Saturday snippets: 27th of August 2016

By | Category: Travel news
The peace and quiet of Sark © Sark Tourism

The peace and quiet of Sark © Sark Tourism

Ever been to Sark in the Channel Islands?  It’s a quiet island where cars are banned and the tractor taking luggage from the boats up to the accommodation is about all that is noisy. It makes an ideal place for the first Sark Roots Festival which runs from 16-18 September. The festival will celebrate the land, sea and community of Sark and the neighbouring islands of Guernsey, Alderney and Herm with live music, local food and brews, and creative workshops. The festival is themed around wellness and creativity with a weekend full of a range of creative workshops offering visitors the chance to try their hand at African drumming, gardening, mindfulness meditation, bee keeping or flax weaving among many other activities. Sark also has  ‘Dark Sky Island’ status attributed to its isolated location in the English Channel, its complete lack of public street lighting and low pollution levels so star gazing is popular for visitors.

Passenger numbers at Luton Airport passed 1.5 million in July 2016, a 15.4% increase over the same month the previous year. The airport is planning to increase capacity by 50%, to 18 million passengers per year, by 2020. Other airports announcing recent passenger numbers include Gatwick has had its busiest single month in its 80-year history as 4.6m passengers travelled through the airport in July and Edinburgh Airport which also had its busiest month ever after 1,332,282 passengers went through the airport in July, a 9.6% increase on the same month last year.

Another airlink is lost. United Airlines’ direct service from Newcastle to Newark for New York will end next month. After two years the airline says that it isn’t profitable. Partly, that could be due to the fall in the pound but few airlines have made that route work. American Airlines tried it a while back when the pound was at a more appealing level against the dollar. So blaming this on Brexit isn’t the whole truth.

As one goes, some others have been announced. easyJet will operate a service from Gatwick to Åre Östersund Airport in Sweden from December. Östersund is a centre for winter sports and with the airport being less than ten miles from the city, skiers can start enjoying their holidays faster than those who have coach journeys lasting hours to get to their resorts. From next summer, Ryanair will operate a route from Liverpool to Bari in Italy and another from Edinburgh to Bergamo. This winter, the airline will be providing two new service from Liverpool, one to Marrakech in Morocco and the other to Sofia in Bulgaria. British Airways will be flying from Stansted to Chambery from 16th of December from which it is easy to get to ski resorts of Meribel, Courcheval and La Plagne. From 30 October 2016, Norwegian will launch a service from Gatwick to Reykjavik in Iceland and, from 19th December, Norwegian will fly to Lapland’s capital, Rovaniemi for the Christmas period. From October 3rd Norwegian will ink Manchester, with Gran Canaria  and Tenerife from  1st November.

Temple Bar in Dublin where fringe acts will be performing in many of the bars and pubs

Temple Bar in Dublin where fringe acts will be performing in many of the bars and pubs

As the fringe ends in Edinburgh this long weekend, its only ten days or so tol the  Tiger Dublin Fringe Festival which starts from 10th September. Like Edinburgh, the Dublin fringe takes place in venues all over the city but it only lasts a fortnight. In one of the most hospitable cities I can think of, the Dublin fringe is just as interesting and as Edinburgh but doesn’t get reported as much. This is followed by the Dublin Theatre Festival which runs from September 26th until 16th of October. Sandwiched between the two on the 16th of September is the annual Culture Night which takes place not just in Dublin but across the island of Ireland.  Hundreds of art galleries, theatres and historic buildings hosting arts and cultural events, tours, talks and performances will be open from 5pm until 11pm. Last year a record 230 events took place as part of the free event.

According to  HolidayTravelWatch, over a third of Brits make a complaint while on holiday, and 72% of these are about the state of hotel rooms.  The organisations says that the fault lies in poor quality product, it seems some hotelier’s and companies have taken their eye off the ball on health and safety. In their view, it is no use complaining about the so-called ‘compensation culture’ if you deliver a product that is not fit for purpose. Deliver a clean, safe product and you will see your complaints fall – it’s hardly rocket science it concludes.

I haven’t been through Moscow’s Sheremetyevo but I am told that replica Kalashnikov assault rifles can be bought there as souvenirs. Is the best idea that an airport has ever had? Even replica guns cause panic because the eye often sees what it what it thinks is true.

There is talk that self-drive taxis may be the way of the future. For travellers this could be a boon because the taxis will be programmed to take you straight to your destination instead of being taken the long way or “scenic” way. In Singapore they are trialling these taxis but perhaps the BBC website shouldn’t have provided a link to the story with the words “Self-driving taxis hit Singapore roads.”  You’ll just have to believe me that they used these words as the link has gone from their home business page but it was there. Honest!

From a VisitBritain press release but with my italics. “To promote the user-friendliness of Britain’s rail network, VisitBritain is running a GREAT Rail competition to give five pairs of winners the chance to test out some of Britain’s best rail itineraries and show just how easy it is to explore all the incredible experience and attractions on offer across Britain.” It comes a day after  new strike days were announced for Southern’s rail service in the south east of England!

London underground

two lines of the tube began a 24 hour service. So far all is running well

Readers will know that the tube in London finally began its 24 hour service last weekend. It looks to have been a success with over 50,000 passengers using the service over the two nights. More importantly, British Transport Police said it had been called to just four incidents on the first night confounding the doom mongers who talked of anti-social behaviour. Now for the rest of the network. and how about the trains so that I don’t have to duck out of the theatre in order to catch the last train home?

Finally, a reminder to those planning a holiday in central Italy in the future. This is an earthquake zone and the tragedy this week centred  on the Italian town of Amatrice in Umbria, should remind visitors that they should be prepared in case one hits. I remind you of our guide on what to do if an earthquake or another disaster strikes. In this same week, there was an earthquake in Myanmar in the ancient captal of Bagon where tourists flock to see the thousands of Budhist monuments. In all there have been 130 earthquakes around the world in the last week but, luckily, few do much damage.



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