• Woman confused by symbol on hotel room ceiling
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    Yahoo Style UK team

    Woman confused by symbol on hotel room ceiling

    “It’s been stressing us out for weeks.”

  • Raise the Woof! 50+ Pet Travel Products That Make Summer Vacations a Lot Easier
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    PopSugar

    Raise the Woof! 50+ Pet Travel Products That Make Summer Vacations a Lot Easier

    Traveling is one of the best gifts to give yourself, and with the dog days of Summer in paw's reach, the vacation destinations and nearby getaways are endless. As wonderful as weekend trips and extended breaks are, I think we can agree, it's just not the same without furry friends by our side . If you spend your family vacation worried about your dog or cat or if the car feels like a zoo with your animal in the back, then we have some products that will ease pet-related stress for a more enjoyable time away. From doggy seat belts for long trips to portable cat litter trays and handy paw cleaners, there's no limit to the pet-friendly travel options out there. If you're ready for some quality time with your little (or big) friend this Summer, then never leave them behind again! These accessories for both cats and dogs will make your travels a lot easier; just have a look ahead. Related: Hot Dog! These 50+ Clever Products For Pups Will Keep Them Cool All Summer Long

  • Dutch tourist board to stop promoting the Netherlands because it’s getting too many visitors
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    The Independent

    Dutch tourist board to stop promoting the Netherlands because it’s getting too many visitors

    The Dutch tourist board is to stop actively promoting the Netherlands as a tourist destination because of concerns that its cities and attractions are becoming overcrowded.The country’s tourist numbers are anticipated to grow from 19 million now to 29 million over the next decade – and the country’s authorities do not necessarily see that as an entirely good thing.“To control visitor flow and leverage the opportunities that tourism brings with it, we must act now,” the country’s tourist board said in a strategy document laying out its plan for the coming decade.“Instead of destination promotion, it is now time for destination management.”The tourist board also hopes to spread tourists out to less visited parts of the Netherlands, amid concerns that hordes of visitors are ruining the very attractions they are coming to see.The negative impact of mass tourism is in particular a major issue in Amsterdam, which has boomed significantly as a holiday destination in the last decade. Housing costs, public disorder and the character of neighbourhoods are all seen as concerns there.The number of tourists visiting the country’s largest city has soared from 11 million in 2005 to 18 million in 2016. The city raised its tourist tax last year in a bid to control numbers and pay for the costs and externalities it creates. A further increase is planned this year.But even outside Amsterdam, tourism has brought with it many woes. The famous Keukenholf bulb garden and Kinderdijk windmill districts have become all but inaccessible during peak tourism season due to strains on local infrastructure created by visitors.

  • 10 of the best hotels in Marrakech
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    The Independent

    10 of the best hotels in Marrakech

    Marrakech’s hotel scene is constantly changing – helped by more than 1,000 riad hotels squeezed in among the narrow alleyways and souks of the Medina. These mini Edens – all with a central courtyard garden (where the word "riad" comes from) – have been mushrooming in the Medina, veering between simplicity and no-holds-barred luxury. Then there’s the Ville Nouvelle and the lush palm groves of La Palmeraie north of the city if you’re looking for something a bit further away from the action.To make the choice easier, here’s a pick of 10 of the best hotels in Marrakech. Best for French flair: Riad de Tarabel Neighbourhood: MedinaA touch of France mingles with Morocco in this classy riad near Dar El Bacha Palace. Its French owners converted this colonial-style series of houses into a place of true serenity, with orange trees keeping things cool in the central courtyard. The 10 rooms are filled with antiques and calming shades of dusty blue, grey and cream, and lead out into Venetian-style salons. There’s a rooftop plunge pool as well as a spa and a larger pool in a separate courtyard.Doubles from €210 (£182), including breakfast and airport transfers riad-de-tarabel.com Best for laid-back charm: Riad El Mezouar Neighbourhood: MedinaAmid the squawking chickens and tiny food shops in the un-touristy, eastern part of the Medina at Issebtinne, Riad El Mezouar offers peace and relaxation within this 17th-century former palace. Its British owner used local materials and craftsmen to renovate the five bedrooms, including Fez hand-cut tiles and Moroccan tadelakt plaster. Cool off in the central swimming pool or chill out on the rooftop terrace. Book in advance if you want lunch or dinner.Doubles from €130 (£115), including breakfast riadelmezouar.morocco-ma.website Best for families: Es Saadi Marrakech Resort Neighbourhood: HivernageIf the interior of Es Saadi looks familiar, it’s because it stood in for the Cairo luxury hotel in the BBC’s adaptation of The Night Manager. This sprawling resort includes the wonderfully opulent Le Palace, the more conventional L’Hotel and some seriously luxurious villas and ksars (Berber-style mini castles). They all cluster around a fantasyland of exotic gardens, lagoons, swimming pools, children’s play areas and Marrakech’s first casino. Then there are the eight restaurants, four bars, spa, nightclub and boutiques.Doubles from 1,700 dirham (£136), including breakfast essaadi.com Best for cool minimalism: Riad UP Neighbourhood: MedinaIf your eyes need a rest from the Medina’s riot of colour, Riad UP is the place to soothe them. Mallorcan designer Elsa Bauza has transformed a former palace into a relaxing riad of six rooms, living and dining rooms, an uncluttered patio courtyard and a plunge pool. The style is refreshingly simple without being stark, with plain fireplaces, soft leather furnishings and warm Berber woollen blankets. Head up to the roof terrace for city views and comfortable sun loungers. Lunch and dinner are available if you order in advance.Doubles from €80 (£70), including breakfast riadup.com Best for rural chic: Les Deux Tours Neighbourhood: La PalmeraieIt’s only five kilometres from the Medina, but Les Deux Tours in La Palmeraie is in its own green, heavily fragrant world. Surrounded by three hectares of gardens, lily ponds and a large swimming pool, the hotel and its spa lull you into a state of bliss. Airy rooms are in a modern Moorish style and open out into those wonderful gardens; some include private pools. Choose from two restaurants on site, or take the free shuttle into the city if you want a jolt back into reality.Doubles from €1,815 dirhams (£146), including breakfast les-deux-tours.com Best for Medina views: Riad 72 Neighbourhood: MedinaMilan meets Marrakech in the 13 rooms and sublime roof terrace of Riad 72. Set in an easy-to-reach spot in Bab Doukkala near Dar El Bacha Palace, the riad features Italian decorative touches to go with its plush, soft Moroccan fabrics and, in some rooms, original cedar wood ceilings. Dinner is served in the gorgeous courtyard patio (book ahead), and the roof terrace is believed to be the highest in the Medina.Doubles from 1,500 dirhams (£120), including breakfast riad72.com Best for history lovers: Palais Lamrani Neighbourhood: MedinaBuilt by the Lamrani family a century ago, this six-room palace riad is a showpiece for the family’s fantastic collection of furniture collected from all over Europe and the Middle East. Among the Regency and Victorian splendour is the equally splendid central courtyard garden, which becomes even more magical during candlelit dinners. There’s another courtyard with a pool, and the roof terrace features a little gym to go with its sun loungers and Medina views. Doubles from €144 (£125), including breakfast palaislamrani.com Best for getting away from it all: Jnane Tamsna Neighbourhood: La PalmeraieAn American ethnobotanist and his French-Senegalese interior-designer wife joined forces to create the exquisite Jnane Tamsna, set in 22 hectares of lavish gardens in La Palmeraie. Its 24 rooms are arranged in five houses, many with their own patios and all designed in a way that seamlessly brings together African, Maghreb and Indian designs. Five swimming pools and a tennis court are tucked in there too, and you could also try your hand at a cooking class or yoga.Doubles from €155 (£135), including breakfast jnanetamsna.com Best for affordable chic: Riad Tizwa Neighbourhood: MedinaBritish brothers Daniel and Richard Bee run this chilled-out riad within spitting distance of Dar El Bacha Palace. Its six rooms are traditionally Moroccan without being fussy, and balconies overlook the flower-filled courtyard garden. Enjoy a generous breakfast on the lovely roof terrace, where you can also have dinner if you book in advance.Doubles from €75 (£65), including breakfast riadtizwa.com Best for romance: AnaYela Neighbourhood: Medina> View this post on Instagram> > Wishing you a magical happy new year! ❤ marrakeshnights happynewyear magicnights newyear moroccanstyle morocco travelmorocco travel slowtracel experiencetravel marrakech marrakesh> > A post shared by Anayela (@riad_anayela) on Dec 31, 2018 at 11:55am PST

  • French air traffic-control strike to ground hundreds of flights
    Style
    The Independent

    French air traffic-control strike to ground hundreds of flights

    Hundreds of flights are set to be cancelled, and many more delayed, due to the first French air-traffic control strike of the summer. Controllers and engineers working for DSNA, the national air-navigation provider, will stop work from 7pm local time on Wednesday 8 May until 6am on Friday.The 35-hour stoppage is part of a wider national protest by public servants in France against President Macron’s plans to reform their working conditions.Because so many aircraft normally overfly France, widespread delays and cancellations are likely.The French authorities have stipulated a minimum service level of 50 per cent of overflights – those which do not land or take off in France – and some flights will be able to avoid French airspace.Switzerland is opening up additional airspace sectors to take some of the strain, while extra traffic is expected on the "Tango" routes west of French airspace.But taking circuitous routes will cause delays to build as the strike progresses.Paris Charles de Gaulle, the nation’s leading hub, will not itself have cancellations directly caused by strikes at the airport, because air-traffic controllers are expected to work near-normally.But operations to and from “CDG” it will be impacted by the reduction in flights handled by Area Control Centres in France.France is divided into five airspace areas: Bordeaux, Brest, Paris, Reims and Marseille. The biggest impact is likely to be in the Marseille Area Control Centre, which covers the southeast quadrant of France plus a large patch of the Mediterranean.In 2018, striking controllers at Marseille grounded thousands of flights.During a conference call with Eurocontrol, DSNA representatives said that four French airports – Paris Orly, Lyon, Marseille and Toulouse – would be particularly affected, because of the high propensity for controllers at these airports to strike.Airlines have been instructed to reduce the number of scheduled flights to and from these airports by 30 per cent.Nantes will also be hit, and Perpignan and Pau airports will be closing at night.One airline, easyJet, has already cancelled 54 departures, saying: “Any customers affected by cancellation are eligible for a refund or a free of charge transfer to a new flight.“Customers on affected flights will be contacted directly via SMS and email address via the details provided at the time of booking.”Around 60 per cent of easyJet flights normally go through French airspace. The carrier is warning that other flights will experience delays.British Airways has cancelled a total of 36 flights, including six flights to and from Paris, four between Heathrow and Nice, and single round-trips from Heathrow to Lyon and Marseille.In addition BA has grounded six flights between Heathrow and Barcelona, and a round-trip to Geneva and Basel.Ryanair has also cancelled some flights pre-emptively, with passengers informed on Tuesday afternoon and offered refunds or re-booking.The Irish airline is telling passengers: “If your flight is delayed, you will be sent an email and SMS on the day with the updated scheduled times of departure.“We apologise for any inconvenience caused by these strikes, we will do everything we can to minimise the disruption, which is completely outside of our control.”During third-party strikes such as this, airlines are obliged to provide meals, accommodation and alternative flights as necessary to disrupted passengers. But they are not liable to pay compensation.

  • 10 best sunscreens for babies that will protect their sensitive skin
    Style
    The Independent

    10 best sunscreens for babies that will protect their sensitive skin

    We’re on the cusp of summer and the promise of sun. As a nation with unpredictable weather, we are getting a whole lot better when it comes to sun protection, especially when it comes to babies.Infant skin is so much more sensitive than any adult’s. It is considerably thinner and less capable of making melanin, the natural defence mechanism against the sun’s rays.In an ideal world very small babies – those under six months old – shouldn’t be in the sun at all, although on a practical level this can be a tough maxim to live by. This is also why brands are reluctant to claim that their products are suitable for newborn babies – lest they appear to be endorsing tiny infants being exposed to direct sunlight.To minimise a baby’s exposure to sun, she or he should be well covered in light clothing, including a decent sun hat. But really, little ones do need to be coated in a protective layer of sun cream year around, even when the sun is barely getting a look in through the clouds. The damage sunburn wreaks ranges from straight up pain but can extend to sunstroke which involves dehydration, vomiting and nausea. However, most seriously, just one case of serious sunburn can hugely increase a child’s risk of skin cancer in later life.When choosing a sunscreen for your baby you should look for one which blocks both the UVA and UVB rays that damage our skin. The difference, basically speaking, is that UVA causes aging while UVB causes burning. However, both contribute to the development of skin cancer.Manufacturers are finally beginning to cotton on to the nightmare parents can experience when they try to apply SPF to infants and are finding ways to make the process easier for all involved – without tears or excessive wriggling.Some cheaper brands can tend to suffocate the skin, clogging the pores and resulting in a sweaty, hot experience. But not all, as we’ve discovered.From the jaw-droppingly expensive to the far more affordable, here are the very best sun creams on the market to protect your baby. Childs Farm roll on SPF50+, 70ml: £8, Childs FarmWhy didn’t anyone think of the roll-on sooner when it came to sun cream application? What we love about a roll on is how easy and quick it is to use, even on little ones who hate any faffing or are are absolutely desperate to get outside.This lotion is neither thick nor thin, it spreads evenly and without much effort. It smells of nothing and once its absorbed it leaves no trace, which is basically perfect!Gentle enough for use on newborns, Childs Farm suncare products contain no parabens, SLSs (sodium laureth sulfate) or artificial colours making this sun cream ideal for skin which is particularly sensitive or prone to dryness or eczema. If you don’t like a roll-on, there is also a cream and spray to choose from.Buy now Ultrasun kids sunscreen SPF50+, 150ml: £30, AmazonThis is not cheap, granted, but it does boast even higher protection than a screen against UVA and UVB rays. How? It uses celligent – a natural ingredient that protects cells and DNA when the skin is exposed to the sun. Water resistant, unperfumed and without any additives like mineral oils or preservatives this is a really clean, high-end sun cream that one can’t really fault. We loved the pump applicator which is so well designed that there will be no irritating spills or leaks. The team at Ultrasun recommends using the brand’s Extreme SPF50+ for newborns for extra peace of mind, but is clear that small babies should not be exposed to direct sunlight.Buy now Solait Kids colour mix lotion SPF30, 100ml: £4.49, SuperdrugWith advanced UVA and UVB protection, this is a pretty ingenious idea from Superdrug. The lotion contains a rainbow spectrum of little different coloured beads which makes the often labourious application process an exciting endeavour in its own right as the colours begin to streak and blur on the body. Paediatrician approved, the cream sinks in easily. The skin doesn’t feel clammy afterwards. If anything, it feels a little dry. We love the smell – which manages to be tropical without being overpowering. Suitable for babies of six months old and above.Buy now Weleda edelweiss sunscreen lotion SPF50, 50ml: £13.95With both UVA and UVB defences, this is really strong when it comes to protection and yet mild on skin. With organic edelweiss, virgin coconut oil and shea butter, this lotion is absolutely packed with goodness and includes no nasties. We really liked how a creamy layer was left on the skin. It offered a sense of reassurance that we had it all covered, literally. It withstood even abundant dips in the paddling pool. While Weleda is at pains to point out that newborn babies should not be in direct sunlight, the company states that in the unavoidable moments a baby is exposed, using their kids sunscreen is entirely suitable, especially given that it is fragrance free, with no skin stimulating essential oils. This is a brilliant price for a natural product.Buy now Evy kids proderm sunscreen mousse SPF50, 150ml: £21.95, AmazonSuitable for older babies – those beyond six months – this sunscreen is something of a revelation. That Evy is applied as a mousse makes it all the more enticing for little ones, which, as discussed is almost the entire battle. We found that getting older babies to squirt and apply the mousse was fun and playful rather than a chore they would try to literally wriggle out of. Despite being a mousse the absorbency was excellent – and didn’t leave the skin feeling clogged, gummy or like there was a layer on top of the skin. Offering up to six hours’ protection against 98 percent of UV rays, the 150ml bottles actually provide almost double that once the contents are dispensed, so you get a lot of bang for your buck.Buy now Coola mineral baby sunscreen stick SPF50, 29g: £23, Space NKWe know you shouldn’t judge quality by packaging but we can’t help but be a little bit impressed by the chic design by Coola. The contents are just as impressive. Boasting a very high protection for babies over six months old, this is easily applied in a few fell swoops. It feels thick and substantial and yet sinks easily into the skin, leaving a lovely mild coconut smell. We know it’s on the pricey side, but aside from all of its skincare credentials it fits into a back pocket and creates absolutely no mess.Buy now Nivea kids sun cream roll-on extra water resistant SPF50, 50ml: £4.50, BootsAvailable in both green and pink, this very high factor roll-on for babies and children over six months old is rather brilliant. We had three two-year-olds who fought over the pink – so we can vouch for the colour part being a huge success. It really helped us as parents when it came to application, too, not just because the kids weren’t wriggling away from us, but also because it helps track where cream still needs to be before absorbing into transparency. The smell is pure summer, but if we had to be critical, perhaps a little too cloying for sensitive noses.Buy now Clarins sun care milk for children 100% mineral screen UVA/UVB 50+, 150 ml: £22.06, AmazonFirstly, this smells heavenly, as you might expect from luxury skincare brand such as Clarins. But this is about more than just a fine fragrance. Made entirely from minerals, this is a light lotion which spreads easily and absorbs quickly. A little bit goes a long way, so you won’t find the bottle half empty after a full day in the sun. Suitable for babies over six months old. Buy now Mustela very high protection sun lotion SPF50+, 100ml: £13.56, Landy’sSuitable from birth onwards, we found this cream to be fairly thick and ultra-moisturising and we like that it is fragrance-free. It promises not to stain clothes – how many white t-shirts have fallen victim to the curse of the excess suncream? – and we found this to be true, which says a lot about how gentle this cream really is. One white vest which got covered with this lotion came out of the wash as good as new. Buy now Sainsbury's kids sun protect moisturising sun lotion very high 50+ SPF, 200ml: £4, Sainsbury’sSuper cheap, especially when you consider how vast this bottle is, this cream is a really good buy. This is nothing fancy; it boasts no bells nor whistles but it offers very high protection against both UVA and UVB rays. It spreads easily without leaving skin feeling clammy or greasy. You can slap it on liberally and frequently and at this price you won’t kick yourself if you leave it at the beach. For use on babies of six months and older. Buy now The verdict: Sunscreen for babiesWhile Evy kids proderm sunscreen mousse certainly gets huge thumbs up for its innovation, in terms of value for money, we don’t think you can beat Childs Farm 50+ SPF roll-on. It’s inexpensive and yet organic, kind to skin and easy to use.

