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Spain holidays: Andalucia closes borders on top of curfews in Costa del Sol blow

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Andalucia, in the south of Spain, is closing down its borders tonight in a bid to stem the escalating COVID-19 cases. The country currently has 1,136,503 confirmed cases of the deadly virus at the time of writing, according to John Hopkins University. The news of the lockdown was announced last night and comes into force at midnight today.

The regional government of the second largest autonomous community in Spain said it will last until at least November 9.

Andalucia is home not only to the Costa del Sol coastline, much loved by Britons, but also to tourist cities Granada and Seville.

The provinces of both, along with Jaén, have been slapped with an additional interior boundary closure by Junta president, Juanma Moreno.

The Spanish night-time curfew will also have to be observed between 11pm and 6am.

From midnight, no one will be able to enter or leave Andalusia unless for a just cause such as for work or for medical reasons.

Granada, Jaén and Seville provinces, which are at defined alert level four by the Government, have the additional mobility restrictions between all their municipalities.

“In total there are 450 Andalusian municipalities that are going to be closed on the perimeter. 4.3 million Andalusians live in these municipalities, half of our population, who will not be able to enter and leave their towns except for just cause,” said Moreno.

The Andalusian president has asked residents of the 335 remaining towns and cities not to leave their municipal limits if it is not essential to do so.

“One of the weapons we have against the coronavirus is to limit mobility, knowing that this measure works like a tap,” he said.

“If we open it, mobility increases, infections increase and economic activity increases and if we close the tap, mobility is reduced and contagions, but also this activity.”

The Andalusian government has also ordered the closure of restaurants and cafes at 10.30pm.

What’s more, from midnight on Thursday, meetings in the public and private sphere will be limited to a maximum of six people, with the exceptions of groups who are living together.

Moreno said these measures will be reviewed every two weeks from November 9, except for emergency incidents.

Extra police and security forces have been requested to make sure the mobility restrictions are adhered to.

He said his main obligation was to protect the life and health of people and, as far as possible, the economy of Andalusia.

“Without a vaccine or an effective treatment against the coronavirus, today there is no other way to contain the virus other than by limiting mobility and strengthening health services,” he said.

The Spanish government declared a nationwide State of Emergency on October 25.

The strict new measures are expected to be in place for an initial period of at least 15 days.

Only the Canary Islands are exempt from the curfew.

Additional reporting by Rita Sobot.

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Spain holidays: FCDO updates entry requirements for Spain, Canary Islands & Balearics

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Spain, the Balearics and the Canary Islands now come with different travel restrictions. The entire country was removed from the travel corridor list back in July but this month the Canary Islands became exempt from quarantine restrictions. Travellers returning from Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria and Lanzarote no longer have to self-isolate for 14 days on their return in a boost for winter sun holidays.

However, if you’re travelling back from mainland Spain or Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza, Formentera in the Balearic Islands, you will, unfortunately, need to quarantine.

Nevertheless, no matter where you head in the country, UK travellers need to follow the same entry requirements.

Yesterday, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Developments Office (FCDO) updated their Spain travel advice.

The FCDO clarified the current Spanish entry rules.

“On arrival, travellers entering Spain from the UK will not be required to self-isolate,” said the Foreign Office.

“However, you will be subject to three requirements.

“It is mandatory for all passengers travelling to Spain to fill out and sign an online form 48 hours prior to travel, providing the Spanish Ministry of Health with contact information and details of any known history of exposure to COVID-19.

“You can do this on the Spain Travel Health website or downloadable app.

“On completion, you will be issued a personal and non-transferable QR code which you must show (electronically or hardcopy) at airport health controls on arrival.”

Travellers will also need to have their temperature checked.

Additionally, they will undergo a visual health assessment.

“Anyone who presents symptoms or fails one of the above requirements will be seen by a health professional,” said the FCDO.

On Sunday, October 25, a nationwide State of Emergency was announced in Spain as the nation attempts to fight escalating coronavirus cases.

Under the tough new measures, there is a national obligatory overnight curfew.

Specific curfew times vary, but it starts between 10pm and midnight and lasts until 6am.

“It provides regional governments with legal powers to impose further mobility restrictions in their region if deemed necessary (e.g. entry and exit restrictions to and from specific areas),” the FCDO stated.

It added: “These measures are expected to be in place for an initial period of at least 15 days.”

Luckily, for British holidaymakers jetting off to the Canaries, these strict rules do not apply in the archipelago.

