Saturday snippets: 5th March 2016

By | Category: Travel news
tulips in spring is what the Keukenhof means to most people. But go and buy bulbs in October as well

tulips in spring is what the Keukenhof means to most people.

It’s time for my annual reminder to readers. Keukenhof, the huge spring park near Schipol in Amsterdam is ready to flower.  Seven million flower bulbs make it a journey that hundreds of thousands of people make each year. Look in your local newspaper and there will be ads or reader offers for coach trips there. The park’s theme for 2016 will be The Golden Age. Gardens and four pavilions will show a collection of: tulips, hyacinths, daffodils, orchids, roses, carnations, irises, lilies and many other flowers over the display which opens on March 24th and runs until May 16th.

If flowers aren’t appealing to you then maybe shopping is. March is Shop Miami Month in the Floridian city. Only four years old in concept, the month has become increasingly popular with overseas visitors because of the good airline connections with the place. Brazilians, Mexicans and Colombians will mix with Brits, Spaniards and locals as they take advantage of the good weather, warm temperatures and bargains. There are only eight shopping malls covering millions of square feet and only hundreds of stores so a week or three should be enough to get around them all. And if you don’t like shopping, try the golf courses or a three day cruise whilst your partner shops!

No sooner is St David’s Day over than we come to St Piran’s Day. As the Cornish patron saint there are events throughout Cornwall today and tomorrow, many of which you will find listed in the events’ column. A regular highlight, of course, is the Canoryon Lowen singing in the Carnglaze Caverns as usual.There will be parades in Bodmin, Falmouth and Redruth.  For a fuller list of events, click here.

Belvoir Castle

Belvoir Castle

Belvoir Castle will re-open for the year on March 13th. As it is 300 years since the birth of the famed landscape gardener, Capability Brown, a new estates tour has been In the early 1800s, the Duke of Rutland’s gardens at the Castle were largely considered to be one of the finest in the land and Brown was responsible. The tour was inspired by a chance discovery of Brown’s plans for Belvoir Castle in its own archives, which had been lost for nearly 200 years.

According to ABTA, bookings for Florida and the Caribbean have “rocketed. It says this is partly due to the abolition of air passenger duty for children under 16. Figures from GfK’s Leisure Travel Monitor (an industry research tool that monitors sales in travel agencies) show sales for the Caribbean are up 29% for this summer and Bookings for Florida are up 13% over two years. Is that still the case given that the pound has dipped so much against the US dollar? At least the published rates are based on the prices set last July. It is with day-to-day costs that visitors will notice how little their pound now buys.

Over the last few years, Just about Travel, has followed the increasing interest in space tourism where enthusiasts head to places where light pollution doesn’t inhibit the ability to watch the night sky. In Chile’s Atacama Desert at the Alto Atacama observatory a new telescope will be available for viewers as from this month. Why here? Not only is the observatory renowned around the world for its astronomical feats, it boasts that it has the clearest skies in the world outside of Antarctica.

North of Chile in Peru, a new cable car to be operational from July, will join the village of Tingo Nuevo to the pre-Inca ruins of Kuelap, one of Peru’s most important archaeological sites. The ancient city of Kuelap built 3,000 metres above sea level in the back drop of jungle-clad mountains, is said to be the biggest South American city built in the pre-Colombian era and is three times older than Machu Picchu. The ruins were previously only accessible with a steep 9km hike up unpaved roads making it almost impossible for those who were not 100% fit. The new transport link will reduce the four hour hike to a 20 minute cable car ride.

The Knights of the Ruond Table show at Puy du

The Knights of the Ruond Table show at Puy du Fou

Puy du Fou, the French theme park came into the headlines this week for paying some £300,000 to bring back to France a ring that is reliably reported to have belonged to Joan of Arc. I am guessing that it will go in the part of the theme park called “The Mediaeval City” but costing as much as it did, it will have special security all of its own. Puy de Fou, which is near the French city of Nantes, is a theme park that seems to specialise in historical subjects with buildings constructed to represent life as it was and shoes or re-actments of what life was like spiced up to appeal to the modern visitor. There are 22 different areas with such subjects as the Vikings, the Knights of the Round Table, the Gallo-Roman Villa and Richelieu’s Musketeer.

If you happen to be holidaying in San Diego in California then a trip to see the wreck of the SS Monte Carlo has almost become a must. Originally a tanker, it was converted into a ship where gambling, drinking and prostitution took place all of this happening outside American waters but close enough for ferries to run a service every fifteen minutes out to the ship. It foundered in a storm and rarely do you see any of its remains apart from at low tides. But El Nino is being blamed for uncovering more of the wreck and locals as well as visitors have been clambering over the remains of the hulk It was a big vessel and over 300 foot long. It is based seen in a You Tube video made by reporters from local station CW6 which you can see by clicking here on Gary Buzel’s story.

an impression of what manchester Airport might look like iwhen the expansion plans are opened in 2025

an impression of what manchester Airport might look like iwhen the expansion plans are opened in 2025

There has been quite a flurry of airport announcements this week. Inverness will have a new, international arrivals hall connected to the main terminal by a covered walkway, seating for an additional 150 passengers and space for four new retail and catering unit, including a duty-free store and coffee shop in the airport departure lounge. Gatwick has opened an in-house gin distillery in its North Terminal (which I shall be testing out on Monday and which you can read about next week,) and Leeds-Bradford Airport has announced a plan to take it through to 2030 which will involve a rail link to Leeds, Bradford, Harrogate and York, a two storey extension of the main terminal, more aircraft stands and better parking. The plan is now available for local comment. As announced last June, Manchester Airport has big expansion plans and, now, it has received permission to go ahead. There will be a new road layout, fifty new retail and restaurant outlets and Terminal 2 will increase in size by 140%. For all these airports, passengers will just have to out up with the obvious disruption that will be caused over the next 10-15 years.

Finally, hardly a week goes by without there being an announcement of new airline routes. Flybe will connect Dundee and Amsterdam from May 23, operating every day except Saturday giving them access to the KLM hub at Schipol without having to get to Aberdeen or Edinburgh airports first. On the debit side, it will cancel its Liverpool service to Amsterdam at the end March. Ryanair is also ending flights. Going are the flights from Edinburgh to Frankfurt Hahn or Oslo Rygge and its flight from Glasgow to Bydgoszcz. However, from Edinburgh it will introduce six new winter services to Bologna, Bordeaux, Bratislava, Gran Canaria, Palma and Poznan. From Glasgow, it will operate four new routes to Alicante, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote and Malaga. From Stansted there are three new routes to Hamburg, Timisoara and Toulouse From Gatwick, there are two new routes to Alicante and Belfast. From Luton there are five new winter services to Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Murcia, Tenerife and Vilnius and from Belfast International there will be services to Alicante, Berlin, Malaga and Milan from September and flights to Krakow, Lanzarote and Tenerife start in October. Icelandair will commence a new year-round service from Aberdeen International Airport to Reykjavik on 9 March and Edinburgh will be connected to Iceland as well but from 13 July and via WOW Air.


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