In which we present a regular round-up of news from the world of Grown-up Travel
New Orleans Quality Inn hotel prepares for Hurricane Isaac
The 10-story Quality Inn in New Orleans’ central business district served as a shelter during Hurricane Katrina seven years ago.
But today, as New Orleans awaits Hurricane Isaac, the 100-room hotel contains fewer than 10 people.
“We’ve done things a little bit different since Katrina,” veteran hotel general manager Stanley Mascair told Hotel Check-In during a phone conversation this morning.
It’s a reversal from the past, when locals wouldn’t think twice about “vertically evacuating” in multiple-floor hotels, Mascair says. He had a few minutes to chat, he says, because all the physical preparations have been completed.
Hotel served as shelter during Katrina
For Hurricane Katrina, Mascair prepared his hotel – three blocks away from Canal and Bourbon streets – by purchasing large amounts of bottled water, peanut butter and tuna fish.
The hotel had a pump that worked, as well as emergency power generators, and during past hurricanes that he’d experienced in New Orleans, the pumps emptied the hotel within 24 hours.
But Mascair, his employees and guests who thought they’d found safe shelter found they were in for quite a different experience.
“Before Katrina, within 24 hours the pumps would pump it out and you’d be back to normal, but this time, it didn’t happen because of breaches and holes in the levy. So as water was pumped out, it came back in.”
Once the levees failed in New Orleans, water streamed into the city. Mascair said they stayed in the hotel for five and a half days – at which point the hotel still had two feet of water in the lobby.
Argentinian politicians unveil plan to shoot seagulls that attack whales
Birds regularly peck the mammals, then feed on the open wounds – behaviour environmentalists have blamed on humans.
Saving the whales is something Argentinians take so seriously that authorities in Patagonia have launched a 100-day plan to shoot seagulls that have learned to attack the big mammals as they surface to breathe.
Environmentalists say the plan is misguided. They say humans are the real problem, creating so much garbage that the gull population has exploded.
Both sides agree that what was bizarre animal behaviour a decade ago has now become a real hazard for threatened southern right whales in one of their prime birthing grounds, turning whale-watching from a magical experience to something from a horror movie.
Seagulls off the coast of the Patagonian city of Puerto Madryn have discovered that by pecking at the whales as they come up for air, they can create open wounds.
Then, when the whales resurface, gulls swoop down and dig in, cutting away skin and blubber with their beaks and claws.
“It’s not just that the gulls are attacking the whales, but that they’re feeding on them, and this way of feeding is a habit that is growing and becoming more frequent,” said Marcelo Bertellotti, who works for the National Patagonia Centre, a government-sponsored conservation agency.
“It really worries us because the damage they’re doing to the whales is multiplying, especially to infant whales that are born in these waters.”
Whales also are changing their behaviour in response: instead of breaching the water and dramatically displaying their tails, they rise just barely enough to breathe through their blow-holes before descending to safety, Bertellotti said.
Bertellotti’s solution is to shoot the gulls that display this behaviour with air rifles and hunting guns.
Each downed bird would then be recovered along with the ammunition, thus avoiding more damage to marine life.
His “100-day whale-gull action plan” was approved by the government of Chubut, and provincial officials came out Tuesday in defence of it.
Beatles tourism angers neighbours
People who live in or near the The Beatles former homes are demanding curbs on the procession of fans turning-up in buses and taxis at all hours of the day and night.
Beatles tourism is the foundation of Liverpool’s growing visitor economy with dozens of companies now offering tours around the Fab Four’s old haunts.
But for Kathleen Hughes, 74, who lives in George Harrison’s birthplace, 2-bedroomed 12 Arnold Grove, Wavertree, is angry that tourists roll-up in the early hours.
Retired carer Kathleen said: “The tour taxis come zooming up the street and in the summer there are hundreds of them every day.
“At the weekend they are turning up constantly, even as late as two o’clock in the morning.
“I live on my own and sometimes it’s really frightening with the flashes going off through my windows and hoards of people outside my door.
“It’s horrible having strangers sticking their faces in my window and knocking at all times of day.
“If the door’s open some of them some are so cheeky they just walk straight into the house as though it’s a museum.
“I’m really fed up of it and so are my neighbours, especially with these cruise ships coming into Liverpool bringing hundreds of coaches of tourists outside my door.
“This is a tiny cul-de-sac. It’s just not suitable to accommodate these kind of numbers.
“The whole Bayern Munich football team came to see the house once, and they were all sticking their faces in the window.
“It’s getting out of hand and we want the council to do something to control and confine it at least to daylight hours.”
Kathleen’s neighbour Ann Bennett has lived on the road for twelve years with her partner, daughter Julie, 32, and nine-year-old granddaughter Bethany.
‘Gang of rampaging mice attack travellers’
“The mice at this station have been attacking customers. Please place the bottom of your trousers into your socks to avoid being a victim of the Farringdon mice.”
This is the message that greeted travellers at a London underground station overnight, the UK’s Daily Mail reported.
Handwritten on a noticeboard at Farringdon station, it warned commuters the station has been plagued by a vicious gang of mice.
Commuters’ feet have reportedly been “attacked” while they waited for trains at the station.
However it’s a mystery who wrote the note, with Transport for London, which is in charge of the station, denying any of its staff were involved.
“We are not aware of any mice at the station,” a Transport for London spokesman said.
He said the sign was removed overnight, but not before passengers posted pictures of it on Twitter.