Saturday snippets: 26th September 2015

By | Category: Travel news

sydney_opera_house_00Next year is the 60th anniversary of Opera Australia so what better way to celebrate than with an opera called Sydney Opera House – The Opera will be staged outdoors. It will tell the often turbulent (that’s how I remember it) story behind the building of the iconic Sydney landmark. Given the controversy there was at the time over Utzon’s role and his subsequent firing by the Minister for Public Works, Davis Hughes, I will be fascinated to see how it handles that relationship which seem to be front page news almost every week.

There can be few people who haven’t come across a Philly Cheesesteak. Taking place on 24th October, at Lincoln Financial Field the very first Philadelphia Cheesesteak Festival will be home to over 40 different cheesesteaks to sample, a cheesesteak eating contest, and the world’s largest cheesesteak will all be present at this tasty event. For those not familiar with this snack, the Philly Cheesesteak is typically a soft longish roll piled high with thinly sliced or shredded beef, sautéed onions and peppers with a healthy topping of American or provolone cheese. Visitors to the festival can sample a range of creative takes on the Philly staple.

reindeer in Lapland

the quiet part of Lapland

Fancy spending three months in the Arctic? Visit Finland and Finnair have launched a campaign to search for a UK explorer for a work experience position in the arctic conditions of Finnish Lapland. During the three month expedition the team will have the opportunity to take part in tailor made Polar themes and activities such as climbing frozen waterfalls, diving beneath frozen lakes, taking part in an arctic rally and hunting for the elusive Aurora Borealis in the heart of the frozen dark arctic landscape. UK entrants can apply between 14th September and 19th October 2015 and a winner will be chosen shortly afterwards. The expedition starts in December 2015. For further information please visit

The German theme park, Europa Park, has opened a new roller coaster in the Austrian themed section. Called “Alpenexpress VR-Ride,” it is a roller coaster with a difference. Riders will be given virtual reality glasses so they simultaneously experience the rushing air, centrifugal force and twists and turns of a real-life roller coaster ride. The VR-Ride adventure, which opened on September 17th, is based on the first 4D film by MackMedia, “The Mystery of Castle Balthasar”. Visitors will be immersed in the world of Ed Euromaus and his friends and experience a wild ride in a mine cart, before riding on a dragon back to the world of Europa-Park.

Readers will remember that Ryanair decided a little while ago to be more customer caring. It claims that its new policy has resulted in increased bookings. Research conducted by Which? suggests that it has a long way to go. The airline came 95th in a poll of 100 big brands. The biggest brands, chosen based on market share within their sectors, were rated on making their customers feel valued, knowledge of products and services, helpfulness of staff, resolving complaints or problems and access to customer support. The best performing travel brand in the poll was British Airways, which was rated joint 27th; Thomas Cook and Thomson came in at 35th, First Choice was lower down the list at 51st and Flybe and easyjet were 89th.

queues at Heathrow

terminal five

You will notice that no airport appeared in the list and one, Heathrow, may not appear if it continues to make erroneous claims in its advertising. According to the Advertising Standards Authority, the airport has exaggerated the level of support it has from local communities for its plans for of a third runway. A Heathrow billboard poster stated: “Those around us are behind us”, yet the Advertising Standards Authority said an independent Populus poll commissioned by the airport showed only 50% of local residents were in favour of the expansion. Heathrow has been ordered not to repeat the ad and to ensure it has adequate evidence to substantiate objective marketing claims in future.

It has been National Cruise Week and the travel trade body, ABTA, commissioned research about attitudes to cruising. It found that four in ten people haven’t been on a cruise but would like to try one; one in five have been on a cruise and would like to go again but 5% said they definitely didn’t want to take another and a third of the population has no interest in cruising. In the last 12 months, cruising accounted for 10% of all holidays sold in the UK, up from 7% in 2014. This steady growth looks set to continue with 13% of people stating that they are planning a cruise holiday in the next 12 months, said ABTA.

cruising anywhere is popular at the moment

cruising anywhere is popular at the moment

A reminder about travel insurance. Not to take it out which ever traveller should but to be aware of its limitations. A twenty something, whilst drunk, slipped and broke a leg. Her insurance doesn’t cover her because the small print says that you are liable if you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol unless as part of a medication. The result? A bill running into thousands. Check the small print when we get the policy details.

As readers are aware, I am in Australia at the moment. Although there is public transport in the major cities, people rely heavily on cars to get around. So I have been driving to visit spots for future stories. One of the first things I spotted was that petrol is so much cheaper than back home. The equivalent of unleaded – 95 – is about $A1.20 to $A1.25 a litre which is under 60 pence; quite a bargain in comparison. The other thing is that petrol goes up as the weekend approaches. If you need to refill your tank, try a Tuesday or Wednesday when prices will probably be lower still.




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