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TRAVEL

Five holiday regions of France you may not know

At more than twice the size of the UK, France has lots to offer beyond the Riviera and Loire valley, such as these lesser-known spots offering wild coasts, rugged hills and chateaux galore

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TRAVEL

10 great restaurants near stations in Europe: readers’ tips

From dumplings and sauerkraut to paella and pizza, superb meals can be had by walking a few minutes from the station … but allow for the waddle back to take a bit longer

With time to kill in Warsaw between trains, I wandered out of the central station for food and within five minutes stumbled upon the Radio Café on Nowogrodzka. Inside, I found walls covered in cold war memorabilia and learned that the owners worked for Radio Free Europe at that time, giving the authentic Polish restaurant its name. I decided against the pierogi (dumpling) menu (from £5.50) and went for the zurek w chlebie soup (£3.50). This did not turn out to be a lighter option but a thick meat broth with sausage and mushrooms served in a large rye bread roll. It was a final delicious and satisfying Polish meal in a unique setting.
Annie

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TRAVEL

Rijeka in Croatia: the culture capital that knows how to party

The city that’s joint European Capital of Culture for 2020 is a joyous mix of influences with a riviera ripe for exploring, too

Clanking cowbells filled the air as about two dozen zvončari paraded through the village of Rukavac, just west of Rijeka. To me, they looked like pagans from a Grimm’s fairytale: shaggy woolly gilets, those bells hanging round their waists, and heads adorned with towering flower-covered hats. Exaggerating their gait to make the bells jangle, they shimmied and bumped their hips against each other as they waved carved wooden figures with a somewhat menacing air. Over the course of a 25km procession, they were here to banish evil spirts and herald the coming of spring. Carnival had come to town.

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New visa rules encourage backpackers to help in Australia's bushfire recovery

Volunteer work in the worst-affected regions can now count towards second- and third-year working holiday visas

Britons who plan on taking a working holiday in Australia can now volunteer to help with bushfire relief as part of their application for a longer working-holiday visa. The aim is to direct larger numbers of workers to areas where help is most needed, especially on a long-term basis. The changes come a month on from devastating bushfires which killed 33 people and around a billion animals, destroying more than 3,000 homes and 19.4 million hectares since July 2019.

Prior to the change, travellers had to put in 88 days of paid – usually agricultural – work to be able to apply for a second- or third-year working holiday visa. Also known as 417 visas, these are open to travellers aged 18 to 30, or up to 35 for Canadian, French and Irish citizens. Now, unpaid volunteer work in bushfire-affected areas can count towards the total number of days.

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TRAVEL

10 of the best bars near Europe’s main railway stations

Weary, bleary, or just plain thirsty, travellers can rest easy at this cool and cosy collection
Plus enter our competition to win two first-class Interrail passes

The Amano Grand Central hotel’s Apartment Bar is by far the swishest in the area and just five minutes’ walk from Berlin Hauptbahnhof. On the sixth floor, it has a warm, seductive ambiance with dim lighting, teal velvet stools and sofas, and memorable nighttime views over the city and Spree River. There’s a top-notch offering of cocktails as well as a chic rooftop terrace one floor above (summer only).
Beer from €4, cocktails from €10, Heidestrasse 62, amanogroup.de
Paul Sullivan

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TRAVEL

All aboard: 10 top UK family getaways by train

Hiking, biking, culture and classic kids’ stories … they’re all there to be discovered with these carefree, car-free family getaways

Pirating in Portsmouth
World-famous ships, including HMS Warrior and HMS Victory, are waiting to be explored in Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard, just a few minutes from the city station. Would-be pirates will enjoy the Jolly Roger exhibition, plus don’t miss the Explosion Museum of Naval Firepower, which can be reached by water bus. Other city highlights include the Spice Island Treasure Trail, a self-guided trail that comes with a downloadable map that leads you around the historic centre’s cobbled streets hunting for clues. Once you’ve cracked the mystery, head to the top of the Emirates Spinnaker Tower for panoramic south-coast views (kids will enjoy the glass-bottomed sky walk).

Station: Take Southern to Portsmouth Harbour station to be in the heart of the action. Direct trains from London Victoria will get you to Portsmouth in about two hours.

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TRAVEL

A local’s guide to Galway City: 10 top tips

The joint European capital of culture’s year of events highlights a city of festivals, seafood and literature, and with pubs galore

Galwegians love to celebrate, and seem to go from one festival to another. As joint capital of culture it has a huge programme of events – along with existing festivals. Cúirt is an Old Irish word for a court of poetry, and the name of a week-long festival of literature (20-25 April) that Seamus Heaney, Edna O’Brien and Allen Ginsberg have appeared at in the past. Galway Arts Festival in July (13-26) feels to me like it involves everyone in the city. Baboró is an inspiring festival for children and there’s also the Galway Races (not just about the horses) and the celebration of a local delicacy at our Oyster Festival (25-27 September).

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TRAVEL

Where to go on holiday in 2020: the alternative hotlist

Our pick of 20 places to visit in 2020 celebrates inspiring conservation and community projects that are making a difference to people and the planet

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Spain’s best young chefs – and the restaurants where you’ll discover them

The rising stars of Spanish cuisine can be found running their own restaurants – often without the waiting lists and high prices of established venues

Every year, a roll-call of up-and-coming chefs compete to become Spain’s Cocinero Revelación (young cook of the year) at the Madrid Fusión gastronomy event. The 2020 shortlist, drawn up by food critics, featured several startup restaurants. Most of their chef-owners have chosen to return to their hometowns in attempt to wow customers with extravagant tasting menus, following experience at Spain’s top restaurants. This year’s winner – the first woman champion in 17 years of the contest – is Camila Ferraro, from Seville. All eight chefs are worth seeking out for high-quality food at (mostly) reasonable prices.
All prices exclude wine

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TRAVEL

Rail and sail: how to book the perfect holiday – without any flying

More than half of Britons plan to travel to mainland Europe this year. Here’s how to have a great time, while minimising your carbon footprint

January is always a struggle – cold, dark, full of broken resolutions and battered bank balances – but the beginning of 2020 has been particularly grim. From the crisis in Iran, bushfires in Australia, coronavirus and Brexit around the corner, the year could hardly have got off to a worse start. There is hope – of course – and there are holidays, too: this is peak booking time for the travel sector.

Despite uncertainties around the impact of Brexit, 54% of Britons plan to travel to Europe in 2020, according to a survey by the peer-to-peer currency platform WeSwap. And the good news for anyone who has resolved to give up flying is that we are entering a new golden age of rail travel, with expanding networks, a revival of sleeper trains and Interrailing, along with a growing number of travel companies replacing flights with train travel. Add in improved ferry services, a boom in remote hideaways, and alternatives to traditional destinations, and the outlook for anyone wanting to escape the headlines looks positively sunny. Here’s our guide to planning your own exit – albeit for just a week or two.

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TRAVEL

10 of the best sleeper trains in Europe

Night train services are having a renaissance, thanks to renewed investment from operators, amid the need to fly less
• Enter our competition to win two first-class Interrail Passes

The country that’s home to Greta Thunberg and that coined the term flygskam (flight shame) has plans to introduce new sleeper routes this year. New connections from Malmö will be welcomed but for many Swedes nothing can beat the 20-hour odyssey from their capital’s Central Station across the wilderness of the Arctic Circle and on to the Norwegian town of Narvik. This is one route to fight to keep the blinds up for. In summer, the midnight sun means seeing much more than normal on a sleeper and no wifi make this the perfect route to switch off and unwind.
Berths from €83, sj.se

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