In the News this Week...

brought to you by News Editor, Roger Bray
  • News 225

    A group of renovated traditional houses in the Troodos mountain village of Kalopanayiotis, has been added to Sunvil's programme for 2012.

    almost 8 years ago

    A group of renovated traditional houses in the Troodos mountain village of Kalopanayiotis, has been added to Sunvil's programme for 2012 ( www.sunvil.co.uk ). Casale Panayiotis, a boutique style complex, comprises 13 rooms and suites. The village has cobbled streets and is home to the monastery of St John Lampadistis, a UNESCO World Heritage site. 

  • News 222

    Railway Stokes Up A Passion For The Wild West

    almost 8 years ago

    The rich biodiversity of the Eskdale Valley is to be celebrated with a Wildlife Day at the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway’s Dalegarth Station, on October 22, when the station becomes a hub of wildlife activities, walks and talks to stoke up a passion for the wild Western Lake District.

    The Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway is running train to Dalegarth all day, with the first train departing Ravenglass at 9.30am and the last train back departing Dalegarth at 4.30pm.  At Dalegarth families will find representatives from Cumbria Wildlife Trust, the World Owl Trust and Save Our Squirrels, putting their own spin on wildlife and encouraging people to engage with it.

    The Eskdale Valley is home to red squirrels and a host of other creatures, which passengers will be encouraged to look out for whilst on board the narrow gauge railway.  The journey, often described as England’s most beautiful steam trip, will also offer spectacular views, as the seven miles from the coast and tidal marshes, through hidden Miterdale, and past mighty Muncaster Fell and on through Eskdale, unfolds.
    With owls on hand, to wisely supervise activities, and the shadow of England’s tallest mountains falling close to Dalegarth, there’s lots of wildlife and nature to enjoy during the day.

    Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway’s marketing manager, Rachel Bell, says: “Our wildlife day will see us working in partnership with some of the custodians of both local wildlife and the landscape and our event will help them raise awareness of the importance of protecingt key species of both flora and fauna.

    “With steam travel underpinning the whole experience, it’s a great way to discover the ‘wild West’ of the Lake District and stoke up the passion for days out amidst the world of nature”. 

  • News 223

    Discounted Rail Travel for the Over 55s

    almost 8 years ago

    The UK’s largest rail company, FirstGroup, has announced that its hugely popular Club 55 – a discounted, walk up and go rail travel offer for people aged 55 and over – is to return this year.

    From 19 September over 55s can travel on all of FirstGroup’s train operating companies, First Great Western, ScotRail, First TransPennine Express, First Hull Trains and First Capital Connect, for just £20 return (£19 for ScotRail services) or if travelling First Class £35 return (£26 for ScotRail services).
    The offer, will run until 20 November 2011 in England and Wales and until 30 November 2011 for ScotRail services.

    To book tickets or for more information visit www.club55.co.uk.

  • Hollywood In Egypt

    almost 8 years ago

    American actor Sean Penn was in Egypt this week, spending three days soaking up the culture in the capital, Cairo. Sean visited the city's must-see sites including The Egyptian Museum, the famous Pyramids in Giza and the El-Sultan Hassan Mosque. He also joined the hustle and bustle of Tahrir Square on Friday as locals and tourists basked in the October sunshine. The US star was given a warm welcome by H.E. the Egyptian Minister of Tourism, Mounir Fakhry El-Nour, who invited him, and was accompanied by actor Khaled El-Nabawy during his stay. Affirming that Egypt is one of the safest destinations, Penn called on people from around the world and specially Americans to visit Egypt, which he described as having unique touristic and archaeological value.

    The 50-year-old Penn was born in Saint Monaco in California and comes from a family of artists. He was nominated five times for the Academy Award as best actor and won twice, for the film "Mystic River" and for his role in the film "Milk". In addition to his contributions as an actor and a producer, Penn is also known for his social activism.  Penn played a role in the relief operation sent after the Haiti earthquake and intervened for the release of Americans arrested in Iran and accused of espionage.

  • British Airways says it has knocked up to 20% off shorthaul fares from Gatwick

    almost 8 years ago

    British Airways says it has knocked up to 20% off shorthaul fares from Gatwick in a move which may spark a winter price war. From October 7th, it says, passengers will be able to fly on 12 of its 29 domestic and European services from the airport for less than £40 one way. Fares to destinations including Malaga, Bologna and Verona are among those cut and will start at £39. Other examples include fares to Innsbruck and Faro, which now start at £49.

