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August 2010

July 2010

"London's West End is a-mazing!"

Trafalgar Square maze
UPDATED PHOTO: Here's what Trafalgar Square looked like from August 2-6, when the maze described below was in place.

We can't take credit for the a-mazing headline (hence the quotation marks), but we're happy to publicize the forthcoming "giant maze" in London's Trafalgar Square from Monday, August 2 through Friday, August 6.

The maze will be open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, and admission is free.

According to the West End Marketing Alliance Press Office, "visitors can uncover hidden gems by exploring the unique maze, which features many of the West End's most famous streets and lanes, including well-known hubs such as Covent Garden through to the back streets of Soho Square. 

"With so many interesting facts and historical moments on every corner, getting lost has never been so enjoyable. Upon reaching the heart of the maze, visitors will be rewarded with an exclusive taste of the amazing entertainment, culture, dining, and shopping on offer throughout the West End."

The WEMA Press Office couldn't resist adding that "London's West End is the world's top cultural, shopping, and dining destination, with a global mix of 2,500 restaurants and bars, 2,000 shops, 40 renowned theatres, 30 museums and galleries, 17 Michelin star restaurants, and 7 tranquil green spaces" [or perhaps 8, if you count the maze]. 

Note to York, Paris, Tokyo, et al: If you dispute the "world's top" claim, complain to the West End Marketing Alliance, not to us. WEMA has a Web site at

Artist's rendering: WEMA

Glacier Express train derails in Switzerland

Glacier Express train in Switzerland

ABOVE: A Glacier Express train in Switzerland.

Around noon on Saturday, July 24, several cars of a Glacier Express tourist train derailed in the Swiss canton of Wallis (Valais). At last report, one passenger was dead and more than 40 had minor to severe injuries.

Train accidents are rare in Switzerland, which has one of the best-maintained rail networks in the world. Until yesterday, the Glacier Express had been running between the Swiss resort towns of Zermatt and St. Moritz with little drama (other than the scenery) since the first Glacier Express trip in 1930.

For more about the accident, see:

World Radio Switzerland report (with audio by a reporter on the scene)

Sky News report (with crash photos and video)

To learn more about the panoramic train and its route, read our Glacier Express article at

Photo: Swiss Travel System.


MS Maribelle in Tournon France
ABOVE: The MS Maribelle (formerly Viking Burgundy) and its sister ship snuggle up in Tournon, France.

Cruise ships often acquire new names when they're sold to other cruise lines, but it's rare for a ship to have its name changed by an existing owner. Viking Burgundy, which we reviewed at Europe for Cruisers a few years ago, is one of those oddball anomalies: It's now called MS Maribelle, although the ship--which is still fairly new, having entered service in 2000--continues to operate, as always, on the Saône and Rhône Rivers in Southern France.

The Viking Burgundy/MS Maribelle itinerary also changes names with some frequency, but the ports of call are mostly the same from year to year: The cruise goes from Lyon to Avignon and back, with visits to Beaune, Chalon-sur-Saône, Macon, Arles, and several other towns along the way.

For an overview of the ship and its ports of call, browse through our 192-page MS Maribelle review and photo gallery. For the current itinerary (which is slightly different from the one we experienced, although it includes the same ports), see the "Southern France Serenade" pages at