Bargain of the week: Germany by train
Take a friend or relation: that is the secret for travelling long distances in Germany by rail from next Tuesday onwards. The national train operator, Deutsche Bahn, is launching a "Germany special" ticket that costs a flat €49 for two adults, regardless of distance. Accompanying children under 15 travel free. For comparison, the standard one-way fare from Cologne to Berlin is €106 per person. A first-class option is available, price €79 for two people.
You need to book at least three days in advance for these deals. The cheapest way to buy tickets is online at bahn.de or at a station ticket machine in Germany.
If you buy over the counter in Germany, or in advance through the UK Booking Centre (08718 80 80 66), you pay an extra €5.
These fares apply until the end of the year.
For more extensive journeys, a one-month pass allowing unlimited rail travel in Germany costs €299. You need not book in advance. This deal applies for travel up to and including 31 August.
Destination of the week: Forli
The small northern Italian city of Forli gets reconnected to Britain on 2 July with a new link from Luton with Windjet (00 39 095 723 4560; volawindjet.it). Test bookings reveal many seats on offer at about £90 return.
Forli itself is of limited interest, but provides easy access to some intriguing nearby destinations, for example Ravenna, Rimini and San Marino.
You can also change planes at Forli to connect with destinations that have no scheduled flights direct from the UK; Windjet flies from Forli to the Italian island of Lampedusa and the Greek island of Zante.
Warning of the week: Quito
"Muggings and pick-pocketing are common in Ecuador," says the Foreign Office, which has just upgraded its official advice – with a strong focus on the capital. It warns of "a large increase in the number of robberies outside banks in Quito, especially in the northern part of the city. The authorities suspect that gang members inside banks inform others outside when a potential target withdraws cash. A US citizen was shot dead in mid-October as a result of an attack, which took place in the Mariscal area of the city."
Backpackers are common targets. The Foreign Office urges particular care in La Carolina and El Ejido parks, and the La Mariscal and La Marin districts, as well as the central bus station.
"Wear your rucksack on the front of your body and avoid storing anything under your seat or in an overhead luggage space." When in cafés and restaurants in the city, "keep a close watch on your bags and belongings as thieves are constantly on the lookout to make a grab and run."
Terrorism, thankfully, is not a serious threat. Last month activists planted a couple of improvised explosive devices at the education ministry and a TV station, but they were merely "pamphlet bombs that release political literature" .
Elsewhere in the country, "some tourists travelling by train on the Riobamba to Devil's Nose route follow the local custom of travelling on the roof of the train. We do not recommend that you do this because of the serious risks of being killed or injured by cables and bridges along the route.
"In early 2007 two Japanese passengers travelling on the roof died after being struck by a cable suspended across the track. Two British tourists were also injured."