Saturday snippets: April 25th 2015

By | Category: Travel news
the new screens at Terminal 2

the new screens at Terminal 2

How many of us have been inadvertently been fleeced at an airport by opting for the easy transport solution rather than using the cheapest? At Heathrow’s terminal 2 this week, a new system has opened in the baggage reclaim zone that helps resolve that. Screens have been installed which provide real-time transport options. You can compare, for example, a taxi ride with that of Heathrow Express for both cost and time taken. What it doesn’t show you is the cost of a tube journey but that will be always cheaper than the other two. Still it’s a start.

More and more airlines are breaking out the fare structure to allow those of us travelling with just hand luggage to fly at a slightly cheaper rate. Finnair joins this group as from May 5th when it offers a ticket called “Light.” The airline says that has proved popular in trials in Scandinavia so it will be available for British and Irish departures on the airlines three routes out of Heathrow, Manchester and Dublin.

Yesterday, Heathrow announced profits for the three months up to the end of March of £71 million. What took my eye however was the claim that “over 30 airlines” are knocking at Heathrow’s door wanting landing rights. Is anyone in the Department of Transport asking why they are seeking Heathrow and whether an alternative airport would be sufficient or is this part of Heathrow’s master plan to persuade us it needs a new runway?

City PaSS, the company that packages discounted, prepaid admission to a North American city or a region’s top attractions has added a ew city to its roster. The Dallas City PASS will go live on May. Each Dallas CityPASS booklet will save visitors 41 percent off combined admission to the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, Reunion Tower GeO-Deck, a choice between the Dallas Zoo and The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, and a choice between the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum and the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden. Even better, CityPASS booklets save time, allowing holders to skip most main-entrance ticket lines. As with all passes though, check to see how many you might be able to visit before you buy so you can judge whether it will work out to be good value for money.

If you’ve travelled on some slow railway lines lately – the service from Manchester Piccadilly to Chester for example which takes 90 minutes to cover the forty mile journey  – then you will be envious of the fact that Japan’s high speed train has set a new world speed record of just under 375 miles an hour. Would that we could do the Manchester Chester journey in around 6 minutes! It makes HS2 look a little sluggish and that isn’t even built yet. Don’t book your tickets yet. It will be another eight years before the service operates between Tokyo and Nagoya and twenty years to run it to Osaka.

Staying with trains, for the last seven months the Train to the Clouds train service in northern Argentina hasn’t been available due to necessary repairs. Now this very popular tourist attraction is back in operation but it only travels on Saturdays at the moment. From July it runs on Wednesday’s as well so visitors will want to carefully plan their itineraries if they want to travel on this, one of the highest railways in the world. The highest point on the line is at 4,220 metres on the La Polvorilla Viaduct, where the narrow-gauge railway crosses the gorge. the journey takes about 7 hours to cover the 600 kilometre journey which is still faster than travelling from Manchester to Chester!

Red Earth in Oklahoma City

Red Earth in Oklahoma City

Readers are probably aware that UK visitors make up the largest contingent of tourists visiting native American sites even above Americans themselves. So those of you visiting the US in June might fancy visiting Oklahoma City for the Red Earth Native American Culture Festival, a three-day celebration of Native American heritage taking place from June 5-7. 1,200 Native American dancers perform sacred dance rituals. Wearing massive feather headdresses and flowing furs each tribe will showcase their unique heritage through dance performances and a unique arts market. Advance discount tickets start at just $9 (approx. £6) until May 23, and children under the age of 18 get in for free which seems like a real bargain given what some attractions cost these days.

The-commerce giant Amazon has finally announced its entry into the travel business with Amazon Destinations. The Amazon Destinations service focuses on ‘local getaways’ and so far has restricted its coverage to three regions – the Pacific Northwest, California and the Northeast. The service features the tagline ‘Hit the road: Book local getaways.’ There are about 150 ‘handpicked’ hotels listed, mostly within driving distance of the Los Angeles, Seattle or New York metro areas. Amazon Destinations will be separate from the existing Amazon Local brand, which has featured discounted accommodation deals for some time.

I make no apology for reminding readers that the Grotte Chauvet replica opens today. that the cavern wasn’t even discovered until 1994 is surprising in itself given that there are over 1,000 cave paintings. That a relpica has been constructed so that we can all en joy whats there without disrupting the delicate balance of the cavern may be the way our more threatened heritage sites might be treated in the future.

Diggerland2In just fifteen years, Diggerland has gone from one location to four and now they have announced that next year will see their fifth which will be at Evesham in Worcestershire. The other four are in Devon, Durham, Yorkshire with the original still being near Strood in Kent.  There is also a franchised site in New Jersey in the US. Who would have thought that an attraction based on heavy earth moving equipment would be so popular? Each of the Diggerland UK locations has opened for the season and feature over 100 diggers, dumpers and other mechanical attractions available for family amusement including “Spindizzy,” which whirls around in the “Dig-a-Round.” Or you can test your driving skills on the Dumper Trucks, or get behind the wheel of an eight and half-tonne JCB.

You won’t have failed to notice that the new avengers film, Avengers: Age of Ultron opened this week.  If you see the film, you will also get to see a new promotion from the the tourist board of Korea called Korea: Age of Imagination, which relates to the filming of the Avengers sequel in Seoul using locations in the rest of the country as well including Sebitseom (also known as “Floating Island Seoul”), Hangang River, Digital Media City (DMC), and Gangnam-daero Boulevard.  Since films generate an upturn in visitor numbers, the tourist authority is hoping that when you leave the cinema, your next move will be to book a holiday in the country.

Finally, visitors to Jamaica have sometimes considered that they get harassed by street vendors but is this any worse than some places like Egypt and Turkey?  According to government data, about a third of visitors complained of constant pestering during 2013.The Jamaican authorities have had enough and will spend just under  $1 million to increase police presence and to reduce the practice. The words of the tourism minister, Wykeham McNeill could have been better chosen. He is quoted as saying that they are going to “aggressively fight to rid Jamaica of the problem of visitor harassment,” which sounds a bit like harassment to me!








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