Destination of the week: San Remo
This lovely north-west Italian resort marks an important occasion on Monday 19 April: the 90th anniversary of the start of the 1920 conference that carved up the Middle East after the First World War.
San Remo is splendidly located between the mountains and the Mediterranean, with a picturesque old town and some grand 19th-century places to stay. It makes an excellent base for exploring the western half of the Italian Riviera.
Late April/May is an ideal time to visit the city, thanks to an average high of around 70F and low rainfall. The town is easy to access with a flight to either Nice or Genoa; trains from Nice take around 90 minutes, usually with a change at the Franco-Italian border; trains from Genoa take under two hours, with no change required.
Bargain of the week: Free pre-paid Mastercard
More people fly within Europe on Ryanair than on any other airline, and the vast majority of them pay £5 per person, per flight as a card fee.
The only way to avoid this charge is to pay with a pre-paid Mastercard, and a wide variety of these are on offer in several currencies. For most UK residents, a sterling card will suffice; and the first 10,000 people who apply for a Kalixa card (at kalixa.com) this month will get the £4.95 initial fee refunded. This makes it one of the more attractive pre-paid Mastercards, since the "loading fee" is a flat 99p if the transfer is made online – much lower than charges on some other cards.
Bear in mind, though, that from the second year onwards a £9.95 annual fee applies. A good-value alternative is the Phones4u pre-paid Mastercard, which can be topped up for free at branches of the mobile phone company.
Warning of the week: Car rental in Ireland
One in three visitors to Ireland rents a car, and the average tourist drives it 600 miles – but many travellers this summer could find there are simply no vehicles available at sensible prices.
According to a new report for the Irish Tourist Industry Confederation (ITIC), typical quotations for rental car prices are already 50 per cent higher in Ireland than in competing destinations such as Scotland and France. The report, entitled "Car Rental Fleet Shortages & Tourism in 2010", says that the number of cars on offer this summer could be as few as 12,500, compared with nearly 31,000 in 2006. The ITIC says the problems have been caused by changes to tax rebate and scrappage schemes, compounded by a reluctance by banks to lend to rental companies.
Stuart Nassos, managing director of Holiday Autos, said: "2010 is going to be a challenging year for car hire availability across the board, but notably in Ireland. It's vital this year for holidaymakers to book early to get the best value and to ensure they can get the right car for their needs". He also warns "small cars get snapped up first".
Tip of the week: Advance visas for Qatar
Qatar Airways is one of the largest and fastest-growing airlines of the Gulf, with good links from the UK to the capital, Doha, and an expanding network of connections across Asia and into Australia.
No one purely in transit between connecting flights need do anything more challenging than carry a passport. But anyone booking a flight including a stopover at Doha on or after 1 May should be aware that "visas upon arrival to Qatar will no longer be granted".
Prospective visitors from Britain and most other countries will have to apply in advance for a visa, which is an onerous undertaking. You must fill out an online form (at qatarembassy.info ) then print it out and send or take it with your passport (with at least six months to run and one blank page), two passport photos, the originals of your last three bank statements (showing at least £850 in the account), and a £20 postal order.Reuse content