Grown-up Travel Guide News Update – 23.04.2012

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

British Airways’ Willie Walsh attacks ‘damaging’ aviation policy as Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner is unveiled

The Independent

UK growth is being “undermined by Government policy”, the head of British Airways’ parent company said today.

Airlines were facilitating growth but the Government had to understand that it was hampering growth, said Willie Walsh, chief executive of International Airline Group (IAG).

Speaking at Heathrow airport today, Mr Walsh said Prime Minister David Cameron had been promoting UK trade in Asia of late.

Mr Walsh went on: “While the Prime Minister talks about the fantastic opportunities for Britain, it’s a terrible shame that Government policy in the UK is damaging our ability to connect with these Asian markets.”

Mr Walsh went on: “UK growth is being undermined by Government policy and that’s a terrible thing to have to say.”

Mr Walsh is keen to see the Air Passenger Duty (APD) airport departure tax scrapped as well as Heathrow being expanded so that Britain can connect with vital Asian markets.

However, the Government has ruled out a third runway at Heathrow.

He said today: “It’s a nonsense to say that British business can be competitive if we can’t fly to these (Asian) destinations.”

Mr Walsh went on: “This is a Government of contradictions. They talk about the importance of competitiveness yet we have APD.”

Asked about the ability of Heathrow to cope with the Olympic Games traffic this summer, Mr Walsh said the problem of immigration queues was not just about Heathrow but about “inadequate resources”.

He said Heathrow was a “fantastic airport” but efforts to improve things there were being “undermined” by this lack of resources.

Mr Walsh was speaking as US planemaker Boeing showed off its quiet and “green” new airliner, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, at Heathrow today.


All aboard the Tom Waits bus tour!

The Guardian

From downtown dives to the Hollywood hills, a trawl around the singer’s former stomping ground is a glimpse of a vanishing LA.

You can’t get more than 10ft down the main drag of Hollywood Boulevard without being offered a Los Angeles bus tour. But the Tom Waits tour, Crawling Down Cahuengua (named after a line from the 1980 song Heartattack and Vine), doesn’t pimp for custom on the side of the road. Run by Esotouric, it’s been an annual event for the last five years. This year’s tour was held the weekend before the elusive Waits had planned to perform songs from last year’s Bad As Me album live on US TV for the first time. However, with his Letterman and Jimmy Fallon appearances now postponed, a trawl around his 70s and 80s stomping grounds is probably as close as any fan will get to Waits this week.

“He’s really entwined with the city in a way that few musicians are,” explains tour guide and San Francisco-based writer David Smay. “Obviously a lot of musicians came to LA and started their careers here. Not that many wrote about Los Angeles the way he wrote about it and the not the parts of Los Angeles he’s writing about.” It’s true that sightseeing trips taking in the careers of Frank Zappa, Neil Young and Joni Mitchell would be set primarily among the bucolic, middle-class lushness of the Topanga and Laurel Canyons. A Tom Waits tour, however, is a grittier affair, covering the sleazy side streets and grimier parts of town, which, says Smay with a heavy heart, are “getting cleaned up and disappearing now”.

The tour starts at the King Eddie Saloon, the last of the Skid Row dive bars, which just a few days ago changed its long-standing 6am opening time to 11am, much to the concern of our Esotouric hosts. From downtown LA, the bus carries passengers up into Hollywood. Here still stands the Ivar theatre, a former “burlesk” house near a long-gone drag bar called the Sewers of Paris, both of which were establishments favoured and namedropped by Waits when recording around the corner at Sunset Sound. When we step off the bus, a passenger who performed at the theatre in its improv days breaks into a Waits’-worthy piece of beatnik poetry before Smay and fellow guide Kim Cooper fill us in on the history of the Ivar and its legendary slogan: “Gentlemen, pitch your tents!” allegedly said to the clientele of the no-frills girlie show at the start of the night.

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Gallipoli tour bookings skyrocket for Anzac Day 2015

Travel companies are experiencing unprecedented interest in tours and cruises for the centenary of the Gallipoli landings in 2015, with some Australians paying nearly $33,000 for month-long cruises for the big event.

