Go Away: The Great British summer travel special!
Chalkmarks: On top of the lakes: How picture perfect Bulgaria snapped me a top photo prize!

Good morning. This is what happened in the world of travel this week: Friday 29th July 2022

With the end of Neighbours tonight and Love Island finishing on Monday it might feel to some that the world is ending. But it’s not. Don’t give up. Not yet. There’s the women’s football final on Sunday to look forward to and the Commonwealth Games. Plus there’s going on holiday. It isn’t all rainbows and daisies out there, it’s hills and valleys or more specifically long queues and lots of waiting around. Are you ready? Did you see the news? If not, we did. Let’s get into this week’s travel headlines. 

Are we there yet?

Driving the day: Just because it’s Friday the tailbacks at Dover have returned. Welcome to the ‘hotspot of holiday hell’. Dover has issued a statement alerting drivers of long queues and predicting even more motorists than last week. They have warned an estimated 140,000 passengers in 45,000 cars and 18,000 lorries to expect up to 90 minute waits this weekend. In the following par they suggest people carry “food, water and supplies”. Take some travel games!

In the hot seat: It was last Friday and Saturday when the drama began. The situation at Dover was soon “critical” with bumper-to-bumper queues as holidaymakers waited to cross the Channel to France. It was estimated there were 72,000 passengers creating more than 200 miles of tourist and freight traffic. Families slept in their cars and children brushed their teeth on the side of the M20. The chaos lasted three days and by Sunday the 21-hour delays came down to a few. The trouble then moved to Folkestone for the Eurotunnel. The BBC reported on the gridlock.

Front page news: The chaos made all the papers including the FT Weekend, The Observer and the Daily Mail. MP John Redwood recommended Britons go elsewhere on their holidays.

Don’t mention Brexit: The Port of Dover authority blamed the French saying there wasn’t enough border staff even though they had begged and pleaded with them to man the passport booths – only half were open. Someone on Twitter dug out a news story by City AM from 2020 which showed the British government had rejected a £33million plan to build more kiosks at Dover. The French blamed Brexit, and suggested the UK join the EU’s Schengen area – which Britain was never part of before Brexit.

The penny drops: Whether you are/were a Remainer or Leaver border checks will now take longer for Britons heading to Europe as they are now ‘third country nationals’. Even if all the booths at Dover were open, border guards are now asking more questions than before and everyone needs to get their passport stamped. ITV News explained your rights for when you get stuck.

That’s not all: The FT reported there were no quick fixes – and we should expect to see these queues every summer. Building more booths isn’t the answer and when new biometric checks come in that won’t speed things up either. One idea would be expanding the M2 and creating more lorry parks to help manage the traffic better. That is the current best solution! Clément Beaune, the French transport minister, summed it up: “France is not responsible for Brexit.”

Give us a break: Strikes, yes! The AA issued an “amber” traffic warning via The Sun newspaper warning of “meltdown” from today as the great British holiday getaway meets train strikes which meets big sporting events, namely the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham and the women’s Euro 2022 football final at Wembley with England v Germany. The jam hotspots include Dover, the M5 towards Devon and Cornwall, the M4/M5 to Bristol, the M6 from the Midlands up the Scotland and the M1 which connects London to the North. Just about everywhere!

The latest: Tomorrow (Saturday) rail services will be disrupted as members of Aslef union walk out. Greater Anglia, which serves London and the east including Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk, has warned passengers to avoid travelling with them as services will be “severely reduced”. It’ll be the same story on Great Western (GWR), and on the LNER – and a very limited service on West Midlands Railways. There will be no services operating on the London Overground, Heathrow Express, nothing on London Northwestern Railway, Southeastern and just one service on Hull Trains from London King’s Cross. For more see Network Rail

As advertised: Sunny Beach in Bulgaria and Marmaris in Turkey were named the two cheapest holiday resorts in Europe this week. What’s the catch? PA Media explains why. While they may both be a bargain, they’re both beautiful. Here’s more.

The best of both worlds: Istanbul is the only city in the world to boast being half in the West and half in the East with the Bosphorus Strait the great dividing line. It’s hard to imagine the world without this ancient city, the home to three empires – the Eastern Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman. The Hagia Sophia with its huge dome was the greatest church in Christendom for more than 1,000 years. The Basilica Cistern is a spookily lit underground water chamber. More than three hundred marble columns support the structure but only two have a carved-out face of the mythological Greek monster Medusa. No one knows why. There’s also the opulent former royal residence Topkapi Palace, the Blue Mosque and the Grand Bazaar. Here’s more Turkish delight

Seek out this gem: Ölüdeniz in southwest Turkey shuffles the deck on beach holidays. You can lie dormant under the sun all day or you can opt for a heart-pounding experience and launch yourself off a rockface paragliding. For something less turbulent, the ghost town in Kayaköy is worth seeing. This is an abandoned Greek village with 3,500 broken stone houses which has been uninhabited since 1923. Sitting on a hillside, many of the homes have crumbled away after numerous earthquakes. The derelict site became the inspiration for Louis de Bernières 2004 book Birds Without Wings. Hitch a ride with us to the turquoise coast.

Sunbathers paradise: If you think summer holidays are best on the Med think again. Varna is the bluest and most beautiful beach resort on Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast. It’s everything you’d find on the Côte d’Azur or on the Costa del Sol but it’s also packed with history and culture. They even use merci as thank you and chau as goodbye. Very handy! Varna is an extremely pretty and leafy seaside port with a huge landscaped park on the waterfront with a mile-long stretch of glamorous bars, restaurants and clubs to go with it. There are sofas, beanbags, and brightly painted wooden arm chairs down on the sand. As well as being a sunbathers paradise, further along the coast are the popular resorts of Sunny Beach, Golden Sands and Sunny Day – popular with Britons on two-week packaged holidays. Hear more here.

Walkers paradise: The first glimpse of Rila National Park is unbeatable. We’d just stepped off the cable car and wow, what a view! It’s an Insta hit. It surprises us because we were 1,600m (5,249ft) above the sea in Bulgaria’s highest mountain range – much higher than Scotland’s Ben Nevis which peaks at 1,345m (4,413 ft). We were expecting a raw and rocky landscape but the panorama is garden green meadows. This gorgeous geography is home to the Seven Rila Lakes – a series of crystal-clear glacial lakes. Our trek to the top of the lakes is here.


Fancy that: It’s not just the price of a McDonald’s that went up this week but now the cost of living crisis has reached the super rich. According to the Economist a glass of bubbles at the Ritz is up – though they don’t say by how much. And rooms too are going up they say including at Le Bristol in Paris and the Four Seasons in California. They found the cost of staying at a luxury hotel room worldwide had doubled over the last two years. But thankfully at cheaper, lesser-starred hotels prices haven’t risen by much. We’ll drink to that!

Monumental: The Colosseum in Rome is worth £65bn, according to the accountants at Deloitte. The once priceless Roman amphitheatre aka “social asset” built in the year 80 now has a hefty price tag on it. Bloomberg explains how they came to that figure.

The view from TikTok: The Independent showed us the most-viewed destinations on TikTok. The UAE came first, followed by New York City and then London. Istanbul and Paris were placed fourth and fifth. What lessons can we learn from this? Answers on a postcard!

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