Something to Declare: Brontë Country, by train; Croatia; Greek strikes and strife; Hong Kong for under £500
Saturday 08 May 2010
Destination of the week: Brontë Country, by train
"Bradford 22" is the postal location of the Brontë Parsonage Museum in Haworth, West Yorkshire, where Anne, Charlotte and Emily were brought up. The path to Top Withens, the setting for Emily's novel Wuthering Heights, begins next to the Parsonage.
The county of West Yorkshire and its many attractions becomes more accessible from 23 May thanks to a new rail route from London, with Grand Central (0845 603 4852; grandcentralrail.co.uk ).
The train operator is launching a new inter-city service from Kings Cross via Wakefield and Halifax to Bradford, with a journey time of just over three hours.
The Brontë Parsonage Museum (01535 642323; bronte.org.uk ) is a further eight miles away, accessible via the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway (01535 645 214; kwvr.co.uk ), as featured in the Railway Children.
Bradford itself has plenty of attractions, such as City Hall (copied meticulously from the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence) and the Wool Exchange, a Venetian Gothic masterpiece devoted to "Free Trade. Peace. Goodwill Among Nations".
It is also the location for the National Media Museum (0870 701 0200; nationalmediamuseum.org.uk ), which is a free collection devoted to film, photography, television and radio.
Fares for the new Grand Central service are low by "walk-up" standards, with a maximum of £120 return; for comparison, the open return fare on (slightly faster) East Coast Trains is £228. The off-peak fare is £67, saving over £20 on the East Coast fare. Railcard discounts apply on these services. Free Wi-Fi is available on all services.
Bargain of the week: Croatia
The low-cost airlines made a fortune last summer flying British holidaymakers to Croatia; unsurprisingly, the carriers have stepped up services this year. From Friday, easyJet is starting one flight a day from Stansted to either Split (on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday) or Dubrovnik (on other days). Fly out to Split on 17 May and back on 28 and you pay a return fare of £72, based on a test booking made this week. Even in high summer (going out from Stansted to Dubrovnik on 10 August for a fortnight) costs only £179.
British Airways has a fare of £148 return from Gatwick to Dubrovnik if you leave on 17 May, returning five days later – and the fare includes a 23kg luggage allowance plus inflight drinks and snacks. The fare on this route rises to £416 if you want to travel out on 21 August, back a week later.
Croatia Airlines has a fare of £302 from Heathrow on the same dates, though this journey includes a change of plane in Zagreb. For a cheaper deal, investigate Wizz Air's new service from Luton to Dubrovnik, which starts on 19 June.
Warning of the week: Greek strikes and strife
"Expect regular strikes and demonstrations throughout Greece during May," warns the Foreign Office. Such events, as has been made tragically clear this week, are often quelled with tear gas and have the potential for violence. In addition: "Domestic terrorism has been on the increase in recent months." Attacks could be "indiscriminate", and possible targets include "places frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers".
The US State Department specifies the locations most likely to experience conflict: "The Omonia and Exharchia areas of Athens are at particular risk for crime and politically motivated violence," while Syntagma Square in the capital and Aristotle Square in Thessaloniki are also likely trouble spots.
The Foreign Office says that "calling 999 from a UK mobile in Greece will automatically transfer you to the Greek emergency services."
Tip of the week: Hong Kong in early summer for under £500
Virgin Atlantic is seeking to boost bookings on its daily Heathrow-Hong Kong flight with a short-term seat sale. Book by 13 May, and you can fly from London to the Chinese city for £499 return – so long as you make the journey by midsummer's day, 21 June. Book on 08442 092 770 or at virginatlantic.com
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