  • Ryanair and eDreams come bottom in new Which? travel agent investigation
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    The Independent

    Ryanair and eDreams come bottom in new Which? travel agent investigation

    Travel agents aren’t as clued up on holiday protections as they should be according to new research, which highlights Ryanair and eDreams as the worst offenders.Which? Travel’s latest investigation found that the two travel agents gave incorrect responses to the majority of questions about consumers’ rights and holiday cover when quizzed by secret shoppers, getting just five out of 15 answers right.One Ryanair employee couldn’t explain what a package holiday was, claiming that the caller’s trip didn’t constitute a package because the “hotel was provided by a third party”: this turned out to be Ryanair Rooms. The flight and the hotel were being booked as part of the same transaction.The travel watchdog targeted seven of the UK’s leading travel agents, making three calls to each one to ask five questions per call.Other brands didn’t fare too well either, with British Airways Holidays, Lastminute.com and Travel Republic only getting eight questions right apiece.Expedia managed 11 correct answers, while Trailfinders came top with 12.Questions included asking whether a holiday was Atol-protected and whether it was a package – factors which determine the level of protection a consumer is getting for their holiday. While Atol offers financial protection if a company goes bust, a package guarantees more comprehensive legal cover, including if the holiday isn’t as described or if it’s disrupted by a natural disaster.“The regulations mean that your travel agent is legally bound to put right a problem while you’re abroad, or compensate you once you’re home,” said Which? Travel.It has presented the investigation findings to the government department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, plus the Civil Aviation Authority, calling on the latter to crack down on travel companies that mislead consumers about how well their holiday is protected.A spokesperson for eDreams told The Independent: “As soon as we were made aware of this investigation, we immediately launched a thorough review to ensure that we meet our demanding standards to deliver excellence for our customers. “Our customers are our number one priority and our customer services team is continuously trained to provide them with the most up to date information on a range of topics. “The information our customer services team provides on travel protection has now been reviewed to ensure it is communicated in the most clear and comprehensive manner.”The Independent has requested comment from Ryanair.

  • Is it safe to visit Chernobyl?
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    The Independent

    Is it safe to visit Chernobyl?

    More than 33 years ago, the world’s worst nuclear disaster took place in a Ukrainian town near the Belarus border.The Chernobyl nuclear disaster happened overnight on 25-26 April 1986 in the now-abandoned town of Pripyat, when an explosion sent radioactive material into the air.As new Sky Atlantic/HBO drama Chernobyl premieres tonight, here’s everything you need to know about visiting the former nuclear site. What is the Chernobyl disaster and what happened?The disaster occurred during a routine late-night safety test in the number four nuclear reactor of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, in the town of Pripyat, which is 104k from the Ukrainian capital Kiev.The plant crew intentionally switched off the safety systems to test the turbine.However, the reactor overheated and generated a powerful explosion that sent plumes of radioactive material two kilometres into the Earth’s atmosphere. It’s estimated that 400 times more radioactive material was sent into the air than when the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan.Following the explosion, 134 servicemen were hospitalised with acute radiation sickness, of which 28 firemen and employees died in the weeks and months after the explosion.An 18-mile radius, known as the exclusion zone, was set up around the reactor; and more than 100,000 people were evacuated from the area. Is Chernobyl open to tourists?Yes. The site has been open to the public since 2011, when authorities deemed it safe to visit. Is it safe to visit?Yes, provided you visit with a specialist tour guide.“Several thousand people visit every year,” says Justin Francis, CEO of Responsible Travel. “The amount of radiation you’re exposed to is similar to on a long haul flight.“The main danger is not radiation, but unsafe structures which have been deserted for 30 years, and lots of metal has been stripped away. So go around in groups, and obey the guide’s instructions.”Peter Wybrow, Ukraine expert at Regent Holidays, which organises trips to Ukraine and Chernobyl, says guides will always carry a Geiger counter with them to measure radiation.However, it is dangerous to stay near the site for longer periods. Should tourists visit Chernobyl?It’s a fascinating experience on many levels and well worth a visit, says Francis.“It’s bleak but also illuminating, poignant, fascinating to learn the real stories. It’s a photographer’s dream.“You can also meet the settlers who returned to hear their stories and help them out by buying their moonshine. Don’t see it as disaster tourism but as a way of understanding the risks of nuclear.” If I want to visit, how can I do it?Chernobyl is around 100k north of the Ukrainian capital Kiev, or a two-hour drive. It’s an easy day trip for tourists already in Kiev.“Most tours are day trips but you can stay overnight in a small hotel in Chernobyl town too, which is perfectly safe and best way to really experience it rather than just a few hours on a day trip,” says Francis.“Kiev shouldn’t be missed and it’s a good idea to combine with a visit to the Kiev Chernobyl Museum giving you the background, especially some interesting films shot during the time of the evacuation.” What can visitors expect when they visit?Because the exclusion zone has meant almost no human interference for more than 30 years, wildlife surrounding Chernobyl has thrived: visitors can spot species such as tame foxes and giant catfish, as well as wild horses, bison, bears and wolves – although these are rarely seen.Francis adds: “There are also many interesting buildings around, although lots of them have been damaged by looters or disrespectful tourists.“It’s a good idea to climb to top of a residential building, about 15 storeys high, to take in the views. Also the fairground, the Ferris wheel is one of the iconic Chernobyl images. It was scheduled to open a few days after the explosion so the wheel and the dodgems never had paying riders.” What should tourists be aware of?Some places are still off-limits to tourists because of radiation fears, such as the basement of the hospital where the first responders’ equipment and clothing was dumped, says Wybrow.Although on a two-day tour to Chernobyl, visitors will be exposed to a lower level of radiation than on a long-haul flight, there are safety checks in place.Wybrow adds: “When you go through the outer and inner exclusion zone you are subject to radiation checks to ensure no one is above a safe level. There is also a curfew in Chernobyl if you overnight there.”The Independent journalist Emma Thomson visited Chernobyl first-hand. Read about her experience here.

