Thursday, 30 April 2015

On your marks for the Gozo Hellfire Trail

THE Gozo Hellfire 55k Ultra Trail for runners and mountain bikers takes place on May 2. 

It’s Gozo’s toughest race, and one of the Mediterranean’s most scenic. 

The course –. Which has a total elevation of 3,200ft. – circumnavigates the island, including cliff-edge single tracks, valleys, water courses, salt pans, and beaches. It has a total elevation of 3,200ft.

The organizers say bikers will need to carry their bikes over some parts of the course.


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Skomer … my Go To island

Wherever else you go this year, says Angela Suter, go to Skomer Island ...

‘AMAZING, incredible, wow! – all words we would use to describe our two-night stay on Skomer Island, off the Pembokeshire coast in South-West Wales.


We stayed in renovated barns on Skomer Island, where the accommodation was excellent; it was very clean, and everything we needed was there.



Our seven-year-old old daughter was enthralled with Skomer and the wildlife we found there, enjoying especially the nightly bird log meeting where we talked about the sightings we’d made that day. 

We were concerned that we – wildlife lovers as opposed to learned bird watchers – might feel like the odd ones out; how wrong we were .......... 

The staff on the island are knowledgeable and friendly, answering our daughter’s many questions and involving her in small things such as identifying the moths and letting her help to release a Manx Shearwater.

We saw Puffins, which were so close they walked over our daughter’s foot on their way to their burrows. 

The eerie sound of the Manx Shearwaters after dark was an experience never to be forgotten, and spotting the first Hoopoe to be seen on the island in three years caused quite a stir. 

We wished we had booked a longer stay, but we will definitely be going back, probably at the same time next year. It was the beginning of the migration; we saw the first of many species of birds which, as the days go on, will increase in numbers.

One of the most enjoyable things was to sit and listen to the quiet that descends on the island after the last boat of day visitors has left . . . bliss!’

Skomer is a national nature reserve, a Site of Special Scientific Interest, and a Special Protection Area. Much of the island has also been designated an ancient monument. It is surrounded by a marine nature reserve and is managed by the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales.

Where we stayed: The Barn on Skomer Island. For full details, go to http://www.welshwildlife.org/overnight-accommodation-on-skomer/


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Picture Credit: Angela Suter and family

UK flight cancellations and delays up, claims compensation firm

FLIGHT cancellations and delays rose in the first part of 2015, according to analysis by the compensation company, EUclaim. But the main causes appear to be those over which UK-based airlines had no control: strikes in Italy and Germany, and weather.

Bad winter weather at the start of the year, and a series of strikes led to a 20% rise in the number of cancelled flights to 5,080 over the first four months of last year. The number of delays also increased by 7% to 2,427 against 2,260 in the same period in 2014.

Monarch suffered the greatest increase in delays so far this year with passengers experiencing 64 incidents, compared with 47 in the same four-month period last year. 

easyJet saw a 19% increase, with 245 delays in the first four months, and Jet2 17%. Ryanair and Thomson Airways both saw a 6% rise in delays, and Virgin Atlantic 7%. 

But Thomas Cook Airlines cut delays by 37% and British Airways saw an 11% reduction.

Winter weather across Europe was worse than in 2014, particularly affecting Jet2, easyJet and Monarch, with the three airlines suffering considerable delays on ski routes to Chambery and Grenoble in France.

The second cause highlighted was the number of strikes in Europe. A four-day Lufthansa strike resulted in some 116 flights cancelled to the UK. Industrial action by Italian air traffic controllers and security staff in Germany also compounded the problem, according to EUclaim.


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Thomas Cook flies back to Croatia

THOMAS COOK has re-introduced Croatia to its 2015 programme, allowing customers tailor-make package holidays.

‘What’s great about Croatia is that in just over two hours’ flying time, customers arrive at a warm and sunny beach destination without having to break the bank,’ says Stefanie Berk at Thomas Cook UK & Ireland. ‘The country has a rich and diverse heritage, and is the ideal destination for those seeking a cultural break or looking to enjoy an authentic holiday destination.’

The company will be working with the Croatia Tourism Board to promote the holidays.


