Something to Declare


Drink of the week: Minimum ages for alcohol in popular destinations

Drink of the week: Minimum ages for alcohol in popular destinations

Teenagers with something to celebrate should head for Italy. The country's State Tourist Office in London told The Independent that "young Italians can handle their drink" and, accordingly, there is no legal limit about when one can start drinking alcohol.

In France, Holland and Turkey, the minimum age is just 16 years. Germany gives the nod to drinking at 16, too, so long as an adult is present - otherwise the age rises to 18.

Switzerland operates a two-tier policy, with 16- or 17-year-olds able to drink beer or wine, but only those 18 or over allowed spirits.

Eighteen is the drinking age in Australia, Ireland, Spain and Tunisia. Observation does not suggest that this minimum is scrupulously enforced in all those countries.

Across in America, there are draconian laws against teenage drinking. These vary from one state to another. The usual age is 21, but to be allowed in, it is the law in some states that everyone who appears to be under 30 has to be able to prove their age.

Foreign visitors who could pass for under 30 will need to carry a passport to secure a drink, in case they are "carded" (asked for ID). Cheeringly, this very event happened to me this week at the Republican Club in Cumberland, Maryland (the only place in town to drink). Or perhaps the eyesight of those in the Grand Old Party, as the Republicans are officially known, is fading.

***

Warning of the week: Road alerts in Italy and Spain

The usual Sunday driving ban on trucks in Italy, in force from 7am to midnight, has been extended to the same times on Saturdays through the summer. This applies until 9 September.

While the lorry prohibition is excellent news for weekend drivers, it will have the effect of squeezing even more traffic on to the roads on the other days (and into the brief space between midnight on Saturday and 7am on Sunday). The times immediately before and after the bans are likely to be particularly tense times to drive in a country that many British motorists already find challenging.

There are two other lorry-free days planned for Italian roads during the summer: Friday 28 July, between 4pm and midnight; and Tuesday 15 August between 7am and midnight.

Anyone thinking of taking a car to Spain should heed the latest Foreign Office bulletin about a change in law:

"It has become a legal requirement to carry two red warning triangles to be placed, in the event of an accident or breakdown, in front of and behind the vehicle. Failure to comply may result in the imposition of a spot fine of up to 15,000 pesetas [around £600]. This requirement is in addition to the need for drivers to carry a spare wheel and full set of spare bulbs plus the tools to change them."

The FO also reminds motorists to beware of highway robbers who target foreign visitors on the motorways by indicating a mechanical problem, then robbing victims when they pull on to the hard shoulder.

Bargain of the week: Brazil on the cheap

Seven hundred and seven pounds buys you the freedom of South America's largest country - but only if you fly out in the next 13 days. The leading Brazilian airline, Varig, is selling seats from London Heathrow to Rio or Sao Paulo for £407, through South American Experience (020-7976 5511). Book at least three days in advance, and go by 21 July.

The same airline has an unlimited-travel air-pass within Brazil for a ridiculous £10 a day - 30 days of flights for £300. Combine the two tickets, and you can explore the Amazon, the falls of Iguacu and the beaches of Bahia for a total of £707.

For some winter warmth, you could opt to wait for some specials to Salvador - the city that is the gateway to Brazil's best beaches.

A low-season fare on TAP Air Portugal through Journey Latin America (020-8747 3108) currently runs at £517 return from Heathrow to Salvador, but the agency is hopeful that there will be some deals as cheap as £364 - the lowest level they hit this year.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Sheridan Maine: Accounts Assistant

    £25,000 - £30,000: Sheridan Maine: Are you looking for a fantastic opportunity...

    Ashdown Group: Management Accountant - Manchester

    £25000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Management Accountant - Manchester...

    Ashdown Group: Project Accountant (Part-Qualified Accountant) - Manchester

    £23000 - £25000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Project Accountant (Part-...

    Beverley James: Accounts Payable

    £23,000: Beverley James: Do you have a background in hospitality and are you l...

    Day In a Page

    General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

    The masterminds behind the election

    How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
    Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

    Machine Gun America

    The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
    The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

    The ethics of pet food

    Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
    11 best bedside tables

    11 best bedside tables

    It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
    No postcode? No vote

    Floating voters

    How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

    By Reason of Insanity

    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
    Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

    Power dressing is back

    But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
    Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

    Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

    Caves were re-opened to the public
    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

    Vince Cable interview

    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
    Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
    Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

    The only direction Zayn could go

    We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
    Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

    Spells like teen spirit

    A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
    Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe