Simon Calder's deals of the week

Freedom of Belgium, ferry fares, Russia, national holidays
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The Independent Travel

A train

The freedom of Belgium is more fun than it might sound. Belgian Railways sells a rail pass called B-Tourrail that can take you all over the country on any five days within a month for just €58 (£36) in second class, €90 (£56) in first class. Handily, you can buy it at any staffed station in Belgium – it isn't one of these deals where you have to book in advance. Use it to combine a visit to Liege jazz festival this weekend, with the procession of the Holy Blood in Bruges on 9 May.

A boat

As the main summer season gets under way, the ferry companies are doing some tactical marketing to fill spaces on services to Calais. One of them, SeaFrance (08705 711 711), is offering special fares intended for supporters of Gillingham FC, which SeaFrance sponsors. If you quote "Gillingham FC" when you call, you can choose from a couple of specials. A 24-hour return from Dover to Calais (which actually allows slightly more time than that in France) is £55.80. A day return for a car, driver and passenger costs £39.60. No proof of commitment to the football team is required.

A plane

If your May Day thoughts are turning to Russia, then Aeroflot (020-7355 2233, www.aeroflot.co.uk) could have the aircraft for you (and these days it will be an Airbus or Boeing). The Russian international airline has a fare of £177.40 between London Heathrow and Moscow, so long as you stay over a Saturday night. The new overnight flight, which leaves Heathrow at 10.30pm and gets in at 5.20am, has many advantages: both airports are far quieter than usual at those times, and the queue for Russian immigration is far shorter; it saves a night's accommodation in the Russian capital; and reports suggest that the planes are often fairly empty, making a few hours' sleep possible.

A calendar

May is the month for multiple national holidays across much of continental Europe, which will mean public transport is crowded and schedules disrupted. In addition, tourist attractions may be closed or operating reduced hours. Besides today's Labour Day, look out for closures on 8 May (VE Day), Ascension on 9 May and Whit Monday on 20 May.

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