The Beijing subway system transports an average of four million passengers a day, which definitely qualifies it for marvel status. Sunday, 7.30pm, Discovery.
Ladies who mulch and chaps who mow attend the world’s most famous horticultural show; sadly, Australia’s medal-winning Flemings Nurseries did not display this year because of the Victorian bushfires. Sunday, 8.30pm, LifeStyle. designed for stays from a few days to a month or longer. The range covers self-catering digs from studio flats to four-bedroom houses and most configurations between, all within about 20 minutes of the capital’s main tourist attractions. A gorgeous-looking studio in a 1750s Soho building, for example, has original hardwood floors, antique furniture and fittings, stainless steel-finished kitchenette and a cast-iron clawfoot bathtub. Sleeps two; from £650 ($1220) a week. The cost compares well with conventional hotel rates and Ivy Lettings can also arrange competitively priced airport transfers with Green Tomato Cars, rent mobile phones so guests can avoid expensive roaming charges, grocery shop, arrange babysitting and more. www.ivylettings.com.
A FEW seats are still available on the landmark chartered Qantas Airbus A380 flight from Sydney and Melbourne to Antarctica on New Year’s Eve and a second A380 flight has been scheduled for January 24 from Sydney plus a Boeing 747-400 flight from Melbourne on February 14, which just happens to be Valentine’s Day ( presumes ice queens need not apply). From $999 for economy-class centre seats to $6299 for first class. There are eight seating classes available on the Airbus A380 flights and seven on the Boeing 747. Mr did an Antarctica flightseeing jaunt several Decembers ago and all but trotted out our front door in woolly hat and mittens, muttering that he might be gone for some time. The polar-explorer look is hardly necessary but he was surprised how many passengers had gone the full Shackleton and dressed for the occasion, penguin suits included. More: 1800 633 449; www.antarcticaflights.com.au.
IF you are Paris-bound next year and keen for an eyeful of the works of leading impressionists and postimpressionists, you may need to detour via the US west coast. The Musee d’Orsay, housed in the historic former Gare d’Orsay railway station and home to the city’s premier collection of Monets, Manets, Cezannes, Renoirs and the like, will be partially closed for refurbishment and reinstallation in anticipation of its 25th anniversary in 2011. Many of its best-known works are moving to the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco for two exhibitions. Birth of Impressionism: Masterpieces from the Musee d’Orsay, runs from May 22 to September 6, 2010; Van Gogh, Gauguin, Cezanne and Beyond: Post-Impressionist Masterpieces from the Musee d’Orsay, runs from September 25, 2010 to January 18, 2011. www.famsf.org.
CALL it premium economy or executive lite, more and more airlines are introducing a buffer class that’s a notch above what the Americans delight in calling coach and the rarefied domain of business class. Latest off the blocks is KLM Royal Dutch Airlines with a name that delivers much promise: Economy Comfort. Whether or not that’s mere tautology will soon be put to the test by the airline’s international and intercontinental passengers. Seating in this zone offers about 10cm more legroom and back supports that recline twice as far as standard economy-class seating. Available from the end of November; www.klm.com.
DEALS OF THE WEEK
Earlybird discounts for European summer season travel; city and snow package to Japan; cruise the polar regions with World Expeditions; low-cost air fares to Africa with Qatar Airways. These and other money-saving offers are featured in
holiday deals, updated daily: www.theaustralian.com.au/travel/dd