Back to Benghazi
The north coast of Africa is dotted with romantic-sounding place names, from Casablanca to Port Said (although the former holds little in store for the modern traveller). Several of these belong to Libya, including Tripoli, Tobruk and Benghazi, which are perhaps of most interest to second world war aficionados and film buffs. With the recent regime change in the country, some kind of tour- ism industry might be expected to develop over the next few months, opening up these and other former attractions (notably the magnificent Roman city of Leptis Magna) to foreign visitors. Qatar Airways has already made a move with the launch last week of direct flights from Doha to Benghazi. Flights to Benghazi from Hong Kong, via Doha, are available at www.qatarairways. com from about HK$8,000, inclusive of taxes and fuel surcharge. That said, anyone considering a trip to the country should probably wait for the all-clear (and visa advice) from either the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (www. fco.gov.uk) or the United States State Department (travel.state.gov/travel) websites.
Rooms with a view
Practically all upmarket hotels and resorts seem to offer 'stunning views' on their websites, but few deliver. So, if you're looking for a place with something genuinely impressive outside the bedroom window, a new hotel-booking website called The Most Perfect View (www.themostperfectview. com) would be a good place to start. The site provides views as seen from more than 100 properties around the world, from the Hotel Salto Chico in Patagonia (right) to the Shangri-La Hotel, Tokyo. While the selection is far from definitive, there are plenty of good ideas and inspiring pictures.
A marriage of convenience
Contrary to popular belief, ships' captains are not legally entitled to conduct wedding ceremonies at sea, but there has been an increase lately in seaborne nuptials carried out by people who are. This, at least, is the reasoning behind Cunard's recently announced reflagging of the Queen Mary 2, Queen Elizabeth 2 and Queen Victoria from British to Bermudan registry. The British government doesn't recognise civil ceremonies carried out aboard British-registered ships, hence the change to flags of convenience. Cunard ships have been registered abroad before, but this will be a first for any of the 'queens', the first of which, the Queen Mary, was launched in 1936. It is suggested in some quarters that Cunard's move is no more than a crafty ploy to get around Britain's new Equality Act, which requires British-registered ships to employ European Union staff on the same terms as their British colleagues, but the company has, of course, denied this. Cunard's wedding packages will go on sale next month at www.cunard.com, with the first sailings scheduled for the spring, just too late for the Queen Mary 2's March 25 arrival in Hong Kong.
Deal of the week
Tiglion Travel's two-night package to Sapporo, Japan, offers great flexibility for anyone wishing to explore the northern island of Hokkaido. A wide selection of hotels is offered for between HK$4,490 and HK$4,890 per person, but if you extend your ticket validity for a few days you can take advantage of the flight options that come with the All Nippon Airways ticketing arrangements. A stopover is required in Tokyo, Osaka or Nagoya on the way to Sapporo, but you can return to any of those stopover cities on a domestic flight leaving from any airport in Hokkaido, not just Sapporo. That means you could, for example, travel from Sapporo by bus or train up to Abashiri and take a trip on the ice-breaking ship Aurora (left), and fly back from there. Alternatively, you could make your own way back to one of the stopover cities overland with a cheap Japan Rail Pass and get a HK$650 discount off your package price. This deal will be available, with some surcharges around holiday dates, until April 20. For further details and reservations, visit www.travel.com.hk or call 2511 7189, and quote package ID: 3712.