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10 of the best travel podcasts

The Bike Show

Frustrated about being stuck indoors rather than out on two wheels? Perhaps affable cycling champion Jack Thurston can help. The author of the popular Lost Lanes cycling guidebooks packs his pannier and pedals alongside fellow bike enthusiasts – poets, inventors, adventurers, activists and even the odd politician – to hear their stories of life in the saddle. Sleeping out in strange places is a Bike Show speciality, so you can spend the night with Jack in a snow-bound Welsh bothy, a church porch, or a French field listening to the joyful noises of wild boar rutting. And you can also hear just how close he and artist Jeremy Deller came to an unscripted dunk in the Regent’s Canal.
thebikeshow.net

The Bitter Southerner

A podcast for anyone who really fancies getting under the skin of the American deep south. Based in Atlanta, Georgia, its host Chuck Reece presents a no-holds-barred cultural guide to the southern states. It’s a spin-off from an eponymous magazine whose mission is to counter the stereotypes and false impressions non-southerners have of the region. Every week, Chuck brings his audience enlightening stories about the culture, history, cuisine, language and innovations of the south. Come for a revealing look at Booker T and the MGs and stay for Squidbillies.
npr.org/podcasts

Armchair Explorer

Not content with merely interviewing some of the world’s most interesting adventurers, travel writer Aaron Millar makes every episode of the fortnightly Armchair Explorer an immersive experience. The documentary-style podcast uses production values inspired by cinema to tell its stories. It’s the place to go for trekking into gorilla country with a leading conservationist; marching fearlessly into the Antarctic void on the trail of Shackleton; sinking into the depths of the ocean in a great white shark cage; or escaping into the Alaskan wilderness with Olympic gold medal skiers. And if staying on Earth seems a bit restrictive, you can rocket up to the International Space Station for a space walk with John Herrington, the first Native American astronaut.
armchair-explorer.com

The Food Chain

The BBC uses its worldwide reach to good effect in this enigmatic, provender-based podcast. You can listen to internationally renowned chefs describing their lives in five dishes; hear about the uncertain future of south-east Asian street food; or find out what wine waiters are really thinking when they pour out that 2012 Blanc de Plonk you chose on a whim. The presenters plough fearlessly into esoteric topics too, providing the answers to questions you forgot to ask, such as what happens when you pump up balloons of gluten, and what on earth space smells like.
bbc.co.uk

Afropop Worldwide

If your knowledge of African music stops at Youssou N’Dour and Fela Kuti, Afropop Worldwide will soon broaden your horizons. As its name suggests, the podcast takes listeners on a trip round the world, going everywhere African music has gone, sampling everything from hot salsa rhythms in Puerto Rico to the spiritual vibes of west African Vaudou in Utrecht (yes, Utrecht). Let the infectious music, fascinating cultural insights and the lovely, rich voice of Cameroon-born host Georges Collinet transport you to places you may never have thought African music had reached – it’s sure to leave you feeling more upbeat.
pri.org

Wander Woman

Known for her love of adventurous travel and willingness to rough it in a tiny tent, award-winning writer, broadcaster and Wanderlust editor Phoebe Smith invites listeners into her world. On the look-out for wild spaces where you might not expect them, the podcast avoids well-trodden paths, gets down and dirty with wildlife, and meets conservation heroes. Phoebe reports from the first guided walk owned and operated by Indigenous Australians; a cargo boat on Quebec’s remote Lower North Shore; and attempts a 300-mile kayak around Britain’s waterways. The podcast also features the Wander Woman of the Month – shining a light on unsung female travellers.
wanderwoman.buzzsprout.com

Watling Street

A fascinating four-part series from the world of psychogeography. Authors John Higgs and David Bramwell head out on a pilgrimage along one of Britain’s most famous pre-Roman ways – the 450-mile route from the White Cliffs of Dover to north Wales (including the section beyond Wroxeter, where the way diverged). On the way, they meet up with Iain Sinclair, Alan Moore, Salena Godden and others whose work has been inspired or moulded in some way by the prehistoric path. Imaginatively produced, the podcast weaves music, poetry, chat and little-known snippets of Britain’s history and culture into a soundscape that transports listeners to a different place and time.
soundcloud.com

Field Recordings

A podcast with a very simple but effective brief: asking audio-makers to turn on their microphones and “stand silently in fields (or things that could be broadly interpreted as fields)”. The results are extraordinarily evocative recordings that offer a strangely compelling listening experience. Recent episodes have taken listeners to a beach on the coast of Greenland, the streets of Jenin in Palestine, the Beskid Mountains in Poland, and the Sinharaja tropical rainforest in Sri Lanka to hear dawn break. All you have to do is close your eyes and let your imagination fill in the blanks.
fieldrecordings.xyz

National Trust

The bad news is that the National Trust’s sumptuous array of stately homes, parks and gardens is now closed until the current crisis is over. The good news is that you can still pay them virtual visits via this fortnightly podcast. Indeed, while many episodes begin at a trust property, they end up taking listeners much further afield. Audio gems include historian Bettany Hughes’s time-travelling investigation into British landmarks’ European connections; broadcaster John Sergeant’s four-part exploration of historic landscapes; and Clare Balding’s visits to trust sites to uncover little-known LGBTQ stories.
nationaltrust.org.uk

The Big Travel Podcast

Each episode sees writer and filmmaker Lisa Francesca Nand get together with a well-travelled interviewee to explore their life through the lens of their wanderlust. Happy to go off piste, Nand delights in teasing out weird and wonderful anecdotes from her guests. In the most recent programme she heads for Málaga to chat with genial comedian, musician, birder (and linguist – who knew?) Bill Bailey. Their conversation takes in topics ranging from migrating flycatchers, the carnivorous pitcher plant named in Bill’s honour, and the perils of asking an Estonian audience to name their favourite pop song.
thebigtravelpodcast.com

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Send us a tip on your favourite travel souvenir for a chance to win £200 towards a Sawday’s stay

Given that we’re all stuck at home for who knows how long, our travel memories are especially poignant. So this week we want you tell us about a souvenir or memento you picked up on your travels that has a special place in your heart or still brings a smile to your face. It could evoke happy memories of the trip itself, or be all about the place you bought it – a magical shop, a colourful market stall or the even more colourful owner. Perhaps it’s a unique, beautiful artefact that now has pride of place in your home.

Please ensure your tip stays around 100 words.

Have a look at our past winners and other tips

We’re sorry, but for legal reasons you must be a UK resident to enter this competition.

It is the text that our judges will consider, but this week a good photo will certainly improve your chances, be it one taken on the trip or a more recent nicely composed shot of your treasure. If you do send photographs please ensure you are the copyright holder.

The prize is £200 for a stay at a Sawday’s property – the company has more than 3,000 in the UK or Europe and the prize will now be valid for 18 months from when the winner receives notification. The winner will be chosen by Tom Hall of Lonely Planet.

The best tips will appear on the Guardian Travel website and may also appear in print in Guardian Travel.

If you’re having trouble using the form, click here. Read terms of servicehere.

Read the terms and conditions

The competition closes on Tuesday 7 April at 10am BST

If you’re having trouble using the form, click here. Read terms of service here.

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Universal Parks Extend Closure Date Due to Coronavirus

Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Orlando Resort had hoped to re-open its gates by the end of this month after closing on March 15 due to the spread of the coronavirus.

That optimism was great, but it won’t happen.

Universal has announced that both parks and their respective CityWalk attractions will now remain closed through April 19, according to the Hollywood publication Deadline.

“We are extending the closure of Universal Orlando Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood through April 19 as we continue to respond to current conditions and make the health and safety of team members and guests our top priority,” Universal said in a statement. “This includes our theme parks and Universal CityWalk at both destinations. The Universal Orlando Resort hotels have also temporarily suspended operations. We will continue to monitor the situation and make adjustments as needed, based on guidance from health agencies and government officials.”

The virus has escalated in the last week in the United States. The country has more than 60,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and more than 800 deaths. Globally, there are nearly 400,000 cases and 16,000 deaths.

Virtually every theme and amusement park in the world has closed its doors. There is no word yet as of publication time whether Walt Disney World in Orlando or Disneyland in California also plan to extend is reopen date beyond April 1, but the Mouse House might not have a choice. At least, not in Florida.

On Tuesday, Orange County, Fla. Mayor Jerry Demings announced he will sign a stay-at-home executive order that will go into effect on Thursday, March 26, at 11 p.m. Orlando, home to Disney World, is located in Orange County.

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Jan Morris: my favourite cities

‘And what is your favourite of them all?”, people often ask me, when they learn I have spent most of my 83 years looking at cities around the world.

Dear God, what a question! To my mind cities are distillations of human life itself, in all its nuances, with all its contradictions and anomalies, changing from one year to another, changing with the weather, changing with history, changing with the state of the world, changing above all in one’s own personal responses. How can I have a favourite? Sometimes I prefer one city, sometimes another. Inconstancy governs my responses to cities – fidelity in personal matters, promiscuity in civic affairs.

For one thing, there is a difference between liking a place, and loving it. Take London, for example. How moved I used to be by this city, when I first knew it, war-scarred but indomitable from the second world war. I truly loved it then – the proud battered style of it, the blackened and ruined monuments, the posh-and-cockney mixture, the Union Jack flying gamely through the smog upon the Palace of Westminster, the grimy tugs churning up the Thames –”Liquid ‘istory”, as John Burns called the dear old river in one of my favourite civic quotations.

Look at it now! Does the flag still send a tremor down anybody’s spine? Is there anything indomitable about today’s London? Any atavistic pride? Evelyn Waugh said he saw it declining into squalid cosmopolitanism, and it is true that when I step off my train at Euston now I find myself entering a different city altogether from the one that used to thrill me.

But here’s an odd thing. If I certainly love London less nowadays, I actually like it more! I like the glitter and fizz of it, the jumble of manners, the pace and the bitter brilliance and the kaleidoscopic parade of faces. It is no longer England, to my mind, but instead it is a marvellously invigorating sort of Dystopia.

Or consider Venice. Physically, by the nature of its geography, few of the world’s ancient cities have changed less in my time. Its shape is the same, most of its buildings are unchanged, you must still walk about it, or take a boat to supper – “streets full of water”, as Robert Benchley famously complained. Nevertheless, although I loved Venice passionately from the start, I haven’t always liked it. Fragile and exquisite melancholy is what I felt, when I first went there, but who could feel that about it now?

Even its most besotted addicts can hardly say they like the place, when stepping from their vaporetto at the Piazzetta they find it enveloped in a caterwauling nightmarish jam of their fellow visitors, blocking the bridges, drowning the cafe orchestras, all but hiding from view the totemic quadriga on the facade of the Basilica. Even I sometimes feel like re-boarding the vaporetto there and then, and going home to Wales; but no, love conquers all, and I never do.

There are places in the world where my responses have not been fickle, and the chief of these is Trieste, which I first knew as an adolescent at the very end of the second world war. I found it strangely haunting then, and thought of it hardly as a city at all, but more as a kind of idea – a place to drift through, a place on a fold in the map, neither quite one thing nor another, part Slav, part Latin, part Germanic, with nothing in particular to resound in my memory, only a sweet bewilderment.

It was Trieste’s history that cast this tantalizing spell upon me, and my feeling about the place today is exactly as it was when I first sat, 19 years old, upon the then deserted waterfront. Today it is a bustling, vigorous Italian city, but not for me. For me it remains a city of lost powers and forgotten certainties, and when I came to write a book about it – my final real book – I called it Trieste and the Meaning of Nowhere, because a calm, kindly nowhereness is what I feel there to this day.

Of course, if I can be unreliable in my attitude to cities, cities can be decidedly capricious in their relationships with me. Venice, after all, betrayed my passion when, in 1983, the four golden horses of the Basilica were replaced by the dullard substitutes we see up there today (if we’re lucky); for me it was a definitive moment, when the city gave up being a real, organic human habitation and reconciled itself to symbolism and tourism. As for London, when once it had welcomed me like a dowager to her run-down stately home, now its greeting is more like the air-kiss of a tabloid celebrity.

My acceptance by other places, too, has shifted down the years, as circumstances have affected our mutual responses. When I first went to Sydney, in the early 1960s, I detested the place, and it equally disliked me. I wrote of it then (in the Guardian, too) that its origins were unsavoury, its temper was coarse, its politics were crooked, and the expressions on the faces of its ladies were “steely, scornful, accusatory and plebeian”. It retorted with fusillades of vituperation, and colourful letters reached me from down under for five full years thereafter.

I must say I enjoyed this full-blooded assault, which seemed to me to speak of Australia’s pioneering days, its convict days, when no holds were barred and a man’s spit was his handshake. Twenty-five years later I wrote a book about the city, and by then my attitude to it had mellowed. In fact I had grown affectionate to the whole Sydney ethos, and by and large wrote admiringly of the place. But the city’s responses this time were much less fun. No scurrilous invective came my way. Criticisms were gentlemanly. I thought the least I could expect were snide accusations of Pommy condescension, but no – the worst that happened was a general coldness of reviews, and alas, an evident reluctance to buy the book …

I have had nothing but kindness in the cities of India, the odd robbery apart, although I never was an admirer of the Indian civilizations, their multiplicity of gods and dogmas, the gaudy elaboration of their architectures. My heart used to sink when I was debouched into the tumultuous streets of yet another immemorial capital, or confronted by the rituals of another holy shrine. This is because I was always there specifically in search of a single brief period among the countless successive layers of Indian history – the period of the British Raj. It was the bungalows, the clubs, the cricket pavilions, the commissioner’s offices, the barrack blocks, the steepled churches, the pompous hotels, the drains, canals and railway stations of imperialism that I was after, not your temples, ghats and maharajas’ palaces.

Where are they all now, when I go back to India, having spent 10 years writing about that lost dominion? The mighty Viceroy’s House in Delhi is mighty as ever, as the residence of India’s president. The cricket grounds are livelier and more crowded than ever they were. The ever-kindly Indian people display no resentment, as they show me a half-crumbled bungalow, or direct me to the remains of a long-besieged Residency. And even in Mumbai, Kolkata or Varanasi beside the Ganga river, they only smile tolerantly if I talk about Bombay, Calcutta, or Benares on the Ganges.

The truth is that if books furnish a room, people do make a city. Preoccupied as I have always been by the look of places, their histories and their municipal postures, I have all too often neglected to write about their citizens. It is only now that I have come to realize how vital to my craft have been my contacts with people – fleeting contacts usually, not the general brushing of the crowd, but those moments when just for an instant I feel I have come close to the meaning of a place. Years ago, in Canada, I devised something called the Smile Test, which involved smiling urgently (perhaps unnervingly) at anyone I met in the street, and marking their reactions. But later I came to think that it was too contrived a technique, and that one could only rely upon the absolutely unpremeditated meeting of psyches.

Utter purity of contact is the thing, and sometimes I have achieved it. Occasionally it has been with judges in court, caught by surprise between judgements; sometimes with women in post office queues; occasionally, I like to think, with babies or cats; more often with mere passers-by; and best of all I remember it happening to me years ago in Alexandria.

I was pottering around there one day when I happened to catch the eye of a wrinkled cabby, lounging high above his emaciated horse on the driving-seat of his carriage. On the impulse of the moment I winked, and instantly there crossed his face an expression of indescribable knowingness and complicity, half comic, half conspiratorial – as though between us, he, the city and I had plumbed the depths of human and historical experience, and were still coming up for more.

“Well, then”, they often say next, “what’s your un-favourite city?” But I have a glib answer to that question. Fifty years ago it was put to me in America, and as I had just spent a single comfortless night in one of the industrial cities of the Middle West, I replied without thinking “Indianapolis”. For some reason or other this raised an instant laugh – and whether it is the name of the place, or the way it rolls off the tongue, I still find the reply inexplicably funny myself. It is most unfair, I know, and the city is probably lovely really, but still my response to the familiar inquiry is instant and unvarying. “Indianapolis” I say without a second thought, and it still makes ’em laugh.

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CRANS-MONTANA: The perfect winter playground for everyone

A glittering Alpine peak show fills the horizon before me.

This mountain spectacular, like a ribbon of crushed diamonds with Mont Blanc and The Matterhorn among many majestic silhouettes, is often hailed as the most beautiful panorama in the Alps.

Welcome to Crans-Montana, the resort in southern Switzerland’s Valais canton, where the pristine big picture is always on display.

A perfect winter playground for sporty and well-being sorts, it offers myriad ways for all abilities to seize the snowy high ground.

For skiers, boarders and bikers the challenging, varied slopes and parks present a feast of adrenalin hits from sun rise to after dark.

Hikers can tone up and calm down snowshoeing along crisp white paths fringed by a tracery of conifers.

But if a sledge takes your fancy, there’s the rush of whooshing down some hairpin bends on a wooden luge.

Snow Island, the winter family hot spot, is just a stroll from the centre offering snowtubing, button lifts and a magic carpet for newbie skiers and sledgers. 

Gently undulating snow trails for cross country fans also circle the area winding past frozen lakes. And should that fresh air become too much the Moubra tennis centre features one of the funkiest climbing walls anywhere.  

Activities deserve rewards and here they are top quality. The resort is home to artisan chocolate brand David L’Instant Chocolat and its award-winning creator David Pasquiet whose shop is an array of rainbow coloured confections and one staggering chocolate reindeer sculpture.

And, because beneath the snow this is also fine wine country with more than 50 grape varieties, excellent glasses of sparkling whites and rich reds are not to be missed especially after a turn or two on the outdoor ice rink.

Set at 5,000 ft (1,500m), the French-speaking, south-facing Crans-Montana stretches its super sunny way on a plateau along the slopes of Mount Bonvin with the crown of the mighty Plaine Morte Glacier 10,000 ft (3,000m) above and below the river Rhône. 

The result of two villages uniting, it first found fame as a place for health cures and clinics thanks to its pure air, and then as a favourite of the luxury ski set – Bond star Sir Roger Moore was a long-time resident.

Its steep and twisting terrains have also made it a fixture on the international ski circuit, hosting a notoriously tough women’s World Cup downhill race every winter.

A long, black, mogul-strewn beast plunging down from Plaine Morte is renowned for requiring epic stamina, but there are plenty of cruisy blue and red runs too.

Today the centre is more a town with many faces than a standard resort where local life flourishes with a vibrant craft food and drinks scene, arts and music festivals and a multitude of fitness get-togethers.

Visitors are never short of melting moments, and that is not just because of the cheese-based fondue and raclette national dishes on every menu.

Look at the fairy light decorations, even on the church tower, that twinkle on long after Christmas and you have a clue to the friendliness and joie-de-vivre bubbling here.

It’s very do-able too as a short break from the UK with the two-hour flight to Geneva followed by a train journey that tracks the vast lake’s shores and then a 20-minute funicular ride up to the town – both treats in themselves. 

My hotel, the Arenas Resort & Spa Valaisia, was a smart choice. Close to both centres and in its own grounds, it is just a couple of minutes’ walk from the one of the ski lifts. Wellness is done well here with roomy beds and balconies, plus a salt water pool, spa and a cool, old school-style bar.

I took my first snow-shoeing steps in the Ski Rando Parc. The massive terrain of 13 climbing and touring trails ranges from La X’trème, a nine-hour, 22-mile (34.7km) work-out scaling 10,000 ft (3.059m,) to my beginners path, the Petit Loup, a slo-snow adventure laced with mother Nature that took me up 1,000ft (325m) over two miles (2.9km).

The ‘shoes’, light, slip-on frames with fasteners, were ezeey-peezy to crunch along on, leaving me free to embrace the wild and far-reaching views – 19 peaks at least – while my guide Fanny Ambaz and her magnificent white shepherd dog Luna, both experts too in mountain rescue, led the way.

Taking a break with sips of Fanny’s special bracing brew of medicinal thyme, lemon verbena and mountain vetch flowers, I searched the sky for sights of a bearded vulture, the region’s iconic raptor.

For centuries the subject of legend and fearful superstition, the rare bird has now been successfully reintroduced after persecution drove it almost to extinction.

My path ended at Colombire, a hamlet of mayens, traditional wooden Alpine dwellings housing folk, their livestock and stores. Now a rural museum, Colombire is powerful reminder of how tough life was for herders among the pastures.

Hot vegetable soup at the nearby Relais restaurant set me up for my next new experience, sledging, and I hopped on for the ride back down feeling very confident, which in hindsight was a bit misplaced.

The authentic wooden luge (none of those plastic trays) felt fine at first and the sloping path seemed wide enough. But the hand and rope steering was trickier than it appeared and my inner rock wall hugger took control.

My instinct to steer away from the edge and brake at every turn ended in my grinding to a halt. But frustration eventually got the better of fear and I let the luge have its way. Resisting the desire to dig in my heels, suddenly I realised we were gliding freely, it was brilliant but then all too quickly we were back in town.

Wine tasting here also offers something unexpectedly special, not least because Swiss wine is excellent but locals soak up 98 percent of it so it’s little known in the UK.

Crans-Montana winery La Cave Romaine and maker Joël Briquet are renowned for the fine whites and reds they produce with grapes such as Cornalin, the distinguished red variety common to the region.

Tastings here are definitely recommended and the subtly fizzy Fendant and wonderfully smokey L’Etreinte were my favourites but other corkers included a dark, chocolatey Syrah and Valais native, La Petite Arvine, its light dryness perfect as an aperitif.

All paired well too with the meal of raclette presented with great ceremony that followed. This dish, so close to Swiss hearts and stomachs, requires the skilled grilling and slicing of rounds of semi-hard cow’s milk cheese heated to just the right temperature for eating (the clever chef bit), then served in a succession of bite-sized portions with sides of potatoes and pickles. 

In another off-the-snow grid visit with guide and wine expert Christine Antille Emery I went deeper into the Valais, visiting the neighbouring village of Lens whose surrounding hills are wonderful for sunset watching.

Overlooked by a 92ft bronze Christ statue and towering church, the town is fine example of changing times in the Valais from its new Alaïa Chalet indoor and outdoor extreme sports complex to the patchwork of narrow streets and traditionally carved wooden houses conjuring life dominated by the seasons and the church in centuries past.

To get a deeper sense of the place there is the Valaisan des Bisses museum charting rural life and, for private groups wanting to time travel, in the recently restored 17th century Maison de Chèvres, where chef Benjamin Meng recreates Valais dishes of yesteryear on a log burning stove – the cake made from rye bread and marinated in red wine is a speciality.

On my return to Crans-Montana that evening I joined cheering crowds, oblivious to the biting cold, to marvel at the ski pros, who included Britain’s Dave Ryding, powering down one very steep and icy slope in an exhibition slalom race staged by the International Ski Federation (FIS).

The slopes’ magic – who can resist it? Well not me and on my last day the pulling power was too much. I had to try a run before I left.

Under an azure blue sky and guided by instructor Nicola Gerosa, we took a sweeping blue-red piste from the Cry d’Er (7,437 ft) down to the gondola at Arnouva (5,639 ft). 

Discovering downhill again in this magnificent setting gave me such a sense of achievement I almost felt like ringing a few cowbells. It was all such fun. Pay a visit to Crans-Montana and you’ll find the same too. 

www.crans-montana.ch/en

CRANS-MONTANA: All you need to know

Switzerland Tourism:For more information visit www.MySwitzerland.com or call Switzerland Travel Centre on the International freephone 00800 100 200 30 or e-mail, for information [email protected]; for packages, trains and air tickets [email protected]

Swiss International Air Lines

SWISS offers more than 150 weekly flights from London City, Heathrow, Gatwick (seasonal), Manchester, Birmingham, Edinburgh to Zurich, Geneva or Sion (seasonal). 

One way fares start from £74 to Zurich and £83 to Geneva including all taxes, fees and surcharges, one piece of hold and hand luggage.

SWISS are also happy to transport your first set of ski or snowboard equipment and boots free of charge in addition to your standard free baggage allowance subject to availability. (excluding hand luggage only fares) 

For more information visit swiss.com or call 0345 601 0956

Swiss Travel System

The Swiss Travel System provides a range of exclusive travel passes and other tickets for visitors from abroad.

The Swiss Travel Pass offers unlimited travel on consecutive days throughout the rail, bus and boat Swiss Travel System network. This pass also covers scenic routes and local trams and buses in around 90 towns and cities. The Swiss Travel Pass also includes the Swiss Museum Pass, allowing you free entrance to 500 museums and exhibitions. Prices from £185 for 3 days in second class. 

For the ultimate Swiss rail specialist call Switzerland Travel Centre on 00800 100 200 30 or visit www.swisstravelsystem.co.uk

UK Tour Operators and agents with holidays available to Crans-Montana 

www.luxurychaletbook.com www.powderwhite.com www.oxfordski.com www.skisolutions.com www.sno.co.uk www.skiclub.co.uk www.ski-i.com www.skisafari.com www.skiweekends.com 

Ski Schools 

esscrans-montana.ch 

Crans-Montana website 

www.crans-montana.ch/en

Crans Montana at a glance

· 140 km of pistes 

· Several World Cup runs 

· 61 different ski runs blue, red and black 

· 15 marked ski touring trails 

· The top snowpark in French-speaking Switzerland 

· The one and only 22″ superpipe in French-speaking Switzerland 

· More than 20 restaurants on the mountain 

· On-mountain après-ski at Cry d’Er Club d’Altitude 

· 1 club at the top of the slopes 

· Modern ski lifts 

· 65 hectares of mechanical snowmaking slopes 

· An igloo village on the Plaine Morte glacier 

· An 8 km long slope from the glacier to the village 

· 4 adapted areas : the family area, the fun area, the glacier area and the nature area

Festivals and events: 

· Choc Altitude – chocolate festival, February 29 to March 1, 2020 

· Caprices Festival – electronic music festival, April 16-19, 2020 

Hotels:

Luxury

· Le Crans Hotel & Spa is an exclusive hotel with only 15 rooms and 3 suites, indoor and outdoor pool, spa facilities and a one-star Michelin restaurant. Like a bird nest it overlooks the whole resort. Leading hotels of the world www.lecrans.com 

· Crans Ambassador is an iconic hotel sitting above the town and housing the largest spa in the resort. Most of the rooms face across the valley to the mountains and there’s three restaurant options to choose from. The hotel has a relaxed feel and during summer, it’s an official Swiss Tourism bike hotel – it’s part of the Victoria Jungfrau collection. cransambassador.ch 

· Guarda Golf hotel & residences has 24 rooms and 7 apartments with 3 bedrooms each. Located in the centre of Crans along the Jack Nicklaus golf course. The restaurant serves high quality Japanese dishes. All the recipes are in the pure Japanese tradition. Their Sunday buffet is a must do when spending the week-end in Crans-Montana. www.guardagolf.ch 

· Hostellerie du Pas de L’Ours has a true mountain chalet feeling. Interior design includes a lot stone and old wood. With only 15 rooms it is very cosy. They use the spa and pool of the connecting 4* Hotel Etrier. The Chef Frank Reynaud is the first one to have a Michelin star in Crans Montana. There are two restaurants: the gastronomic ”L’Ours” and the more casual “Bistro de l’Ours”. www.pasdelours.ch 

Mid-range: 

· Hotel Art de Vivre 4* is a family run 24 room hotel. It focuses on health with a nice spa and gym, a small pool and outdoor Jacuzzi. Several massage rooms and in-house physiotherapist and chiropractor. The restaurant has 13 points at Gault & Millau. Quiet location in between Crans and Montana center. www.art-vivre.ch 

· Hotel l’Etrier 4* offers large rooms with southern views. 2 restaurants, one with Mediterranean inspiration and the Carnotzet serving Swiss cheese dishes. The pool is quite large and combines indoor and outdoor experience. Since this winter they offer a in house professional nursery service for children from 2 to 8 years old. www.hoteletrier.ch 

· Valaisia Hotel 3* is one of Crans-Montana’s wellness hotels and family friendly with a large bar and well located for the town centre and the ski lift for Anouva. The rooms have views across the valley and the location, slightly tucked away from the road, means it’s always peaceful and quiet. www.arenasresorts.com/en/crans-montana 

· Olympic 3* is a family hotel in the centre of Montana next to the Casino and Ice ring. Easy access to the slopes. Rooms are modern and charming. www.hotelolympic.ch/ 

· Hotel Elite 3* has been recently refurbished. Rooms have southern views and very nicely decorated. Contemporary look with some vintage touch which give all the charm to this place. Like Guarda Golf Hotel it is located also along the peaceful Jack Nicklaus course. The lobby bar and fire place are perfect for lively evenings. www.elite-hotel.com 

· Hotel La Prairie 3* has a lot of charm and great atmosphere mainly because of the large restaurant, lively bar with pool tables and large sofas. 33 comfortable rooms with family connections. Perfect place for small groups of friends coming for a fun ski trip. www.prairie.ch

Lower budget: 

· Hotel du Lac and Lago Lodge: Hotel du Lac is faces Lake Grenon on the north and the mountains on the south this family hotel is only few minutes’ walk from the Signal /Arnouva gondola. Rooms are small but very cosy. Management is very friendly and helpful. They brew their own beer and roast their own coffee. It’s a nice experience to visit the brewery when they produce the beer. Lago lodge is dedicated to large group with small budget. www.boutique-hotel-du-lac.ch 

· Bellalui Youth hostel: established in a clinic built in1930 it has been turned into a modern youth hostel but respecting the history of the building. Works like any youth hostel with shared rooms (4 and 6 beds) but also family rooms and double bed rooms. Quite a nice experience to try even if you can afford to pay more. www.youthhostel.ch 

· Sport Palace: this a residence with studios and small apartment. All of them are with a kitchenette. The facility has a large swimming pool. www.sportpalace.ch

Restaurants in town:

· Le Mayen in central  Montana: good atmosphere, with the special cheese and tomato fondue, typical dishes from Valais. ££ 

· La Dent Blanche: haunt of the famous, raclette, cheese fondue, meat fondue and other grilled  meats, Located on the way to LeCrans. Run by the same family for three generations. ££

· Le Continental: classic French cuisine with a touch of fantasy. The chef Paul has worked in many fancy restaurants before opening his own. Prices are reasonable and quality is always there. ££ 

· La Desalpes: In the centre of Crans this large restaurant serves excellent grilled meat on the grill as well as hot pots. £££ 

· Mosaic: in front of the Ycoor centre next to the escalator to the Signal gondola station, this restaurant serves bistro dishes using top quality ingredients. Excellent quality, urban style dining.

www.mosaic2016.ch £££ 

· La Plage: on the lake Moubra this cosy wooden little chalet only seats 50. The view on the take makes it a good spot for lunch. The menu is seasonal. This winter they serve less familiar dishes like snails, deer tenderloin as well as the oven baked Vacherin Mont d’Or. www.restaurantlaplage.ch ££ 

