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Destination of the week: Get to Rio before its landmark goes off-limits

Destination of the week: Get to Rio before its landmark goes off-limits

From All Fools' Day, the cable car to the top of Sugar Loaf Mountain, which dominates Brazil's most beautiful big city, is closing for maintenance. It will stay shut right through to the end of June.

"People will still be able to get a great view of the city from the statue of Christ the Redeemer on Corcovado," says Andre de Mendonça of South American Experience, "but if you want to see the panorama from both, you should get there this month." His company (020-7976 5511, www.south-american experience.co.uk) and other discount agents have a return fare from London to Rio on the top-class Brazilian airline, Varig, for £349 between now and the end of April.

Warning of the week: Beware of taxi drivers at Athens airport

The new airport in the Greek capital opened a year ago, and the taxi drivers are cashing in on the fact that it is much further from the centre than the old one. In the brand-new Greek Island Hopping 2002 (Thomas Cook Publishing, £12.99), Frewin Poffley warns that you should not pay too much:

"Taxis from Syntagma Square cost a theoretical €10.26 [£6] during the day and €13.20 [£8] between midnight and 5am. The taxi driver will no doubt try to sting you for the toll charged at the entry to the motorway, and whatever else he thinks he can get away with."

Mr Poffley advises you to "Dress poor, negotiate tough and make a point of being seen to carefully check the value of your banknotes before handing them over."

Sometimes, warns the US State Department, you may not find a taxi to take you at any price: "Strikes in the transportation sector (national airline, city bus lines and taxis) occur with some frequency."

Bargain of the week: A three-centre holiday in France

Eurostar Plus services, which connect Channel Tunnel trains with the rest of France, offer a little-known option that can give you a two- or three-centre holiday for the price of one ticket. The rule on connections allows anything up to 24 hours to be spent in Lille or Paris.

You could, for example, travel out to Lille on the morning of day one, stay overnight and leave early in the afternoon on a direct service for Tours or Poitiers, where you can stay for days or weeks. On the return journey, book to travel via the French capital, where you can also stay overnight.

A fare of £84 applies to those destinations, plus Caen, Rouen, Dijon and Reims. To the South of France – Lourdes, Nice and Perpignan – the fare is £114. Book through Rail Europe (08705 848848, www.raileurope.co.uk) at least two weeks in advance.

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