World Guides Travel Blog

June 2012

This is where we let you know all about what's going on with our website and the world of travel, with destination reviews, current travel news and topical travel-related stuff to discuss with your friends. Please let us know if you want to comment on anything - Contact us.

June 29, 2012


Photo of the tennis championships at Wimbledon, LondonIt wouldn't be Wimbledon if it didn't rain. Thankfully, then, the British weather has done its best to keep with tradition. It seems to have rained bucketloads in the months leading up to this world-famous tennis tournament played out on England's illustrious grass courts.

In the same way that statistics are kept on the number of first serves or winning drop shots, so too are figures on rainfall. Apparently, the wettest Wimbledon tournament recorded so far was in 1997, when a disconcerting 118 mm / 4.6 inches fell during the two-week period.

This year, however, there were fears that too much rain might not just disrupt the tennis. It might even threaten another of the tournament's hallowed traditions - strawberries and cream. Until this week, I had absolutely no idea that there was an official Wimbledon strawberry. It is the Elsanta variety, by all accounts, and around two million 'Wimbledon strawberries' are grown on a specially selected farm in the county of Kent every year. The fruit are picked in the early dawn light and then transported at high speed to be consumed at SW19 - at some cost, it has to be said. And therein lies the rub. A particularly wet early summer this year led to concerns that the strawberries wouldn't ripen in time.

Thankfully, the unthinkable prospect of a strawberry-less Wimbledon hasn't happened. In the end, the weather improved in time to allow the fruit to fully ripen. In fact, it turned out to be perfect timing.

With the strawberry problem sorted out then, Wimbledon ticket holders can finally relax - although I'd take an umbrella, just in case.

Posted by Sue at 18:35:58 on 29/6/2012

June 25, 2012


Photo of the Passazhirsiy railway station in Kiev, Ukraine, taken by Elio DMApparently, there's been a last-minute dash for flights between UK and Ukraine this coming weekend. In some cases, air fares have as much as doubled. The sudden surge of interest is, of course, because England's football team have reached the quarter-finals on Sunday, against the expectations of many pundits. For many, the temptation to be there in person is just too great to resist.

Ukraine is already reaping the rewards of a football-related tourism boom created by Euro 2012. Around four million visitors having already passed through its borders during the first fortnight of football fun alone. By all accounts, that's around 11 percent more visitors than they'd normally get at this time of year. Hotels and bars have been busy cashing in, along with restaurants and shopping centres in the four main Ukrainian cities involved, namely Kiev, Lviv, Donetsk and Kharkov. Whilst cultural visits haven't been high on the agenda for many football fans, tours around local breweries and distilleries have been particularly popular.

After the razzmatazz of Euro 2012 has finished and the vuvuzelas packed away for another four years, it remains to be seen whether Ukraine will be viewed by more people as the sort of place they'd like spend their annual holidays. After all, Ukraine as a tourist destination is about more than the city of Kiev. If all goes well at the weekend, it certainly can't do any harm.

Posted by Sue at 6:52:19 on 25/6/2012

June 15, 2012


Photo of sandy beaches on the island of Larnaca, CyprusThis summer, we're not going to plan a holiday in advance. Instead, we're going to wait and see what comes up. We'll be in good company according to a report into travel trends for 2012 published by ABTA. More and more of us will be leaving it until the last minute to book our summer holidays this year. Leaving it to last-minute luck does add a certain frisson to the whole annual holiday thing, it has to be said.

For some people, however, not knowing when or where they're going to spend their annual week or two away from home can be more stressful than exciting. They might consider all that advance planning to be an important part of the holiday experience. Nipping off at a moment's notice might not go down well at work either.

That said, there are plenty of good reasons at the moment why last-minute holidaying makes quite good sense. To get the very best deals, of course, you still need to book way in advance. However, if you're not that organised, or you're not sure of your personal circumstances, the current economic climate might work in your favour, with a backlog of summer packages left unsold.

You may even end up somewhere you wouldn't normally consider, just because it happens to be a bargain. Now, of course, this doesn't guarantee you will have a good time. It does mean, though, that you will have experienced something new. Adding spontaneity to your life can also offer a welcome break from routine. If the weather's particularly bad, you can imagine being somewhere warmer and drier and then you can do something about it - right away. Popular last-minute holiday destinations generally include sundrenched spots in the likes of Turkey, Greece, Cyprus and Egypt.

