Saturday snippets: 26 july 2014

By | Category: Travel news
Brussels Flower Carpet

the flower carpet happens only every two years

This weekend is the busiest of the year at airports as people begin their summer holidays in earnest now that the schools have broken up in England and Wales. Scottish families have been holidaying for almost a month. 300,000 people will fly from Manchester this weekend and hundreds of thousands from others but for those who stay, there are hundreds of events taking place and I’ll come to some of those in a moment.

We had a reminder that getting away next year might not be so easy. In the Lords, Lord Taylor of Holbeach confirmed that the Government was committed to reintroducing exit checks. By April 2015, comprehensive exit checks will apply on scheduled, commercial air, sea and rail routes (I take this to be Eurostar rather than the 07.23 from Guildford to Waterloo) including the recording of passport details.

Many of us will be holidaying in Croatia this August and Dubrovnik is likely to be the most popular destination. The 65th Dubrovnik summer festival has already started and runs until the 25th of August. The attraction of the festival that it uses venues such as the Minčeta Fortress and the Rector’s Palace. Over 2,000 artists are expected to turn the Old City into a stage and this year’s highlights include Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and the David Gazarov Trio. Visitors will be able to combine a ballet performance on the city’s streets with day trips to the nearby Elaphiti islands or a trip to Mount Srd on the cable car.

An oft-repeated criticism of flying into the main airport in Washington DC used by flights from the UK is the difficulty of getting in from the airport to the centre. A half-way house has been created by the addition of some new stations including Wiehle-Reston East. Until 2018 when the silver line will extend all the way to Washington-Dulles International Airport, a new bus connection, Silver Line Express, will take passengers nonstop between Wiehle-Reston East and Washington-Dulles airport. Buses will depart every six minutes during rush hour, and every 12-20 minutes during off-peak times. Fares on the Silver Line Express will be $5 each way, payable with cash or credit card. When combined with Metrorail fares, a trip from anywhere in the Metrorail system to or from Dulles will cost $11 or less.

Jordan Pond in Arcadia in Maine

Acadia -Jordan Pond

In the US, the top-watched breakfast show, ABC’s “Good Morning America” has been running a viewers’ poll on America’s favourite place. It was won by the state of Maine’s Acadia National Park. With an overwhelming response, entries where sent in from all across the country with the five finalists being Acadia National Park, Chicago’s Lakefront, Glacier National Park, Gulf Shores and Lake Tahoe. The programme declarec that Acadia was one of “the crown jewels of Maine with nearly 50,000 acres of jaw-dropping beauty.” See what you think from the image alongside.

If you fancy a day in Brussels then coming up from August 14th-17th is the Flower Carpet. The Grand Place of Brussels will be the location of one of the most spectacular flower and art events in Europe. It happens only every other year so if you miss this you will have to wait until 2016 to see this colourful sight again.  This year, the 19th edition of the Flower Carpet, has been chosen to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Turkish immigration in Belgium.

Staying with plants it is also nearly time for the Flower Carnival, a week-long festival that takes places in Debrecen, Hungary’s second largest city starting on the 15th of August. The flower cars that take part in the parade on 20 August are exhibited throughout the city during the week, so that visitors can see them festooned with their blooms. The history of the Flower Carnival dates back to the beginning of the last century when the Debrecen Civil Bicycle Association organised a bicycle competition on the association’s new field. The highlight of the competition was a large-scale flower corso. Now flower cars and dance groups come from all over the world to take part.

As families leave on the busiest weekend of the year for their summer holidays, the long haul specialist company, Hayes & Jarvis, have released the results of their trend report.  The main summary seems to be that more of us who look for a long-haul break are increasingly looking to create our own bespoke trips. The operator is also finding that visits to three or more destinations in one trip- are now forming an increasing part of the business as we seek to maximise the time and distance spent on a holiday.

