Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Travel matters..........

Italy is not an intellectual country. On the subway in Tokyo, everybody reads. In Italy, they don't. Don't evaluate Italy from the fact that it produced Raphael and Michelangelo. Umberto Eco

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Take the train in Wales

VISITORS to Mid and North Wales are being encouraged to park their car and take the train in a sustainable transport and tourism initiative.


Focused on three of Wales' most scenic railways – Conwy Valley Line, Cambrian Lines and Heart of Wales Line – the Show Me Wales Rail Trails project aims to make it easier for visitors to identify accessible things to do and places to visit and stay in towns and villages along the lines that do not require a car.

A bi-lingual, business card sized pocket guide has been produced showing a map of the rail routes and connections together with information about the region’s highlights, including Glyndwr's Castles, Cardigan Bay beaches, cycling and mountain bike routes, walking trails and market towns.

The three railways cover Conwy in the north to Swansea in the south and from Shrewsbury in the east to Aberystwyth on the Cardigan Bay Coast.


www.showmewales.co.uk/railtrails 


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Picture Credit: From Top -  Blaenau Ffestiniog railway station by mattbuck via Wikimedia Commons; "In the garden of Eden" Bodnant Garden, Conwy Valley, North Wales by Bert Kaufmann from Roermond, Netherlands via Wikimedia Commons

Italy takes top spot in Condé Nast poll

ITALY is Condé Nast Traveller readers' favourite country for the second year consecutive year.


 What is it that impresses them about the place? Pretty much everything, it seems. It came first in the poll thanks to remarkably high scores in all five criteria on which the magazine asked them to vote, but ultimately beat the competition with top marks for culture and food. 

Elsewhere, they think the US has the best places to stay (followed by France), and they love New Zealand and Australia for their landscapes. And where do they feel most welcome? They say that Greece is the world's most hospitable country, followed by Canada.

Top 20 countries

1. Italy
2. USA
3. France
4. Spain
5. Greece
6. Australia
7. New Zealand
8. Thailand
9. South Africa
10. India
11. Canada
12. Turkey


13. Switzerland
14. Sri Lanka
15. Ireland
16. Mexico
17. United Arab Emirates  
18. Vietnam
19. Iceland
20. Portugal




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Picture Credit: From Top -  "Ponte Vecchio" Florence, Italy by Mfiskum.Marius Fiskum.www.fototopia.no - via Wikimedia Commons; The King - "Löwe im Kruger National Park" by Chris vd Merwe via Wikimedia Commons; "Eyjafjallajökull", Iceland by Andreas Tille via Wikimedia Commons.

New flights to Dublin


AER LINGUS REGIONAL, operated by Stobart Air, is to offer direct double daily return flights between Leeds-Bradford Airport and Dublin from October 23.


It expects to carry up to 70,000 passengers annually on the route.


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Picture Credit: "EI-FAS Moon " by Mark Harkin via Wikimedia Commons

Monday, 29 September 2014

Travel matters..........

Venice is like eating an entire box of chocolate liqueurs in one go. Truman Capote








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Picture credit: "San Marco" via Wikimedia Commons

Heritage sites not wheelchair-friendly

Torre Abbey west front - the art gallery for
Torquay with disabled access throughout.
ALMOST two thirds of the UK’s top attractions are not fully accessible for wheelchair users, a survey commissioned by the government has found.

 ‘I was astonished,’ said Mr Ted Hill of the British Polio Fellowship, ‘I would like to call on these venues to make themselves completely accessible for all. I believe the UK to be among the leaders in equal opportunities and diversity, but clearly the attractions involved in this survey do not get the message.’

The survey was conducted by Vitalise, a national disability charity specializing in providing holidays for people with disabilities and their carers. 

The Washington Hide at Holkham with easy disabled access
It contacted the top 100 most visited attractions in the UK, only 52 of which replied. Of these, 63 percent said that they were not completely accessible to wheelchairs. Of the 27 venues that charged for entry, 44 percent offered no discount at all for disabled people. A quarter of the visitor centres, museums, galleries and heritage sites had no disabled parking spaces, and a quarter had no ramps to doors. 

Only 13 percent had trained their staff in disability awareness.


‘There are more than 11 million people in the UK with a limiting long term illness, impairment or disability, and the majority of these are of the type that affects mobility,’ said Mr Hill. ‘That’s potentially a sixth of the population that can’t access all of the facilities at these venues.’


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Picture Credit: From Top -  'Torre Abbey west front' by Hawgood via Wikimedia Commons; The Washington Hide at Holkham by Nigel Stickells via Wikimedia Commons



Thrills in Tampa

BUSCH GARDENS in Tampa, Florida, is taking guests' experiences to new heights with Falcon's Fury, the first drop tower of its kind in the world, mimicking the dive speeds of the fastest animal on earth.

