Bargain of the week: Portugal
Anyone flying almost anywhere in the next eight days is likely to pay top prices for the privilege: the Christmas rush allows airlines to command very high fares. But if you can sneak out and back between Christmas Day and New Year's Day there are seats to many European destinations available at reasonable prices. From Gatwick to Lisbon, Monarch Scheduled (08700 40 50 40; www.flymonarch.com) has a fare of £149 return, leaving on 28 December and returning on New Year's Eve; BA is £3 more expensive from Heathrow. Between Newcastle and Faro, easyJet (0871 244 2366; www.easyJet.com) has a fare of £168 on the same dates; and Ryanair (0871 246 0000; www.ryanair.com) is offering seats from Stansted to Porto for £95 return.
Warning of the week: Rogues in Prague
So widespread is petty criminality aimed at visitors to the Czech capital that the police are stepping up their campaign to inform travellers about common deceptions. One frequent trick is for villains to pose as police: they tell their prey they are looking for counterfeit currency, and insist on inspecting the victim's wallet or purse. Sleight of hand is used to remove notes before handing it back. Notices describing genuine police badges and identity cards have been sent out to hotels in the city; they explain that in no circumstances would a real officer demand to see a tourist's cash in the street. A warning has also been issued about money-changers on the street offering very good rates - but passing off obsolete and worthless Bulgarian currency rather than Czech crowns. Since the collapse of communism, the black market no longer offers any advantage over legitimate banks and bureaux de change.