Tuesday June 18, 2013
A couple of weeks ago I shared with you my little survey into the hand baggage allowances of some major airlines in Europe. The results surprised a few of you, with Ryanair surprisingly not the worst (but certainly not the best) regarding their rules on what you can bring into the cabin with you.
Now I've followed up that survey with a look at airlines' checked baggage rules: the weight and dimensions you're permitted in the hold and how much it will cost you.
Check out my at-a-glance chart here: Checked Baggage Allowance 2013
Friday June 14, 2013
The organizers of the Tomatina Tomato Fight have announced that for 2013, a 10€ ticket will be needed to join the world's most famous food fight.
Tickets will be limited to 15,000 (with an extra 5,000 going to the residents of Buñol, where the fiesta takes place), which will mean Tomatina 2013 will have less than half the participants of recent years. This is probably a good thing, as you'll have more space to give those tomatoes a good throw! The year I went it was the town square was incredibly busy. These lower numbers will make the event a lot more enjoyable.
If you have already booked a tour, check with your operator that they include the entry ticket in the price. I know that at least Busabout and thisisValencia have a guaranteed ticket included in their tour.
If your tour company does not provide your tickets, you'll need to buy them from the official site (see below) and print out your ticket at home. Then, on the day of the festival, you can exchange your ticket for a wristband.
This new ticket procedure will make the early morning trip to Tomatina more difficult than ever. Even before this new policy, if you were traveling by train from Valencia, it was necessary to leave before 7am to guarantee a good spot for the tomato fight. To be sure of entry to Tomatina this year, I highly recommend a Tomatina Tour.
If you plan on making your own way to the fiesta, you can still get your entry here: Tomatina Tickets. But hurry! These will sell out.
Monday June 10, 2013
The BBC recently published an article about Ryanair and how it claims to have the best punctuality record in Europe - a fact many question.
They cite the fact the airline's figures don't match up to the Civil Aviation Authority's data and that Ryanair is comparing its figures to an organization of just 32 airlines, which hasn't released any new data since 2009.
But it is another point in the article which I found most interesting. The BBC points out that as Ryanair flies to so many small out-of-town airports they are more likely to land on time as the airspace isn't as congested at a small Polish airport than around Heathrow. Does it matter that the flight is on time when you have an extra hour's drive to your actual destination? Most people know now that Ryanair's Girona Barcelona airport is nowhere near Barcelona, but people continue to be surprised that they'll still arrive late at their hotel after their on-time flight due to their long bus ride from the airport.
Ryanair's preference for small airports helps with another figure Ryanair likes to boast about - its good record of lost baggage. A small airport with one runway and one luggage carousel is unlikely to lose any bags. A big airport like the actual Barcelona airport is likely to have a lot more lost bags - but Ryanair doesn't have so many flights there (and their original claims about lost baggage were from before they flew to Barcelona at all).
Check out the BBC article or check out my own article on Ryanair punctuality (updated to include some of the BBC's points).
See also: How Strict Is Ryanair's Hand Baggage Allowance? - surprising pictures of a man whose bag fit and they still fined him!
Thursday May 30, 2013
Summer is here and Spain is entering its peak season - which means it's likely that a lot of you will be heading to Spain pretty soon.
If you haven't picked the exact city or cities you'll be visiting, and you're not magnetically drawn to the beach, then check out some of the events going on around the country over the next few months.
June sees what is probably Europe's biggest water fight at Lanjaron's Fiesta del Agua y Jamon. If that's not messy enough for you, there's also a wine fight in Haro, in the middle of the wine-producing region of La Rioja.
Meanwhile, Madrid has its month-long bullfighting festival to coincide with the city's saint's day, San Isidro. And if that's not enough, in Barcelona there's the Sonar music festival, this year headlined by Kraftwerk and Pet Shop Boys.
See more about June in Spain:
If you don't make it to Spain until July, have no fear, you won't be lacking in things to do. The Pamplona Running of the Bulls is the biggest event of the month, where hundreds of brave/foolhardy people run in front of a pack of angry bulls. There is also the BBK live festival, featuring such acts as Kings of Leon, Depeche Mode and Green Day. The festivals are very close together, so you could visit them both on the same trip (Contiki offers a combined tour of them both). There's also several jazz festivals in the Basque Country as well as a series of arts performances in Madrid called Veranos de la Villa.
More on July in Spain: