Saturday snippets: July 8th 2017

By | Category: Travel news

It has been pretty hot in my part of the world this week. That won’t stop the first Summer European championships of snowball fighting taking place in Finland today. Called Yugigassen,  (it means snow battle in Japanese because that is where the game originated) the games will be held in the Lapland area of the country at Kemijärvi. Real snow has been “kept” from the winter in order that this first-ever summer competition can take place. An ideal way to keep cool in the warmth. Unfortunately,  it didn’t snow where I live last winter so I couldn’t bung it in the deep freeze (even supposing my wife would let me) ready for the first ever UK summer snowball fights!

This month, Portsmouth is trying to entice those in London to take a break in Portsmouth. To this end they are running a poster campaign on the Underground suggesting that the city is an ideal place for a relaxing and refreshing day out on the waterfront. But why just London? Why not other parts of the UK? The probable answer is that there are more people living in London or who commute into London and therefore more people to see the posters than if they advertised elsewhere. Am I moaning to much when I say that this is yet another example of the Londoncentric advertising that seems to dominate the tourist industry be it overseas or domestic?

Coming up in London next weekend is the opportunity to sample Catalan food. On the Southbank from the 14th until 16th of July, the Catalan Tourist Board is presenting what it calls the best of Catalan gastronomy at new, free event. Taking place next to the Oxo Tower Wharf, it is an opportunity for the Spanish region to make us aware of an area that boasts 65 Michelin stars, its foods,  (there will be stalls from nine local producers) wine from 12 official Denominations of Origin and beer. And it’s free. Taste of Catalonia will start next Friday ans will also be open on Saturday from 10.30am to 8pm and on Sunday from 11am to 3pm.

And now, after two stories about London, lets concentrate elsewhere. Tomorrow a new Hockney Wing opens at the Cartwright Hall in Bradford.  Why tomorrow? It’s the artist’s 80th birthday and the city of his birth has provided the person, who some people claim is Britain’s finest living artist, with a permanent area for his paintings and other works of art to be displayed. There will also be some of Hockney’s personal photographs on show as well.

The Foulbridge Tunnel © Canal & River Trust

The mile-long Foulridge Tunnel has opened to canoes, allowing canoeists to paddle underneath the Pennines for the first time. It’s the longest tunnel for canoes in Britain. The paddle takes 10 to 25 minutes, depending on ability, and is controlled by a traffic-light system that ensures canal boats and canoes are admitted separately. The tunnel, on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, was completed in 1796 and forms a key part of the 162-mile-long coast-to-coast Desmond Family Canoe Trail, due to open in 2020.

Mobike has launched in the Manchester area for those who wish to visit the sights of the area such as IWM North, the National Football Museum or the Museum of Science and Technology. The world’s first and largest bike-share scheme has launched with 1,000 bikes. Each high-tech Mobike is equipped with unique smart-lock technology and built-in GPS connected via the Mobike IoT network so you can even gain instructions on what is near you as you cycle! It looks as though demand is high as I had a lot of difficulty reaching their website yesterday.

who needs five copies?

Premier Villas, the luxury villas and apartments booking company has made a list of the strangest things that have ever been left by guests. These lists always amuse me because I find it hard to believe that people can ever leave behind things without noticing when they do a last minute check of the premises, The company has a list which you can read here but people have really left behind a stuffed baby elephant, a shrunken head and plaster casts of different women’s breasts? And why would someone have five copies of Stephen Fry’s autobiography unless it was Stephen Fry, his agent or the publisher?

There has been some confusion about entry into the USA from British citizens who are also passport holders of the countries that the American government has decided to exclude. If you are from Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen but have  dual nationality with the UK and you fly from the UK to the USA, you will be allowed entry provided you travel on your UK passport. Otherwise, if you are flying from any of the six countries on a passport issued by any of the six then you need a parent, spouse, child, son or daughter-in-law, sibling – including step- or half-siblings – already living in the US. Having grandparents, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, in-laws or grandchildren living there will not qualify.

A survey undertaken for Inghams Lakes & Mountains’ suggests that UK travellers are open to trying alternative experiences such as e-biking whilst on holiday. What interests me more is that the survey shows Londoners proved to be the most adventurous and open to trying new things on their summer holidays with two thirds of them saying they are likely to try an out-of-the-ordinary or ‘alternative’ activity whilst on holiday. Which areas are the least adventurous I wonder.

The Millen ium "bean" in Chicago

Chicago reflected in the “bean.” Will airfares drop on the London route now that Norwegian is flying to Chicago from next March?

Norwegian, the low-cost airline which has a base at Gatwick, has announced that it will fly to two more US cities adding to the ten it already serves. From next March it will fly to Austin in Texas and Chicago. British Airways only launched its service to The Texan state capital a little while ago and has certainly stimulated tourist interest. Chicago is the interesting destination because this has been the domain of the big four for years, BA, Virgin Atlantic, American and United. Will Norwegian’s prices cause the other airlines to drop theirs to compete?

In 2015, the British were the biggest source of holidaymakers to the USA. That year 4.9 million of us went there which was up 18% over the previous year and we spent $16.2 billion. But during 2016 – or at least September which are the most recent figures – we began to spurn the country probably due to the decline of sterling against the dollar and increased air fares. Now, IATA says that air fares have declined in price by 6% during 2017 and sterling has stabilised at about £1-$1.29. Does that mean more of us will holiday there from now on?

Etihad Airways, based in Abu Dhabi which is the only country that has US Pre-Clearance became the first airline and airport to have the electronics device ban lifted by the US. It was followed  shortly afterwards by Emirates, Qatar and  Turkish Airlines. Saudia – the Saudi Arabian airline – may also have clearance by the middle of the month. It means passengers will be free to carry laptops and other large electronics devices in their hand luggage. Whatever new security precautions have been introduced by the airports and airlines is sufficient to meet the US Department of Homeland Security new standards.

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