In which we present a regular round-up of news from the world of Grown-up Travel
England the “it” destination of 2012
Among the statistics I came across while researching the myriad special cultural events taking place in Britain this year, host country for the 2012 Summer Olympics, was the figure “10 million.” According to organizers, that is the number of “free opportunities” visitors will have to take part in the 1,000-plus events during the upcoming London 2012 Festival.
Before and during the London Olympic and Paralympic Games (July 27-Aug. 12 and Aug. 29-Sept 9 respectively) “the U.K.’s biggest ever festival,” will present a spectacular program of cultural entertainment. Included are commissioned works by some of the finest artists in the worlds of dance, music, theatre, visual arts, film and digital innovation. Starting June 21 and running to Sept. 9 much of it is free. Some highlights:
Les Commandos Percu
The world premiere of a spectacular new show by Les Commandos Percu, the French percussion and pyrotechnic wizards, will be one of the opening events of the London 2012 Festival. On The Night Shift combines musical rhythms and amazing effects, as fireworks dance to a thumping soundtrack. The free event, which follows the arrival of the Olympic Torch at Lake Windermere on June 21, is part of Lakes Alive, a four-year programme of acclaimed inspirational events and festivals taking place across Cumbria.
West End Live
Theatre fans will want to be in Trafalgar Square June 24-25, to experience the best of London’s world-famous musicals for free. West End Live will feature some of musical theatre’s leading names, celebrity guest presenters and the chance to dance along to top show tunes. Off-stage there will be interactive film and cinema exhibitions, a chance to meet iconic children’s characters and family activities hosted by some of London’s most famous museums, galleries and cultural institutions.
Little known spaces across London will turn into venues for a series of cross-cultural events. Highlights include: The Owl and the Pussycat — a floating opera on London’s canals by Monty Python star Terry Jones, Oscar winning composer Anne Dudley and the Royal Opera House. An interactive sound sculpture at Fairlop Water in Redbridge by award-winning composer Mira Calix. A one-of-a-kind performance in three of London’s much loved lidos which will blend the English National Ballet, fashion and film in Like A Fish Out Of Water.
Titanic anniversary: which tacky souvenir will you go for?
Companies have come up with some pretty tasteless ways to cash in on the 100th anniversary of the catastrophe. Can’t they see the irony?
In regards to the MS Balmoral, the cruise ship scheduled to lumber across the Atlantic enabling passengers to mark this weekend’s centenary of the sinking of the Titanic by re-enacting the world’s most famous maritime disaster without – hopefully – the disaster part, some people have expressed, well, let’s call them “qualms”. Questions involving words such as “poor taste” and “seriously, do you have nothing better to do with your time and money?” have been posed by those who query the morality of treading in the footsteps of tragedy. These people clearly did not celebrate their 13th birthday by dragging six poor friends on a Jack the Ripper tour. (“And here is the alleyway where Jack the Ripper slaughtered another of his victims,” breathed our tour guide as we walked along Brick Lane, admiring the sites where prostitutes were murdered. Man, I throw the best birthday parties.)
Along with conspiracy theories, self-sabotaging politicians and re-runs of Friends, prurience is one of the few things that we will never run out of in this world. Fascination in the Titanic has simmered away ever since it sank on 15 April 1912 and it is understandable: the pathos, the horror, the microcosm of the class system in the 20th century. Yet distance does not always breed wisdom, and the expressions of fascination seem to get dumber as time goes on, as a comparison between the wonderful 1958 film A Night to Remember and Julian Fellowes’ silly and heavy-handed mini-series proves. But the imminent centenary has produced other tasteless homages that even we aficionados Victorian murder tours find striking.
Much is being made of the fact that descendents of Titanic victims are aboard the MS Balmoral, as though that makes the whole venture (cost: up to £8,000 a ticket) any less tacky. Which I guess it does, if the image of 9/11-themed flights for grandchildren of the victims of that tragedy in genuine 21st-century clothing doesn’t strike you as deeply, deeply weird. This cruise is one of the rare instances in which “paying homage to the past” and “pretending to be Kate Winslet” seem to blur a little.
Work starts on first BA superjumbo
Work to build the first of British Airways’ new fleet of superjumbos started today in a boost to the airline’s plans to fly more long-haul passengers.
The first of the carrier’s 12 Airbus A380s, which is the largest civil aircraft ever made and is capable of seating up to 853 passengers on two decks, is expected to be delivered next year.
Work today started to build various sections of the plane across the world, including the engines which will be made by Rolls-Royce in Derbyshire and the wings by Airbus in Flintshire, North Wales.
BA’s first superjumbo will help the airline fly more long-haul passengers from Heathrow, where landing slots are restricted.
The carrier has also ordered 24 Boeing 787 Dreamliners, which would make it the first airline to have both types of craft.
The orders of new planes are part of a £5 billion investment plan over the next five years that includes refurbishing other craft in its fleet.
BA’s chief executive Keith Williams said: “We’re really excited that work has started on building the first of our 12 Airbus A380s.
Hangover Heaven promises to ‘cure’ hangovers. But it won’t bring you back from the dead
Having a really good time in Sin City, but don’t like the aftereffects? For a price, one doctor’s new business venture will “cure” your hangover.
Hangover Heaven is a curbside service designed to treat people with hangovers by re-hydrating them with IVs and giving them anti-nausea medicine, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.
Started by Dr Jason Burke, a board-certified anesthesiologist who graduated from Duke University, the company offers various packages and will deliver them to you with their fleet having pickup areas at major Las Vegas hotels.
Dr Burke’s website says he can have you feeling better in less than 45 minutes so you can “continue the party, or just get back to your normal self.”
All medications are FDA-approved, according to HangoverHeaven.com, and personnel use pediatric IVs and numbing medicine to make the process comfortable.
“People come to Las Vegas to blow off some steam, relieve stress and have a good time. Should we lose an entire day of our vacation because the bartender over-served us the night before?” Burke says on his website. “I say NO.”
The basic package, called Redemption, starts at $130 (introductory price $90), and includes flushing the toxins from your body.
The Salvation Package is $200 (introductory price $150) and is the business’ “most effective service,” including IV hydration, anti-nausea and anti-inflammatory medications.