“The Canary Islands are currently exempt from the curfew due to the latest epidemiological data,” explained the Foreign office.

The authority warned: “The situation is evolving and restrictive measures to control the virus may be introduced across the country at short notice.

“For details of local outbreaks and the specific measures in place in your destination, you should check the advice of local authorities in your destination prior to travel.”

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Holidays: USA air bridge possible ‘by Thanksgiving’ – Heathrow CEO on covid testing latest

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Heathrow Airport has today reported losses of £1.5billion for the year to date and an 84 percent fall in passenger numbers for the three months to September. CEO John Holland-Kaye has blamed a lack in coronavirus testing as Heathrow is overtaken as Europe’s busiest airport for the first time by Paris airport Charles de Gaulle. The news serves as a “clarion call” for action to be taken by the UK government, Holland-Kaye told BBC this morning.

“The answer is to move to testing for people in travel, as many other countries have done,” the airport boss said.

“We don’t yet have testing in place that will allow people to come to the UK and reduce the amount of quarantine that they have to go through, so for the vast majority of countries you still have to quarantine for 14 days.”

Holland-Kaye wants to test people “preferably before they even get on the plane to make sure they don’t have COVID. Then, when they get to the UK, they can go about their business without having to go into quarantine.”

He explained that Heathrow is looking at a pre-departure testing pilot between London and New York, USA which is the busiest route in the world.

“You take a test (maybe three days before you fly), you keep yourself isolated, you then have a quick test at the airport, either on arrival or departure to confirm you don’t have COVID, and then you can travel in confidence,” he explained.

“It’s those kinds of measures needed to get the UK economy moving again and save millions of jobs in this country.”

For now, the burden of paying for these tests lie on the passenger.

“The plan is that they are paid for by the individual and they’d be delivered privately so they’re not competing with the testing needed for NHS and care workers,” clarified Holland-Kaye.

“Increasingly, of course, we’re moving on from the PCR tests that are very expensive and take 24 hours to get results to much quicker tests that have a similar level of accuracy that can be delivered within an hour and cost far less than the PCR test.”

The Heathrow CEO also revealed he was hopeful an air bridge between the UK and USA could be established in time for Thanksgiving.

“We can we can absolutely do that,” Holland-Kaye said. “There is momentum on the US side – they want to start opening their borders again; I think there’s a preference that the UK should be the first market to open up again.

“We know the UK Government is keen to do to that.”

However, the aviation boss warned that if the UK isn’t careful it could yet again find itself overtaken by European competitors.

“If it isn’t the UK, it will be France or Germany, or some other country,” said Holland-Kaye.

“And that just shows that we are in a bit of a competition with some of those other countries who are more progressive on testing – the French have been testing since back in June, and they really recognise aviation is vital to their economy so they are really focussing on getting that up and running.

“That has allowed, for the first time ever, Paris Charles to Gaulle to overtake Heathrow as the biggest airport in Europe – that really shows that the French see this as being an economic competition with us in the UK.”

Holland-Kaye cautioned: “As we have now left the EU, it’s really vital for the UK economy in the future that we protect our trading routes, which increasingly are by air, by allowing aviation to restart in a safe way – and testing is the answer.”

If the UK can move to “cheap and quick tests as other countries have done,” it is hoped the costs of travel will not rise too much and that jet-setting “will remain affordable.”

However, the CEO warned that with the travel corridor list chopping and changing, “prices may well go up in the short term,” as was seen when the Canary Islands were added to the ‘safe’ list last week.

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Travel money: Britons could be losing money due to lack of holidays warns expert

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Amongst many things, 2020 has been a difficult year for travel, and holidays have been fraught with confusion and anxiety for many. While travel corridors opened up the opportunity for more holidays without the risk of quarantine, many Britons have felt safer to give travel a miss this year.

However, one expert has pointed out that this could unexpectedly cost them.

For frequent fliers in possession who a prepaid currency card or international currency credit card, Ian Strafford-Taylor, CEO of FairFX has an urgent warning.

He said: “Unfortunately, some prepaid card providers have started to introduce this fee since the outbreak of COVID-19 as a result of fewer people travelling abroad and using their cards.

“It’s completely unfair for providers to penalise customers who haven’t used their cards during such a difficult time when travel has not always been possible.”

Some providers start charging card users fees if their cards haven’t been used for a while, sometimes in as little as 12 months.

These fees tend to be in the region of £3 per month.

Therefore, Mr Strafford-Taylor says it is vital cardholders check the terms and conditions of their plastic to ensure they are not currently being charged.

