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Short Breaks
By Archana Nathwani & Lopa Patel (October 2001)

Short Breaks are ideal in the AutumnAs the days begin to shorten and the chilly winds, mist and rain of autumn appear, your thoughts will naturally turn to holidays. Hot destinations will still require a long haul flight from the UK so most travellers look to short breaks. A short break is ideal revitaliser. "I am seeing a lot more people taking one or two short breaks throughout the year", says Archana,"half-term breaks and long bank holiday weekends are a popular time".

So what are the best destinations?

The strong pound makes Europe a more affordable destination resulting in a growth surge in the "city break" market in recent months. There are over 100 short break destinations to choose from throughout Europe and beyond.

Day trips to Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam by Air or Eurostar are a fabulous way to celebrate an anniversary, birthday or special occasion.

The Orient Express (Venice Simplon Orient Express) is one of the most glamorous trains in the world for those who have a deeper pocket than most. Fine food is matched by the immaculate service of the Italian waiters in the restaurant car, while the bar provides a perfect setting for a relaxing aperitif. Cabins are warm and welcoming, becoming a cosy bedroom by night. The train journey includes travel to Paris, Venice, Florence or Verona.

Eurodisney, and self-drive holidays to France's Parc Asterix and Futuro Scope are all possibilities for short breaks with children as are holiday parks in Netherlands, Belgium and Germany.

In addition short cruise breaks are also becoming popular as they offer good value for money.


Eurostar - a new rail era

Electrically powered, Eurostar trains travelling at speeds of about 180mph are the fastest, smoothest and most convenient way to reach the heart of Europe. City centre to city centre without time-consuming transfers, Eurostar truly pushes back the frontiers of rail travel. Each train has 18 stylish, fully air conditioned coaches. There are separate coaches for First and Standard class, smoking and non-smoking, as well as seating for disabled passengers. Every train has two bar/buffet coaches serving hot and cold snacks plus a trolley service. Eurostar can be picked up from London Waterloo and from Ashford in Kent.

Eurostar serves the following cities: Paris from London Waterloo in just under 3 hours, and from Ashford in Kent in just under 2 hours. Lille from London Waterloo in just 2 hours, and from Ashford in Kent in 1 hour and Brussels from London Waterloo in 2 hours and 45 minutes. To reach Bruges, combine a high speed Eurostar journey to Brussels and an onward journey to Bruges with Belgian Railways, in 3 hours and 45 minutes. For Amsterdam, combine a high speed Eurostar journey to Brussels and an onward journey to Amsterdam with Dutch/Belgian Railways, in approximately 3 hours.


Prices for Eurostar start at around about 150 per person, but there are concessions and offers you can take up. Archana highly recommends this route as "it dramatically cuts the transit time so you get to spend more time at the destination of your choice rather than hanging about in airport lounges or road traffic queues". There are obvious advantages to taking the car, of course. You can stock up on drink for example! For destinations not bordering the cross channel coastline flights have the obvious advantage. If you don't need to plan too far in advance last minute deals on European flights can be superb value.

Any topic on short breaks would not be complete without mentioning the use of Air Miles. These ubiquitous reward points, which millions of users collect on purchases ranging from flights to milk, can be put to excellent use on European short break holidays.


Factors to consider

The mode of travel for short breaks includes driving, flying, train (Eurostar, Orient Express), or short cruise breaks (Choice). Channel crossings on ferries and hovercraft are all at affordable prices.

For short haul destinations, charter flight operators should be fine even though you have a raft of European airlines offering daily scheduled flights. For long haul flights it is still better to consider scheduled flights that offer better service, fewer delays and more legroom.

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Introduction  Short Breaks  Eurostar  Factors to consider  
Best Places to Go  Multi-Centre Breaks   Theatre Breaks
Late Sunshine  Specialist Tour Operators
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