Something To Declare: Art by Eurostar; Christmas cruises on the Rhine; Durban; queuing in Poland
Saturday 03 October 2009
Destination of the week: Art by Eurostar
Versailles and Antwerp, both easily accessible on Eurostar (08705 186 186; eurostar.com ), boast intriguing new exhibitions this winter.
The Palace of Versailles (00 33 1 30 83 78 00; chateauversailles.fr ) promises "the first major exhibition devoted to the public image and personal tastes of Louis XIV". It runs from 20 October until 7 February next year. The exhibition aims to explore and explain the creation of the image of the Sun King, and will highlight "the finest works of the royal collections: jewellery, cameos, medals, paintings, sculptures, miniatures, objets d'art..." Admission is €15 to the exhibition and the rest of the palace. Versailles is accessible in around half an hour on the RER line C from central Paris; a separate ticket is required.
Next month, it is the turn of Antwerp (accessible in 40 minutes from Brussels, and – like any other destination in Belgium – covered by a standard London-Brussels return ticket. The Rubens House (00 32 3 201 15 55; rubenshuis.be ) will celebrate the genre of the "Art rooms". During Rubens' era, art collectors liked to cram a room with art. Most of these collections were subsequently broken up and the works scattered, but three rooms created by the painter Willem van Haecht will be recreated.
The exhibition runs from 28 November to 28 February next year.
Tip of the week: Christmas cruises on the Rhine
For a month from 20 November, the leading Rhine boat operator, KD Line (00 49 221 208 8319; k-d.com) operates Christmas cruises, mainly from its bases in Cologne and Dusseldorf. Most are afternoon and evening cruises from Thursday to Sunday, with the most indulgent events on Sundays at 10.30am – a €26 Advent brunch cruise that offers an expansive buffet.
Bargain of the week: Durban
South Africa's third city has this week become more accessible from the UK thanks to a new link from Dubai to Durban on Emirates (0870 243 2222; emirates.com ). The flights make the Indian Ocean city one stop from Gatwick, Heathrow, Birmingham, Manchester, Newcastle and Glasgow, and fares are typically £550 return for travel in November. Cheaper deals are available on Air France (0870 142 4343; airfrance.com/uk ), typically under £500 return, though this journey requires a change of plane in Paris and another to a domestic flight in Johannesburg. If you book a ticket on Air France to Johannesburg, you can pay as little as £360, and since connecting flights are typically available for around £60 return, this is the cheapest option. You could also consider the overnight train service, or one of the frequent, fast buses between Johannesburg and Durban.
Warning of the week: Queuing in Poland
After years of practice during the Cold War, queue-barging has become an art form in Poland, according to the online and print guides In Your Pocket ( inyourpocket.com). "Whether you find yourself at a ticket counter or fast-food vendor, do not make the mistake of being patient," advises the guide. Foreign visitors, it says, are prey to people who can't be bothered to wait, and who ask "I'm late for something, can I go first?" so the foreigner gives up their place in a line."Old people seem to assume they should be able to take position at the head of a line." The only time, says In Your Pocket, when "common rules of etiquette" apply are at banks or at ATMs, when the locals "assume a stance as far as possible from the next man".
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