In normal circumstances, prepaid currency cards are a good way to lock in exchange rates.

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Given the ongoing pandemic and Brexit negotiations, securing the best exchange rate can feel like a minefield for holidaymakers, which is why the experts recommend opting for a travel money card for any future holidays.

“We have never charged our customer’s dormant fees and that remains the case with our recently launched FairFX Currency Card,” continued the travel expert.

“That means, if our customers can’t or choose not to travel abroad this year, they won’t be hit with any unexpected costs.

“This is unlike customers of other providers who have recently introduced these fees.”

Along with using travel money cards, Mr Strafford-Taylor also recommends planning as far in advance as possible.

“As with all trips – whether abroad or closer to home – it always pays to plan ahead wherever possible,” he said.

With travel corridors rapidly changing, and local lockdowns wreaking havoc on plans, some experts suggest changing travel money in two parts, rather than in one lump sum.

“Many people buy their holiday cash at a time when the rate is favourable even if that is months ahead of their actual trip,” said Paul Brewer, CEO of Currency Online Group.

“In normal times, this is very sensible as it locks in a good rate meaning they get more for their money.

“However, with unexpected changes in the quarantine rules week by week and with so much other uncertainty, this can leave you stuck with thousands of pounds worth of currency you can’t use.”

He advised: “The best thing for people to do is to buy half of your travel cash early at a good rate,” continued the travel money expert.

“Then nearer the time of your holiday, weigh up the risks and potential for disruption to your travel plans.”

However, regardless of the changes to travel, guidance on buying travel money at the last minute has not changed.

“Bureau de change desks offer notoriously poor rates to holidaymakers, leaving them substantially out of pocket and making it a high price to pay for those who leave their holiday money until the last minute,” said Mr Strafford-Taylor.

“Whatever you do when it comes to getting your holiday money, avoid leaving it until you get to the airport if you can help it.”

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Holidays: Winter sun hotspot ’should’ be given travel corridor this week

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The UK Government has been making amendments to its current travel corridor list week on week. Ahead of Thursday’s anticipated announcement, a travel expert has revealed that a new destination could soon be added to the list.

This will mean that holidaymakers have another winter sun option for a holiday without facing the mandatory 14 days of quarantine when they return home.

Based on the Government’s new criteria of 100 cases per 100,000 members of the population over the last seven days cumulative, travel expert Paul Charles points out one nation very much in the “green zone”.

He shared his insights to Twitter, writing: “#Jamaica really should be given a corridor in this week’s review.

“Its infection rates continue to fall and it is way below the criteria for high testing positivity.”

Based on the current figures by the European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC), Jamaica has only recorded 14.5 cases per 100,000 people in the previous seven days cumulative.

This is well below the new threshold of 100.

Previously, the Government was using a threshold of 20cases but this has recently changed.

Mr Charles added that the new way of measuring countries risk has allowed more options to open up to Britons.

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In a previous tweet, he stated: “Our understanding of new UK criteria have pushed more countries out of the red zone for quarantine.”

The next announcement is due on Thursday when Secretary of State for transport Grant Shapps is set to unveil the latest changes.

The Government has not commented on what nations could be added or axed.

However, Mr Charles points out that it is not all good news.

He continued: “#Germany remains at risk of being added to quarantine as community transmission deepens.”

Though Germany is currently in the “amber zone”, recording 91.7 cases per 100,000 of the population in the last seven days cumulatively, it is local infection outbreaks that are a cause for concern.

Last week, the Canary Islands became one of the latest winter sun hotspots to regain its place on the travel corridor list.

This is despite the fact that holidaymakers visiting mainland Spain will still face mandatory self-isolation upon their return home.

“The Canary Islands are exempt from the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office’s (FCDO) advice against all non-essential international travel,” explains the newest update from the FCDO.

“The requirement to self-isolate on return to the UK from the Canary Islands will be lifted for those arriving on or after 4am on October 25.

“You must still self-isolate if returning to the UK from any other part of Spain.”

The Maldives, Denmark and Mykonos were also added to the travel corridor list.

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Royal travel: Kate Middleton must avoid this risqué mistake when on royal tour

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Royal Family members jet off around the world as part of their royal duty. However, when doing so they must follow a number of protocols in order to represent the UK in the best way possible.

Many of these protocols regulate the clothes Royal Family members wear while travelling and at state events.

Though Queen Elizabeth II, 94, traditionally took on these international ventures, in recent years she has retired form global travel.

