Tourists and soccer fans the big winners in Greek meltdown
It may not be great news for Europe as the Greek crisis pushes the euro even lower.
But it is good news for football fans as their clubs eye up ambitious swoops for Europe’s top stars with transfer fees tumbling. And also for holidaymakers looking for bargain breaks as prices are slashed by up to 70%.
Although there is likely to be little impact on tourists there are a few things it's worth knowing before boarding that plane to the Mediterranean hotspot.
The Foreign Office has issued guidance for anyone heading to Greece, including what to do with your travel money.
Among other tips it advises travellers to take more than one means of payment with them (i.e. cash, debit card and/or credit card) and take enough euros to cover the duration of their stay, plus emergencies, unforeseen circumstances and unexpected delays.
Travel writer Simon Calder said there have been reports of some trouble using credit cards, with restaurants, shops and some hotels preferring other means of payment, as well as problems with service.
"As long as you are carrying euros you are going to be the most popular person in the taverna," he says.
"Take cash because I’m not absolutely sure ATMs will work everywhere, and even if they are, I think I could get a better rate in London than I could in Greece through my bank."
Even if the most extreme scenario - a 'Grexit' - happens during a break in the country, it would take around 18 months to return to Greece's old currency, the drachma, and in the interim, the euro would still be legal.
Finally, remember to keep cash safe in hotel room safes or other secure places and split up funds between travellers when out and about
What’s Up? What’s Down?Brazil Olympics, Mountain Peaks and the danger of Safari selfies
You'd be nuts not to book a room for the Brazil Olympics
It's still more than a year away, but hotels, guesthouses and b&bs in Rio de Janeiro have begun taking bookings for the 2016 Olympics, with alternative accommodation being relied upon to ensure no fans go without a bed for the night during the Games.
An estimated 380,000 foreign visitors are due to arrive in the city to watch the Olympics, which take place from August 5th to the 21st. And with the International Olympic Committee snapping up around 40,000 hotel rooms for their clients and special guests, many 'ordinary' fans are likely to have to make do with guesthouses (known as pousadas) or on rooms let out on short-term rental websites.
The official alternative accommodation supplier for the Games is Airbnb, the home rental website, which is expected to offer 20,000 listings in Rio for the Games. If you can't find anything that suits there's always room on Copacabana beach!
Safe to have a peek at the peaks
If you fancy seeing some of the world's most dramatic mountain scenery which has been 'out of bounds' for quite a time, it seems it's now safe to do so. The Foreign Office has lifted its advice against Brits visiting the spectacular region of northern Pakistan in which the Himalayas, Karakoram, Hindu Kush and Pamir ranges meet.
The lifting of the advice again opens up an area which includes the so called Throne Room of the Gods at Concordia K2 base camp, where the glacial floor is surrounded by seven of the world's 25 highest peaks. As well as offering splendid scenery and lots of trekking and walking opportunities, the region is famed as the setting for Shangri La, a fictional place described in the 1933 novel Lost Horizon.
And there are also five new aircraft that have been introduced making access to the region easier for visitors.
Foam from home gets Virgin in a lather
Airport fire tenders were meant to spray an arch of water over a passenger jet to celebrate its arrival on an inaugural flight . . . but somebody pressed the wrong button. Instead of water, thick fire suppressing foam gushed out and clogged up the engines of the Virgin Atlantic plane sitting on the tarmac at Manchester Airport.
The Airbus A330-300 had to be grounded for expensive safety checks and de-clogging after the spraying blunder and more than 250 disappointed passengers waiting to fly out on the plane had to be put up in hotels and hang around for 24 hours for another flight.
And there are also five new aircraft that have been introduced making access to the region easier for visitors.
The water canon salute was planned to mark Virgin Atlantic's inaugural flights between Manchester and the American city of Atlanta.
Don't take a selfie with a Springbok
Tourists going on safari in Africa's game parks are being urged to take care when posting images of wildlife on social media amid concerns that they may unwittingly be helping poachers. Authorities warn that poaching gangs are scouring sites such as Facebook and Instagram for recently taken geo-tagged photos of elephants, rhinos and lions which can provide accurate co-ordinates of the animals' location.
A spokesman for SanParks, which oversees South Africa's national parks, said: "Some unidentified helicopters have been finding animals very quickly in the Kruger and other reserves and we think it's all down to this."
So think again if you plan on taking a selfie with a Springbok
My best holiday everHoliday highs and lows with survival expert Ray Mears
When he's not busy snacking on insects and roughing it in the woods, survival expert Ray Mears loves canoeing in the wild and is also drawn to exploring the hidden sides of cities
What I need for a perfect holiday
I don't need to spend a fortune, but I like to stay in reasonably priced hotels with good food and a good concierge - they can make life so much easier. I like places with lots of history and to explore museums and galleries and get into the heart of a city by visiting local street markets. Nature and the outdoors are obviously important and canoeing is my absolute favourite form of wilderness travel.
