WORLD DEPARTURES

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The Independent Travel
Package holidaymakers are not the only ones who will pay more next summer. Independent travellers using charters face higher seat-only fares too - more than pounds 200 for flights to Malaga in August, for example. To make life easier for late-night arrivals, Thomson Air Fares (reservations: 0121-252 3503) give the option of resort transfers, with a typical price of pounds 12 for a bus ride from Alicante airport to Benidorm.

Free beer at the Heineken brewery, free food samples at Schiphol airport and the Amsterdam branch of M&S, and free music at the annual Park Pop festival in The Hague - all recommended in the Cool Guide to Amsterdam (pounds 6.95). Subject matter veers toward sex, drugs and rock and roll, but it also suggests where to rent a recumbent bicycle (the sort where you lie back and pedal).

The first exhibition devoted solely to the work of Johannes Vermeer will open in The Hague from 1 March to 2 June. Because demand is likely to be high, the Netherlands Board of Tourism is selling advance tickets; write to PO Box 523, London SW1E 6NT.

The most festive travel gesture of the year arrives on Christmas Day, courtesy of the Transport and General Workers' Union. Few buses are operating in London on Christmas Day, and all but one are charging unfestively high fares (minimum pounds 1, no child reductions). But route 732, between Edgware and Cricklewood, is being sponsored by the T&G, and all travel is free.

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