Instead, younger members of the monarchy now take on international duties, with Prince William and his wife Kate Middleton increasingly carrying the bulk of these jobs.

Although the Duchess of Cambridge is well known for her fashion flair, it seems she must be very careful when deciding which items to clothing to pack when heading abroad.

Royal women must avoid making one saucy mistake when it comes to style.

According to reports, royal protocol states that female family members must not show cleavage when they travel.

They should opt for more modest items of clothing instead.

This is because they are representing the UK, and are technically doing business when they travel.

“When members of the Royal Family are on an official state trip on behalf of Queen Elizabeth II they are working, just as anyone else on a business trip,” Anne Chertoff, chief operating officer at New York-based Beaumont Etiquette, which currently runs a specialist online royal-themed etiquette course, told Express.co.uk.

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“It’s appropriate for them to dress well to show respect to the people they are meeting with.”

However, it seems there is one tip some members of the Royal Family have figured out in the past to allow for slightly more “revealing” garments.

Diana, Princess of Wales, was famous for wearing stunning, fashionable garments.

In order to avoid the press getting any inappropriate snaps of her as she got into and out of cars, the Princess carried what was dubbed her “cleavage clutch”.

Fashion designer Anya Hindmarch, who styled Princess Diana, told the Telegraph, “We used to laugh when we designed what she called her ‘cleavage bags,’ little satin clutches which she would cover her cleavage with when she stepped out of cars.”

This is not the only fashion rules Royal Family members are subject to when travelling abroad.

Unlike typical passengers, members of the monarchy are rarely seem existing aircraft in casual clothing.

Male members of the family tend to wear suits, while women often wear dresses and hats.

Much like the modest clothing rule, this is also due to the fact that they are on official business.

“They may wear more relaxed clothing for long flights, but when exiting a plane they’re dressed in a suit or dress,” explained Ms Chertoff.

“When members of the Royal Family disembark on an official trip they are greeted by official representatives from the nation’s government, along with the international press. These are official events.”

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Winter holidays 2020: Full list of safest quarantine-free winter sun & snow destinations

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Winter sun or snowy ski destinations are big on the holiday list for many folk at this time of year. But with travel so disrupted at the moment, it can be difficult to know where in the world one can travel. While some of the UK’s winter hotspots – and indeed coldspots – are firmly off the current travel corridor list, other destinations are still a possibility.

Every week, travel consultancy The PC Agency shares the latest figures for winter holiday destinations, be it for sunny climes or powdered slopes, along with its travel advice.

The PC Agency examines countries’ seven-day rate of COVID-19 cases per 100,000.

In the latest update, CEO Paul Charles posted on Twitter: “There’s plenty of potential to open up more travel corridors when combined with a shorter quarantine period after re-entering the #UK and then a negative test result.”

Unsurprisingly, most of the winter sun is to be found outside Europe, with plenty of countries still on the UK’s ‘safe’ list (although many have their own entry restrictions). European options are unfortunately more limited.

These are the safest UK quarantine-free destinations for both winter sun and snow, ranked according to ease of travel.

Safest UK quarantine-free destinations for winter sun

The Caribbean and the Indian ocean are your best bet for this. Asian destinations might be safer, statistics-wise, but they also have much stricter rules in place.

St Kitts & Nevis

Island country St Kitts & Nevis has a seven-day rate of 0.0 making it the safest Caribbean destination. 

Although closed at the time of writing, St Kitts & Nevis will welcome visitors to its shores from Saturday, October 31, 2020.

It’s understood travellers will need to submit proof of a negative coronavirus test completed within 72 hours of travel before entering the country. Further testing during your stay may also be required.

Maldives

The Maldives has the highest rate of the winter sun destinations at 44.6 – but remains in the “green” zone, according to The PC Agency.

Travellers to the country must present a negative covid test issued no more than 96 hours prior to departure. Only those who fail temperature checks and screening procedures on arrival will have to quarantine.

Cyprus

Cyprus is the only European winter sun destination to feature on the chart and has a high “red” rate of 106.7 but is still clearly deemed safe enough for travel by the British government.

Tourists will need to provide a negative COVID-19 test result on arrival, obtained within 72 hours before travel but no quarantine is required.

Antigua

Anyone arriving by air in Antigua (which has a rate of 10.3) and Barbuda, including those transiting the country, must provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than seven days before arrival.

Your pre-booked accommodation must be on the Government of Antigua and Barbuda’s Approved List.

