Saturday snippets: 19th March 2016

By | Category: Travel news

canvasWith Easter less than a week away, many tourist attractions will be re-opening for the new season such as theme parks, heritage railways and many heritage homes. Most will have Easter egg treasure hunts for the kids and some have new or improved features. Let’s start at London Zoo. The Land of the Lions, ZSL London Zoo’s biggest experience in time for Easter. It will be home to a pride of endangered Asiatic lions, and features a crumbling ruin of an amphitheatre-style Lion Temple as the big cats roam just metres away. The enclosure is inspired by the animals’ wild home in the Gujurat state in India where the wilderness meets with human occupation.

IWM Duxford’s American Air Museum reopens to the public today after a redevelopment. The newly-transformed American Air Museum explores Anglo-American collaboration in twentieth and twenty-first century conflict, as seen through the eyes of the people linked with the aircraft and objects on display. It houses 850 objects, including equipment, uniforms, keepsakes and photographs. Many of these have never been seen by the public before. One of the aircraft on display will be a B-52 Stratofortress which will forever be linked to the Cold war. Alongside it will be the recollections of Jack Revelle, a bomb disposal officer who dealt with the Goldsboro incident, where a B-52 armed with nuclear weapons crashed in North Carolina in 1961.

Efteling in the Netherlands opens this weekend as does Europa Park in Germany. Chessington World of Adventures has Pandamonium, which launches on 25th March and features life-size and life-like animatronic pandas  and Galactica – a space travel portal opens at Alton Towers in time for Easter as well The Smiler where the horrific accident happened last year which led to its closure whilst safety checks were made.  At Drayton Manor Theme Park, the new tamarin trail opens on Good Friday But have you heard of Gardaland? This, they claim, is the number one amusement park in Italy and it is also one of the oldest in Europe. Found on the south eastern banks of Lake Garda, the park’s theme is historical with reconstructions of history, geography space and fantasy. It also has an aquarium – also themed – recreating natural habitats from the River Sarcato Lake Garda, the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean.

The vast amount of money some destinations (tens of millions or many times more) is not the norm. Many have miniscule amounts in comparison which means their marketing has to be tightly controlled. With just £64,000, Love Loch Lomond, Glasgow City Marketing Bureau (GCMB) and ScotRail have come up with a campaign to entice visitors to Glasgow and nearby Loch Lomond. For their money they will get just website landing pages, a short film as well as some advertisements. No money comes to us but they can still have a plug in Just about Travel to suggest readers visit one of the beautiful spots in Scotland that is easily accessible as well as a city that has transformed itself over the last 40 years.

Glasgow Restaurant Festival l to r Derek Marshall of Gamba, Tony Singh of Tasty and John Quigley of Red Onion  Photograph by Martin Shields  Tel 07572 457000 © Martin Shields FEE PAYABLE FOR REPRO USE NB -This image is not to be distributed without the prior consent of the copyright holder. in using this image you agree to abide by terms and conditions as stated in this caption. All monies payable to Martin Shields (PLEASE DO NOT REMOVE THIS CAPTION) This image is intended for Editorial use (e.g. news). Any commercial or promotional use requires additional clearance.  Copyright 2015 All rights protected. first use only.

Glasgow Restaurant Festival
l to r
Derek Marshall of Gamba, Tony Singh of Tasty and John Quigley of Red Onion
Photograph by Martin Shields 

Whilst on a Scottish theme, I should also point out that a new tourist attraction, the Glasgow Restaurant Festival opens next week and runs for a month. It has three distinct strands, bringing together the city’s best chefs and most popular restaurants. The first strand running from March 25th until the end of the month is called Secret Dining takes place at Spiegeltent. There will also be entertainment, with live music, DJs and a nine-hole crazy golf course will also be located on Candleriggs Square, alongside a converted horse-box wine bar. That will be followed by Pop-Up Dining at the same location from April 1st until the 17th when there will be a different pop-up restaurant every day.  Finally running from when that closes until the 24th of April there is Dining in the City when visitors can sample specially-priced menus at over 60 of the city’s best restaurants.

Since I have already mentioned food, as Michelin guides for different parts of the world appear, destinations want to trumpet their successes. Take Macao for example. Five new restaurants there have gained Michelin stars reinforcing Macao’s reputation as one of Asia’s most exciting food destinations. The five new restaurants awarded one star for 2016 are: Feng Wei Ju (Hunanese and Sichuan); Mizumi (Japanese); 8 ½ Otto e Mezzo BOMBANA (Italian); Shinji (Sushi); and Terrazza (Italian). Chinese restaurant The Eight and Robuchon au Dôme, which specialises in French cuisine, both located at the Grand Lisboa Hotel, retained their three stars. Cantonese eatery Jade Dragon and French contemporary restaurant The Tasting Room have been both awarded a new star, totalling two Michelin stars each.

