Saturday snippets: St David’s Day

By | Category: Travel news
Dewi "flying" back to Harlech

Dewi “flying” back to Harlech

This Saturday, my column falls upon St David’s Day so best wishes to all Welsh people as they enjoy the day wherever they are. there will be dinners, processiona and events in Australia, USA, Wales, France, Argentina and even in Ukraine – all things permitting – where Welsh miners migrated to in the nineteenth century and again after WWI. Outside Harlech, Dewi the Dragon has returned – “flown” as the press release put it –  “to guard” the Min-y-Don Holiday Home and Touring Park near Harlech Castle. Being 16 foot long, 11foot high and 10 foot wide metal sculpture it is hard to miss Dewi who had become a tourist attraction in “his” own right.

A £250,000 art trail is being launched aiming to attract tourists to Ruthin in Denbighshire. The trail starts at the craft centre – the site of the old rail station – which already brings in 90,000 visitors each year. Ten spy holes and 22 figures on buildings and roofs give a flavour of the town’s history and folklore. The ten “spy holes” include depictions of Ruthin’s old livestock market, a tribute to those commemorated at the town’s cenotaph, the execution of a Catholic priest on the square in Tudor times, and the myth of a wild dog.

From Ireland, where they are about to celebrate their patron saint by the annual covering of buildings with all colours green, they were happy to announce that more of us are visiting their country again. 8.5% more of us on the side of the Irish Sea visited the island of Ireland. This year they hope for more lured by a major focus on promoting the Wild Atlantic Way, as well as on major events like Limerick City of Culture, the ‘Grande Partenza’ of the Giro d’Italia.

Meanwhile in Scotland today, the National Trust for Scotland opens the new Battle of Bannockburn experience. Scene of one of the greatest pitched battles ever fought in the British Isles, the new centre opens 700 years after Robert the Bruce led the Scots to victory over the English in 1314. Showcasing cutting-edge 3D technology, visitors will come face to face with medieval warriors, transporting them to the heart of this dramatic battle. There will be many more Bannockburn events this year as part of the celebrations.

Staying in Scotland, the Kelvingrove Art Gallery an exhibition of Jack Vettriano’s work has ended a record-breaking run after 132,502 people attended the exhibition. Yet again, this artist so liked by the public but not universally praised by critics, has demonstrated his appeal by making this the most visited exhibition ever held at the Kelvingrove.

The whisky trail in Scotland draws many visitors as I said last week. But the trail is getting longer as more distilleries open. Two new ones in the Borders. A blender of whisky in Coldstream is looking to raise £5m towards the project in the Tweed Valley near Walkerburn.  Last week Mossburn Distillers revealed proposals for a £40m distillery near the Jedforest Hotel at Camptown, three miles south of Jedburgh. Is our appetitite for the golden nectar infinite?

As one art attraction closes another opens – at least for a few days.  Art14 London, London’s global art fair, opened yesterday and continues until tomorrow. 180 of the world’s modern and contemporary galleries from 40 countries will showcase works from emerging talents through to modern masters. From Berlin to Beirut, Havana to Hong Kong, and London to Lagos, the fair will present works by over 700 artists from across the globe.Art14 London features a wide variety of media, including painting, sculpture, photography, editions and more, ranging from £500 to £500,000.

mallard-75-autumn3Another exhibition that closed recently also drew record crowds. Nearly 120,000 people from as far as the United States and China visited the free nine-day exhibition at Locomotion: National Rail Museum in Shildon. The reunion of the six surviving A4 locomotives, Mallard, Union of South Africa, Dominion of Canada, Bittern, Sir Nigel Gresley and Dwight D Eisenhower, was predicted to attract 70,000 visitors.  The Great Goodbye exhibition was part of a year of celebrations for Mallard’s 75th anniversary. Dwight D Eisenhower and 4489 Dominion of Canada will remain on display in the Collection Building at Locomotion until April 20, 2014.

Have you ever thought a great deal about luggage? If your wheelie case wheels go around properly then that is about as far as your imagination extends. But there are more companies involved in providing luggage than you might think.  This month in Phoenix in the US, the International Travel Goods Show has its annual binge. In 130,000 square foot of space, there will be 250 exhibitors showing 350 different brands. That will amount to more than 40,000 different products on display. And all to help us pack what we want when we travel! A couple of years ago I visited this show and was astonished at how many different products there were.  We’ll let readers know the more interesting items when we hear about them.

Macau, despite being only 11 square miles and seen as being in the shadow of its more well-known neighbour – Hong Kong – can be a maze to walk around so a recently launched app from the tourist office  will be of benefit to travellers.  The iOS app is designed to complement four recently created walking tours that take visitors off the beaten tourist trail. The new app, titled Step Out, Macau, allows users to explore the walking tours in greater detail and includes maps and videos of the four walking routes as well as further detailed information on key tourist sites, transport links and stop off points to savour local cuisines.

Airports are fairly contentious subjects for many but would you want to save one? Plans to demolish Jersey airport’s arrivals building will have to be rethought after the idea was rejected by the island’s planning minister. The Grade Two listed 1937 building should be knocked down because its location is a risk to flight safety says the Ports of Jersey. No say many and one plan is to even consider  moving the runway.

qatarSpending enless time in transit lounges is never fun so a free excursion is bound to appeal. Qatar Airways  and Qatar Tourism are offering a free Doha city tour for passengers who are transiting through Doha.  Passengers travelling with Qatar Airways who have between five and twelve hours transit time in Doha can take advantage of the free city tour by visiting the Doha City Tour counter at Doha International Airport Transit terminal. The tour takes around 3 hours and includes visits to some of the key landmarks around Doha city including the Museum of Islamic Art, the Corniche, West Bay area, Katara Cultural and Heritage Village, The Pearl Qatar and Souq Waqif. The tour is conducted in an air-conditioned coach and is on a first come first serve basis subject to seat availability on coach. An English-speaking guide is on hand to provide information and insights about Doha for the duration of the tour.

Finally this week, in Parliament, Emily Thornberry secured a debate on the proposed opening to the public of the mail rail under London and the future museum. As she said, “the public have never been allowed to see the railway, but hopefully when the railway museum is opened people will, at long last, be able to go down to see it. There is huge excitement not just in train circles, but for many people who are interested in the industrial heritage of Britain in the 20th century, and they will be able to ride on that railway underneath the streets of London.”







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