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Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Travel matters! ...

& quotable quotes;

People travel to faraway places to watch, in fascination, the kind of people they ignore at home.

Dagobert Runes


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Celebration on the coast

SIDMOUTH’S Sea Fest (May 1-2) .... The festival aims to build on the success of the Ham Fish Wall – a permanent mural built by the community on town’s seafront. 

It will be a coastal celebration highlighting sustainable development, responsible tourism, and community participation.

The festival is part of a two-year European Union-funded project which brings together networks in England, France, Belgium, and Holland to collaborate on common issues faced by coastal communities, in particular those in which inshore fishing has played an important role. 

Join us in welcoming visitors to Sea Fest from the coastal town of Hastings and the fishery village of Arnemuiden in Holland as part of the TourFish project.

Old Sea Fest favourites returning include;

The Fish Kitchen – fish filleting, preparing and cooking demonstrations, and tasting with very special guest chefs and local fishermen.

Refreshments and Food - Local real ales, ciders, teas, coffee and more plus the finest freshly caught, picked and selected food to buy throughout!

Creativity on the Coast – arts, crafts and more. Print your own t-shirt, explore your artistic talents, learn about how the coast can come to life in creative crafts. Plus the Sea Fest knitting.

Coastal Heritage Exhibition – we are delighted to be hosting an exhibition of the inshore fishing heritage of the Dutch coastal town of Arnemuiden at Sea Fest 2015 (see separate press release). Learn about the history of the fishermen’s jumpers in Arnemuiden and Zeeland and how it links to Sidmouth’s own fishing heritage.

The Sea Fest Fish Hunt – in partnership with Sidmouth Chamber of Commerce; discover the Sea Fest shop windows and find the Fish to win a prize.

Storytelling & Games – stories from the sea including a very special reading of a new biography of one of the most loved and well known fishermen in Sidmouth, Brixham and many other coastal areas. And of course .... The Fish Stocks! – plus many more games.

Evening events with Live Music and more – book early! Featuring amongst others Gordie Mackeeman & his Rhythm Boys - Award winning old time roots music with energy that will yank you up by your collar and get you dancing all night!

http://sidseafest.net

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Picture Credit: "Sidmouth - The Esplanade" by Dave Bevis via Wikimedia Commons; Courtesy sidseafest.net

Go art deco in Cornwall

ONE OFF PLACES has added Filter House – an art deco conversion of a former water treatment building in Cornwall – to its portfolio of self-catering holiday properties. A short drive from both the north and south coasts of Cornwall and new on the market, it is one of just a handful of holiday properties to be furnished with art deco originals.

Built by the South Cornwall Water Board, the property was once a filter room which distributed water throughout the Roseland Peninsula. It has been transformed into an art deco showpiece with light fittings salvaged from Czech markets, a 1930s-themed bathroom, and deco plasterwork.

Sleeping six in three bedrooms, the house looks out onto a quarry lake where there is an abundance of wildlife.

The house is secluded, but just a few minutes’ walk from the village of Ladock which has a shop and a pub.

www.oneoffplaces.co.uk


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Travel fears fuels boom in UK breaks

FEARS of flying and terrorism have led to an increasing demand in Britain for homeland holidays, says Andrew Hughes, the managing director of motorhome rental company UnbeatableHire.

Many families are changing their 2015 holiday plans to avoid flying and visiting riskier destinations such as Egypt and Tunisia.

Recent data suggests that self-catering and camping holidays are growing in popularity in response to terrorist attacks overseas, with the most favoured UK regions being the Lake District, the Scottish Highlands, and Cornwall.

Mr Hughes says his company has seen a marked increase in bookings against the same time last year.

‘Families are genuinely worried about taking holidays that involve flying or visiting risky destinations. To meet the demand, we've invested over £3.6 million in 100 new vehicles and opened more new hire depots.’


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Tuesday, 28 April 2015

easyJet launches winter 2015/16 schedule

WITH spring only just starting, easyJet has published its 2015/16 winter schedule, with a record number of flights and routes available. More than 78,000 flights are expected to take place to and from the UK between October and February 2016, providing 13,045,080 seats.

