Saturday snippets: 12th of April 2014

By | Category: Travel news
the gardens at Castel Gandolfo

the gardens at Castel Gandolfo

You could win round trip flights to Beijing for two in a competition that appears on the Gatwick Airport website. Courtesy of Air China, you have up until then of June to fill in the competition form which you can access by clicking here. You are responsible for visas and taxes and most importantly –accommodation. There are no hotel rooms as part of this competition, just the flights which have to be taken by the end of this October. Don’t forget to read the terms and conditions first.

For those holidaying in Italy this Easter  last month, the pope decided to open to the public the Giardino Barberini, the magnificent gardens in the Papal Palace in Castel Gandolfo, summer Papal residence in the Castelli Romani area south of Rome. The gardens are open Monday to Saturday (mornings only), the cost of the guided visit is €26 euros (booking can be made on the Vatican Museums’ website). The Giardino Barberini the visitor can admire not only the gardens but also archaeological remains and the wonderful scenery of the Lake Castel Gandolfo.

Also in Italy, in Rome the Necropolis Triumphalis, at the bottom of the Vatican Hill will re-open. Visitors can now see the ancient Necropolis on walkways over the area and watch re-constructions of how the necropolis looked like on screens. Apart from the tombs one can see sculptures, frescoes and other Roman remains.  In Pompeii, three Domus will re-open for Easter : the house of Frontone, the house of Trittolemo and the house of Romolo and Remo with their frescos of grey and red animals in the garden.

There are three new Ryanair to services that have started. A  Bristol to Bologna flight began on April Fool’s day and there are two new flights from Dublin, one to Comiso in Sicily and the other to Bari. In addition, Atlasjet will be providing a service starting early May from Luton to Istanbul. The service becomes daily from June.

The announcement by the government that  state aid guidelines stipulate that for airports handling fewer than 3 million passengers per year only new routes to and from Common European Aviation Area destinations can be supported by start-up aid  is unfortunate. The airports around London, Manchester and increasingly Birmingham are where we need to get to to fly on to holiday destinations. If only new routes are allowable what chance is there for routes being resurrected that have failed because airlines used the wrong business model?

But in the south east of England, the nimby argument about airport expansion means that there is strong pressure against any change. Gatwick Airport, which wants an additional runway, has started a campaign to persuade people that expansion there would be a better option. Advertising on tube trains in London was noticeable when I was there earlier this week. It’s a brave idea trying to convince southerners that its a good idea but will it have any effect? As yet another government shies from making decisions we still have a couple of years to find the answer!

Choose a wand at the Harry Potter WB Tour

Choose a wand at the Harry Potter WB Tour

The Harry Potter attraction near Watford attracts very many of us.  Wand Week will return to the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London  this May and visitors will be invited to delve into the world of wandmaking and wizarding duels. From Friday 23rd May – Monday 2nd June, visitors will discover first-hand how duelling scenes were developed and the incredible amount of planning that went into each wand movement. They’ll get the chance to duel with a Death Eater after learning wand battle choreography with an interactive experience created by expert Paul Harris. Paul composed the battle scene between Dumbledore and Voldemort in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and is the world’s only Wand Combat.

Many think that CAP – the Common Agricultural Policy – is there to dish out aid to farmers. We m ay not have milk lakes of butter mountains but the perception applies amongst older people. So it was interesting that in the Northern Ireland Assembly, Oliver McMullan revealed that CAP money had been used to support 263 tourism projects, 213 service projects, 195 village actions and 68 heritage projects.  If any of our Northern Ireland readers has experience of this and how it has helped attract more visitors, please let me know.


How Stean

one of How Stean’s via ferratas

How Stean Gorge in the Yorkshire Dales is a maze of footpaths, caves and potholes hollowed out of the limestone rock by the constant water flow over thousands of years. The gorge has been welcoming visitors for over 100 years and was a hotspot in Victorian times when the railway stretched to Lofthouse. Now it has added three new aerial walkways  called via ferratas  to add to those it opened a few years ago in time for Easter. Via ferratas were originally built for Italian soldiers to access vantage points in the Dolomite mountains during the First World War. After the war their popularity continued to grow across the Alps as a way of providing a safe way for non-climbers to experience seemingly inaccessible routes.Now there are more than 400 via ferratas across Italy and similar systems have sprung up worldwide. If you fancy balancing on two strands of wire (apologies for the simple explanation) enjoy yourself. As for me…

Tracy Johnson has been convicted and faces gaol for receiving nearly £50,000 in disability payments. Claiming to suffer from agoraphobia and a fear of open spaces she said she had not left the UK for years. But she was also running her own tour guide business in Argentina, had written books about the other places she had visited. When police searched her home there were still luggage tags on her suitcases while receipts, flight confirmations and hotel reservations along with a diary of her travels in India were found. £50,000 can fund a lot of travelling a quite obviously, in her case, it did. And the rest of us have to save up for our travel!

a deserted beach at Cromer - but it is winter!Cromer Chamber of Commerce is launching a campaign to ‘Back Norfolk Beaches.’ The aim of the campaign is to reach out UK residents living within reasonable travelling distance of the county and encourage them to book at least one UK holiday to their favourite Norfolk beach destination. Cromer wants to encourage locals and visitors to take ownership of Norfolk beaches as places to go and enjoy more frequently whether it be for the day, a short break, a week or more.

Last weekend, the Sunday Times carried a story claiming that Claudio Piga, professor of economics at Keele University had mathematically worked out when was the best time to book a Ryanair flight –  exactly 10 days in advance. Ryanair denied this was the case. The professor says the most expensive time to book was seven weeks before you fly which does tend to disagree with the perceived thnking of how airlines price tickets which is that the cheaper ones go first and then ticket prices rise until the last moment when they drop to fill any unfilled seats. But what do I know; I’m not an economist!








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