Grown-up Travel Guide News Update – 13.11.2012

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

Flights cancelled ahead of general strike

The Telegraph

Travellers to Greece and Spain have been warned to expect disruption on Wednesday due to a general strike.

A number of airlines have already cancelled flights ahead of the walk-out – called by the European Trade Union Confederation in response to concerns about austerity measures.

EasyJet has scrapped 26 flights, including services from Gatwick to Barcelona and Madrid, and has re-scheduled a further 10, including some from Gatwick and Manchester to Athens, and from Gatwick to Thessaloniki.

It said the strikes and demonstrations were likely to affect different countries at different times, with Spain and the Canary Islands beginning a 24-hour strike at 00:01 on Wednesday morning, local time, and workers in Greece taking action from noon until 3pm.

The airline said affected passengers would be given the option of a refund or a seat on an alternative flight.

“EasyJet are proactively trying to minimize disruption, however, we would like to warn customers that they could experience delays to their travel plans,” it said in a statement. “We advise passengers planning to travel on November 14 to keep checking our website for updates.”

Iberia has cancelled more than 200 flights scheduled for Wednesday, and British Airways said it was anticipating disruption to its services to and from Spain. The low-cost carrier Vueling said it will operate a “minimum number of services” to and from Spain.

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Traveller’s guide: Jordan

The Independent

The sights of this wild frontier will stay with you long after you’ve left.

“The English have a great hunger for desolate places.” So says Alec Guinness’s Prince Feisal in Lawrence of Arabia. That resonant line sets the scene for Peter O’Toole, as square-jawed British officer Lawrence, first to lose then rediscover himself amid the sweeping grandeur of the Jordanian desert. Later this month, you can relive the exchange in big-screen splendour: to celebrate the 50th anniversary of David Lean’s classic, a freshly remastered director’s cut goes on national release on 23 November – backed by exhortations from the Jordan Tourism Board to visit the country where it all happened.

Lawrence is still remembered in Jordan, particularly in the Wadi Rum desert where he based his operations during the Arab Revolt of 1917 and where much of the film action was shot. A jagged mountain there is popularly known as the Seven Pillars of Wisdom, after Lawrence’s published account of his desert battles. Four-wheel-drive tours stop off at the ruins of Lawrence’s house and a carving of Lawrence’s face in a canyon wall – both fake, but compelling for the echoing surrounds of the desert.

But Jordan is not the country it was 50 years ago, nor even five. Change is afoot. This isn’t a story of revolution – the Foreign Office has no travel restrictions in place (although it warns against “a general threat from terrorism”). Rather, it’s about a change of mindset. Tourism is coming down off its grand, historical perch. New ideas are emerging. Whereas previously you might have spent a few days ruin-hopping, seeing Petra and then ticking Jordan off your list, now you could fill a fortnight exploring woodland reserves or Ottoman townhouses, staying in family-run guesthouses, canyoning or cycle-touring, absorbing art or learning how to stuff vine leaves.

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48 hours in Annecy, France

Toronto Sun

Surrounded by mountains and healthy-looking people, Lake Annecy is a smaller French version of Switzerland’s vast Lake Geneva.

In the winter, the fortunate local residents ski. In all seasons, they climb the peaks, cycle around and swim in their glorious lake.

Life in general is very pleasant. Hence the shock was all the greater when in September, Annecy found itself swarming with police and international media drawn to a brutal killing in woodland above the lake.

Three members of a British-Iraqi family were shot dead in their car, and at the roadside, a French cyclist unlucky enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time was also slain. A four year-old girl hid for eight hours beneath her dead mother’s skirts. Her seven-year-old sister was seriously injured.

The locals compared it to “l’affaire Dominici” – the killing of three Britons in their car in a different part of the French Alps in the 1950s. That crime was never conclusively solved and the ongoing fascination with it has inspired films.

Annecy’s press voiced concern about horror tourism as visitors made their way to the scene of the crime in the Combe d’Ire (literally Valley of Wrath), near the idyllic village of Chevaline. They may well have been going there anywhere as the area is stunningly beautiful, even by region’s exceptional standards.

Correspondents with local knowledge offer tips for the other sights to explore during a short stay.

Day One

Annecy is about 30 km from Geneva, home to the nearest airport for international flights. From Paris, it’s either a day-time train ride of just under four hours, or a slow night train to arrive in Annecy early in the morning.

You also need to decide what transport you’ll be using during your 48-hour stay. The Annecy way to travel is by bike and enjoy to the full the 35 km of “piste cyclable” (cycle track) that circles the lake, so come prepared with no more possessions than you can cram into a rucksack or panniers.

Arriving from the station, make your way southeast from the station to the Vieille Ville (Old City) – an area of narrow and enticing medieval streets on either side of the Canal du Thiou.

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Flight attendants reveal the perfect air traveller

Want to know how to be an ideal passenger?

Well, you need to be a man aged in your 30s, sit in economy, travel alone and be on holiday. That’s according to a survey of 700 flight attendants by travel website

But dare to click your fingers to get the attention of a crew member and you’ll rocket straight to the top of their most hated list, with 26 per cent saying it’s the most annoying habit of passengers.

The next mile-high no-no is getting up from your seat at the end of a flight, before the seatbelt sign is switched off (with 13 per cent of the votes) – an act many travellers are guilty of.

Other acts sure to enrage flight attendants include passengers who stuff too many bags into the overhead locker (11 per cent) and those who then complain there’s no space for their carry-ons.

Talking through the safety demo was another frustration (9 per cent), and don’t you dare ask for more blankets or pillows (8 per cent) unless you want to make the flight attendants’ blood boil!

Meanwhile, stuffing rubbish in the seat pocket won’t do you any favours, nor will asking for a different meal.

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