Sophie Dekkers, easyJet’s UK director, said: ‘With our record 750+ routes on sale, passengers have more choice than ever on where to spend their winter.’

easyJet says its passenger carbon footprint is 22 percent less than that on a traditional airline flying the same aircraft on the same route.

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Best bushwalking in Oz

NEW SOUTH WALES is Australia's most popular bushwalking region, with more than 5.5 million visitors trekking on the state's bushwalk trails, according to Destination NSW. 
 
More than a third of all travellers in Australia who undertake a bushwalk choose NSW, and more than one in six of all holiday trips in NSW involve bushwalking. 

More than half of all holiday trips to NSW involve a nature-based activity.

Destination NSW CEO Sandra Chipchase attributes the popularity of NSW bushwalks to the state's diverse natural environment ....

.... ‘NSW has some of the greatest single and multi-day walks in the world. In NSW you can hike up Australia's highest mountain, walk in rainforests, along pristine coastal tracks, and through World Heritage-listed national parks. With more than 820 national parks and reserves, and more than over 1,200 miles of coastline, NSW is the ultimate bushwalking destination.’

The Australian autumn marks the start of the bushwalking season for many, with cooler weather and long sunny days.

http://bushwalkingaustralia.org

http://short-walks.com.au/category/new-south-wales

http://www.australia.com/en/places/nsw.html


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Picture Credit: 'Bushwalking in the rain at Kosciuszko National Park' by Michael Jordan via Wikimedia Commons; 'Maitland Bay, NSW by Alex Proimos from Sydney via Wikimedia Commons

UK pensioners planning holiday spending sprees

Surveys show that pensioners 'consider’ holidays as UK pension pots are liberated 

ABTA:

MORE than a third of 55-75-year-olds thinking of dipping into their pension pot would consider spending some of it on a holiday or travel, according to research by the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA).

The findings come amid reports that travel companies are gearing up for over-55s to spend thousands of pounds from their retirement pots on multi-generational cruises and long haul flights as billions of pounds of money tied up is made available under changes to pension regulations affective from April 6.

One in five of those eligible would consider taking cash out of their pension, and a further 15% were undecided, the ABTA poll found.

Taking a holiday was the most popular option for a spending spree, followed by home improvements and paying off existing debts.

Europe was the most popular destination for those planning to spend some money on a holiday, followed by North America, Australasia, Asia, Africa, and South America. 

Fred Olsen Cruise Lines:

UK pensioners are planning holiday spending sprees with more than three quarters of older people in Britain plan to spend up to £10,000 each on a travel experience thanks to windfalls coming from relaxed pension rules, a study by Fred Olsen Cruise Lines shows. A further 20% are prepared to spend up to £20,000 per person.

It is estimated that about 18 million people aged over 55 will have gain access to up to 25% of their pension – tax-free – for the first time from this month (April). A further 320,000 people will become eligible every year.

As much as £6 billion could be spent within the first three months after April, with the main discretionary spend predicted to be on holidays.


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Brits get set for city breaks

MORE than 42 million Brits, or 83% of the population, have booked, or are thinking of booking, a city-break this year, according to research by Jet2Holidays.

The Jet2holidays research, based on survey involving 1,000 respondents, revealed that the average person had been on seven European city breaks and 11 UK city breaks. Only 10 per cent had never taken one, and 2% of respondents had been on 51 or more.

Respondents were asked to name Europe’s friendliest cities. Amsterdam topped the poll, followed by Barcelona, Paris, Rome, and Venice.

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Monday, 27 April 2015

Center Parcs unveils expansion in Ireland

CENTER PARCS is to build a 375-acre holiday village at near Ballymahon, County Longford, Ireland.

Expected to open in 2019 it will create approximately 750 jobs during construction. When opened in 2019, the €200 million (£147.5 million) development will have capacity for up to 2,500 guests and will employ up to 1,000 people in permanent jobs. The village will have up to 500 lodges, a spa, restaurants and cafés, and water rides.

