Something To Declare: Bargain of the week, Royal wedding avoidance tactics
Saturday 27 November 2010
The embarrassment of bank holidays in April, caused by the impending royal wedding on 29 April, makes it possible to squeeze an extra trip without taking much more time off work.
The best deals are likely to be for travelling out on Easter Sunday and back a week later. These are both likely to be days with light demand, and indeed some in the airline industry are furious about having what amounts to two Easter Sundays – in demand terms – in successive weekends.
These prices for travelling out 24 April, back on 1 May, were available at the time of going to press. British Airways: Heathrow-Istanbul, £162; Gatwick-Naples, £107; Heathrow-Los Angeles £553. On easyJet, Gatwick-Barcelona costs £66, while Liverpool-Amsterdam comes in at £77.
Package holidays departing 24 April are also excellent value: a week half-board on Spain's Costa de la Luz at Thomson's "Platinum Collection" property, Riu Atlantico costs £418 including flights from Gatwick to Faro and transfers. Thomas Cook offers a week all-inclusive in Sharm el-Sheikh on Egypt's Sinai Peninsula for £500, with flights from Gatwick, staying at the three-star Falcon Hills.
Warning of the week: Bitten by Bahia?
The Bradt Guide to Bahia, the first English-language guide to Brazil's most exotic state, is out this month (£14.99). The author, Alex Robinson, is rightly enthusiastic about almost everything – except Bahia's "nasty forest vipers". Tourists unlucky enough to be bitten by the bushmaster ("the largest and most powerful venomous snake in the world") or the fer-de-lance should "try to photograph the culprit and then seek medical advice as quickly as possible".
If someone can capture the snake without being bitten, "take this to show the doctor – but beware, since even a decapitated head is able to bite".
Destination of the week: High-speed Baltic cities
The Finland station, the St Petersburg arrival terminus for Lenin on his way to foment the Bolshevik revolution in 1917, is about to become one end of Europe's highest-latitude high-speed line.
From 12 December, says the latest Thomas Cook European Rail Timetable, two Allegro expresses each day will cover the 260 miles between Helsinki and St Petersburg in 3 hours 35 minutes – down from 6 hours at present.
The new train will make holidays combining the former Russian capital with the current Finnish capital more feasible. And by adding a bus onwards from St Peterburg to Estonia, a tri-city break is perfectly achievable.
Tip of the week: Old '55
Were you born in or before November 1955? If so, you have three more days to take advantage of the "Club 55" promotion ( club55.co.uk), giving cut-price rail travel on First Great Western, First TransPennine Express, First Hull Trains and First Capital Connect. The current offer comes to an end on 30 November – but since return legs are valid for up to a month, the deal covers Christmas for homebound journeys.
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