Home or away? The only thing we all agree on is holidays are back
Chalkmarks: Santander, Spain

Good morning. This is what happened in the world of travel this week: Friday 26th May 2023

A quick trip to Spain? Yes! Why not? It’s officially holiday season. Although in 2023 the question is not where are you going but how are you getting there. This is the year to brag you travelled without flying. So, sea legs at the ready, we bring you greetings aboard Brittany Ferries. Not to France but to Spain. No idea what we are talking about? There’s a ferry service that shuttles between Plymouth and Portsmouth to Bilbao and Santander. We didn’t know either! It takes about 20hours. There’s nothing better than waving goodbye to Britain: bye Phil, bye Holly, then watching Santander appear on the horizon. It’s no Celebrity Cruise but think of it as a mini-overnight-cruise. The differences are: The cabins are tiny. Out on deck there’s no seating, but passengers pull out white plastic chairs (from who knows where) and men take their tops off to burn under the clouds. Inside, other intriguing sights are the crowds at the bars ordering trays filled with beer and Pina Coladas! For dinner, they don’t feature a line-up of fancy chefs. It’s mainly baguettes, salads, and hot meals, very impressive desserts, mind, and at breakfast a very long queue for a full English. The best tables to grab are by the window. Eat right by the sea! With ropey wifi around the Bay of Biscay, we couldn’t bring you our usual full round-up of this week’s travel news but here is the best of it.

Ready to depart!

Coming up: The sun, it’s going to be 24C today. The bank holiday weekend – that’s three this month. And, the traffic jams. The RAC predicts it’s going to be the busiest late May Bank holiday weekend since 2019. They are warning of “hectic” roads with 19.2 million car trips expected between today and Monday. The worst of it will be be around the M25 with journeys taking three times as long. Here’s their tweet. Also, don’t forget there are rail strikes next week. Aslef will walkout on Wednesday 31st May and Friday 3rd June day. The RMT will take industrial action on Thursday 2nd June.

Economy class: Britons habits of taking summer holidays abroad have not waned despite the cost-of-living crisis. In fact, this year they are going twice, that’s according to Advantage Travel Partnership, which has been holding its travel conference in Benidorm this week. Its poll of 2,000 people revealed a third confirmed they would take two overseas trips in 2023. They also found holidaymakers spend on average £200 on goods and services before they even get on the plane. Daily Mail had the story.

Fighting talk: A survey by Visit Cornwall showed more than half of Britons were planning on holidaying at home this year. Put off by airport chaos and the heat (what? Some like it hot!) many say they prefer the cooler temperatures of the UK. And so where to go? Why not try Cornwall! Tourism manager Abi Steel told The Sun: “Here in Cornwall, we’ve got some of the most spectacular coastline and countryside in the UK, if not the world, incredible hospitality and a ‘whatever the weather’ attitude – just remember, it’s the right clothing, not the wrong weather.”

Kerching: Ryanair announced its return to profit on Monday having made £1.24 billion following the return of travel and its hike in air fares. While it flagged the higher cost of fuel this year, it was optimistic for 2023. Boss Michael O’Leary said: ‘To date, summer 2023 demand is robust and peak summer 2023 fares are trending ahead of last year. First-quarter fares, which benefited from a strong Easter in April – and a very weak previous year comparable due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – will be significantly higher than the first quarter of 2022-23.’ MailOnline had the good news.

No connection: Have you ever got wifi on a train? No! Yet what bizarre news we heard on Monday: there could be no more free wifi on trains after the government announced it needed to make cutbacks. Bonkers! Here’s some of the Twitter responses: “never worked in the first place”… “never worked anyway” … “never worked”. The Department for Transport said a survey showed passengers preferred to use their phone data rather than the free wifi. We wonder why. The Guardian has tried to explain what was going on!

All change: To make money from the trains, the Daily Telegraph reported the government, which owns Northern Rail, is stopping passengers being able to buy the cheapest tickets from staff in the station. Known as Advanced tickets, these can be up to a third cheaper than standard fares. Instead these will be found online – among the UK’s 55 million different rail fares – or by using the machines. This is a trial scheme on trains that operate across the Midlands and the North of England. Campaigners say they are concerned that older passengers who may not have smart phone would be penalised for buying tickets from staff.

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!

We’ve done it: We’ve come back to Tenerife but we have grown up. We’re not in one of those 18-to-30s-resorts where young Britons enjoy the sun, sea, fry-ups and Irish pubs. We have been there, and done that. In fact I thought the whole place was one big Spanish party island but all that noise is tucked away in a very small corner in the south. In the north, in the capital Santa Cruz, this is the place to be hot but lazy. It’s a whole different island, far away from the busy beaches, bars and sunburned punters. If we’d felt nostalgic for a foam party, dancing till sunrise and downing shots, we could have nipped into nearby Puerto de la Cruz for a dizzying all-nighter. Instead we did this! 

Train of thought: It looks like the EU will be forced to accept English as a common language across its rail network despite the UK’s Brexit in 2020. While seemingly unpopular, Brussels is looking to mandate that train drivers across the 22 nations communicate in one language to ensure ease of movement across the bloc…and English has been selected. A final decision will be made later this year. Unhelpfully, former Labour MP Tom Harris, who sits on the board of the UK’s HS2 project, said: ‘I do hope this will go down well with our French and German friends and won’t lead to protests at the Commission. If that happens, can I suggest they protest in English so that their complaints will be more widely understood?’ The Telegraph had the story.

Good luck! Five museums have been shortlisted in the battle to be named Museum Of The Year with a £120,000 cash prize. The finalists are the Natural History Museum in London, the Metropolitan Arts Centre (MAC) in Belfast, The Burrell Collection in Glasgow, Scapa Flow Museum in Orkney and Leighton House in London. Unfortunately the public can’t vote, there is a panel of judges, who will visit each museum, and tell which one they pick as their winner on Wednesday 12th July. The BBC has all the details.

This time last year: Right royal rail ruckus! Strikes set to disrupt travel just in time for the Queen’s Jubilee Wine anyone? Cheese? Karaoke? How we loved reading about Partygate but… This week we were getting ready for a trip to Iceland… Plus it was six sleeps away from an extra long weekend as Queen Elizabeth II was to become the longest serving monarch ever… The Elizabeth Line finally left Paddington on a wet Tuesday morning… Marble Arch turned purple for the occasion… The City of London Corporation announced plans to make the famous Square Mile a 24/7 destination… Rail strikes were coming… Six landmark sites across the UK were granted listed protection… Harry and Meghan rejoined the royal family at Madame Tussauds, just for the Jubilee… The cost of US Esta visa waiver jumped from $14 (£11) to $21 (£17)… Kent introduced a cycling route called the Cantii Way taking in Canterbury, Whitstable and the White cliffs of Dover.

In case you don’t follow us on social media you really should. Here we are, here too and over here. Say hola muchacha! 

Chalkmarks covers it all without any fuss! 

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