COVID 19 – TRAVEL RESTART

While parts of the world are still in lockdown it can feel like we won’t see the inside of a plane for a long time yet. However there are signs that travel is starting to make a small, yet positive comeback.

To help you make the most of this downtime we’ve prepared a handy checklist to help you give your travel program and documents an ‘Autumn’ clean, so you are ready to go when those travel requests start to roll on in!

COMPANY CHECKLIST

  • Review travel insurance coverage, and double-check if any changes are in place post-COVID.
  • Audit your traveller profiles to ensure they are all up-to-date.
  • Review who is authorised to book travel on behalf of your company. 
  • Determine how travel is going to be permitted post-COVID.
  • Determine what new procedures you want to implement to protect both your company and your travellers.

TRAVELLER INFORMATION

  • Check that you have emergency contact information on file for each traveller. This is vital when travelling during times like COVID-19.
  • Review your traveller’s preferences – do they prefer a certain seat, meal-type, particular hotel location etc.  
  • Audit what passport and visa information you have on file. Are you missing any? Are some coming up for expiry? This part can save you a lot of time when booking, particularly around passports and ensuring they are valid for the required length of time to enter certain countries. 

POST COVID POLICY REFRESH

  • What approvals are required for someone to travel.
  • How should travel be booked? Do travellers need request via their internal booker or go straight to their TMC?
  • Do you need to implement a duty of care or risk management process for travel?

GET TECHY

  • Check that your travellers have the latest travel apps downloaded and working.
  • Include apps for each airline, including frequent flyer and entertainment apps. 
  • Download the Government’s COVIDSafe app if you haven’t already. 

FOR THE TRAVELLER – BEFORE YOU GO

  • Check border restrictions and self-isolation rules for the state and country your traveller is going to. Check airline rules – are there particular health requirements your traveller needs to consider? 
  • Consider providing your traveller with a letter that states they are travelling for ‘essential work’. Make sure your travellers have at least two hard copies in their carryon luggage as well as an electronic version handy in their emails. 
  • What process should a traveller follow?  Do they need to check in with your company whilst on the trip, and what protocols should be followed when they return from a trip? 
  • Check travellers know who to contact in an emergency. Is there a point of contact at your company or at your TMC available 24/7?

Shirley Robertson

Barcelona – city break

Introduction to Barcelona

Barcelona is the Catalan capital and home to some of the world’s most cryptic architecture and pieces of art that line the city streets. Catalan culture is explored through the museums, historic monuments, food and the arts. Each section of Barcelona boasts something a little different, from the architecture of the Gothic Quarter to the sandy beaches of Barceloneta, this is a city that offers it all.

Other things to do in Barcelona

Barcelona is ripe with activities and adventures all around the city. Its ground-breaking art and architecture is loaded with surreal spectacles, for example the seven of the works of Anton Gaudi are a fundamental part of the Barcelona landscape. You can take a walking tour around the city to see all the works. These are Park Guell; Palau Guell, Casa Mila, Casa Vicen, La Sagrada Familia, Casa Batllo and the crypt of the Church at Colonia Guell.

Parc de Montjuïc has been the focus of many key Barcelona events such as the 1992 Olympics and spreads over a hill concealing a myriad of green space, including the Historic Botanical Gardens. Montjuïc is home to many of Barcelona’s attractions; Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (MNAC) Barcelona’s museum of visual arts, Montjuïc Castle a former prison, now a military museum, the CaixaForum which houses a contemporary art exhibitions, Poble Espanyol which is a purpose-built village of 117 buildings representing the variety of architectural styles in Spain, the Archaeology Museum of Catalonia, Olympic and Sports Museum, the Joan Miro Foundation and The Font Màgica which is a daily evening fountain show coordinated to music and lights are all located on the hilltop amongst gardens, restaurants and cafes which offer spectacular views across Barcelona.

Other museums dotted around the city of Barcelona include the Museum d’ Història de Catalunya (Museum of Catalan History), Museu Maritim (Maritime Museum), and the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art.

Barcelona has a vibrant night-life, with open air concerts and festivals, live music, Salsa shows, small late-night tapas bars, jazz lounges and clubs, all of which have led to its reputation of being a party city. Some of the best clubs are La Terrazza, and La Paloma which has a vintage modernist ballroom turn dance-floor that was originally built in 1903- known as Barcelona’s most spectacular club.

There’s lots in Barcelona to appeal to children of all ages: the Barcelona Aquarium holds over 400 species, the Barcelona Zoo in Parc de la Ciutadella has over 4000 animals and the Tibidabo Theme Park has a number of rides which overlook the city. If you don’t mind travelling, then PortAventura, Spain’s biggest theme park is located an hour outside of Barcelona.

For something a little different head to Torrelles de Llobregat, 17km from Barcelona to the Catalyuna en Minatura. This displays all the key Barcelona monuments including those created by Gaudi on a 1:25 scale.

Eating and drinking in Barcelona

To truly get a taste of Catalan culture sampling the cuisine is a must. Typical dishes in Barcelona include paella, clay cooked meat stews with broad beans and roasted red peppers, cannelloni, salted cod in tomato based sauces with vegetables and rice, and of course cured meats with a side of  Pa amb tomaquet. This is a simple, yet delicious crusty bread topped with garlic, tomatoes and olive oil.