St Lucia

St Lucia has a rate of 8.8 and any visitors must confirm their reservations at a COVID-19 certified property ahead of travel and prove they have tested negatively for the virus taken seven days or less before travel to St Lucia.

Guests are allowed to stay at two different hotels during their trip and are allowed to leave their accommodation to participate in 10 certified tours and excursions.

Barbados

Barbados has a rate of 2.8. You’ll need a negative covid test and will need to “quarantine at government-approved facilities (a designated holding hotel or approved villa at your own expense, or a government facility free of charge), and undertake a further test four to five days after the first accepted negative test. If this second test is negative you will no longer be subject to quarantine,” said the FCDO.

Seychelles

Likewise, in the Seychelles – where the rate is 4.1 – tourists must show a negative covid test and then “stay in a designated hotel/establishment and may not leave the premises for five days,” stated the FCDO.

“Another COVID-19 test will be performed on the fifth day of your stay. Following a negative test result, visitors will be free to travel.”

Mauritius

Mauritius, in the Indian Ocean off the south-east coast of Africa, is next up with a rate of 2.2.

The Mauritian government is allowing visitors from the United Kingdom but under strict conditions.

The FCDO explains: “To enter Mauritius, you must: Book airline travel and accommodation via the official Mauritian Tourism Promotion Agency website; undergo a period of ‘in-room’ quarantine in a government-approved hotel on a full board basis for 14 days on arrival; take a COVID-19 test no more than seven days before your departure for Mauritius and demonstrate a negative test result on entry; take a COVID-19 test on the day of arrival and on day seven and day 14 of your stay. If at any point, you receive a positive test result, you will be transferred to a public medical facility for treatment.”

Vietnam

According to The PC Agency’s chart, which used data from October 24, Vietnam is the safest country of them if you’re after sunshine (but only if you can get in).

Vietnam has a rate of 0.0. However, according to the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) the country has currently “suspended visa waivers, issuing of visas and the entry into Vietnam for all foreign nationals, except for a small number of diplomats on official business and certain high-skilled workers.”

For now, it’s uncertain when Vietnam will open its borders to tourists again.

Thailand

Thailand comes close with a rate of 0.1. However, at present “only certain categories of foreign nationals are permitted to enter or transit Thailand,” said the FCDO.

The country recently introduced a new “Special Tourist Visa” programme but only visitors from low-risk countries can apply at the moment – and the UK is deemed high-risk.

Singapore

Fellow Asian country Singapore has a slightly higher rate of 0.9 but, as with its neighbours, won’t yet admit international travellers.

It’s understood to be exploring ways to safely open its borders but when it will do so for Britons is not known.

Malaysia

Next up is Malaysia, with a higher rate of 18.0. However, entry to Malaysia for all British nationals is prohibited although there are some exemptions (who will still have to quarantine for 14 days in a designated Government facility and pay the costs).

The country is reportedly planning to reopen its tourism by the first quarter of 2021.

Safest UK quarantine-free destinations for snow

Scandinavian countries come up trumps in this category, with popular destinations for the slopes such as Austria, France, Italy, Germany currently on the UK’s quarantine list.

Sweden

Sweden has a high rate of 69.3, placing it in the “amber” zone but is the easiest holiday destination as it has no entry restrictions in place for UK travellers.

Norway

Norway makes for the safest wintry destination with a rate of 20.6.

However, Britons will need to self-quarantine for 10 days upon arrival.

Finland

Finland is up next with a rate of 24.3 but Finnish borders currently remain closed to non-resident foreign nationals entering the country, with some exemptions.

Travel restrictions in place between the UK and Finland are reviewed weekly, and the Finnish Government has announced a new testing based model will be introduced on 23 November.

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Athens has new galleries and festivals – and it's quarantine-free

The art of Athens: With new galleries, music festivals and street paintings, there’s a buzz about the Greek capital – and it’s quarantine-free, says comedienne HELEN LEDERER

  • Comedienne and writer Helen Lederer returned to Athens five decades after her first visit at the age of 14 
  • The Greek mainland is on the travel corridor list – so you need not quarantine on visiting the capital 
  • Helen checked into the the Divani Caravel Hotel and later, the Divani Apollon Palace & Thalasso Hotel 
  • She explored ‘modern Athens’, starting with a visit to the revitalised industrial area of Gazi

The last time I visited Athens, I was 14 and on holiday with my parents. So, yes, I had prejudices about the place.

Like every tourist, I had my photograph taken at the city’s most famous ancient landmark, the Acropolis — and apart from that snap of me, perched on a rock, sporting a red plaid mini-kilt and dutifully sketching the Parthenon for my art homework, I can’t recall much in the way of excitement.

