ago.
What inspires you to travel? The sense of adventure and not knowing quite what I will encounter – I love being away from home as it feels like a voyage of discovery every single time, whether going overseas or just up the coast from Edinburgh Favourite country visited so far? There are 3 I have particularly loved on my travels over the years – Cuba, Austria and Brazil. Cuba for its vibrancy and spontaneity, the incredible music and dance everywhere you go and the truly wonderful people I have met there: Austria because the Tirol has a very special place in my heart after I lived and worked in the beautiful mountains above Innsbruck when I was in my twenties; Brazil because of the colour and life and music and some of the most beautiful beaches I have ever been to. I love Scotland too! Most memorable moment whilst travelling? There are many – eating sweet, juicy oranges straight off the tree after a long, hot hike in Cuba; an open air flamenco performance in Seville in a historic square with local children all dressed in their flamenco costumes; all night dancing in the streets in Santiago de Cuba with Candido Fabre and his band during Carnival A moment of culture shock? Eating sushi in Tokyo, my friend told me that abalone was a particular delicacy so I had some….. to this day I remember that it felt like I was trying to eat someone’s big toe nail….. not an enjoyable experience at all! On holiday I… like to explore new places, speak to local people along the way and go swimming in the sea/pool/lake/river I would love to… learn to scuba dive one day
Manager at Caledonia, is a graduate in International Tourism and Languages and has travelled widely in Europe and Latin America. She studied in Germany and lived in Spain and is passionate about travelling and exploring other cultures. She worked in different areas of tourism and travel before joining Caledonia. Jacqueline has worked with Caledonia for over 5 years now and is involved in every part of the business. She is well travelled and thrives on sharing her passion for visiting new places and getting off the beaten track.
What inspires you to travel? I love the feeling of going into the unknown – seeing and experiencing new things, learning about other cultures/ways of living, the opportunity to meet like-minded people along the way. Favourite country visited so far? Difficult one. I have favourite countries for different reasons. The Philippines because it is relatively undeveloped compared to other countries, has diverse and spectacular landscape and because of my family connection. Cuba because of the positive and lively energy of the people. The San Blas Islands in Panama are also top of my list – one of the few places I have felt like I was brought back to basics and disconnected from the world in pristine islands. Most memorable moment whilst travelling? Achieving things that I couldn’t have imagined doing… climbing South America’s most active volcano, trekking into the base of Colca Canyon, the Inca Trail, experiencing life with a native tribe in the Philippines, sinking in a dug out canoe in a raging river in the middle of the Ecuadorian jungle to name but a few. A moment of culture shock? When I went to the Philippines when I was 14 years old and realised that I didn’t know anything about Filipino customs and how to interact with my older relations. On holiday I… couldn’t think of anything better than sipping a fresh coconut whilst relaxing on a tranquil beach in good company. I would love to…experience the Festival del Caribe in Santiago de Cuba again – the feeling of being lost in a street conga is incomparable and a cultural experience I’ll never forget.
Travel Coordinator, is a languages graduate and has recently finished her Masters in Intercultural Business Communication for which she received a distinction. Before joining Caledonia, Rachael taught English in Spain and France, and studied Spanish in Salamanca. She has also worked with various cultural events organisers and festivals across Scotland. She is really passionate about promoting language learning and enjoys travelling and learning about other cultures. She has first-hand experience of several of the language schools Caledonia works with and has visited many of the locations we offer and would be delighted to help organise your next trip.
What inspires you to travel? I love getting to know new cultures and meeting new people from all over the world. There is also no better way to practice a language than in that country itself, talking to the locals and experiencing everything first hand. A break from the daily routine at home always inspires and refreshes me, whether I’m travelling near or far. Favourite country visited so far? A tie between France and Spain – I have lived and worked in both countries and have countless wonderful memories of both experiences. Living in the South of France in an apartment overlooking the sea, surrounded by palm trees and blue skies, is hard to beat. Spain will forever have a special place in my heart due to childhood holidays, time spent working in the magical Madrid and the incredible friendships I have made there. Most memorable moment when travelling? Exploring Greece and discovering an entire hidden idyllic beach all to ourselves. Enjoying café con leche and churros on a wintery Sunday morning in the Retiro park in Madrid. Experiencing the madness of the high-spirited Las Fallas festival in Valencia, where the whole city appears to go up in flames. A moment of culture shock? Arriving in Cannes alone when I was 19 to start my Year Abroad not knowing anybody, having to find my own flat and set up a bank account in broken French. I wanted to jump on a plane back home. Now I wish I could do it all again! On holiday I… like to spend time exploring, getting to know the locals and relaxing. I would love to … Tick more places I want to visit off my ever growing list!
Many of you will know our Santiago de Cuba team already and will appreciate the friendly, professional support and personal attention provided by our local representatives. Odalis Calzadillo, Yaritza Lleyva and Maria Alvarez have all been working with our clients for many years now, and are very definitely part of the Caledonia family!