Saturday snipppets: 14th March 2015

By | Category: Travel news
Trabant - not smelly or noisy

the modern Trabant

Whilst I was in Berlin I forgot to tell you about the Trabant. Do you remember those smoking, noisy vehicles that we used to tell jokes about and which seemed to typify the crumbling iron curtain? It has had a makeover and become a very modern city of not just Berlin but other German cities. Today there are electric versions which don’t belch fumes, aren’t noisy and are colourfully painted. It’s all too much for an ageing writer? What would Jeremy Clarkson make of it all!

From the ABC in Australia comes a story about a traveller who has found somewhere new to go. One man, an hotelier living in Tonga – G P Orbassano, – has managed just that. Due to volcanic activity a new as-yet, un-named island has sprung up about 65 kilometres south west if the main Tongan island of Tongatapu. Tonga’s lands and natural resources ministry said the island was 800m wide and 1.3km long and the highest point – a volcanic crater is about 250 metres high. Talking to Radio Australia, Mr Orbassano said that the crater is now full of green emerald water, smelling of sulphur and other chemicals. He also said that this could be the new tourist attraction for Tonga. How long before thousands visit?

Tenerife is probably the UK’s most popular Spanish destination and a new air link might attract even more of us there. Iberia Express launches a new route on 29th March 2015 that will operate three times a week (Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays) departing from London Heathrow to Tenerife North (Los Rodeos). With the new direct flights, key attractions such as Anaga Rural Park, Santa Cruz, La Laguna, Pirámides de Güímar and the northern wineries, volcanic sand beaches and picturesque towns are now within easy reach.. As a complement and contrast to the popular resorts in the south of the island, the lesser-known north is ideal for outdoor enthusiasts, walkers, families and couples who are seeking to get away from the more populated areas

Brodrick Castle © The National Trust for Scotland

Brodrick Castle © The National Trust for Scotland

The National Trust for Scotland (NTS) has announced a new series of, unfortunately only available for trade sales rather than for the individual holidaymaker to enjoy, the Ranger activity walks at several of its key visitor attractions. The easy-grade, one-hour walks are available at some of Scotland’s most outstanding locations such as Glencoe, Culzean Castle and Country Park, Inverewe Garden, and Brodrick Castle.

It isn’t possible to see all the items that are held in our museums and galleries much as we would like to. Just about Travel has consistently suggested that too few items are available to be seen by the visitor. It isn’t a perfect solution but Historic Scotland has gone some way to solving the problem. It has launched an online gallery of 400 objects, organised so that visitors can easily search by theme, date, type or property where it is housed. But it holds 35,000 objects housed in over 160 properties in Scotland are in the safekeeping of Historic Scotland. The object collection can be explored online at:

The final Scottish story of the week comes from the Scottish Seabird Centre, North Berwick which has been named BBC Countryfile Magazine’s Nature Reserve of the Year for the Rock. More importantly, the first of half-a-million seabirds have started to arrive for the nesting season. Gannets in particular (Scotland is home to around 60% of the world’s population of North Atlantic gannets.) will be joined by puffins, cormorants, kittiwakes, guillemots, razorbills, fulmars, shags and terns. The other variety of animal that will be seen in increasing numbers over the spring and summer will be the human which tends to follow the habits of birds and tracking them wherever they go. The seabird centre will be hoping for more of this variety visiting them this year as well.

Senado Square in Macao

Senado Square in Macao

Yet more news from tourist offices proclaiming how well they did last year. Macau Government Tourist Office has announced that 2014 visitor arrivals topped a record-breaking 31.5 million, representing a 7.5% year-on-year increase. Combined visitors from the UK and Ireland were just under 65,000 and the UK remains the largest European source market to Macau. With four new walking tours, cultural events and performances, hotel, shopping mall and entertainment complex openings this year, the tourist board is naturally hoping that 2015  will be  another strong year for attracting UK visitors to this thriving East-meets-West corner of Asia.

If owning a pier takes your fancy, three are up for sale.  Blackpool’s South and Central Piers and  Llandudno Pier are being sold as the company owning them (it also owns Eastbourne pier) is “restructuring its assets” – whatever that means. You can get a job lot for about £12.6 million or each can be bought separately. It will cost £4.8m for Blackpool Central, £3.3m for Blackpool South and £4.5m for Llandudno Pier.  Llandudno is the only one with listed status so you could do what you want with the others.

Cardigan Castle in the west of Wales will be open to the public from April 15th.   Since 2011, some £12 million has been spent restoring the 800 year old castle which was in a fairly dilapidated state before the transformation began. Now there is even accommodation in which you can stay as well as a restaurant. Thousands of objects have been found as the site was prepared for open ing including a dolphin’s skill, arrow heads and, perhaps most importantly, a mediaeval archway. It is hoped to attract 33,000 visitors in the first year.




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