Saturday snippets – 16th November 2013

By | Category: Travel news

Cardigan Castle

Last Sunday a new tourist attraction came to London’s M25. Bikers dressed in red met at service areas and the drove around the motorway to create a complete ring around London of red. Every biker was to wear something red so – from the air – it looked like a giant poppy and it was all done as a mark of respect for Remembrance Sunday and to raise money for the service charities. It drew people out to stand on bridges overlooking the road and was adjudged a success by Julia Stevenson from Kent, the organiser. Will this unusual and clever idea become an annual celebration? If it does, more of us will stand on the bridges thanking and cheering them for such a gesture.

Flybe, the Exeter-based airline, has announced plans to cut 500 jobs across the business, despite reporting a return to profit. As part of the cost-cutting programme some routes could “possibly” go but which? No word from the airline yet. This comes despite those profits and small increase in turnover. Passenger numbers increased to 4.3 million in the first half of the year as well.

From the US comes the story of a budget hotel chain, Red Roof, which is offering a 15% discount on bookings this month if you take your pet with you. The offer is only for “well-behaved” pets whatever that means. Does it include barking when your dog greets you? You hope that hotel managers take a view in each case. It would be nice if chains – rather than the list of individual hotels over here that allow pets to stay – would consider such a promotion. CD-Traveller still hears of stories from readers where pets stay and then the hotel stings the owners with a large clean-up charge to “freshen” the room for the next guests. The same chain has a similar discount offer for veterans staying with them. In the US, ex- military forces personal get all sorts of discounts from time-to-time. They are treated much better than we seem to treat our service personnel.

In Northern Ireland, there has been an on-going debate about national parks. On this side of the Irish Sea, we have many and seem to have found a formula that resolves conflicting issues between owners and those who would like to visit. Not so there where in Stormont, where Mervyn Storey mentioned that they had been called “unnecessary, expensive and dictatorial.” The minister, Mark Durkan announced, “I do not believe that now is the correct time to proceed with national parks.” He plans more talks for a national park along the causeway coastline. In the meantime most of us wonder why it has taken so much time to get nowhere.

horse from Staffordshire Hoard

After decades of neglect, 12th century Cardigan Castle is opening to the public once again in spring 2014. The site was left in ruins but, after public campaigning, the castle has been brought back to life as a tourist attraction and a centre for learning the Welsh language, culture and crafts. As the birthplace of the Eisteddfod, there will naturally be an Eisteddfod garden with a wet-weather dome, an open-air concert area, a restaurant and luxury self-catering accommodation.

Have you ever wanted to see Lady Gaga’s meat dress up close and in person? It is on display now through April 20, 2014, as part of the Women Who Rock exhibition at the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix. The exhibition was originally created by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio and highlights Lady Gaga and more than 70 artists who have made stunning achievements in the music industry. The obvious question is whether the meat been replaced since it was first worn. Has the dress been kept in the freezer? In Catherine Tate’s immortal words, “Am I bovvered?”

There were 238,204 visitors from the UK to Hungary in 2012, up 7.6% on 2011 and making the UK the third largest overseas market for tourism, after Germany and Austria. 2013 looks set to be a record year as well says the tourist board. Once again it seems to be largely down to direct air links. The more there are, the more we like to try new places.

Hogwarts in the snow

Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Mercia, a new exhibition in Stoke-on-Trent’s Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, sets The Staffordshire Hoard in the context of everyday life-and-death in the days of the Mercian Kingdom. This hoard which CD-Traveller readers supported when funds were needed to keep it in the Midlands, features 200 pieces of the now world-famous Staffordshire Hoard. The new exhibition coincides with the appearance of a Mercian Trail for visitors to Stoke-on-Trent, Birmingham, Lichfield, Tamworth and other parts of Staffordshire. Go quickly as it ends in February when it will be removed for yet more research that is changing the way we have been taught about our past.

The Warner Bros’ attraction, The Making of Harry Potter, opened its Christmas Hogwarts in the Snow feature yesterday. Located near Watford, north of London, the Great Hall which will be lined with eight Christmas trees, along with holly, mistletoe and golden wreaths. Two long dining tables will also be dressed as they were for seasonal feasts with prop versions of turkeys, hams, fruit, vegetables, plum puddings and snow cakes.

Air France have an offer whereby if you buy a ticket before the 30th November then you can claim a £50 discount code to use on your next 2014 Air France flight. All you need to do is register your details after you have booked the first flight and you will receive your discount direct to your inbox. Is it worth it? yes if you are a regular Air France flyer. If not then don’t bother as their usual fares can be matched or even bettered elsewhere.

Playa Juanillo, Dominican Republic

Which is the most popular Caribbean destination? According to the Caribbean Tourism Organisation it’s the Dominican Republic which had 3.3 million visitors in what it calls “the first semester” of 2013 whatever that is. They were followed by Cuba (1.99 million), Jamaica (1.26 million), Puerto Rico (731,959) and the Bahamas (730,988).

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