Ireland’s prime minister Enda Kenny said: ‘The prospect of 750 construction and 1,000 permanent jobs is fantastic news for County Longford and the Midlands. Center Parcs will provide a massive boost to the area and contribute significantly to the local and regional economy. This project is a perfect fit with our recently announced tourism policy statement which aims to create 50,000 new jobs by 2025.’

Martin Dalby, chief executive of Center Parcs, said: ‘This new Center Parcs will have all of the ingredients that have made us so popular with families in the UK for the last 28 years.’


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Tudors on tour

HENRY VIII and his court will be taking up residence at Tatton Park, Cheshire, over May Bank Holiday weekend (May 2-4) as part of an outdoor family festival … Tudors on Tour.

Staged for the first time outside London by Historic Royal Palaces, Tudors on Tour will take visitors back 1526, when the Henry VIII would travel around the country staying in castles and manor houses. 

There will be a jousting tournament, pageantry displays, a market place, costumed characters, food, and a Tudor theatre.

(Advanced tickets) Family - £30; Adult - £12.50; Child - £6.00; Concessions - £10 

(Gate tickets) Family - £40; Adult - £16.50; Child - £7.50; Concessions - £13.

www.hrp.org.uk/tudorsontour



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Picture Credit:Courtesy hrp.org.uk/tudorsontour; 'Modern-Knight' by David Ball derivative work via Wikimedia Commons

Rules of the road … across Europe




AIRPORT PARKING & HOTELS (APH) has produced a guide for UK holidaymakers highlighting the different driving rules and regulations – including maximum speed limits and fines, and equipment and paperwork that drivers must carry – in 20 European countries.

Speed limits on European motorways was found to vary significantly, ranging from 62mph in Cyprus and Latvia to 80mph in Austria, France, and Greece.


Germany imposes no maximum speed limit on motorways, although an 80mph top speed is ‘recommended’ on some autobahns.

Denmark, Finland, and Sweden inflict varying speed limits on all roads, so drivers are urged to pay particular attention to road signs.

All 20 countries surveyed have on-the-spot fines, with countries such as Belgium, Italy, and Poland, requiring drivers to make an immediate cash deposit towards fines. 


Countries such as Cyprus, Greece, and Sweden are not allowed to collect any money from on-the-spot fines and instead ask drivers to pay their fines at a later date. It is advised that drivers carry both cash and/or a payment card when driving abroad, as some countries such as Portugal have portable ATM machines in traffic police vehicles for immediate payment of any driving infraction.

UK and American drivers should also be aware that compulsory car equipment varies according to country. Nine out of the 20 countries researched require drivers to carry a reflective jacket in the car at all times, but France is the only country in Europe that requires drivers to carry a breathalyzer kit inside their vehicle.



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Picture Credit: "Fareskilt 45" by Statens Vegvesen via Wikimedia Commons.

Air Canada to beef up UK links

AIR CANADA is to boost its transatlantic schedules, with up to 88 non-stop services a week to eight major Canadian cities from UK airports scheduled from this summer onwards.

From Heathrow, Air Canada will operate direct flights to Toronto four times a day, daily to Montréal, Vancouver, Calgary, Halifax, Ottawa, and St. John’s, and three times per week to Edmonton. The airline is also introducing a second service to Calgary operating four times a week, commencing June 2.

Air Canada Rouge, Air Canada’s leisure airline, will operate seasonal non-stop services with up to five flights a week from Edinburgh (June to October) and up to six flights a week from Manchester (June to September) to Toronto.

‘With the current favourable exchange rate, it has never been a better time for UK travellers to fly to Canada,’ says Robert Atkinson at Air Canada.

UK passengers travelling with Air Canada to the US are no longer required to pick up their bags when transiting in Toronto and Montréal. They can also pre-clear US Customs and Immigration.


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Sunday, 26 April 2015

Make-over for Ayers Rock holiday apartments

AYERS ROCK RESORT'S self-catering accommodation, Emu Walk Apartments, has been refurbished with a modern indigenous-inspired design.

All 63 apartments have undergone a total internal make-over.

ayersrockresort.com.au/emu


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WOW! Round Iceland by bike

THE annual WOW Cyclothon (June 23-26) will see cyclists from around the world competing to be crowned the fastest team to complete the course on Iceland's Highway 1 – the 820-mile ring road that loops the entire country – and raising money for a worthy cause.

Taking place under the midnight sun, the non-stop relay race is the only one of its kind in Iceland, often completed by the winner in under 48 hours. 

Teams can consist of one, four or ten riders, who cycle in a relay format non-stop for the entire route, followed by their support vehicle. With the ten-rider teams offering the shortest distance per person, this category means less experienced cyclists can take part.

Starting in Reykjavik, the route takes riders past Iceland's stunning landscapes, including glaciers, waterfalls, fjords, national parks, and volcanoes.

Open to cyclists of all abilities with all types of bikes, registration closes on May 5 and costs £340 (70,000 ISK) for teams of four, £608 (125,000 ISK) for teams of ten, and £146 (30,000 ISK) for solo riders.

Committed to promoting healthy living and outdoor activities in Iceland, the WOW Cyclothon last year raised £74,070, which was given to the Department of Orthopaedics at the National University Hospital of Iceland.

www.wowcyclothon.com
www.wowair.co.uk


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Picture Credit: "Roads in Iceland" by Helgi Halldórsson from Reykjavík, Iceland via Wikimedia Commons

Best US family beaches




FAMILY VACATION CRITIC, a TripAdvisor site, has announced the winners of its annual Best Beaches for Families survey. 

‘When choosing the top family-friendly beaches, we consider a number of factors – it's not just beautiful sands and picturesque views,’ explains Lissa Poirot, editor-in-chief of Family Vacation Critic. ‘Beyond clean, safe beaches, we're looking for beaches that offer a well-rounded experience for families – accommodation, dining and entertainment within close distance of the beach, and plenty to keep the whole family entertained while in town.’

The list of the best beaches for families includes:


  • Virginia Beach - at right - Virginia Beach, Virginia 
  • Manatee County Beach – Holmes Beach, Florida 
  • Fort De Soto Park – St. Petersburg, Florida 
  • Rehoboth Beach – Rehoboth Beach, Delaware 
  • Crescent Beach – Block Island, Rhode Island 
  • Cape May Beach - at top – Cape May, New Jersey


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Picture Credit: "Cape May Beach Ave, NJ, USA" by Smallbones (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons; "Virginia Beach, VA, USA" by Protoant (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons

Scottish APD changes could create 'unfair’ tax competition – Cameron

UK prime minister David Cameron has admitted that there will be ‘unfair’ tax competition for airports in the north-east of England if Scotland abolishes Air Passenger Duty (APD).

He reportedly said that a lower APD rate in the region is a ‘positive suggestion’ and that ‘we will do what’s necessary to make sure that England’s regional airports can succeed’.

The comments were made during an interview with The Northern Echo newspaper. It is first time the government has committed to lower airport taxes south of the border if the Scottish administration acts first under devolution plans.

Cameron said a list of options would be drawn up within months of a Conservative election victory to examine how to vary APD rates.

He sought to head off the growing concern of airport bosses about the threat posed by much lower – or abolished APD – in Scotland, saying: ‘I get it.’

Cameron said: ‘We are not going to accept a situation where there’s unfair tax competition. I’m very keen to make sure that Newcastle airport has a bright future and I think it does. We will do what’s necessary to make sure that England’s regional airports can succeed.’

British Airways, whose passengers paid £646 million in APD last year, jumped on the comments by reiterating calls for the tax to be abolished across the UK.

Adjustments at Newcastle Airport will lead to a domino effect across England, with Leeds Bradford and Manchester airports demanding similar concessions to remain competitive, according to the airline.

‘If APD is on the way out in Scotland, it needs to be scrapped UK-wide,’ said Willie Walsh, chief executive of BA’s parent company, International Airlines Group.


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Saturday, 25 April 2015

Travel matters .....

... & quotable quotes;

To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.
Bill Bryson


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Cornwall on song

There will be five days and nights of song across the county of Cornwall as choirs of all ages and nationalities gather for the largest festival of its kind in Europe. 

THE internationally renowned operatic tenor John Treleaven will be joining choirs from around the world for the start of the Cornwall International Male Voice Choral Festival at Truro Cathedral on April 30.

More than 3000 singers in 70 choirs will be taking part in 60 concerts and celebrations in 50 venues from Bude to Penzance and Torpoint to Porthleven.

Choirs from Canada, the US, Russia, the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Estonia, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, England, Wales, and Scotland will be performing throughout the festival to more than 40,000 people.

The International Gala Concerts at Truro Cathedral and the Hall for Cornwall create a cultural hub for the festival.

Details of dozens of daytime concerts in gardens, schools, and picturesque spots from Caerhays and Pendennis Castles to Land's End and the Minack Theatre, Heartlands, Trebah and the Eden Project can be found at www.cimvcf.org.uk along with full details of the international and regional Galas outlined below.

Concert tickets can be purchased through the festival website – TICKETS ARE GOING FAST- Not long to go now!! - Go now to www.cimvcf.org.uk –which also has details of local box offices.


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Picture Credit: Courtesy of cimvcf.org.uk - Cornwall International Male Voice Choral Festival 

UK and Ireland’s best road trips revealed






CONTINENTAL TYRES has published a guide to what it says are 12 of the best road trips in the UK and Ireland.
They include …

· Bealach Na Ba (pictured at top) – Wester Ross.

· The Wild Atlantic Way (at right) – Donegal, Leitrim, Sligo, Mayo, Galway, Clare, Limerick, Kerry, and Cork.

· Buttertubs Pass – Yorkshire.



· The Evo Triangle (at left) – Denbighshire, Conwy, and Gwynedd.

· A686 from Penrith to Haydon Bridge – Cumbria and Northumberland.

· The Snake Pass – Cheshire and Yorkshire.
· The Wicklow Mountains (at right) – Wicklow, Carlow, Wexford, and Dublin.

· Abergwesyn Pass – Powys. 


· Black Mountain Pass – Powys and Monmouthshire.

www.ContientalRoadTrip.com


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Picture Credit: "Bealach na Ba Pano" by Stefan Krause, Germany - Own work via Wikimedia Commons; "Wild Atlantic, Co. Mayo" by Robert Bone via Wikimedia Commons; Courtesy GoHoliday



BA-Visit Orlando campaign targets young tourists

VISIT ORLANDO has partnered with British Airways (BA) to launch a campaign targeted at younger British tourists who wouldn’t normally consider visiting the Florida destination. 

The campaign coincides with BA’s launch of double-daily Boeing 777 services to Orlando from Gatwick.

‘While Orlando is recognized as the theme park capital of the world, this campaign with British Airways delves more deeply into the broader Orlando vacation experience by sharing recommendations from actual locals,’ said Mark Jaronski, vice president of global communications for Visit Orlando. ‘With additional flights from British Airways, a campaign reaching an audience with more flexibility to travel and the continually evolving and broadening of the Orlando holiday product, there’s no better time for agents to sell Orlando.’

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Picture Credit: GoHoliday blog via Wikimedia Commons

Friday, 24 April 2015

Travel matters ....

& quotable quotes;

The first condition of understanding a foreign country is to smell it.
Rudyard Kipling


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Found … Ibiza’s secret beaches

WANT to know about the best five secret beaches on Ibiza? 







Many go to Bora Bora and San Antonio to party, but the island has beaches well away from the beaten tracks and the party crowds ...... 



Ibizia specialist Together Travel flags them up …


Cala Llentrisca … An old timber jetty sits in the middle of this peaceful, almost deserted strip of coast. The crescent-shaped beach offers crystal blue water and tranquillity that couldn't be further from the madness of Bora Bora. 

Cala Olivera … The clear waters of this untouched cove mean you'll just have to dive in and swim. Make a day of it and enjoy the beautiful views out to sea. You may be sharing this hidden gem with locals or the occasional naturist.

Cala Salada … This secluded beach (main picture) is perfect for snorkelling and cliff jumping (if you're brave enough).

