Category Archives: Travel

Chance to hit the beach

Larnaka upgrades top tourist spots

As travel restrictions are gradually lifted, tourists visiting Cyprus are promised a treat when they visit beaches at a favourite spot for visitors, according to the Larnaka Tourist Board.

Summertime in Larnaka region is synonymous with lying on a beach or swimming in the sparkling sea, and according to the tourist board, the new upgrades and improvements made on several popular organised coasts will really enhance your beach time.

Larnaka City 

Beachgoers can ‘surf on the sand’ with free WIFI services available on the beaches of Finikoudes (the famous palm-tree beach parallel to the town centre), and at tranquil Kastella (located behind the ice-cream parlours that bridge Finikoudes with Mckenzie beach). The action is part of the EU-wide ‘WiFi4EU’ initiative. 

Larnaka Region 

Voroklini: Voroklini’s coastline has been beautified with the planting of palm trees, whilst a shade has been installed at the children’s sand playground. On Yiannades (Gold Fish beach), sunbathers will soon be able to borrow books from the new, wooden boat-shaped library to read as they lounge. The Community Council has also placed 240 new sunbeds and 120 new umbrellas on the beach.

Larnaka Kitesurfing Beach (Softades): The island’s only dedicated kitesurfing beach has had new greenery planted. Famous for having the most optimum weather conditions for the sport, the beach again played host to the ‘King of the Kite’ kitesurfing championships organised by Kahuna Surfhouse (August 5-8).

Upgrades are continually made on organised coasts of Larnaka region as part of the annual ‘Enriching and Greening Larnaka’s Beaches’ initiative that aims not only to maintain Larnaka region beaches in pristine condition, but also to offer added facilities and leisure options for all the family. 

It is also important to note that it was recently announced that Cyprus has once again come first across Europe for having the cleanest bathing waters – an honour that the island consistently holds for its sparkling seawaters.

This handy map of Larnaka region’s coastline will also help you find your perfect spot.

Buses go green with hydrogen

Sutton Coldfield residents will soon be travelling on a greener form of transport when a fleet of hydrogen powered buses take to the road in the autumn.

Birmingham City Council has unveiled the first of its 20 new hydrogen buses, which are set to be in operation later this year.  They have been purchased as part of the council’s Clean Air Hydrogen Bus Pilot, which looks to ‘kick-start’ the hydrogen market as a viable zero-emission fuel.

Hailed as another solution to tackling the city’s poor air quality and a key step towards achieving the council’s net zero carbon target.

Speaking in Centenary Square where the first bus was unveiled to colleagues today, Birmingham City Council’s Cabinet Member for Transport and Environment, Councillor Waseem Zaffar said: “Fuel cell buses offer a practical solution for cities to decarbonise public transport and immediately improve air quality. 

“The delivery of the first bus is great news for our city and the rest of the region. It means that we can now work with our partners at National Express to start testing the buses, training drivers and adding livery design before rolling the buses out for the public in Autumn this year. 

“This is a significant step towards our net zero carbon target and will provide Birmingham with a leading role in informing debate on supportive policies for zero emission public transport at a local and national level.”

The buses, which are made by Wrightbus and are the world’s first zero-emission hydrogen fuel-cell double deckers. They will be operated in Birmingham by National Express – the first in England (outside of London).

It’s intended that Birmingham’s Clean Air Hydrogen Bus Pilot will be the catalyst for the next generation of hydrogen buses, hydrogen production and re-fuelling infrastructure development.

It has been funded through OLEV (Office for Low Emission Vehicles), GBSLEP (Greater Birmingham & Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership), Birmingham City Council and JIVE project funding from the FCH JU (European Funding from the Fuel Cell Hydrogen Joint Undertaking) under grant agreement No 735582.

The FCH JU receives support from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, Hydrogen Europe and Hydrogen Europe Research.

The council have also collaborated with ITM, who will be producing and dispensing the hydrogen fuel from the new re-fuelling hub at Tyseley Energy Park.