  • Alesund, in the Norwegian fjords, has a new place to stay on the waterfront hotel.

    almost 8 years ago

    Alesund, in the Norwegian fjords, has a new place to stay on the waterfront hotel. The 196 room Quality Hotel incorporates an art nouveau home and a warehouse and well as a modern section. It has a roof terrace and a restaurant with a view of the bay. Alesund, which is served direct from Gatwick by Norwegian Air, owes its impressive concentratiom of art nouveau buildings to a fire, which ravaged the town in 1904. Among its local attractions is Runde, home to an estimated half a million birds.

  • News 216

    Sushi at sea.

    almost 8 years ago

    Sushi at sea. Passengers on the expedition cruise ship Orion II next April will be able to explore the “rituals, history and philosophy” of the Japanese culinary art. Chefs will teach travellers how to prepare and serve dishes including Kobe beef and the notorious fugu puffer fish. Ports of call will include Busan, where they will visit the famous Jalgachi fish market. The eight-night Japanese Culinary Adventure departs from Kobe on April 27, Besides Busan the ship will call at Shimonoseki,  Nagasaki and Okinawa before returning to Kobe. Prices start at £4495 per person or £3596 if booked before November 30. www.orionexpeditions.com.

  • News 217

    Boutique hotel meets long haul rail.

    almost 8 years ago

    Boutique hotel meets long haul rail. Travellers making the spectacular trans-Canada train journey between Toronto and Vancouver will be able to book a new deluxe sleeper class from mid-October. VIA Rail Canada promises cabins will by 50% more spacious than those now available, with glassed in showers, flat screen TVs (if you can drag yourself away from the scenery), and extras such as a dedicated attendant, all day room service service and priority boarding. It's all part of a CN$22m (£13.5m) refurbishment, due for completion by next summer, which also covers dining and observation cars. www.viarail.ca.

  • Need to stay in touch when you're on the move?

    almost 8 years ago

    Need to stay in touch when you're on the move? Oman Air has won an award for the best in flight connectivity and communications. Passengers can make mobile phone calls at roaming rates and access the internet via wi-fi and satellite. Wi-fi connections cost $29.95 for 26MB of date, $9.95 for email only or $4.95 for instant messaging. The accolade was one of the Passenger Choice Awards voted for by travellers.

  • Travellers value personal and financial security above low prices when booking holidays...

    almost 8 years ago

    Travellers value personal and financial security above low prices when booking holidays, according to a survey by industry organisation ABTA. Asked to rate essential or important elements of a trip, 86% cited safe and secure accommodation and 79% listed financial protection  of any sort – with 74% specifying the ATOL (air travel organiser's licence) scheme. Almost as many (74%) cited membership of ABTA. Knowledgeable staff at travel companies were mentioned by 67%. The fact that a company offered the lowest prices was crucial to a surprisingly small 53%. The figures emerged from ABTA's 2011 Consumer Trends Survey, which also found that the UK was regarded as the most “family friendly” holiday destination by those aged 55 or over.

  • Saga will take possession of their newest ship in the next few days which will become the Saga Sapphire.

    almost 8 years ago

    Saga will take possession of their newest ship in the next few days which will become the Saga Sapphire. The ship is at present sailing as the Bleu de France for CDF Croisieres de France and was originally built in 1980 as the 37,000 tonne Europa for Hapag-Lloyd. A refurbishment will take place to all its cabins and public areas and an entire deck will be fitted with balcony cabins.

    The work should be completed by February 2012 when the ship will sail to Southampton and then, on March 26 begin her inaugural cruise to the Mediterranean.

    Saga Cruising chief executive Robin Shaw says:  "Saga Sapphire will be the largest Saga ship to date, but will retain the intimate atmosphere and the quality of service that our passengers have come to expect. We are extremely pleased to have secured Fincantieri's expertise and resources and are looking forward to working together."

  • News 211

    Shades of LA Confidential and Chinatown.

    almost 8 years ago

    Shades of  LA Confidential and Chinatown. Now you can take a Crime Scene Tour in Los Angeles. Stop at the Brentwood condominium where Nicole Brown Simpson, wife of OJ, and Ronald Goldman were murdered, and visit Vitello's Restaurant where Robert Blake – later acquitted – was alleged to have shot his wife Bonny Lee Bakley in the neck. Led by off duty or retired LAPD personnel the tours also cover the Sharon Tate killing, the unsolved Black Dahlia case and scene of the notorious 1997 North Hollywood shoot out between police and bank robbers. They've been launched by Starline Tours, best known for itineraries taking in the homes of movie stars, Tickets are US$69 (£44) and are available at Starline Tours' box offices in the forecourt of Grauman's Chinese Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard and at Santa Monica Pier. 

