£129 -- Warsaw: 3 Nights, Flights & 5-Star Hilton Hotel
Why Warsaw? Well, it’s a testament to the human spirit, that’s why. Oh, and because, with this Travelzoo deal, you can fly halfway across Europe and stay for three nights in one of the swankiest hotels in town for about as much as an indulgent night in the British capital.
But back to my first point. Known as the "phoenix city" because it has survived so many wars, Warsaw barely existed after the last big one. Only one in 10 of its buildings was left standing when peace was declared in 1945. Now, like a time-lapse film playing in reverse, skyscrapers are shooting up in barely more than the blink of an eye. This city of almost two million souls has become the economic powerhouse of central Europe (and the British plumbing trade) yet to many outsiders it still suffers from that battered image of a half-century ago.
Wrong: this is an exciting and sexy place, and we’re helping to get the word out with a deal that is itself pretty seductive. So, what could a slightly-more-adventurous-than-average city-break fan find here on a 3-day recce? Well, you could start with a visit to the much talked about Warsaw Rising Museum -- famed for its interactive displays -- which documents the city’s uprising against its Nazi occupiers in 1944. Classical music fans will prick up their ears for the many concerts devoted to the son of the city Frédéric Chopin (warning: non-fans might also be easily converted by his ethereal scores played on home soil). And the food on offer? Carnivores will be in heaven savouring some of the meatiest (in several senses) flavours on the planet, while smooth, sweet borscht should be ample compensation for our vegetarian friends.
£289 -- Dutch 4-Day River Cruise with Tours, Save up to 31%
I learned to pilot a boat on the Dutch canals. Well, I say “learned”. It was more like the way the ancient Athenians used to teach children to swim: by throwing them in. I was meant go on a jolly boating trip with a couple of friends, when accident forced them out at the last minute and I decided to go alone. Learning to steer the mini cruiser was supposed to be part of the experience, but usually with the modern equivalent of someone to climb the crow’s nest and another to hoist the sails. I had neither and consequently spent much of the time yawing wildly on the normally sedate canal waters as aggrieved Dutch burghers implored me not to gouge their vastly expensive-looking leisure craft.
Moral? Get someone else to drive. Then you can fully appreciate the beauty of this landscape, which I could only glimpse amidst my panic. There’s a reason why the Netherlands spawned so many master painters (many of them on show at the enormous Rijksmuseum when it reopens in April after a 10-year refurbishment -- good timing for this trip). There’s also a reason why Dutch tulips sparked speculative mania in the 17th century, when a single bulb traded for the equivalent of 25 tonnes of butter. Find out for yourself what inspired masterpieces and mad mercantilism on this mini voyage, including a tour of one of the world’s great flower gardens, when Holland is at her most blooming beautiful.
£1499 -- Iconic US Cities & Landscapes Tour, Save £400
Here’s a trip like On the Road, but without the boring bits hanging around in gas stations. And just as Jack Kerouac did on his US peregrinations gathering material for a celebrated novel (and recent film) hymning the lonely beauty of this great nation, you would surely find this bargain fortnight-long journey an education if not the source of a book. From bo-ho San Fran to the gasp-inducing Grand Canyon, it’s tricky to think of what this tour of the US west leaves out. Click on the link above and start dreaming.