Saturday snippets: 23rd December 2017

By | Category: Travel news

Tivoli Gardens at night

Next year the Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen will open from the 2nd until 25th of February for the very first time. Why? It will be part of the Gardens’ 175th anniversary celebrations and allow it to offer St Valentine’s Day packages. The ice skating rink will be functioning, the restaurants will be open and the musical Chess will be the entertainment at the concert hall. Late last year, Tivoli Corner opened which connects the attraction with Copenhagen’s city centre.

A warning about leaving a review on accommodation review sites comes from the travel trade publication, TravelMole. It reported that hotel guest’s review has cost her a $350 ‘fine’ due to the small print on the website. That small print said that it would potentially charge guests for negative reviews. And, in this case, it debited the card that the guest used. The hotel in the US state of Indiana is now the subject of an investigation as the state authorities say it contravened Indiana’s Deceptive Consumer Sales Act. Do hotel websites have similar small print in Europe? I will look a bit more closely before I write anything about some of the places where I am tempted to tell it like it is?

I have moaned recently about the treatment of economy passengers on airlines. The charging of items that were normally taken as granted has mushroomed unlike the amount of space that airlines give people. Now Etihad has starting selling the amenity kits to economy class passengers and is selling other services which are free to first class and some business class passengers such as pay-for lounge access and chauffeur transfers, neighbour-free seats and extra-legroom seats. They are on dangerous ground. First class passengers might add the costs up and decided it is a lot cheaper to buy all the extras and it would still be cheaper than the first class price!

Giants Causeway

The Giants Causeway.

The National Trust has said that, for the very first time, a million people have visited the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland this year. In the last four years, visitor numbers have gone up by a third. Could it all be down to the success of Game of Thrones which has filmed there?

The world’s steepest funicular railway has opened to the public in Switzerland.  It climbs 110m (360ft) over a distance of 100m at the steepest point which makes it sound as though the authorities should have called it a lift rather than a funicular railway. Because of that steep incline, the floors tilt in the carriages so that passengers remain upright. The railway –called Stoos Bahn – runs from the town of Schwyz up to the car-free Alpine village of Stoos and took fourteen years to build. But it only takes four minutes for the journey!

Do you find the UK a safe place in which to travel? Apparently about 66% of Germans are concerned that the UK is not safe. This is according to a German study made by the international market research company GfK. It says that Germans prefer to visit destinations that are safe. Don’t we all? A majority of Germans think the parts of the world that are German-speaking are safe. It includes Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and Liechtenstein. 77% of Germans thought their own country is absolutely safe.

The Caribbean island of St Lucia will hold Saint Lucia Food and Rum in January

The hurricane season in the Caribbean did considerable damage and St Lucia was lucky. It didn’t suffer any damage. But undamaged islands are tarred with the same brush since some holidaymakers link the devastation that they saw on TV with all Caribbean islands. One event that will show that the Caribbean is open for business is the Saint Lucia Food and Rum, the first event in the Soleil festival series running throughout the year. Taking place from January 12-14 it also includes the first-ever Caribbean Rum Awards. A highlight will be renowned chef, Marcus Samuelsson who is presenting a Saint Lucian twist on his menu from President Obama’s first State Dinner, at a gala event. Some of the Island’s best restaurants will be setting up sampling booths to share the tastes of their rum inspired creations.

As holidaymakers head away from Christmas those holidaying inside the Eurozone will see that they can buy less for their money than last Christmas. According to the travel money specialist, No1 Currency, sterling is 4% down against the euro. However if you are holidaying in the USA or US dollar areas (some Caribbean countries for example) you will have seen 7% more for your pounds. The best place, the company says is Turkey where £1 will buy 17% more than Christmas 2016.

Even before Christmas, airlines are announcing sales. British Airways, easyjet, Air France, Jet 2, Virgin Atlantic and Flybe have announced sales. Some last well into January but others end in the early part of the new year. If you are putting together your own holiday by separately buying flight and accommodation remember that you won’t necessarily be covered by the new ATOL regulations. Paying by credit card will provide some cover so check you travel insurance policy covers you for what you book.

The old blue passport was much larger than the burgundy passport. The new blue passport will be the same size as the burgundy coloured one

Outside Lisbon in Portugal is the Freeport Lisboa Fashion Outlet. Popular with visitors to the city it is indicative of a tourist trend that has grown in the last twenty years. Shopping is a tourist attraction and outlet stores are reaping the benefits. Now the owners of this site,  VIA Outlets are opening 35 new stores and restaurants here including Calvin Klein Jeans & Underwear, Elisabetta Franchi, Furla and Timberland. There will be over 135 stores and restaurants at the centre after the expansion is completed.

Jet2 has been ticked off by the Advertising Standards Authority for misleading customers over its luggage charges. The authority says that the ‘Charges apply’ information was too far removed from the baggage reference and was in a smaller, grey font, while other information was in a larger, bright red font. The airline has made some changes but the regulator says that these are insufficient. As always the advice is to read the small print; it is usually more important than anything else!

Finally, it was announced this week that as from 2019, British passports would revert to the dark blue colour that they were before 1988. They will be the same size as existing passports, have flexible covers as opposed to the hardback version that we once had and the words “European Union” will be removed. It is also believed that we won’t all have to immediately get new blue passports when we leave the EU but can use our existing passports until they expire.

 

PS – have a great Christmas

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