Ask Joan: Finland in February, a place in Oxford, wintering in Fuerteventura
The city of Jyväskylä, which is in central Finland, some 270km from the capital, Helsinki.
Our daughter goes to the University of Jyväskylä, Finland, for one semester in January 2015. Is there a direct flight from Dublin to Jyväskylä, or what are her options, taking into account the cost of flights and possible train transfers? We would also like to visit her for four days around the midterm break in February. Where do you recommend we base ourselves, Helsinki or Jyväskylä? What places are of interest to see there?
Jyväskylä is in central Finland, 270km from the capital, Helsinki. There are no direct flights to either city from Ireland until March 30th, when Finnair returns with a six-times-a-week Helsinki service.
Your daughter can fly through Copenhagen to Helsinki with flySAS.ie or Norwegian. com and then take the train. Prices for flights will be in the region of €280 to €400 return. Make sure she has enough time to get to the train and to Jyväskylä, which is more than three hours away. See train timetables and ticket prices on vr.fi.
If you visit her it would be nice to divide the time between both cities. There may be an opportunity to enjoy some winter outdoor activities, such as ice skating on the frozen lakes, in central Finland. There is also a museum devoted to the Finnish architect Alvor Aalto.
In Helsinki, the Unesco world heritage site, Suomenlinna, an island 15 minutes from the city, is a must. It has a huge fortress, a museum, exhibitions, restaurants and walks. See suomenlinna/fi/en and discoveringfinland.com.
My husband will be 80 next January, and we as a family – four sons, their partners and our two granddaughters – would love to be together to celebrate. We’d like to be in an interesting village or rural place, self-catering in a house or cottage large enough to fit us all. The difficulty is that we live in midwest Ireland, and Shannon is our nearest airport. Two sons live in Bristol, one in Bedfordshire and another in east London. We think we could meet somewhere midway, perhaps the Oxford area. – MG, Limerick
Oxford is probably a good choice as there are lovely places to rent in the Cotswolds. You can fly from Shannon to Heathrow and take the bus to Oxford city or arrange for the Bristol-based couples to collect you, as it would be on their way.
You will see a fine selection of typical Cotswold properties on ownersdirect.co.uk. Prices range from hundreds to thousands, but I thought Owl Barn, in Bampton, looked lovely (property E12103).
We would like some advice on all-inclusive holidays in Fuerteventura over the winter. – KST, Dublin
Fuerteventura is one of the more recently developed Canary Islands and has extensive beaches and dunes. It is recognised by the UN as a biosphere resort. A good variety of accommodation is available.
Las Marismas de Corralejo is in the main town and offers apartment-style accommodation a short stroll from the beach, with a variety of options: all-inclusive, half-board, B&B or room-only. Prices range from €784 to €1,064 for two, half-board and all-inclusive, without flights. See lasmarismasdecorralejo.com.
The Barceló Castillo Beach Resort is at Caleta de Fuste, the other main resort on the island. It has three pools and an adults-only area. Prices range from €759 to €1,074 for two, half-board or all-inclusive, without flights.
You can book both these at clickandgo.com (01-6371699) and enjoy the services of a travel agent and keener prices. Ryanair and Aer Lingus fly to Fuerteventura.