In which we present a regular round-up of news from the world of Grown-up Travel
Snake in cockpit forces Australian pilot to make emergency landing
Pilot Braden Blennerhassett made safe return to Darwin airport despite snake sliding down his leg during final approach.
An Australian pilot was forced to make a landing reminiscent of a Hollywood thriller after a snake appeared from behind his dashboard and slithered across his leg during a solo cargo flight.
Unsure whether or not the snake was venomous, Braden Blennerhassett said on Thursday his heart was racing as he tried to keep his hands while manoeuvring the plane back to the northern city of Darwin. The snake popped its head out from behind the instrument panel several times, Blennerhassett said, and then crawled across his leg during his approach to the airport.
“I’ve seen it on a movie once, but never in an aeroplane,” Blennerhassett told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, referring to the 2006 film Snakes on a Plane in which deadly snakes are deliberately released in an airliner as part of a murder plot.
The 26-year-old Air Frontier pilot was alone in a twin-engine Beechcraft Baron G-58 and had just left Darwin airport on a cargo run to a remote outback settlement on Tuesday when he saw the snake.
The director of Air Frontier, Geoff Hunt, described Blennerhassett as a cool character who radioed air traffic control to report: “I’m going to have to return to Darwin. I’ve got a snake on board the plane.”
“You’re trying to be as still as you possibly can and when you’ve got your hands on the power levers,” Blennerhassett said. “You’re kind of worried about the snake taking that as a threat and biting you.”
“As the plane was landing, the snake was crawling down my leg, which was frightening,” he added.
Checking on livestock and other ‘ludicrous’ requests to consular staff
Foreign Secretary William Hague lists the “ludicrous requests” for consular advice made by British tourists, including how to erect a chicken coop, help with finding lost false teeth and translating ‘I love you’ into Hungarian.
Speaking at the launch of a summer crisis centre in London to help British nationals in difficulty abroad, Mr Hague urged Britons not to stretch scarce consular resources by making “bizarre demands”.
He went on to list the calls for help that Foreign Office staff have received which have included appeals from Britons who could not find their false teeth, whose jam would not set and who want someone to check on their livestock.
“It is not our job, for example, to book you restaurants while you are on holiday.
“This is obvious, you may think, but nonetheless it came as a surprise to the caller in Spain who was having difficulty finding somewhere to have Christmas lunch,” he said.
“If, like a man in Florida last year, you find ants in your holiday rental, we are not the people to ask for pest control advice.
“If you are having difficulty erecting a new chicken coop in your garden in Greece as someone else was, I am afraid that we cannot help you.
“Equally, I have to say that we are not the people to turn to if you can’t find your false teeth, if your sat nav is broken and you need directions, if you are unhappy with your plastic surgery, if your jam won’t set.
He continued: “If you are looking for a dog-minder while you are on holiday, if your livestock need checking on, if you would like advice about the weather, or if you want someone to throw a coin into the Trevi fountain for you because you forgot while you were on holiday and you want your marriage to succeed.
Ethical traveller: The world’s water bottle woes
When the local water isn’t potable, travellers and locals often think that their only choice is to buy safe, sealed H2O. Even in the United States and other tap-safe countries, bottled water consumption is rampant.
But the growing waste from plastic water bottles is a problem around the world.
Empty bottles, made of petroleum-based plastic, accumulate as non-biodegradable rubbish along city streets, in rivers, in parks, on beaches, and ultimately, they can end up in the ocean. Floating in the Pacific is the Eastern Garbage Patch, a large heap of trash twice the size of Texas, according to the Los Angeles Times. The vast majority of it is plastic.
So, what’s the solution for litter-strewn locations? Several tourism officials and travellers themselves are making a difference.
Banning the bottles
One way to stop plastic-bottle-clutching tourists from littering is to ban bottled water outright. Italy’s Cinque Terre national park – a breathtaking string of cliff-perched villages along the Mediterranean coast – banned the bottles in 2010. This year, the US National Park Service banned the sale of plastic water bottles at Grand Canyon National Park, where they made up 20% of the park’s waste.
Both parks asked tourists to fill reusable containers at public fountains or water filling stations — Italy’s even offers a choice of sparkling or still. Franco Bonanini, president of the Cinque Terre national park, told London’s Telegraph newspaper that its three million annual tourists were leaving behind too much rubbish. “With so many visitors, the footpaths and villages of the Cinque Terre are at risk of being transformed into a great big open-air dustbin,” he said.
Several projects around the world are using plastic bottles as building materials. Instead of piling up in a stream or a landfill, the bottles are packed full of sand or trash and used as a brick. The eclectic building block was used to construct houses, and even a water tank, in Honduras by a German man named Andreas Froese, who went on to launch an organization called Eco-Tec, with bottle-building projects in several countries.
From Nimrod to Middlefart, world’s funniest town names
Oh, the silly, insulting, and downright rude places you can go! These 10 town names made us snicker like middle schoolers. Here’s a quick look at how Tightwad, Middelfart, and others got their names—and what else there is to do once you’ve snapped your photo beneath the roadside sign.
Chances are you don’t know anyone who lives in Tightwad (population: 64), but you could probably name a few cheapskates who should. As the story goes, in the early 1900s the postmaster of this town southeast ofKansas City was cheated in a watermelon deal at the local store. Out of spite, he took advantage of his postmaster privilege and renamed the town Tightwad. The main attraction here is Tightwad Bank, which happens to be FDIC insured and classified as “well capitalized.” Proof that these 64 Tightwaders are still penny-pinchers?
If You Go: Stop in at the bank or go online to buy a Tightwad Bank hat, shirt, or coffee mug. Nearby Truman Lake is known for boating, fishing, and swimming.
Honorable Mentions: Dollarbeg, Scotland; Pennyhill, Delaware; Money, Mississippi
No Name, Colorado
When you live in a desolate unincorporated community between No Name Canyon and No Name Creek, apparently you accept your destiny of sharing the same name—or lack thereof. No Name, near Glenwood Springs, got its name after Interstate 70 was built. A Department of Transportation official noticed that the area didn’t have a name and wrote “No Name” for Exit 119, the ramp accessing the community. It drew some attention for its absurdity, locals started to accept it, and it stuck. Later, when given the opportunity to change No Name to a proper name, the community chose to remain nameless.
If You Go: Go rock climbing in No Name Canyon, or hike along the creek in the vast Weminuche Wilderness Area. Soak in the nearby Glenwood Hot Springs; at more than two blocks long, it’s one of the world’s largest.
Honorable Mentions: Why, Arizona; Whynot, Mississippi