Dreams of escape to Lanzarote

Sunshine virtually guaranteed all year round

The latest wave of Covid-19 has put a bit of a damper on thoughts of flying abroad for that dream holiday, but the Canary Islands is almost unique in being an all-year-round destination and good weather all but guaranteed.

A favourite is Lanzarote. It  is the Canary archipelago’s south-easternmost island. Although it covers no more than 800 square kilometres, it offers strikingly diverse landscapes. The legacy of the volcanic eruptions that took place in the 18th and 19th centuries is a spectacular scene of singular form and beauty. Next to unexpected landscapes made up of volcanic caves, lakes of lava and craters, lie beaches of golden sand and transparent waters.


What is more, the spectacular natural heritage has been jealously guarded by the people of Lanzarote; and not in vain, since the island was declared a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1993. Furthermore, in 2015, it became the first destination in the world to receive Biosphere Responsible Tourismcertification.


In Lanzarote you will find everything from the liveliest tourist towns, with their top  hotel facilitiesand recreational areas, to unparalleled landscapes, spots showing no trace of human presence, and solitary islets for the enjoyment of silence.


The Parque Nacional de Timanfaya, (Timanfaya National Park), a lovely succession of volcanic landscapes, is one of the island’s greatest tourist attractions, together with the Art, Culture and Tourism Centres created by the local artist César Manrique. The original cultivation systems of the farmers of Lanzarote, who learned how to overcome the island’s sterility and encourage the lava to exuberance, are another focus of attraction to visitors.


The benign climate, with its average annual temperature of 22º C, is also worthy of mention, since it makes Lanzarote the perfect destination for the practice of all kinds of outdoor sports.

SADDLING UP FOR A RIDE THROUGH TIME

Larnaka revamps Thematic Cycling Routes 2021 to encourage sustainable mobility

As Europe begins to re-open for foreign travel, the Larnaka Tourism Board has updated its Larnaka Thematic Cycling Routes to encourage sustainable mobility and showcase the variety of attractions across the region.

Larnaka is a cyclist’s paradise with its excellent year-round climate, unique cultural attractions, stunning vistas, and variety of fauna and flora. Adults and older children/teenagers alike can enjoy cycling in fresh clean air, with challenging, yet varied and picturesque terrain. 

Now with these thematic routes, a bike ride can also be combined with a piece of history or tradition. There are eight themed cycling routes that can be downloaded from the website and include a map, distances, altitude differences, degree of difficulty, the type of bike that is recommended to be used, plus the various points of interest.

Below are the key highlights for each of the eight routes:

Neolithic Route – the oldest cycling route in Europe, this 28 km route focuses on the antiquities of Choirokoitia and Kalavasos Tenta Neolithic Settlements, plus the villages of Tochni, Zygi, Maroni and Psematismenos.

Wine & Gastronomy Route – a 54 km route covering the picturesque villages in the mountainous province of Larnaka, such as Lefkara, Kato Drys, Skarinou and Choirokoitia, with opportunities to visit traditional wineries, silversmith artisans and a Halloumi cheese workshop. 

Multi-religious Route – this 18 km route visits various places of worship of various religions within the city. Although the island has strong ties to Christianity throughout its history, a basic characteristic of Cyprus is the peaceful coexistence of several other religions, including those of Catholics, Muslims, Armenians and Maronites.

Venetian Towers (Eastern) – Constructed over 500 years ago, the Venetian Watchtowers acted as an early warning system against naval attacks and remain intact in four separate villages within the district. This 46 km route includes watchtowers at the villages of Pyla and Xylofagou.

Venetian Towers (Western) – This 17 km bike tour takes cyclists to two watchtowers in the western area of Larnaka at the villages of Pervolia and Alaminos.

Camel & Donkey Route – This 50 km route introduces cyclists to the island’s furry friends – an integral part of daily life just 60 -70 years ago – and offers a unique insight on how the locals would move around the island in olden days. It includes suggested visits to Camel Park Mazotos and the Golden Donkeys multi-site farm in Skarinou.

