Saturday snippets: 11th July 2015

By | Category: Travel news
part of the now very very large Postojna Cave

part of the now very very large Postojna Cave

Postojna Cave in Slovenia has been amazing visitors for two centuries, but just last month expert divers made the discovery that the natural phenomenon actually measures 3,500 metres longer than previously recorded. The cave system is made up of four caves interconnected through the same underground river. Connecting two of the main cave systems will make this the longest cave system in Slovenia and one of the longest in the whole of Europe. For four decades, cavers have been working hard on overcoming the last obstacle; the remaining 2,000 metres of distance between Postojna Cave and Planina Cave. As a result of the latest dive, an unexplored distance of just 400 metres remains between the two caves. When this final distance is overcome, Slovenia will boast a cave system expected to measure between 31,000 and 35,000 metres long which is just over half the length of the Channel Tunnel!

Those of you in west Wales or within driving distance might be looking forward to trip to Pendine Sands on the 21st of July. Blue Bird- Sir Malcolm Campbell’s 350hp Sunbeam- will be returning to Pendine Sands 90 years after it first broke the land-speed record in 1925. On the 21st Don Wales, Sir Malcolm Campbell’s grandson, will recreate the event in the original Blue Bird vehicle in celebration of the record’s 90th anniversary- performing low-speed demonstrations in Blue Bird. It is at Pendine that you’ll find the Museum of Speed which was set up deliberately to celebrate the acievements on the sands over the last century.

Like walking? Every year on the third Tuesday of July 40,000 people arrive in the Dutch city of Nijmegen for the start of what the organisers call, the greatest walking event in the world: the ‘Nijmeegse Vierdaagse’ or Four Days Marches. The website is only in Dutch suggesting that not many from this side of the North Sea pop over for the walks. People from all over the world  – other than maybe the  UK – and of all ages travel to Nijmegen and, for four days, thousands of participants walk 30, 40 or 50 kilometers each day. A few thousand military participants walk 40 kilometers a day in uniform with a ten kilo backpack. The goal of the event has always been to promote sport and exercise. Nijmegen hosts the ‘Vierdaagsefeesten’ (Four Days Festival) alongside the walking event which offers something for music and food lovers to enjoy although I can’t say that the food is as healthy as the exercise!

Berlin Bathtub raceThis column is rather a fan of the unusual, particularly if fun is involved. Anybody holidaying on the north east coast of the US next week might want to visit the town of Berlin in Maryland. On the evening of the 17 July, Berlin will host its annual Bathtub Races. Now in their 26th year, the bathtub races are not limited to local residents so you could join in. While the bathtub vehicles come in all shapes, sizes and designs, there are a couple of important rules. For example, they must hold a minimum of two gallons of water and at least one rider, have brakes and steering, and drivers and riders must be 16-plus. Each team will need a driver, pusher and pit crew and the entry fee for visitors is $100. The team crowned victorious will take home the coveted ‘Winner Takes All’ trophy and bragging rights say the organisers. I would have thought the least they could have done was fill your bathtub up with, yes – you’ve guessed it, bathtub gin.

Continuing with the “unusual” theme, here’s a sheep story. Fond of the Brecon Beacons as I am, even I am not sure I want to explore it whilst taking a sheep on a lead for a walk. The daft things are quite capable of walking themselves so why should I give them exercise? Yet this is one of the things you can do if you wish. Good Day Out teamed up with Aberhyddnant Farm about a year ago to offer such a walk with prices starting at £25. According to the blurb, each sheep is fitted with a soft rope halter, and you will choose your own sheep from a small flock of especially trained Jacobs. He will then lead you along a scenic trek on that takes you towards the Black Mountain. And the number of people who have taken a sheep trek since they began? More than I would have thought.

No-one seems to know what will happen in Greece but, so far, the latest figures seem to show that holiday bookings haven’t really declined. One reason might be because tour operators have been going to some lengths to make sure that holidaymakers and travellers are inconvenience as little as possible. On the small island of Skyros, for example, Skyros Holidays says that people should take sufficient currency with them But, if they run short, then debit or credit cards are still accepted locally. If the worst happens and they have no cash or cannot access it Skyros holidays will supply them with small amounts of euros where necessary. Skyros holidays intend to continue raising funds for the Skyros Island Support Fund which was set up in 2013 to help local people in need during the economic crisis.

part of last year's Family Day

part of last year’s Family Day

London’s Chinatown will host its second Family Day festival a week tomorrow on Sunday 19 July and the event is set to be the biggest to take place in the area outside of the annual Chinese New Year. This completely free event will see the area’s streets welcoming an array of entertainment and activities for families such as fan dancing showcases, family magic shows and for the first time, Chinese Elvis. There will also be a Lion Dance display which is one of the mainstays of any Chinese celebrations, traditional Chinese stilt walkers, pot jugglers and drummers. There will also be martial arts and Chinese circus performers as well as a treasure hunt, face painting and calligraphy classes for the children.

Of all the places you might associate with surfing, Hawaii, Bondi Beach in Sydney and Newquay in Cornwall would Lisbon jump out at you? Apparently, Lisbon’s Atlantic coastline is recognised as one of the top surfing destinations in the world and a beach called Ericeira was Europe’s first place to obtain the International ‘World Surfing Reserve’ title. Given how difficult some surfing beaches are to get to, many of its famous beaches are located just half an hour away from the Portuguese capital and with direct flights from London and from other regional airports, surf fanatics can easily get there for a weekend break. Two of the big draws are the Costa de Caparica, the country’s largest contiguous beach extending for over 30km, and Ericeira, a 4km coastline that contains a highly concentrated group of quality surf breaks.

In airline news this week, Swiss has opened a four times weekly route linking Dublin and Geneva to add to its existing Dublin-Zurich service. Ryanair is launching services to Israel this coming autumn but not yet from the UK, Ireland or Western Europe. But surely, if the airline has opened flights there it will look to maximise the benefits so how long before flights from over here?

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