Simon Calder's nine trips for 2009
Saturday 03 January 2009
Austerity tourism: that is what many of us will practise this year. Fortunately, my overseas travelling began in the 1970s, when practically every British tourist was on a shoestring, so having a holiday on next to nothing is standard practice. Here is where I hope to go in 2009, and why, and how much I intend to pay.
1. The city break
Where? East Berlin
Why? I was there 20 years ago this month, a time when no one expected the Wall to be gone within the year. I want to get just a whiff of the bad old days, and celebrate the new freedoms – including travel.
How much? Making full use of the cheap deals on German railways, I intend to pay no more than £100 for travel, and stay in the Generator - an old East German electronics factory that is now the cheapest hostel in town.
2. The literary pilgrimage
Why? Robert Burns's 250th birthday. In Dumfries, where Scotland's national poet spent the last few years of his life, the festivities kick off on 25 January, when Burns Light on Burns Night celebrates his life with lantern processions, live music and entertainment.
How much? The flight from Stansted to Prestwick on Ryanair, and a train from Kilmarnock to Dumfries should come in on the right side of £70 return.
3. 400th anniversary of place which inspired 'The Tempest'
Where? Bermuda; Shakespeare's play takes its cue from the storm that blew an English crew to the island.
Why? The Atlantic archipelago is celebrating 400 years of permanent settlement this year, and to mark the event, a series of performances of 'The Tempest' take place from 25-28 February at the City Hall Theatre; visit bermuda2009.bm.
How much? Since Zoom was doomed, British Airways is the only airline; spending BA Miles could be an option, given the high fares for cash.
4. Cultural event of the decade
When? March, with luck
Why? The full opening of the New Acropolis Museum (00 30 210 924 1043; newacrop olismuseum.gr/eng), a spectacular creation by the Acropolis that will bring the glories of ancient Greek culture alive for the 21st century.
How much? Aegean Airlines is looking good value from Stansted to Athens at around £120 return, with frills.
5. Going wild
Where? The far north of Scotland
Why? Twelve blissful hours of daylight in a place where a pound is still worth a pound, and the scenery is priceless.
How much? I have already bought a return trip on the Caledonian Sleeper from London Euston to Inverness for £58 – transport and a bed for the night included.
6. The ski trip
Where? Somewhere in Scandinavia
Why? The Swedish and Norwegian currencies have barely changed against sterling – and there is a near-guarantee of good snow in early April.
How much? Remains to be seen, but I reckon £600 should cover everything for a week, assuming a bottle or two is bought at Gatwick duty-free.
7. The bargain basement package
Where? Anywhere in the Med
When? Early May
Why? This is the time to pick up the best deals on package holidays.
How much? I shall consider it a point of principle not to pay more than £200, including flights and accommodation.
8. The cheap summer holiday
Where? Poland, and specifically the resort of Gdynia
When? In the last two weeks of August, the sea and sun are warm, and the Scandinavians and Germans have gone home (because their school year starts earlier).
Why? The pound has sunk against the zloty, but it still represents superb value for money.
How much? Reckon on £100 per person for flights, and £100 a day for a family of four, which includes board and lodging.
9. 200 years since Darwin's birth
Where? Galapagos Islands
When? November, when flights are cheap and the weather in Britain is gloomy.
Why? Darwin's visit on board The Beagle inspired his theory of evolution; a modern-day trip will bring you face to face with sea iguanas, flightless cormorants and giant tortoises.
How much? South American Experience offers tours to the islands starting at £1,799 per person for a week, including flights and most meals.
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