Grown-up Travel Guide News Update – 22.10.2012

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

Scottish peak declared wheelchair-friendly

The Independent

One of Scotland’s best-known and most popular mountains has been declared “wheelchair friendly”.

Schiehallion in Perthshire, which at 3,547ft is a Munro – a peak above 3,000ft – has been approved by the FieldFare Trust, which promotes countryside access for disabled people.

The trust has listed Schiehallion on a section of its website called Photo Trails, and rates the path to the summit of East Schiehallion from the Braes of Foss car park as suitable for those with wheelchairs for the first third. It adds that it would be up to individuals to assess if they can manage to ascend the path up the higher two-thirds to the summit.

Schiehallion thus becomes the first wheelchair-friendly Munro, a distinction which was welcomed by Andrew Johnson, the FieldFare Trust director.

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Behind bars at Eastern State Penitentiary

Toronto Sun

Oh, that Al Capone — what a guy! In addition to being Chicago’s most powerful mob boss and one of the most famous criminals of all time, he also apparently had a knack for interior decorating. At least, that’s what a visit to his cell at Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia — one of that city’s most popular tourist attractions — might lead you to believe. While all the other inmates made do with iron bedsteads and rough wooden chairs, Al had oriental carpets, fine upholstered furniture and a large cabinet radio, so he wouldn’t miss the ballgame broadcasts. Another funny thing? During Al’s time at ESP, it’s rumoured the penitentiary was suddenly able to upgrade the kitchen facilities and add an exercise yard.

Capone wasn’t the only well-known inmate at ESP, as a guide will tell you during the walking tour. Opened in 1829 and famed for its castle-like architecture and strict discipline, ESP was the world’s first real “penitentiary,” a prison intended to make prisoners feel regretful or penitent for their crimes. Featuring only solitary confinement cells in its initial stages, ESP housed more than 70,000 prisoners during its years of operation, including women and children as young as 12 years old.

Many inmates were known across the United States for their crimes, including Morris “The Rabbi” Bolber, an enterprising businessman who was leader of a ring of poisoners-for-hire who used arsenic to remove the husbands of wannabe-widows. Providing a highly successful service from 1932-37, Morris and his friends were able to eradicate more than 30 superfluous spouses before the Rabbi landed at ESP.

The Buzzard boys — all five brothers — were other famous convicts who spent time at ESP during the late 1800s and early 1900s. Joe Buzzard, in fact, has the dubious distinction of being the last horse-thief ever incarcerated at ESP.

Another well-known inmate, Clarence Rae made his way to ESP in 1912 after being convicted of kidnapping, and spent his jail time writing a book of poetry: Tales of a Walled Town. He must have grown pretty attached to the place because, shortly after he completed his sentence and was released, Clarence was returned to ESP — convicted of stealing books.

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New York’s Waldorf Astoria holds ‘amnesty’ on return of stolen items

The Telegraph

With its iconic Art Deco façade and luxurious interior, the Waldorf Astoria on Park Avenue in New York is one of the world’s most famous hotels.

So it is perhaps no surprise that some guests wanted to take a little piece of the hotel with them when their stay came to an end.

But now the Waldorf Astoria is holding an “amnesty” giving people the opportunity to return items they may have illicitly stowed in their suitcases upon departure – with no questions asked.

The hotel is being particularly tactful about how it describes the items, carefully avoiding the world “stolen”, preferring to describe them as having been “secretly checked out”.

The amnesty has been running since earlier this year and so far items to have been returned include cutlery, trinkets and even a “do not disturb” sign which was pilfered by a couple who stayed at the hotel on their wedding night and wanted a memento.

Surprise packages have come from across the country, from California and Texas to Massachusetts and Louisiana. But many have been sent by Jane or John Doe, with people refusing to give their names, presumably for fear of interrogation about why they stole from the hotel or even punishment.

But as Matt Zolbe, the Waldorf’s director of sales and marketing, told the New York Times: “The idea that we would be litigious was never part of the programme, and the word ‘amnesty’ was probably less useful for social media. ‘Amnesty’ is probably why we got snarky comments like ‘What do you think the statute of limitations is on something taken in 1935?'”

Others have not been so shy. Earlier this month Brigit Brown took three silver spoons engraved with the words ‘Waldorf Astoria’ back to the hotel. They had passed through three generations of her family.

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Blood rain predicted to fall in Britain for Halloween

Blood rain is expected to fall from the sky just in time for Halloween in the UK.

No, it’s not a trick. It’s a serious weather prediction.

Forecasters say hot air is blowing red dust from the Sahara desert towards Europe. Much like the dust storm that engulfed Sydney last year.

But in Europe it’s predicted to rain, so the dust will settle into the raindrops and fall towards land as red rain. Blood rain.

London’s Met office said the red rain could stain cars. It could even be blood snow, with snow predicted in England’s southeast.

“The warm air has been drawn from a long way south down in north Africa and is spreading north,” Met Office forecaster Emma Sharples said.

“But there is going to be a sharp contrast in weather as a cold snap sweeps across the country from Friday which is likely to bring snow to Scotland and the north of England.”

Even if the red rain doesn’t happen – let’s face it, weather forecasters don’t often get it right – there will still be a fantastic sight in the sky. The Earth is passing through the debris of Hayley’s comet sending as cascade of shooting stars across the night sky.

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Andy Higgs
Andy Higgs

Not meaning to brag, but here goes. I can say I’m a travel expert and have spoken at multiple travel conferences and trade shows.

I enjoy travelling all over the world but my big passion is Africa.

I also own and run The Grown-up Travel Company as a travel designer creating personalised African itineraries for experienced adventurers

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