DEPARTURES

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3,000 years ago", opens on the A487 in Machynlleth (01654 702702) on 1 May, and operates year-round.

Port Aventura, the new theme park on the Costa Dorada in Spain, opens its doors to the public on 2 May; pre-booked groups on organised holidays will be taking part in the "soft opening" from 18 April.

On 27 May, the Magical World of Fantasy Island, which describes itself as "Britain's first themed indoor family resort" opens at Ingoldmells near Skegness (01754 872030).

Transperience, the West Yorkshire Transport Discovery Park, is opening on 1 July; call 01274 736006 for details. Access is from the M606 south of Bradford, or on bus 268 from Bradford Interchange.

Legoland UK, under construction in Windsor, opens a year from now. Advance bookings will be taken from September on 01753 626364.

Cold comfort

To avoid the crowds, try Greenland. According to the latest edition of Wanderlust magazine, the world's largest island receives an average of 14 visitors per day. The magazine also says that the locals use the word "eskimo" as a derogatory term "for anyone, whom civilisation appears to have missed: lager louts, football hooligans and the like."

The April/May edition of Wanderlust also covers Ethiopia, the Seychelles and Suite 2 at the Crown Hotel in Amersham - location for the bedroom scene in Four Weddings and a Funeral. Its strangest feature is a small ad from one Matt in Wiltshire, who is planning a round-the-world trip in 1996: "My mission is to find out if McDonald's burgers do taste the same worldwide. Insane gherkin-removing adrenalin junkies needed as companion(s)."

Wanderlust is available in larger branches of John Menzies, price £2.50, or on subscription (01753 620426).

Cheapest ever

Prices on two of British Airways' long-haul routes have fallen to their lowest-ever levels, providing you buy through the right agent. A Heathrow- Mexico City return trip is available for £274, including UK tax, through Journey Latin America (0181-747 3108). This is for outbound travel before 31 May, returning by 30 June, with a minimum stay of a week. BA has non- stop departures in either direction on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. You save considerably compared with the lowest fare to Los Angeles, despite the extra distance to Mexico City and the much greater competition on the LA route.

The new summer timetables have brought enhanced schedules to Peking, with BA flying non-stop twice a week to the Chinese capital. Explorers Tours (01753 681999) is offering a week's holiday, including five nights in a three-star hotel, for £475. This is valid only for May and June departures. The lowest return fare bought direct through BA is £878.

A four-day trip to Norway for under £19 a day is also an unheard-of bargain. On Tuesdays and Saturdays until the end of April, Color Line (0191-296 1313) is selling "sea-breaks" from Newcastle to Bergen for £74. Most of the time is spent travelling, but you get on-board B&B while moored at the Norwegian port.

Cost of leaving Oz

Australia's long-maligned departure tax is being abolished on 30 June - but from 1 July a new passenger movement charge will be payable by those leaving Australia.

The main change is that the tax, around £15, will be added to the price of your ticket and paid to the travel agent or airline before departure. Anyone booking now for departures from Australia after 1 July can expect to see the charge applied to the ticket.

Late availability

Calibre Travel (0171-734 4000): 12

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