  • Travel influencers come under fire for posting risky kiss leaning out of moving train
    Style
    The Independent

    Travel influencers come under fire for posting risky kiss leaning out of moving train

    An influencer couple have become the second pair in a week to face criticism after posting a “stupid” picture of them leaning out of a moving train to share a kiss.Belgian travel Instagrammers Camille and Jean, better known as “@backpackdiariez”, uploaded the photo to mixed opinions.The snap shows them leaning far out of a train door in Sri Lanka, and is accompanied with a caption in which they explain that the image sums them up as a couple because they have “blind trust in each other” and are “living on the edge (sometimes a bit too much)”.While plenty praised the picture, which shows lush foliage in the background with the distinctive blue train curving through the landscape, others weren’t impressed by the risk-taking involved in capturing it.“Hope you don’t fall down next time you do this stupid stunt,” said one commenter. > View this post on Instagram> > ONE OF OUR WILDEST KISSES 😘 We couldn’t think of a better picture to describe our couple: 1. Blind trust in each other, no matter what 🙈 2. Madly in love ❤️ 3. Always having the need to do something different with our lives 🤷🏻‍♂️ 4. Living on the edge (sometimes a bit too much) 🤕 5. Usually on the run 👣 6. Having fun whenever we can 💃🏼 7. Organized chaos 🌪 What is according to you the most important foundation of a strong couple? srilanka srilankatrip travelcouple ella travelbucketlist travelholic travelcommunity wanderlove loveandwildhearts dirtybootsandmessyhair traveltogether speechlessplaces> > A post shared by CAMILLE & JEAN (@backpackdiariez) on May 2, 2019 at 10:18am PDTAnother pointed out that their actions might encourage others to follow suit: “Honestly it’s a beautiful picture but isn’t this very dangerous? What if someone tries to copy it?”The post got more than 40,000 likes, despite the controversy.Just a few days earlier, another Instagram couple, Raquel and Miguel, who go by the handle @exploressaurus_, came under fire for striking a similar pose on the same train riding along the Nine Arches Bridge in the small town of Ella, Sri Lanka.They were accused of encouraging people to risk their lives for the perfect shot.“I would never promote a picture like this since there are not few people stupid enough to feel encouraged to try and recreate the idea,” wrote one commenter. “You should see your responsibility for influencing others.”It follows an increasing number of stories of travel influencers experiencing a backlash against posts that critics claim promote dangerous behaviour.Last month Kelly Castille and Kody Workman, who created Instagram account Positravelty, hit back after a picture of them in Bali was branded “dangerous” and “stupid” by online commenters.It shows Workman holding Castille over the side of an infinity pool in Ubud while they kiss, with a sheer drop below.> View this post on Instagram> > 🇺🇸 Our greatest strength in life, our most important principle, is discernment. Only you can know your body, feel the space around you and understand your capabilities. We would all do well to remember this, knowing that not every action, style or path we witness through others is or should be, replicated. At the end of the day we are to hold ourselves accountable for the decisions that we make. ※ 🇵🇦 La mejor fortaleza en la vida, el moral más importante, es discernimiento. Solo puedes entender tu cuerpo, sentir el espacio que te rodea y comprender tus capacidades. Haríamos bien en recorder este, sabiendo que no toda acción, estilo o camino que presenciamos por otros es o debe ser, replicado. Al final del dia, somos responsables de las decisiones que hacemos. ※ Thank you @kayonjungleresort for an unforgettable experience! ※ ※ balitravel couplesgoals ilovetravel bestplaces baligasm ubud balitravel novios junglelife viajeros wetravel travelinspo adventurous indonesiaparadise speechlessplaces infinitypool welltraveled earthpix baliholiday> > A post shared by Kelly + Kody (@positravelty) on Apr 2, 2019 at 7:27am PDTMany were quick to censure the couple for the “terrifying” and “idiotic” stunt, but Castille and Workman, whose account has more than 100,000 followers, defended it, telling Fox News that they “weren’t going to feed into the negativity of this”.“Our account is about creativity, photography, kindness, perspective, and above all…positivity,” they added. “Whether a photo does well or not, whether it is perceived one way or another, is irrelevant to us.“We post what we love and what we believe showcases our happiness, our adventures, (and) our creativity.“This has become a bigger deal than we could have ever imagined and going forward we only wish to discuss positive things and the reality behind the photo.”

  • Woman removed from flight after ‘refusing' to watch safety video
    Style
    The Independent

    Woman removed from flight after ‘refusing' to watch safety video

    A passenger was escorted from an Air New Zealand flight by police after she allegedly refused to watch the inflight safety video.The service from Wellington to Auckland had to return to the gate prior to take-off, where the woman was removed from the aircraft for failing to comply with crew instructions.“The passenger will receive an infringement notice under Civil Aviation Authority rules relating to the use of a cellphone,” a police spokesperson told Newshub, confirming that they responded to a request to meet flight NZ424 this morning.However, a fellow passenger suggested Air New Zealand change its inflight videos if it really wants travellers to pay attention.”I have to say that if watching the safety video is so crucial and you can be escorted off the plane, maybe Air New Zealand should stop making ‘Rachel Hunter ice cream ad’ safety videos.“Just make a short video that is compulsory to watch and let people know if they don’t watch the video, the police will come and take them away.”Air New Zealand’s previous safety video caused so much controversy it was axed less than six months after its release.Performed by Kiwi artists, the inflight instructions took the form of a rap inspired by Run DMC’s Eighties classic, ‘It’s Tricky’.While the airline claimed that the video – which included stellar lyrics such as “Business premier, I see you folks are working / Sit upright, hands on thighs, feet to floor / It’s just like twerking!” – was a hit with passengers, critics said it made a mockery of aviation safety.New Zealand First MP Shane Jones branded the video “cringe”, saying: “Tourists are confused. They can’t hear it. It’s a lame attempt at entertainment and it’s a type of entertainment that’s toneless, it’s cringe culture, really.”He added: “I think it trivialises safety. I think it’s a juvenile mish-mash.”

  • Eurostar ends agreement allowing passengers to travel from London to Germany, Austria and Switzerland
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    The Independent

    Eurostar ends agreement allowing passengers to travel from London to Germany, Austria and Switzerland

    At a time when more European travellers than ever appear to be keen to travel by rail rather than air, Eurostar is choosing to make life more difficult for passengers hoping to travel by train from the UK to Germany, Austria and Switzerland.The cross-Channel train operator is ending its agreement with Deutsche Bahn that allows the German rail operator to sell a wide range of tickets between London and key business and leisure cities such as Cologne, Basel and Salzburg.Using so-called “summated fares,” passengers take the train from London St Pancras to Brussels Midi, and change there to German high-speed trains.Prices start at under €60 (£51) one way for shorter trips, with tickets to Berlin, Munich and other more distant destinations for under €70 (£60). These are competitive with fares on British Airways, easyJet and Eurowings, the Lufthansa subsidiary.Unlike some other connecting journeys, passengers travel on a single booking – making rescheduling straightforward in the event of disruption.But direct tickets will no longer be sold from 9 November.The German rail organisation said on social media: “Due to a system changeover at Eurostar, from 9 November, no direct tickets to London will be available.“We work together with Eurostar for a solution.”The move is likely to please the airlines, who are vulnerable to a switch from air to rail.In 2018 Mark Smith, the international rail guru who founded the Seat61.com website, told The Independent that archaic railway rules deter passengers planning long-distance journeys. He called the latest move a “major setback” for train travel to Europe.“This is a step backwards, more fragmentation, when operators need to work more together,” he said.“But tickets likely to be more expensive and as tickets will be separate, no more through tickets, passenger rights are affected with less protection.“The desire to travel more by train not plane is a grassroots movement which is coming from travellers themselves. In spite of train operators’ best attempts to prevent it.”A spokesperson for Eurostar said: “We are unable to offer sales of the London Spezial through fare as we transfer to a new sales system.“We are committed to this product range and we are working with Deutsche Bahn to resolve this.“Customers can still purchase summated fares to Germany from Eurostar and DB sales channels in the interim.”

  • Russia crash: Emergency evacuation rules designed to keep you safe - from seating to cabin baggage
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    The Independent

    Russia crash: Emergency evacuation rules designed to keep you safe - from seating to cabin baggage

