Bunjee jump like Bond, Andy Murray’s luxury hotel and a trip to ‘Corrie’
Rover’s Return on the set of Coronation Street in Manchester
The Gondoliers’ Union in Venice has announced plans to reduce the length of a traditional gondola ride from 40 to 30 minutes
Bunjee jump the Verzasca dam near Locarno, Switzerland
PLENTY OF SOAP
Pauline McGlynn is joining the cast of Eastenders next month and former Boyzone star Keith Duffy, who cut his acting chops as barman Ciaran McCarthy in Corrie, made his London theatre debut this week in a revival of Billy Roche’s A Handful of Stars, which will be at Battersea’s Theatre503
(theatre503.com; tickets £15/10) until May 24th.
Meanwhile, the original outdoor set of Coronation Street in Manchester, built in 1982 (the series was previously filmed indoors), has opened as a tourist attraction pending its demolition later this year.
Until October 4th, visitors can take a tour that includes visits to the Duckworths’ living room, the factory and the Rover’s Return (pictured), where you can pull a pint of imitation ale. The tour costs £16.50, £13.50 for children).
Celtic Horizon Tours (celtichorizontours.com) has a two-night trip to Manchester via coach that includes a Corrie tour, a visit to Otley and Esholt in West Yorkshire (which were the inspiration for Emmerdale’s Hotton and Emmerdale villages) plus a half-day shopping at Cheshire Oaks outlet centre from €219 per person , including two nights’ B&B at Bewley’s Hotel at Manchester Airport.
GONDOLIERS FLOAT A SHORTER RIDE
The Gondoliers’ Union in Venice has announced plans to reduce the length of a traditional gondola ride from 40 to 30 minutes, but will keep the price fixed at €80. Venice is already one of Italy’s most expensive cities to visit and tourist authorities have expressed concern that the move will make Venice seem even pricier than it already is. The gondoliers have defended what is in effect a 33 per cent price bump by saying the cost of a gondola ride hasn’t changed since 2006.
GAME, SET, MATCH FOR MURRAY HOTEL
Andy Murray’s Cromlix Hotel, which opened on April 1st, has already bagged the Luxury Hotel of the Year award at the Scottish Hotel Awards.
The five-star, 15-room Victorian hotel in Dunblane was bought by the Wimbledon champion for £1.8 million (€2.18 million) early last year. It has since been completely renovated by interior designer Kathleen Fraser. An investigation was launched after a handful of five-star reviews were posted on TripAdvisor before the official opening, but the hotel said that the reviews were posted by guests who had been invited to a soft opening the week before. Room rates at Cromlix range from £250 (€303) to £595 (€722); see cromlix.com
CLOSING TIME FOR AMSTERDAM COFFEE SHOPS
Amsterdam mayor Eberhard van der Laan has won court permission to close down more than a third of the marijuana cafes in Rossebuurt, the city’s red light district. Amsterdam District Court ruled last week that he “has the freedom to carry out policies he considers desirable to protect public order”. Van der Laan convinced the court the “coffee shops” and brothels generate criminality. His plan is to close 26 of the 76 shops in business, to follow from the forced closure of 192 of the 482 legal brothels in the district. The tourist authorities welcomed the plan as they move visitor attention away from drug tourism.
BUNGEE JUMP LIKE BOND
Switzerland’s Verzasca Dam was made famous by Pierce Brosnan’s bungee jump in Goldeneye. Now the five-star Hotel Eden Roc in nearby Ascona is offering a weekend package that includes three nights at the hotel on half-board, one bungee jump at the dam, a canyoning trip at Centovalli in Locarno and use of the hotel spa for €1,069 per person sharing. The offer is valid until June 19th. See edenroc.ch
TOP FIVE TRAIN JOURNEYS IN EUROPE
Bergen Line, Norway
It takes nine hours to travel the 550km from Oslo to Bergen, across the beautiful Hardangervidda plateau and a series of stunning mountain landscapes. Along the way, you’ll stop at Norway’s highest station, Finse (1,222m) and find yourself on the world’s steepest railway line between Myrdal and Flåm. One-way fares start at €121; see nsb.no
Centovalli Railway, Italy and Switzerland
Between Domodossola and Locarno the “hundred valley” railway line runs across 52km of deep ravines, past huge waterfalls and through vineyards and chestnut forests. The trip’s highlights are crossing the Sorno viaduct and the gorge linking the districts of Intragna and Re. A one-way ticket is €17. See centovalli.ch
Central Rhine Railway, Germany
German landscapes straight out of a Wagnerian fantasy are on the menu on the 61km journey along the west bank of the Rhine between Mainz and Koblenz. There’s swirling lakes, romantic castles and rolling vineyards hanging off the sides of steep valleys. The Mittelrheinbahn (MRB) stops at all stations. Tickets cost €22; see mittelrheinbahn.de
Fort William to Mallaig, Scotland
The 134km round-trip aboard the Jacobite on the West Highland Line starts near Ben Nevis and crosses the Glenfinnan aqueduct (as seen in the Harry Potter movies) as it passes some of the most beautiful scenery in Britain. There are two services daily throughout the summer; a standard adult return is £34. See westcoastrailways.co.uk.
Semmering Railway, Austria
Built between 1848 and 1854 through the stunning Semmering pass high in the Austrian Alps, this 41km stretch is a magnificent feat of civil engineering, with countless tunnels, viaducts and arched bridges built to carry the line.
It’s so impressive, Unesco put it on its World Heritage List. The views are especially fab between Gloggnitz and Mürzzuschlag. Tickets cost €12;
MICRO GUIDE: DUBAI – YOUR 60-SECOND CITY GUIDE
STAY Jumeirah Zabeel Saray (Jumeirah Palm; jumeirah.com; rooms from €400) Ottoman-style hotel that is the height of Dubai luxury – without the garish bad taste
EAT Hashi (Armani Hotel, Burj Khalifa; dubai.armanihotels.com; dinner about €90). It may be a copy of Nobu, but the quality exceeds the restaurant that inspired it.
DO Sightsee from the back of a Honda GoldWing 1,800cc motorbike, courtesy of Flybike Dubai (flybike.info; one-hour with driver €50).
DEALS OF THE WEEK
SARDINIA €744 for seven nights in five-star Hotel Carlos V, Sardinia, including flights to Alghero. Price per person based on two people sharing. Departs May 22nd; see concordetravel.ie
BITEZ €954 for seven nights in Bitez, Turkey for two adults and two children in self-catering apartment. Includes flights and return transfers. Departs May 16th; see wingsabroad.ie
THAILAND €999 for 12-night four-star Thai holiday, including two nights in Bangkok and 10 in Phuket, leaving June 16th. Includes transfers and Etihad flights. Phone bookings only; call Clickandgo on 01-637 1699