Something To Declare: Dining out in Istanbul; Asia via Germany; Eclipse 2012; Mexico

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The Independent Travel

Destination of the week: Dining out in Istanbul

Turkey's largest city, whose heritage hotels are featured on page 6 today, is the subject of a price war between full-service and no-frills airlines this summer. British Airways (0844 493 0787; competes with Turkish Airlines (020-7471 6666; from Heathrow to the main airport of Ataturk, while easyJet (0905 821 0905; at Gatwick rivals the low-cost flights on Pegasus (0845 0848 980; from Stansted to the second airport, Sabiha Gokcen. Fares start below £200 return.

When you arrive, one of the most intriguing options is a one-day "Home Cooked Istanbul Urban Adventure" through Istanbul's markets, offered by the adventure specialist Intrepid (020-3147 7777; For a price of around £25 you get a four-hour tour that includes a meal with a local family and the chance to play backgammon in a teahouse.

"Urban adventures give people a taste of real life experience without that perceived insecurity of using public transport," says the company's managing director, Geoff Manchester.

Bargain of the week: Asia via Germany

The German national airline, Lufthansa, has launched another short-term, big-discount offers. This time the focus is on Asia, with spectacular bargains from airports outside London: Edinburgh to Singapore is on sale for as little as £429 return, while Manchester-Shanghai is £489 and Birmingham-Nanjing £339. Best of all, London-Beijing (pictured) is £349 return. Book at, travel 15 May to 30 June.

Tip of the week: Eclipse 2012

What promises to be an outstanding total solar eclipse in the Southern Hemisphere will take place on 13 November 2012 – but very little of the path of totality will pass over land. It begins at sunrise several hundreds of miles off the coast of Chile, and sweeps across the South Pacific. Shortly before sunset, though, it will cross far north Queensland, plunging the city of Cairns and the resort of Port Douglas into temporary darkness. Experience suggests that booking early is the best policy. Exodus (0845 863 9660; has a 15-day trip departing 8 November 2012, and taking in Uluru, below, Sydney and the Great Barrier Reef, for £3,099 including flights.

Warning of the week: Mexico

According to a US State Department bulletin released this week, deaths from drug-related violence in Mexico over the past four years are running at an average of one an hour. "To reduce risk, you are strongly urged to travel only during daylight hours throughout Mexico, to avoid isolated roads, and to use toll roads whenever possible." In Tijuana, the main point of entry for travellers crossing from California, "Shooting incidents, in which innocent bystanders have been injured, have occurred during in daylight throughout the city".