Something To Declare: Korea; getting around Berlin; New Zealand on two wheels
Where to go, how to save, what to avoid
Saturday 01 August 2009
Bargain of the week: far horizons, via Korea
The two big Korean airlines offer British travellers excellent deals on flights from Heathrow via Seoul to a wide range of destinations in the Far East and beyond – especially if you travel in the low season, from September to early December.
Asiana Airlines (020-7304 9900; flyasiana.com) this month steps up its flights from Heathrow to Seoul, with excellent connections to a range of Asian destinations that lack direct flights from the UK – notably Manila and Hanoi – and good fares to Sydney.
Its rival, Korean Air, can take you to the South Pacific archipelago of Fiji. The islands are normally reached from the UK via Los Angeles, aboard carriers such as Qantas and Air New Zealand for around £1,000 return. But the islands' location – astride the International Date Line – make Fiji equally accessible from the East.
Korean Air has an autumn special to Nadi, Fiji's international gateway, for just £767, valid from 18 August-4 December. Flights are via Seoul Incheon, where a stopover is an easy option: a 90-day stay is granted to British passport holders upon arrival.
Destination of the week: New Zealand on two wheels
The new prime minister of New Zealand, John Key, is also the nation's tourism minister – and a keen cyclist. He has just announced the construction of seven cycle tracks in wilderness areas, representing the first stage of what is hoped will become a network of interlinked cycleways running the full length of the country.
The seven spokes will take anything from one to six days to cover; on the North Island, they include a 150-mile run down the Wanganui River valley from Mount Ruapehu to the sea, and a "rail trail" on a disused railway track. On the South Island, the main interest is likely to be on the "Around the Mountain Rail Trail", starting in Queenstown and taking in a 110-mile loop.
While the work is under way, keen cyclists can already take advantage of disused rail tracks in the South Island on a tour organised by Queenstown-based Off the Rails (00 64 27 363 3724; offtherails.co.nz).
Warning of the week: getting around Berlin
Anyone planning to visit the German capital during August could find much of the city's public transport system shut down. Following concerns over a damaged axle, a check has started of all 930 S-Bahn (elevated railway) trains. At present, only about one in four trains are running; eight lines have been closed completely; and stops at 19 stations have been suspended.
From a tourist's perspective the main problems are the lack of S-Bahn trains from Berlin's Schonefeld airport (served by low-cost airlines) to the city, and the main artery between Zoologischer Garten (hub of the former West Berlin) and the Ostbahnhof. Regional Express trains are running on these sections, but are overcrowded. BVG, the organisation that runs public transport in Berlin, says. "We have reinforced the subway (U-Bahn), bus and tram services so that passengers can use these services alternatively."
It is unclear how long the maintenance checks will take, and consequently how long disruption will last. Go to tiny.cc/lfQIW for the latest information.
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