But five decades later, I’m back with my husband, Chris, and realise how much the city has changed. While I have — ahem — matured, Athens has been reborn. There is an energy in its buildings, in its art — and a confidence that this is a city for the future.

Out and about: An aerial view of Athens, as the sun sets behind the city’s most famous ancient landmark, the Acropolis

What’s more, it’s the perfect time to visit. The Greek mainland is on the travel corridor list — so you need not quarantine on return — yet Athens is pretty much tourist-free.

We made the Divani Caravel Hotel, in the centre of town, our base. Downstairs, in the JuJu restaurant, we noted a neon sign telling us to ‘eat, drink and be divine’, which mostly felt do-able.

The decor paid homage to the Fellini film 8½ — a comedy about a man with creative block. No such block with the menu. Even the butter was dotted with gold.

Chris enjoyed a delicious ‘deconstructed moussaka’, while my ‘Guido’ salad was the perfect complement to a whisky-based cocktail, described with another aphorism: ‘Experience is what you get while looking for something else.’

Helen started by checking into the Divani Caravel Hotel which had a ‘tempting’ rooftop pool, pictured

I hoped this might be prophetic for our four days ahead.

The next morning, the rooftop pool was tempting but I was here to discover modern Athens. So we headed to Gazi, the revitalised industrial area, to find it.

Sights, sounds and snacks

SHOPPING: VOIDmode, 6-8 Ivis St, is a clever, one-off designer clothes shop. Have items made on the premises or shop for their designs on etsy (etsy.com/shop/VOIDmode). 

MUSIC: The Faust Theatre arts bar in Athinaidos showcases funky opera and rock plus comedy; £7 entry includes a plate of apple segments (faust.gr). 

QUIRKY MUSEUM: The Industrial Gas Museum makes the history of Greek gas interesting (really) with interactive screenings, a sky walk and a fabulous Technopolis cafe (gasmuseum.gr). 

SECRET VIEW: The MS rooftop bar is set back from the street and offers amazing views of the Acropolis, and a cheerful Greek menu (msroofgarden.gr).

I had no idea that street art is Athens’s joyful wild card. There is hardly a wall without a vibrant, symbolic or humorous painting.

Five years ago, the government cleverly commissioned well-known artists to bring this feast of political and social storytelling to the city. 

And even though unofficial ‘guerrilla’ graffiti artists sneak out at midnight and leave their tags behind, no one seems to mind.

Gazi and Psirri are full of friendly, art-filled cafes and bars, and vintage shops perfect for a rummage. I did the latter, while Chris sat with a Greek coffee and conversed with the locals.

The Concept Store in Ernou Street is worth a visit, especially if you like your garment weighed before being offered a suitable price. 

It felt a bit like buying sprouts from a greengrocer and then wearing them.

Since I’d already covered the iconic Parthenon (albeit in charcoal), I was after a modern equivalent. 

I found it in the shape of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center, home to the National Library and Opera, and music festivals. It even has its own kayaking lake.

Having started life as a car park for the 2004 Olympic Games, the SNFCC was transformed two years ago by Italian architect Renzo Piano. The view from its lighthouse has a direct eyeline to the Acropolis.

Greek odyssey: Comedienne and writer Helen Lederer

The Goulandris Contemporary Art Museum, which opened last year, houses the Basil and Elise Goulandris collection.

With work by the likes of Van Gogh, Picasso and Gauguin, as well as celebrated contemporary Greek artists, the viewing is speedy but invigorating.

Predictably, I was never far from an installation with a philosophical message. 

The one titled ‘art has no limits’, written on a piece of wood, attracted plenty of photos.

Late in the trip, the prospect of a lie down by the sea was appealing. We chose the sensational Divani Apollon Palace & Thalasso Hotel, which has its own secluded beach.

Our suite had two basins and even two balconies — ideal in the event of a holiday tiff.

Downstairs in the showstopping Thalassotherapy pool, I noticed a man watching me closely from the side. Could it be my plum-coloured miracle suit that had caught his eye?

He turned out to be a friendly trainer whose job was to direct thrusts of water around my body parts, operated from a laptop.

The effect? To reduce fluid and wake up my body. Which it did. And more. In just a few days, Athens had restored me.

