Saturday snippets: 1st August 2015

By | Category: Travel news
In remembrance poppies at the Tower of London

Crowds in a procession around the Tower viewing the ceramic poppies © Nadia Lawes

One of the abiding sights of last year was that of the ceramic poppies surrounding the Tower of London. 10,0000, comprising parts called “Wave” and Weeping Window,” were bought for the nation and will go on tour around the UK for a few years before becoming permanent fixtures at the Imperial War Museums in London and Manchester . The first three stops next year will be at St George’s Hall in Liverpool and the Woodhorn Museum, Northumberland for the “Weeping Window” whilst the “Wave” goes to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park near wakefield in Yorkshire.

Next Friday is when Lisbon in Portugal launches its new multimedia show called #Ulisseia21. Between the 7th and 16th August, the façade of Arco da Rua Augusta, one of the city’s focal points, will be ‘transformed’ into a giant screen to display it which is inspired by the love story of Ulysses and Ofiússa that took place in the mythical kingdom where today’s Lisbon is located. Alternating between fiction and reality, it recounts the origins of the Portuguese capital whilst following another passionate couple in modern Lisbon. The creators of #Ulisseia21 will be present throughout the show’s 10-day run and the story will evolve and change as they fine-tune each performance. The three daily 15-minute sessions which are all free are at 21:30, 22:30 and 23:30 and will be held at Terreiro do Paço, Lisbon’s main square.

Grayson Perry's "

Grayson Perry’s “Map of days”

One thing that Grayson Perry is not is boring. His ‘Map of Days’, which was purchased by Bath’s Victoria Art Gallery in 2014, using grant-aid from outside bodies is a self-portrait taking the form of a map showing the inner workings of the artist’s mind. The river of imagination flows past a walled city made up of streets with names such as ‘Intuition’, ‘Revenge’ and ‘Churning Insecurity’. This is all part of a free exhibition called Portraits and Identity featuring portrait prints by artists as diverse as Hogarth, Gillray, Dürer and Perry which opens at the gallery on August 20. It runs alongside the ‘Jane Austen’s Bath’ exhibition.

Cuba is expanding its tourism fast in the light of the removal of restrictions on US visitors. One of the new attractions is a visitor trail which reminds us of its cigar making industry. Starting next month, the Tobacco Trail is in the western province of Pinar del Rio, which is home to many tobacco plantations. The trail will start in Consolacion del Sur, and on to the UNESCO World Heritage Site Vinales Valley, where the leaves used to make Cuba’s Habanos cigars are found.

Everyone who registers for Club 50 online before 31 August will be able to book a £10 return flat fare for Off Peak travel on ScotRail services. They can opt to take another member with them, or book two return journeys for £10 each time. Annual membership is free to those who sign up by 31 August.  It will cost £15 a year from then on. Club 50 launches on 14 September.  But why sign up? You get 10% off ‘walk up’ Off Peak or Advance fares (purchased at stations or by telephone) and 20% if you book online. Members will also get free tea/coffee on ScotRail services that have on-board catering trolleys (normally express services between cities) and there will be other deals such as 2for1 entry to National Trust properties.

Guernsey has reported that more of us are staying on the island compared to the same time last year. Numbers staying are up by over 10% as over 91,000 of us went there in the first six months of the year. After the 70th anniversary celebrations of the liberation of the island in May, the local tourist board is hoping that the international food festival taking place in September will top of a busy summer.

the Giants Causeway

the Giants Causeway

Ireland is also doing well. For the January to June period there were almost 3.9 million overseas arrivals, an additional 407,100 visitors. More than 1.6 million arrivals were recorded from Great Britain up by 140,000 compared with the first half in 2014. Just in Northern Ireland, visitor numbers were up to almost 350,000 making an increase of over 9% in the last three months. Last year, the top five visitor attractions in Northern Ireland were the Giant’s Causeway, (790,000 visits,) Titanic Belfast, (630,000,) the Ulster Museum Belfast, (470,000,) Derry’s Walls. (370,000) and W5 – the science and discovery centre at Odyssey in Belfast – which attracted 324,000 visitors.

