Saturday snippets: 10th of August 2019

By | Category: Travel news

Believe it or not, there are still some price reductions around for holidays this month. Gossip in the travel trade says that some hoteliers have dropped their prices in parts of Greece such as Corfu, Rhodes, Athens and some of the islands. It only applies where holidaymaker numbers aren’t as high as hoteliers though so to fill their beds prices have been reduced. The problem is that flights are pricey so shop around to see if you can put a package together yourself or with the help of a travel agent. Remember of you do it yourself you won’t be bonded if something happens so pay by credit card to give a little insurance or, better still, make sure your travel insurance policy covers you..

Shipwrech beach in Zakynthos
Navagio Beach (Shipwreck beach) on Zakynthos in Greece.

You probably saw pictures of Norwich Cathedral with a helter skelter in the nave. Whilst some say this is irreligious, others take the view that getting people into religious establishments is a good thing. And it is a way to see the stained glass windows from a different perspective. Rochester Cathedral in Kent has what it calls adventure golf and many of us would call crazy golf inside the cathedral. Visitors should keep the ball low. The bishop, dean and clergy won’t be happy with any broken stained glass windows!

Should you be visiting Paris in the autumn and fancy visiting the Louvre be warned. Entry will only be available by online booking. You won’t be able to just walk up and get it according to the museum. The reason? It seems to have been caused by one, seemingly, small event. The museum has re-hung the Mona Lisa in a different place and this has caused visitors to bunch up around the new location. In order not to cause congestion, the Louvre have decided to regulate numbers and online booking provides the solution. Of course, they could just put da Vinci’s masterpiece back to where it was but maybe that’s too simple!

Mona Lisa. Has its moving really caused walk-up visitors to lose the opportunity to see it?

Another icon – not a word I use lightly – has re-opened to the public. The Raffles Hotel in Singapore has been closed for the last two years whilst refurbishment took place. It re-opened last weekend perhaps so it can be part of the 200th anniversary of the first time man after whom it is named – Sir Thomas Stafford Raffles   – set foot in Singapore. The work has maintained the historic nature of the hotel which is known the world over. The all-suite hotel has a reputation for unflappability. When my son stayed there a few years ago, he had just spent three weeks trekking in Vietnam and thought he would treat himself to a little luxury before he returned home. He turned up in dirty clothes sporting a rucksack and a week’s growth of beard. The concierge and the reception didn’t bat an eyelid!

Talking of Vietnam, the tourism authority there says that, in the first six months of the year, there was 104% increase in British visitors. This substantial growth is even more impressive given the fact that it is already a popular holiday destination with Britons. With direct flights, to Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City on Vietnam Airlines (one of the usually less expensive airlines serving the Far East) and keenly priced holidays, visitor numbers from the UK should continue to grow. In all 15.5 million overseas visitors went to Vietnam from January to June this year.

Jamaica is another destination reporting impressive visitor numbers. Usually seen by Britons as a winter sun destination, figures for July saw over a quarter-of-a-million visitors – the highest the island has ever seen. It follows a first six months of the year when there were more than 1.25 million stopover arrivals and over a million cruise arrivals. This means the island welcomed over 100,000 more tourists year-on-year. The appeal to Britons is once again that there are direct flights but also because of the strong ties between the UK and Jamaica. In this year of remembering the Windrush bringing migrants to the UK in the 1950’s more Britons are returning to discover their heritage and even more are visiting to see the island as a result of television programmes recalling the events of the time.

Another icon, New York’s Empire State Building, has opened $165 million project on the second floor which chronicles the building of the skyscraper. Open seven days a week from 8 am to 2 am the 10,000 sq. ft galleries show what the site was like in the 1920’si and see how it was built. In the current trendy phrase, there is an immersive experience where visitors will be “transported back in time as hot rivets, and steel beams fly overhead, and the sounds of New York City come alive in surround sound. Visitors can also interact with specially commissioned cast sculptures of construction workers as they work and take their lunch.” So now you know? As ever this popular attraction gets very busy so get there early, pre-book or prepare to queue at busy periods!

Empire State Building

Although it hasn’t been running for very many years, the Leeds Restaurant Week has become very popular. Back for a fourth time, the “week” this year lasts a fortnight! Starting this coming Monday, seventy different restaurants are participating with menus priced at £10 or £15. For those of you who may not know the Leeds restaurant scene, it has developed at an astonishing rate over twenty years that I have known the city. Cuisines of almost any type are available and more and more restaurants have been springing up in the buildings alongside the canal as well as in the city centre. Vouchers are available from their website as is a list of all the restaurants taking part.

One of the most popular and hence, busy, transport routes in the world is the 73 mile distance between Mumbai and Pune in India. Therefore it may be an appropriate place for India to develop its first hyperloop travel venture. The regional development authority in conjunction with its partner, Virgin Hyperloop, plans on building such a transport system that will enable passengers to cover the distance in just 23 minutes. A small section will be built initially to prove the system and that it can cope with the terrain prior to creating the complete track. In about eight years’ time, passengers could well be enjoying an almost 500km ride between the two cities.

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