When it comes to dessert, waffles and churros are a speciality with many small cafes serving freshly made Belgium style waffles topped with gelato, dulce de leche, or melted chocolate.The drink of choice for many in Barcelona is cava, a sparkling white wine which is produced in the region.

For fresh, authentic and colourful cuisine, head to some of Barcelona’s many food markets such as the well known Mercat de Boqueria just off La Rambla or the Mercat de Santa Caterina.

Barcelona climate

Barcelona has a sub-tropical Mediterranean climate which results in hot summers and mild winters, rainfall is heaviest during the autumn and winter months but you can still expect a few days of very low rainfall during the summer. Average summer temperatures are 25 °C, though July and August which are the hottest months can see temperatures reaching 32 °C. Winters are pleasant, even the coldest months have temperatures around 14 °C.

When to go to Barcelona

The peak summer months are incredibly busy, in part due to the hot temperatures. If you’d prefer an escape from the crowds and avoid the high summer temperatures then April to June and September to October can be the ideal time to go.

Stockholm – city break

The Swedish capital of Stockholm is not only Scandinavia’s largest city but also one of its most enchanting, with its centuries-old alleyways and squares spread across an archipelago of 14 islands. Locals are extremely proud of the fact that in Stockholm one can go ocean-fishing in the heart of the city.

This historic metropolis with a small town heart boasts a multitude of museums, restaurants, parks, fun fairs, a never-ending nightlife (licensing hours extend into the early hours), and a rich cultural tradition. There’s never a dull moment, particularly in the summer when the sun virtually never sets because of the city’s position in the far northern latitudes.

Most tourists are initially drawn to the quaint Gamla Stan (Old Town), a warren of narrow cobblestone streets overshadowed by historic houses. It radiates out from the sumptuous Royal Castle, where Swedish monarchs have resided since the 13th century.

However, despite the rich medieval heritage, Stockholm is not an old-fashioned enclave. Citizens have developed a reputation for being trendy, daring and innovative, especially in the global realms of IT and fashion, often setting the pace in the technology and design fields.

Stockholmers are also immensely concerned with the environment, and the cityscape is made up of one-third water, one-third green space, one-third buildings, and some of the cleanest air of any city in the world. Pack a picnic, hop aboard a ferry, and make for one of the parks where you will undoubtedly be treated to a free concert; or head for the legendary shopping districts of Biblioteksgatan (exclusive European boutiques), Odengatan (antique treasures), and others.

There is culture to be soaked up too, with more than 150 museums to visit, art festivals galore, opera and jazz concerts, and architecture to be admired, including the beautiful City Hall where the Nobel Prize banquet takes place. It may be old but Stockholm is a destination for the young and energetic, and not overrun with tourists like many other European capitals.

Paris – Ideal weekend break

PARIS

Paris, the City of Love! With its gorgeous architecture, stunning skyline and amazing food, you will be spoilt for choice for things to do in this vibrant city. There is something for everything with the city’s wide array of restaurants, exciting tourist attractions, stunning architecture and local French cuisine – there’s plenty to do!

Our top things to do in Paris this winter:

VISIT THE EIFFEL TOWER

It wouldn’t be a trip to Paris with seeing one of its most famous attractions – The Eiffel Tower. Constructed in 1889 – it took two years, two months and five days to build, with 7,3000 tonnes of iron used and 60 tonnes of paint – phew! Today it stands at 1063 feet, 31 feet higher than when originally built. The Eiffel Tower boasts breath-taking views of Paris from three different floors, including a variety of restaurants, gift-shops and a champagne and Macaroon bar. Definitely a must-see!

TRY LOCAL FRENCH CUISINE – CHEZ TRASSOUDAINE

If you’re after some local cuisine in a cosy family environment to warm up from the cold, then Chez Trassoudaine is just the place for you. Situated just west of Notre Dame, this family-run restaurant was established in 1970 and has a gorgeous aesthetic. The space is designed around the bar, with a large dining room on one side and a glass-roofed winter garden on the other. You can sample their famous potatoes sautéed in goose fat or maybe chow down on some fresh fish delivered daily from the fish market. Yum!

TAKE A BALLOON RIDE IN PARC ANDRÉ-CITROËN

If the Eiffel Tower isn’t your thing, then why not experience the gorgeous Parisian views from a hot air balloon ride situated in Parc André-Citroën. The park is in the 15e district of Paris and was founded in 1992. It is located on the site of a former Citroën factory and is named after André Citroën, founder of Citroën Cars (fun fact)!

The 10-minute hot air balloon ride rises up to 300m high and fits up to 30 passengers. An adult ticket costs from €12 which can be added onto your break!

WANDER AROUND THE LOUVRE MUSEUM

The Louvre is the world’s largest art museum and is home to Davinci’s famous Mona Lisa painting, as well as a whole collection of western art from the Middle Ages – 19th century.

Amble around the aisles soaking up the history and culture that it has to offer or have some lunch in the grounds while taking in the stunning glass architecture of the Louvre Palace. Tickets are from €17 and the Louvre is open every day except Tuesdays.