· Burger lounge: this little underground restaurant serves homemade tasty burgers. www.burgerlounge.org £ 

· Chez Chico: Argentinian grill room.www.parrilla-argentina.ch ££

Restaurants on the slopes: 

· Zero dix: this place is a trendy restaurant at lunch time and becomes the best après ski of Crans-Montana after 3pm www.zerodix.ch ££ 

· Cabane des Violettes: this place is an authentic Swiss mountain hut. It is run by starred chef Frank Reynaud of Pas de l’Ours and Pierrot Bagnoud a well know mountain guide. The chef uses selected local products and his know how to prepare his recipes. www.cabanedesviolettes.ch 

· Cabane des Taules: only raclette and soup and only when it is sunny! That’s the philosophy of this tiny hut in the middle of the slopes. www.mycma.ch/en/restaurants £ 

· Cry D’Er: on top of the Blue gondola. This place has a huge terrace and 2 types of restaurant: free flow self-service restaurant where you can see the cook preparing wok, pasta, burgers, or a daily special and a seated restaurant, La Table, mainly focused on grilled meat. £££ Note that when buying a pedestrian pass you can get a CHF20.- discount on your restaurant bill. www.mycma.ch/en/pages/food-panorama-357 

· Chez Erwin: a small chalet side of low part of Chetseron slope with a wooden terrace facing the southern peaks of Valais Alps. You can also access by foot from top of Plan Mayen area at the level of LeCrans Hotel. They mainly serve raclette, traditional cold cut plates, a daily special and home made pastries. 35 seats inside and 100 outside. £ www.buvettes-alpage.ch/erwin

· Chetzeron :Creative cuisine with local products. This is the most upscale restaurant on the slopes. £££ 

Bars on Crans side

Monkis Bar: next to Taillens bakery tea room, a party bar with dance and electronic music. Every Thursday there is a special do. Targeted clientele is between 18 – 35 open from 5pm to 2am www.monkis.ch £

Moon Bar: located just below the Postillon wine bar, it is a lounge bar with a whole section with big chairs and coach. Big cocktail list and DJs from 6pm to 2am. www.facebook.com/Moonbarcrans ££ 

Bar 66: Perfect for a night cap after restaurant if you are looking for a comfortable and not loud place. ££

Le Pub: facing Monkis bar you can enjoy a large choice of beers and play billiards, pin ball and dart. DJ playing every night. Special party every Wednesday during season. www.nightlifecransmontana.com/lepub

Montana side:

Amadeus: under the Mayen restaurant, this the oldest bar for apres ski and night drinks. Live music www.baramadeus.ch £

Bodega: the latest one on the market. Little bar serving tapas and cocktails. £

New Pub: traditional pub but with a great view on the mountains and the lake Grenon. Live bands during the season. fr-fr.facebook.com/newpubcm/ 

Afterski:

· Zerodixat Crans-Cry d’Er : perfect location for a drink with your ski boots on. Great atmosphere and friendly staff. Regular live DJ gigs www.zerodix.ch ££

· La Petite Maison: aste local wines and eat snacks until 2am. The good location on top of the pedestrian street in Montana. www.nightlifecransmontana.com/lapetitemaison ££ 

· 1900: more bistro kind of bar, wines as well as hot drinks. Many tables ££

· Le Tirebouchon: in the middle of the pedestrian street (Rue de la Gare) you can taste local wines. This bar has the largest choice of bottles of winemaker from all over canton Valais. 90+ different ones you can buy and drink there. Large choice by the glass too. Open until 8pm www.letirbouchon.ch/ ££

There are two night clubs both on the Crans side of the resort: Pacha Club and Sky Club. Both open until 4am.

David chocolate

www.instant-chocolat.ch

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Coronavirus travel updates: which countries have restrictions and FCO warnings in place?

The Foreign Office (FCO) is advising UK nationals against all but essential international travel. Border closures and other travel restrictions are increasing globally. The FCO advice takes effect immediately from 17 March, for an initial period of 30 days.

This article is being updated daily. It was last updated at 2pm, 18 March

In a statement, the FCO said the advice is in response to the increasingly unpredictable situation in terms of restrictions being imposed:

“Often there is little or no notice when countries take these steps and restrictions are also being imposed in areas where no cases of coronavirus have yet been reported. They are therefore very difficult to predict.

“British people who decide that they still need to travel abroad should be fully aware of the increased risks of doing so. That includes the risk that they may not be able to get home, if travel restrictions are put in place. Anyone still considering travel to be realistic about the level of disruption they are willing and able to endure, and to make decisions in light of the unprecedented conditions we face.”

The FCO is not advising UK nationals to immediately return to the UK, but says that people should “keep in mind that flights may be cancelled at short notice or other travel restrictions may be put in place by foreign governments” and “take account of the fast moving situation and plan accordingly, while flights remain available in many places”.

Coronavirus map: how Covid-19 is spreading across the world

The following countries have travel restrictions in place that may affect UK nationals (who do not have residencies in other countries).

This includes quarantine measures, border closures, flight suspensions, health screenings and other measures. Restrictions are constantly changing and we are updating as quickly as possible:

Europe

* EU proposes suspension of non-essential travel

The EU is proposing that all non-essential travel should be suspended to European Union for 30 days, the president of the EU commission has announced. This would affect travel from outside the EU, but the UK would be exempt.

Albania and Slovenia
All flights suspended.

Austria
No direct flights between Austria and the UK, or direct air or rail connections from Austria to Italy, France, Spain or Switzerland. Travellers coming from Italy by road will be stopped at the border and must present a health certificate stating that they are not affected by coronavirus. Ski resorts closed on 15 March in Tirol, Salzburg and Vorarlberg. Restaurants and shops open at limited hours.

Andorra, Belgium, Iceland, Luxembourg, Monaco and Netherlands
Cultural and sporting activities are prohibited; large gatherings restricted; restaurants and bars are closed; shops likely to be open at limited hours; public transport limited; and health screenings on arrival likely.

Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Georgia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia and Ukraine
Ban on entry for UK travellers. UK travellers are advised to consider leaving as soon as possible.

Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia and Finland
Self-quarantine for 14 days. Some borders are closed and flights schedules limited. Travellers may be asked for proof of accommodation booking.

France
Some flights suspended. Cross-Channel train and ferry services reduced. Restrictions on non-essential movement from 17 March for 15 days (ie food shopping, medical care, exercise, those that can’t work from home only). Cultural and sporting activities are prohibited; large gatherings restricted; restaurants and bars are closed; shops likely to be open at limited hours and public transport limited.

Germany
Land border restrictions with Austria, Denmark, France, Luxembourg and Switzerland (ie cross-border commuters and deliveries only). Self-quarantine for 14 days for anyone who has been in Italy, Switzerland or Austria in the 14 days before arrival. Restrictions on non-essential movement (ie except food shopping, medical care).

Greece and Ireland
Self-quarantine for 14 days. Cultural and sporting activities are prohibited; large gatherings restricted; restaurants and bars are closed; shops likely to be open at limited hours and public transport limited; and health screenings on arrival likely.

Isle of Man
Self-quarantine for 14 days.

Malta
Travellers in Malta advised by Maltese government to leave as soon as possible.

Moldova
No direct flights to the rest of Europe. Ban on entry to travellers who have been in China, Hong Kong, Iran, Italy, Japan, Macao, South Korea or Taiwan in the 14 days before arrival.

Montenegro
Ban on entry to travellers who have recently been in Japan, France, Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, Austria, Italy, Spain, South Korea, Iran and Hubei province of China. Self-quarantine for 14 days for travellers who have recently been in Japan, France, Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, Slovenia or Austria.

Portugal
Land border restrictions with Spain (ie cross-border commuters and deliveries only). Self-quarantine for 14 days for anyone arriving in Azores, Madeira and and Porto Santo.

Romania
Self-quarantine for 14 days. Travellers in Romania advised by the FCO to leave as soon as possible.

