By Judy Newell
Los Cabos rebuilds in the aftermath of Hurricane Odile
Just a little more than three months ago, Hurricane Odile made landfall in Cabo San Lucas, devastating the destination. The September 15 category 3 storm, with sustained winds of 115 miles an hour, pummeled hotels, the airport, and local tourist attractions. In record time, however, the destination dusted itself off and quickly began the process of rebuilding its tourism infrastructure. Incredibly, by the end of this month, tourism officials say 10,000 of the destination’s 14,000 rooms are expected to be open. Air service, meanwhile, has returned at a steady clip, with the Los Cabos International Airport expected to be 100 percent operational by the end of the month. Also, nearly all of the restaurants and attractions are open, as are virtually all of the destination’s golf courses.
Flying in Europe: EasyJet, Ryanair, or the train?
If you’re heading to Europe in 2015, and if you plan to move around a bit, you may consider some intra-European flights. Europe hosts more than 100 low-cost airlines; some huge, some tiny. EasyJet and Ryanair, the largest and second-largest European airlines in terms of annual intra-European passengers, operate from bases spread around the continent. You stand a good chance of flying one or the other just about anywhere you want to go. Fares are capacity controlled, and if you buy well enough in advance, they start out very low. Seating is extremely tight, almost everything is priced a la carte, and you pay extra for buying with a credit card (EasyJet does not take American Express).
If you’re considering an intra-European flight, you have a good chance of finding what you need on either EasyJet or Ryanair. Metasearch engines such as TripAdvisor and Kayak show both lines. Fare quotes are for a flight from London to Bari and back to London a week later, which took about three hours each way.
Ryanair: The flight cost US$107, including a checked bag and an assigned seat. All Ryanair flights are on 737s, meaning very narrow seats. Legroom, at a 30-inch pitch, is a bit tighter than on large US lines. Ryanair’s main London base is at Stansted Airport, which has no flights from the US but lots of European flights. You get to Stansted by an express rail service that runs every 15 minutes from Liverpool Street station at a cost of about US$36. Ryanair also has a few flights from Luton and a very few from Gatwick to Ireland. Its main bases in France are Beauvais (which it calls Paris/Beauvais) and Marseille; the main base in Germany is Hahn (Frankfurt/Hahn). In several cities, it uses nearby city airports rather than the main fields, such as Bergamo for Milan, and access to/from the nominal primary city may be difficult.
EasyJet: The flight cost US$183, including a checked bag and an assigned seat. All EasyJet flights are on A320s and 319s, with seats wider than Ryanair’s, but, at a 29-inch pitch, punishingly limited front-to-rear space. EasyJet runs large London operations from Gatwick and Luton and limited operations from Stansted and Southend. Flights from Gatwick give EasyJet an immediate US$20 price advantage over Ryanair because of cheaper (US$16) rail tickets to/from central London. Main bases on the continent include Amsterdam, Berlin, Geneva, Milan/Malpensa, Paris/Orly, and Rome/Fumicino.
Although the flight crews always urge you to “enjoy your flight,” the only enjoyment on these lines is getting where you want to go, expeditiously, with your baggage, and at a good price.
For trips of less than 300 miles or so, consider high-speed trains. These days, rail prices, like airfares, are capacity controlled, and lowest ticket prices often match lowest air prices. But rail travel is much more comfortable than flying, terminals are in city centers, you have no security hassles, and you avoid the cost of airport access. Where schedules work out for you, taking a train is almost always a better choice than flying.
Deal of the Week
Exploring Ireland on foot
Sceptre is offering four new walking tours of Ireland centering around the Ring of Kerry and Dublin. They are designed to provide the full measure of experience of the Irish countryside,
including national parklands, rivers, and seaside areas. Daily walking regimens average from nine to 12 miles a day, about five hours of walking. Two of the walking tours are self-guided and two include the services of a guide.
Self-guided walks: The Ring of Kerry Hiking Tour is a six-night hiking tour that includes two nights in Dublin, priced from US$2,276. The eight-night Ring of Kerry Hiking Tour and Dublin is a hiking tour with a total of four nights in Dublin, priced from US$2,353.
Guided walks: The Guided Ring of Kerry Walking Tour is a six-night walking tour with two nights in Dublin priced from US$2,839. The eight-night Guided Ring of Kerry Walking Tour and Dublin, is a walking tour with four nights in Dublin, priced from US$2,978
Departures are available April to August, 2015.
Judy Newell heads the travel company Perfect Journeys that specializes in custom-designed travel itineraries for couples, families and small groups of friends. Contact her for the latest specials on cruises, tours and hotels. Perfect Journeys, SMA cell: 415 111 8765; Vonage: 949 3900 3682; email firstname.lastname@example.org; or check out the website www.perfectjourneys.net where you can make live bookings.
Sources: Travel Pulse, Smarter Travel, Scepter Tours