Residents of Hokkaido share the land with a great variety of wildlife, some of which can even be seen hanging out in urban districts! But when it comes to animals in nature, Hokkaido and Honshu (the main island of Japan) are separated by a faunal boundary line known as Blakiston'Read More »
As travel opens up, writers recalls their last pre-Covid trips abroad – and the freedoms we all took for granted.
Um, no, not that Newport, the coastal town of the same name in the Pembrokeshire National Park; I’m talking about the rough Newport near Cardiff, famous for Goldie Lookin’ Chain, the TV programme Bouncers, and, as the Comic Relief “Newport State of Mind” parody song reminded us, TV presenter Josie d’Arby. Newport is one of those places that people tend not to stop in unless completely necessary, and if you listen to its inhabitants, you wouldn’t blame them. The problem is, Newport has a bit of a bad rep – and not just from the aforementioned media attention.
After six months in lockdown, Greece’s long-awaited tourism reboot in the Cretan capital of Heraklion was a bit of a non-event. At 11am on May 14, despite temperatures of 27°C in the shade, the museums were empty, many shops were shuttered and only pigeons strutted along streets that had bustled with life pre-Covid. “It’s not just that there are no tourists, its Greeks, too, who are missing – they have no money,” said Evgenia Chasapidou, manager of Capsis Astoria, one of the few city hotels that stayed open during lockdown. “I think it will not be an easy season for us here in Crete. So far all the bookings are last minute. People all want to be vaccinated before travel – to feel safe.” In the race to win British tourists back to the Mediterranean, Greece was doing well and then lockdown fatigue set in and cases spiked. “People became careless, especially younger people – they wanted to go out; to have fun,” said the hotel’s restaurant manager, Giorgos Terizakis. With the country currently recording around 2,000-3,000 new cases per day, Greece has also been hampered by the slow vaccine rollout – as of today’s date only 1.4 million people, around 13 per cent of the population –have received both shots.
Heaven on the Rock – a guide to the best food, beaches and sights on GibraltarForget the little England in the sun stereotype – chef Rachel Stockley loves Gibraltar’s warm embrace and melting pot of tastes. And now it’s on the green list she’ll be going back soon The Rock - Gibraltar’s most prominent feature has a nature reserve at the top Photograph: Cristina Quicler/AFP/Getty Images
Old guidebooks bought cheaply off the internet have been getting me through lockdown. I have armchair-travelled to Italy and France in 1960 and to India in 1965. I don’t think the Hides had a copy of Fodor’s Great Britain 1975 on a family day trip from Yorkshire to London that year. But I do remember seven-year-old me riding on the Tube, being allowed to choose a toy at Hamleys on Regent Street and, the ultimate treat, a knickerbocker glory in the café at Fortnum & Mason before the train home. If we had stayed overnight, Fodor’s might have pointed us to moderate category hotels in Earl’s Court that started at £5. Or, we could have splashed out on luxurious properties, such as the Hilton on Park Lane or the Ritz, from £17 and up, including pesky 10 per cent VAT, which had been introduced two years earlier. But it’s not just London’s grande dame properties (which can reopen to leisure guests for overnight stays from Monday, May 17) that have stood the test of time… a number of their distinguished staff have too. Peter Sweeney, 77 Doorman at The Goring, joined 1965 “I started off in the merchant navy taking Ten Pound Poms down to Australia. My younger brother got a job at The Goring and loved it, so he persuaded me to join in 1965, which wasn’t difficult because the pay was better. I’ve been here ever since… 56 years isn’t bad, is it?
Drama and beauty, hot sun and cool surfing: how Madeira stole my heartDespite its image as pensioner central, the Portuguese island now on the UK’s green list offers beach bars, tropical treks, great breakers and a buzzy capital Mellow yellow … the sea front and fortress at Funchal, capital of Madeira. Photograph: Alamy
While others look to Devon and Cornwall when dreaming of the seaside, I look to the opposite end of England. As a fully paid-up member of the North East Coastal Appreciation Society, I scratch my head and ask myself: who needs the South West when you can take in beaches that stretch to a vanishing point, magnificently battered castles and market towns and villages that have yet to prostrate themselves for the sake of the tourist shilling? Yes, a dip in the North Sea turns me an interesting shade of orange, but that’s a reasonable trade-off for not having to queue 30 minutes for a pasty. Northumberland’s coastal drama begins 30 miles north of Newcastle where the A1068 peels off from the A1 and makes a dart for the coast. My first destination is usually the village of Warkworth, which is dominated by a ruined medieval castle that looms above the river Coquet. A short walk upriver leads to the Coquet; the perfect place to see wildlife in its element in spring. Here, sandpipers flap from one bank to the other, dippers feast on caddisflies, and dragonflies jerk like iridescent, remote-controlled helicopters. Warkworth hermitage lies just a half-mile beyond. Carved out of local rock, it once attracted recluses in search of solitude beyond what Northumberland already had to offer. In the 14th century, it served as a private chapel for the first earl of Northumberland, who headed the powerful Percy family. The Percys, along with other wealthy Northumberland landowners, had a predilection for picking fights and standing their ground against invaders. The borderland between Scotland and England may be tranquil now, but the castles of Northumberland once came in very handy. Historically it has been a riotous place, overrun by Border reivers – sheep rustlers and general ne’er-do-wells – as well as marauding armies heading north and south, Vikings, and various other opportunistic pillagers.
25 of the best places to stay in Portugal. The only major destination on the green list is blessed with stunning beaches, verdant scenery and superb hotels and cottages
Eight things you may not know about the Faroe Islands. On the green list and with direct flights from Edinburgh starting in July, the dramatic archipelago is again on the tourist radar
This summer, the Algarve is our best chance of a sun-soaked European getaway, with Portugal planted firmly on the UK’s travel green list and the Portuguese government having now lifted its travel ban to allow British holidaymakers to fly to the country from May 17. No doubt you’ll gravitate towards the Algarve’s Blue Flag beaches and glitzy resorts, but look beyond and you’ll find a region full of surprises. Where once people ventured only as far as pillow-soft sands backed by whitewashed fishing-villages-turned-tourist-traps, visitors are now being drawn out to the Algarve’s more diverse landscapes. Up in the pine-scented Monchique mountains, Roman spa towns and secluded eco-resorts await; while wetlands home to straw-legged flamingos beckon in the Ria Formosa. Elsewhere, the barely visited western coast of the Algarve shelters windswept walking routes through Vicente’s natural parks dotted with villages. These fiercely protected ecosystems have become a haven for bird-watchers who flock, binoculars in hand, to see over 400 species. Further out to sea, past the Algarve’s coveted surf breaks, there’s a marine paradise to discover too, where bottlenose dolphins play in the wake of boats and humpback whales breach the surface on their annual quest to cross the Atlantic. Then there’s the Algarve vineyards – the secret sister of the mighty Douro Valley – that produce fine wines perfect for pairing with dishes in the Algarve’s new Michelin-starred eateries. For decades, the Algarve has been somewhat unfairly painted as a cultural wasteland overtaken by the whims of Brits abroad – a reputation the region is working hard to shed. True, Albufeira may be filled with rowdy Irish bars and gift shops selling sardine-embroidered aprons, but in reality you don’t have to travel far to witness true Algarve life. It’s present in the tiny villages where artisans hand-paint traditional pottery, and in the family-run cork factories and slow-paced Moorish towns that lie further east of Faro. That’s not to say there isn’t a place for the Algarve’s stereotypical charms on your summer holiday, though. After all, the pristine sands of Falesia and Rocha are famous for a reason and golfers will always belong on the sun-blessed courses, in the same way that families will never tire of the region’s all-inclusive seaside resorts. But 2021 is all about change. So, take some inspiration from these Algarve holiday ideas that blend typical sun, sea and sand with a dose of the unexpected. No kids allowed Embrace the tranquility Set on a cliff overlooking Praia da Rocha, the adult-only Bela Vista is ideal for a peaceful seaside break. Built in 1918, the boutique hotel retains many of its original features, from painted wooden ceilings to a stained-glass turret. Gaze out to sea while lazing around the palm-shaded pool, or book a treatment at the L’Occitane Spa, which has couples’ suites. The concierge can arrange a sunset boat cruise followed by a meal at Bela Vista’s Michelin-starred restaurant. Double rooms at Bela Vista Hotel and Spa (00 351 282 460 280; hotelbelavista.net) cost from £412 per night.
Situated at the mouth of the Atlantic Ocean, it was from Porto that Prince Henry the Navigator set out in 1415 bound for Africa, heralding the Portuguese ‘Age of Discovery’. Modern-day Douro sailings begin and end in Portugal’s second city, which is divided in half by the waterway named ‘River of Gold’ by the Romans. Why go? Famous name port houses line the attractive waterfront in one of Europe’s oldest cities. On the opposite bank the winding medieval cobbled streets of Ribeira, the Unesco-listed old town, are filled with beautiful churches, elegant squares and a paint box kaleidoscope of brightly coloured houses with ornate tiled façades. Location The majority of ships moor in Vila Nova de Gaia on the southern bank opposite Ribeira, which can be reached by the Dom Luis I bridge. Some dock slightly further out of town so always check before booking. Scenic and sister company Emerald Cruises have an exclusive docking spot on the northern bank by Ribeira. Can I walk to any places of interest? From the Gaia docking area there are many port houses and wine cellars that are a short stroll away and it’s easy to walk across the pedestrian section of the bridge – a sightseeing highlight in its own right – to reach Ribeira. Getting around The city is built on hills and public transport, including metro, bus, trams and a funicular, is the easiest way to reach different areas. The Andante Tour Card, widely available at the airport, in tourist offices, stations and hotels, is specifically aimed at visitors and provides unlimited transport for 24 hours or more. Free transport is also one of the perks with the Porto Card.
Greece is ready to welcome British tourists back but it won’t be taking Spain’s approach in waiving tests for UK arrivals. “We’re not going to do anything obnoxious but we certainly want to ensure your safety,” Greek Tourism Minister Harry Theoharris told Telegraph Travel. When asked whether he considered Spain’s reopening rules to be reckless, he laughed and said: “Case in point. We will not compromise on the health of our citizens and of British tourists. “This is not a laissez-faire ‘anything goes’ reopening – we want to make sure the person next to you is tested or vaccinated under the same condition as you are.” Foreign visitors are required to submit a Passenger Locator Form (PLF) by midnight the day before their arrival into Greece and provide proof of a negative PCR test, but are otherwise free to enter unrestricted. Those who are fully vaccinated won’t need a test, and the paper NHS card will suffice as evidence, Theoharris confirmed. To further facilitate tourism, Greece has pledged to fully vaccinate the population of its 6,000 islands by the end June. “The vaccination programme is moving along swiftly and the islands have been prioritised,” he says. “The small islands are finished already, the medium ones will be in May; all will be fully vaccinated by the end of June.”
LNER says it is ‘committed to diversity and inclusion in all that we do for our customers, colleagues and communities’
With just three days to go before travel can resume, travel editor Cathy Adams will answer your questions about what to expect