Travel: Something to declare

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The Independent Travel
Trouble spots

Advice from our woman in the Foreign Office on Europe

Bosnia and Herzegovina: Visitors should exercise extreme caution. Although a peace agreement has been signed and freedom of movement theoretically applies, security incidents still occur and the country cannot yet be declared safe for travellers. Cheques and credit cards are not accepted anywhere. Medical facilities are limited. The British Embassy in Sarajevo (tel 00 387 71 444429 or satellite 00 873 145 2244) can offer only limited consular assistance.

Corsica: Yacht owners should seek advice from the harbourmaster on entering Corsican ports and should consider moving on if they do not obtain adequate assurances of security.

Czech Republic: Reports of racially motivated attacks on the local Romany population by skinheads are common - also isolated (apparently racially related) violent incidents involving British nationals.

Latvia: There has been an upsurge of car theft. Pick-pocketing occurs on occasion. Travellers should take sensible precautions.

Travel advice is available from the Foreign Office on 0171-238 4503, http://www.fco.gov.uk/ on the Internet, and on BBC-2 Ceefax page 564 onwards.

True or false

`For all your rail travel requirements, call Rail Direct on 0800 450450'

False. Until this month it was, however, true: the InterCity information and reservations team could answer enquiries and sell tickets by credit card for train travel anywhere in Britain. But the freephone number was disbanded at midnight on 31 May, the latest casualty of the dismantlement of British Rail.

Life has become several degrees trickier and more expensive for the prospective train traveller. There are now nine separate numbers, and only one of them is free. National rail enquiries are dealt with by a local-rate number, 0345 484950. Tickets must be bought from the relevant Train Operating Company. So for a ticket between Swansea and Cardiff you must phone a number in Plymouth; and for ScotRail bookings you call a local-rate number which gets you through to the non-Scottish city of Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

The complete list:

Anglia 01603 765676

West Coast 0345 991995

Cross Country 0990 136107

East Coast 0345 225225

Midland Mainline 0800 125 222

Great Western 01752 221315

ScotRail 0345 550033

National Rail Enquiries 0345 484950

Bargain of the week

The latest salvo in the fares war between Spain and Portugal has been fired by Iberia (0171-830 0011). To counter Air Portugal's two-night city break to Lisbon for pounds 152, the Spanish national carrier is selling Gatwick-Madrid flights for pounds 94 return (including tax). The usual Saturday night condition applies, to reduce the appeal to business travellers.

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