Saturday snippets: 17th of May 2014

By | Category: Travel news


Last year, 1.4 million of us visited Portugal and we made up the largest single source of visitors for the country. It was to the Algarve that most of us went to as you might expect but significant numbers take city breaks in Lisbon, Bilbao and Oporto. Helping Portugal attract so many of us is the fact that we have options to fly from so many regional airports and at least eight different airlines provide those links. With additional flights in 2014, Portugal is expecting even more visitors.

Generally, the last thing you want to go near on a holiday is a hospital. But maybe not if you holiday in Iceland. Originally built in 1903 and located on the eastern coastline of Iceland in Fáskrúðsfjörður, “The French Hospital”  was used as a hospital for the French sailors who fished off the coast of east Iceland in the early to mid-20th century. Street signs are still in Icelandic and French. In the autumn of 2010, the declining building was moved back to Fáskrúðsfjörður for restoration purposes. Whilst one part of the building will house an exhibition describing the rich history of the building, the remainder of the building – including the Doctor’s House and the Infirmary – has now been converted into a hotel which will open at the beginning of next month.

What do you know of the Derbyshire town of Bolsover? If, like me, the answer is not a lot then over the next year or so you will know more. The town has raised £750,000 to re-brand the town and highlight its heritage assets such as Bolsover Castle, the Grade II listed New Bolsover Model Village, and the scheduled ancient monuments of the Town Entrenchments – a rare 12th Century ‘city wall’ type structure that still circles part of the town. It is hoping that the effort will persuade people to see more than the castle and venture into the centre to enjoy the shopping areas which will also be given a makeover.

Laurent House

Laurent House

Chicago is the one US city you should visit for its array of differing architectural styles. In the suburbs there are some houses designed by one of America’s greatest architects, Frank Lloyd Wright. Now another of his designs in Rockford (about 85 miles west from Chicago) is opening to the public for the first time from 6th June. The Laurent home, considered by Wright as one of the 35 best works of his career, is the only building ever designed by the famed architect for a person with a disability. Kenneth Laurent was a disabled, wheel-chair-bound World War II veteran who, at the prompting of his wife, contacted Wright asking him to design a home to meet his unique needs. The Laurents commissioned the home in 1948 and lived there until 2012.

The return of Oxford’s only beach to Oxford Castle Quarter occurs next weekend. It returns because last year’s experiment – for want of a better word – was so successful in attracting visitors that it probably will now become an annual feature. Thirty-two tonnes of sand, palm trees, deckchairs, volleyball nets, peep boards, and cocktail umbrellas will all be return to Oxford’s former gaol and prison. Over the summer there will be BBQ’s, tapas, cocktails, parties, beach games, sunbathing and competitions.

If we are to believe research from, then more women are likely to consider holidaying alone than they would have done five years ago. As readers know by now, my scepticism comes from understanding the research. Was it only amongst’s previous bookers in which case the research is biased towards those having the ability to book online and those who use the company? If it is representative then does it suggest that women feel safer about travelling alone than may have been the case years ago or are they because, if they want to holiday, they have no option? More questions than answers here.

If you are flying on Qatar Airways and have to transfer to another flight in their hub, Doha, then you now have the opportunity of free excursions around the city. If you have between 5 and 12 hours between your flights then you can opt for a free, 3 hour city tour which has an English speaking guide as well.

 Denbies tasting cellar

Denbies tasting cellar

Did you know that English Wine Week was coming up? It takes place from 24 May to 1 June.  The significance of our wine production is demonstrated by the fact that, although the industry is now worth less than £20 million per annum it is expected to grow substantially. More than 5 million bottles will be produced next year all being well, much of it for export use. It was only a few years ago that Denbies, the largest UK vineyard which is based in Dorking beat French champagnes to a gold award for its sparkling wine. Other vineyards have also won plaudits so during English Wine Week why not visit one or two? Or even three. There are more vineyards around our countries than you might imagine- some say 430! But that was probably last week’s count. There will be another one or two by now.

The latest figures show that overseas arrivals to the Republic of Ireland increased by +7.3% for the first quarter of 2014, compared to the same period last year. Growth was recorded from all market areas but Britain contributed the largest share of this growth, with an increase of +11% on the same quarter of 2013. Total overseas visitors to Northern Ireland for the first nine months of 2013 grew by 11%. The British market, representing the majority (68%) of overseas visitors to Northern Ireland, grew by 14%. Estimates also indicate that overseas holidaymakers to Northern Ireland were up +7% for the same period.

Does the appeal of Croatia never slow? I know that Just about Travel has tipped it as a destination but we can’t be solely responsible! The first four months of 2014 saw a record number of UK visitors to Croatia with arrivals up six per cent compared to the same period last year. A total of 21,557 UK visitors headed to Croatia between January and April, while visits from Ireland also increased. April was a particularly successful month for Croatian tourism with a 27 per cent increase in UK visitors compared to 2013 and a 17 per cent increase in visitors from Ireland.

map_of_croatiaStaying in Croatia, if you happen to be there for half-term you might want to consider visiting the small town of Dubovac which for two weeks ending on June 2nd returns to the Middle Ages to celebrate the vibrant trading history of the town. A procession takes place through the streets of Dubovac with locals in mediaeval dress, and visitors can take part in activities such as traditional crafts and novelty folk games, as well as trying ‘barley broth’, a barley soup with beans and sausages.  Or you could go to Istria for the last Sunday in  May which is when they hold Open Wine Cellar Day. This allows visitors to taste the best Istrian wines. Wine makers all over Istria open their cellars to mark the occasion to prove to visitors why Istria is known as ‘Croatia’s Tuscany’.

After a gap of eight years, Ryanair is going to fly out of Cardiff again. It will start a service to Tenerife on 30th October 2014. It will, however, only offer the service on just one day – Thursdays. Maybe Ryanair isn’t ready to make more than a token commitment to the government owned airport yet.

Under our previous name, CD-Traveller, we covered the return of the ospreys after a 400 year gap to Cors Dyfi nature reserve near Machynlleth in mid-Wales and were surprised as were many others about the number of visitors the area received as a result. Last year there were 31,000.No a viewing structure costing £1.4 million has been built so visitors can more easily watch the birds. Incidentally, there are two eggs this year and hatching is about a fortnight away.

The National September 11 Memorial Museum has offically been opened near the site of the World Trade Center in New York. As you may have seen on television, it contains the pictures of all who died along with items found after the blast. Public entry begins next week.



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