Wheat & Bread Route – This 60 km route showcases the region’s long history of traditional bread-making as it passes through golden wheat fields and takes in a beautifully-restored flour mill, which now serves as a time capsule of Athienou town’s bread-making tradition.

Larnaka Birdwatching Route – This 11 km route is recommended between November and April. With its location on the south-eastern edge of the Mediterranean Sea, Cyprus attracts more than 370 different bird species during their migration from Africa to Europe – and back again. This is one of the best areas on the island to observe these majestic birds, and this route offers the opportunity to visit Voroklini Lake, Larnaka Salt Lake, Larnaka Marina and Larnaka Medieval Castle. 

For more information visit: www.larnakaregion.com/page/thematic-cycling-routes

For more information on Larnaka Tourism Board, visit www.larnakaregion.com

Ramping up spending on top end holidays

Sandy Lane in Barbados is among the places seeing an upsurge in spending

Travellers are splashing out on higher-level upgrades as they look forward to returning to their holidays, more than a year after the pandemic first struck, according to tour operator Pure Luxury.  

Dubai and Barbados are among the destinations luxury travellers are investing more, including an increase of nearly 200 per cent in the average price per night of rooms booked at Sandy Lane Barbados with Gold Medal’s trade-only luxury brand.

Similarly, the average price of rooms sold at Jumeirah Dar Al Masyaf has increased by nearly a quarter, while bookings for villas at the resort grew by 14 per cent compared to a month ago. 

The bookings jump has been driven by the launch of Next Level Luxury, a campaign by Pure Luxury to help agents proactively upsell and “tap in to the desire of customers to travel in style when things reopen”. 

The operator produced a 22-page mini brochure featuring 24 offers in destinations in the Caribbean, Dubai & Arabia, the Indian Ocean and the Far East, with deals and offers also promoted across social media and via e-shots agents could share with customers.

“The Next Level Luxury brochure has gone down well, especially among those who have saved over the last year and a bit, and now want to spend more on holidays,” said David Walker, owner of agency, The Travel Snob, part of Not Just Travel. “It’s been a great tool in sending both to those clients that reached out initially to talk later about a trip, and to those regulars who I like to say book ‘wherever they fancy, whenever they want’.”

Overall average value of bookings made to key destinations such as Dubai, the Caribbean and Mauritius via Pure Luxury have been 29 per cent, 56 per cent and 67 per cent higher respectively than they were four weeks ago, suggesting agents have been able to leverage offers to encourage higher spend, said Nick Hughes, Gold Medal’s director of sales.

“It’s great to see the Next Level Luxury campaign deliver on its objectives to help agents inspire consumers to take their holiday to the next level of luxury,” he said. “We’ve heard from so many agent partners that their customers are dreaming of how they can make their next holiday extra special – whether that’s turning left on the plane as a special treat, or splashing out on bigger, better accommodation.”

The campaign was initially launched in response to the already rising numbers of high value, luxury bookings the operator was identifying – average booking value had increased by nearly a third over a four-week period.

Pure Luxury then ramped up the tools to inspire agents’ higher-spending customers, focussing on premium room types such as club, suites and villas that come with added value benefits such as club lounge access, butler service, activities or private areas, pools and beaches.

Lidl a step nearer to completion

The view from what will be the car park for the new Lidl in Mere Green

Work is gathering pace on the new Lidl supermarket being built in Mere Green.

The roof is now on with brickwork in place, filling in the steel skeleton of the new building. The car parking area, seen from the picture above is now laid with just final resurfacing before the opening of the store in a matter of weeks.

The store looks to be on schedule for completion by the end of the spring, but the German owned store are tight-lipped about the opening date and how many jobs will be created.

The new supermarket will on the site of the former industrial site in Mere Green Road, which has lain derelict for more than 10 years.

The store has not met with universal approval with fears of traffic chaos, further exacerbated by new of a new Aldi store set to be built on the old Waitrose site on Belwell Lane.