The Hyatt in Kyoto, Japan. The staff make you feel like you live there, as if it's your home. And it's just a short walk into the city centre along the riverbank.
London is the greatest city in the world. It's such an astonishing place with so much history and so many layers to it in every sense. It's like an old coat, there's a pocket for every occasion, every time of day and every event. Abroad I most like Santa Fe in New Mexico and Paris has got to be the world's most romantic city.
How about the beach?
I'd be bored stiff after about 30 seconds. Having said that, I love coastlines and have spent a lot of time on the Pacific coast of America and Australia.
Best piece of travel advice
Always pack a sense of humour. Brits are usually polite and accommodating, but sometimes you have to be firm and complain and we tend to forget that on occasions.
Our new appNew app makes life even easier for DialAFlight customers
DialAFlight App features
- A complete travel itinerary on your phone or tablet including updated flight status. Download your complete itinerary and this will be updated while you are travelling. It will also update your flight status within four hours of departure showing whether your flights are on time or delayed.
- Find your way back to your hotel. Never get lost in a foreign city again. Simply hit the button 'Find My Hotel' and the app knows which city you are in and where you are staying showing you the way back to your hotel.
- Hotline to a specialist travel manager. One button gives you a hotline straight to your travel manager and also gives you an alternative contact should that person not be available.
- Check-in online. This feature allows you to check-in online with your airline directly from the app.
How your money helped rebuild a school in Cambodia
Angkor Wat in Cambodia is one of the most popular destinations in Asia for DialAFlight travellers and the tourism industry is vital to the country’s economy. But with unemployment at 40 per cent life is particularly tough for rural families, especially for children.
Education is vital for helping to raise people out of poverty and Make My Day Better is playing its part by rebuilding Sna Sangream Primary School. It is only 20 miles from the temples, the largest religious monument in the world, and Siem Reap, But the 210 pupils come from very poor homes and most of their parents are subsistence farmers.
Bunthin Theap, a DialAFlight guide, is project managing the rebuild for us with a donation from MMDB and the project got under way in early June.
The leaking roof is being replaced completely, new metal windows are being installed to improve security, the crumbling concrete walkways are being tiled and classrooms painted. This represents the first phase in helping the teaching staff create a safe and stimulating environment for the children, aged between 5 to 15.
Lindsay Charlton is a DialAFlight traveller who introduced us to the school and donated water filters on his recent visit. He is now raising more funds to provide books and teaching materials and most importantly, regular English teaching.
He told us: 'The number of tourists visiting Cambodia is expected to rise from 2.5 to six million annually by 2020. This will generate a huge number of local jobs in the tourist industry over the next decade and if the children at Sna Sangream are literate and numerate with some basic English, there’s no reason why they can’t compete for these roles.
The rebuild is important, but the real strategy is aimed at giving them the educational skills and confidence to build their own lives. The donation from MMDB has made a huge contribution to their future.'
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Here’s what people are saying...
First Class Service.
The internet has made DIY travel arranging very possible, which is fine until a problem arises. I booked a flight for my daughter at short notice through Vinnie at DialAFlight.
Not only did we get a better price through them, but when my daughter contracted Malaria and needed to have a ‘Plan B’ to come back early Vinnie had all the right answers within minutes of the request.
Since then, I have needed flights to the States, in and out of 2 different airports, at which time the wheels tend to fall off the DIY-route. Once again, Vinnie made light work of it, recommended a course of action that kept the flexibility of cashing in on future price reductions as they appeared, and secured excellent seats at the earliest opportunity.
I will still have fun DIY-ing other aspects of my future holidays, but will go straight back to DialAFlight for the bits that you don’t really want to go wrong. Highly recommended.
Rory Jordan | Posted on Trust Pilot
Jerry is without doubt the best tour operator in the UK!
I have recommended Jerry to friends and everyone agrees with me. Gone are the days of me spending hours ploughing through innumerable websites and still not finding exactly what I want or if I do not at the right price or wrong dates.
Now I phone Jerry and everything is sorted within minutes and all my boxes have been ticked.
I had a family bereavement a few years ago and Jerry was incredible. He had me on a direct flight within hours and he removed all the stress from me. Thank you Jerry.
Juliet Brenner | Posted 13 April | flew to CapeTown
Service second to none!
I use DialAFlight as a travel booking administrator and have been using them now for several years. They give special service that I have never found with any other travel provider and work with us like they are our colleagues.
Stuart is our main agent and he knows every requirement of every single traveller so immediately makes booking a very easy task. I feel completely confident that when Stuart makes a booking on our behalf everything will be fine and I trust his professionalism and friendly service unconditionally.
My son has just returned from his honeymoon which again we booked using Stuart and DialAFlight purely because we knew he would do a good job for us. Everything went perfectly and they had the most amazing honeymoon. As first time travellers to Orlando, Stuart’s knowledge of the area helped them immensely and we are extremely grateful for all his hard work making sure everything was perfect for them.
I would highly recommend DialAFlight for any travel booking, be it business or personal travel, we have now tried both and the service was exceptional.
Jackie Wells | Posted on Trust Pilot
Sparkling footnote: Jackie's name was pulled out of the hat in our monthly Trust Pilot draw and a case of Prosecco is on its way to her.
What’s on offer?A selection of this month’s top money savers...
The pinnacle of Caribbean luxury at Sandy Lane: Save over £1000
Couples and families alike will love the unadulterated luxury offered at Sandy Lane. Spend your days lazing by the hotel’s sensational pool or on the beach or spoil yourself with a heavenly treatment in the state of the art Spa. By night, enjoy fine dining at L’Acajou or Bajan Blue and enjoy the perfect bespoke cocktail in the Monkey Bar. Save £1000 per room with the Summer Escape Package when you stay 7 nights. Flights are also included with British Airways, all from £2599pp with daily breakfast included.
Discover Rio and Buzios with an exclusive offer from Porto Bay Hotels: Save £250pp
Enjoy a Brazil break offering double the fun and double the luxury with a holiday to Rio & Buzios and save £250pp with our exclusive offer. Start with 4 nights at 5 star Porto Bay Rio International , giving you time to see the sights and join the beautiful people on Copacabana Beach. We’ll then transport you by private vehicle to laid back Buzios to spend 6 nights at 4 star Porto Bay Buzios Boutique Hotel . Our exclusive offer includes a saving of £250pp, daily breakfast and flights from a choice of UK airports all from £1199
Take a step into the real world Jungle Book with Taj Hotels
Pench National Park was the inspiration behind the writings of Rudyard Kipling and this tiger safari and Delhi break will leave you equally as captivated. We include 5 sensational nights at the 5 star Baghvan Taj Safari Lodge (FB) as well as 2 nights at the sensational Taj Palace in Delhi (BB). Also included are transfers, game drives and flights from Heathrow or Manchester from £2499pp which includes 1 night FREE.
Stay 7 nights, pay for 6 at 5 star Gran Hotel Bahia Del Duque, Tenerife
The island of Tenerife boasts a year-round temperature of 20-28°C, making it a great sun escape in winter or summer. Stay in style at the 5 star Gran Hotel Bahia Del Duque and enjoy your 7th night absolutely FREE with our offer which includes flights from London, all from £819pp. We also include daily breakfast, providing the perfect start to a day of sunbathing, golf or watersports.
A chic escape to Miami with 1 night FREE
Offering the ultimate in cool sophistication, the Delano South Beach provides direct access to the all legendary charms of Miami’s South Beach and is the last word in pool and beachside luxury. Stay 4 nights for the price of 3 at this super sleek hotel with British Airways flights included from £825pp. For an extra treat ask about cabin upgrades to World Traveller Plus and Club World.
Australia Beach and Cruise in Style with 2 FREE nights
Stretching more than 2,000 kilometres along the Queensland coast, the Great Barrier Reef is the ultimate bucket list destination. This 5 day Coral Princess cruise takes you island hopping around the pristine, palm-fringed islands of the Barrier Reef to relax and explore rainbow-coloured coral and the marine life below the surface. Highlights include newly reopened Lizard Island and exploring Ribbon Reef. We also include 7 nights for the price of 5 at 5 star Shantara Resort & Spa, Port Douglas as well as a further saving of £100pp. 11 nights from £2289pp including flights with Cathay Pacific.
DialAFlight garden wins gold at Hampton Court
Following last year’s success at Chelsea we are thrilled to have won another gold medal - this time for our synaesthesia garden created by young up and coming designer Sarah Wilson at RHS Hampton Court last week.
Synaesthesia is a rare, yet harmless, neurological condition that affects sensory perception, fusing two or more of the senses to work in unison. Great painters like Van Gogh are thought to have had synaesthesia, seeing a colour on hearing a particular note. Musicians too, will see a colour and visualise a note.
Perfume designer Jo Malone has synaesthesia. For her the fusion of sentiment, memory and fragrance is nothing new. "I see in smell, I hear in smell, I feel in smell," she says. "I didn’t learn to do it, I don’t think about it - it just happens. My red scarf, I can smell it. The green grass, I can smell it."
It's difficult for those without the condition to get their head around, so when pushed further she turns to music to offer an analogy: "I hear this tune in my head, so I take all of the notes and memorise them. Then I play that tune back in my head and I can smell it again... and then I go away and recreate it."
Now, Jo talks fondly and openly about her unusual "gift", as she describes it, but she hasn't always been so at ease with her aptitude for scent.
"I think that all those years ago I was definitely frightened of seeing something and smelling it," she says. "It was very unusual and I used to be scared of it, but I’m not scared anymore."