Something to declare: Interruptions in Italy; Southern California; Paris Gare du Nord; travel riskmanagement
Saturday 04 June 2011
Our Traveller's Guide last week featured Tuscany, and recommended Pisa as the main gateway by air. But John Wright warns of "lengthy roadworks on the autostrada from Florence to Pisa, which is severely affecting the Terravision coach service".
Normally, this link ( terravision.it) is the fast and reliable option between Santa Maria Novella station in Florence and Pisa airport, but Mr Wright says his westbound journey was nearly an hour late, "Which made my wife and I uncertain that we would catch the BA flight to Heathrow. In the end we did – just."
He recommends instead the rail link from Florence SMN. Some trains are direct to the airport, but for most you must change at Pisa Centrale (if you're feeling fit, you can walk from here in about half-an-hour).
As well as the traffic delays, queues for security at Pisa airport can be interminable. So allow plenty of time – or use the much handier and quieter Florence airport, served from Gatwick by Meridiana and from London City by CityJet.
Further south, problems between Sorrento and Naples by both road and rail have also been experienced in the past few weeks, due to blockades carried out by demonstrating dockers.
Bargain of the week
Anyone frustrated by the high fares that airlines are commanding this summer for non-stop flights from Heathrow to Los Angeles should consider switching to the British Airways (0844 493 0787; ba.com) link from Heathrow to San Diego, which was reinstated this week. Test bookings for the coming week show that fares to the southernmost Californian city are typically £681 return, compared with at least £50 more to LAX – reflecting the fact that fares on any "new" route tend to be lower than on established links.
BA is also trying to fill seats through the long-haul travel trade, offering very keen "IT fares" that can be sold only in conjunction with accommodation; Trailfinders (0845 050 5892; trailfinders.com) is offering a week at the three-star Sheraton Mission Valley in San Diego, departing 8 June, for £799 (based on two sharing); each night's stay works out at under £24 a night double.
Destination of the week
Paris Gare du Nord
Train beats plane for most journeys to the French capital. Eurostar's terminus in Paris, besides being the busiest station in Continental Europe, is also a "destination station" in its own right, like St Pancras in London. Building work on the present structure of la gare began 150 years ago this summer.
See more of the station in Simon Calder's latest travel film at independent.co.uk/garedunord.
Tip of the week
Travel risk management
The subject of the latest Independent Traveller webchat with Simon Calder, starting at 1pm on Monday, 6 June, is how to maximise your chances of staying safe abroad – and the benefits and pitfalls of holiday insurance. Visit Independent.co.uk/Travel to take part.
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