Something To Declare: Puerto Rico; Qatar for football fans; cheap trains in Scotland; Wall fall in London

Destination of the week: Puerto Rico

These days it is rare for Virgin Atlantic (08705 747 747; virgin-atlantic.com) to contemplate a new route, since it shares some of the problems that led to British Airways' record peak-season losses announced yesterday. But today Virgin puts Puerto Rico back on the route map from Gatwick, some years after BA abandoned the link.

Many of the passengers on board the weekly flight will be heading straight for the cruise port in the handsome capital, San Juan. But Puerto Rico, about the same size as Cyprus, is an excellent destination for independent travellers. El Yunque National Forest, right, full of tropical wildlife, is very close to the capital, while drivers with a taste for adventure can follow the Ruta Panorámica a journey that straddles the highest ridges of the Central Cordillera.

Puerto Rico is also the key Caribbean hub for American Airlines, making it an easy gateway for a more extended island-hopping tour of the region by air.

Warning of the week: Qatar for football fans

Next Saturday, England play Brazil in a warm-up friendly before the 2010 World Cup. Unusually, the match will take place in the Gulf state of Qatar. The Foreign Office urges fans to "respect the culture, religion and law at all times and be aware of your actions to ensure that they do not offend"; see fco.gov.uk/football.

The Qatar authorities require British passport holders to have at least six months validity and one blank page available on their passport before arrival. A three-week visa is granted on arrival, but the QR110 (18) fee can be paid only by credit card. All baggage is screened on arrival, with alcohol, drugs and pornography of particular concern to the authorities.

While alcohol is available at licensed hotel restaurants and bars, "It is a punishable offence to drink alcohol or be drunk in public."

Drink-driving is a serious offence in Qatar; there is zero tolerance for driving with any alcohol in the bloodstream. "Offenders will be detained and fined," says the Foreign Office, with the possibility of a jail term of between one month and three years.

You are allowed to drive for up to two weeks in Qatar using your UK driving licence, but "road discipline is very poor, speeds are high and minor accidents common".

Finally, "intimacy in public between men and women can lead to arrest".

Bargain of the week: Cheap trains in Scotland for the over-55s

Born on or before 7 November 1954? If so, you qualify for discounts on trains in Scotland, and you don't even need a rail card. Anyone aged 55 or over can benefit from the Club 55 deal, offering a flat 15 return trip between any two stations in Scotland, plus Carlisle and Berwick-upon-Tweed. The deal is available until 13 December, and no advance booking is required. You can return the same day or any time within a month. Note that some commuter services before 9.15am on weekdays, and early evening departures from Edinburgh and Glasgow are excluded.

To travel in style, Club 55 Premier costs 19 return from Edinburgh and Glasgow to Aberdeen or Inverness (left), but for this fare you must book in advance.

Tip of the week: Wall fall in London

On Monday, 9 November, the Goethe Institut in west London, is staging a range of events to celebrate the fall of the Berlin Wall 20 years ago: see www.bit.ly/wallfall.

A photo exhibition on the subject runs to 18 December.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Personal Trainer / PT - OTE £30,000 Uncapped

    £25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Investigo: Finance Analyst

    £240 - £275 per day: Investigo: Support the global business through in-depth a...

    Ashdown Group: Data Manager - £Market Rate

    Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Data Manager - MySQL, Shell Scripts, Java, VB Scrip...

    Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - Bedfordshire/Cambs border - £32k

    £27000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - near S...

    Day In a Page

    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there