The Great British Summer Getaway

The school bells have sounded across the UK, signalling the end of term for kids across the country.  And despite the fact that the country is enjoying its best summer weather in years the annual exodus known as the Great British Getaway is now well and truly underway, as millions of tourists flock to airports across the country, sparking what are now almost routine scenes of chaos.

Queues, airport, UK
Aiport Chaos

July 25th – aka Black Friday – didn’t pass off without incident this year, as the end of term at schools in the UK sparked a mass dash to get away on holiday, with an estimated 2 million tourists passing through British airports this weekend.

And as you’d expect the system inevitably buckled under the pressure, resulting in nightmare delays at Manchester airport as the third busiest hub in the UK struggled to process over 320,000 passengers and a chronic luggage log jam at Gatwick, thanks to what were described as ‘resourcing issues’ with baggage handlers Swissport. Delays were also experienced across the UK road and rail network, making it an equally grim experience for those choosing to enjoy a staycation.

Passenger volumes were at their highest in the South East, as Heathrow, Gatwick, Luton and Stansted serviced a combined total of just under one million holidaymakers.

And where were they all headed? Well according to ABTA Spain is the number one destination this summer for British sun-seekers, followed by Greece and Turkey.

Beach, Spain

This would certainly seem to tally with figures recently released by the Spanish tourist authorities which reveal that the country’s tourist industry enjoyed a real boom in growth during the first half of 2014, particularly to key destinations such as the Canaries and Catalonia.

On Lanzarote for example, where we offer a great selection of villas and apartments for rent in the popular resort of Playa Blanca, passenger numbers have soared by over 15% versus the first half of last year as a total of 1,127,456 foreign tourists took a break on the island. British holidaymakers have been the real driving force behind this growth, accounting for 525,850 arrivals, whilst the Germans, Irish, Dutch and French markets account for 129,935, 99,112, 52,426 and 43,756 visitors respectively.

The local tourist authorities (with self-promoting predictability) have claimed that much of this increase can be attributed to initiatives such as Saborea Lanzarote – a project designed to promote the island as a gastronomic destination – and the positioning of Lanzatote as a sports destination.

But in reality the increases can be more accurately attributed to the greater availability of lower cost flights and new budget services from key metropolitan areas, such as Paris, which have helped to make Lanzarote more accessible and affordable.

Don’t Dilly Dally, Do Dali

The Costa Brava is well known for its rugged coastline, cosmopolitan cities and top quality cuisine. But for culture lovers the real icing on the cake is the region’s close relationship with the world famous surrealist Salvador Dali, who was born in Figueres close to the coast of Catalonia, adding a huge dash of stylish flash to the region’s already varied roster of tourist attractions.

Salvador Dali
Surreal Salvador

All About Dali

Salvador Dali was born in 1904 into a relatively comfortable middle class family (his father worked as a notary, a role very similar to that of a registrar in the UK) and went on to study at the San Fernando Academy of Fine Arts – an institution also attended by his close contemporary Cesar Manrique, who also had a similar, pronounced impact on his respective birthplace of Lanzarote.

He staged his first one man show in Barcelona in 1925 before finding international recognition at the Carnegie International Exhibition in Pittsburgh three years later, which was the first step on the road to establishing himself in the vanguard of the Spanish surrealist movement, which also counted Picasso and Miro within their number, before his expulsion in 1934 after a disagreement with other members of this highly influential artistic clique.

Throughout the 1940´s and 50´s Dali´s work developed along different lines and he began to focus more on larger canvasses, exploring quasi-religious and scientific themes, such as The Discovery of America by Christopher Columbus and The Sacrament of The Last Supper.

Dali Attractions in The Costa Brava

Towards the end of his career Dali founded the Teatro Museum in Figueres before living a more secluded lifestyle after the death of his wife Gala in 1982. Today this is just one of a three high quality Dali attractions that are a real must for any visitors to Costa Brava and which are sometimes referred to as The Dalinian Triangle!

Dali Museum, Costa Brava, Spain

Dali Theatre Museum

The Dali Theatre Museum is located on the site of a former municipal building in Figueres, which was raised by bombing during the Second World War. Dali rebuilt the edifice which boasts a wealth of his finest surrealist work.

Open : 09.30 – 18.00 daily
Admission : 12 euros adults, 9 euros children students and OAPS
Tel : 34 972 677 500

Dali House Museum

Dali actually lived in this property in Portlligat for much of his career and it now operates as a house museum.

Open : 09.30 – 18.00 daily
Admission : 12 euros adults, 9 euros children students and OAPS
Tel : 34 972 677 500

Gala Dalí Castle House-Museum

Located in Pubol this is the castle that Dali retreated to not long after the death of his beloved wife Gala.

Open : 10.00 – 18.00 daily
Admission : 8 euros adults, 6 euros children students and OAPS
Tel : 34 972 488 655

Further Info

For more information and to book tickets online for any of these Dali Museums in Costa Brava visit www.salvador-dali.org

EU Firms Up Air Passenger Rights

While everybody looks forward to going on holiday, there are elements of travelling abroad that can be stressful. Amongst the things most likely to cause anxiety and stress, long flight delays and cancellations are high on the list of situations we would most like to avoid.

Flight delays

Which is why the recent decision by the European Community to impose a compensation structure on these kind of events will go some way to make up for occasions where passengers have no control over the outcome. Although financial remuneration won’t alleviate the problem itself it does acknowledge the strain that individuals and families feel when faced with delays and other changes to their flight schedule.

Passenger Compensation

The way in which the compensation works is as follows:

Delays have to be over two hours in duration on short haul flights in order for the airline to be obliged to provide food and drink to waiting passengers. Should the delay extend overnight, they are also obliged to provide overnight accommodation, transport to and from such accommodation and two phone calls, faxes or emails.

On longer flights, the delay has to be of four hours or more duration before the airline is required to offer the same services. Monetary compensation is not automatically triggered by a delay alone, especially when the airline has been able to provide refreshments, food and other services.

However, where a flight has been cancelled or overbooked, financial compensation will normally be forthcoming. For flights cancelled more than two weeks before you are due to fly, there should be remuneration paid to passengers. If the flight is cancelled within two weeks of the flight date, and no alternative service is offered to you which will get you to your destination, even if by an alternative route, you are entitled to a payment.

If your flight has been overbooked and you cannot take the seat you have paid for, the airline will normally ask if any passengers will volunteer to accept compensation instead. If you are still unable to board the flight because of overbooking, you are entitled to compensation. The amount paid to passengers is determined by the distance of the flight, in both circumstances – cancellation and overbooking.

Should your flight be downgraded – in other words, changed from business to economy class – compensation is also paid, of between 30 and 75 percent of the ticket value and dependent on the flight distance.

Flights that travel up to 1,500 kilometres trigger a compensation payment of 200 Euros per person.

Flights of between 1,500 and 3,500 kilometres or over 1,500 within the European community will result in a payment of 400 Euros.

Flights of over 3,500 kilometres are compensated with 600 Euros.

Payments will be made either in cash, by bank transfer, by cheque or to a designated account. Both charter and package flights are covered by these rules and they apply to any flight beginning from an airport within the European Community.

If you have experienced a situation which you think entitles you to compensation, the first place to start in making a complaint is with the airline who sold you the ticket. If the matter is not resolved to your satisfaction, there are a number of bodies you can contact, including NI Direct Government Services, the European Consumer Centre and the British Air Transport Association.