Something To Declare: Melbourne; north and east by train; Indonesia; Tokyo
Saturday 23 October 2010
Bargain of the week: Melbourne
Australia's biggest single sporting event, the Melbourne Cup horse race, takes place on 2 November. And thanks to the competition from the leading Gulf airlines, fares to the city are looking keener than to Sydney. Travelling out a week today for a fortnight's stay, the fare from Heathrow on Emirates – the event's sponsor – is around £925, one-quarter less than the price on the same date to Australia's largest city.
Destination of the week: North and east, by train
Forty-two: the maximum number of paying passengers aboard the Danube Express, which has an expanded programme of trips for its luxury train next year (01462 441400; danube-express.com). New itineraries include the "Polish Explorer", from the Baltic to the Tatras (nine days, £3,490) and the "Istanbul Loop", beginning in Budapest and taking in Transylvania and Bulgaria, Turkey's largest city, and Serbia (11 days, £5,490). Prices include flights to the start point, most meals and guided tours.
Great Rail Journeys (01904 521 949; greatrail.com), has just released its "Ultimate Collection" programme for 2011, which includes the Arctic Circle Express. This 15-day trip starts from London with a flight to Stockholm; the journey includes Ostersund, Jokkmokk in Swedish Lapland, Narvik, Trondheim, a boat trip on Norway's longest and deepest fjord, and finally the spectacular Bergen-Oslo railway. All departures on the trip, from 3 June to 22 August, cost £2,495 – with a single supplement of £485.
Warning of the week: How risky is Indonesia?
"Violent elements in Indonesia continue to demonstrate a willingness and ability to carry out violent attacks with little or no warning," warns the US State Department. The Foreign Office echoes these concerns: "Terrorist groups have the capacity and intent to carry out these attacks at any time and any where in the country".
Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs goes further: "Reconsider your need to travel to Indonesia, including Bali [pictured], at this time due to the very high threat of terrorist attack". The government in Canberra stresses a particular risk: staying in a hotel that is part of a big Western chain: "Staff at the Australian Embassy in Jakarta have been directed not to live in apartments which are co-located with, adjacent to or closely associated with international hotels".
Tip of the week: Screenful of Tokyo
The latest film in The Independent Traveller's 48 Hours in... series reveals the perfect weekend in Tokyo, with a side-trip to Hakone National Park. You can watch the film at independent.co.uk/tokyo. This is also the place to find an online version of 48 Hours in Tokyo, as well as a new Something to Declare audio podcast, featuring everything from food to etiquette in Japan.
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