Travel: Something to Declare


Currency of the week

The Belgian franc

That old chestnut about naming five famous Belgians is neatly answered by the nation's banknotes. There they are, enlivening the currency: Adolphe Sax tooting away on his invention, the saxophone, on the Bfr200 meanwhile on the 100, the half-century since the death of James Ensor is marked by one of his pictures. A tenfold increase in wealth brings you the artistic achievements of Victor Horta (Bfr2,000) and Constant Permeke (1,000). Finest of all is one of this century's most notable artists, Rene Magritte, whose style is replicated on the reverse of the Bfr500. The notes, you may be surprised to learn, are not bi-lingual; they are tri-lingual, for the benefit of the German-speaking minority in the east of the country. These fine banknotes are, like the other 10 Euro-zone currencies, destined for the shredder once the Euro takes effect.

A likely story

"With just about everything included in the price, you can simply relax" - Thomson All Inclusive brochure, second edition

Britain's biggest holiday company makes the promise on page 3. By page 95, though, the small print "What's not included in your holiday price" mentions the following:

"Charges for other facilities such as sunbeds, porterage, safety deposit boxes, air-conditioning, sauna, sports and equipment unless stated in individual hotel descriptions. Charges for public or private beaches."

In addition, elsewhere you learn "Bottled water may not be included as part of your all inclusive package", and "There may be a charge for motorised sports, time limits on some other free sporting activities as well as age or experience."

Warning of the week

Drinking while on holiday.

Thomson's response to Club 18-30, meanwhile, is called Club Freestyle. The new brochure veers between encouraging indulgence ("Free bottle of spirits in your room on arrival"... "[Reps] will be at hand should you need advice from where to buy the cheapest beer to where the nearest hangover cure is") to advising caution ("Hot sun combined with alcohol and new foods can cause stomach upsets, so bring remedies from home"). And if you are tempted to drink on the way out, be warned that "If the captain of your plane believes that you could be disruptive, they can refuse to let you on the flight. If this means you are not allowed to board your flight to your holiday resort, we will treat the booking as cancelled by you from that moment."

Bargain of the week

Liverpool to Luton by air for pounds 28 return.

You'll miss tomorrow's Beatles convention in the city, but wait until October and you can take the first flight between Speke airport in Liverpool and the London area since Manx Airlines abandoned the route in the Seventies.

The no-frills airline easyJet (0870 6 000 000) is launching services between Luton and Liverpool on 1 October, with an introductory fare of pounds 28 return, or even less (pounds 26 return) if you book on the Internet at

Speke airport is close to Speke Hall, the National Trust property which is the starting-off point for guided tours of Paul McCartney's boyhood home.

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