Turkey has been trumpeted as providing good value as holidays have been cheaper than in many euro destinations and the almost continuous addition and improvement to tourist attractions. So does it come as a surprise to you that, according to the consultants Mintel, it only ranks 6th for Brits travelling to short-haul destinations? Given that Spain and France occupy the first two slots I would have thought it might rank higher above the likes of Portugal, Greece and Italy but no. In 2013, Turkey attracted 2.51 million British visitors.

Whilst we in our countries procrastinate with over better rail travel, the Turks just get on with it. A high-speed train service opens at the end of July running between Istanbul and Ankara. Designed to connect with the newly-opened 13km-long Marmaray Bosphorus Tunnel, the high-speed train service reduces journey time between the cities from 6.5 hours to just 3.5 hours. That’s a significant saving and better than the small savings that HS2 might deliver on a run from London to Birmingham or even Edinburgh!

How do you fancy becoming the chairperson of the bodies that hand out heritage lottery money to organisations across our countries? Dame Jenny Abramsky is stepping down as Chair of both the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF) and the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and the government is looking for a successor. Having been critical of various secretaries of state as well as tourism ministers I can’t see me being approached but amongst our readers there could well be a suitable candidate. The NHMF is the nation’s grant-in-aid fund to save the most outstanding parts of our heritage at risk of loss to the nation, as a memorial to those who have given their lives for the UK, and has a current annual budget of £5m. To date, HLF has awarded over £6bn to 37,000 heritage projects across the UK from money raised by the Lottery for good causes and has a grant budget for 2014-15 of £375m. Click here to read what qualities you need.

Legoland bird-watcher

Spotting the birds from a previous Legoland show

Holiday time also means that there will be personal items forgotten and left behind. Any parent who has been through the drama of a child losing a favourite toy but at Legoland near Windsor they have done something that might take some of the stress away – the LEGOLAND toy reunion service. Designed to rapidly re-unite owners with their mislaid items, all families have to do is look for their missing toy on a special Facebook page. All toys or teddies found on the park and at the Resort will be labelled with the date they were found, photographed and their details will be posted on Facebook. The service started last Thursday

Will a similar service happen at the new Legoland Discovery Centre which will open in Istanbul’s Bayrampasa district in the spring of 2015? The indoor attraction will feature Lego rides, a 4D cinema, an interactive ‘Lego Factory Tour’ and a Lego Miniland exhibit with iconic buildings and landmarks of Istanbul such as the Topkapi Palace, Blue Mosque and Bosphorus Bridge.

The Brighton Sand Sculpture Festival has returned for the summer and lasts until 30th September. This year the theme is “Around the World”. All seven continent’s, are represented using some of the most famous landmarks in the world. As a bonus, if you book your tickets at the Volks Railway Aquarium Station you’ll receive a free ride on the Volks Railway to the Festival. .  In Brighton this very weekend, you can raise awareness of the marine conservation and March like a Mermaid. Mermaids, Mermen, Pirates and all kinds of deep sea creatures march from Hove Lawns to Marine Parade.

It is only three weeks or so to the British Firework Championships which take place on the 12th and 13th of August in Plymouth. Possibly Britain’s most spectacular fireworks display it features six top pyrotechnics companies who set off four tonnes of fireworks over Plymouth Sound as they battle it out to become the British Fireworks champion. The place to get the best view is Plymouth Hoe.

Finally for this week, a few warnings drawn from stories that made the media. At Porthtowen Beach in Cornwall, a four year old burnt himself by walking over sand underneath which was the smouldering remains of a barbecue. To all those people who decide a burrowed out hole in the sand ide spot for a hot meal, think again. But if you must do it, make the burrow deep and after cooking douse it with water properly. Just putting sand over it will cause the area to bake!

Jellyfish have become an ever-present sea problem. Again, off Cornwall, barrel jellyfish have been seen as long as 1.3 metres and a metre wide. This can give you a sting but compared to other varieties it is considered mild. Be on the lookout as you swim; there could be a lot around this summer!






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