Built for the Tokyo Olympics in 1964 and celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2014, the original 320 miles of Shinkansen track from Tokyo to Osaka now extends to 1,500 miles. The bullet train travelled at speeds of 210km/h and now travels at 320km/h – a 50 per cent increase in speed in 50 years. In 2014, you can enjoy a 15-night bullet train bonanza with InsideJapan Tours, incorporating every Shinkansen line in Japan, using a number of trains including 2013’s red-nosed 'Super Komachi' and 2011’s 'Sakura' (meaning cherry blossom). The Bullet Trains & Temples tour covers the historical journey from Tokyo to Osaka made on October 1st 1964 and travels the length of Japan with its rural, mountainous and coastal vistas. It costs £1,994 per person and includes 15 nights' accommodation, some lunches, dinners and all domestic travel.
2014 celebrates the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Normandy, which took place in the Falaise Chambois pocket (between Argentan and Vimoutiers) and is now a delightfully lush valley in the Orne department. This year, Normandie Weekend is offering visitors the chance to tour the key battle sites in a traditional London taxi cab, covering over 90 miles with a personal, English-speaking guide. You'll spend two nights in in B&B La Bergerie, and explore the beautiful area by London cab. The tour includes the Berjou Museum packed with British forces memorabilia and the fascinating Mont Ormel Memorial and museum. The holiday costs from £230 per person, including a picnic lunch, guided tour by cab, afternoon tea and entrance to the museums.
Go on a one-off expedition in 2014 and sail from Iceland to Sweden via the Faroe Islands on a thrilling adventure and whale research trip. Another World Adventures is offering an exclusive journey starting in majestic, glacier-capped Iceland – the land of the Midnight Sun. After a day exploring the island, famous ocean conservation sailboat Sea Dragon will transect the Norwegian and North Seas en route to the Faroe Islands. On the 14-day whirlwind tour through the northern most reaches of the North Atlantic, you'll learn all you need to know to sail the Sea Dragon, from seamanship and sail handling to navigation. Sperm, Blue, Melon Headed, Pilot and Beaked Whales are some of the whale species that are likely to be spotted. The holiday costs £2,699 and departs on 7 July 2014.
Ladies looking for a football-free summer holiday in 2014 can enjoy an exotic break in Mauritius with a girlfriend while escaping World Cup Fever. Turquoise Holidays is offering an exclusive girls only package including a stay at Heritage Le Telfair with massages, spa treatments, cooking classes and wine tasting, from £1,265 per person. Book by 30 March to save over £360 per person on June and July 2014 departures.
With the theatrical release of the new 3D motion picture Walking With Dinosaurs, dinosaur fever will be running rampant among children throughout the coming year and parents looking to foster their children’s interest should look no further than a five-day exploration of all things dinosaur in Alberta. Bon Voyage's Walking With Dinosaurs: A Journey Through Time tour takes place from 17 July and includes themed sightseeing 'tracks', a trip to the renowned Royal Tyrrell Museum and exclusive evenings at Calgary Zoo.
After virtually closing down from 2007 when floods and landslides destroyed much of the track, the Trans-Andean Railway officially reopened in 2013 and to celebrate Journey Latin America has launched a one-off Back on Track tour starting in the Andean city of Quito and visiting the snow-capped Cotopaxi volcano before heading to Mindo cloud forest. The last four days of the tour will be spent travelling on board the Trans-Andean Railway, partially hauled by steam engine, from the high Andes to the coastal lowlands of Guayaquil. The 10-day group tour departs on 26 June and costs £3,298 per person, including international flights from London Heathrow, mid-range hotel accommodation, transfers, some excursions and breakfast.
For an adventurous trip to Brazil during the World Cup, visit the Amazon to discover the magical lure of the river while enjoying the football too. Rainforest Cruises' is offering a different view of the tournament with the World Cup Manaus Amazon Cruise giving football fans the chance to watch matches at the impressive Arena Amazonia stadium while staying on a traditional Amazon riverboat during the five-day tour. The holiday includes an early morning canoe trip, a visit to a colourful Manaus market and a swim in the Igarape Cachoeira - all perfectly timed so you don't miss any matches, of course. The five-day World Cup Cruise costs from £1,299 per person.
2014 marks the 400th anniversary since the death of Spanish painter El Greco and to celebrate the artist's works Ace Cultural Tours has launched a unique tour travelling from sun-drenched Toledo to the artistic metropolis of Madrid to uncover the world and works of great Spanish masters. The tour coincides with two special anniversary exhibitions: 'El Greco: Arts & Crafts' at the Hospital of Santa Cruz, Toledo; and 'El Greco & Modern Painting' at the Museo del Prado, Madrid. It costs £1,475 per person and departs on 22 September, including return flights, accommodation, breakfast and four dinners with wine.
With the 2014 Tour de France Grand Depart in Yorkshire certain to create fever among UK cyclists, Exodus' Etape du Tour Cyclosportive trip allows you to ride stage 18 of the 2014 Tour de France alongside over 10,000 other sportive riders - a spectacular 145km route with over 3000m of climbing to conquer. Enjoy three rides through the spectacular Pyrenees Concentrate on the race as Exodus provides full back-up and logistical support. It's perfect for fit travellers looking for a once in a lifetime experience.
For a photography holiday like no other, visit China on a one-off photography tour led by renowned wildlife photographer Heather Angel. China Links Travel's 16-day tour departs in October and includes amazing experiences such as tracking giant pandas in their natural habitat, visiting the Changqing Nature Reserve (home to the golden snub-nose monkeys and crested ibis) and a once-in-a-lifetime trip to the Shin Hua Emperor's Terracotta Army, considered an eighth wonder of the world. All of this with an ex-President of the Royal Photographic Society guiding and teaching you. The holiday costs from £3,835 per person and includes luxury accommodation and flights.