Malta

If travel jinx Simon Reeve jumps on your holiday flight …get off! CHRISTOPHER STEVENS reviews BBC2's …

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If travel jinx Simon Reeve jumps on your holiday flight …get off! CHRISTOPHER STEVENS reviews BBC2’s Mediterranean

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Mediterranean 

Rating:

Lovely chap, that Simon Reeve, but you wouldn’t want to go on holiday with him.

The mop-topped voyager’s adventure round our favourite summer havens in Mediterranean (BBC2) became a nightmare of brawling tourists, corruption, Russian skulduggery and Mafia explosions.

And that was just Malta.

He could find a seamy underbelly in Sugar Plum Fairyland. Wherever he travelled, he uncovered twisted nightmares, from blood feuds in Albania to blighted olive trees in the heel of Italy.

The mop-topped voyager’s adventure round our favourite summer havens in Mediterranean (BBC2) became a nightmare of brawling tourists, corruption, Russian skulduggery and Mafia explosions

He means well, but frankly Simon and his tasselled scarf spell tourism catastrophe at every turn. Skegness and Margate would be well advised to implement a shoot-on-sight policy, just in case he ever visits.

Within moments of stepping off a motor launch in Malta, he was standing outside a bar where 30 or more holidaymakers were laying into each other with bottles and stools. 

I fervently hope they weren’t all boozed-up Brits but, let’s face it, they were unlikely to be Swiss.

The yachts in the harbour, on the other hand, were probably Russian. One boasted a helipad with a helicopter wearing a fitted dustcover, like a tailored egg cosy.

Malta is an oligarch’s playground, apparently.

The island sells passports for $1 million (£760,000) with very few questions asked, which means European Union residency is available at a price — handy for money laundering.

One journalist who followed the dirty money trail too far was assassinated with a car bomb. 

It was triggered by radio from a distant yacht in a murder that was as high-tech as it was cold-blooded.

Even Simon’s cheerful, offbeat snippets had a dark heart.

In Brancaleone, on Italy’s southern tip, he discovered a sealife rescue station where volunteers were preparing to release a 30-year-old turtle called Raoul back into the wild. Here was a feelgood story at last.

Even this segment was depressing, though. Half the Med’s turtles have died, Simon discovered, many because they mistook plastic bags for tasty jellyfish.

By the time he visited an idyllic olive grove, it was painfully obvious what would happen.

Sure enough, the spot was infested with a bacteria called Xylella or ‘olive tree Ebola’. 

When Simon left, the 82-year-old Italian farmer was sobbing his eyes out. 

Much of the documentary looks lovely, and the bits that don’t — downtown Albania, for example — are fascinating. But if you ever find yourself sitting on a package tour airliner next to this man, bale out.

Great Canal Journeys 

Rating:

In contrast, a trip abroad with old romantics Timothy West and Prunella Scales would be delightful. 

These inseparable thesps, married for 55 years, were back on a barge in Great Canal Journeys (C4), though this time it was the Nile river variety favoured by Cleopatra, rather than the Kennet & Avon narrowboat type.

Timothy West and Prunella Scales have been married for 55 years and were back on a barge in Great Canal Journeys on C4

Pru suffers from vascular dementia, which affects her memory, though you wouldn’t guess it to look at her, or to hear her deliver her lines with a mischievous smile.

She’s 86, though she refused to admit it to the camera: ‘I get away with 67 if I’m lucky.’ 

Tim, 83, is attentive and alert, though not in a sartorial sense: he spent the episode in a battered straw hat that looked like a chicken had been nesting in it.

They set a brisk pace from the Valley of the Kings at Luxor to a Nubian village outside Aswan —too brisk at times, because the scenery was so beautiful it would have been better to linger.

And I wanted more of Tim’s outrageous Hercule Poirot accent, when he read from Death On The Nile. Alors, Hastings, c’est formidable!

 

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How you can grab a weekend abroad including flights AND accommodation from just £57 with this clever website

Planning a holiday can be a stressful and costly experience, especially when trying to organise flights and accommodation separately.

