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On October 28, I’ll be heading off to my home town of Brisbane, Australia, travelling via Bangkok. I’ll be flying business class on Oman Air, Emirates and Qantas, and I’ll be staying at properties managed by Accor and Marriott.
I’ll be blogging the highlights — including flight, airport lounge and hotel reviews — here, and I’ll be active on Twitter (@debritz), Instagram and Facebook. And, of course, as often as possible, I’ll be updating the Travel and Tourism News on this site.
Two news stories caught my attention within hours of each other yesterday. One was about a woman who had been ordered to pay the costs of an airline that was forced to divert due to her onboard beahviour.
The other was what, certainly at first glance, appeared to be celebration of a British man who got so drunk on holiday in Ibiza that he became part of a “hen do” (the female equivalent of a bachelor’s / stag / buck’s party).
Yes, it’s a cliche, but like most cliches, it has a basis in truth. Amazing coincidences occur when you travel.
I’ve run into friends from home on the other side of the world and met people who know people I know, but this is probably the weirdest thing that has happened.
Take a look at this picture:
I love a good impromptu holiday. On many occasions, I’ve travelled within hours of buying my ticket. Sometimes, I’ve simply arrived at an airport, alone or in company, and booked a flight on the spot.
But you’ve got to have your wits about you. A friend was recently lamenting the fact that he’d bought plane tickets on the internet for a flight a few days hence and hadn’t realised that he needed both a visa and a vaccination before he would be allowed to visit his intended destination.
You’re bound to have heard a story about people who meet while on holiday, exchange addresses and phone numbers, and hope like hell that they never hear from each other again.
Then, there are those cliched holiday romances — none more romantic than those forged on a sea voyage — that always end in tears (although not always due to an iceberg).
A few years ago, a dog defecated in front of me. Not a big deal you might think – except that I was on a cruise ship, in the buffet restaurant.
The dog was an “emotional support animal” for a woman who, admittedly, was deeply embarrassed. But the fact remains that a dog did its business in a place where people eat, creating a health and safety hazard.
Last night I was in an Abu Dhabi taxi whose driver behaved in what you might think is an extraordinary manner. He drove right up to a vehicle that was stopped in front of us, edging ever closer to it, then suddenly braking to avoid contact. He flashed his lights at the car, muttered some curse words and shook his fist at the other driver.
Why? Because the car in front had stopped at a pedestrian crossing to allow some people, including a woman pushing a pram, to cross the road.
Thousands of choices and yet nothing to watch … that’s the experience I often have with the onboard entertainment system when I fly.
There may be a wide choice in terms of the number of shows, but there will only be one, or maybe three, episodes of a programme that I really like.
I am an impatient person when I’m doing things that I don’t think are important — especially when it comes to shopping. And getting haircuts.
As a child, I squirmed in the barber’s chair as if I were being tortured. As an adult, I try to hurry the hairdresser along, saying (often truthfully) that I’m on my way to work.
But in the United Arab Emirates, and across the Middle East, a haircut is not a thing to be rushed. You only have to see how wonderfully groomed men in the UAE are to know that. Continue reading A cut above
As cruise ships get bigger and bigger, they resemble small cities. They can carry as many as 7,000 passengers and crew. The upside to that means there are plenty of people to mingle with, a wide choice of dining and shopping options, great entertainment and a host of fun activities on offer.
But wherever there are a large number of people in a confined space, there is also a down side.
As a frequent cruiser, I’ve had the opportunity to meet some wonderfully interesting people, both fellow passengers and crew members.
And as a longtime arts and entertainment writer and editor, I’m especially interested in the performers who work on cruise ships.
A few years ago, I caught up to Ned Gray, a drummer, guitarist and singer whose work has taken him around the world, on to more than a dozen ships for many months at a time.
Here’s the audio from the encounter:
I was once assigned a seat in the second last row of a plane, in front of a row of children who were travelling as unaccompanied minors.
My initial reaction was dread, imaging that the kids would be shouting, kicking the back of the seat and generally disrupting my flight. In fact, they behaved incredibly well.
The depressing news for people of size, such as myself, this week is that we are about to be squeezed out of economy class on yet another airline.
It’s been reported that Hong Kong airline Cathay Pacific will follow several other carriers and introduce 10-abreast seating on its Boeing 777 aircraft.
I make no secret of the fact that I am not the most adventurous of travellers. While it’s true that I love to make unexpected discoveries when I travel, there are some things that I want to be predictable — especially the standard of accommodation.
For that reason, I find myself more and more drawn towards brand-name hotels. Yes, I’ve stayed at some fabulous family-owned hotels and bed-and-breakfast joints over the years, but I’ve also had some nightmare experiences.
I assumed that pilots who were caught drunk on the job — and there have been a few cases of that lately — were sacked and then remained unemployable in that job. But it seems I was wrong.
According to this report, Air India pilots not only get a second chance, they get a third chance — except that after the second offence they have to pay for their own retraining. Now, to me, that’s shocking.
I recently received a promotional email from a hotel apartment complex, and I noticed that the cheapest accommodation option was a “superior room”.
Now, being the pedant I am, I double-checked the meaning of “superior” in the dictionary*. And, pretty much as I expected, it said: “Higher in rank, status, or quality.” Continue reading Don’t supersize me
It’s one of the great travel cliches. Tourists at beach resorts who get up early and “reserve” a spot on the beach, a deck chair or by the pool by placing a towel there. Then they go back to bed or breakfast, hoping to take up their privileged spot later on.
It’s led to (often racist) jokes, arguments and even fist fights in the past. And now it’s illegal. Continue reading No reservations
You may have heard about The Man Who Lived at the Ritz. It was a novel, then a TV movie, about a man who spent several years at the famous Ritz Hotel in Paris during the Nazi occupation.
In real life, Coco Chanel did live at the Ritz (although, apparently, not in the actual suite that now bears her name).
It started during a Twitter conversation I had with another travel blogger about how some airfare structures were, at first glance, confusing.
The classic Little Golden Book Gordon’s Jet Flight, by Naomi Glasson and Mel Crawford, was first published in 1961. I read it when I was old enough to read Little Golden Books.
In my memory, it was about a little boy’s first flight on a Boeing 747 Jumbo, but as the cover shows, it was about the B707, which was still a mighty plane in its day.