Es Xarcu … Another beach favoured by locals. Feel at one with nature at this beach as you breathe in the scent of the pine trees and admire the scenery.

http://together.travel/ibiza


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Picture Credit: "Cala Salada, Ibiza" by Philip Larson from McLean, VA, US via Wikimedia Commons; "Ibiza" by K C from USA via Wikimedia Commons.

Up in the air …

DELTA AIR LINES and VIRGIN ATLANTIC Airways have expanded their transatlantic partnership, with the introduction of schedules that offer six new daily services. The airlines begin their summer schedule, providing up to 39 return transatlantic flights a day between the UK and 15 destinations across North America. The joint schedule includes ten daily flights on the world’s largest business travel market, between London Heathrow and New York, now with eight daily departures to New York-JFK and two departures to Newark.

FLYBE’s 2015 summer schedule from its newly re-opened base at Aberdeen, offers up to 75 flights a week on five key routes. Flybe’s routes from Aberdeen include a daily service to Belfast, the first summer of operation for Flybe’s three times a day service to London City, and multi-frequency flights to Birmingham and Manchester.

EASYJET has opened a base at Francisco de Sa Carneiro Airport Porto in northern Portugal. Three UK routes – from Manchester, Bristol, and London Luton airports – to the new Porto base are to be launched in April and May.

BMI REGIONAL has opened a base at Munich Airport to support three new flight routes to the city from Rotterdam, Liege, and Bern.

A new route to Budapest from Glasgow is being started by WIZZ AIR this summer. The airline carrier is to operate flights from June with fares at £28.49 one-way.

AIR SEYCHELLES is to run three non-stop Paris flights each week from July, replacing the current twice-weekly service to the French capital via Abu Dhabi.

LONDON mayor Boris Johnson has rejected a £200 million expansion plan for LONDON CITY AIRPORT. He says it would lead to unacceptable noise levels.


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New in Normandy

A JOAN OF ARC museum has opened in the Normandy town of Rouen, where she was burnt at the stake in 1431.

It is in the restored 15th century Archbishop's palace, where her trial took place.

Visits will be conducted in groups of up to 25, with multi-lingual audio guides available.
Rouen is just over an hour by train from Paris, and a short drive from the ferry ports of Le Havre and Dieppe. Also see www.normandy-tourism.org

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Picture Credit: "Ingres coronation charles vii" by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres - Unknown via Wikimedia Commons

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Irish push in Canada

TOURISM IRELAND, together with ten Irish tourism companies, has embarked on a four-city, cross-Canada sales blitz, meeting travel agents, tour operators, group leaders, and tour planners in Toronto, Ottawa, Vancouver, and Victoria.

Key messages included the Wild Atlantic Way, the Causeway Coastal Route, Irish music and food, the year of Irish design, and Yeats 2015.

2014 was the best year ever for Irish tourism from Canada, and Tourism Ireland believes it is a market with potential for further growth in this year.


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Hotels team up for 4-night get-away offer ...


THE Feversham Arms Hotel and Verbena Spa in Helmsley, North Yorkshire, and Seaham Hall – a boutique hotel near Durham – have joined together to give guests a luxury driving experience get-away. 

The four-day driving tour package offers holidaymakers an opportunity to experience the very best of the north of England.

Guests can start their luxury break at either hotel, where they stay for two nights. 

They will be given a picnic basket to set them on their way for the second half of the journey, where they get to spend two nights at the other hotel.

Charles Merchie, general manager at The Feversham Arms: ‘We are in some of the most beautiful scenery in England, yet more often than not people don’t get to see this, as they come for a short break, and head straight back. The drive up to Durham, through the Yorkshire Moors is stunning.'

Guests will have access to spa facilities at both hotels, and the offer includes tickets to two local attractions, Castle Howard - pictured above - and The Beamish Museum, the world famous museum which tells the story of the people of North East England during the Georgian, Victorian, and Edwardian periods. Pictured at right is the 'Dentistry' display at the museum.

Find out more at www.fevershamarmshotel.com and www.seaham-hall.co.uk 


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Picture Credit: Courtesy fevershamarmshotel.com and seaham-hall.co.uk; "CastleHoward-LakeSide" by chris 論 - Own work via Wikimedia Commons; "Dentistry, Beamish Museum" by Immanuel Giel (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons

Currency savings – and discounts too ...