Glendurgan Garden in Cornwall is one of the first places in the UK to have a full Spring bloom. That is due, of course, to it being further south than most gardens in the US and so it gets warmer earlier than the rest of the country. Magnolias, wild flowers and woodland flora, including drifts of bluebells are still to flower whereas the daffodils have been on parade for a few weeks. There are exotic trees and shrubs dotted around the valley garden and, in the spaces between, wildflower areas have been developed. Oh, and there’s a maze in which you might be able to lose any in your party that bores you!

Glendurgan isn’t the National Trust garden that is the traditionally first to flower each year. That honour usually goes to Tregwainton which is also in Cornwall. There’s a different range of flowers and shrubs to Glendurgan as rhododendrons and camellias join the magnolias in spring. It also has a walled kitchen, a stream with plenty of areas to sit even if the weather turns and a lower walled garden with plants from around the world. Combining a morning in Glendurgan with an afternoon in Tregwainton could be a pleasant day out over the Easter break next weekend.

At the Lego Discovery Centre in Manchester, a new attraction is showing in Manchester which reunites the characters from the original and brings together some of the original voices. The new attraction also features an entirely new plot and is mixed with 4D effects. The plot – not to give too much away – sees Emmet, Wyldstyle, Unikitty, Benny and MetalBeard receive invitation leading them to a new theme park, bearing a suspicious resemblance to LEGOLAND®. But all is not as it seems! “The LEGO® Movie™ 4D A New Adventure” is open now at LEGOLAND® Discovery Centre Manchester and the LEGOLAND® Windsor Resort.

Many of our readers have used Airbnb to rent out their accommodation whilst they travel elsewhere. Sometimes the arrangement works well, sometimes it doesn’t.  But when we are away how do we know the impact on our neighbours? After all these are the people we have to live next to for most of the time and stroppy neighbours can lead to all sorts of problems. No those neighbours will shortly have the opportunity to post comments on what those staying visitors were like. Their comments will be posted and reviewed by the company. If the comment passes the review, I assume the post will go live.

If Greece is seeing a passenger downturn due to the stories about refugees, it isn’t showing up yet despite those anecdotal stories. A total of 1.8 million passengers passed through Greek airports in January, up 11.5 percent compared to the same month in 2015. The highest passenger traffic during January 2016 was recorded at the airports of Athens, Thessaloniki, Chania, Heraklion and Rhodes. In the latest figures, Athens International Airport welcomed a record number of passengers in February, serving 1.07 million passengers, 18.2 percent more compared to February 2015.



Curaçao in the Caribbean is mainly a destination for the Dutch and North Americans. Comparatively few Brits go there but that might change now that there is now an online version of the Embarkation and Disembarkation card. All foreign visitors arriving in Curaçao are required to have a completed ED-card for immigration clearance. This should cut down the queues and time spent at immigration on arrival in Curaçao.

In a lot of American states, the new fishing season starts in just a couple of weeks on April 1. In Maine, for example, 6,000 plus lakes and ponds will become open for anglers of all stripes. While spin casting and trolling is popular, it is fly fishing that might be more likely to attract overseas visitors. What fish await the visiting angler? Salmon, native brook trout, striped bass and largemouth bass are just some of the varieties available. And in the north of the state there might still be some ice-fishing locations still available before the spring thaw comes.

Finally, regarding fights, a new route by Flybe from Cardiff Airport to Berlin Tegel will start from November 2nd for the coming winter season has been confirmed by Flybe.  Incidentally, the date I heard for the opening of the new airport in Berlin is 2018 from what I heard gossiped at the travel trade show there last week so you’ll have to put up with Schönefeld as it is a bit longer. EasyJet has announced a new route to Zakynthos from Stansted. The route will operate weekly throughout the summer with the first flights commencing on 28 May. Norwegian is launching flights from Manchester to Barcelona,  (from April 30th) Malaga (from June 2nd) and Alicante from June 3rd. On the negative side, British Airways will stop flying to Baku in Azerbaijan claiming that it is no longer commercially viable. Azerbaijan Airlines will provide the only direct flights.



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