Saturday snippets: 23rd of May 2015

By | Category: Travel news
Timequake with Henry VIII

Time Quake with Henry VIII

Having finally got around to reading the latest C J Sansom historical mystery about Matthew Shardlake, Lamentation, which doesn’t paint a pretty picture of a dying Henry VIII, the image from the new exhibition at Hampton Court Palace appealed to me. The palace has, starting today and running for the next week, a 360° cinema experience called a TimeQuake which has caused characters from the past 500 years to return to the palace. As you step out of the TimeQuake, follow a young Time Explorer who will take you on a mission to find the lost historical figures.  As part of the visit you get to see parts of the palace where visitors are normally forbidden to go – through secret passages, down hidden staircases and behind closed doors.

Luckily, the train strike has been called so the bank holiday trips should be easier for many of us. Not so in Germany. Their rail strike began on Wednesday and is open-ended which means it will stop when the union agrees to let its members return. For travellers to Germany be aware that, in the first couple of days of the strike, two out of every three long distance trains were cancelled, domestic flights were busier as were the roads. Germany has an efficient long distance bus operation and that was finding it was busier than usual too. This is the ninth strike in eleven months which doesn’t augur well for a quick settlement unless both parties give in due to exhaustion! These rail difficulties don’t seem to be having much impact on Brits holidaying there. Numbers are up again and the recent Travel Trends publication from the office for National Statistics has shown that Germany is the UK’s 6th most popular holiday destination ahead of Portugal, Turkey and Greece.

Away from such problems, more Brits have been holidaying in the Maldives- which is about as far removed from rail problems as you can get. After all, they have no rail system at all. For the first three months of the year, there was an 8% increase in the number of Brits holidaying there. More may travel because the country will celebrate 50 years of independence in July this year with celebrations and festivals to the fore.

Did you know that this coming week is National Camping and Caravanning Week? Very popular as a holiday type, some of the sites are already reporting an upturn in business for this year.  In my part of the world, planning permission was granted for an expansion of one site and I saw some very busy sites as I drove through mid-Wales earlier this week.

As a reminder to readers, if you are planning to visit South Africa, you need to take a full unabridged birth certificate for each of any children travelling with you. The new rules come into force from June 1st – just over a week’s time. Click here for more details or go to http://southafricahouseuk.com/documents/pepletravchil.pdf

Tvrdava sv. Ivan, Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik has enjoy a successful start to 2015 with 63,917 arrivals since January, an increase of13 per cent compared to the same period in 2014. Very popular with UK visitors so far our visitor numbers to the city are up by 17 per cent.  The top five markets for Dubrovnik so far in 2015 also included Germany, Israel, Spain and the US and one of the attractions for all visitors will be the 66th Dubrovnik Summer Festival will runs from 10 July – 25 August 2015. It features more than 2,000 artists and over 70 plays, classical concerts, films and folklore performances in 15 open-air venues across the city. Dubrovnik also hosts the Midsummer Scene Festival, which will run from 20 June – 4 July 2015. The festival will present Twelfth Night including performances from the Dubrovnik Symphony Orchestra. The play will be performed in Fort Lovrijenac which should be on every visitor’s must-see list.

Yet another survey seems to show how useless the vast majority (including me) of Britons are at foreign languages. Recent research by Holiday Extras has revealed that 18% of holidaymakers don’t get the most out of their holidays solely because of anxieties over pronunciation. That means that 82% of us do even though we may not speak the language. 14% of people said that language problems caused them to struggle with directions, visiting certain places, or using public transport. Isn’t that just due to not learning a few phrases in advance? I have taken the wrong subway in New York, not because I don’t speak American but because directions can be confusing. Shall we chalk this survey up to another one not being helpful?

Celebrating Scotland’s ‘Year of Food and Drink’, today and tomorrow, The Queen’s Feast event will immerse visitors into the royal court of Mary of Guise – mother to Mary, Queen of Scots – as both upstairs and downstairs get ready to lay on a grand Renaissance feast. Whilst a team of cooks will be busy creating a host of dishes for the Queen’s banqueting table, visitors will have the opportunity to learn more about the importance of food as a significant part of court life, representing wealth, power and status as well as the service and etiquette surrounding it.  There will also be the chance to sample some of the dishes on offer, including a great Game Pie and a sweet rice pudding, known as Rys Lumbard, which are prepared and inspired from real recipes of the time, in advance of them being presented to the Queen and her guests. The Queen’s Feast at Stirling Castle will take place on Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24th May from 12noon-4pm. This event is included in the cost of admission to Stirling Castle and is free for Historic Scotland Members.

annual World Eskimo Indian Olympic Games

annual World Eskimo Indian Olympic Games

A celebration of a different kind is the Annual World Eskimo-Indian Olympic Games will take place at the Carlson Center in Fairbanks, Alaska from July 1. It attracts athletes and dancers from around the state, the United States, Canada and Greenland, as well as visitors, fans and media from around the globe. Games include high-kick, knuckle hop, ear pull, two-foot high kick and Eskimo stick pull.  Although the events themselves developed over many years, the games were created in 1961 in response to the rapidly spreading impact of western culture into rural areas. Two bush pilots, the late A.E. “Bud” Hagberg and Frank Whaley, witnessed the Native games and dances in their village travels. They grew concerned that the traditional events would be lost as western ways seeped into the villages, unless steps were taken to preserve them. They helped organize the first Olympics, which included a blanket toss and a seal-skinning contest.

The mayor of Copenhagen has banned all city staff (about 45,000 people in total) from flying Ryanair for official travel. It means around 45,000 employees are no longer allowed to use the carrier for work trips. Why? Because he says Ryanair does not pay its staff properly and because it won’t sign a Danish collective bargaining agreement. Nothing to do then with service levels or taking them to airports that are a distance away from the places they want to go to. In fairness, the airline says that it does have collective bargaining agreements with staff – just not with passengers!

In commemoration of the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta, Arundel Castle in West Sussex is to host a small exhibition exploring the role that the charter has played throughout its history. With his political ideals of liberty and justice in mind, the 11th Duke of Norfolk opted for a Gothic restoration of Arundel Castle in the 1790s, including a carved stone relief of King Alfred instituting Trial by Jury. The great Barons’ Hall at Arundel Castle was originally built by the Duke in commemoration of the Barons who forced King John to assent to Magna Carta. He also hosted a lavish party at Arundel Castle in 1815 to commemorate the 600th anniversary or Magna Carta. By the way, this weekend sees a seige event based on a French invasion in 1475.

Sheep racing on Sark

Sheep racing on Sark

I could not end today’s columns without reference to something out of the ordinary. How about the annual Sheep Racing Festival on the Channel Island of Sark? From 17th-19th July, the island holds an ‘Ascot Day’ and ‘Newmarket Day’ with two jam-packed days of sheep racing. With all the refinement of Ascot, Sark’s Sheep Racing weekend assumes the character of a prestigious race meeting.  In between the races the punters place bets with ‘Dodgy Dave’ or retire to the Baa for a consolation drink. There are six races per day each featuring six runners

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