    Forty-one people have died after a Russian airliner made an emergency landing at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport.The plane burst into flames on the runway. Video footage shows many of the 37 survivors running away from the stricken aircraft with their cabin baggage.The European Transport Safety Council (ETSC) says that nine out of 10 passenger airliner accidents can be categorised as survivable or technically survivable.The Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS) adds: “Even in clearly catastrophic circumstances such as fire or fuselage disruption, a high level of occupant survivability can be achieved.”The rules are drafted to maximise the chance of passengers leaving the aircraft before fire takes hold.The European Aviation Safety Agency says that aircraft seating more than 44 passengers must be able to be fully evacuated “under simulated emergency conditions within 90 seconds”. The test stipulates that only half the emergency exits are available, with no prior knowledge of which can be used; that the demonstration is conducted in reduced lighting conditions; cabin baggage and blankets are positioned in aisles; and a representative number of older passengers must be included.There are many more aspects – mainly as specified by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), but mirrored by safety agencies across the world. Passenger seatingThe way that passengers are allocated seats can affect an emergency evacuation. The CAA divides passengers into three types. The first: passengers “who appear reasonably fit and strong” and are deemed likely to be able to assist with an evacuation. They are the only people who should be seated adjacent to “self-help” exits – typically the over-wing exits where there is no crew member. The seats next to these exits must be occupied by suitable passengers.The second group, defined as “passengers likely to impede evacuation,” must not seated where they might obstruct emergency equipment or exits, “or otherwise impede the crew in carrying out their duties”. The CAA has a long list of criteria of passengers, starting with those “who are physically or mentally handicapped to the extent that they would have difficulty in moving quickly if asked to do so” and those “whose sight or hearing is impaired to the extent that they might not readily become aware of instructions given to begin evacuating the aircraft”.It also includes “passengers whose physical size would prevent them from being able to move quickly,” individuals who are in custody or are being deported, and “children and infants, whether or not they are accompanied by an adult”.The third group, ie everyone else, can be seated anywhere apart from self-help emergency exits. Families with childrenThe rules on adults being seated with children are intended specifically to avoid undue delays in the event of an emergency evacuation.“During emergency evacuations, group members separated from other members of the family or party might seek each other out during the evacuation process,” says the CAA.“Such actions could have an adverse effect on passenger flow rates towards emergency exits and might seriously affect the outcome of an evacuation. Additionally, infants and young children would need assistance from adults in the donning of oxygen masks during decompression.”Therefore there are rules on seat allocation. Children should be separated by no more than one seat row from accompanying adults, nor, on wide-bodied aircraft, by more than one aisle.In practice, the UK airlines contacted by The Independent say they will always seat a child next to a parent or guardian – though family groups may be split, with each parent in a different row. Safety briefingCabin crew must “conduct the briefing in a professional and interested manner,” with the wording and presentation of the demonstration designed to encourage passengers to pay attention.Passengers should always watch the safety demonstration, and ascertain where the nearest exit is, both in front and behind.Airlines must not say they are making the briefing because the law requires them to do so.While the aircraft is taxiing, cabin crew should not hand out of newspapers, drinks, etc. Refuelling with passengers on boardIt is possible that a plane many need to evacuate while at the gate. If passengers are on board during refuelling, the CAA says: “The 'Fasten Seat Belts' signs should be switched off and passengers should be briefed to unfasten their seat belts.“Provision should be made, via at least two of the main passenger doors (or the main passenger door plus one emergency exit when only one main door is available), and preferably at opposing ends of the aircraft, for the safe evacuation of passengers in the event of an emergency.“Throughout the fuelling operation, each of these doors should constantly be manned by at least one cabin crew member per door.” Cabin baggage“The increasing amount of cabin baggage being allowed into passenger cabins can pose new challenges to both flight crew and cabin crew in emergency evacuations,” says the RAeS.Hand luggage must be placed “where it cannot impede evacuation from the aircraft”, ie in overhead storage bins or completely under the seat of the passenger in front.“Under-seat stowages may only be used if the seat is equipped with a restraint bar and the baggage is of a size to fit entirely under the seat,” says the CAA.The problem exposed by the Russian tragedy is that many of the survivors took their cabin baggage with them. This dangerous and thoughtless practice may well turn out to have cost lives in this accident.The rule is that you leave everything behind – to avoid wasting time, blocking the aisle and damaging the escape slide. We have seen it before – for example in September 2015 when one engine of a British Airways plane burst into flames at Las Vegas airport during take off for Gatwick. When an Air France plane skidded off the end of the runway in Toronto in 2005, the accident report said the evacuation was impeded because nearly half the passengers retrieved their cabin baggage.The trend is set to increase, as passengers are incentivised by airline baggage policies to take more luggage into the cabin. In addition, travellers tend to be carrying increasingly expensive devices such as laptops, tablets and cameras. The aviation safety authorities will be looking even harder at how to convince passengers not to grab their possessions. Is the practice subconscious, because we’re used to taking bags out of the overhead lockers, or is it simply selfish – “I can see I am going to get out alive, so I’ll just grab my laptop before I go”?Locking the overhead bins centrally for taxi, take-off and landing is being discussed, but some fear that the move could prove counter-productive, because some passengers might struggle to open the bins and hold up the other people even more. SmokehoodsIn December 1985, the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) said: “The Civil Aviation Authority should urgently give consideration to the formulation of a requirement for the provision of smokehoods/masks to afford passengers an effective level of protection during fires which produce a toxic environment within the aircraft cabin.”This has not happened. The mandatory use of such “Protective Breathing Equipment” would involve additional expense and training. There have been concerns that it makes evacuations more difficult because passengers and, especially, cabin crew who are wearing smokehoods are not able to make themselves understood. AlcoholIt is an offence to board a plane when drunk, or to become drunk once aboard. Intoxicated passengers present an hazard during an emergency evacuation, because the alcohol may affect their capacity to follow instructions leave the aircraft – obstructing other passengers and using up the cabin crew’s time when every second can mean the difference between life and death.“Those who are under the influence of alcohol or different types of drugs are often slower to comply with evacuation orders,” says the RAeS. FootwearThe uniform rules for cabin crew specify: “Flat shoes should be worn during take-off, landing and emergency situations to allow cabin crew to carry out their duties and avoid damage to evacuation slides.” Passengers would be wise to follow the same policy.

  • Russia plane crash: Do the country's airlines still have a safety problem?
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    The Independent

    Russia plane crash: Do the country's airlines still have a safety problem?

    What happened in this event?At least 40 passengers are believed to have died after fire broke out on Aeroflot flight SU1492. The Sukhoi Superjet 100 took off from Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport, destination Murmansk, at 6.03pm local time. Six minutes later the pilots transmitted a 7600 alert, signifying a failure of radio communications.After 23 minutes they “squawked 7700”, signifying an emergency. Four minutes later the aircraft landed in flames.Most of the 78 passengers and crew evacuated the aircraft using emergency slides. How widely used is the aircraft, and what is its safety record?The Sukhoi Superjet 100 is the most sophisticated Russian-built airliner, and the first to be sold in significant numbers in the west.It is a regional jet, carrying fewer than 100 passengers and intended for routes such as the 918-mile link between Moscow and Murmansk.Since it entered service in 2011, around 150 of the type have been delivered – including to CityJet of Ireland and InterJet of Mexico. A similar number are on order.The only previous fatal accident involving the aircraft type took place in 2012 in Indonesia. Forty-five people died when a demonstration flight with potential customers on board crashed into Mount Salak. The accident was blamed on pilot error. What other recent accidents have there been involving Russian passenger planes?In February 2018, Saratov Airlines flight 703 from Moscow’s Domodedovo airport crashed 50 miles south-east of the capital. All 65 passengers and six crew on the flight to the city of Orsk perished aboard the Antonov An148.The airline had its operating certificate revoked after investigators found evidence of breaches of safety procedures.On Christmas Day 2016, all 92 people aboard a Tupolev 154 passenger aircraft operated by the Russian Air Force crashed into the Black Sea shortly after take-off from Sochi airport in southern Russia. The plane was carrying the Alexandrov Ensemble, the official choir of the Russian Armed forces, to Syria.The greatest loss of life involving a Russian airline took place on 31 October 2015, when an Airbus A321 belonging to Metrojet flying from Sharm el Sheikh in Egypt to St Petersburg crashed 23 minutes after take-off. All 217 passengers and seven crew were killed. Investigators believe that a bomb was placed on board at Sharm el Sheikh. In response, the UK banned British airlines from flying to and from the Egyptian resort, a prohibition that remains in place. Do these tragedies point to a fundamental safety issue with Russian aviation?No. During the 20th century, crashes in the Soviet Union were sadly frequent events, often involving a combination of weather, relatively primitive aircraft engineering compared with prevailing western standards and sometimes poor decision-making by pilots.The Russian climate is more extreme than that of any other nation. Operations continue year-round through the bitter winter, and summer storms add to the challenges.The worst case of pilot error caused the loss of Aeroflot flight 593 from Moscow to Hong Kong in 1994, when the captain of the Airbus 310 allowed his 16-year-old son to sit in his seat. The teenager inadvertently disengaged the autopilot, starting a chain of events that cost the lives of all 75 people on board when the plane crashed in Siberia.Other losses have been due to terrorism, including the dreadful night of 24 August 2008, when two successive planes leaving Moscow Domodedovo exploded in flight. All 87 passenger and crew died. Are some Russian airlines safer than others?Aeroflot, the national carrier, and its rival S7 Airlines, are highly regarded. They are members of, respectively, the Skyteam and Oneworld alliances – which stipulate excellence safety standards. They fly mainly Airbus and Boeing jets.Smaller carriers engaged in the monumental task of binding together the world’s biggest nation may not have the same resources, and may also fly older aircraft – including some dating back to Soviet times.It is easy to identify the aircraft planned to operate a specific flight, and to decide whether or not you are happy to fly on it. However, last-minute changes may be made to the aircraft type.

