In which we present a regular round-up of news from the world of Grown-up Travel
Rio carnival street parade draws record numbers
One of Rio de Janeiro’s oldest and most popular carnival street parties has attracted a record 2.2 million revellers, police say.
The Cordao da Bola Preta parade is famous for attracting a diverse crowd, spanning all ages.
For the first time in its 93-year history, the event allowed electric sound systems and reversed its normal route.
Police said that despite the large crowds, the event had been peaceful.
Dressed as the cartoon character Asterix, Elson de Deus, 65, told Brazilian newspaper O Globo he had been attending the parade ever since he was 13.
This year, he had taken his son along to the parade to continue the family tradition.
Elizete Vieira, 77, said she had waited for four hours to secure her spot in the parade.
Denisa Chagas told the AFP news agency she liked the Bola Preta parade because it “brings everybody together, people from all districts and neighbouring towns”.
Reflecting the name of Bola Preta, or Black Dot, many revellers wore clothes with black polka dots on a white background.
Scotland ‘may need passport controls’ at English border if it votes for independence
Holidaymakers travelling between England and Scotland could well need to take their passports with them if Scotland becomes independent.
Britain’s Europe Minister has revealed that Scotland may have to establish passport controls at the English border if it decides to split from the rest of the UK. The Schengen Agreement permits freedom of movement around most of Europe but the UK has an opt-out which means EU citizens are still subject to passport checks at UK borders.
David Lidington said that an independent Scotland would not necessarily inherit this opt-out. Instead Scotland – as an EU member state – would automatically be part of the Agreement and would have to negotiate its own withdrawal. Speaking during a visit to the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh, Mr Lidington said opt-outs like Schengen would require the agreement of all the EU’s member states.
Mr Lidington said there was logic in the way that Schengen was organised and that the agreement would cause a ‘clear problem’ for Scotland should it gain independence.
An alternative Olympic tour takes in Hackney’s art, history and fashions
The Olympic Stadium gleamed in the winter sunshine: imposing, elegant and, best of all, complete. But from the vantage point of the Greenway path, all around the signs of construction rumbled on.
Damien Erni, visiting the Olympic site with his family from Switzerland, looked impressed, if slightly concerned. “It’s quite amazing how they are constructing all these buildings which will be used for different things afterwards,” he said. “But we did kind of wonder … is it going to be finished on time?”
Despite the lorries, high wire fences and men in hard hats, visits to the Olympic site are booming. Jo Hoad, chair of the Blue Badge 2012 tours, said: “People from all over the world are genuinely interested in the chance to see and hear about the Olympic Park for 2012. Over 34,000 of the public have been on the walking tours since April 2010 – the majority of these are proud Brits.”
On a weekday trip, the viewing area is packed with visiting groups: a group of older women from Wimbledon, an army of small, very excited children and a batch of hungover students among them. Myrtle Linberg, 76, on a private tour with a Wimbledon ladies’ group, admitted she wouldn’t normally venture to this part of the city. “It was such a poor area before, wasn’t it? But look at it now,” she says, pointing at the stadium. “We’ve just been told there are more than 10,000 toilets in there.”
Official tours run daily and cost £9, but some private companies are taking a more lavish approach. The Blue Tiger Company offers a 30-minute private helicopter flight above the site, lunch and tour for £350 a couple. “We get a lot of corporate and private clients, entertaining clients from the far east and Russia, but most people are from the UK,” said Mia Patel, the sales director.
Simon Cole, tour guide and Hackney resident, has a different take. For him the Olympic boroughs – Hackney, Tower Hamlets, Waltham Forest, Newham, Greenwich and Barking and Dagenham – are worth discovering on their own merits. “To a lot of people, the idea of east London conjures up images of industrial decay or gun crime,” he said. “But there is an incredible amount to discover here – you can look back 200 years and to the future, without having to move.”
Spectacular sight as waterfall ‘turns to lava’
Nature photographers wait all year for the moment when the sun aligns with a waterfall – creating the illusion of molten lava.
The celestial marvel happens at sunset in mid-February – if the winter weather cooperates.
On those days the setting sun illuminates one of the park’s lesser-known waterfalls so precisely that it resembles molten lava as it flows over the sheer granite face of the imposing El Capitan.
Every year growing numbers of photographers converge on the park, their necks craned toward the ephemeral Horsetail Fall, hoping the sky will be clear so they can view the spectacle first recorded in colour in 1973 by the late renowned outdoors photographer Galen Rowell.
“Horsetail is so uniquely situated that I don’t know of any other waterfall on earth that gets that kind of light,” said Michael Frye, who wrote the book The Photographer’s Guide to Yosemite.
“How many are perched on a high open cliff? Most are in an alcove or canyon and won’t get the sun setting behind it. Yosemite’s special geography makes this fall distinctive,” he said.
Four decades ago, photographers had only to point and shoot to capture another famous Yosemite firefall – a man-made cascade of embers pushed from a bonfire on summer nights from Glacier Point.