Saturday snippets: 7th February 2015

By | Category: Travel news
HMS Victory

HMS Victory

Is there anyone who hasn’t heard of Nelson’s flagship, HMS Victory? She might be moored in Portsmouth but she was built at the Old Single Dock in Chatham’s Royal Dockyard as were many warships of the past. Floated out on 7th May 1765, the old vessel will be 350 years old this year and the Chatham Historic Dockyard will celebrate the fact with an exhibition opening this coming Friday and lasting until the end of May. It will have twenty two objects on loan from the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich including two models of Victory, a stunning decorative sword and original letters and plans. But when you go to Chatham, don’t just see the Victory exhibition.  The Historic Dockyard Chatham and its defences together form the most complete Dockyard of the Age of Sail to survive anywhere in the world.

Continuing with an armed forces theme a bit longer, the Imperial War Museum has announced that more than a million people have visited it since the big changes that have taken place there over the last year or so. As it celebrates its 95th birthday this year, visitor numbers have never been higher. Certainly the interest in WWI has generated more visitors but alterations and new developments will always attract. The museum says that over half of the visitors are those that have never visited the IWM before. 

Samurai Kembu Kyoto

Samurai Kembu Kyoto

In Japan, of course, the culture of the samurai is revered by Japanese and is well known to the rest of us. Now in Kyoto there is an additional reason for visiting the city that basks in culture, heritage and – in spring – stunning displays of cherry blossom. Samurai Kembu Kyoto provides visitors with the opportunity to witness traditional sword play and performance. . The word kembu means ‘Sword dance’ and is the Japanese traditional performing art that shows the culture of the samurai. In feudal times samurai were said to perform kembu to give themselves courage or to achieve mental concentration. By participating in a kembu session, delegates can learn about samurai and samurai kembu, and put into practice the etiquette of samurai.

It is the time of the year when restaurants work hard to get us to visit them so two-for-one offers and deals are available some of which I have listed in previous columns. March is Portland Dining Month in the US state of Oregon where more than 100 restaurants will be charging just $29 (say £19) for a three course meal. I mention it because Oregon – and Portland – in one of those view places that have worked hard at only using local and freshly grown products which means that the food can’t get much fresher. Portland even has a winery within the city limits and well as having quite selection of breweries. If you are holidaying on the west coast of America, Portland –and Oregon – is always worth a visit.

Across the country in the Florida Keys, March is also the time to visit as this is when The Original Marathon Seafood Festival is held. For two days – March 14-15 – 20,000 seafood lovers visit the town of Marathon, to enjoy almost every type of fish and shellfish available. And have a good time. If you stay over for another two days you can attend the annual Conch Shell Blowing Contest, a tradition on Key West for more than 50 years. The competition celebrates the historic importance of conch in the Keys and features contestants attempting to make ‘music’ with fluted conch shells.

The Vikings are coming! Closer to home, on March the 20th, the National Maritime Museum in Falmouth opens an epic new exhibition exploring the seafaring prowess of the iconic Viking age. The two year exhibition has secured internationally and nationally historically significant artefacts, on loan for the first time in the South West, from a number of partners.

Although tis is at the Ribe Viking Centre, this is what the boat in Falmouth will be like

Although tis is at the Ribe Viking Centre, this is what the boat in Falmouth will be like

Many of the objects have never been on display outside of their country of origin before. A climb-aboard 14m Viking trading boat will feature alongside a 6m Viking rowing boat surrounded by a wealth of Viking antiquities and riches including jewellery, clothing, armoury, toys and games, a slave collar, coins, grave goods and many other artefacts from museums across Northern Europe.

Candle lit meals in restaurants are a feature of Valentine’s Day (coming up next Friday), and it is no surprise that I have been inundated with press releases advertising romantic weekends away. But should you avoid Hull? It yet another one of those infuriating surveys  – this time by Hotels.com – Hull was voted least romantic place in the UK followed by Birmingham, London and Blackpool. The most romantic places were London, the Lake District, the Cotswolds and Cornwall. Not being of a romantic persuasion, I couldn’t possibly definitively comment but I’d be prepared to bet that there are romantic spots in any village, town or city if you look hard enough.

Another survey, this time from the Royal Garden Hotel in London claims that 70% of those living in Britain have never visited London. It appears that those living in Belfast Bristol and Sheffield are the least likely to visit London. Being a regular on the train lines linking the capital to Bristol, I cannot believe that this is right. Maybe all three cities have enough visitor attractions to keep locals close to home! 

EASYJET  NEW PLANE LIVERY Pix.Tim AndersonRecently launched on the Greek island of Rhodes is an automated short-term bike sharing stations from five central locations. Local authorities plan to create bike routes throughout the city offering Rhodes visitors and residents a friendlier environment and a way is seeing some of the island at an inexpensive cost.

Finally, is it me or does the new livery that easyJet has chosen make it look as though the planes have been wrapped in a bow as though it was a birthday present?

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