Arrivals & Departures Weekly Travel News & Views 7 May 2024

The Tweed Valley Canoe Trail.

Canoeing in Scotland, perfect packing, offline maps and the best tulip display... Travel Editor Stephen Scourfield has it covered as he reviews another week in Travel


Reader Peter Hall has just returned from a 21-day cruise on the Norwegian Dawn from Cape Town to Barcelona. He tells us: “Our cruise ship berthed at the Ivory Coast port of Abidjan on Good Friday. I had a ship excursion booked. On arrival, the Gambian authorities decided that the coaches should not travel individually, but have security, so six coaches travelled in convoy with an escort vehicle, five police (motor)cycles and an ambulance. The cycles stopped traffic as we passed through the city, like we were royalty. Independent passengers were initially allowed ashore but after a short while this was stopped, resulting in many passengers and crew being refused entry into Abidjan. Welcome to Africa.”


Reader Georgia Carragher has asked about the packing cubes I use in Casey, my faithful suitcase. They are made by Antler, and I like them because they have a zip which “spirals” around the outside, compressing the contents as much (or little) as you want. They are available from Myer, Strandbags and other online retailers. Further details at


You might have noticed autumn, at last, kicking in here — which means it is spring in Europe. A reader has asked about the best place to see tulips, which undoubtedly (for me) is Keukenhof Gardens in the Netherlands, which celebrates 75th anniversary in 2024. There’s good reason that these tulip gardens and windmills draw more than a million visitors in just eight weeks of tulip season each year. Around 7 million bulbs are planted by hand.


Texas SandFest is on at the village of Port Aransas, on an island off Texas’ city of Corpus Christi, from April 19 to 21, 2024 — and I am pleased to see it has returned to its original brief for participants, that the central theme must be fun.

SandFest 2024 has banned all controversial or political statements. SandFest is the biggest “native sand” festival in the world … meaning that the sand used comes from the site. Powdery white sand doesn’t hold together and sands, say, in the Mediterranean might be too coarse — but Port Aransas sand has grains small enough to mould but uneven and sharp enough to lock together.


The first official canoe trail in the south of Scotland has just been launched. The Tweed Valley Canoe Trail covers a 48km stretch of the River Tweed. It starts near Dawyck Botanic Garden in the village of Stobo and finishes just past Sir Walter Scott’s Abbotsford near Galashiels. Visit


Jean-Michel Jarre, the godfather of electronic music, has become the world’s first passenger to fly in the Klein Vision AirCar.

He took to the skies before the Starmus opening concert. AirCar received its Certificate of Airworthiness in January 2022 and has already flown 130 flight hours with more than 520 take-offs. Jean-Michel is quoted as saying: “It is like being in a Jules Verne book, but for real! One second you speak to the driver, and next, you are up there in the air — an amazing experience!”


But I was sorry to receive word from Tim Jordan, chief executive of Bonza airline, that it has temporarily suspended services as “discussions are underway regarding the ongoing viability of the business”.

Virgin and Qantas were quick to step in and offer anyone stranded a flight home.


While I have bought HEMA digital maps for my devices (just like those nice spiral-bound roads and trails books we liked but with red dots showing where you are) — but another, and cheaper, option are the ExplorOz street, road and track maps, with topographical detail, which can also be bought for offline use.


Reader Terri Penn noticed that we were in New Norcia with readers last weekend. She writes that she has just been made aware of a pilgrimage trail, the Camino Salvado, from Subiaco to New Norcia. An initiative of St Joseph’s, Subiaco, the walk is from August 25 to September 1, 2024, for reflection, connection and renewal.

Terri adds that she has also just seen the movie The Way, My Way, a film by director Bill Bennett about his journey on the Camino de Santiago, in northern Spain: “It was wonderful and inspiring.”


Our New Norcia reader weekend went well. There was photography with Mogens Johansen, writing with Will Yeoman and team members Penny Thomas, Megan French, Leyanne Baillie and Christine Sutherland all spent time with our readers.

One wrote afterwards: “Thank you for planning such a special event … and for the opportunity for us to meet with you all and interact with such genuine pleasure. You don’t know how much it means to me. I look forward to the future, and the inspiration you each have provided to me for that.”

Another added: “Thank you so much for providing a truly amazing weekend in New Norcia. It was enjoyable on many levels but also incredibly valuable and surprisingly enriching. The evening in the Abbey Church will never be forgotten. How special to hear Will Yeoman’s guitar and Stephen Scourfield’s words in perfect harmony, and to experience Father Robert Nixon’s music in that unique setting.”

It is a moment that is branded into me, too.