In which we present a regular round-up of news from the world of Grown-up Travel
London taxis: Nissan unveils its black cab
London’s signature TX4s won’t be the only black cabs on the capital’s streets from next year.
The distinctive TX4 black cab ferries approximately 300,000 people across the streets of London each day but from next year it won’t be the only official taxi available to the city’s commuters.
Car manufacturer Nissan has announced that its NV200 London Taxi is due to take to the capital’s street from spring 2013. Nissan claims that one of the automobile’s main boons is its fuel capacity and energy efficiency: achieving up to 53.3mpg on a combined cycle it should provide an almost 50 per cent fuel saving with the most efficient TX4 model, with its combined cycle figure of 35.3mpg. With fuel costs accounting for around 10 per cent of taxi driver overheads, Nissan estimates that NV200 London Taxi drivers could save about 50 per cent of their fuel costs per year – around £700 – over TX4 drivers.
In terms of its environmental impact, the NV200 London Taxi’s Euro V engine emits up to 138g/km of CO2, compared with 209g/km from the ‘greenest’ TX4 model. If all of London’s licensed taxis were replaced with the NV200 London Taxi, Nissan asserts that there would be a CO2 reduction across London of 37,970 metric tonnes each year – the equivalent of planting 10,000 acres, or two Congestion Charge zones, of trees every 12 months.
It is possible that an all-electric version of the NV200 London Taxi will be subsequently introduced to London, with a prototype scheduled to operate in the city on an as-yet-unconfirmed date next year. The introduction of these Nissan models won’t see the elimination of TX4 black cabs from London streets; rather, drivers will be able to choose the taxi that appeals to them most.
Germany’s coastal pleasures
Wide sandy beaches, fascinating islands, and plentiful seafood, may not immediately come to mind when you think of Germany.
But all of this and more — historic cities and UNESCO World Heritage Sites — can be found on the country’s north coast. Yes, Germany has a coast, though it’s still largely undiscovered by foreign tourists. In the seaside resort town of Cuxhaven for example, only 2% of visitors come from outside the country. Now you can be among those in on the secret of Germany’s coastal pleasures. Some highlights:
Move over schnitzel, bratwurst and sauerkraut. This is the land of herring, shrimp and zander (a delicate perch-like fish) — a few of the seafood items to be found on local menus. This part of Germany definitely gets its culinary inspiration from the sea. During five days I sampled everything from halibut, scampi, shrimp soup, shrimp sandwiches and zander (my favourite), to rainbow trout, cod, salmon and white fish. If you’d like to try several different fish at one meal order “fischteller” — a sample plate, which is on the menu at the bright and modern Fischereihafen restaurant in Cuxhaven.
Other notable places to eat: One of the seaside restaurants overlooking the Wadden Sea; the Steigenberger Hotel Stadt Hamburg in Wismar one of the top restaurants on the market square; or, in Lubeck, the lovely courtyard at Miera restaurant or the Historische Schiffergesellschaft, located in the former home of the Shipmasters’ Society, where patrons dine at the original oak banquet tables and benches below ship models (one dates to 1607) suspended from the ceiling.
Paradise…? (No, Luton is Britain’s rudest airport)
Luton is the UK’s most unfriendly airport, with Edinburgh the most welcoming, according to a survey.
The Bedfordshire airport got the thumbs-down from travellers asked to rate the friendliness of staff in a poll by travel search site Skyscanner.
On a scale of one being the rudest and 10 being the friendliest, Luton scored 5.76 points, with Stansted being the next rudest (5.89 points), followed by Heathrow (5.94), Gatwick (6.26) and Birmingham (6.39). Edinburgh got a score of 7.41 points, with Newcastle the next most-friendly airport (7.34) followed by Manchester (6.87).
Paris was voted the rudest airport in Europe, with a score of just 4.86 points. This was followed by Moscow (5.03 points) and Istanbul (5.91). The friendliest European airport was Copenhagen (7.08 points) followed by Amsterdam (6.92).
Complaints about members of staff ranged from abrupt responses following the simplest inquiry, to the endless queues and being manhandled at security.
Victoria Bailie, from Skyscanner, said: “We like to have a good moan and grumble but overall, the average scores were positive for the UK’s airports. Despite the summer rush, they’ve clearly been doing a good job to help kickstart our holiday on a positive note.”
Kebab shop gets more stars than the Ritz
Enjoy a 5am kebab? Well, turns out it might not just be the influence of alcohol that makes this particular skewer cooked meat wrapped in bread a real treat.
In fact, one kebab shop in particular is so good that it has been rated above the Ritz in London on travel website Trip Advisor. That’s the FIVE star Ritz, home of the famous high tea. Clearly cucumber sandwiches have nothing on a kebab.
Meze Mangal Restaurant in South London is currently ranked seventh out of 1000 London restaurants on the holiday website.
Only Michelin starred restaurants scored higher than its 95 per cent approval rating including; Gordon Ramsay’s Petrus and Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, Brett Graham’s The Ledbury, Michael Roux’s La Gavroche, Da Palo’s in Charlotte Street and Mayfair’s Goodman steakhouse.
Brothers Sahin and Ahmet Gok opened their kebab shop 12 years ago and have seen business boom.
“When we opened there was nowhere like us in the area. Turkish food had a very bad reputation – doner kebabs dripping with oil – and we wanted to change that and show people what Turkish cooking is like” Sahin told the Daily Mail.
“We had tablecloths, nice silverware and wine glasses on the tables. Everything to get away from that takeaway image.