Something To Declare: Africa via Addis Ababa; Travel by train; Cuba & Colombia; Thailand

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The Independent Travel

Bargain of the week: Africa via Addis Ababa

Ethiopian Airlines (020-8987 2480; ethiopianairlines.com) was for years known as the "Swissair of Africa", because of its high-quality services. The carrier has outlived Swissair, and flies six times a week from Heathrow to Addis Ababa. Until now most of these departures include a stop in Rome, adding a couple of hours to the journey time, and making connecting flights less appealing. But when the winter schedules begin on 25 October, all six weekly flights will be non-stop (though slot constraints at Heathrow mean four of the six inbound flights each week will continue to call at Rome).

From its hub in the Ethiopian capital, the airline has 36 destinations in Africa, including Kilimanjaro and Mombasa. For return flights in November, promotional rates are £494 and £414 respectively. The carrier also offers a 46kg baggage allowance, even for economy passengers.

BMI also links Heathrow and Addis Ababa, though with a stop in Amman.

Tip of the week: Lounge around before you travel by train

East Midlands Trains, which runs the domestic side of London's St Pancras station, has an "implant" desk in its ticket office from Trainseurope, selling international train journeys to Paris, Brussels and beyond. From next week, customers who book at the Trainseurope desk – whether in standard- or first-class – can use the East Midlands Trains first-class lounge before their journey on Eurostar.

The facility, which is separate from the Eurostar Business Premier Lounge, provides complimentary drinks and newspapers.

Destination of the week: Cuba and Colombia combined by cruise

For years, finding a Caribbean cruise that involves the region's biggest and most beautiful city, Havana, has proved difficult. Stringent US controls aimed at stifling tourism to Cuba have led operators to avoid the communist island.

Indeed, in the 1990s the UK's biggest holiday firm, Thomson, cancelled an entire package-holiday programme to Cuba for fear of triggering American sanctions. But now Thomson has announced plans to feature Havana in its winter cruise programme, from December 2010 to March 2011.

The cruises are aboard the company's new ship, the 1,506-passenger, Thomson Dream, which joins the fleet next April. Three different Caribbean itineraries are involved, but each will feature two or three days in Havana.

The "Caribbean Experience" programme looks the most enticing. The ship sails from Barbados to Havana – and includes calls at the Dutch islands of Aruba and Curacao, the Honduran island of Roatan and the Colombian port of Santa Marta.

Despite the Rough Guide's assertion that Santa Marta is a "drab, featureless place", it is a beach resort that is both an appealing introduction to Colombia, and serves as the gateway to the natural beauty and seductive beaches of the Tayrona National Park about 25 miles away.

The itineraries are due to go on sale on 5 November.

Warning of the week: Thailand heats up

Anti-government protests closed Bangkok airport almost a year ago, stranding thousands of travellers. The coming week could see further conflict as red-shirted demonstrators from the National United Front of Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) step up their protests.

The Thai government has invoked the Internal Security Act (conferring special powers to control protests) to include the Dusit district of central Bangkok, where many tourists stay.

Rallies are likely to be staged in the build-up to next weekend's Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) summit, which is being held in the resorts of Cha-am and Hua Hin.

"Throughout Thailand, British citizens should exercise great caution and avoid demonstrations or large gatherings of people that might turn violent," says the Foreign Office. It also warns of possible problems along the Thai-Cambodian border, due to a frontier dispute between the two countries.

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