That said, getting a decent deal does mean that you have to be little bit flexible. Ideally, you need to leave yourself a few days either side of your preferred slot to give yourself more of a chance of bagging a bargain. Being able to travel mid-week or outside of school holidays also helps. Last but not least, a fairly steady set of nerves doesn't go amiss. That might be easier said than done though.

Posted by Sue at 19:17:59 on 15/6/2012

June 9, 2012


Photo of beachfront on the Greek island of MykonosAt this time of year, Greek hotel and taverna owners can usually be found dusting down tables in preparation for the summer rush. But with new Greek tourism figures just released, they may need to draw up an empty deckchair and contemplate the future of their business instead.

So far this year, the expected hordes of visitors have not materialised. Despite a recent upturn in British interest, overall bookings are down, particularly from German holidaymakers. Tourism is a vital industry for Greece, accounting for roughly a fifth of the country's income. With the Greek financial crisis now heading into its third year, another batch of bad tourist figures may seal the fate for many a Greek hotel resort or restaurant owner. It would seem that many visitors are choosing to holiday elsewhere amid concerns that their sunny Greek idyll may turn into more of a Greek nightmare. Potential worries range from getting caught up in anti-austerity demonstrations, to wondering whether restaurants will actually be able to put the food on the table.

Such concerns aside, this may actually be a good time to consider a Greek holiday. Decent deals are sure to abound, as hoteliers fight for their share of visitors. And, for some, the Euro exchange rate may make a Greek holiday better value than ever before.

Unless a speedy Greek exit from the Euro does indeed occur this summer, taxi and public transport strikes may be the most likely ways that the crisis will affect any holiday fun. Some museums and archaeological sites in Athens may also be open for more limited hours than usual. It pays to book a holiday with these possibilities in mind so that anything untoward that does happen won't come as a complete surprise.

Prospective tourists to Greece also have more of a motivation than ever before to explore further afield than the capital of Athens and the popular island-based holiday resorts. This is a great time to try out the smaller, less trendy tourist destinations.

'Which', the UK-based consumer watchdog, has recommended that tourists who choose to go to Greece this summer should book a package. That way, they're more likely to get a refund should their holiday be disrupted. Don't care for packages? Ardent independent travellers should at least check they have a very good insurance policy.

Posted by Sue at 10:57:56 on 9/6/2012

June 4, 2012


Photo of Buckingham Palace in LondonThis weekend, over 9,000 British streets will be officially closed to traffic. Instead of the sound of tyres on tarmac, they'll resound to the sound of clinking of crockery as thousands of neighbours get together to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. It is 60 years since Elizabeth II's accession to the throne and, despite economic trouble and strife in recent years, it seems that the great British street party has managed to survive.

Of course, this weekend is about more than stringing up red-white-and-blue bunting and serving platefuls of assorted sandwiches and cakes. It would appear that many Jubilee celebrations have been a long time in the making. The Royal Commonwealth Society has organised a special time capsule, which contains a digital archive of the Queen's reign. A Jubilee Wood has also been launched, which ultimately aims to plant six million trees, thereby creating a shady spot in the heart of the Leicestershire countryside. Many of London's museums are also staging royalty-themed exhibitions, and the Royal Collection itself will head out on an exhibition tour of the main royal palaces, including Holyroodhouse Palace in Scotland.

As celebrations reach fever pitch in the next few days, there'll be a river pageant, one of the largest flotillas ever to be seen on the River Thames. A royal carriage procession will head through the streets of London, taking in the Palace of Westminster and Buckingham Palace. The Palace will even be the backdrop for a giant Jubilee Concert, featuring the likes of Sir Paul McCartney and Sir Cliff Richard, and not forgetting Sir Elton John. Thousands of beacons will be lit all over the country and, from Birmingham and Bristol to Waltham Forest and Woolwich, open-air big screenings will ensure that no one has to miss out on any of the Jubilee celebrations.

That's even the case if you happen to be in one of the remotest places on earth. The Arctic Jubilee Expedition Team - a group of seven intrepid explorers, will mark the event at the highest point of the Queen Elizabeth Islands in Northern Canada. As you'd expect, they plan to wave flags, drink tea and eat cake.

Posted by Sue at 7:13:30 on 4/6/2012