Saturday snippets: 23rd August 2014

By | Category: Travel news
Cardiff Festival in the bay

the Cardiff Festival is still on this weekend

On this, the last bank holiday weekend before Christmas – am I really writing this? – there are hundreds of events taking place so make the most of it before the weather turns on Monday. There is the Notting Hill Carnival in London for example, the Belfast Mela, the Cardiff Festival, the coracle races in Cilgerran and the festivals are still on in Edinburgh as is the Tattoo. 

Further afield, if you happen to be in Croatia for example, running until the end of the month is the Days of Beer festival. Held in Karlovac not far from Zagreb, there is a mix of different Croatian beers, live music, folklore ensembles and gourmet delicacies including big Karlovac pretzels. For those of you who think that the name of the town seems familiar it might be because it is the home of the popular Croatian beer, Karlovačko. It sounds as though the town overflows at this time of year. Sitting where four rivers meet, locals say that the fifth river is the beer that flows through the town! Inn Vrbovec which is about 20 miles north of Zagreb this weekend is a rural festival loosely translated into English as “What our forefathers ate.”  It isn’t – as some might think – some grisly grub that anyone might want forgotten but a celebration of traditional and local dishes that you might not necessarily find in resorts or five star hotels. As you might expect, music helps digestion but what might not help is the sporting programme that is planned for the same weekend. Better just to enjoy the food and drink and avoid any strenuous activities that might ruin your ability to properly enjoy the after meal nap! To top it off, next weekend wine makers, connoisseurs and visitors gather in Vrbnik to taste wine and gastronomic treats from all over the island.

Times Sq queue

queuing for Broadway tickets

Or, if you happen to be travelling to New York in the next couple of weeks, then your trip will coincide with New York’s annual Broadway Week. This gives theatregoers the opportunity to purchase two-for-one tickets to 21 of Broadway’s top shows and tickets are on sale now at

In Los Angeles be aware that – from the 15th of September v-  the fare structure is changing on buses and rail. Under the new fare structure, a 1-Way Trip purchased using a TAP card will include transfers to other Metro lines for up to two hours to complete a one-way trip. If the fare is paid using cash, transfers will not be included.

You all know that Spain is our most popular holiday destination. There is a new free online magazine available that should assist potential visitors in deciding what to visit and when. Called SPN, it focuses on contemporary Spanish design, arts, culture, gastronomy and music.  You can click here to view it.

The Seoul City Wall Museum, which has been partially open since last April, officially opened at the end of July. The museum tells the 600 year history of Seoul’s city walls, which were used to protect Seoul dating back to the Joseon Dynasty. The museum displaysl artifacts relating to the transformation of the city, and has a permanent exhibition hall, which currently has a Lego recreation of Namdaemun (Sungnyemun) Gate, and a media wall that displays information on Seoul City Wall’s history. It is closed on Mondays and admission is free of charge.


Iceland Aurora Borealis

The Aurora Borealis seen over Iceland

Iceland has announced that July has been a great month for the number of British tourists visiting Iceland. There had been a 27% increase in July over 2013 and officials think that we will continue to travel there in greater numbers despite recent news about the possible eruption of an Icelandic volcano. That will be partially due to the fact that easyJet have announced new links from Gatwick and Belfast to Reykjavik starting this winter.

India has announced pretty ambitious targets for attracting more of us to visit them. In the next five year plan they are looking for an annual growth of 12%. Contributing 6.8% of the country’s GDP, It’s no wonder that they want more tourists. An expansion of visas on demand at airports on arrival and cheaper visas may be things that officials might consider

Those flying back after their holidays will often be approached by airline cabin crew members asking for unwanted change for a charity they have chosen. Given easyJet’s announcement this week it is staggering how much money airline passengers donate to good causes. Since July 2005 – so in roughly nine years – easyJet, or rather its passengers have raised £3,035,303 for Change for Good. That is a partnership between the airline and UNICEF to support UNICEF in the global fight against polio. The money has been used to vaccinate 4 million mothers and children against diseases in West and Central Africa, as well as help protect 2 million children from polio. The airline also said that over £841,000 has been donated on easyJet’s flights in and out of London Gatwick airport alone.

Staying with airlines, Ryanair has announced new routes from Dublin some of which start in October. The routes include the main airport for Brussels, (rather than Charleroi which is miles away) Basle, Bucharest, Cologne, Lisbon, Marrakesh, Nice and Prague. It also says that it plans to increase the frequency on a number of its existing Dublin routes, including London Gatwick, Birmingham, Berlin, Rome and Warsaw. The operate word is “plans” so these may not come to pass. They also seem to be actively courting the Cypriot government in their attempts to buy Cyprus Airways, subject to the right price of course.

Ryanair is one of the airlines which has instituted a mobile boarding pass but there have been complaints about whether accessing them.  Natalie Paris who writes for the Daily Telegraph was one of those affected so she wrote a story in the paper earlier this week highlighting some of the problems. If you use a boarding pass on your mobile then rest assured if you are unable to retrieve it, Ryanair has confirmed that free boarding passes will be issued for anyone who is unable to show a mobile boarding pass having checked-in using the app.

This was the week that the overall increase in rail fares was announced. We learnt that there will be a rise of 3.5% in England and Wales. (not Scotland where it will be lower.) As usual we will have to wait until later to find out what the prices will actually be because train operating companies have some discretion on where those increases fall.

Borders Railway

working on the new Borders railway in mid-August 2014

There was some good news though. Alex Salmond took time off from electioneering to win a “yes” vote in the Scottish independence referendum to announce that the revived Borders to Edinburgh railway will open on its 30 miles of track on the 6th of September 2015. Many people are looking at the possibility of extending it possible even to Carlisle so that a “new” raillink between England and the Scottish capital could come about. He also said that a feasibility study to look at ways to use the railway to boost tourism in the area.

In Scotland, the culture secretary – Fiona Hyslop – announced that more than £1.5m has been awarded to help repair seven historic buildings across Scotland. The full list of recipients and their awards features Campbeltown Town Hall, Argyll and Bute (£264,480), Hospitalfield House, Angus (£500,000), Aberdeen Music Hall (£222,062), Castle of Mey, Caithness (193,440), The Haining House, Selkirkshire (£371,260), Craig Castle, Aberdeenshire, (£13,598) and Hans Hamilton Tomb, East Ayrshire (£7,490).

Finally in the blindingly obvious survey category, Holiday Extras says that British holidaymakers are “cynical and dissatisfied with stringent airport security rules.” What a surprise! They found that that passing through airport security is rated one of the most stressful and unpleasant things by holidaymakers


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