  • News 213

    Worried about your ski fitness?

    almost 8 years ago

    Worried about your ski fitness? The Ski Club of Great Britain, with the Warren Smith Ski Academy, is running a special session in London's Hyde Park on November 12 to help skiers to tune up for the season and even develop areas of their technique without making a turn on snow. It will include advice on a pre-season warm up and apres ski stretching, plus muscle and technique development which can be practised at home. The Ski Club says is is mindful  that the increasing prevalence of high speed lifts mean you get less time to take a breather between runs.  The session will take place from 11am-1pm. Meeting point is by the park gates near Hyde Park Corner tube station. Tickets cost £15 for club members and £20 for non members and are available from www.skiclub.co.uk/tickets  or by calling 0208 410 2000. Non members who want to attend  can save £10 off  Ski Club membership before booking a subsequent £5 off their booking.* Quote KEEPFIT11 at www.skiclub.co.uk/join.

  • A new boutique hotel has opened in Oman.

    almost 8 years ago

    A new boutique hotel has opened in Oman. The Sifawy is on the coast at at Jebel, less than an hour's drive from the capital, Muscat. Its backdrop is the Hajar mountain rang. The hotel has 55 rooms and suites, all with private balconies. It Marina Suites come with private butlers. Besides a large pool there is an ourdoor Jacuzzi and a fitness centre and a beachside restaurant, which serves locally caught seafood.

  • News 210

    Manchester will get a new link with Madrid at the end of October...

    almost 8 years ago

    Manchester will get a new link with Madrid at the end of October when Iberia’s regional franchise partner Air Nostrum launches daily flights. Flights to the Spanish capital will depart at 5.35pm, arriving at 8.55pm. Departures from Madrid will be at 4.45pm, reaching Manchester at 5.05pm. They can be booked at www.iberia.com. Air Nostrum, a full service carrier, will offer an alternative to Ryanair, which also operates between the two cities.

  • More than a quarter travel companies gave customers flawed information about financial protection in a “mystery shopper” probe.

    almost 8 years ago

    More than a quarter travel companies gave customers flawed information about financial protection in a “mystery shopper” probe. In 18% of cases the callers were given inaccurate details and in a further 10% the information dished out was potentially misleading. The survey was conducted by Which?Travel. Its researchers called High Street travel agents and online and traditional tour operators. Only in three instances were they told without asking whether their payments were protected if a company they were booking with collapsed and whether they would be repatriated if it happened while they were abroad. And only 34% gave “a good explanation of what was covered and by who”. The survey was carried out as the Government worked out final details of shake up in protection for air holidaymakers which is intended to extend cover for travellers buying flights and other key holiday elements – such as accommodation – separately rather than as part of a conventional package.

  • News 208

    They've been dubbed the “grey gappers”.

    almost 8 years ago

    They've been dubbed the “grey gappers”. A quarter of all over 55s are taking a leaf out of the student book and heading off on extended breaks overseas, according to research commissioned by Post Office Travel Insurance. That compares with only 19% of students who are sufficiently unruffled by tuition fee increases to take gap years. Not that the over 55s are going for a whole year.  Their average time away is three and a half months – but they spend just over £53 a day compared with slightly more than £30 a day spent by under 35s. And their most favoured destinations? Unsurprising;y, perhaps, Australia (36%) and New Zealand (27%) are way out in front.

  • News 207

    Visitors to Tasmania will soon be able to watch the elusive Tasmanian Devil feed.

    almost 8 years ago

    Visitors to Tasmania will soon be able to watch the elusive Tasmanian Devil feed. Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary near Hobart, which launched a “Wildlife SOS programme”in 2009 is opening a huge new “walk through” for 20 of the notoriously stroppy carnivores, all of which have done their bit of breeding to help provide an insurance population. And from December visitors will be able settle in comfortable chairs on an undercover observation deck for a front row viewing of a devil feed in “all its gory glory” – and learn all about the extraordinary marsupial. Other animals rescued and rehabilitated at the sanctuary include Mavis, a baby wombat. Tours start at AU$69 (£45) per adult during the day and AU$94 (£61.50) at night. 

  • News 204

    Icelandair will launch flights to Akureyi in northern Iceland in summer 2012.

    almost 8 years ago

    Icelandair will launch flights to Akureyi in northern Iceland in summer 2012. Aykureyi is a jumping of point for the regions spectacular natural attractions. UK passengers will switch planes n Reykjavik before boarding a Fokker 50 aircraft for the onward leg but they will be able to book and check bags all the way through from Heathrow, Manchester and Glasgow. The service will operate up to four times a week from June 7 – September 30 2012.

  • EasyJet will start flying from Bristol to Naples on 12 May 2012.

    almost 8 years ago

    EasyJet will start flying from Bristol to Naples non 12 May 2012. It will operate the route three times a week low cost carrier has also unveiled plans to start new services to Naples and Dalaman in Turkey from Edinburgh. The  announcement, which did not specify start dates for flights to the two new destinations, came as the airline launched its first service from the Scottish capital to Athens.