Something To Declare: Budapest, the Canaries, free flights, Tyrol

Warning of the week: strangers in Budapest

If you were inspired by last week's 48 Hours in Budapest (still available online at, then beware of bonhomie from strangers when you get there. The Foreign Office has issued an alert about being coaxed into "certain bars, clubs and restaurants" in the Hungarian capital: "Common scams include adding a 20,000-forint (£60) surcharge per drink to the final bill, or charging up to 100,000 forint (£300) for a meal."

Being unable or unwilling to pay is, says the Foreign Office, no defence: "Individuals who have been unable to settle their bills have frequently been accompanied by the establishment's security guards to a cash machine and made to withdraw funds under threats of violence."

Be warned also that some taxi drivers are accomplices in these frauds: "You should never ask a taxi driver to recommend a bar or club. If a driver offers to take you to one, or you are approached on the street with an invitation to enter a club, you should treat that advice with extreme caution."

Destination of the week: the Canaries

What is the ideal average daily high temperature for a holiday destination? If your answer is 70F (corresponding to 21C), then the latest temperature chart supplied by the Spanish meteorological office makes interesting reading.

This month, two Spanish locations make the 70F grade: Las Palmas on Gran Canaria, and the neighbouring island of Tenerife. In March, Seville steals the crown (actually 69F, but closer than any other Spanish location), while the 70F title in April is held jointly by the Andalucian coastal cities of Cadiz and Malaga.

By May, Barcelona is the only city in the survey to hit exactly 70F – a feat it repeats in October. Between these months, from June to September, those in search of the 70F ideal should congregate in the port-resort of Santander on the north coast.

In November, Alicante has its month in the 70F sun – but deep midwinter means it's time to head south again. Tenerife enjoys 70F through December, while Las Palmas takes the title in January.

The Canaries have also been awarded the unofficial accolade of being the UK travel industry's favourite archipelago: the travel association Abta has selected Gran Canaria as the venue for its 2008 Travel Convention. Last year's took place in Tenerife. This year, it will be held at the Maspalomas Conference Centre in Gran Canaria on 7, 8 and 9 October.

Note that flight seats and hotel beds are likely to be scarce and expensive immediately before, during and after the event.

Bargain of the week: really free flights

Air Miles, the retail reward programme from British Airways, last provided genuinely free flights in 1995. Since then, it has added a range of "taxes, fees, charges and surcharges" to each ticket redeemed. Now, though, those extras are incorporated into the Air Miles "fare" for each flight, meaning no cash need change hands.

In addition, the pricing structure has been simplified with a series of zones. The cheapest are Amsterdam and Paris, at 750 Air Miles – an increase in "price" of 67 per cent since the scheme first began, despite the overall drop in fares across Europe. Note, though, that Scotland's Western Isles – plus Orkney and Shetland – are also available in this band.

Because of BA's abandonment of regional European departures, all these are based on departures from Heathrow, Gatwick and London City. Add-ons from regional airports to Heathrow or Gatwick are available at a flat 500 Air Miles.

The industry-watcher Richard Madge notes that Russia's two leading cities, Moscow and St Petersburg, have both been placed in the 5,000 Air Miles zone, despite being significantly closer than Larnaca and Cairo – both in the 2,500 band. In addition, "Addis Ababa, Almaty and Damascus have mysteriously doubled in price in the last couple of weeks, from 2,500 to 5,000 Air Miles".

He adds: "The 2,500 zone contains two destinations that are likely to be of no use to independent travellers: Tripoli in Libya, to which independent visits are extremely difficult to make, and Algiers, which is too dangerous according to the latest Foreign Office advice."

Other oddities: the 5,000-mile zone extends as far east as Dhaka in Bangladesh, and as far west as Washington, DC; and while Rio de Janeiro is in the 8,000-mile band, Sao Paulo – which is an en-route stop on British Airways – is in the 10,000-mile zone. This is the most expensive category, shared only with Sydney in Australia.

Ski area of the week: Tyrol

Our story about the Austrian region last week stated that Tyrol's 115 ski areas share a total of 387km of groomed pistes, which underestimated the correct number by a factor of 10: they actually have 3,875km.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Living for the moment: Julianne Moore playing Alzheimer’s sufferer Alice
Jay Z
businessJay-Z's bid for Spotify rival could be blocked
The spider makes its break for freedom
A propaganda video shows Isis forces near Tikrit
voicesAdam Walker: The Koran has violent passages, but it also has others that explicitly tells us how to interpret them
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle v United player ratings
Arts and Entertainment
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
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Product Advisor - Automotive

    £17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to the consistent growth of...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Automotive

    £18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity exists for an ex...

    Recruitment Genius: Renewals Sales Executive - Automotive

    £20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity exists for an ou...

    Recruitment Genius: Membership Sales Advisor

    £18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Day In a Page

    War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

    Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

    Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
    Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

    What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

    Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
    The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

    Setting in motion the Internet of Things

    British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
    Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

    Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

    Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
    Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

    Cult competition The Moth goes global

    The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
    Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

    Pakistani women come out fighting

    Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
    Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

    Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

    The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
    LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

    Education: LGBT History Month

    Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
    11 best gel eyeliners

    Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

    Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

    Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

    The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
    Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

    Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

    After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot