Something to declare: European Health Insurance Card; Rotterdam; city breaks
Saturday 25 October 2008
Warning of the week: EHIC
The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is valuable for every Europe-bound traveller; it entitles you to the same state-provided healthcare as a resident of the country you are visiting. And procuring one provides a diversion for the dark days of late autumn. You can apply for this free card in a variety of ways: for example, collecting an application form at a post office and sending it in. A second option: call the EHIC application line on 0845 606 2030. The quickest way to secure one, however, is online. But note: if you type "EHIC" into Google, the top entry is not the official NHS site, but a privately run website charging £9.95 for submitting an application on your behalf. The company promises "the reassurance that all of your details have been checked by us for common mistakes", but the misplaced apostrophe when citing "problems with your application which could delay it's processing" does not inspire confidence. To apply free, visit www.nhs.uk/healthcareabroad. Don't fear a tax-return-style encounter; you need little more than name, address and NHS number.
Destination of the week: Rotterdam
Holland's dazzling second city is now even better connected, thanks to the opening of the long-overdue high-speed rail line. The fastest trains from Amsterdam airport via the Hague to Rotterdam now take just 41 minutes. Eventually, there will be a train every 10 minutes.
In addition, the line will soon been connected with Brussels, greatly improving times by train from London via the Belgian capital.
The exciting new place to stay in Rotterdam is H2Otel – a new floating hotel in the Wijnhaven (00 31 10 444 5690; h2otel.nl). Unlike some "hotel boats" in other cities, this has been designed with flair, with 49 artistically unique rooms.
Doubles start at €100 (£82) excluding breakfast, though expect some low-season specials on the website.
Download of the week: city breaks
The Independent offers the widest range of high-quality, free-to-view video films of any UK national newspaper. At independent.co.uk/ travel/sound-and-vision, film versions of our award-winning 48 Hours series are available for San Diego, Fez in Morocco, Léon (above) and Zaragoza in Spain and Singapore. In addition, you can see our series Twin Tracks: A Tale of Two Travellers, in which Ben Ross and Simon Calder make the same journey by different means. In the first, they travel across the dramatic and historic landscapes of northern Spain; in the second, they seek out the best that the cities and coast of Flanders have to offer.
The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations
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