Readers will be aware that there is a UK City of Culture competition. Whilst it benefits the winner, a lot of places that aren’t cities are excluded from even entering. Jamie Reed, MP for Copeland, asked the government in the House of Commons this week if here were plans for a community culture award to which Ed Vaizey, on behalf of the government (why not the tourism minister?) didn’t say no and didn’t say yes only that the existing competition is open “to areas that have a clear urban focus, which could include a city or large town, two or more neighbouring cities or towns, or a closely linked set of urban areas.” That would seem still to rule out rural areas and small towns like Hay-on-Wye and Wigtown where internationally famous book festivals occur and places where musical seasons draw tens of thousands like Glyndebourne.

Eleven million people visit the French Riviera each year. And many buy the local card – French Riviera Pass. One reason is that it doesn’t just cover the main city of Nice but also Antibes, Cannes, Monaco, Cap Ferrat, Villefranche and the villages and towns in between. It costs €26 for a 24 hour pass, €38 for 48 hours and €56 for 72 hours. For an extra €4 per day you can buy on the transport network giving a cheaper alternative than taxis from the airport. Keen-eyed readers will have spotted that two 48 hour passes are cheaper than a 72 hour one plus a 24 hour pass so plan how long you will need a pass. The other thing that you should remember is that although it looks as though you only have a pass for a day or two, discounts from shops, restaurants and attractions last for a month after the card activation.

The cruise company, Silversea, has announced that it has collaborated with the Royal Opera House in London to bring an exclusive series of performances to guests on a voyage. During the 10-day Silver Wind voyage which will depart on 12 August there will be two evening performances, a Tea Dance with the pianist Michael Robinson, and a sing-along performance by Royal Opera House artists. Performers will also present a discussion on ‘a day in the life of the Royal Opera House’ as part of the voyage with guests having an opportunity to meet the artists. Why not take the concept further and have more of the company on board in a full opera; why not a West End show and full cast or a ballet company. At times of the year when theatres struggle to be filled, why not close for ten days and put the company on a ship to offer – in the horrible words of those travel marketing companies – an experience never to be forgotten?

British Airways has announced some small changes to its baggage policy. The weight limits haven’t changed (23kgs in the hold) and two bags in the cabin, one of which should be a handbag/lap top bag That will now receive a yellow label meaning it will be carried in the cabin come what may. The other bag may be off-loaded into the hold if there is insufficient room in the cabin. That second bag can continue to weigh up to 23kgs provided that you can load it into the overload lockers yourself.  the size has altered too. It can now be no larger than 40x30x15cm whereas the old sizes were 45cm x 36cm x 20cm including bits that stick out such as handles and wheels. In truth, these changes are hardly earth-shattering the important thing remaining that BA allows such a generous cabin weight allowance still.

Another airline has announced a tightening up of rules when you fly. Oman Air says that if you buy your ticket with a credit card (don’t most people?) then you will be required to carry the same card with them at check-in. If a third-party card has been used for the booking and the cardholder is not present, the passenger should carry relevant authorisation from the person named on the card. Random checks by Oman Air’s staff will be carried out to ensure the legitimacy of the booking. This is for security reasons so how long will it be before other airlines adopt the same practice?

empty deckchair

Where I would be if I wasn’t reading daft survey results© Dan Sperrin

Finally, results from another survey. Avios says that research reveals that 34 million days of holiday were wasted last year. The main reasons survey respondents gave for not taking their holiday were guilt (30%), stress (26%), and money. (21%) Is that guilt about not doing their job properly  and a fear f being found out whilst they were away? Londoners are the most likely not to use their holiday (30%) and also the most likely to cancel their holiday once it’s booked – nearly a third (31%) of workers said they’ve had to do this in the past compared with a UK average of 22%. According to the research, cancelling holiday can have a significant effect on personal relationships, with 29% claiming the person they were going away with was very upset with them and 12% saying this person refused to go on holiday with them again. I can add another reason. I missed a holiday day-off because I had too many daft survey results to read!



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