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Holiday

Kent travel: Living the Dreamland on tour in the beautiful south

Down on the south coast, in the far-east corner of Kent, the resorts of Broadstairs, Margate and Ramsgate offer fabulous sandy shores with year-round appeal, as well as fascinating history and a funky art scene. Trudi Roche spent 72 hours exploring the Thanet district, with her dad, 77, and children, aged 12 and nine.

DAY 1: BROADSTAIRS 

We set up camp in a stunning Airbnb (of which there are many) in the pretty resort of Broadstairs. It boasts seven awesome sandy beaches. The three most popular areViking Bay, a huge horseshoe-shaped beach in the centre of town which has children’s rides in the summer, a boardwalk and a row of colourful beach huts.

Botany Bay has its photogenic chalk stacks that the kids loved climbing, and Joss Bay, located half way between Broadstairs and Margate, is the local surf beach and home to the longest established surf school in the area.

Broadstairs was author Charles Dickens’ favourite holiday spot and this year is the 150th anniversary of his death. You can visit Dickens House Museum or try the costumed St Peter’s Village Tours. Not for me I’m afraid, I still haven’t finished Little Dorrit, which I started in 1985 for my A-level English.

As well as an array of independent shops, the place is packed with restaurants, cafes and ice-cream parlours to satisfy your taste buds.

Wander along the beautiful promenade to Victoria Gardens which have sweeping sea views and plenty of benches for resting. The pathway is lovely and smooth for skateboarding too, so the kids inform me.

DAY 2: MARGATE 

Margate is Broadstairs’ noisier sister, just a 10-minute drive away.

With its kitsch shops and cafes, there’s a really cool vibe here, plus it’s got a huge sandy beach, fish and chips shops, seafood stalls and rides, all with a bit of a modern twist.

We visited the Turner Contemporary art gallery on a particularly windy morning. From here you get a great view of the rolling tides and tempestuous skies that inspired his great works. Inside the eye-catching space, the collections change frequently and it’s small enough that the kids (and my dad) didn’t get bored plus there’s a great gift shop. Margate is also home to Dreamland, a 100-year-old amusement park with vintage rides including the UK’s oldest wooden roller coaster, plus lots of pop-up entertainment, live music, bars and restaurants.

The old town has been totally regenerated with loads of trendy bars, micro breweries, cafes, retro stores, art galleries and junk shops.

If shopping’s not your bag, you can while away an afternoon exploring the mysterious Shell Grotto, a subterranean passageway where almost all the surface area of the walls and roof is covered in mosaics created entirely of seashells.

There’s also adventure golf, theatres and the old Tudor House, built in 1525, the oldest building in Margate and well worth a visit. The interior is undergoing repairs, but the garden and exterior can still be viewed.

The Margate Caves, originally dug as a chalk quarry in the 17th and 18th centuries, re-opened last year following 15 years of closure, huge investment and restoration of its beautiful chalk carvings and murals.

DAY 3: RAMSGATE 

The historic waterfront of Ramsgate, a 10-minute drive south from Broadstairs, has a cosmopolitan feel. The picturesque marina has the greenest water I’ve ever seen and there are more of those huge, yellow sandy beaches the area is famous for.

It also has plenty of beautiful architecture including the Italianate Glasshouse erected in the grounds of East Cliff Lodge in 1832, as well as Georgian terraces and regency villas.

Ramsgate’s Maritime Museum is worth a visit to see the Ramsgate Meridian and the steam tug Cervia, and Sundowner – which was one of the Dunkirk “little ships”.

Our absolute favourite afternoon was spent on the underground tour of the Second World War Ramsgate Tunnels. Wearing the hard hats provided, we had a fascinating walk through the two-and-a-half miles of deep shelter tunnels that were built in 1939 to protect inhabitants during the war. By 1940 more than 300 families were living permanently in the underground city. Our guide brought its absorbing history to life and there’s some original household goods in the little museum. You also get a free cup of tea with entry.

One word of warning: it’s not a place for very small children, the toddler on our tour screamed her head off all the way round and you can’t just wander off back to the entrance once you’re in!

Thanet is gorgeous in all seasons, there’s plenty to do to keep the whole family entertained, but you can’t beat a bracing walk on a beach followed by tea and cakes in whichever town you happen to find yourself in…

visitthanet.co.uk

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Travel

End of holidays to Spain? Tourists MUST arrive in June or nation faces ‘complete calamity’

Fourth vice-president and de-esclation chief, Teresa Ribera recently poured cold water on the idea of a June opening, saying July was more realistic because Spain could not dice with people’s health. “We have to be very careful about how the person who comes is not at risk, because they arrive at a safe destination, and at the same time it does not pose a risk to the local population.

“Our idea is that we can work on origins and safe destinations rather thinking of July than June. If it is opened massively, we could be incurring irresponsibility,” she said.

But Spain’s “Mesa del Turismo”, a powerful body made up of tourism leaders from all regions, says international travel MUST resume before or on June 15th at the latest and has warned that losing the summer season “would be a complete calamity”.

It has also called for the elimination of tourist taxes, saying “they are very inadequate measures in the current circumstances”.

“In mid-June, the Spanish tourism sector should have the possibility to become active, giving its citizens the maximum possibilities to resume travel and all foreign tourists to enjoy their holidays in Spain again, as they are accustomed to doing,” said Joan Molas, president of the Tourism Board in an open letter.

“We have said it before and we insist: with all the health guarantees that we are in perfect conditions to offer, we must return to the activity without further delay.”