TRAVEL FACTS

B&B doubles at Divani Palace Acropolis start from £180 and at the Divani Apollon Palace & Thalasso from £250 B&B (divaniacropolishotel.com; divaniapollonhotel.com). Return Easyjet flights to Athens start from £48 (easyjet.com). Helen was a guest of the Greek National Tourism Organisation (visitgreece.gr). See travel.gov.gr for arrivals details for travelling to Greece during the pandemic. 

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Royal travel: The fashion rules royals must follow abroad or face major disgrace

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Royal Family members travel around the world frequently as part of their duty representing the UK. Though this is often a lavish affair, very different from the stark reality of travel for regular passengers, they are subject to a number of stringent rules the general public are not.

These rules and regulations are steeped in tradition, dating back to the dawn of aviation.

Many of these protocols dictate not only how a royal should pack their luggage, but also how they should dress at all times while abroad.

Though these traditions may seem bizarre to your typical traveller, one expert who has detailed insight into exactly why the rules are so important to the monarchy is Anne Chertoff.

Ms Chertoff is the chief operating officer at New York-based Beautmont Etiquette, which currently runs a specialist online royal-themed etiquette course.

She told Express.co.uk about the specific rules Royal Family members, including Queen Elizabeth II, must follow when jetting off on global ventures.

The destination the Royal Family members are visiting is often one of the key players in deciding what they wear for the duration of their time there.

As Ms Chertoff explains, clothing worn on the trip must reflect the culture of the destination country, and garments are often sourced from local designers.

“When packing looks for a state trip it is considered respectful, good etiquette and customary to shop from the designers from that country, or looks that reflect the style and culture of the destination,” the expert detailed.

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“For example, when Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge travelled with Prince William to India in 2016 she wore a memorable white and blue dress by Indian-American designer Naeem Khan when the couple visited the Taj Mahal.”

The dress was hand-selected by the Duchess of Cambridge from the designer’s 2015 collection to wear on the India and Bhutan tour she undertook alongside her husband Prince William.

The Duchess of Cambridge was photographed wearing the dress as she sat beside her Prince William outside of the Taj Mahal, in what the designer described as “a historical moment”.

Similarly, the etiquette expert points to a more recent occasion in 2019, when the Duchess of Cambridge made a similar fashion decision.

“When the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge travelled to Pakistan on an official visit in 2019, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge wore a blue kurta from Pakistani brand Zeen as well as other designs and designers that reflected the local fashion women in Pakistan wear,” she said.

Ms Chertoff added: “It’s a sign of respect to the country and the culture they’re visiting to wear attire that is customary to what is worn as well as to wear clothing and accessories by designers from that country to show support.”

Failure to do offer a nod to the country could be misunderstood as a lack of respect.

However, it is not just clothing choices that fall into this category.

The accessories royals opt for also play a crucial role.

Queen Elizabeth II has been gifted all manner of jewels over the years, some of which hold important cultural significance.

“The Queen may loan select jewellery to women in the family to wear as a nod to the destination, such as the Diamond Maple Leaf Brooch Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge wore on her state trip to Canada in 2011,” explained Ms Cheroff.

“The Queen wore it in 1951 on her trip to Canada.”

The diamond broach was originally owned by The Queen Mother, which was gifted to her by George VI ahead of their Canadian tour in 1939.

Though some of these details may seem rather small to the average globe-trotter, for the Royals failure to represent themselves in a certain way can result in disgrace.

This is particularly true in wake of mass media and social media when one bad photograph can spark all manner of comments.

“When members of the Royal Family are on an official state trip on behalf of Queen Elizabeth II they are working, just as anyone else on a business trip,” points out Ms Chertoff.

“It’s appropriate for them to dress well to show respect to the people they are meeting with.”

This is also why the monarchy opt for “elevated” clothing when travelling, such as suits or dresses and hats.

“They may wear more relaxed clothing for long flights, but when exiting a plane they’re dressed in a suit or dress,” continued Ms Chertoff.

“When members of the Royal Family disembark on an official trip they are greeted by official representatives from the nation’s government, along with the international press. These are official events.”

However, there are some occasions when they may opt for something a little more comfortable to travel in.

“On personal trips for vacation where they do not expect to be greeted by dignitaries at the airport or press they are more likely to dress in more casual attire,” said Ms Chertoff.

The good news is, they do have some freedom over what they choose to wear while abroad.

“As long as the individual is dressing appropriately for the occasion, such as an evening gown or tuxedo for a black-tie event, they can choose to wear a designer, colour or style they feel comfortable wearing,” Ms Chertoff explained.

“In the past few years, the Queen and many members of her family have decided to stop wearing fur, and have opted to wear faux-fur in cold weather instead.”

