Singapore Airlines (www.singaporeair.com) has launched a thrice-weekly service from the Lion City to Sao Paulo (above), Brazil - an ultra-long-haul route that offers passengers a potential double dose of Latin culture with a stopover in Barcelona, Spain. Qatar Airways flies to Sao Paulo from Hong Kong, but with a change of planes in Doha, so Hong Kong travellers will probably find the Singapore/Barcelona route more attractive if they want to take a short break en route. Unfortunately for those hoping to sample Singapore Airlines' spacious Airbus A380, it is operating a Boeing B777-300ER, albeit newly kitted out with its latest seating and entertainment systems, on the route. If you're heading that way this summer, the most up-to-date guidebook will be South America specialist Footprint's Sao Paulo, which is due out in July. If you're going before then, the company's Brazil guide was published a few weeks ago.
An early pioneer of the modern travel guide, Eugene Fodor published his first book, the 1,200-page On the Continent, in Britain in 1936. Presented as an accessible and practical alternative to the highbrow Baedeker and Blue Guides, it assured the mainstream reader that, 'We have proceeded on the assumption that your thirst for historical knowledge is nothing like so great as your thirst for the beer of Pilsen or the slivovitsa of Belgrade'. With the outbreak of the second world war, Europe's leisure travel market folded, and the Hungarian-born Fodor joined the American army. He returned to travel publishing after the war and, in 1974, The New York Times revealed that many of his writers, who by then covered much of the globe, including Hong Kong, had in fact been undercover CIA spies. To mark the 75th anniversary of that first travel guide, Fodor's is giving away a free e-book edition for use on iPads, Kindles and most other e-readers, at www.fodors.com. Complete with original advertisements, it covers 26 countries.
In recent years, some airlines have celebrated anniversaries by painting one or more of their aircraft in vintage livery, usually from the 1950s or 60s. Heritage aircraft, or 'retrojets', have been rolled out by Continental, British Airways, American Airlines, Austrian Airlines, Garuda Indonesia and Hungarian flag carrier Malev, to name a few, and they look more stylish than their modern counterparts. The latest to get the retro treatment is an Aer Lingus Airbus A320 (above) - recently rolled out in 60s fashion for the Irish airline's 75th anniversary. United Airlines polled its staff on their preferred period colour scheme - a 'Friend Ship' livery from the 70s. Cathay Pacific, which celebrates its 65th anniversary this year, is unlikely to be repainting any of its aircraft, perhaps hesitant to have a Union Jack, which was phased out in 1991, on any of its planes.
Deal of the week
A two-night package in the far north of Thailand is on offer at Swire Travel, with a choice of accommodation in either Chiang Rai or further upcountry in the Golden Triangle. The city option is the cheaper one, with a room at Le Meridien Chiang Rai Resort (www.starwoodhotels.com) priced at HK$3,590. The Anantara Golden Triangle Resort & Spa (left; goldentriangle.anantara.com), about 70 kilometres from Chiang Rai, costs HK$4,860 but you'll also get a third night free, making this the better value choice as it's also the better resort. Flights, via Bangkok with Thai Airways, are included, as is daily breakfast. Prices are valid from May 1 to the end of September. Private-car transfers for Anantara are offered as an extra at HK$600 each way, which is about the same as the resort charges. For further details and reservations, call 3151 8855, or e-mail email@example.com.