  • Summer 2019 flights: The airlines with the most flight options this year
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    The Independent

    Summer 2019 flights: The airlines with the most flight options this year

    Ryanair has taken over from British Airways as the number one international airline from UK airports in the summer of 2019.It is the first time that a foreign carrier will fly more people from the UK than a British airline.Research for The Independent shows that the Irish airline has increased its outbound flying from the UK by 4 per cent, adding 615,000 seats to its international capacity for the summer season, which runs from 31 March to 26 October.In contrast, British Airways’ numbers have remained flat.In third place is easyJet, which also increased capacity by 4 per cent, representing 591,000 seats.The figures were obtained by the airline routes expert, Ralph Anker, using Cirium Data and Analytics.Ryanair’s chief executive, Michael O’Leary, campaigned vigorously for a Remain vote in the EU referendum. Since the Leave decision, he has frequently warned that Brexit uncertainty would dampen his airline’s expansion from the UK.Mr Anker said: “Despite Mr O’Leary’s repeated warnings about the potential perils for the UK of Brexit, his airline has now overtaken British Airways for the most international seat capacity from the UK this summer."In terms of seat-miles, a key metric in aviation, BA continues to outpace all other airlines from the UK because of its intercontinental flights.A spokesperson for British Airways said: “We are delighted to be able to offer our customers the most extensive long-haul network by any UK airline, including to our new destinations of Charleston, Islamabad, Osaka and Pittsburgh.“We offer our customers a choice of cabins on all our flights, lounges for business class customers, free food for all long-haul flights and business class for short-haul. And with a £6.5bn investment in new aircraft, new seats and new food, the journey is only going to get better.”Smaller airlines show very different trajectories this summer compared with the same season in 2018. The biggest capacity increase in absolute terms is at Jet2. The Leeds-based airline has added 745,000 one-way seats, increasing its capacity by 14 per cent.The largest percentage rise is at Wizz Air. The Hungarian airline has added 643,000 more seats, increasing its UK business by 24 per cent. But Norwegian is cutting UK capacity by 3 per cent and Thomas Cook Airlines by 4 per cent.In terms of destinations, the biggest winner is Tunisia, to which the number of seats has almost doubled. Capacity to Turkey has risen by one-fifth, and to Egypt by one-seventh. Mr Anker, author of The Anker Report, said: “There’s little evidence to suggest that Brexit concerns have stopped airlines from growing UK seat capacity on international routes.“Yes, non-EU markets like Egypt, Turkey and Tunisia are showing well above average growth, but all of these markets have been recovering from recent incidents that reduced their tourist appeal.”The airport with the highest number of international routes is Gatwick, with 202. The figures for the remainder of the “big four” airports are 194 from Heathrow, 183 from Manchester and 174 from Stansted.

  • Travel firm agrees to compensate couple who lost £2,900 because they hadn't 'booked a package'
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    The Independent

    Travel firm agrees to compensate couple who lost £2,900 because they hadn't 'booked a package'

    The travel firm that left a couple stranded in India after a delayed flight has now admitted it should have looked after them – and will be refunding almost £3,000 in extra costs.Kenny and Nicolette Gower, from London, bought a package – comprising flights to India and an overland adventure tour in Kerala – from Bridge the World, part of STA Travel.On the return journey, an IT failure delayed their Air India flight from Cochin to Mumbai and they missed the British Airways connection to Heathrow.They finally arrived home 24 hours late after spending £2,900 to fly via Paris and Exeter.Had Bridge the World accepted that they couple were on a package holiday, it would have had to make arrangements to fly them home. Instead, the travel firm merely offered to help claim recompense from Air India, saying: “As travel agents we do all we can to follow the complaint guidelines put in place by our governing bodies.“Unfortunately airlines are not members of the same association and operate to differing service standards.”When Mr Gower contacted The Independent, he was advised that he appeared to have bought a package as defined by the Package Travel Regulations 1992, and therefore should be entitled to a refund.But Bridge the World told him: “As the booking was made prior to 1 July 2018 the package travel directive is not applicable.”The Independent then sought clarification from Bridge the World, pointing out that Mr Gower bought the flights and tour – comprising accommodation, transport and sightseeing – in a single transaction, with a single price.Furthermore, his Atol certificate stated that the contract was a “package sale”. The itinerary was spelled out under the heading “Package Confirmation”. And the price was quoted as “Total for Package”.But the travel firm insisted: “All the products he booked were separate and each had their own prices and terms and conditions, this was not a package booking.“Therefore, Bridge the World was never liable to get him home under these regulations.”The travel firm has now changed its mind, saying: “Bridge the World has carefully investigated the situation involving the Gowers and the issues they experienced on their return from Kerala.“This is an extremely rare situation and one that had to be carefully scrutinised. “After reviewing all the details, Bridge the World can confirm that the holiday sold was a package, not individually sold as a tour and flights as previously thought.“As a matter of urgency, Bridge the World is contacting the Gowers to apologise and offer a full refund for the additional tickets and costs incurred.“Bridge the World sincerely apologises for any inconvenience and upset caused.”Mr Gower said: “No amount of money can compensate on how isolated and alone we both felt at the time, but getting a full refund will hopefully close this nightmare and help us move on.”A leading travel lawyer, Clare Campbell of Leigh Day, said: “I’m delighted to hear that Bridge the World have reconsidered their position and offered the Gowers a full refund. But it’s disgraceful that they had to go to such lengths to get them to change their mind.“The stance previously taken by the firm was clearly incorrect as the booking documentation showed that a package holiday had in fact been purchased.“I think this is a clear message to holidaymakers to not always take the holiday company’s first decision as the correct decision and to, where possible, seek specialist legal advice.”Bridge the World said that such a case could not arise again. A change in the Package Travel Regulations in July 2018 means that all similar bookings will automatically qualify as a package holiday.“The company will of course adhere to the resulting regulations,” it said.

  • 10 of the best stops on Italy’s Giro d’Italia bike race
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    The Independent

