Something to declare: Eurostar; Zambia and Zimbabwe; Miami vice; HS2 preview
Saturday 21 January 2012
Bargain of the week: Eurostar
Book by Monday, 23 January, and you can secure a return ticket from London or Ebbsfleet to Paris, Brussels or Lille, pictured, for the much-missed old fare of £59, rather than the new standard lowest fare of £69. It applies for some off-peak trains between now and 29 March. For availability of the £59 fare, eurostar.com has a handy fare-finder indicating when the cheap tickets are most common. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday (with the exception of Thursday 16 February) offer the best chance of finding a cheap deal. Standard Premier class is available for £149.
Destination of the week: Zam and Zim
Zambia and Zimbabwe will have better links to Britain from 1 February when Emirates starts services from Dubai to the respective capitals, Lusaka and Harare. The Dubai-Lusaka-Harare link will operate five times a week. At present, the only non-stop services from the UK are Air Zimbabwe's Monday flight from Gatwick and BA, thrice-weekly, from Heathrow. Fares from Emirates' UK airports are typically £550 return to either city, much less than other one-stop flights (Ethiopian Airlines and Kenya Airways) and cheaper than the non-stops.
Open-jaw trips – flying into one city and out of the other – are feasible, enabling you to make the international border crossing at Victoria Falls.
Warning of the week: Miami vice
"Little Haiti and nightlife hotspots like Overtown (just north of Downtown) experience high crime rates," reports the brand-new sixth edition of Lonely Planet's Miami and the Keys (£14.99).
The book does, though, commend a daytime visit to Little Haiti ("One of the most evocative neighbourhoods in Miami").
Across in Miami Beach, warns the guide: "Drunk driving seems depressingly common."
Canada's official advice to travellers to Miami goes into more detail:
"Criminals have demonstrated that they will use violence with little or no provocation ... Many attacks have occurred in the Miami area. Theft has increased, particularly from the trunks of parked cars in the North Miami Beach area, South Beach and at airports."
Tip of the week: HS2 preview
While completion of the high-speed rail link between London and Birmingham is still many years away, Chiltern Railways (08456 005165; chilternrailways.co.uk) has quietly established a new low-cost express route between England's two largest cities. Track improvements through the Chilterns allow some trains between London Marylebone and Birmingham Moor Street to take as little as 90 minutes. The maximum one-way fare is £51, compared with £79 on Virgin Trains from Euston to New Street – which is only a few minutes faster.
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