29 January 2008

Venice Carnival 2008

The 2008 Venice Carnival is under way - it's an early festival this year. Venice is full of revellers dressed in masks and cloaks. Saturday's opening events were all cancelled or postponed for what were basically political reasons (the city in mourning over two port-workers killed at work; a current media hot issue). But the city filled up anyway. We tend to avoid the huge crowds, but Carnival is actually a less stressful time than you would think. During the week the visitors are all tourists who are staying here, and the numbers are manageable. It's at the weekends, when thousands of extra people come in by train and car and bus, that Venice really feels the strain. Even if you don't fancy the organised events and DJ shows, you can admire the parade of costumes around town. The best place to go is to St. Mark's, to the waterfront, where lots of fancy-dressed masked figures promenade and pose for photographers. Little crowds gather around the best-dressed ones; it's a competition and you can only feel sorry for those left to pose in vain. Most of the costumes we've seen so far have been quite good - we've put a photo gallery on the main website: Carnival 2008 Photos. You may wonder who they are, and why they do it, but perhaps it's more fittingly mysterious not to know. Away from St. Mark's, Venice's main thoroughfares are busy but more fun than normal. You see corners of cloaks swishing around corners; and every tourist seems to be wearing a tricorne hat and perhaps a mask. It's all very good-natured and the weather has been smiling on the fun: sunny despite the cold.
> About Carnival

9 January 2008

Renaissance Siena at the National Gallery

It's the last chance for Londoners to see the Renaissance Siena exhibition at the National Gallery, which closes on the 13th January. It would be a great way to prepare for a visit to the lovely Tuscan town ...
> Renaissance Siena exhibition
> Our tourist guide to Siena

7 January 2008

UK strikes cancelled

Good news for UK travellers in January: the airport strikes scheduled to start today have been cancelled. The bad news is that although the one-bag hand-luggage rule has now been relaxed, this only applies to some airports and some airlines, so pessimistic onlookers are forecasting yet more delays due to the confusion. Ryanair and Easyjet, for the moment, are sticking to a 'one bag only' policy.
> Cabin bag rules 'could confuse' (BBC)
> Our budget flight info and tips for minimising airport delays