DEPARTURES

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The Independent Travel
Croatian crisis

One of the tour operators leading the resurgence in tourism to Croatia has reduced its programme to the country because of the upsurge in violence. Phoenix Holidays (01345 626468) had planned charter flights to Split, serving southern Dalmatia, but has "temporarily suspended" the operation.

The Foreign Office is warning that travel to Croatia, with the exception of the Istrian Peninsula, "should be avoided until the military situation becomes clearer". Phoenix Holidays is going ahead with plans to begin its charter series to Pula in Istria from Wednesday.

Tunnel vision

One year ago today, the Channel tunnel was officially opened and the first train ran from Waterloo to Paris. Twelve months on, and despite a well-publicised problem or two, Eurostar has carried 850,000 passengers on its rail services to Paris and Brussels. Along with a massive advertising campaign, the company is promoting its expanded summer schedule with a local-rate reservations number: 01345 881881.

The schedule starts on 28 May and includes an earlier departure to Paris - arriving before 11am and allowing more than nine hours in the city on a day trip. The fare, booked 14 days in advance, is £95 return. (On 28 and 29 May a slower Sunday service will operate.)

Other highlights are connecting InterCity services from Manchester, Birmingham, Edinburgh and Newcastle direct to Waterloo, but these will give longer overall journey times than you could achieve by changing stations in London.

Ashford International, the Eurostar station in Kent, is expected to open next January.

Two's company

Two people can fly from Heathrow to Faro, Lisbon or Oporto for £122 each (including taxes) with TAP Air Portugal (01345 581566). The offer is available for selected dates in May, June, September and October; a higher fare of £158 per person applies for some other dates, and the weekend supplement is £11 per person. Each passenger can take a golf bag in addition to the normal 20kg baggage allowance. In business class, the same deal is available with a fare of £305 per person to Lisbon or Oporto, and the airline will offer a night's accommodation in a luxury hotel in either city.

Into Africa

One new route from Gatwick to Africa is about to begin, and another service has been reinstated. From 9 May, London's second airport will be connected with Johannesburg with a thrice-weekly non-stop service. It will be operated by Avia (01293 825000), which offers an introductory fare of £519 until 8 August; bookings for May and June are heavy because of the Rugby World Cup.

Cameroon Airlines (0171-734 7676) this week started flying again between Gatwick and the Cameroon capital, Douala. Connections are available to numerous cities in west and central Africa. The return fare is £515, with a £50 surcharge in the peak period in summer and over Christmas.

Travel bookshelf

"A much bigger project than expected" is how one of the authors of Britain: a Travel Survival Kit sums up the book, published this week by Lonely Planet (£14.95). The 1,216 pages trawl the country exhaustively, turning up everything from a bicycle hire shop in Dorchester to the Norse origins of place names in the Lake District. Readers may take issue with the opinions and grasp of geography - Herefordshire, Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire are lumped together and described as "a graveyard for modern town planning" - as well as the balance of coverage: while restaurants in Soho spread over two pages, the fine city of Bradford gets less than a page all told. But even the best-informed native should find something new.

The "house rules" used to compile The Good Walks Guide make encouraging reading. Examples: "The walk shouldn't require great feats of navigation", and "The walker should be walking into the view, not away from it". The book, published yesterday by Which? Books (£25) is ring-bound, to allow each of the 150 walks to be removed individually and used in the plastic folder provided. The itineraries stretch from the Helford River of Cornwall to Portsoy in Grampian - whose marble, you learn, is used in the palace of Versailles. A particularly pleasant rural ramble is described in Buckinghamshire, with little evidence of modern town planning.

Late availability

First Choice (0161 745 7000): 10 May, Manchester-Ibiza, seven nights self-catering, £129; 17 May, Gatwick-Ibiza, seven nights B&B, £119; and 21 May, Bristol-Gran Canaria, seven nights of self-catering for £189.

Elegant Resorts (01244 329671): until 27 May, Gatwick-Barbados (scheduled), 14 nights at Coral Reef, room-only, £845.

Peltours (0181-343 0590): 11 May, Heathrow-Eilat, seven nights B&B, £329.

Going Places (0161-474 7555): 22 May, Gatwick-Barbados, 14 nights self- catering, £379; 22 May,

Trips Worldwide (0117-987 2626): 8 or 14 June, wildlife tour of the Picos de Europa, £675.

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