In the News this Week...

brought to you by News Editor, Roger Bray
  • Leipzig


    Ryanair is to launch flights from London's Stansted Airport to Leipzig later this year.

    over 8 years ago

    Ryanair is to launch flights from London's Stansted Airport to Leipzig later this year. The former East German industrial city may not leap to mind as a short break destination but it has much to offer. It was home to Johann Sebastian Bach, who was its musical director and master of the St Thomas Church Choir, which is over 800 years old. Mendelssohn lived and died there there, His former house is open to visitors. Goethe studied there – and set a scene from Faust in Auerbach's Cellar, a restaurant since 1525. And there is the grimly fascinating STASI museum, housed in the former headquarters of the notorious East German secret police , whose permanent exhibition is titled “STASI – Power and Banality”.

  • News 189

    The Romanian capital Bucharest has a new luxury hotel.

    over 8 years ago

    The Romanian capital Bucharest has a new luxury hotel. Hilton has opened an 88 room property there under its Doubletree brand. The hotel is on Unrili Square, close to the old Lipscari district. It has a spa and fitness centre, free high speed internet access and the Avantgarde restaurant on the top floor – its name recalling the French influence which earned Bucharest the soubriquet “Paris of the East” – has views over the city.

  • Controversy raged about who got there first...

    over 8 years ago

    Controversy raged about who got there first – but now British tourists are being offered the chance to plant their feet at the North Pole. Tour operator Frontier Canada is running a trip there, departing from Ottawa on April 9 next year. Particpants will fly to Resolute Bay in Nunavut, where they'll spend the night. Next day they will travel further north to the Canadian government weather station at Eureka. On day three or four, depending on the weather, they will fly on to Discovery Bay and beyond, refuelling before for the final leg, 276 miles to the Pole where – if conditions permit – they will land. The return journey will take in time in Greenland at Qaanaq and Grise Fjord on Ellesmere Island. The price of the nine night  trip, which includes flights from the UK and a night in Ottawa at either end, is a cool £33,000.

  • News 184

    The Palm Springs Art Museum is to mount an exhibition celebrating the swimming pool in Southern California.

    over 8 years ago

    Conjuring images of countless sequences in Hollywood movies, the Palm Springs Art Museum ( is to mount an exhibition celebrating the swimming pool in Southern California. Photographs, film clips and “selected ephemera” will cover the tears from the end of the Second World War to 1982. The Museum promises snapshots of stars, “often in private and candid moments,” relaxing in their own "backyard oases". Among them will be photographs of Rock Hudson, Marilyn Monroe, Alan Ladd, Esther Williams, Olivia de Havilland and Liberace – who had a pool shaped like a grand piano.  At the deeper end, the exhibition will look at the swimming pool as a symbol of the ideals and aspirations of post war life in America. It wll run from January 21 – May 27 2012.

  • Guests at the Mint Hotel Tower of London can now book walking tours of the surrounding area.

    over 8 years ago

    Guests at the Mint Hotel Tower of London can now book walking tours of the surrounding area. The itinerary includes All Hallows by the Tower, the oldest church in the City -  Samuel Pepys climbed the tower of the church to survey the damage caused by the Great Fire of London – Leadenhall Market, the capital's oldest coffee house – and some of the new buildings under construction. Led by City of London Guide Geoff Boyd, the tours last 1hr 30mins, though shorter tours can be arranged on request. For groups of ten or more, the cost is £8 per person. For groups of five to nine persons, the cost is £10 and for groups of five persons or less, the cost is £12. There's a minimum requirement of two people – and in case you're thinking of taking the grandchildren – the walks are not suitable for under 12s.

  • News 182

    Viagra Spider found in Coventry

    over 8 years ago

    One of the world’s most venomous spiders was found in Coventry this week and has now been safely re-homed at the Stratford Butterfly Farm. The deadly spider known as Phoneutria Nigriventer is a Brazilian wandering spider and is known to be highly aggressive and venomous. The spider was found in a warehouse in Coventry which brings in produce on pallets from all over the world. The people who found it could not speak English but realised it was unusual and took it to KBN Reptiles in Coventry who then delivered it to the Stratford Butterfly Farm.
    The spider, which is usually found in tropical South and Central America, appeared in the Guinness World Records in 2010 as the world's most venomous spider. The bite is potent and can be deadly in some cases. The spider hit the headlines earlier this year when it was found that its venom can cause four-hour long erections and 'could be the new Viagra'. A two-year study has found that the venom contains a toxin, called Tx2-6, which causes erections. However, other side-effects on top of the long-painful erections (called a priapism which can lead to long term erectile dysfunction or even impotence) include loss of muscle control, severe pain, difficulty breathing and if its victim is not treated with anti-venom, could lead to death due to oxygen deprivation.