Aside from showing respect for foreign cultures, there are some additional scenarios the Royal Family may have to consider.

“When packing for a trip it is protocol that they typically pack an all-black outfit,” the expert continued.

“If there’s a sudden or unexpected death and they need to attend a funeral or appear in mourning it’s important to have the clothes they need to wear.”

This is a rule derived from the Queen’s own experience on her Commonwealth tour in 1952.

“When Queen Elizabeth II was travelling with Prince Philip in 1952 she learned that her father, King George VI had died and she didn’t have a black outfit in her luggage,” said Ms Chertoff.

“ When she landed back in London she had to wait for an aide to bring her a black outfit to wear as she disembarked the plane because she was in mourning.

“To ensure that no one else is left without the proper attire in the event a family member passes away while they’re travelling, a black outfit is packed in everyone’s luggage.

“Therefore, they are seen in mourning attire, a sign of respect for the person who has passed away.”

Though these travel rules would hold little significance for the average holidaymaker, for the royals, they play a vital role in representing the UK.

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Holidays: Canary Islands, Maldives, Denmark & Mykonos ‘safe’ as quarantine scrapped

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Spain’s Canary Islands, the Maldives, Denmark and Mykonos are now ‘safe’ destinations. The news will no doubt be welcomed by those eager for winter sun in the coming months. Travellers will no longer have to quarantine on their return to the UK from the four locations from Sunday morning.

Shapps tweeted today: “Following an assessment of the latest data, the Canaries, the Maldives, Denmark and Mykonos have been ADDED to the #TravelCorridors list.

“From 4am on Sunday 25th Oct, you will no longer need to self-isolate if you arrive from those destinations.”

The Canary Islands consists of holiday hotspots Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote along with a number of other islands.

Mainland Spain remains on the quarantine list, however, as the country battles rising coronavirus cases.

The Balearic Islands (Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza, and Formentera plus other minor islands) are also not yet on the travel corridor list.

As for the addition of Mykonos, the update means the whole of Greece now has the UK’s green light.

Mykonos was the only Greek destination on the quarantine list and its removal means Britons can now travel to anywhere in the country without having to self-isolate.

Shapps’ latest announcement brought no bad news.

No new country was removed from the travel corridor list week.

This follows the major blow last week when it was announced Italy, along with San Marino and Vatican City State, were being axed from the ‘safe’ list.

Travellers must remember that travel rules do still remain in place and countries on the travel corridor list may have restrictions in place.

Canary Islands

Holidaymakers entering Spain from the UK will not be required to self-isolate.

However, they will be subject to the following three requirements:

– Provide the Spanish Ministry of Health with mandatory contact information and any history of exposure to COVID-19 48 hours prior to travel

– Temperature check

– Undergo a visual health assessment

Maldives

Anyone heading to the Maldives will need to prove they don’t have coronavirus.

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) explains: “Effective from September 10, all tourists and short term visitors must present a negative PCR test for COVID-19 on arrival to the Maldives.

“The test and negative PCR certificate must be issued no more than 96 hours prior to departure.

“Screening procedures are in place for passengers on arrival, with quarantine facilities set up to isolate any suspected cases of COVID-19.”

Denmark

Denmark may have been added to the UK’s ‘safe’ list but the UK has not been added to Denmark’s.

The FCDO states: “Rules on entry to Denmark depends on whether you are arriving from an ‘open’ country or a ‘banned’ country.

“The UK is a ‘banned’ country. You must have a ‘worthy’ purpose to enter if you are arriving into Denmark from the UK.”

Mykonos

Travel is, fortunately, easier for Greece and its islands but admin is still needed. “If you travel to Greece, you will need to complete a Passenger Locator Form (PLF) at least 24 hours before travel,” says the FCDO.

“Failure to do so in advance may result in your carrier not allowing you to travel, a 500 Euro fine on arrival or the Greek authorities not allowing you to enter the country.

“Every traveller, including children, must have their details included on a PLF. If you’re travelling with others outside of your household, you should all complete your own form.

“If you’re travelling together as a household, the Greek authorities ask for you to complete one form with all adults and children included. You can add additional members of your household at the top of the form before you submit.

“Some airlines may require individual PLFs for every traveller over the age of 18 within the same household. You should check directly with your airline what you will need to show in order to be allowed boarding.

“Anyone entering Greece may be asked to undergo a test for COVID-19, and required to quarantine in an accommodation provided by the Greek authorities until advised otherwise.”

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