Something To Declare: London tube and bus fares; Avignon; Miami beach; 48 Hours in London
Saturday 19 December 2009
Warning of the week: Tube and bus fares to rise in London
From 2 January, bus, tube and tram fares in London will increase. For travellers, the cash price of a one-way ticket between the centre and Heathrow airport rises from £4 to £4.50.
Single fares for a short trip in Zone 1, the central area, remain at £4. Almost any visitor will be better off investing in a pay-as-you-go Oyster stored-value card, for example through the Transport for London online shop: www. bit.ly/OysterShop; prices start at £10 plus the £2 cost of the card. An Oyster card gives access to lower fares (£1.80 for a single journey off-peak, £2.30 peak). And the system is structured so that anyone making a number of journeys on the same day reaches a "cap" of £7.20 (or £5.60 for travel only off-peak).
From the new year, pay-as-you-go Oyster cards will also be valid on overground trains in the city and suburbs.
Finally, transport in London is free on New Year's Eve from 11.45pm until 4.30am.
Destination of the week: Avignon, next summer
Although drivers belonging to the Aslef union are striking this week in a row over meal allowances, Eurostar is immune to the kinds of disputes that plague aviation, involving parties such as cabin crew and air-traffic controllers. This is one reason for the popularity of the summer long-distance, high-speed train service (08432 186 186; eurostar.com) to Provence – terminating at Avignon Centre station – which goes on sale this Tuesday, 22 December.
On summer Saturdays from 10 July to 11 September, a train will run between London and Avignon Centre (very handy for the city itself, though a long way from Avignon TGV station, which is on the high-speed line with connections deeper into Provence and to the Côte d'Azur; a shuttle bus operates between the two stations every 20 minutes and takes around 10 minutes, fare €3.)
The journey from London St Pancras International takes just under six hours, and stops at Ashford International in both directions.
Prices start at £109 return in standard class and £249 return in "Leisure Select", the version of first class used on this service.
Connecting fares are available from 200 towns and cities across the UK, including Milton Keynes from £123 return, Derby from £129 return, and Peterborough from £130 return.
Bargain of the week: Designs on Miami Beach
Transatlantic fares for the next two weeks are astronomical, due to the uncertainties caused by the BA dispute. But if you can defer a flight to Miami until January you can expect low prices and sunny skies. The optimum weekend to be in town is 15-17 January, when the annual Art Deco festival takes place; www.bit.ly/ ArtDec for more details.
The 2010 theme is the car, and "the American spirit embodied in the open road". The lowest fares are on connecting flights – typically £400 return on Delta from Heathrow via New York JFK, or from Gatwick via Atlanta. Non-stop flights on Virgin Atlantic from Heathrow are currently around £440 if you travel midweek and stay over a Saturday night.
Tip of the week: 48 Hours in London
The capital is celebrated in the latest film in our city-break series, which premiers on Tuesday at 9pm on Travel Channel (available at Sky channel 251). The print version will appear here next Saturday, 26 December.
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