Grown-up Travel Guide News Update – 20.01.2012

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

Poland to put Hitler’s forest lair on tourist trail

Yahoo News

Poland is looking for an investor to turn the “Wolf’s Lair” of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler into a tourist attraction.

The ruins of Hitler’s fortress complex deep in the woodlands of northeastern Poland is famed as the site of an assassination attempt on Hitler by Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg and popularized by a 2008 film starring Tom Cruise.

The Wolf’s Lair served as one of Hitler’s military headquarters during World War Two and was destroyed by the Nazi forces as they retreated in early 1945.

The site — whose name refers to Hitler’s nickname, “Mr. Wolf” — consisted of 80 buildings at its peak and is owned by the local forestry authority.

“We are waiting for offers, but so far we have none,” local forestry official Zenon Piotrowicz said.

“The requirements are quite high because we want a new leaseholder to invest a lot, particularly in a museum with an exhibition that could be open all year long.”

The remaining ruins are open to the public, but do not attract many visitors because they are hidden deep in a forest and accessible only by treacherous dirt roads.

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Meghalaya, India: Where women rule, and men are suffragettes

BBC News

In the small hilly Indian state of Meghalaya, a matrilineal system operates with property names and wealth passing from mother to daughter rather than father to son – but some men are campaigning for change.

When early European settlers first arrived here they nicknamed it “the Scotland of the East” on account of its evocative rolling hills.

Coincidentally, today the bustling market in the state capital, Shillong, is awash with tartan in the form of the traditional handloom shawls worn ubiquitously since the autumn chill arrived.

Not far from here the village of Cherrapunji once measured an astonishing 26.5m (87ft) of rain in one year, a fact still acknowledged by the Guinness book as a world record.

But the rainy season is over for the time being and it is Meghalaya’s other major claim to fame that I am here to investigate.

It appears that some age-old traditions have been ruffling a few feathers of late, causing the views of a small band of male suffragettes to gain in popularity, reviving some rather outspoken opinions originally started by a small group of intellectuals in the 1960s.

I am sitting across a table from Keith Pariat, President of Syngkhong-Rympei-Thymmai, Meghalaya’s very own men’s rights movement.

He is quick to assure me that he and his colleagues “do not want to bring women down,” as he puts it. “We just want to bring the men up to where the women are.”

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Heathrow plans for post-Olympic exodus

Toronto Sun

Olympic athletes and spectators might be counting down to the July 27 opening ceremony of the London Games, but Heathrow Airport managers are focusing much of their attention on the day after the closing ceremony.

This is because though athletes and officials traditionally arrive at an Olympic Games over several days, most leave in one fell swoop.

Heathrow is planning for 137,800 passengers on Aug 13. — a 45% increase in departures — making it the busiest day in the airport’s history.

According to Nick Cole, head of Olympic and Paralympic planning for Heathrow, every single seat on every aircraft will be full, something the airport has never seen before.

“There are eight days when our Olympic and Paralympic traffic will overtake our business as usual,” Cole told Reuters.

“It will feel like a busy summer for the majority of the time at Heathrow; July 16 and 26 will feel slightly busier for arrivals and August 13 to 15 will feel very busy for departures.”

In addition, August 22 and September 10 will be peak days either side of the Paralympics.

The forecasts, included in a detailed ‘six months to go’ document published by Heathrow Airport on Thursday, also drill down into luggage figures, which on August 13 will rise by 35% to 203,000 items.

While oversized items like canoes and bicycles are set to test baggage systems — which famously failed during the 2008 opening of Heathrow Terminal 5, leading to the cancellation of 300 flights — a new challenge comes in the efficient handling of 2,000 firearms carried by Olympic and Paralympic athletes for use in shooting events.

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Does mystery woman hold secret to doomed ship?

The list of bizarre events surrounding the sinking of the Costa Concordia is growing daily, so it was only a matter of time before a mystery blonde made an appearance.

Passengers claim they saw Captain Francesco Schettino drinking red wine with a beautiful young woman in the ship’s most exclusive restaurant prior to the crash that claimed the lives of 11 passengers and possibly 21 more.

“Schettino, in a dark uniform, was sat in front of a young woman. Initially we thought she was his daughter,” Angelo Fabbri told Italian media.

“They were laughing, they were informal, it was very merry. There is no doubt they drank a whole decanter. The last drops were poured into the commander’s glass.”

Mr Fabbri added: “He seemed to me a bit of a braggart, in contrast with other cruise captains that we’ve travelled with.”

Schettino, who is accused of manslaughter, has told investigators he hadn’t drunk alcohol that night. He also told investigators he tripped into the lifeboat.

Italian prosecutors are keen to interview Domnica Cermontan, a passenger rep and former dancer who claims she was on the bridge when the ship was sinking.

Ms Cermontan, 25, who appears to match the description of Schettino’s dinner partner, told Romanian TV she believed the captain’s actions had saved thousands of lives. “He has done something extraordinary,” she said.

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