It stands at 335ft, plunges down at 60 mph, and pivots 90 degrees in mid-air to a face-down dive position. The ride has been compared to skydiving by its designers.


It is the tallest freestanding drop tower in North America.

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Budget expands across Europe

BUDGET CAR RENTAL has opened more than 175 new locations across Europe so far this year, with more to follow as part of its growth plan.
Since April this year, Budget has opened more than 150 new locations in Germany, bringing the total number of rental facilities there to almost 300.

In the UK, there are eight new locations and, in France, three. A further 20 locations were added across Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg.

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Sunday, 28 September 2014

Music on the Mississippi

HOLIDAYMAKERS heading to Mississippi this October can experience the sounds of the Delta at the Mighty Mississippi Music Festival (October 3-5) in Greenville.

www.mightymississippimusicfestival.com and also DiscoverAmerica.com


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Meals for a tenner!

FROM October 1 to November 11, Guernsey will hold its 17th annual Tennerfest, which will see over 180 restaurants in Guernsey and its sister island Sark offer all-inclusive menus. 

Starting from just £10, with savings of almost 50% on normal prices.

Tennerfest is Guernsey's most popular foodie event with an estimated five million meals consumed since the event’s inception in 1998. Tennerfest participants offer menus focusing on local produce, freshly caught fish and Guernsey specialities.

An example of a two-course £10 menu is cod, king prawn and Guernsey crab gratin with mixed Guernsey leaves and potted cheddar, quince and toasted Guernsey Gâche for dessert.



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Picture Credit: "Guernsey island" by PHGCOM - via Wikimedia Commons; GoHoliday 

Tomb find to boost Greek tourism






THE find of a massive 4th century BC tomb at Amfipolis could lead to renewed interest in Greek antiquity and an increase in visitor numbers to archaeological sites and museums this year, says the Greek National Tourism Organization.

Two sphinxes have been found at the entrance of a tomb dating between 325 and 300 BC in Amfipolis, east of Thessaloniki in northern Greece. The tomb will be open to the visitors after archaeologists have complete their work. The rest of the Amfipolis site – in one of the richest archaeological regions in the country – is currently open to visitors.


Archaeological sites in Greece saw a 25% increase in visitor numbers and a 22% increase in revenue in the first four months of 2014, while museums had a 13% increase in visitor numbers and a 19% increase in revenue. Total visitor numbers during this time reached 2.4 million.

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Picture Credit: Leon of amfipolis by Vlahos Vaggelis via Wikimedia Commons

All about Gozo ...




The island has a population of 37,000.

The Megalithic temples of Gozo and Malta are the world's oldest free-standing structures, and they are among the world's oldest religious structures.

Its most popular beaches are Marsalforn and Xlendi Bay.
Gozo is rated as one of the top diving destinations in the Mediterranean.

It has 46 churches, and Xewkija church has a dome that is larger than that of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London.

The 26-square mile island is approximately the same area as New York City's Manhattan Island.


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Picture Credit: From Top -  "Gozo-harbour-hotels" by Myriam Thyes via Wikimedia Commons; "Wiedil-MielahWindow" by Wusel007 via Wikimedia Commons

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Travel matters..............

An artist has no home in Europe except in Paris. Friedrich Nietzsche


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Art at Blenheim

THE Blenheim Art Foundation has announced the most extensive UK exhibition to date by the Chinese artist and social activist Ai Weiwei. 

Opening at Blenheim Palace on October 1 as the foundation’s inaugural exhibition, it will showcase more than 50 works by Ai Weiwei produced over the last 30 years. It features early photography dating to Ai's time in New York in the 1980s through to new works conceived in China especially for the palace.

Ai Weiwei at Blenheim Palace is the first major contemporary art exhibition to be presented in a building that dates back to 1704 and was famously the birthplace of British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill.

A globally-recognized social activist, Ai Weiwei has not been able to leave China since 2011 when his passport was confiscated by Chinese government.  

The exhibition runs from October 1 to December 14.


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Picture Credit: Blenheim Palace - Blenheim Art Foundation

You can make it.....if you're quick

THIS year’s Blenheim Palace Literary Festival ends tomorrow, September 28..... you still have time to catch some of speakers - Five-time Grammy-award-winning opera singer Jessye Norman will speak at the festival about her forthcoming book Stand Up Straight and Sing. Other speakers include Julian Fellowes, creator of Downton Abbey, former Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey, scientist Richard Dawkins, celeb chef Ken Hom, historian Sir Roy Strong, and writer and director Jonathan Miller.

www.blenheimpalaceliteraryfestival.com 

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Shop for Xmas in Shropshire

GET a taste of Christmas at the Gorgeous contemporary craft fair held at Enginuity, one of the Ironbridge Gorge Museums in Shropshire, on November 22 and 23.



