Saturday snippets: 4th of June 2016

By | Category: Travel news
The Louvre is one of five museums in Paris currently closed

The Louvre is one of five museums in Paris currently closed

For those who have holidayed in France and Germany in particular this half term you may be aware that flooding that has taken place. For those travelling there this coming week be aware that five major museums in Paris – the Louvre, Musée des Egouts de Paris, Grand Palais, Palais de la Découverte and the Musee d’Orsay are closed due to the need to protect their exhibits. It is unlikely that they will open before the middle of next week. There are also no tour boats down the Seine currently As of 6am local time  this Saturday the Seine had still not peaked and, unfortunately, more rain is forecast. For the latest situation, click here.

If Disney is a promoter of American culture then “Wanda City” does the same for China. This huge theme park opened in Nanchang last week in one man’s dream of competing with Disney. Wang Jianlin, the richest man in China,  has spent some £2 billion on the rides, shopping centres and an aquarium. So confident is he of success that he has plans for another 15 to open in China by 2020. Apart from local visitors, the local airport also has links to Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and Hong Kong as well as over thirty mainland Chinese cities. Nanchang – called the City of Heroes because this was where the first shots in the 1949 revolution began – also has strong railway links with the rest of China including a high speed service to Shanghai. Not to be outdone, Disney opens its Shanghai theme park next month.

Eureka –  National Children’s Museum in Halifax is celebrating its annual superhero weekend in a fortnight’s time. Kids can dress up and meet their favourite superheroes such as Batman, Wonder Woman (remember her for the 1980’s TV show who didn’t even need a telephone box to change into her outfit)or any number of newer characters that mean nothing to me. There will be Superhero Training sessions at the children’s museum on both weekends, plus Iron Man will be in town to meet and greet visitors. The important thing is that kids seem to love these events and it costs no more to join in the fun than the usual entry fee.

panoramic view of Ljubjlana

Ljubljana – cpaital of Slovenia,a popular short break destination and location of the main anniversary celebrations destination

This month, Slovenia is celebrating its 25th anniversary as a country. It gained independence from the then Yugoslavia in June 1991. As one of the youngest countries in Europe, there will be a series to celebrate with live music and feasts with plenty of Slovenian wine flowing.

Whilst we might have been celebrating the 400th anniversary of the death of Shakespeare, in Spain they have been remembering the 400th anniversary of the death of Cervantes, the writer of Don Quixote. Amongst the event, you can follow the Route of Quixote in seven days, on the Route of the Windmills around Toledo where, in the book, Don Quixote mistook windmills for men, hence the expression “tilting at windmills.”

The Alban Street Festival takes place in St Albans on 19 June will be hosting what is thought to be the UK’s first street Minecraft Hackathon, which will see the cathedral city – originally the Roman town of Verulamium – and some of its historic buildings that date back over 2,000 years brought together in a Minecraft World by new digital network Silicon Abbey. You will be able to create your own Skins and team up with other players to recreate St Albans on Minecraft during 30-minute slots on 15 PCs that will be set up in the city centre’s Silicon Abbey zone as part of the summer’s Alban Street Festival. The festival follows on from the Alban Pilgrimage on 18 June, which retells the story of Britain’s first saint, Alban, with a gory re-enactment of his last few hours. There will be enormous carnival puppets, Roman chariots, children dressed as centurions, lions, roses and executioners – all parading through the streets of the city, finishing outside the cathedral where Alban is “executed” and the eyes of the executioner “pop out” in front of thousands of people.

Ryanair Business PlusRyanair has reduced the amount that it charges for hold baggage. On domestic flights under two hours fees for 15kg bags will drop from £30 to £15 and 20kg bags from from £40 to £25. Charges on all other flights under three hours will drop from £30 to £25 for 15kg bags and £40 to £35 for 20kg bags. Checked bag fees will remain for flights over three hours, staying at £40 for 15kg bags and £50 for 20kg bags. Passengers who add bags at the airport pay an extra £10 or €10 handling fee. It is still way too much and more than  many airlines charge!

According to research from TravelSupermarket, many people are still not buying travel insurance before they holiday. When the research looked at the thirty most popular destinations it seems that many of us don’t consider it necessary to buy insurance for those destinations closest to us. Only half purchase cover for a trip to Dublin and just a quarter for Berlin. Just 22% buy travel insurance for trips to Brussels, 21% for Paris and Milan yet 80% say they bought travel insurance for travelling to Seville in Spain.

After the terrorist attack on Brussels Airport last March, passengers have been unable to use the departure hall after the damage there. Barely ten weeks later, the hall re-opened last Thursday. There is still a much-reduced service from the airport but a full service is expected to resume in time for the peak holiday season.

Some drivel came from research conducted by Cheapflights this week. It claimed 62% of British holiday makers admit to heading straight to the bar as soon as they reach the airport departure lounge. Really? Did they not think to check the footfall of the bars cum pubs at airports with the projected millions that would equate to that 62% figure? Headline grabbing it might be; truth – unlikely.

Portland trams link across the city making it easy to get around. Locals widely use them

Portland trams link across the city making it easy to get around. Locals widely use them

Finally, an update on some new airline routes.  bmi regional began a link from Newcastle to Stavanger earlier this week. Delta will launch the first service between Heathrow and Portland, Oregon next May linking the UK directly with this city or, I think, the first time. Portland is a haven for foodies with lots of fresh local food in a thriving restaurant scene plus distilleries, micro-breweries and even a winery right in the middle of Portland. It has an easy city to get around with one of the best public transport systems and bicycles are freely available for use.  Starting in April 2017, Jet 2 will fly to Costa de Almeria, from Leeds Bradford, Manchester, Edinburgh, East Midlands and Newcastle Airports.  Flights to Halkidiki will begin in May 2017 and operate weekly from East Midlands, Edinburgh and Leeds plus twice weekly from Manchester.

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