    The spiders can grow to have a leg span of up to 4 – 5 inches. Their body length ranges from 0.7-1.9 inches. Wandering spiders are so-called because they wander the jungle floor at night, rather than residing in a lair or maintaining a web. During the day they hide inside termite mounds, under fallen logs and rocks, and in banana plants.

    Emma Butt, Marketing Manager of the Stratford Butterfly Farm stated “We are delighted to have re-homed this Brazilian wandering spider which although dangerous, is safely installed in one of our alarmed tanks and completely safe for visitors to view. We are grateful for KBN Reptiles in Coventry delivering it to us and adding to our fantastic range of venomous species!”

    To see the Brazilian wandering spider and hundreds of other spectacular butterflies, insects and spiders, visit the Stratford Butterfly Farm from 10:00am – 6:00pm. For more information on the Stratford Butterfly Farm, please visit the official website at  or telephone on 01789 299288.

  • Try Swinging your Clubs at a Golf Course near Frankfurt.

    over 8 years ago

    Frankfurt is the largest city in the federal state of Hesse, a region which is well known for its fantastic golf courses that attract golfers from all over the world. Set in stunning landscapes that include river valleys, water reservoirs and forests this region can also boast Germany’s first golf society, The Wiesbadener Golfclub e.V founded in 1893 by Scottish and Englishmen. There are around 50 courses to choose from, many that are close to Frankfurt, as well as some of Hesse’s other tourist regions such as Rhön, Taunus and Odenwald. One of the closest to the city is the Frankfurter Golf Club e.V ( set within an estate of 63 hectares and host of the German Open 12 times.

    German Travel Centre can organise three night packages to Frankfurt from £279 per person including flights and accommodation. For information and reservations contact German Travel Centre on 020 8 429 2900 or visit

  • Eastern Airways has extended its summer service from Southampton to Dijon.

    over 8 years ago

    Eastern Airways has extended its summer service from Southampton to Dijon – an ideal jumping off point for the Burgundy vineyards – until the end of October. It had been scheduled to stop flying the route from the end of September but will now keep it going for another month because of heavy demand. The airline operates the seasonal service three time a week– on Mondays, Fridays and Sundays. 

  • News 179

    MS Deutschland – South American cruising this winter then back to London for the Olympics.

    over 8 years ago

    From this December luxury cruise liner the Deutschland will embark on an exciting Central and South American sailing programme with eWaterways. Hailed as the ‘Grand Hotel at Sea’ the elegant five-star cruiser is soon to be recognised under a different moniker, as a London 2012 Olympics hotel ship! Before mooring in London’s docklands next July, the intrepid cruise ship will offer the ultimate blend of expedition and luxury cruising. With many different itineraries to suit those seeking urban cultural encounters, off the beaten track adventure, nature discovery or relaxation on sun-kissed beaches, eWaterways and the Deutschland will start by showcasing the best of Latin America’s diverse and magical landscape.

    Cruises start on the 19th December from Rio de Janeiro and travel all around the coast of South America, taking in Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Ecuador and ending in Mexico. For the 19 day Rio to Buenos Aires, prices start from £5590 per person (cruise only price). While traditional in style, the Deutschland offers myriad comforts and services characteristic of a modern luxury hotel and with one crew member for every two passengers, cruise holidaymakers can be sure that their individual’s needs are catered for. Spanning seven decks the onboard amenities include an imperial ballroom, elegant staterooms, Roman bath, Finnish sauna, golf facilities, a beauty salon, three fine dining restaurants, a boutique, bars, lounges, a gym, a lido and even a pool deck…perfect from which to discover the stunning continent of South America.

