Saturday snippets: 18th July 2015

By | Category: Travel news
modern visitors to Pompeii

Pompeii ©

For those who were considering driving to Pompeii, there is an alternative.The Campania express train service links Naples with Sorrento. It stops at  Herculaneum and Pompeii.  the journey takes 14 minutes to Heerculaneum and 32 to Popmpeii. Try beating that in the Friday evening rush hour out of Naples. It once took me over two hours to get through the traffic jams. The service runs three times a day in each direction until October. The return fare is €15  and tickets can be purchased at Porta Nolana and Garibaldi train station in Naples or Circumvesuviana train station in Sorrento.

At present it looks like being a bumper holiday year. Airports have been recording increases in the number of passengers going through their gates apart from Aberdeen which puts its decline down to there being less oil and gas business in the North Sea. Apart from Aberdeen, Glasgow saw international traffic grow by 15.6% in June, while domestic passenger numbers were up by 12.2%. Edinburgh said nearly 1.1 million passengers passed through the airport – its second busiest month ever. The number of people using Manchester Airport increased again last month, marking 15 months of continuous growth setting another new record at just short of 22.5 million. June saw a 3.05% increase in passenger throughput, up from 2,247,885 in June 2014, to 2,316,492 for the same month this year. Stansted Airport saw more than two million passengers pass through the terminal in June 2015, up 11% the same month last year and an increase of more than 200,000 passengers and, at Liverpool John Lennon Airport, 9% more passengers chose to use the airport compared to the same month in 2014.

Those who are regular users of Bristol Airport will be aware that east terminal extension building work has been going on for a little while. It will re-open shortly and that’s the good news. The not so good is that that the west terminal will also be undergoing an upgrade which means building work will start happening soon and last until summer next year. Still it will all improve things when work is finished.

Itaipu Hydroelectric Dam

Itaipu Hydroelectric Dam

Many people could understand the attractions of visiting a dam, the obvious water sports opportunities. But the  Itaipu Hydroelectric Dam on the border between Brazil and Paraguay attracts 860,000 a year. People come not for the water sports but for a sightseeing tour, an eco-museum and a wildlife sanctuary. Then, every Friday the dam is illuminated with a light show and on Saturdays there are racing tracks for test driving electric vehicles. This single dam provides energy to 50 million homes per year which is more than we have in the whole of the UK. Visits to the plant generate around R$12 million per year, of which R$3.2 million are invested in the Itaipu Technological Park Fund to promote research into renewable energy, electric vehicle projects, research laboratories and free software factories.

Continuing the Brazilian theme, opening soon is the new Museo do Amanhal in Rio de Janeiro. As part of Brazil’s Olympic strategy to display the country at its very best, this museum which chronicles scientific achievement and where we might be in the future has been described by some as looking like a white upturned coat hanger. Whatever, you might think this striking building is bound to feature in the media coverage and travel programmes that the media has underway before next year’s opening ceremony.

SAIL Amsterdam, is the largest, free nautical event in the world and it is happening this year. Every five years, 600 ships navigate along the North Sea Canal before mooring around the IJ-haven in Amsterdam. This year will mark the 9th festival, and it will take place from 19-23 August 2015. This internationally renowned event comprises of a huge flotilla of Tall Ships, maritime heritage, naval ships and impressive replicas. In addition to this there are multiple marine activities available for all ages. From 19th August, when the Tall Ships make their grand entrance, until 23rd August, when the crowds wave the ships goodbye, Amsterdam will be buzzing with nautical activities, concerts and a once in a lifetime opportunity to visit the ships and share the sights.

Midway between Dijon and Lyon, the historic town of Tournus stands on the Saône. A small place with cruise boat moorings, a Romanesque abbey, bicycle museum and an historic quarter, it is the gateway to the Mâconnais vineyards. This year it and the surrounding area has won the top prize amongst French entrants in the EDEN awards. Because the UK doesn’t participate in these awards, I should explain that the purpose of these awards is to showcase lesser-known tourist destinations within Europe. Entrants should be emerging destinations and not established ones. Another attraction for some of us might be the fact that the town has four Michelin starred restaurants and its gourmand festival each June attracts over 20,000 people

Last month in Atlanta, Georgia, an attraction for driving buffs opened. At the new home for Porsche’s North American headquarters is North America’s first Customer and Driver Experience Center. The 27.4-acre complex will feature a world-class test track for one-on-one instruction, off-road courses, a human performance training facility, driving simulator centre, business centre and two on-site fine dining options, Restaurant 356 and Carrera Café. I can’t really see the restaurants being the draw that driving Porsches to your heart’s content will be.  

diosaurs at the Eden Project

dinosaurs at the Eden Project

Last year readers might remember that one of the successes of the summer at the Eden Project in Cornwall was a dinosaur attraction. It returns this summer. Dinosaur Uproar opens on July 24th, runs until September 2nd and features five times as many dinosaurs as last year’s Dinosaurs Unleashed. Of course there has to be a tyrannosaurus rex but there are also australovenators, (called Australia’s answer to the T-rex) titanosaurs, leasllnasuras (have big eyes as they lived in thickly wooded Australian forests) and meganeuras which were a bit like very large dragonflies.

One attraction that the French have really developed and almost made their own over the last few years has been the summer production of light shows. Images taken by both Frederic and Anthony at French cathedrals have shown how spectacular some of these can be. In Bayeux last year there was a new version of the Rendez-vous a la cathedrale and so popular did it prove that the local tourist board as brought it back for this summer. Once again the company, Spectaculaires, Allumeurs d’images will use a thousand lights to highlight the tree of liberty and the cathedral.

the tree of life at Bayeux © P. LE BRIS

the tree of liberty at Bayeux © P. LE BRIS

The Rimbaud Museum will re-open its doors to the public in Charleville-Mézières, in the Ardennes, on July, 21st (with free entrance on offer up to 1st September). Celebrating the famous poet, the Museum is housed on a small island on the River Meuse.  It will now not simply tell the story of the life and times of Arthur Rimbaud, but will also feature an ‘island garden’ where visitors can soak up a reflective atmosphere.




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