Saturday snippets: 21st October 2015

By | Category: Travel news

france-map-flagIn the week after the horrendous shootings in Paris, out of the closet have come a number of idiots who have disrupted flight travel by creating bomb hoaxes. At a time of tragedy how can anyone think that it is clever to suggest that there is a bomb on a plane? On Thursday in Manchester, two men were arrested for claiming a bomb was on an easyJet flight. Two Air France flights from North America to Paris were diverted when bomb threats were made. A flight from Warsaw to the Red Sea resort of Hurghada was diverted after an overhead conversation about a bomb. Both Copenhagen and Gatwick airports have been evacuated in the last week after bomb scares. It is tempting to take these idiots, lock them up and throw away the key but what good would that do? We end up paying for the incarceration. I suggest anyone convicted of the offence spend every Saturday for a year at an airport cleaning floors, toilets or other menial tasks as atonement.

the Frankfurt Christmas market

the Frankfurt Christmas market

On a pleasanter note, Cathrene has uploaded over 300 Christmas events that you might want to consider visiting as we count down to the end of the year. But are they losing their appeal? There seem fewer his year, the last for a shorter period and some have cancelled the event entirely. For those remaining, Birmingham’s German market remains the one others aim to beat. In the home of the Christmas Market, Germany, it is Frankfurt that claims to have one of the oldest markets in the country. It was this city that is responsible for the one in Birmingham and dozens of Frankfurt residents come across to make their homes in Birmingham for the month. The focal point of the Frankfurt market is the Römerberg old town, which provides a scenic backdrop with its historical timber-frame buildings. Here, one also finds Germany’s tallest Christmas tree.

But can they counter the offering from New Orleans? In the run up to Christmas, this city forever associated with jazz, food and fun has seventy scheduled events. French Quarter Festivals, Inc. announced details of the 31st annual Christmas New Orleans Style, where visitors and locals are invited to “follow their joy” throughout the entire month of December. The events began last Thursday with a concert at the St Louis Cathedral, ) the French Market District tree lighting ceremony and the French-American Chamber of Commerce’s Beaujolais Nouveau Celebration. It doesn’t end until Twelfth Night on January 6th when the Krewe de Jeanne d’Arc parades in the French Quarter and Phunny Phorty Phellows board the St. Charles Avenue streetcar to herald the start of Carnival. All-in-all, this is one city that knows how to celebrate and anyone having the opportunity to holiday there before Twelfth Night will have fun and a holiday that will be memorable.

the Lausanne light festival

the Lausanne light festival

For a slightly different Christmas market, try Lausanne in Switzerland. Built on three sloping hills, surrounded by the Swiss Alps and near Lake Geneva, Lausanne has a the largest covered market in Europe. The saint Francois market is in the old town hall so away from the stalls you can watch the view through the buildings’ glossy glass dome, or go down to the luminous magic fountain, discover the ‘Père Noël’ choir, or enter a snowman-making competition! It also hosts a light festival whereby the streets and squares spring into light as darkness falls. The light is the work of local artists and students and there is a free guided tour to understand the inspiration behind each piece of art.

Edinburgh's Street of Light

Edinburgh’s Street of Light

Edinburgh has one of the longest celebrations over Christmas because their events include Hogmanay as well. Tomorrow, the celebrations kick off with Light Night, when George Street is transformed with live community performances, and Edinburgh’s Christmas lights are turned on. The national day, St Andrew’s day takes place on November 30th with music in St Andrew Square. From the same day 60,000 bulbs illuminate the Virgin Money Street of Light, from the City Chambers to the Tron Kirk. A free light show synchronised to music from Edinburgh choirs will run twice a day. Not content with one market, Edinburgh has two; the Scottish Market in St Andrew Square that began yesterday and the European Market in East Princes Street Gardens. In addition it still has the regular farmers market each Saturday on Castle Terrace and the Grassmarket weekly market as well.

Where people from different parts of the country holiday is always intriguing and Holiday Hypermarket has looked at its booking data to see who goes where. In the Midlands, for example, residents seem to be dazzled by Mexico as the numbers booking holidays there has jumped by 293% from last year. While visitors from the North stayed flat and the South increased by 34% from 2014 levels, it seems that Midlanders have been seduced by places like Cancun and Playa del Carmen. That there were more charter flights to Puerta Vallarta this year may have swayed more people to travel there rather than just the ever popular Cancun. Overall bookings to Mexico at the company rose by 13.5%.An aerial shot of the most popular destination for Brits - Cancun

I have complained in these columns before about how lacklustre TripAdvisor’s attempts seemed to have been in removing falsely conceived reviews. But the company has investigated and closed down 30 companies that have approached business owners offering to distort content and manipulate rankings on its site. It has also written to owners around the world to ask for help to deal with the problem, which he said is “wholly contrary to the spirit and terms of our site, are unethical and often against the law”. Good for them. Now if they will do something more about some of their reviews…

Finally, now that the world’s second-largest gem quality diamond has been discovered in Botswana – a 1,111 carat stone – at the Karowe mine, will Botswana start promoting the country as a destination to go fossicking for your own diamonds?




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