Travel

It’s time to turn the lock, and poke the fire

Tuesday, 28 May, 2019

It was Dorothy Parker who said, “I hate writing, I love having written.” Among the many things we love that she wrote is Hearthside, which is very appropriate as we head to a place where, “Under deeper skies than mine / Quiet valleys dip and shine / Where their tender grasses heal / Ancient scars of trench and tomb.”

Hearthside

“If I seek a lovelier part,
Where I travel goes my heart;
Where I stray my thought must go;
With me wanders my desire.
Best to sit and watch the snow,
Turn the lock, and poke the fire.”

Dorothy Parker (1893 – 1967)

Hearthside


On the road to Mandalay?

Wednesday, 20 March, 2019

What are the ethical issues involved in visiting a country whose government has been accused of committing atrocities against its own people? We’re not talking China here, although its persecution of the Uighurs is outrageous. Then, there’s Myanmar.

In 2016, ten international travel companies offered sailings on the Irrawaddy, which flows north to south through the heart of Myanmar, from its source in the Himalayas to the Indian Ocean. The cruises were running at close to full capacity but the boom didn’t last long. Unrest involving a Muslim-minority group, the Rohingya, erupted in a region called Rakhine and more than 500,000 Rohingya have since fled to neighbouring Bangladesh. Terms such as “ethnic cleansing” were used to describe the alleged atrocities committed by Myanmar’s military and the country became a political pariah. As for the Burmese people, they’re said to among the most welcoming in Asia and street crime is almost non-existent in Myanmar. Each traveller must make in informed decision before visiting Myanmar, or China, for that matter.


InSight at Elysium Planitia

Tuesday, 27 November, 2018

This photo provided by NASA shows an image on Mars taken by the InSight spacecraft using its robotic arm-mounted camera after it landed on the planet yesterday. The spacecraft survived a perilous, supersonic plunge through the Martian red skies, setting off jubilation among scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California who had waited in suspense for confirmation that InSight had journeyed successfully across 100 million miles of space. It’s an historic, inspiring achievement.

InSight on Mars

InSight landed at a place known as Elysium Planitia, which is a relatively flat region free of boulders, craters and other potentially mission-ending obstacles. If all goes well, the spacecraft will probe Mars over the next two Earth years, and scientists hope InSight will help answer questions about how rocky planets become habitable (like Earth) or inhospitable (like Mars). We’ll be watching.


There’s no second-hand market for the A380

Thursday, 7 June, 2018

This is grim for Airbus, but good news for airport customers trying to get through immigration and customs checks when the A380 colossus disgorges its payload. Snippet via Skift:

“Two of Airbus SE’s flagship A380 superjumbos are headed for the scrap heap after a search for new operators failed to secure firm bids.

Negotiations with British Airways, Iran Air and Hi Fly, a Portuguese charter specialist, ended without any deals, German investment fund Dr. Peters, which manages the planes, said in a statement to shareholders. The aircraft are already parked in the foothills of the French Pyrenees, where they will be filleted over the next two years by a specialist company and sold in parts.

It’s an inglorious end to the pair of double-deckers just a decade after they entered service, a fraction of the time commercial aircraft typically ply the globe.

There’s no established second-hand market for the A380, making a sale to a new owner harder. Further complicating any transaction was the perceived lack of commitment from Airbus to the aircraft in recent years, said Anselm Gehling, chief executive officer of Dr. Peters.

‘Given the size of the investment, some airlines weren’t sure about the future plans for the aircraft,’ Gehling said in an interview. ‘That’s a factor that has complicated negotiations.'”

Stripped for its parts. What an ignominious end for a flying dinosaur.

Airbus A380


Up, up and away

Sunday, 1 October, 2017 0 Comments

“What is that feeling when you’re driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? – it’s the too-huge world vaulting us, and it’s good-bye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.” — Jack Kerouac, On the Road

Up, up and away


The sea around us

Monday, 18 September, 2017 0 Comments

“If there is poetry in my book about the sea, it is not because I deliberately put it there, but because no one could write truthfully about the sea and leave out the poetry.” — Rachel Carson, The Sea Around Us

The sea around us

Morning Sea

Let me stop here. Let me, too, look at nature awhile.
The brilliant blue of the morning sea, of the cloudless sky,
the yellow shore; all lovely,
all bathed in light.

Let me stand here. And let me pretend I see all this
(I really did see it for a minute when I first stopped)
and not my usual day-dreams here too,
my memories, those images of sensual pleasure.