Craftspeople and artisans from across Shropshire and the West Midlands will showcase –and sell – handmade designs … jewellery, glassware, ceramics, textiles and metalwork, plus handmade wrapping paper, cards, and crackers. The county’s renowned food producers will also be there.

Now in its tenth year, Gorgeous is held in association with the Shropshire Guild of Contemporary Craft, which promotes the work of designers and craftsmen in the region.

Young visitors can get into the creative spirit by taking part in pewter casting workshops or laser cutting small Christmas tree decorations in Enginuity’s Fab Lab (activities cost from £2.50 per activity, plus admission).

The fair builds on Ironbridge Gorge’s heritage of creativity; the place where early industrialists mined for raw materials to make iron, tiles and porcelain goods, many of which are displayed at the museum sites.

Entry is £2.50 per person (under 5s go free).

For further information, contact the Ironbridge Visitor Information Centre on 01952 433 424 or go to
 www.ironbridge.org.uk


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Picture Credit: "Ironbridge-Gorge" by Chris McKenna via Wikimedia Commons

NO MAN'S FORT

A man-made island in the middle of the Solent – opens its doors in November after extensive renovation.

One of three forts owned by AmaZing Venues, it will be bookable for overnight stays, parties, corporate events, and meetings.

Built between 1867 and 1880 to protect Portsmouth from the French, it is the smaller sister venue to Spitbank Fort which has been open since 2012. The fort will be accessible by boat and helicopter. See more at: www.amazingvenues.co.uk



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Friday, 26 September 2014

Travel matters.............

MONTEGO BAY, the second city of Jamaica, now has a cultural centre. Formerly the Montego Bay Civic Centre, it has an art gallery, museum, space for the performing arts, a bistro, an artisan village, and a gift shop.




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Picture Credit: Montego Bay, Jamaica - by WPPilot via Wikimedia Commons

Home Office to take direct control of passport services


THE UK's Passport Office agency is to be brought under Home Office control and made accountable to ministers, says the Home Secretary, Theresa May. 

Her decision follows a summer which saw thousands of holidaymakers affected by a backlog in applications, which peaked at 537,663 in late June.


The changes mean the Passport Office's chief executive Paul Pugh will be replaced.

Mrs May had been forced to introduce a number of emergency measures to tackle the backlog, which is now around 80,000.

The move to the Home Office will take effect from October 1.

Earlier this month, the House of Commons’ Home Affairs Committee said the Passport Office should lose its agency status and be brought under direct ministerial control following an "appalling series of failures".


Go Holiday editor David Kernek comments: This, on paper at least, appears to be good – and long overdue – news; but let’s hope that the Home Office is capable of running the passport service with a level of skill and care that has yet to be apparent in its management of immigration controls … such as they are!

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Bristol Airport in West Country tourism push

BRISTOL AIRPORT is showcasing the West of England to airlines from across the globe at the World Route Development (WRD) Forum in Chicago.

The WRD forum – the world’s largest commercial aviation event – gives airports and tourism organizations the chance to meet with airlines to discuss new route opportunities.

The airport has teamed up with tourism organizations Destination Bristol and Bath Tourism Plus to promote the West Country to the world’s established and emerging airlines.

The move comes as the number of foreign residents using Bristol Airport has almost trebled in the last decade, with more than a million journeys made by overseas visitors from 82 different countries in 2012.

Besides the one-on-one meetings with airlines, Bristol and Bath will showcase images of the West of England at the VisitEngland stand to 3,000 delegates, including representatives of 300 airlines.

Meetings at last year’s World Routes in Las Vegas helped Destination Bristol to securing this summer’s twice-weekly Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) service from Stockholm, which brought large numbers Swedish visitors to the city.

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Picture Credit: From Top -  The Great Bath, Roman Baths – Bath, Somerset. © David Kernek; Bristol city centre at night -  by Joe D via Wikimedia Commons 

More new planes............

easyJet has ordered a further 27 Airbus A320s, bringing its total order for new planes to 415.
‘We are bringing new aircraft into the fleet as we continue to see a significant number of new profitable opportunities in our core markets in the near term, and in order to maintain our cost advantage,’ said Carolyn McCall, easyJet chief executive.
*A passenger who became violent on an easyJet flight from Amsterdam to Liverpool, has been jailed for 15 months by Liverpool Crown Court. He pleaded guilty to causing actual bodily harm, a public order offence and two charges under The Civil Aviation Act.

