Something To Declare: Torun; Nice in style; credit card charges; Leicester link to Europe
Saturday 30 July 2011
Destination of the week: Torun
The fine city of Torun in north-central Poland has much to recommend it, starting with being easier to pronounce than its neighbour, the nearby city of Bydgoszcz. The timbers and red-brick houses of Torun are protected by gently crumbling walls and towers. The civic celebrity is Copernicus. A fine cathedral – with viewing platform – and a leaning tower are among the many attractions; see visittorun.pl for more.
The nearest airport is at Bydgoszcz, which has flights on only one airline: Ryanair (0871 246 0000; ryanair.com), which operates daily from Stansted and three times a week from Birmingham. From Bydgoszcz, trains are frequent and cheap, and take around an hour to reach Torun.
Bargain of the week: Nice in style
Besides its new route to Agadir, BMI is launching flights from Heathrow to Nice (right) on 25 August. Single fares start at £57. The service is aimed largely at high-end travellers, who tend to book late, and therefore early bookers who travel off-peak should be able to find plenty of seats available at the lowest price: 0870 60 70 555; flybmi.com.
Air France long ago abandoned the Heathrow-Nice route; so the only other operator from Heathrow is British Airways, which may engage in something of a fares war. From Gatwick, easyJet is dominant (and usually cheaper than BA).
Warning of the week: Credit card charges
Airlines are not the only organisations that charge extra for paying with a credit card: visitors to Denmark face a fee of around 2.75 per cent added to the price of anything from hotel bills to admission to Legoland (pictured). The exact percentage is supposed to reflect the commission that the enterprise pays to the bank; it is not intended to be a profit-making opportunity. The main card issuers, Visa and Mastercard, are unhappy about anything that makes paying by card more expensive than using cash, but their policies can be overruled by legislation in individual nations.
In Australia, the Hilton in Sydney warns that "Payments relating to Australian hotels incur a merchant service fee of 1.5 per cent in addition to the total amount payable."
As well as these charges, your bank is likely to make its own "exchange rate adjustment" – ie commission charge –of around 2.75 per cent on all overseas transactions.
Tip of the week: Leicester link to Europe
Thomas Cook's first expedition departed from Leicester 170 years ago this summer – and the city's railway station has this month acquired a new booking office selling train tickets across Europe. East Midlands Trains already provides space for a Trainseurope ticket desk at St Pancras station in London. The Leicester office will also sell tickets to and within Europe, and to many other destinations worldwide.
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