Saturday snippets: August 29th 2015

By | Category: Travel news
good luck if you are using First Great Western for your holiday break this weekend

good luck if you are using First Great Western for your holiday break this weekend

I suppose that it is almost impossible to have a hassle-free bank holiday. Apart from those being paid by HSBC bank transfers who found that their monthly or weekly pay arrived in the account later than they expected for the last holiday period of summer, (a least south of the Scottish border) people have to contend with the rail strike on First Great Western which affects large parts of the south west and Cotswolds and a Spanish air traffic controllers’ which will affect those returning next weekend. Incidentally, there will also be strikes on every Friday throughout September not just the 4th. And I haven’t even mentioned the traffic problems on the motorways!

On Monday, Sunderland’s new public space Keel Square officially opens at 11am. Celebrating Sunderland’s maritime heritage, there will be themed activities and exhibitions including street entertainment and live music and an appearance by the Sunderland Ladies Football Club. Beware though for two divers wearing large corroded copper helmets squirting jets of water and draped with sea-weed and crabs unless you fancy getting wet. But this is a bank holiday Monday so the weather might provide that rather than the divers!

You might have seen pictures of a couple clad in diving gear getting married underwater last week. Me, preferred something a t more traditional but couples increasingly look for something dramatic and getting married in front of the sunken Christ of the Deep statue, positioned in 25 feet of water, about five miles off Key Largo in Florida draws in the lucrative honeymoon market. The statue has now been in place for 50 years ad was cast for Egidi Cressi, a diving equipment manufacturer, who donated it to the Underwater Society of America in 1961. Although state dive councils in Illinois, Michigan and the Northeast petitioned for the statue, it was decided the waters of Key Largo’s Pennekamp Park were to be the statue’s final resting place. getting married underwater seems almost lame in comparison with bungee jumping marriages and those on volcanic craters!

Staying in Florida, if you happen to be holidaying there on September 5th and want to see something a bit different, how about going to St Pete/Clearwater for the 15th annual Geckofest. Thousands attend the festival every year, alongside hundreds of vendors and an impressive line-up of live musicians and performers who will take to the two stages set up in the town. But the real attractions are the geckos? Not really. The gecko is the unofficial mascot so the lizards take second place to those dressed as geckos. People join the GeckoFest Walking Parade and had you been there tonight you could even attended the Gecko ball!


the sign to look for

Unlike previous years, there seem to have been fewer collapses by holiday firms than in recent years. But there was the collapse of the small, Turkish holiday specialist, Exclusive Escapes this week. Do check that any holiday company that you consider booking with is either ATOL bonded or has some bonding policy in place so that you are as protected as it is possible to be. It also helps to be on a credit card because if the company you select isn’t bonded then – although you might have to pay a bit more to use a credit card rather than a debit one, the credit card company will refund the monies in the event of a collapse before you embark on a holiday or flight.

As readers now, it is almost mandatory that I include survey results in this column. With supposedly 14 million of us taking to the roads this weekend do we really need research from Europcar, the car hire people, suggesting that 72% of men prefer to do the driving on long distance journeys and whilst, 20% of men thinking the journey could be improved if the driving was split with their partners, only 6% actually allow this to happen! There don’t seem to be results showing whether more women than men are happy to hand the wheel over to their spouses.

Delta Air Lines will provide another direct flight from next year into the US. It starts flights from Heathrow to Salt Lake City net May and a new Edinburgh to new York service as well. Still no direct flights to that holiday hotspot, New Orleans though. Is no airline investigating that route?

Frankfurt is the one of the major airport hubs in Europe so many Brits will have the opportunity to see the new 320 metre long mural there outside terminal one. . The artwork, created by Helge ‘Bomber’ Steinmann, comprises of 15 images showcasing local attractions, including the Römer city hall, the zoo, Eintracht Frankfurt soccer team, and the Alte Oper concert hall. Frankfurt’s skyline is the central focus of the graffiti mural, painted on an integrated bridge pylon.

In just a little over a fortnight, London Underground was due to operate all night tube trains on some of the network but that has been postponed to an indeterminate time in the autumn. A twenty-four service for a city like London is widely viewed as essential for future tourism and economic growth reasons and the all-night tube was due to start on the Jubilee, Victoria and most of the Piccadilly, Central and Northern lines. The postponement will allow talks to continue with the unions. Other news from London concerns the go-ahead for a new cruise terminal on the Thames. It would be built at London’s Enderby Wharf, between Greenwich and Tower Hamlets and will accommodate 55 cruise ships a year. There will also be include restaurants, cafes, bars and homes.

will we ever see 24 hour running?

will we ever see 24 hour running?

Not everyone likes to fly or drive long distances. Bus travel is a very popular way of travelling in mainland Europe. France is expected see more than five million new coach passengers within the next year, As that popularity has grown so has the number of rotes available for the visitor to use., the search engine for comparing flights, coach and rail travel options across Europe, has put together a comprehensive map of all the new routes available across France and into Germany, Amsterdam, Spain and Brussels as a result of the Macron Law.  The deregulation of the market is also expected to see a 10% to 70% drop in ticket prices over the next year as more operators come into the market. The Macron Law is expected to encourage a further 800,000 Brits to use coach transportation services in the years to come.

Finally. despite the tragedy of last week at the Shorham-by-Sea airshow, there are more air shows to come including Clacton which started yesterday. Most stll go ahead attracting hundreds of thousands of people. Although there have been three tragedies this year, this is very unusual as safety standards are high. the new CAA rules, remove over land acrobatics so the shows at Rhyl in North Wales, Ayr on the west coast of Scotland will go ahead of the coming weeks although Durham has been cancelled.

Whatever you do this bank holiday weekend, enjoy it. It’s a long drag to the next public holiday at Christmas.


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