Something To Declare: Cut-price comfort in western Canada; Mumbai airport transfers; The train in Spain; Fiji, via the Far East
Saturday 17 July 2010
Tip of the week: Cut-price comfort in western Canada
Olympic Games are intended to have a "legacy" attached – and one benefit of this year's Winter Olympiad in British Columbia has just materialised. The main resort for the events was Whistler, where a block devoted to athletes' housing has just re-opened as a youth hostel.
The property is 7km south of the centre of the resort. It replaces a small, 25-bed property on the shores of Alta Lake that occupied a fishing lodge; "plans for its future use are unknown at this time," says Hostelling International – Canada (001 604 684 7101; hihostels.ca ).
The new hostel lacks the same charm, but it does boast an on-site café with an outdoor patio, mountain views and free Wi-Fi. Rates start at C$30 (£20) in a bunk and C$99 (£67) for a private room.
Whistler is one of the best winter-sports resorts in North America; it has 8,000 skiable acres with more than 200 trails, three glaciers, 38 lifts and 12 Alpine bowls.
Warning of the week: Mumbai airport transfers
Armed robbers sometimes hold up taxis on the highway from the airport to the city in the early hours of the morning, warns the Foreign Office. "Where possible, arrange to travel by coach or seek advice at the airport."
Destination of the week: The train in Spain
"Ferrocarriles Españoles de Vía Estrecha" – that is the extravagant name of the enterprise that runs the busy network of narrow-gauge trains across the north of Spain. Feve, as it is more concisely known, capitalises on the spectacular scenery through which the lines pass to operate a number of tourist trains.
New for this summer are a couple of Cantabrian options: a historic train journey to El Soplao, or a ride to the Pas and Miera valleys. Both trains are in addition to the existing Las Marismas journey which travels from Bilbao station to the Santoña wetlands. See expreso.info/en for more details. The most indulgent option is the luxury Transcantábrico express, claimed to be the oldest tourist train in Spain. Passengers live aboard the train as it meanders from Leó*to Bilbao and San Sebastián, and west across northern Spain to El Ferrol and Santiago de Compostela. See transcantabrico.com for more details – including the current promotion offering certain trips this summer for a flat rate of €1,775.
One of The Independent's travel films features the luxury train plus budget options using ordinary trains, and many attractions along the route: see www.bit.ly/aSC9r2 .
Bargain of the week: Fiji, via the Far East
The usual approach to Fiji is via Los Angeles, but two Far Eastern airlines are offering attractive fares if you are prepared to travel via Asia rather than the US.
Cathay Pacific (020-8834 8888; cathaypacific.co.uk ) has a short-term seat sale, starting today and continuing until next Thursday, 22 July, with a fare of £799 return from Heathrow via Hong Kong to Nadi in Fiji. The special fare applies for travel between 26 April and 31 May next year; in the same time span, Cathay will alternatively take you to Bali, Hanoi or Phuket for a reasonable £619 return.
If you want to travel to Fiji earlier than that, Korean Air (0800 413000; koreanair.com ) has deals in November flying from Heathrow to Honolulu to Nadi in Fiji via the main airport of Incheon for around £950 return. For comparison, the prevailing fare for travelling in November via Los Angeles is around £1,100 return.
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