The good, the bad and the bizarre from the world’s best travel media
GO SOUTH, YOUNG MAN/WOMAN/CHILD
This winter is shaping up as one to avoid travel north of the Equator, or the Mediterranean, if at all possible.
If you’ve got Christmas/New Year’s travel plans that include Europe, I have three words for you:
“Sorry about that.”
Mother Nature decided this month to give the European continent a blanket for Christmas. A thoughtful gesture, except for one thing. The blanket consists entirely of ice and snow.
The last time Europe saw this much snow, Napoleon was trying to find his way home from the gates of Moscow. It’s enough to make the Abominable Snowman go shopping for space heaters.
And it has unleashed chaos on the road grid, rail networks — and most of all — the airports of Europe.
From London and Belfast, Northern Ireland to Frankfurt, Germany, the number of delayed and/or cancelled flights already numbers in the hundreds. By the time you read this, they may number in the thousands.
In Amsterdam’s Schiphol International Airport, perhaps 3,000 stranded passengers were forced to spend the night this weekend — and they were among the lucky ones. At London Heathrow, thousands of air passengers didn’t even have that luxury; they were stranded on the tarmac, still in their planes.
Elsewhere in Britain, stranded motorists trapped by ice and snow were forced to sleep in their cars. They may be doing the same in Germany, where traffic on some highways has been backed up as much as 25 miles.
The farther east you go on the continent, the worse it gets. News agencies are reporting nearly 100 dead in Poland alone.
I truly adore European Christmas markets, but this might be a really good year to defer that white Christmas you were thinking about.
Puerto Rico has the only true rain forest in U.S. territory, and the Dominican Republic has some very cool — and very cheap — all-inclusive beach resorts. Down in Rio de Janeiro and Bueno Aires, below the Equator, they’re heading into mid-summer. And Hawaii looks awfully nice this time of year.
And now, here’s this week’s Digest:
from Budget Travel via Yahoo! Travel
What do snow globes, peanut butter and underwire bras have in common? They can all set off TSA detectors at the airport. Think I’m kidding? Read.
from the New York Times
Airport apps for your smartphones that you can’t — or shouldn’t — be without.
from Smarter Travel
Is it better to book shore excursions aboard your cruise ship, or book them independently from local operators. Booking on the ship is more convenient. Booking on land saves you money. But there are other factors to consider.
from USA Today
Cruisers love them some Royal Caribbean. Readers of Travel Weekly, a travel industry magazine, chose RC as the world’s best cruise line overall, and gave it top honors in a half-dozen individual categories. Its sister line, Celebrity, pulled down a couple of individual honors of its own.
from Forbes via Yahoo!
Tis the season to be shopping, and according to the Forbes folks, these are the ten best shopping cities in America. Note that New York City didn’t even make the list.
from USA Today
A list of when and where to get the best price breaks on hotels at major destinations around the world.
from CNN/Inside Africa
Travel books on Africa…written by Africans? A novel concept, to say the least. But a group of African writers is on a pilgrimmage around the Mother Continent with the express goal of making that happen. Their work eventually could change the way the world sees Africa, and the way Africa sees itself.
from the New York Times
Madagascar is not the easiest destination to get around in, but its flora and fauna, much of it found nowhere else on Earth, make it worth the effort.
from the San Francisco Chronicle
If you enjoy reading or writing, you know there’s something especially cool about seeing for yourself the places that inspired your favorite stories. The Chron lists five places in the western United States, most of them in or near San Francisco, that served as the setting for major works of fiction. Think about your favorite readings, and come up with a list of your own!
from Todd’s Wanderings
Ten free things to do in Tokyo, one of the world’s greatest — and most expensive — cities.
from the Guardian (London, UK)
Malaysia is one of the most ethnically diverse countries in Asia, and nowhere is that diversity of culture better reflected than in its food — a mix of Chinese, Malay, Indian and its own unique cuisine called Nyonya. Tasty, and if you follow this guide, really inexpensive.
from Associated Press via CBS News
Chernobyl, site of the world’s worst nuclear accident, is being opened to tourists by the Ukrainian government some time next year. They swear it’s perfectly safe. They do. Honest.
from Associated Press via Yahoo!
Three years after creating a successful citywide bike-sharing program, Paris is upping the ante in a major way: a car-sharing program featuring 3,000 electric cars, available 24/7 to anyone with a subscription or a credit card, and a valid driver’s license.