Something To Declare: Turkey; Haarlem, Holland; end-of-line sail
Where to go, how to save, what to avoid
Saturday 09 August 2008
Warning of the week: Turkey
Last month's bomb blasts in Istanbul, in which 17 people died, were the latest in a series of terrorist attacks in Turkey stretching back seven years. In 2001, the day before September 11, a suicide bomber blew himself up in Taksim Square in the centre of Istanbul. Since then, Turkey's largest city has been the target of repeated attacks from Kurdish separatists, al-Qa'ida terrorists and left-wing extremists. The travel advice from the Foreign Office warns bluntly: "There is a high threat from terrorism in Turkey."
Tourists have been targeted, notably in 2005 when a bomb was planted on a minibus in the tourist resort of Kusadasi. It killed five, including a young woman from Co Durham and an Irish teenager. That was the work of the PKK, the Kurdish separatist group, which knows how important tourism is to the Turkish economy.
The response from the authorities has been to impose very high-profile security in tourist areas. At Ataturk airport in Istanbul, for example, all arriving by underground have to pass through a comprehensive check.
Destination of the week: Haarlem
The 17th century was a golden age for this lovely Dutch city, just as it was for Amsterdam. In the 21st century, Haarlem is an excellent antidote to the Dutch capital, being more manageable, friendlier and less overrun with tourists. Indeed, it is an excellent place to base yourself for trips into Amsterdam, less than 20 minutes away by train.
Haarlem to Amsterdam was the first railway route in Holland. The present Haarlem station is the third version, and it is the only Art Nouveau station building in Holland. This month it becomes the centre of attention when it celebrates its centenary. On Saturday 30 August, the station stages an open day. But you can visit the splendid 1908 construction at any time.
Much of the original has been preserved, including the delicate arched roof and the capacious third class waiting room in the centre of the station – though this is now a brasserie. Look out too for the inspirational murals in the main ticket-hall.
Bargain of the week: end-of-line sail
Two of Britain's long-distance ferry routes are to end next month, which means you can expect to find bargains as traffic winds down. The two routes affected are DFDS (08705 333000; www.dfds.co.uk) from Newcastle to Stavanger (the current European capital of culture) and Bergen; and Superfast Ferries (0870 234 0870; www.superfast.com) from Rosyth to Zeebrugge.
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