Saturday snippets: 10th December 2016

By | Category: Travel news

The move by the Indian government to withdraw 500 and 1,000 rupee notes has had a number of effects on tourists. Firstly I have come across visitors who have been given these high denomination notes by the foreign exchange supplier and then have had to waste time queueing up to get the notes changed thus removing part of their holidays. Secondly it seems to have had a hit on tourist numbers as some states are reporting fewer tourists presumably because they have been put off travelling there due to the media headlines. In the state of Uttarakhand there are reports of tourism down by as much as a third and discounting at hotels. It could be a good time to consider India for a Christmas/New Year break

Just as I was leaving Chirk station in North Wales, I caught a glimpse of the forthcoming festivities. A Christmas tree growing in the bank has been decorated with baubles and so on. But a little further on you will see a silver rabbit standing about a foot high and perched on the same bank. Is Chirk preparing itself for Easter as well?

I can’t say that I have used Uber. The reason is that in my rural part of Wales, Uber is unknown. I might try a new rival, however, if it expands this far. GoOpti is a new start-up that connects passengers travelling from smaller towns to large airports. It fills a gap that Uber has yet to enter and is designed to cut down on the hefty travel costs charged by taxis. You can either book on the web or download an app which enables you to book and pay without the need for cash.

Illuminated tress at Phoenix Zoo

Some of 1.8 million lights at the zoo. Image © Phoenix Zoo

One place that we would never feel cold in is the US city of Phoenix in Arizona. Even in the midst of winter I have known temperatures in the mid-twenties. But the Christmas spirit requires people to believe in cold so during Las Noches de las Luminarias in the Desert Botanical Garden you and have a cup of hot chocolate or, in their words – “a warm cup of cider.” That isn’t the attraction though. That is the illuminations from 8,000 luminaria bags and thousands of twinkling lights. If you think that is a lot head off to the Phoenix Zoo and they have 3.8 million lights and 700 displays to give you a different view of a zoo! The Desert Botanical Garden is also featured in a website called Sproutabl and is written from the standpoint of a gardening “nerd. You will also find there a story on  55 Stunning Botanical Gardens to See Before You Die.”

nosecone with Santa stretched over it having been hit by a plane

The skys are getting more crowded. Plane hits Santa.

Plainly not everyone is into the Christmas spirit yet. Or someone likes a laugh. Some friends spotted this nosecone on what looks to be a Ryanair plane with a cartoon suggested that the plane had hit Santa Claus in mid-present delivery and then posted it on Facebook. So, if you get nothing this Christmas, you know who to blame!

Norwegian has got the go-ahead from American authorities to launch transatlantic flights from Cork to Boston and New York. It now hopes its UK-based subsidiary will be allowed to expand its services from the UK. The Irish Taoiseach, Enda Kelly, is quoted as saying that Norwegian’s service will “do for long-haul travel what Ryanair have done for short-haul travel”. I hope he means cheap air fares and the Ryanair attitude to customer service today and not what it was five years ago!

Remaining with airlines for a moment, Monarch has become the first airline that had previously charged credit card fees to do away with them altogether. From the 15th of December it removes them all together. But reports say that it will cease bonding for flight-only passengers. It had been the only airline to do this. Passengers should by their tickets with credit cards provided the ticket costs more than £100 and they will be protected by the credit card company. Those buying a package will be unaffected and the ATOL bond will still apply.

Manchester Airport has become the UK’s first carbon neutral airport In the last ten years it has reduced its energy use by the equivalent amount of energy used by 10,000 homes each year. It makes switching of a light a bit pathetic in comparison.

Following on from the story earlier this week about the CAA setting out a list of instructions on how airports should be more intellectually disabled friendly, Gatwick and its sub-contractor, OCS were presented with the Dementia Innovation Award. It has come about because the airport introduced a lanyard for those who feel that they make require additional assistance when at the airport. Since its introduction in May 2016, more than 3,000 passengers have requested a lanyard when traveling through the airport. The lanyard is free from any of the airport’s assistance desks.

image of the Magellan owned by CMV

The Magellan will be sailing from Newport in Wales next year

Cruises from British ports rather than having to fly abroad to start a cruise are increasingly popular. Not only does it save on flights, time and having to buy foreign currency, it also means that the passengers have a wider choice on where to board. Cruise & Maritime Voyages (CMV) will be offering cruises from Cardiff and Newport in Wales next year It wasn’t long ago when a cruise ship stopped at Newport and coaches took passengers anywhere but the town. Now, the Magellan  will provide a mini cruise to Dublin as well as cruises to the Fjords and another to Europe.

Steven Patterson, MP for Stirling raised the old question of reducing VAT on tourism as many other nations have done including Ireland. The government answer is longer but my shortened version of it? Nothing doing.

Winter Park Resort

©Winter Park Resort

For those skiing in the US state of Colorado in the new year, a train service from Denver Union Station to the slopes of Winter Park will begin with the Winter Park Express train from 7th January until 26th March 2017. Previously, ski destinations across the state required indirect flights from the UK or car hire from Denver, however, the introduction of the new train service from Denver Union Station, coupled with the ease of direct flights from London Heathrow with British Airways, provides a direct link to the slopes for UK visitors.

Staying with skiing and Colorado is there really anyone – any ordinary person – that will shell out almost £40,000 for a skiing holiday?  The holiday does include first class airfare to Vail Eagle Airport, a private helicopter ride to the base of Beaver Creek Mountain, (but only from the US) a chauffeured car to the Trappers Cabin, a private chef, ski instructor, four Epic Passes, a new wardrobe from Helly Hansen and first tracks on each day of the stay. That’s a little steep for anyone bar film stars, politicians on the speech circuit and bankers!

Next week starting from the 16th of December, the Piccadilly line joins the Victoria and Jubilee lines, and most of the Central and the Northern (Charing Cross) lines in providing a 24 hour service on Fridays and Saturdays. The importance of the Piccadilly line is that it links Heathrow so passengers can get into town from the airport.  Wouldn’t it be nice if the Piccadilly line at least ran 24 hours, seven days a week, 365 days a year since airports do.

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