THERE'S never been a better time to head abroad thanks to the pound climbing to a seven year high against the euro in March, says villa holiday company.

The company, 
James Villa Holidays, has seen demand for its holidays grow by 12% in the last four weeks as holidaymakers take advantage of sterling’s strength to book their break , with some hedging their bets and buying their currency in advance.

The new strength of the pound means that a £100 buys an extra €22 compared with this time last year, making eating, drinking and fun in the Mediterranean more affordable for the British holidaymaker than at any time in the last few years.

‘There's never been a better time to visit Europe thanks to the great exchange rate,’ says Mark Bloxham, managing director at James Villa Holidays, www.jamesvillas.co.uk. ‘As a villa business, we know that people choose to stay with us because they want flexibility while they are on holiday, especially when it comes to food and drink.

‘Unlike an all-inclusive break, where you won't see the direct savings, our customers want to be able to choose between a barbecue by their private pool and eating out at the local taverna, and the beauty of the change in rates means that it's 10-15% cheaper than last year wherever they eat their evening meal.’

On top of currency savings, a large selection of James Villas with pools have been discounted, with 60% savings in April, 50% in May and 40% in June. The offers are available on bookings made before April 27.


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Picture Credit: GoHoliday blog via Wikimedia Commons

Tunisia searches plunge after terrorist attack

SEARCHES for Tunisia made by UK travellers have fallen by 22 percent following the terrorist attack on March 18, according to the hotel search website trivago.co.uk.

While travel interest in Tunisia as a whole fell by 22 percent, searches for Hammamet (a beach resort popular among UK holidaymakers) fell by 34 percent.

Although the British government has not advised against travel to Tunis and the surrounding areas, cruise companies have removed the city from their itinerary.


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Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Take a walk in the West




THIS year’s North Devon and Exmoor Walking Festival (May 2-9) offers a range of guided walks, including a visit to Lundy Island.

There will be walks majoring on birdsong, a chance to see red deer with National Park Rangers, and a linear walk using the West Somerset Railway.

www.exmoorwalkingfestival.co.uk


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Picture Credit: "Great Hangman to Holdstone Down, Exmoor" by Becks via Wikimedia Commons

Camp out in luxury



LANTERN & LARKS is opening a glamping site in the walled garden at Exton Park, near Rutland Water.

An 18th century wall surrounds the five-acre garden which slopes down to an ornamental lake. There will be five colonial-style tents, each with three bedrooms, WC and shower with hot and cold running water, sitting/dining areas, fully equipped kitchens with wood-burning stoves, and wooden decks with iron fire pits.

Exton's former potting shed houses a shop supplying firewood and farmhouse provisions.

The site will open in June.

Lantern & Larks - 
www.lanternandlarks.co.uk - is also looking at potential sites in Cornwall, Somerset, Norfolk, and Shropshire.

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Follow the princes back in time

THE Princes of Gwynedd traced their royal line back to ancient times and became the most powerful dynasty in medieval Wales. 

For more than 800 years, the princes fought with one another and English rulers to secure their power. But this was not just a time of war and turmoil; the princes forged strong cultural and religious links with continental Europe and were patrons of architecture, music, and poetry.

The Princes of Gwynedd Exhibition can be seen at Conwy Tourist Information Centre and audio tours are available at some of most important sites in Welsh history including Dolwyddelan Castle, Gwydir Chapel, Aberconwy Abbey, and Deganwy Castle.

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Picture Credit: "Pennal Gwynedd C 05" by Llywelyn2000 (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons

Accolade for Athens Airport

ATHENS AIRPORT has been named Airport of the Year (in the 10-30 million passengers category) by Air Transport News.

Said airport CEO Yiannis Paraschis: ‘2014 has been a year of spectacular traffic development for our airport, which achieved an increase of 21.2 % within the context of a very critical economic and political situation in Greece.’


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Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Travel matters ...

& quotable quotes;

Who the hell wants fourteen pairs of shoes when they go on holiday? I haven't had fourteen pairs in my life.

Brian Clough


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