In which we present a regular round-up of news from the world of Grown-up Travel
My life in travel: Kate Mosse
‘I love the relaxed attitude in Norway’.
First holiday memory?
Being on a beach in Lee Bay, Devon. I remember it being cold and slightly drizzly, waddling around with buckets and spades, and my sisters and I all wearing the same Seventies costumes. I’m glad to say there’s no photographic evidence.
Favourite place in the British Isles?
Sussex. Especially the Downs, around the Kingley Vale and the Trundle. It’s where I grew up and where I still live today.
A trip to the Soviet Union in the Eighties. Other than France and the Isle of Wight, I hadn’t travelled much before that, so it seemed extraordinary. We were taken around on buses and trains to Moscow and Leningrad [now St Petersburg]. You were entirely controlled: every minute of the day managed and accounted for. We couldn’t go out on our own, but it was fascinating.
What have you learnt from your travels?
Patience is everything. Planes get delayed; trains don’t arrive. If you realise that’s part of travelling, you’ll enjoy the experience more.
Detective stories. I use holidays to catch up on the latest Harlan Coben or Denise Mina. For me, it’s pure and simple entertainment, because it’s nothing to do with work or research.
Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?
I get to the stage where all I want to do is lie in the sun, but I know I’ll want to explore after a few days. In Athens, it was lovely and hot, so we spent a lot of time lounging about, but come evening, we’d find a museum or restaurant. Hotels in capital cities are brilliant for that. I’m going to Cape Town for Christmas where we’ll do exactly the same.
Kim Jong-un as cult icon? The joke’s on you, capitalist comrades!
Laughing at North Korea’s absurdities is a decades-old pastime, but the west now has reason to be more nervous than amused.
Kim Jong-un has the best job in the whole world, right? He’s bequeathed his people dolphinariums filled with backflipping sea-life and high-adrenaline roller-coasters that rival Alton Towers. He’s spruced up his capital city with flashy Times Square-style billboards and built its burgeoning hipster contingent a massive skatepark. He smokes whilst casually launching big-boy rockets. He has a beautiful fashionista wife and a box-top haircut to rival The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. LOL. One helluva guy.
That, at any rate, seems to be increasingly the image of North Korea’s supreme leader – a view that tends to overlook the fact that the nation he is supposed to look after suffers from severe malnutrition and chronic corruption. When spoof news website, The Onion, ran an article claiming the young ‘un was the “Sexiest Man Alive”, the affection for the socialist regime’s new dynastic ruler seemed sincere enough that Chinese state media mistakenly re-reported it as truth. This week Time magazine decided to cast off 5.6m votes for the Supreme Leader Kim as Person Of The Year, which North Korean State Media nevertheless reported as an unbridled victory.
Admittedly, the 5.6m votes did turn out to be erroneous troll-casts by the tiresome netizens of 4Chan, but still – what if they’re just saying what we wish we weren’t all thinking? What if our tongue-in-cheek adoration for Kim is an expression of our own frustrations with another year of directionless recession, austerity, uncertain leadership and a deep moral ambiguity in the ever-stuttering procession of western zombie capitalism?
Meanwhile, behind the surreal cartoon version of North Korea, the west’s relationship is changing in a more fundamental way. When luxury German hoteliers Kempinsiki announced it would be opening North Korea’s much maligned “Hotel Of Doom”, CEO Reto Wittwer tastefully predicted the deal would become a “money printing machine”. It came as part of a wave of luxury re-developments in the capital city Pyongyang, including its new showpiece Mansudae area. Together they hinted at the strengthening of a new elite infrastructure and projected a sense of economic optimism more outward-looking and business-focused than ever.
Silversea Cruises cancels Falklands visits
Silversea has become the latest cruise line to cancel visits to the Falkland Islands due to intimidation from Argentinian nationalists.
hree scheduled calls to Port Stanley by the firm’s vessel Silver Cloud were scrapped yesterday, just days before the first planned visit on December 28.
The decision is yet another blow to the Falklands’ tourism-realiant economy, which is already suffering following a spate of cancellations from American, Dutch and German liners.
But in a diplomatic tit-for-tat, British company P&O Cruises last week said it will honour two visits to the Falklands – and has instead cancelled scheduled calls to three ports in Argentina.
The luxury vessel Silver Cloud carries 315 passengers and was also due to call at Port Stanley twice in January during a 16-day cruise, en route from the Argentinian port of Ushuaia to Buenos Aires.
The cancellations come after protestors ransacked a shipping office in Buenos Aires last month, while agitators in Ushuaia and other Argentinian ports have succeeded in delaying ships suspected of heading to, or returning from, the islands.
It has prompted the Foreign Office to accuse Argentina of trying “to strangle” the islands’ economy, which earns £10m from cruise ship tourism and employs a quarter of the working population.
Silversea said fears for the safety of crew and passengers were behind its decision, which brings to eight the total number of cancelled visits to the Falklands. The cruise season lasts from October to April and some businesses on the islands say they have already lost 80 per cent of projected income for the period.
Last month, German liner AIDAcara cancelled a call, while two ships owned by Miami-based Prestige Cruise Holdings have scrapped visits planned in February.
End of the world prediction may help attract tourists to Australia
The world’s eyes turned to Australia overnight to see if the country was still here, with people around the globe figuring if the world was going to end we’d know about it Down Under first.
Tourism Australia’s Facebook page was flooded with more than 1000 posts such as “Any survivors?” and “Are you guys still alive?” as December 21 – the last day of the Mayan calendar – hit.
This morning Tourism Australia posted a reply saying “Yes, we’re alive”, which resulted in more than 100,000 “likes” and more than 10,000 comments.
Technically, however, the world isn’t set to end until 10.12pm Australian eastern daylight time tonight.
All the extra attention helped the See Australia page reach more than four million fans overnight, cementing its position as the largest tourism destination page in the world.
Tourism Australia managing director Andrew McEvoy said it was a busy morning for the team.
“With so many predictions that the end of the world is near, and with so many fans of our country around the globe, we reckon we owe the Mayans a bit of a pat on the back for helping push our Facebook page through the four million fan milestone,” he said.
“We’d like to reassure our fans around the world that Australia is very much alive and well, and still the perfect place for a holiday.”
Launched four years ago to promote Australian holidays, the page reached two million fans in January thanks to a video of the New Year’s Eve fireworks on Sydney Harbour.
Mr McEvoy said the Facebook page was a powerful marketing tool, allowing Australian tourism operators to showcase themselves to the world.