    10 of the best stops on Italy’s Giro d’Italia bike race

    While the Tour de France hogs all the attention, Italy’s own bike race, the Giro d’Italia, has been quietly creeping onto people’s radars. You don’t have to be a cycling fan to appreciate the beauty of the route’s stops, which cover some of Italy’s most appealing cities.Here’s a guide to this year’s top spots in the race, which runs from 11 May to 2 June. Bologna (11-12 May)Bologna has that near perfect combination of superior food – some of the best in Italy – glorious architecture and an ambience that hasn’t been spoilt by too many tourists. Match your pace to that of the Bolognesi as you stroll along 40km of porticos past medieval and Renaissance architecture and into Piazza Maggiore. Then dive into the maze of medieval market stalls in Quadrilatero before following the route of the cyclists all the way out to the sanctuary of San Luca.Where to stay: Hotel Metropolitan has modern rooms and a romantic roof garden just off Via dell’Indipendenza. Doubles from €135, B&B. Frascati (15 May)Just 20km south of Rome is Frascati, one of the 17 towns that make up Castelli Romani, surrounded by the Alban hills. When not touring the town’s wineries and tasting the crisp white wine that’s made here, explore the Ville Tuscolane, the stately villas built during the late Renaissance and early baroque periods. Many are scattered around the vast, sprawling Parco del Tuscolo, which also harbours an ancient Roman theatre.Where to stay: Set in Parco del Tuscolo, Villa Tuscolana Park Hotel has comfortable, traditional rooms, sweeping countryside views and an outdoor pool. Doubles from €94, B&B. Vasto (17 May)Parts of Italy’s Adriatic coast can be a bit monotonous, but the town of Vasto in Abruzzo stands out. Overlooking the sea is its historic upper town, with Renaissance palaces and its main Piazza Rossetti (named after native poet Gabriele, father of Christina and Dante Gabriel). Head down to the sandy beach and look out for wonderfully wonky trabocchi, large wooden contraptions set up for catching fish.Where to stay: Residenza Amblingh is a beautiful little boutique hotel in an 18th-century mansion with views of the Adriatic. Doubles from €109, B&B. Ravenna (21 May)This former capital of the Western Roman Empire has a compelling Byzantine legacy among its eight Unesco-listed sights – the countless mosaics that cover the interior of the sixth century Basilica di San Vitale. Even if you’re not a history buff, the laidback cafés in the ochre and terracotta Piazza del Popolo will win you over. Where to stay: M Club is a cosy B&B just a few seconds from the basilica. Doubles from €90, B&B. Modena (21 May)The birthplace of Pavarotti, Ferrari and the world’s best vinegar is a joy to explore, particularly its medieval centre crowned by a wondrous Romanesque cathedral. Once you’ve been truly awed by the Duomo in Piazza Grande, give your senses another kick with a visit to the food stalls of the Mercato Albinelli. They’ll set you up for Modena’s exceptional dining scene. As befits the capital of so-called Motor Valley, it’s home to the futuristic Enzo Ferrari Museum.Where to stay: Vittorio Veneto 25 has six stylish rooms designed by local artists in an early 20th-century villa. Doubles from €127, room only. Courmayeur (25 May)One of the Aosta Valley’s premier ski resorts is just as much fun once the snow melts. Mont Blanc looms over the town, offering hikes for all levels. For a less strenuous but still exciting way to get the best views, take the Skyway Monte Bianco cable car, which reaches the air-thinning height of 3,462 metres. Where to stay: Hotel Berthod has traditional rooms, most with balconies, in the centre of town. Doubles from €95, B&B. Como (26 May)This ancient town in the southwestern corner of Lake Como is a genial place to take in the beauty of the surrounding mountains and lively lakeside life. The Gothic-Renaissance Duomo is one of the most impressive in Italy, and the town also has a funicular that takes you up to Brunate for fabulous views of the lake.Where to stay: Palace Hotel offers old-world glamour overlooking the lake. Doubles from €200, room only. Commezzadura (29 May)Set in the Val di Sole, this mountain commune is neatly sandwiched between the national parks of Stelvio and Adamello Brenta. That means knockout views courtesy of the majestic Dolomites, while mountain bikers can tackle some of the toughest tracks on the World Cup circuit. If that sounds too much like hard work, take the Dolomiti Express train up to the top and then cycle downhill. Where to stay: Monroc has modern, streamlined rooms with wooden interiors and balconies, plus a spa. Doubles from €135, half-board. Treviso (31 May)Visitors to Venice tend to use Treviso’s airport as a cheap transport option and rarely, if ever, set foot in this overlooked city. Within its 16th century walls there’s an enchanting little network of canals as well as the River Sile and the buzzing Piazza dei Signori. Don’t miss Canale Cagnan, with its own fish market sitting on a little island in the canal.Where to stay: The comfortable rooms at Relais San Nicolo have all been creatively furnished in the style of a different city. Doubles from €110, B&B. Verona (2 June)The Giro d’Italia ends with an exciting time trial on the World Cup Torricelle circuit before finishing in dramatic fashion in Piazza Bra in front of the remarkably well-preserved Verona Arena. Once the cycling circus packs up, that’s your cue to explore Verona’s Roman, medieval and Renaissance sights on both sides of the River Adige, including the ancient Roman theatre and the 14th century Domus Mercatorum. Much of Verona’s pleasure comes from wandering through its historic squares, including Piazza delle Erbe and Piazza Dei Signori. Diehard romantics can always join the crowds at the Casa di Giulietta in front of that balcony.Where to stay: Le Suite di Giulietta has elegant rooms, some of which have views of Casa di Giulietta’s balcony. Doubles from €140, room only.

  • Lion Air grounds pilot who attacked hotel staff member over quality of ironed uniform
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    The Independent

    Lion Air grounds pilot who attacked hotel staff member over quality of ironed uniform

    A pilot who attacked a hotel staff member because he was unhappy with how his uniform had been ironed has been grounded.CCTV footage shared on social media shows a Lion Air pilot challenging the check-in agent, before walking around the reception desk to reprimand him further. He is then seen beating the man over the head several times. The footage has been viewed on social media more than one million times.The incident occurred on 30 April at a hotel in Surabaya, a city on the Indonesian island of Java.Today, the budget airline published a statement on Facebook confirming that the pilot, whose initials are AG, was suspended.“Lion Air has implemented company rules by not assigning AG according to its profession or not giving permission to fly (grounded) assignments,” it read.“Currently Lion Air is still carrying out the process of collecting data, information and other information needed for the purposes of further investigation or investigation (sic).“If the intended pilot (AG) is found guilty after the investigation decision is complete, Lion Air will give strict sanctions by dismissing the company (sic).“Lion Air is very obedient in implementing and prioritising disciplinary culture on all fronts, including employee behaviour or ethics. This policy is in order to prioritise the factors of flight safety and security (safety first).”The Jakarta-based airline, the second largest low-cost airline in Southeast Asia after AirAsia, was involved in 2018's deadliest air accident.In October 2018, a Lion Air Boeing 737 Max jet plunged into the sea off the coast of Indonesia, killing all 189 passengers.

  • TfL bans adverts from 11 countries with poor human rights
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    The Independent

    TfL bans adverts from 11 countries with poor human rights

    Transport for London (TfL) has banned adverts from 11 countries with poor human rights records in relation to LGBT people, including six which impose the death penalty for gay sex. The ban includes Qatar, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Nigeria, Somali, Sudan and Mauritania.The eleven nations join Brunei, whose advertising was banned from TfL last month following an international backlash to new strict anti-LGBT+ laws.Green Party London Assembly member, Caroline Russell, prompted the move after writing to London mayor Sadiq Khan to express her concerns about countries with poor human rights records advertising on TfL.A TfL spokesperson told The Independent: “Pending the review, we have asked our advertising partners not to accept any new adverts originating from the countries identified by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) as having the death penalty for same sex acts. “This includes advertisements from the states and from state-owned companies.” A spokesperson for the Mayor of London told The Independent: “The Mayor is immensely proud that London is a city where you are free to be whoever you want to be, and love whoever you want to love. “TfL adverts are seen by millions of people every year, and given the global role London plays championing LGBT+ rights, the Mayor has asked that TfL review how it treats advertising and sponsorship from countries with abhorrent anti-LGBT+ laws.” In its March 2019 report entitled “State Sponsored Homophobia”, the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) listed six UN Member States which impose the death penalty on consensual acts between people of the same sex (Iran, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen), while the remaining five maintain the death penalty as a “possible” punishment (United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Mauritania).According to a report in the Evening Standard, Russell has also asked TfL to reject any bids from these countries when sponsorship for the Emirates Air Line cable car comes up for renewal. “Regimes that use the death penalty and so nakedly breach human rights shouldn’t be allowed to advertise on TfL. It’s a matter of principle,” she said.

  • Why more people should visit Eastern Europe
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    The Independent

    Why more people should visit Eastern Europe

    Thirty years ago this weekend, possibly the most ill-timed guidebook in history was published.Travellers Survival Kit: Soviet Union & Eastern Europe explained in exhaustive detail how to procure a Hungarian visa. But three months after it hit the bookshops, Hungary opened its frontier with Austria and you could walk across the border unchallenged to join the “Pan-European Picnic” outside the town of Sopron.Conversely and crucially, East Germans on holiday in Hungary could stroll beyond Sopron’s Lenin Boulevard, cross over to Austria and be ushered onto West Germany where citizenship awaited.Within six months, the Berlin Wall that divided families, street and the world had fallen – rendering the complexities of crossing through Checkpoint Charlie or Friedrichstrasse station between East and West Berlin wonderfully irrelevant.The Kremlin swiftly lost its grip on the Warsaw Pact nations. And the notion of having a crafty budget holiday behind the Iron Curtain (“Many Western visitors subsidise their stay by selling possessions or changing money illegally”) vanished as swiftly as the shady black-marketeers, as nations from Bulgaria to Czechoslovakia stopped pretending their currencies were five or 10 times more valuable than the real world believed.The travel industry was thrilled: surely the collapse of communism would open up the Eastern Bloc from Potsdam to Vladivostok? Richard Branson announced impending beach holidays in the Crimean resort of Yalta.A few cities – Prague, Budapest and Krakow – have blossomed as tourism hubs. Yet in the past three decades, much of this vast terrain has comprehensively failed to live up to its tourist potential.Which, along with the welcome untangling of red tape, makes it prime territory for adventure in 2019. So allow me to prescribe a journey to the past which will open your eyes.Start in southeast Romania, no longer a “dark and troubled land” but ridiculously easy to reach with 14 flights a week from Luton and Liverpool to Iasi. The painted monasteries remain “a stunning sight, the closest things that Romania has to perfection” and woefully unvisited.Stay in the Hotel Select – a former banker’s mansion converted under communism to accommodation that, it claims, “tourists and locals, people of culture, historians, diplomats and businessmen fully appreciate”.Frequent absurdly cheap buses run across the border to Moldova, known for centuries as “the land on the route of all disasters”. Chisinau (formerly Kishinev) was a provincial backwater that found itself inadvertently promoted to a capital of one of the USSR’s 15 republics.Today, the Chisinau Hotel remains resolutely Soviet, with another enticing slogan: “Like visiting your granny, not modern, but clean, warm and relaxing.”Step aboard a crowded minibus for a ride across what purports to be an international frontier. Not far beyond Chisinau airport, barbed wire and weapons signals the border of the breakaway republic of Transnistria: the one truly Soviet place you can reach without a Russian visa.You must explain yourself to the frontier officials, who will decide whether to admit you for a full day or only a few hours and stamp your passport accordingly.Talking of stamps, the Post Office in the self-styled capital of this self-styled nation sells them. But you can only use them to post cards to your friends in Transnistria; the postal service, like the “nation”, is recognised nowhere else.In the only land which still has the hammer and sickle on its flag, Lenin is revered, and Stalin is given plenty of air at the National United Museum (ask to see the statue of him in the back garden).Transnistria is in a trance-like state of suspended Soviet animation. At the brand-new tourist office, the manager cheerfully admitted to me: “We’re not a very tourist country."Beyond another border lies Ukraine, which should be a very tourist country, yet still isn’t. While its Crimean resorts have been annexed by Russia, the jewel of the Black Sea coast – Odessa – is accessible.“Friendly, relaxed and with an almost southern European air,” was how the 1989 guide describes the city. The palaces, beaches and Potemkin Steps – immortalised in the 1925 film by Sergei Eisenstein – are possibly even less visited than they were back in the USSR days, as the Russian and Belarusan contingents have diverted to Crimea. “Be prepared to have your preconceptions shattered and to meet people who will convince you that not everything east of the Berlin Wall is sad and shabby.” At least one piece of advice from 1989 still holds good.

  • Norwegian Air drops dress code requiring female staff to wear high heels
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    The Independent

    Norwegian Air drops dress code requiring female staff to wear high heels

    Norwegian Air has dropped a controversial policy that required female cabin crew to wear heels at all times when outside the aircraft cabin, unless they carried a doctor's note.The budget airline is also ending the mandatory make-up policy for female crew members.A Norwegian spokesperson confirmed to The Independent that the guidelines, which stated that female crew had to carry a doctor's note with them at all times if they wanted to wear flat shoes outside the cabin, were being rewritten.The airline, which had been heavily criticised for its dress code, told its women employees that they must wear heels which are at least two centimetres tall in a 22-page dress code.It led to fierce criticism that the carrier was "trapped in a Mad Men universe".A Norwegian spokesperson said: “Our cabin crew have always been required to wear flat shoes while working onboard our aircraft for their safety and comfort."As a responsible employer we are in continuous dialogue with our cabin crew colleagues to see how we can improve our uniform guidelines."We now allow female crew members to wear flat shoes at all times and no makeup if they choose, male crew members can also wear light makeup.”Norwegian's new policy comes as more than 19,500 people signed a Care2 petition calling for the end of the restrictive dress code for women.Norwegian follows airlines Aer Lingus and Virgin Atlantic, which have scrapped mandatory make-up rules for female cabin crew. Additionally, both airlines have made trousers a standard part of female cabin crew uniform, rather than being a special request.

  • How to fly to Malaysia or the Philippines for £381 return
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    The Independent

    How to fly to Malaysia or the Philippines for £381 return

    Every so often, Jack Sheldon from Jack’s Flight Club selects a flight deal from the UK for Independent readers that you can’t afford to miss. This week: return flights to Malaysia or the Philippines for £381 return.Take your pick between Kuala Lumpur and Manila this week with Etihad Airways. Both of these cities are great to visit, but they're also a good jumping-off point for other locations in wider Malaysia and the Philippines. Explore islands such as Langkawi and Phuket in Thailand, which is cheap to connect to from Kuala Lumpur; while there are easy connections from Manila to hundreds of amazing beaches such as El Nido in the Philippines. How to bookHead to Google Flights and enter either London or Manchester as your departure and Manila or Kuala Lumpur as your destination. You may want to add a “Etihad” filter to the “Airlines” option, to help find the dates included in this deal.Use Google Flights’ calendar tool to help you highlight the best travel dates (they’ll show up in green).This one is best booked directly with the airline and Google Flights will provide you a link to book with the airline, or head to Skyscanner and re-enter your dates to reduce the cost by £30-£40 and get the fares listed below. Returns from London (LHR)Manila (MNL) – £386Kuala Lumpur (KUL) – £386 Returns from Manchester (MAN)Manila (MNL) – £381Kuala Lumpur (KUL) – £398 When to flyThe lowest fares are available from September to November 2019 and February to March 2020. When to bookThese fares should be available for another 2-3 days more days at least. Pro tipIf you’re keen to visit the paradisiacal beaches of northern Palawan in the Philippines, but want to avoid the six-hour bus ride from Palawan Island's only major airport, local carrier Air Swift has daily routes directly into town. These don’t show up on Google flights, but you can find the schedule and book directly from its website.

  • Which UK airport has the most new routes this summer?
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    The Independent

    Which UK airport has the most new routes this summer?

    Doncaster Sheffield airport wins few prizes. It is a big shed planted at the former RAF station at Finningley in South Yorkshire, and is much handier for Doncaster (three miles) than Sheffield (20 miles, via Doncaster). But this summer, “DSA” has gained more international routes than any other airport in Britain.At the start of the busiest summer ever for outbound aviation from the UK, I asked the airline routes expert, Ralph Anker, to calculate the winners and losers among Britain’s airports – using Cirium data and analytics to compare a peak week in August 2019 with the same week last summer.“Doncaster Sheffield has a net gain of 12 destinations with new routes to eastern Europe, north Africa and Turkey,” says the author of The Anker Report (whose name conveniently stands for Airline Network Knowledge Expertise and Research).The South Yorkshire airport is starting to mirror Luton as a key gateway to eastern Europe. Thirty years ago, when the Iron Curtain divided the continent, military planes had the then-Soviet cities of Riga in Latvia and Vilnius in Lithuania in their sights. Today, the Airbus jets of Wizz Air are carrying hundreds of passengers in peace to those capitals and many others.Gatwick has added seven routes to become the only UK airport to achieve a double century of destinations; two very different coastal cities, Rio and Zadar, and former conflict zones of Sarajevo and Sulaymaniyah, help lift the Sussex airport’s total to 202.Among Britain’s top 10 airports, Manchester, Luton and Edinburgh have each added five routes. But Edinburgh’s gain is Glasgow’s loss: the airport serving Scotland’s biggest city has shed 14 destinations, after Ryanair shifted flights to the nation’s capital. Stansted’s relentless resurgence appears to be on pause: the Essex airport’s departure screens are showing eight fewer destinations.Compared with summer 2018, Birmingham loses five routes, while Bristol and Newcastle are down four each.The route count does not correlate to the number of passengers: Heathrow has “only” 194 routes this summer, eight fewer than rival Gatwick, but with big planes and high frequencies it achieves a rate of 335,000 passengers per non-stop international destination, compared with 203,000 for Gatwick.For travellers, places matter more than numbers. I won’t count Brunei, not because of the sultanate’s shocking attitude to LGBT+ people, but because it has been a destination from Heathrow for decades. All that has happened is that Royal Brunei’s en route stop in Dubai has been dropped. Nor does Murcia’s or Istanbul’s new airports make the cut.But to Indonesia, beautiful Bali has displaced Jakarta. Africa gains a new link from Heathrow in the shape of Durban, while another British Airways addition is Charleston in South Carolina. But it is a bad year for other “secondary” airports in the US: New York Stewart, Oakland near San Francisco and Boston’s alternative gateway, Providence, have all been dropped by Norwegian.Africa and Asia have increased routes from the UK while those to Europe and the Americas have diminished.Overall, British passengers can fly to almost 400 destinations across the globe non-stop from a UK airport this summer. The number of international routes this summer added up across all UK airports is just eight more than last summer: 1,831 versus 1,823. The author of The Anker Report calculates the number of seats on outbound aircraft from the UK will rise by about 2.6 per cent this year compared with last – mainly achieved with bigger and/or more frequent planes rather than new routes.Concern about the environmental impact of aviation has yet to translate into action – unlike in Sweden, where the implementation of a new aviation tax last year has resulted in Swedish airports seeing 6 per cent fewer passengers in March this year than they did in the same month in 2018.

  • May Bank holiday travel news – LIVE: Latest traffic, trains and flight information amid station closures and strikes
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    The Independent

    May Bank holiday travel news – LIVE: Latest traffic, trains and flight information amid station closures and strikes

    This May bank holiday weekend is set to be a disruptive one for motorists and rail passengers.The RAC is predicting the busiest May bank holiday on the roads since 2016.Meanwhile, key London stations are shutting this weekend for engineering work.Follow our live updates below.