It does seem inevitable there will be a big increase in traffic on the busy stretch of road, with Mulberry Walk virtually fully open with gym, shops like Poundland, bars and restaurants, together with existing supermarkets Sainsbury’s and Marks & Spencer. With a busy garage also at Mere Green island, it looks like delays will be on the way.

Early bird spring offers for Greek luxury resort

By Bill McCarthy

One of the top holiday resorts on Greece’s lesser-known Western Greece mainland worth considering for a summer break, is the 5-star Aldemar Olympian Village Beach Resort in Olympia. Consider heading here for a five star seascape, located in one of the most scenically beautiful areas of the country. 

We experienced the delights of western Greece and this luxury resort on a visit in May 2019

The 5-star Olympian Village Beach Resort in Olympia, Western Greece is located in a historic region, home of the Greek gods and the Olympic Games, filled with ancient temples and Byzantine monasteries, this is a stunning hotel complex overlooking the sea.

There are great offers from UK’s tour operators including jet2holidays, easyjetholidays and British Airways Holidays or visit the resorts own web site for holiday packages too, with  a 10 per cent early booking, spring offer throughout April: an ‘exclusive, fully flexible’ offer.

While uncertainty stills surrounds international travel for UK holidaymakers because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Aldemar team in Olympia is gearing up for its Summer Season 2021. Covid protocols are in place as they were last year, implemented for the safety of both the hotel staff and guests, throughout their stay.

It is a visually stunning hotel complex that stretches along (5 kms) sandy beach, surrounded by dozens of pools and beautiful gardens.

This part of Greece is one of the greenest and its natural wonders range from breathtaking mountains to ancient pine forests. The UK PR for this resort refers to this area as ‘Tuscany without the price-tag’ and as she’s partly Italian, we took her word for it when we visited, only to discover that indeed it was just that too and more!

The sprawling, low-rise five-star complex is situated in a secluded area near the village of Skafidia, just 30 kms from Ancient Olympia, hence why this area of Western Greece is also referred to as the ‘Olympian region’ of Greece. 

There’s accommodation to suit all budgets, from hotel-style rooms to apartments, family bungalows and even luxurious, top-of-the-range presidential suites with their own pools. 

Sit on the patio and in the distance is the island of Zante/Zakynthos and a little further north, Captain Corelli’s Kefalonia. Daily ferries can transport those eager to have their Greek Island fix, to both. The ferries depart from the port of Kyllini which is a 40 minute taxi ride away from the resort hotel.

Out and about Olympia is a must see. It was a major Panhellenic religious sanctuary of ancient Greece, where the ancient Olympic Games were held. The site was primarily dedicated to Zeus and drew visitors from all over the Greek world 

The Olympic Games were held every four years from the eighth century BC to the fourth century AD. The archaeological site held over 70 significant buildings, and ruins of many of these survive, although the main Temple of Zeus survives only as stones on the ground and a single column. 

Further afield is historic Sparta, Patras and Kalamata, all a full day trip. But if touring is not you thing. The resort has plenty to keep all ages entertained and relaxed. 

What’s on offer for early bird bookings

  • Welcome Package: Μineral water and Aldemar bath set (soap, shampoo, shower gel, nail file, shower cap, cotton buds, and sewing kit).
  • Free Internet Access
  • Complimentary bottle of wine in-room on arrival
  • Free use of beach and pool chairs & umbrellas
  • Free use of slippers during your stay in the hotel (for VIP & Family rooms bathrobes and beach towels are also available to use during your stay in the hotel) 
  • FREE Mini Club. For children aged 4-12, seven days a week, 10:00 – 18:00, multilingual supervisors (upon request).
  • Entertainment activities, Mini Buffet at the Mini Club “ALDY”, including a selection of sponge cakes, sandwiches, juices, water, one ice cream per child, children’s play area and mini restaurant.

Irish ferries sail in with new service

Irish Ferries will operate Isle of Inishmore on its new Dover to Calais service this summer

Operator to run cross-Channel ferries

Irish Ferries is to start operating a new service between Dover and Calais for the first time in summer 2021 in a bold move to offer and alternative to the existing very fleets and the Channel Tunnel.