    Link to the page:

  • News 178

    Volga Dream – into the Heart of Russia

    over 8 years ago

    eWaterways have a new itinerary for 2012 on Europe’s largest and longest river – the Volga. The 11-day Russian Cruise and Stay package takes place on the Volga Dream, a luxurious ship which journeys along this emblematic river and other important waterways to Russia’s ‘Golden Ring’ cities. Starting in Peter the Great’s ‘Window on the West’ St Petersburg and ending in the medieval yet modern capital Moscow, this cruise is an exploration of this vast country’s vistas, history and culture. The all-inclusive Volga Discovery holiday is crammed with excursions, informative tours and the best of Russian cuisine. Starting in either St Petersburg or Moscow (depending on departure dates), the cruise starts from £2059 per person sharing a cabin which includes 5-star hotel stay in Moscow (2 nights) and St Petersburg (2 nights), a 6-night deluxe cruise aboard the Volga Dream (full board basis), all transfers, tours and excursions, house wine and soft drinks with meals onboard and lunches and dinners in local restaurants. Flights and visas are not included.

  • News 175

    City Cruises is offering passengers some great two for the price of one deals.

    over 8 years ago

    City Cruises is offering passengers some great two for the price of one deals on its sightseeing cruises as part of the Mayor's Thames Festival, which takes place on the 10th and 11th September 2011.
    Throughout the whole month of September passengers will be able to purchase two River Red Rover tickets for the price of one, saving up to £13.50 per person. The River Red Rover ticket offers great value as it gives passengers unlimited one-day travel with City Cruises.

    For the duration of the two day Festival the two for one offer will also be extended to include all single sightseeing service tickets, saving up to £10.00 per person.

    These fabulous offers are valid on City Cruises' scheduled sightseeing service, which operates between the four major destination piers on the River Thames (Westminster, London Eye, Tower and Greenwich) and each one is on the doorstep of many popular sights and leading attractions.

    Passengers can travel in comfort onboard modern boats with panoramic windows and open deck areas, which offer access to the mobility impaired. Light refreshments and bar services are available onboard and these can be enjoyed whilst discovering the sights of London along the Thames.

    To enhance the sightseeing experience City Cruises also offers a state-of-the-art multilingual commentary system in five languages (French, German, Spanish, Mandarin and Japanese), in addition to the live commentary in English.

  • Over 60s may soon no longer benefit from half price long distance coach travel.

    over 8 years ago

    Over 60s may soon no longer benefit from half price long distance coach travel. The Government is to withdraw a subsidy to coach operators which enables them to discount tickets for silver travellers and disabled people. Free local bus travel will be unaffected but the move has come under fire from several quarters – including the coach industry. National Express, which is estimated to carry around 3m such passengers annually, is urging them to write to their MPs the raise the issue with the Department for Transport. The operator says it has received emails and letters from customers anxious that, without the concession, they may be unable to travel. They will still be able to take advantage of the scheme provided they book by midnight on October 31 and travel by the end of August next year. 

  • News 174

    The 17th International Alpine Cheese Olympics take place in the Austrian village of Galtur.

    over 8 years ago

    The hangover will be indigestion rather than an indigestible bill for taxpayers and if there is to be a symbolic flame it will probably flicker under a fondue dish. Next month the 17th International Alpine Cheese Olympics take place in the Austrian village of Galtur. Top cheese will be awarded the Galtür Sennerharfe – a harp in gold, silver, or bronze. Visitors can taste and buy. The event takes place on 24 September 2011 from 11am to 9pm. Entry before 6pm is €9, after that it’s €7.

  • News 173

    The Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles is scheduled to reopen in October.

    over 8 years ago

    The Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles, which was frequented by Hollywood stars inclulding Grace Kelly, Cary Grant and Marilyn Monroe, is scheduled to reopen in October after a major refurbishment which has taken two years. Its characteristic pink coloured Spanish Colonial architecture has been retained but among the changes are the addition of 12 new hillside suites, promsing “sweeping canyon views” -  with big sliding glass walls, outdoor fireplaces, spacious decks with private spa pools. The hotel, which has a “Swan Lake” in its lush grounds, was created from a stable complex where wealthy Bel-Air residents saddled up to follow trails through the surrounding canyons. Its oval swimming pool is on the site of the former riding ring.