Spain
Hotels and short-stay accommodation must close by Tuesday 24 March (measures do not apply to long-term accommodation, such as long-stay campsites, as long as travellers can cater for themselves and do not rely on communal facilities, which will be closed). Some flights suspended. Land border restrictions (ie cross-border commuters and deliveries only). Restrictions on non-essential movement (ie except food shopping, medical care).

Sweden
All Scandinavian Airlines flights suspended.

Switzerland
Land border restrictions (ie cross-border commuters and deliveries only). Restrictions on non-essential movement (ie food shopping, medical care, exercise, those that can’t work from home only). Cultural and sporting activities prohibited; large gatherings restricted; restaurants and bars closed; shops likely to be open at limited hours and public transport limited.

Turkey
Flights to the UK suspended from 17 March.

Coronavirus: travel companies allow trips to be postponed free of charge

Asia

Bahrain
Suspension of visa on arrival scheme. Self-quarantine for 14 days.

Bangladesh
Suspension of visa on arrival scheme. Ban on entry to travellers who have recently been in Europe (not including UK).

Bhutan, Indonesia, Kuwait, Qatar, Malaysia, Oman, Turkmenistan
Ban on entry to UK travellers.

Brunei
Self-monitor for 14 days.

Cambodia
Ban on entry to travellers who have recently been in France, Germany, Iran, Italy, Spain or USA.

Hong Kong, Israel, Macao, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Taiwan and Uzbekistan
Self-quarantine for 14 days.

India
Ban on entry to all travellers from the UK, EU, and Turkey from 18 March. All visas and e-visas invalid until 15 April. Quarantine of 14 days for anyone who has recently visited China, Italy, Iran, South Korea, France, Spain or Germany.

Japan
Ban on entry to travellers who have been in China, Iran or Italy in the 14 days before arrival.

Jordan
No commercial flights in or out of Jordan, and all land and sea borders closed. Restrictions on large gatherings and non-essential movement (ie except food shopping, medical care).

Lebanon
Direct flights suspended from affected countries on 17 March. Airlines flying into Beirut Rafic Hariri airport are being asked to refuse passengers who have been in the UK, France, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Germany or Spain. UK nationals are advised to review travel plans here.

Maldives
Ban on entry to travellers who have been in Bangladesh, China, Iran, Italy or South Korea (Gyeongsang) in the 14 days before arrival.

Myanmar
UK travellers are advised to leave as soon as possible. Self-quarantine for 14 days for travellers who have recently been in France, Italy, Iran, Spain and Germany.

Nepal
Suspension of visa on arrival scheme. All land borders closed. All mountaineering expeditions for Spring 2020 have been suspended. All travellers require a health certificate stating that they do not have coronavirus

Pakistan
International flights are limited to Karachi, Islamabad and Lahore airports, and some borders closed.

Philippines
Ban on entry to all UK travellers. Shutdown of all public transportation, limited flights from 20 March to 13 April.

Sri Lanka
Ban on entry to UK travellers. No new visas being issued. Flights suspended from 19 March.

Tajikistan
Ban on entry to travellers who have been in or transited through, China, Iran, Italy or South Korea in the 14 days before arrival.

Thailand
Travellers who have recently been in affected countries require a health certificate stating that they are not affected by coronavirus. Self-monitor for 14 days. Songkran celebrations postponed and other large gatherings likely to be cancelled or postponed.

UAE
Suspension of visa on arrival scheme. Travellers already in UAE can extend visas in line with existing procedures.

Vietnam
No new visas being issued for 15-30 days, and 14-day quarantine for all travellers entering Vietnam.

Americas

Argentina
Ban on entry to UK travellers. Suspension of all flights for 30 days from 12 March. UK travellers are advised to consider leaving as soon as possible.

Aruba, Bahamas, Belize, Canada, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, Trinidad & Tobago and US
Ban on entry to UK travellers.

Antigua & Barbuda and Montserrat
Ban on entry to travellers who have recently been in China, Iran, Italy, Japan, South Korea or Singapore.

Barbados
Quarantine 14 days for any travellers recently been in Italy in the 14 days before arrival.

Bermuda
Self-quarantine for 14 days.

Bolivia and Dominican Republic
All flights suspended. UK travellers are advised to consider leaving as soon as possible.

Chile and Costa Rica
Land and sea borders closed and all flights suspended for all travellers from 18 March. UK travellers are advised to consider leaving as soon as possible.

Colombia
Ban on entry to UK travellers. Land and sea borders closed and air travel limited. UK travellers are advised to consider leaving as soon as possible.

El Salvador
Ban on entry to UK travellers. International flights suspended.

Ecuador
Suspension of all flights until at least 5 April. All travel to Galapagos has been suspended from 16 March and all national parks have been closed until further notice. Restrictions on non-essential movement from 16 March for 15 days (ie food shopping and medical care).

Guatemala
Some flight suspensions. UK travellers are advised to consider leaving as soon as possible.

Grenada
Ban on entry to travellers who have been in China, France, Germany, Iran, Italy, Japan, Singapore, South Korea or Spain in the 14 days before arrival.

Guyana
All international flights from the Cheddi Jagan International Airport at Timehri and the Eugene Correia Airport at Ogle. The closure is scheduled for 14 days from 17 March 2020. Self-quarantine for 14 days for travellers who have recently been in Brazil, China, Dominican Republic, Iran, Italy, Japan, Jamaica, Malaysia, Panama, Thailand, St Vincent & the Grenadines, Singapore, South Korea or US.

Panama
Some flight suspensions. UK travellers are advised to consider leaving as soon as possible.

Peru
All borders closed and restrictions on non-essential movement from 16 March for 15 days (ie food shopping and medical care).

Saint Vincent & the Grenadines
Ban on entry to travellers who have been in China, Italy or Iran in the 14 days before arrival.

Turks & Caicos
Ban on entry to travellers who have been in China, Iran, Italy, Japan, Macao, South Korea or Singapore in the 21 days before arrival.

Uruguay
All flights suspended with Europe from 20 March. UK travellers are advised to consider leaving as soon as possible.

Oceania

Australia, New Zealand and Solomon Islands
Self-quarantine for 14 days.

Fiji
Ban on entry to anyone who has been in China, Iran, Italy or South Korea.

French Polynesia
All travellers require a health certificate stating that they do not have coronavirus.

Kiribati, Micronesia and Tonga
Must have been spent 14 days in a country without any cases prior to arrival.

Nauru
Ban on entry to travellers who have been in or transited through China, Hong Kong, Iran, Italy, Macao or South Korea in the 21 days before arrival.

Palau
Ban on entry to travellers who have been in China, Hong Kong or Macao in the 14 days before arrival.

Vanuatu
Ban on entry to travellers who have been in China, Hong Kong Japan, Macao, South Korea, Singapore or Taiwan in the 14 days before arrival.

Africa

Algeria
Suspension of all air and sea travel to and from Europe from 19 March.

Angola, Congo and Seychelles
Ban on entry to travellers who have recently been in China, Iran, Italy or South Korea.

Benin, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tunisia and Uganda
Self-quarantine for 14 days for travellers who have recently been in affected countries.

Cape Verde
All sea borders closed and restricted flights from 18 March.

Comoros
Must have been spent 14 days in a country without any cases prior to arrival.

Egypt
All air traffic suspended 19 to 31 March.

Eritrea
Quarantine of 14 days for travellers who have recently been in China, South Korea, Italy, Germany or US.

Ghana, Kenya, Namibia and Mauritius
Ban on entry to UK travellers.

Guinea
Visitors must submit their passports for a 14-day monitoring period.

Liberia
Quarantine of 14 days likely, for travellers who have recently been in affected countries.

Madagascar
No commercial passenger flights with Europe for 30 days from 20 March. Self-quarantine for 14 days for travellers who have recently been in affected countries.

