Saturday snippets: 29th November 2014

By | Category: Travel news

Palma PassIn Majorca, the tourist board has launched its first ever tourist card – the Palma Pass. It gives  visitors to the city free access to over 36 different museums, monuments and cultural sights, including Santa Maria Cathedral, the Bellver Castle, the Joan Miró Foundation and the Es Baluard contemporary art museum. The card also includes up to 30% off in many shops and restaurants, as well as tourist services such as guided tours and the city sightseeing bus. The pass also allows visitors to get around the city by including 10 free trips on city centre public buses and one return journey to and from the airport. Every Palma Pass comes with a free city guide in six different languages and maps detailing where all the attractions are located. Its available for 48 hours (€34) and 72 hours (€41)and can be bought in advance and is automatically activated the first time it is used.

Visitors to Scotland are being encouraged to celebrate New Year not just once…but twice in a new guide by Visit Scotland. Alongside details of Hogmanay traditions such as first-footing and hot toddies, Visit Scotland’s first ever A-Z of Winter highlights parts of the country that still celebrate ‘Auld New Year.’ Celebrated on 12 January in parts of Scotland like Gairloch and South Uist, at ‘auld New Year’, communities often throw ceilidhs or parties to celebrate the ancient festival. Before Britain adopted the Gregorian calendar in 1752, Hogmanay was known as Oidhche Chullaig in parts of Scotland and children would visit each house in their township, reciting a Gaelic rhyme and carrying sacks to collect food. Featuring everything from the Aviemore Sled Dog Rally to winter wildlife and where to catch some cosy sleeps, the 76-page online brochure is available by clicking here.

A rare collection of Byzantine-era antiquities discovered in 2013 has gone on display for the first time at The Israel Museum in Jerusalem. The exhibit features the largest gold medallion with Judaic symbols known to exist along with gold coins, silver and gold jewellery. The coins are decorated on one side with portraits of Byzantine-era emperors and on the other side with crosses or images of gods. The 36 coins on display date back to 602 CE and earlier.  In an effort to make the archaeological treasures found in Israel accessible to people around the world, the Israel Antiquities Authority recently created a National Treasures website, which is currently showcasing 5,700 objects. The website will be regularly updated with the most recent discoveries and provide high resolution images and information on all artefacts. Also in Jerusalem, the Tower of David Museum re-opened on November 12th the Citadel moat and Kishle building. Before the renovations, access had only been open to a few small groups as the excavations were considered to be unsafe. The Citadel moat and Kishle building are now open for group visits offering guided tours and cultural events.

© Ayada Maldives

© Ayada Maldives

If you fancy  a diving trip to the Maldives then Suunto, an outdoor sports equipment company, is offering divers around the world the chance to win an all-expenses paid VIP trip to one of the world’s most exclusive dive sites. Three divers will get the chance to join the Suunto team and The Scuba Diver Girls at  Ayada Maldives in January 2015 – and dive unexplored reefs. To join the free one-week diving trip, all you need to do is simply share your most memorable diving moment on one of Suunto’s social media channels or fill out the online form on These are the three ways to participate: • Post and tag an image or video including #SuuntoDive and #Paradise on Instagram or Twitter;  upload an image or video link as a comment on the official #SuuntoDive #Paradise Facebook post or complete the form on the Suunto website and hit submit. The contest closes on 8th December. The three winners will be announced mid-December on The trip to the Maldives is scheduled for 10th-17th January 2015.

The government has awarded the franchise for the east coast rail line (currently held by East Coast) to Inter City Railways which is largely Stagecoach and Virgin, the same twosome that operate the west coast franchise. You could argue that this gives the company almost a monopoly on linking the north with the Midlands and the South East of England. What is also interesting is that ICR has said that will begin talks with Network Rail and the Office of Rail Regulation to agree its plans to run new direct services from London to Sunderland, Middlesbrough and Huddersfield. Competition for Grand Central railways then!

Bournemouth’s tourist people are fairly vitriolic. They have complained to the met office about weather forecasts deterring people from travelling there and now they want compensation from the developers behind a planned wind farm.  Business affected should be paid £1bn in compensation says Bournemouth Borough Council.  Needless to say the developers oppose this. A report presented by Mark Smith, director of tourism, claimed £6.3bn would be and that the tourism interests would only be protected if the developer is required to mitigate the tourism loss by providing funding of £32.5m per annum and £975m over the lifetime of the project [30 years] to the affected areas.   Good luck Bournemouth on persuading anyone that these figures are worth more than a raspberry!

Whilst we are on the subject of British resorts remember Blackpool? It has been ten days since the story broke about a couple who, on posting a bad review on a website, were fined £100 as it broke the hotel’s terms and conditions. What has happened in the meantime? For a start the hotel refunded the £100 as it had a lot of bad publicity. Local trading standards’ staff  have visited the hotel and Simon Calder went and stayed for a night. And that was it. The story died as rapidly as it began. Blackpool has wound up with a dent in its reputation as comments were added to the newspaper websites. I particularly liked the comment from someone siging themselves Eric Tampon who wrote on The Guardian website, “rumour has it that Ms. Gemma Collins, having been released from her arduous responsibilities in “The Jungle” (sic.), has now been challenged to survive a week’s half-board at the establishment in question. Do others wonder how she shall fare this time? There seems to be no great love of Blackpool from the majority adding to the posts!

Broneirion Christmas tree

is this the tallest Christmas tree in the UK?

Another Christmas story for you. Tthe training centre and headquarters of Girlguiding Cymru,  (the girl guides in Wales) is laying claim to having the tallest living Christmas tree in the UK. The 140 feet high Wellingtonia, which is believed to have been planted 150 years ago, is so tall that it can been seen by drivers travelling along the A470. Aberdeen has laid claim to the tallest Christmas tree at 120 feet, which is dwarfed by Broneirion’s Wellingtonia.  That is unless you know of a taller one in any of our countries.

Finally, one tour operator thinks that we Brits prefer our own brand of tea when abroad. UK tour operator, Mountain Heaven, has sent over 20,000 Yorkshire Teabags to their chalets in France.  The company says, “increased altitude reduces the boiling point of water creating problems for tea lovers, especially those who prefer it a little stronger. As many visitors to France have found, the ubiquitous Lipton’s Yellow Label tea struggles at sea level and so has no chance in the mountains. The more robust taste and colour of Yorkshire Tea helps produce a more satisfying cup of tea. So now, you know! More good publicity for Yorkshire Tea.




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