“There is no economy without health, but neither is health without economy, and for this reason it is strictly necessary to develop an action plan that allows the two to progress in parallel, seeking a balance between the two that allows us to move forward.”

The board is estimating that the accumulated losses for the tourism industry until the end of May will reach 40,000 million euros.

“This figure will double, exceeding 80,000 million euros at the height of August if tourism is not reactivated immediately,” Molas warned.

n mid-June, the Spanish tourism sector should have the possibility to become active

Spain holidays

The Mesa says the tourism sector has been one of the hardest hit in the coronavirus crisis, so it requires additional support to minimise the loss of business and job fabric. It has called for a string of measures, including extensive financial aid and a reduction in VAT to seven per cent “which would help keep Spain competitive.”

“It is known that for each euro spent on tourism products, 1.96 euros more are generated in other sectors of the Spanish economy,” said the board’s president.

The tourism leaders also want the tourist tax scrapped in places where it is in force, such as the Balearics, saying this would have “a positive effect on the activation of demand.”

This call has been echoed by hoteliers in Mallorca and Ibiza but the Balearic government has refused to do so.

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The board also wants borders reopened to allow international travel.

“Italy has already announced that It will open on June 3. Spain cannot delay this decision,” said Joan Molas.

“There is an urgent need to convey a clear message to foreign tourists, that Spain is safe and that they are welcome.

Tourism is a company in which all of us Spaniards are shareholders; a company that has always paid us back in great amounts what we have invested in it and that has contributed to the earliest overcoming of other crises . Let us not now abandon it to fate.”

Spain’s State of Emergency is expected to end on June 7th and at the moment, travel is restricted with anyone coming into the country subject to 14 days of quarantine.

The government hasn’t said when this will be lifted but it is widely tipped to be rescinded once the State of Emergency order is lifted.

Spain is still recording coronavirus deaths every day but the24-hour figure has been below 100 for the last week. So far, nearly 28,000 people have died. 

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Travel

Coronavirus in Romania: Is it safe to travel to Romania? Are there still flights

Romania has so far confirmed 89 cases of coronavirus in the country as the respiratory disease continues to spread through Europe. As a result, the nation has stepped up its measures to stop the spread of the deadly virus.

More than 145,000 have been infected by the coronavirus worldwide in 139 countries.

This week, the World Health Organisation labelled the coronavirus crisis a pandemic as it continues to worsen.

Globally, more than 5,000 people have died, while 71,715 have so far recovered.

Many countries, especially in Europe, are now stepping up measures to delay the spread of coronavirus, including travel bans, school closures and quarantines.

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Is it safe to travel to Romania?

Close to 90 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Romania and the authorities have introduced a number of measures to limit the spread of the virus.

The public health system is already under significant strain.

This week the nation entered its second phase of its response to the outbreak with supermarkets and shopping centres now operating at reduced opening hours.

Indoor gatherings of more than 100 people have been banned, with cultural, artistic institutions and museums following suit.

Almost 14,000 are self-isolating while 2,067 are in quarantine.

On Friday, the government announced its members were self-isolating, after a Liberal Party senator confirmed he had the virus.

The Department for Emergency Situations spokesman, Theodor Mihai, said: “”We are considering increasing prevention measures, yet the conditions under which new restrictions will take place depends on several indicators such as the number of infected people, their health status and number of available quarantine sites.”

A work from home system has also been established as a precaution measure to come in aid of employees.

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Restrictions for travellers arriving in Romania include:

  • mandatory quarantine in an institution such as a hospital if you have travelled from Italy, Hubei Province in China, Madrid, Iran, or Daegu City or Chendongo County in South Korea
  • all flights, bus, and rail routes from Italy are suspended, and airlines have been asked to deny boarding to travellers coming from the above countries and areas
  • travellers arriving from other parts of China, South Korea, all of Iran, and Heinsberg District in North-Rhine Westphilia in Germany will be asked to self-isolate for 14 days on arrival.Travellers arriving from the UK are required to fill in a form to self-certify that they are infection-free. Infringements on these procedures are being pursued with fines of up to €4000
  • the Romanian Government has indicated that travel restrictions are likely to expanded in the coming days. There are some indications that travel from the UK may be more tightly managed.

Within Romania the Government has:

  • announced the closure of national museums and other tourist attractions such as the Palace of the Parliament
  • banned confined space events with more than 100 participants, and all events with more than 1000 participants
  • closed all schools in the country until at least 22 March, which may be extended
  • recommended all universities suspend courses until 31 March
  • asked private companies based in cities and with over 99 employees to vary working hours to reduce overcrowding on public transport. Government ministries have been mandated to work with much lower staffing levels
  • advised against non-essential use of public transport

Are there still flights to Romania?

All flights to and from Italy have been cancelled, as people coming in will be automatically placed under quarantine and home isolation.

Some flights from Romania to Germany and those from Germany to Romania have also been cancelled.

Wizz Air also announced they would cancel flights to help stop the spread of the pandemic.

In a press release, the flight company said: “To help limit the epidemic, Wizz Air cancels flights from Memmingen / Munich West, Dortmund, Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg, Madrid, Nuremberg, Karlsruhe / Baden-Baden, Frankfurt Hahn to Bucharest, Cluj-Napoca, Timisoara, on March 11, 2020.”

As the situation continues to worsen more flights could be cancelled and all passenger due to travel to Romania should check with the airline if the flight will still be operating.

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