Something to Declare: Hamburg; Leicester fares war; Serbia; Buenos Aires
Saturday 14 August 2010
Destination of the week: Hamburg
The first Beatles' gig in Germany's second city took place 50 years ago on Tuesday: 17 August 1960. All you need is a ticket to Hamburg to visit the places where the not-yet-Famous Five – Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison, plus drummer Pete Best and the ill-fated bassist Stu Sutcliffe – cut their musical teeth and grew their hair.
Lufthansa (0871 9459 747; lufthansa.com) flies from Manchester, Heathrow and London City; British Airways (0844 493 0787; ba.com) flies from Heathrow; Flybe (0871 700 0123; flybe.com) flies from Birmingham; and Germanwings (0871 702 9982; germanwings.com) flies from Gatwick.
Sources argue fiercely about the geography and chronology of the group in Hamburg. The Beatles scholars at The Independent Traveller believe that the first gig took place somewhere on Grosse Freiheit – a mean little street close to the lovely Altona area – probably at the Indra Club, at number 58. The Beatles were obliged to move on to the Kaiserkeller at 36 Grosse Freiheit after complaints about the noise at the Indra. Each band member was paid DM30 (then about £2.50) for every five-hour session. They soon began to moonlight at the Top Ten Club, just around the corner at Reeperbahn 136.
The Reeperbahn Festival takes place next month, 23-25 September. For more information about the event and the city, call 00 49 40 3005 1300 or visit hamburg-touris mus.de.
Bargain of the week: Leicester fares war
The East Midlands city is the latest target for a fares-and-speed battle between road and rail on links to London. National Express has cut some bus journey times between Leicester and Victoria Coach Station in London to two hours 15 minutes, with fares from £1 each way.
East Midlands trains between the two cities (serving St Pancras in London) typically take 70 minutes; book around six weeks in advance at megabus.com, and you could find a £1 one-way ticket.
Leicester has much to offer travellers: it was where Thomas Cook's empire began (a statue stands outside the railway station) and the National Space Centre (0845 605 2001; spacecentre.co.uk) offers more distant frontiers.
Warning of the week: Serbia
The Belgrade Beer Festival (belgradebeerfest.com) begins on Wednesday, and runs to Saturday. "Don't carry your passport on you during the festival as you risk it being lost or stolen," urges the Foreign Office. "Carry a copy of it with you or have your British driving licence as means of ID."
Take care, too, when driving: "The general standard of roads is fair to poor with conditions worsening in rural areas, especially in and after bad weather. One particularly notorious road is the Ibarska Magistrala (linking Belgrade to Montenegro)."
And beware of flaunting your wealth: "As a foreigner, you may be a target for criminals who may assume you are carrying large amounts of cash. Four-wheel drive and luxury vehicles are also a popular target. Isolated incidents of armed violence in major cities are a problem."
Tip of the week: Buenos Aires
The domestic airport in Buenos Aires, Aeroparque, will close from the last week in October to early December 2010 for maintenance, reports the specialist operator Journey Latin America: "This is bad news because it happens at the start of Argentina's peak summer season, when most tourists arrive to head down to Patagonia," said a spokesperson.
Aeroparque is close to the centre of the Argentinian capital, but during the close down all flights will operate in and out of Ezeiza – the less convenient international airport, at least a 40-minute drive from the centre.
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