Something To Declare: Holland's tulip fields, illuminating Croatia; Ryanair; Tel Aviv
Saturday 19 March 2011
Destination of the week: Holland's tulip fields
The ideal accompaniment to a spring trip to Amsterdam (see 48 hours in related links) is a day at Keukenhof. This is the historic centre for Dutch tulip cultivation. Its 62nd season begins officially on Wednesday, 23 March. The public are allowed in from the following day. The complex is open 8am-7.30pm daily until 20 May (00 31 252 465 555; keukenhof.nl; €14.50).
Seven million bulbs have been planted in the park. This year the theme is "Germany – land of poets and philosophers". An image of Berlin's Brandenburg Gate has been created from 100,000 flowering bulbs.
Special events include a classical music festival, the flower parade on 16 April, and a market of bulbs.
Bus 58 runs non-stop from platform B13 at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport, taking 40 minutes to reach the park entrance.
To explore the tulip fields beyond Keukenhof, you can rent a bike (rentabikevandam.nl). And for more information about the area, see holland.com.
Tip of the week: Illuminating Croatia
A little-known feature of Croatia's Adriatic coast is the chance to stay in historic lighthouses. The most glamorous is just across from the five-star Dubrovnik Palace Hotel: the Lighthouse Grebeni, on its own small reef. The wreck of the Italian warship, Taranto, is close by. A week, based on six people sharing, starts at £628 including BA flights from Gatwick through Essentially Prestige (01425 480 400; prestigeholidays.co.uk). A butler is available at €100 per day.
Warning of the week: The price of payment
Ryanair has increased the "administration fee" levied on flights bought with most debit or credit cards from £5 to £6 – the highest in the industry. It applies to each flight segment and for every passenger. A family of four making a return journey could pay a total of £48 –up from £40. The only way to avoid the charge is to use a prepaid MasterCard.
A spokesman for the airline, which carries more passengers in Europe than any other, says "We encourage all our passengers to make the switch". The Escape prepaid MasterCard, issued by the mobile phone company, Phones4u (phones4u.co.uk), offers good value.
Bargain of the week: Tel Aviv
The cheap way to reach Israel's main airport is aboard easyJet from Luton. Or is it? A search for flights in early summer (out 1 May, back a week later) has revealed some intriguing options with stopover possibilities.
The fare on easyJet is £372. But through Opodo.co.uk, you could book on Cyprus Airways via Larnaca for £5 more – and enjoy seven hours of sunshine on the island between flights.
Seven hours in Madrid is an option through Travelocity.co.uk: a fare of £398 return buys you a BA flight from Heathrow to the Spanish capital, arriving at 4.30pm – perfect timing for shopping, tapas and dinner before the onward overnight connection on Iberia.
Finally, Expedia has the closest to a two-centre break: you fly from Heathrow to Rome, stay for almost 24 hours (at your expense) and fly on to Tel Aviv. The ticket costs £431 – including a return journey that has a transit time of just 70 minutes in Rome.
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