Every week, our publisher draws on his globetrotting experience to pick his favourite deals from the Top 20. This time his choices are influenced by animals, pastries and, strangely, the work of Gerald Durrell
£15 -- Day Trip by Ferry to the Channel Islands, Reg £30
Some people say travel is getting less and less strange as everywhere becomes more like everywhere else, but I say in some ways it’s getting distinctly weirder. Take the deal above. Never mind rocket flight: since when could you get to the Channel Islands for less than the price of a 10-minute London cab ride? Since Travelzoo found and published this deal is the answer, and it’s one well worth taking up. The Channel Islands are strange, isolated places, too: I hereby christen them the Strange Islands, rather than their somewhat boring present handle. They are full of strange beasts, for example: Gerald Durrell set up his menagerie of rare and endangered animals on Jersey (you can still visit it, although its author has passed on to the great zoo in the sky) and on each island a distinct, and often mutually unintelligible, dialect prevailed that was most closely related to Norman French. Bizarre, non? Nowadays the islands make for sleepy, sunny, spacious places where, although almost everyone now speaks English (albeit with endearing local phrases such as "my love"), the salty ambience feels curiously unfamiliar.
£319 -- Corfu: All-Inc Late-Summer Beach Holiday, 40% Off
Stranger still, perhaps, is the Gerald Durrell-islands theme running through this week’s Top 20 list of the best travel deals on the internet. Gerald who? I’m sure I’m not alone in having a childhood imagination amply seeded by this great animal lover and writer (and drinker, I learned, when past my own childhood innocence). The Corfu connection? It’s where Durrell discovered his love of our fellow creatures and where his first book, My Family and Other Animals, is set. Durrell’s mother decamped to the then exceedingly rustic isle with brood in tow in the years before World War II, leaving the future naturalist and chronicler to lead a few idyllic-sounding years observing frogs, spiders and various other resident beasts, including his amusing and quarrelsome siblings. More than half a century on, Corfu’s a little less exotic, but it’s still a beautiful, even tantalising place of summery smells and ingenuous, welcoming people, and our ridiculously cheap deal virtually commands you to spend an easy week exploring it -- alongside your family and, no doubt, other animals.
£139 -- Algarve: 4-Star Break fr 9 UK Airports, 50% Off
I wish I could think of some Gerald Durrell connection to our lead deal this week -- to the Algarve. In truth I can’t, but I’m compelled to include the offer nonetheless, for its sheer cracking value: four nights of sun and swimming in the pretty fishing village of Carvoeiro, including flights and an indulgent late checkout, for £139... Sorry for the delay there: I just booked one of these breaks myself, and it’s got me thinking, what kind of creature would Durrell the zoo-keeper have gone to Portugal to collect? I find myself imagining some species of melancholic, pastry-loving sloth, a kind of animal equivalent of the Portuguese people (for whom I have a great affection). It would be wrong to ascribe a sunny disposition to the Portuguese, for the reason that they lack one. What they do typically possess is a wry, black-tinged take on the world and, indeed, their fellow Portuguese, along with a, not necessarily related, fantastic skill at cake-making. If you do jet off to the Algarve, you’ll have an unmissable opportunity to test what I keep saying: that Portuguese tarts are the best in Europe. (You know what I mean.)