Despite the current travel restriction in place in the UK and uncertainty when some kind of normality will resume, the operator, part of Irish Continental Group, is planning to transfer its Isle of Inishmore ferry on to the busy cross-Channel route where it will compete with existing firms P&O Ferries and DFDS.

Services are due to begin in June 2021 with Irish Ferries planning to add more capacity on the Dover-Calais route in the “coming months”.

“We are very excited about launching our services on the best short sea ferry market in the world and we believe we can bring more choice for customers in the years ahead,” said Irish Ferries.

“The initial level of passenger services offered will be dependent on the easing of Covid-19 travel restrictions.”

Doug Bannister, Port of Dover’s chief executive, added: “We are delighted to welcome Irish Ferries to Dover. This announcement gives the millions of customers across the UK and the Republic of Ireland who value the intrinsic benefits of the shortest sea crossing to Europe, the prospect of even more choice.” 

Irish Ferries is also adding a new ship, Blue Star 1, to its fleet which will sail on the Rosslare to Pembroke route.

Turkey to reopen to Brits

No vaccine requirements for UK tourists

By James Chapple

TTG Media Ltd

Turkey says it will be ready to host British tourists this summer. The country has pledged to review its pre-travel test requirement too, starting 15 April.

It has also announced a priority vaccination programme for those employed across the country’s tourism economy.

This will extend to hotel workers and other tourism employees, who will be vaccinated before the summer.

“We are looking forward to welcoming British tourists with open arms, as we did safely last summer,” said Mehmet Nuri Ersoy, Turkey’s minister of culture and tourism.

“We have world-class border processes in place for ensuring travel will be low-risk throughout Turkey. We are working with the British authorities to ensure these necessary processes are world-class and as up to date as possible.

“We will not require vaccination passports from international travellers when entering the country.”

Ersoy said that the country would review case numbers from 15 April and determine whether it will continue to require Brits to provide evidence a negative pre-travel Covid test.

“I expect there will be no such requirement from British visitors as the UK government is rapidly, and impressively, rolling out the vaccination program for the whole nation and a significant portion of the population will be vaccinated by early summer.”

The minister said Turkey would continue to invest in its safe tourism certification programme, which has been expanded for 2021 and made compulsory for all hotels and other accommodation with 30 rooms or more. In excess of 8,000 such businesses have been certified to date.

All certified accommodation providers will provide testing facilities for tourists should they need a test ahead of their return journey. Tests will cost €30 (£25) and will also be available at the country’s airports.

Turkey is also offering a Covid-19 insurance package from €15 (£12) covering treatment, medication and emergency care costs if a traveller requires hospital treatment. An additional accommodation support insurance will cover guests in event they have to extend their stay owing to Covid.

“We are confident that the successful vaccination programmes ongoing in both the UK and Turkey will ensure this season is even safer than last year,” said Ersoy.

Vaccine passport to cruising

BY TOM PARRY

Virgin Voyages require guest and crew jabs

Virgin Voyages will require all guests and crew to be vaccinated against Covid-19 before sailing, the line has announced.

The move follows similar policies from Crystal Cruises and Saga, while all passengers aged over 16 onboard Royal Caribbean’s Odyssey of the Seas in Israel will also have been inoculated.

Virgin Voyages, which recently revealed its third ship Resilient Lady would launch in Europenext summer, said its vaccination stance was to “ensure we’re providing the safest travel experience”. 

“This is a step towards the safe return to sailing and is the right decision for Virgin Voyages,” said the line’s president Tom McAlpin in a statement.

McAlpin said he was “really encouraged” by US president Joe Biden’s plans to offer vaccinations to every American adult by the end of May. 

“We’re an adult-only cruise line, which allows for us to offer a highly controlled, safe environment for everyone onboard,” added McAlpin. 

“Our business us uniquely set up to do this with testing and vaccine travel requirements. There’s a huge pent-up demand for travel, and Virgin Voyages will be ready to welcome you onboard soon.”