In which we present a regular round-up of news from the world of Grown-up Travel
Travel industry ‘must do more’ for disabled
Britain’s hotels, attractions, rail operators and airlines are still not sufficiently equipped to cater for travellers with disabilities, leading charities said this week.
With the Paralympics providing a timely opportunity to assess how well the country’s tourism facilities are serving disabled travellers, calls have been made for better staff training and clearer information about disabled access and facilities.
Guy Parckar, head of policy and campaigns at the charity Leonard Cheshire Disability, said that, although significant progress had been made in this area in recent years, there was plenty of room for improvement.
“Often accessible hotels are rendered totally inaccessible because staff aren’t trained,” he said. “We recently heard of a hotel guest who was turned away because he had a guide dog – remarkable in this day and age.
“We’d also like to see hotels looking beyond the provision of level access and consider additional features like hoists to cater for a variety of disabilities.”
He added: “London’s bus network is very good, but we still hear of drivers refusing to stop for wheelchair users or ramps that don’t work. Facilities on trains are getting better, but stations have a long way to go and sometimes staff will be unable to offer assistance with simple things like handling a wheelchair.”
48 hours in Innsbruck
Next time you are in The Alps for your skiing holidays or on your way from Germany to Italy, spend some time in Innsbruck, the capital of the Austrian province of Tyrol and host city of two Olympic Winter Games.
While it has to compete for tourists with famous cities in its own country such as Vienna and Salzburg, the picturesque alpine setting and a beautiful historic city centre make Innsbruck a place worth visiting for a long weekend, both in winter and in summer.
Reuters correspondents with local knowledge help visitors get the most out of a 48-hour visit.
6 p.m. – Stroll from the station to the city centre. Head down Salurnerstrasse, at the end of which you will find your first sight, the Triumphpforte, an arch built in the 18th century to commemorate the wedding of the second son of powerful Habsburg Empress Maria Theresia.
Then head for the historic city centre with the Goldenes Dachl (Golden Roof), an ornate balcony with a roof covered with more than 2,600 gilded tiles, at the very end. Another famed sight is the St. Jacob cathedral.
7:30 p.m. – Tucked away behind the cathedral in Herrengasse you will find the Fischerhaeusl restaurant which serves regional specialties such as “Tiroler Groestl”, a dish with baked potatoes and beef.
Boots, anorak, coffin … the Yorkshire walk with a difference
The 40-mile Lyke Wake Walk, an old coffin trail across the North York Moors, holds an added attraction for some – the challenge of completing it in 24 hours (coffin carrying optional).
“You know,” I began, as we made our way down yet another set of rustic steps cut into a precipitously steep slope, “I’m glad we’re not dressed as undertakers and carrying a coffin.”
This is not an observation I would normally make on a long-distance footpath but then the Lyke Wake Walk is a little out of the ordinary. At first glance it seems unremarkable enough: the route covers 40 miles of the North York Moors between the villages of Osmotherley in the west and Ravenscar near the east coast. The hint that there may be something unusual comes from the name – “lyke” means “corpse” while “wake” is the act of watching over it. The killer punch is that, in order to be able to say that you have “done” the Lyke Wake Walk and declare yourself a dirger (men) or a witch (women), you have to make the trek from end to end within 24 hours. And yes, some Lyke Wake walkers go the whole hog by dressing as undertakers and carrying a coffin (an empty one, in case you were wondering).
So it was that a friend and I found ourselves jumping out of a taxi at Osmotherley and breezing up to the unimposing roadside stone that marks the official start of the walk. Watches duly checked – it was precisely 3.45pm – we set off with a spring in our step that was perhaps not quite in keeping with the solemnity of the occasion. But why should we care? We were both experienced walkers. We had maps and a guidebook. We had a nice snug room booked in a pub at the half-way point. What could possibly go wrong?
Five-year-old boy’s tattoo nightmare
It was supposed to be a harmless holiday souvenir but a temporary tattoo could leave little Jess Errington with permanent health problems.
The five-year-old was enjoying a winter escape in Bali with his parents this month and begged to be allowed to have two henna dragon tattoos, the Gold Coast Bulletin reported.
His “ink” had almost faded by the time he returned to school this week but in its place are 2mm raised, dragon-shaped welts.
His horrified parents, Paul Errington and Kirsty Dutton, have since discovered local artists had added a toxic chemical, para-phenylenediamine (PPD), to the usual vegetable dye mix to darken the tattoo.
In Australia the chemical which is used in strong hair dye, is known for causing allergic reactions with lifelong effects.
These can include skin problems and a permanent allergy to anything containing PPD, including black clothing, dark hair dye and some cosmetics.
“We just feel terrible – it was supposed to be a totally innocent holiday souvenir,” Mr Errington said.
“I’ve got tattoos and every boy wants to be like their daddy, so when he saw all the kids getting them done on the beach in Bali I gave in, thinking it was harmless.”