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Thursday, 25 September 2014

Enterprise expands

FOLLOWING the appointment of franchise partners over the past 12 months, Enterprise Rent-A-Car branches are now open for business in major airport and city locations in four additional countries: Poland, Turkey, Israel, and Switzerland.

Enterprise is now operational in 23 countries in Europe and the Middle East, with more being primed for launch in the coming months.


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50% off sports equipment when flying Air Malta



AIR MALTA has launched is offering a 50% discount on the carriage of sports equipment on its scheduled flights.

Passengers travelling on the airline between November 1 and March 31 2015 can present a special voucher during check-in to get the discount. 

Vouchers are being made available through various channels including Air Malta Offices, travel fairs, and sports organizations. A printable version is available online on www.airmalta.com/sportsoffer.

Joe Galea, deputy chief commercial officer at Air Malta said: ‘Malta and Gozo are renowned for their world class dive sites and the special rate on the sports equipment baggage charge will allow passengers the freedom to enjoy the dive sites on the islands with their own equipment. This year, we have expanded the offer to include a large amount of other sports equipment.’




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Picture Credit: -  "Air Malta Airbus A310-200 Zammit" by Gordon Zammit - via Wikimedia Commons

Success for Penzance sea-water lido bid

A BID for almost £2 million of government funding to repair and rejuvenate Penzance’s sea-water Jubilee Pool has been successful.

The news will enable work to begin on repairing the pool’s structure – damaged by last year’s storms – and ensuring its long term future. As well as funding essential structural works, the package also includes funding to help to increase the number of users.

Match-funding to the tune of a further £1 million has been provided by contributions from Cornwall County Council (£500,000), the Local Enterprise Partnership (£240,000), the Friends of Jubilee Pool (£160,000), and Penzance Town Council (£40,000).

Penzance mayor David Nebesnuick said: ‘I am delighted that our Coastal Communities bid to repair and restore the Jubilee Pool after the storm damage has been successful. The pool is an iconic structure with national importance as one of the few remaining art deco sea-water pools.’

The Grade II listed pool – opened in 1935 to mark the Silver Jubilee of George V – is one of the few remaining 1930s lidos in the country. It’s also the largest, at 328ft x 230ft.


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Picture Credit: From Top: Penzance Jubilee Pool - VisitCornwall; Penzance promenade looking east towards the Jubilee pool.- Phil Williams via Wikimedia Commons

Coming up in Devon …

Plymouth Seafood Festival, September 27-28 – Try Devon’s seafood at this annual festival on the harbour.

Clovelly Herring Festival, November 16 – Clovelly was once a major centre for herring fishing, and the annual herring festival is held to support carefully managed fishing. There will be net making, flax processing, and a curragh on show.


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Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Halloween horrors …


GHOULISH adventures and spooktacular happenings will set hearts racing at Holkham Hall, Norfolk, when it hosts Halloween events from October 26 to 31.

Holkham Hall is two miles from west of Wells-next-the-Sea.


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Picture Credit: Holkham Hall / Holloween Horrors

Welcome to the world of chocolate!



EUROCHOCOLATE  - www.eurochocolate.com - will be the big event in the Italian city of Perugia next month (October 17-26). 

Attracting people who make the stuff, market it, import it – and it just eat it – there will be tastings, exhibitions, workshops, and chocolate sculptures in the streets of the historic city. 

This year's theme is Vintage, inspired by the 50's and 60's era.


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Picture Credit: eurochocolate.com

Celebrate in Malta

 NOTTE BIANCA is an annual event that takes place in October and lights up Valletta, Malta, with a spectacular nocturnal celebration of culture and arts. 

State palaces and museums open their doors for visual art exhibitions and theatre performances, while the streets and piazzas are the stages for shows by local and international musicians and dancers. 

Cafes and restaurants remain open until late.













This year’s Notte Bianca is on October 5. See more at  www.nottebianca.org.mt

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Music in bloom

A 900-YEAR-OLD English cathedral with the longest nave in Britain is to host a flower festival. 

The 11th-century St Albans Cathedral in Hertfordshire is the venue for the Music in Bloom Festival (September 25-28).

More than 400 flower arrangers will be working on the displays in the run-up to the festival, which will see 10,000 blooms in total being used in the cathedral's 278ft-long nave.

The arrangements will be themed on musical genres from chamber to rock. 

Some 132 well-known pieces of music and songs will feature in the displays.

www.stalbanscathedral.org





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Picture Credit: Frm Top - "The nave of St Albans Cathedral in Hertfordshire, England" by Diliff  via Wikimedia Commons; "Biedermeierstrauß aus Seidenblumen und präparierten Rosen" by Flor4U|Wolfgang Roth|Blumenwerkstatt Roth  via Wikimedia Commons