  • News 171

    Lithuanian capital Vilnius becomes first city in Europe to introduce a public electric bike hire scheme.

    over 8 years ago

    The Lithuanian capital Vilnius claims to have become the first city in Europe to introduce a public electric bike hire scheme. The “e-orange” bikes – so named because of the colour of their bright stripes – are available at four Tourism Information Centres they are aimed at people wanting them for short periods, costing €3 for the first hour but more per hour if you keep them for longerf (four hours cost €26 euros). A €145 deposit  by credit card is refunded immediately upon return of the bike to the original rental point. A built in GPS system monitors the location of the bicycle at any given time. The scheme is one of a series of initiatives by Vilnius Mayor Arturas Zuokas with the goals of making he city a world leader in providing environmentally friendly transport. That's the same mayor who recently drew attention to drivers who flout parking rules by driving over an illegally parked car with a tank. 

  • News 172

    Looking to cut costs on a visit to Holland?

    over 8 years ago

    Looking to cut costs on a visit to Holland? Try smaller cities. While  Amsterdam hotels reported an average rise of 18.3% in revenue per room in the year to June, those in Utrecht, for example, which is within easy travelling distance by train, saw theirs fall by 0.4%. The figures come from hotel industry researchers STR Global. Utrecht, with its canals and  almshouses, is a lovely base in its own right, and worth visiting no least for the fascinating National Museum of Music Boxes and Barrel Organs.

  • Between March and April 1942, Malta was hit by more bombs than fell on London during the entire Blitz.

    over 8 years ago

    Between March and April 1942, according to some calculations, Malta was hit by more bombs than fell on London during the entire Blitz. To recall the islanders' heroism, which was recognised with the award of the George Cross, the British Legion's travel arm, Poppy Travel, is organising a special tour in association with Leger Holidays. During the eight day guided trip, customers will visit relevanht parts of the island such as the National War Museum and the formerly secret Lascaris war rooms.

  • The cost of emergency medical claims by UK travellers has nearly quadrupled in six years.

    over 8 years ago

    The cost of emergency medical claims by UK travellers has nearly quadrupled in six years, according to the Association of British Insurers – and mature travellers like you, it says, are largely to blame. More of us are living longer and travelling further afield. People over 65 are three times more likely to make a claim than those aged 35 and those claims are three and a half times as expensive, a spokesman says. We at are a little sceptical We would like to see a closer analysis of those statistics. We'd like to see devaluation of sterling and inflation taken out of the totals, for one thing. That would amount to a 40 – 50% increase in the cost of claims in the  Eurozone and the US alone, never mind in countries where costs have been rising faster. It would certainly go some way to explaining the ABI's calculation that medical treatment now represents 55% of all travel insurance costs, compared with 33% in 2005. Then we would need to know how the rising cost of medical treatment compared with RPI changes around the world. For another the ABI says its members now deal with 337,000 claims for emergency medical treatment a year. That's about one for every 163 trips abroad (fewer if you exclude quick shopping visits to France and business travel). Really? And if more mature travellers are exploring more exotic places and pushing up claims, how much more are they paying insurance companies in premiums? That figure, we are not surprised to note, is not included in these stats. 

  • News 168

    Hotel room entertainment systems become ever more sophisticated.

    over 8 years ago

    Hotel room entertainment systems become ever more sophisticated. The Marriott Marquis Miami has installed equipment that allows guests to watch movies stored on their laptops or iPads on flat screens by simply plugging them in – or to listen to their own choice of music from personal devices by channelling it through in room speakers via Bluetooth. The state of the art technology has been supplied by TeleAdapt, international specialists in developing this kind of technology for the hospitality industry. 

  • Most holidaymakers buying all inclusive packages wind up paying unexpected bills.

    over 8 years ago

    Most holidaymakers buying all inclusive packages wind up paying unexpected bills, according to a new survey. Nearly half (46%) think cocktails will be included – but 56% of hotels exclude them, it reports. The research was conducted by Populus for Post Office Travel Money. It says only 28% of resorts include international brand drinks, so unless you stick to local face additional charges. About one on five all inclusive holidaymakers fork out for wine other than that included in the price, 24% pay internet charges – and only 21 per cent fly home having paid only the upfront price.