But new website weekend.com[1] is aiming to take away that stress and potential high costs by offering a service that matches the best prices on both direct flights and nearby hotels in locations all across Europe and beyond.

This is Money has trawled through the deals and found weekend breaks – including flights and accommodation – for as little as £57 per person. 

The website, also available as an app, will appeal to those looking to take a weekend away in bargain fashion.

Malta is just one of the hundreds of destinations that weekend.com offer weekends away to for under £100

It aims to make the process of arranging a trip quick and easy, without having to use multiple websites to organise. The examples This is Money found also offer Atol protection.

Using it’s own, self-developed algorithm, it sifts through different providers multiple times a day, scanning for relevant flight and hotel offers.

The site was created by travel experts who check through all of the combined flight and hotel combinations that the database matches to ensure they are suitable, enjoyable destinations.

All deals include non-stop flights to the destination and each hotel has to have at least three stars. It also allows you to filter from most airports across Britain.

The shortest break available is two nights away but those who wish to take a longer trip can do so, going from Thursday to the Monday.

The website is ideal for couple or families looking for a short break away on the cheap to visit somewhere new, or friend trips, such as stag and hen parties.   

The sooner you can book your trip, the better, as prices do rise the nearer to the departure time you get.  

This is Money investigated and hunted five of the cheapest deals currently available on the site for within the next six months.

1. Bydgoszcz for £57 per person

The cheapest weekend away currently available on the site appears to be to Bydgoszcz, a city in Northern Poland – the eighth largest in the country.

For just £57 per person you can get two nights away, from Friday to Sunday, to the Polish city and a three-star hotel. The cheapest flights appear to be from London Luton.

Bydgoszcz is the eighth largest city in Poland and two nights away only comes to £57

The unique buildings alongside the river are some of the most recognisable in Poland

An architecturally rich city, Bydgoszcz has earned itself the name ‘Little Berlin’. 

The famous granaries alongside the Brda river and on Mill Island are one of the most recognisable landmarks in Poland. 

Other top tourist sites to visit include the Bydgoszcz Cathedral, the Bydgoszcz canal and the ‘Man Crossing the River’ sculpture.

The Fara Church is the oldest building in the city, erected between the 15th and 16th century, and is also home to a 16th century painting, Madonna with a Rose.  

2. Algarve for £63 per person

The next cheapest destination is to the sunny Algarve in Portugal. A Friday to Sunday stay in the KR Hotel: Albufeira Lounge comes to only £63 per person.

The three-star hotel is less than a kilometre from the beach and just three kilometres to the nearest golf course. It is also one of the top rated hotels on review site trustyou.com[2].

The Algarve is a popular tourist destination with 7.1m tourists estimated to visit in 2017

Weekend.com can fly you to Faro, the biggest city in the Algarve, for just £63 per person

The cheapest place to fly from was London Stansted in our research. 

The Algarve is one of the most developed areas in Portugal, known for its wonderful coastal views. 

It is also one of the richest regions in the EU and is considered to be the biggest and most important Portuguese tourist region, having received an estimated total of 7.1million tourists in 2017.

Top tourist attractions include the many water parks available, a walk along the Via Algarviana as well as taking a visit to Silves, a town located inland, that is set in a scenic location with a historical background. 

Of course the numerous beaches that line the coast of this scenic area are one of the main reasons that tourists flock to this part of the world every year.  

3. Malta for £64 per person 

The third cheapest break we could find is to Malta at just £64 per person. For a two night stay, from Friday to Monday, it is possible to stay in the Carlton hotel, another top rated hotel on trustyou.com. 

A Southern European island country, Malta consists of an archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea and is one of the world’s smallest but most densely populated countries.

The cheapest airport appears to be Birmingham from our research. 

It is a popular tourist destination because of its warm climate and architectural and historial monuments, including three UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum, the city of Valletta and the Megalithic Temples of Malta. 

