High flyers: Get ready for London to Sydney space travel!
Chalkmarks: Amsterdam, Netherlands

Good morning. This is what happened in the world of travel this week: Friday 19th May 2023

Let’s talk about sex. Yes, let’s get right into it this Friday: Guys, this week we are in Amsterdam (see above). We jumped on the Eurostar and get this, arrived five hours later…having broken down for one hour in Brussels. But what a beautiful difference it was from rainy London when we finally arrived at Centraal. It had a very distinctive smell, if you know what we mean. And it wasn’t tulips! But it was warm and sunny – it was sandal season. What puts this famous city on the map? It’s the museums, Europe’s highest swing, canal boat trips, and its neon-lit red light district. It was only at the end of March, Chalkmarks reported how the city council had told Britons to “stay away”. They said they’d had enough of stag parties and pub crawls. Did it work? No. We came anyway – but tbh we’re not here for a messy weekend. We’re here to explore the Dutch capital. But first a coffee. Anyone know a good joint? Peace and love to all! Here’s this week’s travel news.

As advertised!

Have you come far: It may feel a long way off – literally – but the UK Civil Aviation Authority is looking into two-hour flights between London and Sydney…via space…within 10 years! Typically the route takes 20 hours. How did we get here so fast – literally? Thanks to Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson’s recent trips to space, the CAA is funding studies to assess the realistic feasibility and the impact on the body of being blasted up into space then back down again. With seats on Blue Origin costing more than £350,000, it won’t be cheap. Perhaps they can look into that too! 

Where will we go? Center Parcs put up the for sale sign this week. The six holiday foresty-villages around the UK and Ireland, famous for their outdoorsy activities have a price tag of £5 billion. The Canadian owners Brookfield Property Partners, who bought the resorts for £2.4 billion in 2015, look set on cashing in on the high demand for UK staycations. Just mention Center Parcs and you think nature, forests, biking. The cost. There are fears the sale could mean more expensive holidays! The FT broke the story on Monday.

Back on track: What a rollercoaster it’s been on the trains. One day they’re on strike, the next there’s engineering work, then you can’t get a ticket, or they’re not running on time. But amid the craziness of walkouts and poor service, trains are back to being as busy as pre-Covid times. According to the latest government stats patronage was at 98 per cent in April. Plus, the data shows trains are being used more evenly across the week, not just at peak times. RailTech had the story.

Got the lot: Banksy’s famous murals including Girl With Balloon, Flower Thrower and Rude Copper will be on display for the first time in London. More than 110 creations by the anonymous street artist will be on show on Wednesday 5th July at 84-86 Regent’s Street. While the exhibition is authorised by Banksy, the works have ben loaned by private collectors. Tickets are available now. The BBC has more.

Yes oui Cannes: Hollywood decamped to the south of France this week for the 2023 Cannes Film Festival and the famous La Croisette dazzled with limos, film stars in expensive jewellery, and Champagne soirées in its grand hotels. But if you go after the glamorous event, this old fishing village still gleams and is a fashionable spot to explore the sparkling Côte d’Azur.

Cannes fizz festival: Thanks to the Film Festival, what was once a quaint seaside village in the south of France has become a bustling epicentre for the rich and famous. It might be small but it has the buzz of a city the size of Paris. When it comes to staying in Cannes, you want to stay on the legendary Boulevard de la Croisette. The palatial white hotels have their names spelled out in huge capital letters on their roofs reminiscent of the Hollywood sign in California – a nod no doubt to the town’s association with the silver screen. Every May during the festival it becomes a catwalk of fame with actors and directors flitting between lunch at the Carlton and dinner at the Majestic. Close by is the Palais de Festival et des Congres de Cannes auditorium and the harbour. 

Spread out the map: There is life beyond the Croisette. Explore the 400-year-old cobbled lanes and climb the hill to Le Suquet, then it’s up the 109 steps of the 11th century watchtower for a panoramic view of Cannes and the harbour with its multimillion-pound yachts. Look out for the huge murals painted on the sides of seemingly random buildings. There are more than 15 including Charlie Chaplin, Marilyn Monroe and even Mickey Mouse. Just off the coast of Cannes in the warm seas of the Côte d’Azur is the Mediterranean’s first underwater museum. Just a short ferry ride, near the island of Sainte-Marguerite, best known for the prison which once held the Man in the Iron Mask, are six 10-tonne sculptures. Here’s what we got up to.

Let’s talk northern France: One must-see is the bustling city of Nantes for its art, gardens and the famous Les Machines de l’île. For an adventure, head west into the Loire-Atlantique filled with port towns from Le Croisic in Brittany down to Saint Gilles in the Vendee. For food, there’s everything you’d expect from French cuisine – with cheese, plenty of good wine (top tip: don’t miss the Crémant!!)  

Have you seen our pictures: Our fantastic travel photos, which capture some of our favourite destinations around the world, are now available for sale on Alamy. Woohoo!

This time last year: The great getaway: How the Med has become our summer saviour Greetings from London… It was warming up in the capital… Lush green parks were filing up with office workers sitting among the buttercups for lunch… The AA revealed high fuel costs were putting motorists off taking road trips… Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary predicted the price of holidays would get more expensive during the summer… No surprise that beach getaways were the top choice for many with SpainItaly, France, and Greece, the favourites… Data specialists Cirium found our most popular holiday hotspot was Turkey…Italy hoped that Opera would be officially recognised by Unesco… the late Queen officially opened London’s purple Elizabeth Line, at Paddington Station… She never actually went underground… She topped up an Oyster card before leaving by car… Eight new cities were created in honour of the Queen’s 70th Jubilee anniversary.

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Trip over!

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