Constantine P. Cavafy


Scotland the most beautiful

Sunday, 10 September, 2017 0 Comments

1. Scotland: And finally, the world’s most beautiful country is revealed: Scotland. Who can deny that these wild beaches, deep lochs and craggy castles are some of the most wonderful and beautiful sights in the world?”

That was the result of a poll of readers conducted by the Rough Guides travel publisher in a bid to determine “the most beautiful country in the world.” Angus Wright dutifully wrote up the result for The Scotsman, but it’s the comments on his article that take the Walkers Shortbread biscuit:

Rank Bajin: “It’s quite nice when the rain stops. Usually that’s March 28 and June 30 at 3:30pm. The rest of the time you can’t see anything”

Stewart Mckirdy: “Seriously ??? Who did Rough Guides ask ? people from Scotland presumably”

14152956259: “Not Scottish unionists, that’s for sure.”

Paolo Tognini: “Italy has 53 UNESCO World Heritage sites, highest number in the world on a country basis. Scotland has 6. It is obvious that none of the voters has ever visited Italy….. Mind you, I do like Scotland but this survey result needs a reality check.”

RejeanLavoie: “…or…Scotland needs more UNESCO sites and Italy has a complex?”

Ed Watts: “Paolo, with all due respect why “It is obvious that none of the voters has ever visited Italy…..” – I have visited Italy, and had little, if any, interest in UNESCO sites. Italy’s nice, undoubtedly – Scotland’s better.”

Filmmaker Adam Stocker would agree with Ed, there. After driving around Scotland in his (white) van, he made a short video titled “Scotland – Lochs, Mountains & Light”. He included lots of the most beautiful rain, too.


Waugh on travel and terror

Friday, 24 March, 2017 1 Comment

“I See Nothing But Boredom… Everywhere” was the ominous title of a piece by Evelyn Waugh that appeared in the Daily Mail on 28 December 1959. The future of travel was the great man’s theme. Like all newspaper prophesy, it was ignored as soon as it was read, and because Waugh was extremely contrary, his predictions were dismissed as the bitter reproaches of an ageing man (he died in 1966). A rereading, however, shows that he had imagined our future with incredible prescience and was rightly appalled by the vista.

He said: “One went abroad to observe other ways of living, to eat unfamiliar foods and see strange buildings,” but in the future, he foretold, the world would be divided, on the one hand, into “zones of insecurity” dominated by terrorism and, on the other, vulgar tourist traps consisting of “chain hotels, hygienic, costly, and second rate,” to which people would be transported by the uniform jet. Well, we’ve got the terror now, we’ve all stayed in ghastly, modern hotels and air travel began its journey towards industrial conformity and security nightmare some while ago.

Today’s increasingly uncomfortable, stressful, fearful flying experience stands in remarkable contrast to what was once charming and civilized. On a flight in the 1930s, the great traveller and writer Paul Bowles observed: “I had my own cabin with a bed in it, and under sheet and blankets I slept during most of the flight.”

What to do about our dystopia? Stop travelling altogether is one option. Preferable, though, is to document and publish the horrors in the hope that the travel business can be brought to its senses and the good fight against terror will be won.


Joshua Cowan’s Alpine Adventure

Thursday, 16 February, 2017 0 Comments

“In January i took a road trip through Europe visiting mountains, frozen lakes and steam trains in the forest,” says London-based video-maker Joshua Cowan, whose clients include, Under Armour, Adidas, Maserati, Vice, Sony and Visit Britain.


Curaçao dushi

Saturday, 15 August, 2015 0 Comments

The Dutch Caribbean country of Curaçao is famed for beaches, coral reefs, pastel-coloured colonial architecture and a liqueur flavoured with the dried peel of the laraha fruit (Citrus aurantium currassuviencis), grown on the island. The culture is a mix of Arawak, Dutch, Portuguese, French, Spanish, West Indian and African influences.

The locals speak Papiamentu (Papiamento), a Creole language based on Portuguese, Dutch, Spanish and several African dialects. It’s very much a spoken language, not a written one, hence the spelling variants. Essential phrases: Con ta bay? (“How are you?”), Mi ta bon, mi dushi (“I am well, my love.”) That word, dushi, has lots of meanings, most of which centre on sweet, nice or good. It’s the word Ken Wolff, once of Aruba and now of Amsterdam, picked for the title of this clip.


Porto

Saturday, 8 August, 2015 0 Comments

“After walking camino in spain , i went to porto for having a break time in portugal. And then, i fell in love with its scenery, people, colors and so on. I decided to capture its beauty and stay more than i expected.” So writes Lee Hang Gab, a South Korean film/design artist with an eye for beauty and an ability to capture it.