Morocco
Flights suspended with the UK from 16 March (return flights from 19 March). Restaurants, bars and other public spaces closed.

South Africa
Suspension of visa on arrival scheme. Travellers in the country who received a stamp on arrival allowing them to stay for 90 days do not need to apply for a visa.

Cruise ships

The FCO is advising against all travel on cruise ships for passengers aged 70 years and over or those with high-risk conditions. Some destinations are placing bans on cruise ships docking or passengers disembarking, including Australia, Chile, Colombia, Greece, Italy, Montenegro and Portugal.

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Map shows travel advice for Aussies during coronavirus pandemic

Australians are being urged to fly home as soon as possible to avoid being stranded overseas due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Travel advice issued on Tuesday evening by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said Australians should return home before the virus caused more borders to close.

Travellers are also being urged to reconsider their need to go overseas.

“If you’re already overseas and wish to return to Australia, we recommend you do so as soon as possible by commercial means,” the advice read.

“You may not be able to return to Australia when you had planned to. Consider whether you have access to health care and support systems if you get sick while overseas.”

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Australians who are overseas & want to come home are advised to do so as soon as possible by commercial means. Transport options will likely become more limited as countries respond to the #COVID19 outbreak & @dfat’s capacity to provide consular help may be limited.

From midday on Tuesday, March 17, Australians were no longer able to travel to Europe, with an initial EU ban in place for 30 days.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison met with the national cabinet on Tuesday evening, with new precautionary measures likely to be announced on Wednesday.

As COVID-19 cases in Australia near 450, an increase of nearly 300 since Friday, the nation’s chief medical officers are giving the government advice on how to best protect residents in aged care homes and at indoor gatherings.

Non-essential gatherings of more than 500 people have already been banned.

Most schools are already taking precautions, including cancelling excursions and assemblies. A number of private schools have independently taken the decision to move to online classes.

Chief medical officers haven’t ruled out school closures but they’re being cautious about the idea.

Health Minister Greg Hunt said they were hesitant about closing schools for two reasons. The first is that young people are less likely to contract the illness, or have a serious case compared to the elderly.

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Venice’s Bibione beach is the first in Italy to ban smoking

The Venetian seaside resort of Bibione will be the first Italian beach to go completely smoke-free, in a mission to safeguard the environment from discarded cigarette ends and protect visitors from secondhand smoke.

The decision comes after eight years of trials, as part of the Breathe the Sea Air project, which saw an initial smoking ban between the first row of umbrellas to the water’s edge. New measures, to be imposed by the end of May, will include designated smoking areas 300 to 400 metres away from the sea, at the edge of the beach. Details regarding fines and whether e-cigarettes are to be permitted will be published in May.

Cigarettes filters, which contain slow-degrading plastic cellulose acetate, can take up to 10 years to decompose. Approximately 5.5 trillion cigarettes are sold worldwide each year, with a vast number of the ends discarded into the surrounding environment. As part of the trials between 2014 and 2018, 550,000 cigarette ends were collected on Bibione beach, which would have otherwise ended up in the sand or sea.

The 8km stretch of beach received 5,317,064 visitors in 2017, making it the fourth most visited beach in the country, after Rimini, Cavallino-Treporti and Jesolo. Of those surveyed, the majority of visitors were in favour of the ban, with 50% supporting a total ban and a further 26% approving of it as long as designated smoking areas were provided. The project has also been backed by the World Health Organisation and health authorities across Italy.

“We’re interested in giving the people who choose to spend their holidays here the chance to breathe the clean sea air without having to put up with polluting substances that are harmful to health,” said Pasqualino Codognotto, mayor of San Michele al Tagliamento-Bibione. “It is also a way of working alongside our guests to promote a culture based on respect, and we are confident that non-smokers and smokers will seize the opportunity that it presents. The initiative also has the backing of all of the members of the local tourist industry.”

Scientific research used to support the move included a report from the Stop Smoking Centre at the Italian National Tumour Institute in Milan, which measured air pollution on and around Bibione beach. It found peaks in pollution levels from cigarettes even from a distance of 10 metres from smokers, and that even though peaks only lasted a few seconds, levels were higher than at the busy roundabout at the resort entrance. The average black carbon measurement (tiny, toxic pollution particles) from when a cigarette was lit until it was put out was 7.4 micrograms/m³, compared with 2.1 at the roundabout and 1.8 on the beach overall.

“This project by Bibione shows that there are no excuses when it comes to health,” said Dr Roberto Boffi, head of respiratory medicine at the institute, who led the report. “For instance, take the Sirchia law that banned smoking in public places. People were initially worried about its impact [on the economy and tourism] but it subsequently set the benchmark on a global scale. My team and I have worked with the resort to show that passive smoking on beaches can be extremely harmful. It is breaking important new ground with this scheme and I hope other beaches will follow its example soon.”

Other places that have already introduced a ban include Queensland, Australia, on all its patrolled beaches; more than 300 beaches across the US and as of 2018 24 beaches in Thailand, including Patong beach in Phuket and Bo Phut on Koh Samui. Two Welsh beaches have introduced voluntary bans – Little Haven in Pembrokeshire and Caswell Bay in Swansea.

Italy imposed a smoking ban in public enclosed places in 2005, prohibiting smoking in bars, restaurants, clubs and offices. The European commission has called several times for a ban on smoking in public areas, including urging member counties in 2017 to put policies in place to make public spaces, including beaches, smoke-free.

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‘I was mortified’: Virus confusion hits airport

There was confusion and concern at Sydney International Airport today as travellers arrived to self-isolation measures amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Some were told of the strict new rule where anyone arriving from overseas has to self-isolate for 14 days mid-flight or when they checked in, leaving them with nothing else to do but continue on their journey.

For non-Australians it means holiday plans are ruined, with one German family with two children now stuck in isolation at a hotel for two weeks.

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An airport worker sanitises an information board.Source:Supplied

But many were concerned there was no screening when they arrived, as temperatures get checked at other international airports.

“It’s really embarrassing and disorganised,” said the German mum who did not want to be named because she said the information sheet they were given said not to talk to anyone.

“There’s no help, no information, it’s unbelievable. We had to ask ourselves to get another information sheet. We don’t know if we can fly home.”

Passengers were given information sheets and said they were told of the strict new measures while in queues at customs.

One woman returning from Thailand via Singapore told news.com.au she was shocked there was no screening at Brisbane International Airport.

“In Thailand and Singapore at airports and shopping centres and hotels, they (temperature scanners) were everywhere,” she said.

“Then we fly back into Brissy and nothing … we were mortified.”

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Passengers were confused about the new restrictions.Source:News Corp Australia

They were given information sheets. Picture: Brendon Thorne/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

Another woman arriving in Sydney from Vancouver, Canada, said she was concerned there was still flights from China.

“I was freaking out, I wanted to get out of there,” she said.

“It’s really outrageous. It’s a bit concerning when you’re in there and you see people from China landing. It’s a bit of a scare.”

UK couple Ryan Connolly and Beth Nelson had to cut their time travelling through Asia and decided to see out their holiday in Australia.

But they said they were given conflicting information from custom officers, with one saying you couldn’t even give cash to a delivery driver and another saying they could go out to get food and fresh air.

“It’s mad – what a time to travel,” Mr Connolly said.

Leanne Waipuka arrived from New Zealand and said she too was told she could go to the shops, but as long as she wore a mask.

“They don’t ask you anything (when you arrive),” she said.

“It was pretty easy.”

Adelaide resident Nickii Tasker was stuck at the airport for seven hours during her stopover from Auckland because she’d planned to catch up with friends in Sydney.

Nickii Tasker and Ali McKinnon were stuck hanging at the airport for seven hours.Source:Supplied

“I suppose it’s a bit confusing – what do we do when we get home? Does my partner have to ring his work? Can we stay in the same house?”

Travellers were told they could still take their connecting flights and return flights home if they were within the 14-day period.

Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Paul Kelly said if people were unwell they would not be allowed to continue their journey.

Travellers are not given masks unless they’re symptomatic.

“I think people have to make their own decisions,” Dr Kelly said.

“We’re all in this together and people will have to decide themselves about their own risk and the risk for themselves and their children.”

The Prime Minister’s office said the new quarantine measures were designed to slow the virus’ spread.

“The quarantine period is enforceable under state laws and we expect Australians and visitors to take their obligations to self-isolate for 14 days seriously,” a spokeswoman said.

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6 of the best experiences in Africa for your travel bucket list – A Luxury Travel Blog

Africa is one of the most fascinating continents in this world. For anyone dreaming of going for the first time or if you are thinking of planning your next visit, here are a few of our top suggestions to add onto your bucket list

1. Track The Big 5 in Kruger

If you’re looking for a really authentic safari experience in South Africa, there’s no place like Kruger National Park. It’s one of the world’s great wildlife destinations, ranking up there with the very best that Africa has to offer. Covering a vast expanse of over 2 million hectares, the national parks and private reserves are all unfenced and allow for free roaming movement of the wildlife. Kruger is home to an immense diversity of wildlife and one of the best destinations to view The Big 5 of lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo!

Safari experiences range from rustic bungalows in the National Park for self-drive visitors, walking safaris for the adventurous at heart or staying at the private safari lodges within the private reserves such as Mala Mala (pictured above). Staying at one of these lodges, you’ll be treated to sunrise and sunset guided safaris in open-topped 4×4 safari vehicles, giving you an incredible game viewing experience. The safari lodges all take huge pride in getting their guests as close as possible to the animals and in the private reserves the guides are not restricted to the roads, meaning that you can head off-track into the depths of the bush in search of wildlife.

This really is a safari like no other, as the guides and trackers can follow their professional hunches off road and give you the game drive adventure of a lifetime.

2. Follow the great migration in Tanzania or Kenya

Tanzania is the most well-known for the Great Migration, and with careful planning and a little luck, it is possible for visitors to be at the right place to witness this amazing annual wildlife event.

Each year, literally thousands upon thousands of wildebeest, zebra and gazelles trek across the vast Serengeti plains towards Kenya’s Masai Mara, in search of new grazing grass. It is estimated that just over 2 million animals in total make this migration from one country to another and back again – a round journey of just under 2,000 miles. Travellers from all over the world descend on the Serengeti and the Masai Mara in Kenya each year in hope of seeing a dramatic river crossing and being surrounded by sound of herds of wildebeest. Truly one of Africa’s most prized natural events and worth adding this to the top of your bucket list!

3. Look a gorilla or chimpanzee in the eye

For many people who love adventure and travel, trekking through a jungle to find a family of silverback gorillas or chimpanzees is high on their bucket list, but it is one that few people actually get to achieve.  For the lucky ones who do get to experience this first hand, it is a trip where the memories will last a lifetime.

The mountain gorilla is extremely endangered and while exact numbers vary, it is widely assumed that there are only around 650 left in the wild today.  Visiting the gorillas is a great way to support their future on our planet, as the money spent on permits is used for their protection.

Uganda is home to more than half of the world’s population of rare Mountain Gorillas, and the fantastically named Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park is the most popular destination here for visitors wanting to track gorillas in the wild.

If trekking through rainforests to watch a family of chimpanzees go about their daily life, then Mahale Mountain National Park in Tanzania should be high on your holiday hitlist. Greystoke Mahale is situated on Lake Tanganyika and this is about as remote as you can get. There are no roads within 100 km of your camp, and access is only by light aircraft. Upon arrival at the airstrip there is an approximately 90 minute dhow trip down the lake to reach the camp.

Guests here can enjoy morning hikes in the stunning tropical forest that covers the slopes of the mountains, which is home to 9 different species of primate, including chimpanzee. The main chimp group live in the mountains close to the camp, and have become habituated to human presence over 2 decades.

4. Hear the smoke that thunders

Only a short 2 hour flight from Johannesburg, a trip to Victoria Falls is certainly memorable. One of the 7 Wonders of the World, the Falls are situated between Zambia and Zimbabwe, and with a width of 1.7 km and a volume of 9 million litres per second pouring down a vertical drop of just over 100m they are certainly one of the largest waterfalls in the world.

The sheer noise of the Falls as they cascade over the edge into the deep gorge is deafening, and the misty clouds of spray, occasionally broken by rainbows, are visible from over 30 km away – hence it’s local name, Mosi-oa-Tunya, “The smoke that thunders”.

The big tourist draw of the Victoria Falls from the Zimbabwean side is that visitors can view virtually the whole width of the Falls face-on, at the same level as the top of the Falls where the mighty Zambezi River drops over the edge into the gorge. In some places you can get as close as 60m – although you should be warned – at these points you do get incredibly wet from the spray! Covering your camera and video equipment with a plastic bag is definitely advised!

Viewing the Falls from the Zambia side is as exciting, however, as you can make your way across the aptly named Knife-Edge Bridge and are awarded with some stunning views of the Falls with maybe the odd rainbow peeking through – but again, be prepared to get thoroughly soaked with the spray if the Falls are at full flood!

The towns surrounding the Victoria Falls, both Livingstone and Victoria Falls Town, are a hub of activity and adventure. Seeing the falls play a pivotal part in visiting this area, however don’t overlook the experience of the Zambezi River and surrounding parks here. From Sunset Cruises to Bungee Jumping, the area offers non-stop adventure and is an excellent starting point for a full on safari experience in either the Hwange National Park or to enter Botswana and explore the Chobe and Okavango Delta.

5. Travel in style on a luxury train across South Africa

A classic train journey in South Africa is the ultimate in luxury travel. Riding the rails, you’ll be plunged into the romance of bygone times to delight in the pure decadence of time-honoured train travel. Steaming across the land with beautiful landscapes unfolding before your eyes is a truly special experience that you’ll remember for years to come.

South Africa offers two luxury trains, Rovos Rail and The Blue Train and they are beyond indulgent, magnificent moving 5* hotels – an effortless combination of superb accommodation, sumptuous fine dining and outstanding service levels. Each carriage breathes an irresistible feeling of grace and grandeur.

As your train meanders through the stunning countryside of South Africa, you’ll be treated to wonderful views of mountains sloping into vineyards, fields that stretch into the horizon and stark deserts that seem to go on forever. Watching the Rainbow Nation roll slowly past your window with a glass of champagne, you’ll be in seventh heaven.

6. Climb Namibia’s Red Sand Dunes

Sossusvlei is Namibia’s top selling scenery. With epic sand dunes sculpted by the wind, it’s a must-see for any visitor to this spectacular and surreal country.

An endless sea of shifting sand dunes, Sossusvlei is a worldwide sensation and easily Namibia’s most iconic feature. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2013, the staggeringly beautiful scenery is bound to look familiar as it has been featured in films and advertisements far and wide.

The dunes can certainly be considered the ‘trademark’ of Namibian tourism, yet they still feel so much more than just a tourist attraction. Climbing to the top of a sand dune and watching the shadows sweep across the land as the sun rises is enough to give anyone goosebumps. So, while you might have seen this terrain on the TV, there’s nothing like being here in the flesh. It’s a humbling place to take a walk and get some perspective.

Sossusvlei is actually the huge flat pan in the middle of the dunes, but the dunes themselves get all the glory, and deservedly so. These giant orange sand-sculptures are some of the oldest and highest in the world and they are constantly shifting their formation with the winds. This is why Sossusvlei is often referred to as the ‘dune sea’; because the dunes are always ever-so-slightly moving in a subtle and spooky dreamlike way.

Paul Campbell is a Co-founder and Managing Director at Travel Butlers. Travel Butlers are specialists in tailor-made safari and beach holidays to Africa and the Indian Ocean.

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