Saturday snippets: 9th December 2017

By | Category: Travel news

the interior of the Louvre, Abu Dhabi © Louvre Abu Dhabi – Photography Roland Halbe

The Louvre in Abu Dhabi only opened a few weeks ago but already it has made more news. It appears that a Saudi prince bought the Leonardo da Vinci painting, Salvator Mundi that sold in New York for a record $US450 million. Apparently he is putting it on display in the Abu Dhabi Louvre. This was the last painting by Leonardo in private hands but now, anyone – well anyone travelling to Abu Dhabi – will be able to see it. In the last fifty years it has been the Getty in California that had the funds to buy the finest art works in the world. Could the tide be swinging to Aby Dhabi?

Those of you travelling to Germany will be able to avail themselves of new rail service that starts a week tomorrow. The service, called ICE “Sprinter” will travel from Munich to Berlin in just under four hours whereas if you caught a train today for the same route it would take about 6 hours. A new stretch of track through the Thuringian Forest enables trains to travel at speeds of up to 300 kilometres per hour. The Thuringian capital of Erfurt can now be reached in just 133 minutes from Munich and just over an hour from Nuremberg. Leipzig will be just 195 minutes from Munich and just over 2 hours after leaving Nuremberg. It makes HS2 look a little slow!

UNESCO has designated Macao as a Creative City of Gastronomy within its Creative Cities Network. It joins San Antonio in being elected as do Buenaventura in Colombia, Cochabamba in Bolivia, the Hatay Metropolitan Municipality in Turkey, Panama City and Paraty in Brazil. This is second UNESCO award for Macao. In 2005, the Historic Centre of Macao – consisting of 30 buildings of Chinese and Portuguese origin – was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Macao – Light Festival

Whilst enjoying the cuisine in Macao you can also attend the  Macao Light Festival which began at the beginning of this week and runs until the end of the month.  This year’s theme of “AMOR MACAU,” will take participants “on a journey of love and dreams through interactive games, projection mapping, light installations and a series of other magical activities.” The routes will radiate from the Ruins of St Paul’s at the heart of the event, through many attractions and World Heritage sites including Senado Square, St Lazarus Church, Taipa Houses and Camoes Garden.

The Macao Light Festival lasts almost a month. In the French city of Lyons, the Fête des Lumières lasts just four days. If you are nearby this weekend you can enjoy it but why can’t the organisers extend it to a week? It attracts millions of people to Lyon, the display is always staggering to watch and over €1.5 million is spent on creating it. The media always attend and it makes prime time French television. Allowing it to run a bit longer would allow more people from this side of the channel to go over and enjoy it.

Costa Rica

Costa Rica

Costa Rica has recorded an increase in visitors from the UK up by 7.8% in the first nine months of 2017 compared to the same period in 2016. From January to September 2017, a total of 57,906 Britons travelled to Costa Rica, compared to the 53,700 from the same period last year. With more tour operators providing holidays to the country and some direct charter flights it seems that numbers will only grow even further in 2018.

I always think of camping and motorhome activity as being solely for the warmer days and longer nights of the year but  the Caravan and Motorhome Club says otherwise. It says that, in November, they saw a record numbers of bookings for camping and motorhome holidays with an 11% increase in pitch nights from 2016. Overall, 2017 has been the best ever year for tent camping with the Caravan and Motorhome Club seeing a 13% increase in camping over 2016.

Another anniversary taking place next year is in the US state of Illinois which celebrates its bi-centenary. Although the actual day that the state turns 200 is December 3, 2018, events began this week with a specially designed anniversary flag being raised. The theme is “Born, Built, Grown,” and is in homage to the people, ideas, and spirit of the state. Because Chicago, the largest city in the state, is linked directly by air with so many cities in Europe, it is hoped that many from over here will join the celebrations over there.

aerial image of Arundel castle

Arundel Castle

Another domestic attraction that has done well this year has been Arundel Castle in West Sussex. It saw a 4% rise in visitors during its 2017 open season and expects 2018 to be even better. Why? Because in 2018, the castle will celebrate its 950th anniversary with a number of special events and some old favourites (like the Jousting and Medieval Tournament which always brings in thousands of visitors.) Next year’s Arundel Tulip Festival will see 60,000 tulips on display from mid-April onwards, a substantial increase over this year. The castle re-opens on March 30th.

Air Europa has announced a new service from Gatwick to the Brazilian city of Recife travelling via Madrid which will start on 20 December just in time for those winter sun breaks.  The twice-weekly route will operate on Wednesdays and Fridays

The UK governments says that passport holders aged 16-25 can now join those over 26 in being able to renew their passport online. The online passport renewal service, which takes an average of 10 minutes to complete, has previously only been available to people over the age of 26. What the government has still to say is what happens on leaving the EU. Do we all have to apply for new passports and could the passport office handle the reissue of everyone’s passport all at once?

Finally this week, the UK government has issued travel advisory service updates on the laws and attitudes on LGBT issues as it affects travellers to many African and Asian countries and also warns travellers to countries with significant Moslem populations that there may be public demonstrations against the proposed transfer of the US embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv. It warns travellers to stay away from places where crowds have been known to traditionally gather.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,