In which we present a regular round-up of news from the world of Grown-up Travel
Airport ditches controversial bodyscanners
Body scanners which critics claim invaded personal privacy have been withdrawn by Manchester Airport.
A total of 13 backscatter X-ray machines are being ditched because they have not been given EU approval, even though they are in common use in the United States.
The devices, which use low dose X-rays to produce an image of the body, have come under fire on both privacy and health grounds, amid suggestions they could pose a potential cancer risk.
However despite an expert committee concluding in March that the devices did not pose a health risk, Brussels has refused to sanction their use.
As a result they will be replaced by millimetre-wave devices, such as those used at Heathrow, which have been given EU approval.
These machines enable security staff to detect hidden objects without also requiring them to inspect a ghostly X-ray image of the body.
Andrew Harrison, chief executive of MAG, the airport’s parent company, said: “We’re baffled by this situation because health experts say they are safe plus the overwhelming majority of our passengers and security staff prefer body scanners to frisking and it’s frustrating that Brussels has allowed this successful trial to end.”
Meanwhile the Department for Transport has been given approval to replace manual searches of religious headwear, such as turbans, with hand held metal detectors and explosive detecting swabs.
Sicilian or Neapolitan? In search of New York’s best pizza
Here’s Tony Muia’s take on tours and tour guides.
“I hate ’em,” he says.
So what’s he doing wielding a microphone on a tourist-filled bus making its way through Brooklyn?
Leading his popular A Slice of Brooklyn Pizza Tour, that’s what.
The former respiratory therapist didn’t like the way Brooklyn was being portrayed, so he quit his job and started a business designed to spotlight the borough through something dear to most people’s hearts: pizza.
Eight years later, Brooklyn’s first organized tour also is one of New York’s most popular food tours. But Muia’s outings are about more than pizza.
There’s real estate dish: “$2,800 a month for a one-bedroom!” he says, pointing to a converted warehouse in the DUMBO neighborhood as the bus approaches the Brooklyn Bridge.
And movie lore: Clips of movie scenes flicker on the bus as it cruises by local film sites — where a blind Al Pacino drove a Ferrari in Scent of a Woman; where John Travolta strutted into Shirt World (now a McDonald’s) in Saturday Night Fever.
And Mob stories: Who got whacked and where.
But the quest for great pizza is why most of us are on this bus. Muia will take us to two of his favorites for a slice â?? or more — of two distinct pizza varieties.
First stop is Grimaldi’s Pizzeria for classic Neapolitan-style margherita pizza. Servers wear shirts printed, “I’m gonna make you a pizza you can’t refuse.” And they do.
On safari: Hunt and shoot photography
The white rhino didn’t flinch as the shuttle plane landed on the airstrip alongside his habitat. He knows who owns Sabi Sand, a huge game reserve with a 50km unfenced border with the Kruger National Park. Not the alpha predators, as human beings are known in these parts, but the Big Five, the engine of South Africa’s unparalleled safari industry.
As the only passenger for Sabi Sabi, a quartet of private lodges within the 65,000 hectare Sabi Sand zone, I was greeted by Mike, my designated ranger. Within minutes, we arrived at the flagship Earth Lodge. In the marble reception area, fabulously shaped furniture made from big driftwood washed up by flash floods competes for the wow factor with a shallow pool set up with foot-cooling tables and chairs.
I was ushered to a sumptuous suite with faux mud walls, artfully gilded cowskin rugs and a rustic oval bath tub with gleaming 21st-century plumbing. French windows open onto a garden with a plunge pool and a view of prime habitat stretching towards infinity. No fences. At the highest level, they’ve gone out of fashion.
In a world obsessed with photography, my African safari mission is to shoot the Big Five. With people like me in mind, Sabi Sabi has started professional photography courses. Ambitious amateurs familiar with their own SLRs (single lens reflex cameras) and telescopic lenses would benefit most, but the photographer provides professional equipment for anyone who wants to give it a go.
Top 10 most hated holiday rip-offs
You can scour the web for hours finding a cut-price flight and bargain accommodation, but even the most frugal traveller can get stung when it comes time to accessing their own money abroad.
In fact, the price of withdrawing cash from ATMs overseas is the cost travellers dread the most, according to a survey by flight deal website Skyscanner.
This is understandable, considering that Australian travellers who take just a few hundred dollars out at an ATM can be hit with international withdrawal fees of around $20 in some countries. Those using their credit cards to pay for expenses along the way can end up faring worse, each time being charged an international transaction fee.
The next most-hated holiday fee is having to pay for “over-hyped and overpriced” organised tours.
Being forced to pay for hotel Wi-Fi access is third biggest rip-off and according to Skyscanner is a “real bugbear for travellers”, with some hotels charged over $30 a day.
Taxi fares were next on the most-hated list, followed by credit card charges and having to pay for a sunbed.