Arrivals/Departures: Forty years on, it's party time in Berlin

Click to follow
The Independent Travel
Event of the week – 40th anniversary of the Berlin Wall

On 13 August 1961 the first hints of what was described by the German Democratic Republic as an "anti-fascist embankment" appeared in Berlin. Barricades and barbed-wire fences sprang up and tanks formed roadblocks; within weeks the concrete was hardening on the Berlin Wall.

Germany's new capital is commemorating this momentous divide with a series of events from 13 August. Contact the German Tourist Office for details (tel: 020-7317 0908). Visitors to Berlin should note that the Reichstag's Dome is closed from 20 to 26 August and that Daniel Libeskind's Jewish Museum opens on 11 September.

How to ... keep in touch on holiday

The trill of mobile phones is now ubiquitous on beaches, but before you ring home check how much your network charges. Making a call from Spain will cost 99p per minute with BT Cellnet, 56p with One 2 One, 56p with Virgin, 60p with Orange and £1.32 with Vodafone.

The cost of receiving a call in Spain ranges from 94p per minute with BT Cellnet and £1.05 with Vodafone to 30p with Orange. Rates vary hugely from country to country and are dependent on the deal the network negotiates rather than how distant the country is; if you are with Vodafone or BT Cellnet it is cheaper to call home from Australia than it is from Spain.

There are alternatives to the mobile. An Iridium satellite phone from Expedition Kit (tel: 020-7610 0700) costs £399 but you can call from anywhere in the world for 98p per minute.

Business travellers should not be without phone and power adaptors for their laptops. Teleadapt (tel: 020-8233 3000) offers a Laptop Connection Pack for £94 with three different power plugs and 15 telephone connectors for countries from Finland to South Africa

And many companies offer various low-cost phone-call schemes, such as Swiftcall Roaming (tel: 0800 769 9999), Mint (tel: 01753 808080) and eKit (tel: 0800 1698646), using cards and pre-paid accounts.

What's hot

According to the South Australia Tourism Commission (tel: 020-7431 7474,, tour operators around the Head of Bight in South Australia are offering refunds to whale watchers who fail to see any whales – mainly southern right whales and the odd humpback – with one operator even covering the cost of air fares from Adelaide.

But if your luck really is out, there is a colourful assortment of other creatures to see, including yellow-footed rock wallabies, pygmy blue-tongued lizards and kangaroos in red or grey.

The Head of Bight is one of the few places in the world where whales can be watched from land, but perhaps the most well-known location is Hermanus near Cape Town. The whales gather offshore from August and, while refunds are not available if they fail to show up, the town does hold the Hermanus Whale Festival from 28 September to 7 October.

What's not

While Tony Blair holidayed in Cancun, he may not have been aware that two new cruise-ship ports on the Yucatan coast will bring thousands more tourists to the region and are causing consternation among environmentalists. The Mexican government has already cancelled a resort on Xcacel beach because it threatened endangered sea turtle colonies. But Puerto Costa Maya in Quintana Roo and Puerto Progresso to the north are expected to herald a new spate of development along the coast. Puerto Costa Maya alone has capacity for 730 cruise ships and is expecting 437,000 tourists in 2002.

New and improved

Luxury hotel chains are spreading to ever more unlikely locations. A Kempinski hotel opened in Odessa, Ukraine, recently while a new Hyatt Regency, Kyrgyzstan's only five-star establishment, opened its doors in Bishkek in March. And in October the first Crowne Plaza hotel reaches Beirut. Lucky Lebanon.