Saturday snippets: August26th 2017

By | Category: Travel news

If I tell you that Panzano was in the Italian region of Chianti, you will probably guess what this snippet is about. From 14th-17th of September, the town holds “Vino al Vino” where local vintners meet in the town square to show their wines and you can sample them while listening to great jazz! Now what better way to catch a short break in September than wine tasting? Panzano is about an hour from the airport at Florence by bus meaning you can drink and let someone else drive!

If you can’t fly be in Italy for Vino al Vino, how about leaving it until the end of the month and spending the weekend in Florence? That will coincide with another wine festival, this time Carro Matto. This free event celebrates the tradition of wine-making with the arrival of the Carro Matto or Crazy Cart pulled by oxen through the streets and accompanied by a parade of drums, flag throwers and hauling a cannon although I don’t how that is related to wine or even grapes!

outside of the new Vulkaneum museum

About forty miles away from Frankfurt in Germany is the volcanic area known as Vogelsberg.  Because it consists of any number of overlapping volcanoes it has become a tourist attraction – skiing in the winter and walker/hiking at other times.  In the town of Schotten, they have opened a new museum  called Vilkaneum which provides an interactive trip through volcanic history. Much more interesting that when I used to go to geological rooms at museums in my youth and just saw  samples of rock and yellowing, technical notes about it!

The story in last Sunday’s Mail on Sunday about a passenger on a flight from the UK to South Africa is yet another example of where airlines perform at their worst. The seat number that Andrew Wilkins had on a BA flight was wet. The cabin crew admitted it was urine. They claimed the flight was full and couldn’t move him so they gave him a wet one and he had to clean it up. Luckily he had some plastic and was able to put that on the seat so he was “protected” during the journey. Eventually the airline apologised and has offered compensation but that is insufficient. Why wasn’t the problem spotted by cleaners? Why didn’t they report it? If they did who and why was the decision made to do nothing? Why did the cabin crew take the attitude they did? And why can’t the trade union involved admit that their member(s) were wrong in their response to Mr Wilkins?

In the ever-continuing search to develop new attractions for tourists, Norwegian has come with an idea for cruise holidaymakers, an electric car race track.  This two-level, 1,000-foot track will be fitted on Norwegian Cruise Line’s new ship, Norwegian Bliss. It will be the longest at sea (I didn’t know there were others –I should get out more!) and will allow drivers to go at speeds of up to 30mph. The electric cars are designed to operate silently so they don’t disturb other cruise guests. The 4,000-passenger ship will have an open-air laser tag course, an Aqua Park with two multi-story waterslides, and a tandem slide so passengers can race on inner tubes for more than 360 feet, with a translucent section with ocean views. The ship will be based in the Us city of Miami and the first cruise is scheduled for November next year.

Staying with cruising, I find it hard to believe that the QE2 is celebrating its fiftieth birthday this year. I even remember the queen launching her and, somewhere, still have the turquoise rectangular stamps that the Post Office issued for the occasion. Today the ship waits in Dubai for a possible conversion to a hotel, having been retired for the last nine years. Cunard will be celebrating the event with a cruise on the Queen Elizabeth starting September 8th which will include a ball on the anniversary launch day – September 20th.

Aphrodite Rock in Cyprus

Aphrodite Rock,near Paphos in Cyprus,

It seems that you can always trust some travel related staff to disrupt life at key moments. This time it is staff working at Spanish airports who have decided to make Christmas short break holidays difficult for holidaymakers. Pick a popular winter sun destination in mainland Spain, the Canaries or the Balearics and be warned. Unless the action is called off you may have problems. Staff are planning 24 hour strikes on 25 days before the end of the year as from this month. They will strike for five days in September,(15, 17, 22, 24, and 29) seven in October, two in November and eleven in December which include the entire period from December 26th until December 30th.

There are few countries or destinations this year that don’t seem to announcing record number of visitors. Cyprus even says that 2017 could be a record year as it has already registered an increase of 16.6% in visitor numbers for the first six months of the year. UK arrivals, which account for 32% of the total, rose by 9.7% year-on-year during the same period.

River cruising is popular and one reason why more Brits are holidaying in Germany

As well as Cyprus, Germany is enjoying a good year as well. To the end of June, there were 36.7 million international overnight stays (in accommodation companies with at least ten beds), 1.2 million more than in the same period of the previous year – an increase of 3%. This is about what is expected as an overall figure in Europe as forecast by UNWTO (United Nations World Tourism Organization) so Germany is maintaining its impressive growth over the last few years. But flight bookings for travel to Germany are up even higher at 5.6% up until August so it looks as though the country will outstrip the UNWTO forecast.  Again.

Manchester Airport saw 3 million passengers go through its terminals last month giving it an annual running total of 27.2 million, a rise of 12%. Stansted passenger numbers were up by 10.5%, East Midlands, by 3.1%, and Bournemouth Airport grew 1.2%. The Brexit effect! What Brexit effect? Sterling depreciates against the euro but we still will take holidays.

In the “I could have told you that” department, a recent survey commissioned by HolidayHypermarket.co.uk says that 52% of us would opt for child-free flights. Having recently sat in a section of the plane with at least four very young children, some of whom managed decibels that could crack glasses, I am now searching for more efficient ear plugs! I seem to remember that Malaysian Airlines banned the very young from the first class section. Maybe a section of economy could be turned into a passengers with under two’s area on some of the bigger planes.

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