Why Turkey is not just for Christmas! Guess which country has eclipsed France as our holiday favourite
Chalkmarks: Cambridge, England, UK, November 2023

Good morning. This is what happened in the world of travel this week: Friday 17th November 2023

HOW was your week? What did you think of the reshuffle? Shocked? We had a letter from a reader around lunchtime on Monday, asking: Dear Chalkmarks, where can I get away from it all. Maybe a boat trip? Or Rwanda? It was signed SB. We dunno who it was from (side eye)! They could take DC with them though. Anyhoos, welcome – gather round cos’ it’s that time of the week to talk travel. Are you ready? We’re setting you up for holiday success next year with the latest real-data trends – not just polls. This one is a game-changer. Spain v France v Albania v Turkey. No not football. It’s how we travel. Since time began Britons have holidayed mostly in Spain or France but this year… and next, things are changing. Already Albania has become the fastest growing tourist hotspot in Europe and this week it’s been predicted that Turkey will knock France off its pedestal as the second most popular European holiday destination. Maybe it’s because they’re both equally hot but much cheaper. Or there may be more to it. There’s only one way to find out! We’re coming to you from cold London warming ourselves up on the beaujolais nouveau at the French House. Here’s the week’s travel headlines. Hic!

Still to come!

Fancy something warm? How about a holiday in Turkey. The country is rising up the charts to replace France as the second most popular European holiday destination next year. Quoi? Si! And Spain looks set to retain its number 1 slot according to the World Travel Market and Tourism Economics. The Daily Mail said its popularity was connected to travellers booking themselves in for cheap surgery but there is more to Turkey than teeth. Why not start by hitching a glide to the turquoise coast in Oludeniz. And then exploring the delights of ancient Istanbul. And once you’re on a boat sailing down the Bosphorus, in the middle of two giant continents, you can ask the captain the most important question of all: is Turkey in Europe or Asia? 

If you’re on a budget: Post covid we know everyone’s been getting away but we’ve not heard how many are taking trips at home. According to hotel site Trivago this week, it’s a lot. Their data reveals Britons are booking more staycations than trips abroad. Boss Johannes Thomas goes further to say this trend will continue into next year. For the first half of 2024 the number 1 destination is London followed by Edinburgh and then Dubai. It puts Blackpool in fourth place above Benidorm in sixth. New York takes that fifth spot. He reckons this is because of high flight prices. “The UK is a very domestic market. Part of that is down to airline tickets, which are significantly more expensive,” he said. “Overall across the globe, it’s true for the US, Europe and the UK that people are going closer to home. They’re travelling shorter distances and choosing to stay shorter periods and that’s probably a sign of higher ticket prices.” The Guardian has more.

Buckle up: Heathrow became the fourth busiest airport on the planet this week. This puts it slightly ahead of where it stood before the pandemic. Data firm OAG said in October showed most passengers were flying to Dubai, New York and Los Angeles. ITV has more but they don’t mention which airport was number one or two, or where Heathrow ranked last year.

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!

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.

This time last year: Heathrow airport strike: Three-day walkout starts as World Cup kicks off Hundreds of ground-handling staff at Heathrow Airport walked out for three days over pay… The disruption affected football fans flying to Qatar ahead of the World Cup… It was also the G20 in Bali, Indonesia… We weren’t drooling over Rishi Sunak and Justin Trudeau in matching shirts, pictured in the Daily Mail No, it was the gorgeous sun, the sparkle of the Indian Ocean and the distant volcanic mountains (see more here)… Passengers flying with British Airways to Malaga, Spain, will no longer have to show their passport to board the plane as facial recognition technology means their ID is checked before they leave home… Lonely Planet told us the best 30 place to visit… Lima, Peru, won best place to eat, which Chalkmarks has always said. Feast your eyes here… Travelodge revealed its most bizarre customer requests including afternoon tea with Paddington Bear… In London, the Christmas lights went on down Oxford Street and the Christmas markets opened on the Southbank. 

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

Sleep on it!

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