But with limited space available at North Beach, where the main ceremony in Turkey is held, many people are likely to be disappointed.

The Australian Government is in negotiations with Turkey and New Zealand for the event and is expected to make an announcement regarding arrangements later this year.

In the meantime, some tour companies are taking refundable deposits and urging travellers to consider alternative destinations for the centenary, such as Villers-Bretonneux in France.

Historian Mat McLachlan, from Mat McLachlan Battlefield Tours, said he had taken “hundreds and hundreds” of deposits already, despite very little marketing.

He hopes to take more than 1000 travellers to Gallipoli in 2015, compared to around 150 on a normal year.

“It’s been crazy, absolutely crazy,” he said.

“We have the logistics for our tour in place but we can’t finalise the itinerary because the authorities who are determining what’s going to happen haven’t released any plans yet,” he said.

“It’s a little bit difficult for us to be honest because we have lots and lots and lots of people who have paid deposits.

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Top 10 wacky sports around the world

Toronto Sun

All eyes will be on London this summer for the 2012 Olympic Games. But while waiting for the world’s elite athletes to take the stage, online travel has come up with a top 10 list of no-frills, high-adrenaline and wacky sports which might be entertaining.

1. Camel Racing

Forget horse racing at Ascot. Camel racing in the United Arab Emirates is now the place to be seen. Popular throughout the Middle East as well as Mongolia and Australia, the sport takes place every year from late October to early April. In the dusty desert, camels race along a sand track up to 10 miles long while their owners drive alongside shouting and honking their horns to urge the camels forward. The louder the shouting, the faster they run. But be careful not to get in their way: anywhere from 15 to 70 camels race at a time and onlookers will want to avoid the stampede! Unlike horse racing, there’s no betting in camel racing, but, if the sport tickles your fancy, owning a winning camel can be a lucrative investment worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. The races usually take place on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and, while the morning races tend to be reserved mostly for sheikhs, the afternoon races are open to all.

2. Tuna Tossing

The Tuna Tossing World Championship occurs annually at the Tunarama Festival in Port Lincoln, Australia. Men and women 16 years and older fight it out to toss their tuna the farthest, hoping to win a share of AU$3,000. Contestants can toss the 10 kg frozen tuna in any way they want, so twirl, throw, fling and chuck that tuna to victory. But be warned: the record for the longest tuna toss of all time stretches for an enormous 25 meters, so competition is fierce. For younger tossing hopefuls between the ages of five and 10, the Tunarama Festival also holds an annual prawn toss.

3. Greasy Pole Climbing

This messy and challenging sport is a crowd favorite in a number of corners of the world, including Indonesia, Brazil, the UK and the Caribbean. Depending on the local tradition, competitors try either to shimmy up a vertical pole laden in grease or to reach the end of a slickened horizontal pole without first splashing onto the sea. While grease-pole climbing made a one-time-only appearance in the 1904 Olympics, the biggest stage now for the sport is the Greasy Pole Competition, which takes place every year during St. Peter’s Fiesta in Gloucester, Massachusetts. Forty to 50 men aged between 18 and 60 test the slipperiness and attempt to be the first to reach the end of the pole and grab the red flag at the end. The pole is 45 feet long and can be anywhere from 10 to 25 feet from the sea at Gloucester Harbor. The pole is heavily greased with biodegradable axle grease and, to make it extra slippery, anything from Tabasco sauce to banana peels are added. Due to the popularity of the contest, there are strict rules regarding who is eligible to walk on the pole. The event is currently held on Friday, June 29, Saturday, June 30 and Sunday, July 1 – always at 4:45pm.

4. Cheese Rolling

If you’ve never heard of cheese rolling before, you might assume it’s a civilized event. Alas, cheese rolling is anything but civilized. It’s a bone-crushing race where people run, stumble and slide down a steep hill to catch massive rolls of cheese. The most famous event is Cooper’s Hill Cheese-Rolling and Wake, held in Gloucestershire, UK, where competitors vie with 8 lb Double Gloucester cheese rounds. The first person to grab the cheese wins and gets to take it home. Hundreds of participants, spectators and media flock to Gloucestershire from around the world for this unusual event.

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