Something To Declare: Cusco; Bedfordshire to Belgrade; New York in style; Eurostar trades down
Saturday 12 June 2010
Destination of the week: Cusco
The capital of the Inca empire comes alive later this month, when the Inti Raymi Festival of the Sun takes place.
Before, during and after the big day on 24 June, you can expect a carnival atmosphere at this high-altitude city: the festivities are centred on Sacsayhuamán, the ancient fortress overlooking the city.
You can fly out from Heathrow to Lima next Tuesday, 15 June, for £779 return either via Miami on BA/American Airlines, or via Sao Paulo on TAM, booked through Expedia.co.uk (0871 222 9483).
Air or bus connections are available from the Peruvian capital to Cusco.
Route of the week: Bedfordshire to Belgrade
A week from tomorrow, a whole new nation appears on the map of low-cost links from the UK: Serbia, which has previously lagged well behind Croatia and Slovenia in terms of no-frills options from British airports.
Wizz Air (0906 959 0002; wizzair.com ) is adding another route to its extensive network from Luton. Starting on 20 June, it will serve the capital, Belgrade, four times a week from the Bedfordshire airport.
Fares are very good compared with the opposition. The Wizz Air departure on 27 June, flying back a week later, is currently available at £76. The full-service offering from Heathrow on British Airways for the same dates is £223 return, with the Serbian national carrier Jat Airways selling at £236 return.
The city is a fascinating destination in its own right. It also happens to be easily the cheapest capital in Europe. Belgrade is scheduled as the subject of our 48 Hours feature on 24 July.
Besides adding much-needed competition between Britain and Belgrade, the new route will help to open up a wide range of intriguing "open-jaw" travel possibilities in the Balkans: down the Danube from Budapest to Belgrade, or a combination of Split (Croatia), Sarajevo (Bosnia) and Belgrade. The link will also provide easy access to southern Transylvania, with the Romanian border only 60 miles away.
Bargain of the week: New York in style
As British Airways (0844 493 0787; ba.com ) seeks to bolster forward bookings after five stretches of cabin-crew strikes, it has come up with a remarkable Manhattan offer: Club World flights from Heathrow to JFK plus three nights at Le Parker Meridien for a price of £1,789 per person, based on two sharing. Bear in mind that the lowest advance-booking business-class fare to New York, without accommodation, is £140 per person more than this, and that the hotel stay alone would normally cost around £400 per person, and you can see what a generous – or desperate – deal it is.
Tip of the week: Score a discount or a free guide book
World Cup promotions are 10 a penny in travel, but Lonely Planet is offering the neatest idea. Tap in the promotional code FOOTY30 when you order a guidebook for one of the 32 participating nations at lonelyplanet.co.uk , and you get a 30 per cent discount. If the country whose guide you order wins the World Cup, you win the title – Lonely Planet will refund the purchase price.
You can enter until midnight on 30 June, by which time there should be a much clearer idea of which teams are in with a chance of winning, as the tournament's quarter-finalists will be known.
Warning of the week: Eurostar trades down
From 1 September, Eurostar (08432 186 186; eurostar.com ) is rebranding its "Leisure Select" carriages to "Standard Premier". The idea is to offer a less-frivolous concept for the mid-class product from London St Pancras to Paris or Brussels, thus attracting business passengers who otherwise might switch straight from "Business Premier" to the cheapest seats. The separate coaches remain the same, but a "light meal" replaces the current three-course lunch or dinner. (Beer or wine will still be complimentary.) At the same time, the lowest return fare rises by £10 to £189.
Starting today, Air France is operating some weekend flights from Heathrow to Paris Charles de Gaulle with the giant Airbus A380. An £80 return fare is widely available. The move seems aimed squarely at Eurostar, whose lowest fare of £69 is rarely available on summer weekends. For those splashing out on a special trip to Paris, Air France has a £280 business-class fare on the A380 flights from Heathrow.
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