Grown-up Travel Guide News Update – 03.09.2012

In which we present a regular round-up of news from the world of Grown-up Travel

Cold War museum plan prompts row over Berlin’s past

Toronto Sun

More than two decades after the fall of the Berlin Wall, differences over how to represent the Cold War past are hampering plans to build a new museum at the former Checkpoint Charlie border crossing.

Every day thousands of tourists flock to the site of a dramatic standoff between Soviet and American tanks in 1961 in the center of what is now the capital of a reunited Germany.

Though still a potent symbol of the confrontation between communist East and capitalist West, the checkpoint today looks rather ramshackle and has been dubbed “snackpoint Charlie” by local media because of a proliferation of food stands.

The site features a rebuilt guard house and a cramped private museum focused on the methods used by East Germans to flee over the Wall. Drama students pose in U.S. and Soviet army costumes and hawkers assail tourists with ersatz Red Army hats.

From September, a “Black Box” installation will provide more information and images of the checkpoint, but this is just a placeholder for the much larger museum project.

“Wall memory is local and specific, but the confrontation behind it is a global one. We need a wider international frame for understanding the Cold War,” said Konrad Jarausch, head of the museum initiative, which is backed by the center-left Social Democrats (SPD) in the city government.

The Communist East presented the building of the Wall as a response to Western attempts to undermine the East German economy and infiltrate spies and saboteurs. Soviet bloc histories and school books called it the “Anti-fascist Protection Barrier”.

The museum, which has the backing of former statesmen such as James Baker, U.S. Secretary of State when the Wall fell, would try to explain what the Wall meant for both East and West Germany and also show how conflicts in Korea, China and Vietnam fed into superpower rivalry in the Cold War, said Jarausch.

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10K Yosemite visitors might have been exposed to virus

USA Today

Up to 10,000 Yosemite National Park visitors who stayed in luxury tent cabins might have been exposed to a rodent-borne virus that has killed two tourists, according to news reports.

The news comes as California health officials reported earlierthat two more park campers have contracted hantaviruspulmonary syndrome, bringing the state total to six cases, including those who died.

The Merced Sun-Star reports that the roughly 2,900 people who reserved one of the 91 “Signature” tent cabins in Curry Village between June 10 and Aug. 24 has been notified of potential exposure to the rare but dangerous disease.

A spokesman for park concessionaire Delaware North Co. told the Associated Press that because the insulated cabins hold four people, it could mean up to 7,000 more visitors might have been exposed, bringing to possible total to 10,000. The cabins were being cleaned and reopened, but park officials decided Tuesday to close them for the time being.

The park is receiving more than 1,000 calls a day from frightened visitors seeking information or reassurance, AP reported earlier.

The park has posted an FAQ on hantavirus, which is contracted from contact with the urine, feces or saliva of infected rodents, usually deer mice. The symptoms, which appear between one week and six weeks after exposure, include fever, severe headache, and muscle ache. The syndrome quickly progresses to severe breathing difficulty and cause death.

More than half of Heathrow flights forced to circle before landing

The Telegraph

More than half of planes flying into Heathrow are forced to circle the airport waiting for a landing slot, for as long as three quarters of an hour.

Latest figures confirm the experience of many passengers who can find themselves stuck in a holding pattern – known as a stack – for up to 20 minutes on a normal day and 45 minutes in bad weather.

In some cases the time spent waiting for a landing slot can be as long as the flight from short-haul destinations in France, Belgium, and Holland.

The statistics from NATS, the company responsible for air traffic control, will intensify pressure on the Government to reconsider its opposition to building a third runway at Britain’s busiest airport, which is now being questioned by senior backbenchers and some ministers.

Justine Greening, the Transport Secretary, is drawing up a strategy for aviation capacity and is due to announce a “call for evidence” from the industry within weeks.

However the figures from NATS have laid bare the impact on daily operations of an airport which is bursting at the seams.

In 2010, the last year for which statistics are available, 120,425 of 224,497 incoming flights at Heathrow were held in a stack, over Bovingdon; Hertfordshire, Lambourne, Essex; Ockham, Surrey and Biggin Hill, Kent.

By comparison, 16,541 of Gatwick’s 120,250 income flights were held in a stack and at Stansted the figure was 3,786 of 77,570.

Although stacking figures for other major European airports are still being compiled, pilots regard Heathrow as having the most serious problem because it is struggling with only two runways, while its major rivals have four.

Earlier this week The Daily Telegraph disclosed that Heathrow was also responsible for more aircraft being stuck on the tarmac waiting for clearance to fly than any other airport in Europe.

The worst delays are normally in the morning from 6-8 am and it is not uncommon for some business executives to fly in London the night before for a meeting, rather than risk being late because of congestion in the skies.

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Food Miles: Hop to it on a tour of Britain’s craft breweries

The Independent

Despite a decline in beer sales, British brewing is enjoying a renaissance, with craft or artisan brewers flourishing in all corners of the UK. For thirsty travellers, that means the opportunity to find out what goes on behind the scenes on a brewery tour that will almost certainly end with a sample tipple or two.

It is difficult to pin down what exactly constitutes “craft beer”. Camra (the Campaign for Real Ale) has decided that the term describes “beer with a distinctive flavour brewed by artisans”. It is a fittingly vague definition when you consider the range of options. It can be used to describe a microbrewery such as Coniston Brewing Company (015394 41133;, based at the Black Bull pub in the Lake District, and major players such as Meantime (020-8293 1111; The latter has just opened a visitors’ centre in its recently expanded Greenwich brewery which offers a range of tours of its state-of-the art facility (£15) including a Pie and Pint option (£30).

Founded by Petra Wetzel-Stewart, the West Brewery in Glasgow (0141-550 0135;, is one of the few female-run breweries in the UK and the only one to produce beer according to the German purity law of Reinheitsgebot that allows only water, yeast, barley and hops. A 45-minute tour costs £11.55, including four or five beer samples.

Grain Brewery in Harleston (01986 788884;, Norfolk, has recently been renovated and tripled its capacity. Groups of 10 or more can tour the converted dairy for free as long as you take a bottle or two from the shop home with you.

The next dates for the Beer School at the acclaimed Lovibonds Brewery, Henley-on-Thames (01491 576596;, are 8 and 22 September. The two-hour session, led by founder and head brewer Jeff Rosenmeier, includes a tour explaining the brewing process, followed by a tutored tasting of the brewery’s beers (£19.50).

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Andy Higgs
Andy Higgs

Not meaning to brag, but here goes. I can say I’m a travel expert and have spoken at multiple travel conferences and trade shows.

I enjoy travelling all over the world but my big passion is Africa.

I also own and run The Grown-up Travel Company as a travel designer creating personalised African itineraries for experienced adventurers

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