Travel Briefs

A fierce cyclone hit Niue Island in the South Pacific, Jan. 6, leaving infrastucture disrupted and many vacationers’ plans canceled until further notice.

Some establishments were completely demolished, including Niue Hotel, Waimanu Guesthouse and a couple of dive shops. At press time, electricity was largely restored and about a third of the island’s tourism facilities were operational, but services such as water, communications and fuel remained a problem.

A cross-border tunnel opened between France and Spain through the western Pyrenees on Jan. 17. The 5.3-mile Somport Road Tunnel starts near Urdos, less than two kilometers south of Fort du Portalet on the French side, and emerges near Canfranc, the terminus for trains from Jaca in Spain.

Much controversy surrounds the building of the tunnel as environmental groups, who favored reopening a rail link instead, fear heavy traffic in the frontier will bring pollution and also threaten...


Britain’s Department of Health is closing loopholes that allow foreign tourists to take advantage of free medical care in public hospitals. Some were abusing the system, including pregnant women who timed their visits to give birth in British hospitals, where they would not be charged.

As of April 2004, under the new regulations travelers who become ill or are injured during their visit to the U.K. will have to pay for treatment, even in National Health Service facilities. Overseas...


In October 2003, a man who had been working in a rural village in Haiti returned to Pennsylvania and was admitted to a hospital with a severe sore throat and respiratory distress. He was diagnosed with respiratory diphtheria and died. The clinical efficacy of the diphtheria vaccine is 97%, but the man had never been immunized.

Diphtheria is contracted by inhaling the bacteria directly from an infected person. It can lead to heart failure, paralysis and coma. Even death can occur in as...


Scheduled to open in Berlin in June 2004 is an exhibition of works by photographer Helmut Newton, who presented 1,000 of his photographs to the city in October ’03.

Newton was born in the German capital in 1920 and studied photography there before he left Nazi Germany in 1938. He died in a car crash on Jan. 23, 2004, in Los Angeles, where he spent winters away from his summer home of Monte Carlo.

Newton was known for his fashion and nude photographs. His works are on long-term...


2004 marks the bicentenary of the Royal Horticultural Society, and Britain is celebrating with the Year of Gardening. Marking the occasion, the 2004 edition of a garden-visiting guide has increased the number of gardens featured to 1,250 and reduced its price to £12.99. In the 672-page paperback “The Daily Telegraph Good Gardens Guide” (2004, Frances Lincoln, Ltd., ISBN 0711222622 — 672 pp., $24.95), all the places featured are open to the public.

Pakistan and India have agreed to continue cross-border bus service for five years. The resumption follows the restoration of regular airline service in early January. Train service between the two countries also was restored, and the weekly train is running between Lahore in Pakistan and Attari in India.

The air and ground links were suspended after India accused Pakistan of an attack on its Parliament two years ago. Pakistan continues to deny any involvement in the attack.

LanChile’s Visit Chile airpass program allows passengers to purchase an airpass, valid for travel to 15 Chilean destinations, at up to 70% savings compared to the cost of purchasing separate tickets for each segment of a trip. And, for the first time, the airpass includes Easter Island.

The program includes up to three airpass coupons for $285 when passengers purchase their international round-trip ticket with LanChile. Additional coupons, up to a maximum of three, may be purchased...