Malta has a large tourist industry due to it’s hot climate as well as it’s world heritage sites

Malta has three World Heritage Sites as well as being famed for its diving and coastal views

The seven temples are some of the oldest free-standing structures in the world.

Malta has many more points of interest, including the Manoel theatre, museum and courtyard which is known to be an architectural treat.

Deep sea diving is also very popular in the country due to it’s clear blue seas, stunning sea life and underwater wrecks that can be explored up close.

4. Poznan for £65 per person   

A 2 night stay in Poznan, a city in Western Poland, can set you back as little as £65 per person.

The Friday to Sunday break takes you to a three star hotel, located in the heart of the city, that has been voted as excellent by trustyou.com[3].

Poznan is well known for its Renaissance-style buildings, with the Old Market Square proving to be a top attraction for those visiting. 

Our research shows the cheapest airport to fly from appears to be London Stansted. 

Poznan is home to the third largest university in Poland, making it a popular city for students

The main square in Poznan is one of the main tourist attractions in the country’s city

The city served as the country’s capital in the 10th century with the museum of history and the cathedral still serving as points of interest. 

The area is also an important academic site, hosting roughly 130,000 students and is home to the Adam Mickiewicz University – the third largest in Poland. 

Poznan is prided on it’s very high standard of living, ranking highly in both safety and healthcare quality, with the lowest level of unemployment in the whole country. 

5. Warsaw for £66 per person

Poland’s capital city, Warsaw, is available for booking from £66 per person, for a  Friday to Sunday trip. The cheapest airport in our research to go from is Liverpool.

Staying in a three star hotel, guests will be able to take in all the historical sights of the largest city in the country including remnants of the former Warsaw Ghetto which are still visible. 

Memorials and museums also pay testament to the city’s troubled past.

The city has been ranked as one of the most liveable. It is also known as being a great centre for business and a significant centre of research and development.

The Old Town of Warsaw is home to medieval building that were reconstructed after WWII 

Warsaw, the largest city in Poland, is known for its history and can be visited for just £66.00

The picturesque Old Town of Warsaw is one of the main attractions when visiting and like its name suggests, it is the oldest part of the historic city.

Many of the buildings in the square where reconstructed after the damage inflicted in World War II. 

A lesser known fact is that Warsaw was rebuilt according to an 18th century painting by Bernardo Bellotto, an 18th century, Italian urban landscape painter. 

However, if you are a classical music fan, the Fryderyk Chopin Museum is for you. 

The famous composer’s grand piano is on display, as well as manuscripts of Chopin’s letters and musical compositions.

What else is available under £100?

Having a quick look on the website, there are dozens of other destinations available from a variety of airports across Britain for less than £100 – which also includes three-star accommodation. 

These include Katowice, Sofia, Gdansk, Marbella, La Rochelle, Limoges, Vilnius, Dinard, Kaunas, Toulouse, Nantes, Côte d’Azur, Belfast, Costa Blanca, Majorca, Riga, Tallinn, Bordeaux, Frankfurt, Budapest, Edinburgh, Valenica, Prague, Jersey – and many more.

References

  1. ^ weekend.com (www.weekend.com)
  2. ^ trustyou.com (www.trustyou.com)
  3. ^ trustyou.com (www.trustyou.com)

How will Ibiza and Majorca’s new ‘holiday tax’ affect your summer getaway?

TRAVELLING to the Balearic Islands just got more expensive.

A new tourist tax 1 imposed on holidaymakers 2 travelling to popular tourist spots including Ibiza and Majorca came into force earlier today.

The hike will range between two euros a day for customers staying in five star establishments to 50 cents for hostels and shelters, with discounts of 50% for stays in low season and longer than 20 days.

Dedicated to police tourist zones

Tourism police are a common sight in countries that are still building a tourism industry and where the sudden influx of foreign visitors might disturb the lifestyle of residents.

They are also engaged in countries, such as Thailand, Bali and Uganda, where the locals culture and traditions vary greatly from those of foreign visitors and which, therefore, might lead to certain friction.

Malta, on the other hand, boasts of a well-developed tourism industry