Tuesday 5 Feb, 2008

Travel Tidbits: One long walk

How much does it cost to travel from Bristol, England, to Porbandar, India?

If you’re Mark Boyle, the answer (hopefully) is nothing.

The catch is that Boyle is walking—yes, walking—from his British hometown to Gandhi’s birthplace without any money.

The 28-year-old former businessman (pictured at left) began the 9,000-mile “pilgrimage” last Wednesday and plans to survive by relying solely on the goodwill of humanity or working for food and a place to rest.

“I’ve got some sunscreen, a good knife, a spoon, a bandage … no Visa card, no travellers’ cheques, no bank accounts, zero,” he told BBC radio. “I won’t actually touch money along the way.”

Boyle, who also goes by the name Saoirse, estimates he’ll cover 15 to 45 miles a day walking through France, Italy, eastern Europe, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan. He guesses it will take him two and a half years to arrive in Porbandar, Gandhi’s birthplace on India’s west coast.

You can follow Boyle on his journey by reading his blog. And, if you happen to spot him along the way, be sure to post your sighting.

Read on for this week’s installment of Travel Tidbits.

• Wanted: Hip, modern motto for a staid, historic empire. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown is seeking a brand-new slogan for Britain, according to Reuters. He’s searching for a short, punchy tagline to brand the British Empire. World Hum and the New York Times just recently wrote about how the campaign has generated more cynical punchlines than nationalistic rallying cries. The Times of London even sponsored a contest. The winner? “No Motto Please, We’re British.”

wrote, “Rome Underground (the Catacombs!).” The verdict? Definitely
worth exploring, if you can put aside your fears. You also can check
out the official site here.

• Tango is making a big comeback in Argentina, according to the International Herald Tribune. Dinner shows are becoming hugely popular among tourists, who just have to see the tango when they’re in Argentina.

Barcelona is a hit with teens, according to CNN.com. With Gaudi’s La Sagrada Familia and Parque Guell and the Picasso Museum, there’s a lot to interest travelers of all ages.

• About.com Student Travel has information about seven new Eurail passes.

• The Washington Post recommended 54 Online Travel Sites to Bookmark Now and Five Up-and-Coming Sites You Should Know About.

• French President Nicolas Sarkozy requested that France 24—a national news channel that broadcasts in English and Arabic—change to 100 percent French broadcasts, according to Gadling. Sarkozy says he doesn’t want to “finance a channel that does not speak French.” France 24 offers a French perspective on global news to a wider audience. It’s hard to see how restricting information is a good thing for anyone.

Gadling relayed Vagabondish’s list of 12 Google Shortcuts Every Traveler Should Know,
including how to find local weather, time, phone numbers and
restaurants; how to check flight status and airport conditions; and how
to convert currency, temperatures, distances and driving speeds.

• Have you seen Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman in The Bucket List? Any idea what it would cost to follow in their footsteps on a life list of travel adventures? Try $105,730. Mary Forgione of The Los Angeles Times itemized their travel expenses.

• The New York Times’ Travel Q&A answers the question: How can U.S. citizens travel to Cuba?

Gadling passed on a list of the five happiest countries in the world, according to the World Database of Happiness:
Denmark, Switzerland, Austria, Iceland and Finland. For comparison’s
sake, the United States ranked 17th on the happiness scale, ahead of
the United Kingdom, France and Italy, among others.

• If you’re looking for tickets to this summer’s historic Olympic Games in Beijing, they might be easier to acquire than you think. The Lonely Planet Travel Blog relayed a report from the Xinhua News that says 75 percent of tickets are unsold. The Games officially open August 8 (as in, 8/8/08). By the way, EF Education First is the Official Language Training Services Supplier of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

• The Boston Red Sox—the reigning World Series champs and the
hometown favorites of EF’s Boston office—will open the 2008 baseball season in
Tokyo, Japan. The Red Sox will play exhibition games against Japan’s
Hanshin Tigers and Yomiuri Giants and will play a pair of regular-season games (i.e., games that count) against the Oakland
Athletics. The Red Sox are particularly big in Japan because of ace
pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka, a Japanese import who debuted with the Sox last season. Gadling has a look at baseball in Japan.

• In other overseas sports news, the National Hockey League is expanding its European presence. Four NHL teams will open the 2008-09 season in Prague and Stockholm. The New York Rangers, Ottawa Senators, Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning will play a pair of regular-season games in the Czech Republic and Sweden. The Rangers also will play an exhibition game against European club champion Metallurg Magnitogorsk of Russia in Bern, Switzerland.

The Los Angeles Times wrote a piece on choosing the right travel guidebook. On the flip side, Iva Skoch at Gadling wonders, “What to do with used guidebooks?”

• Good news/bad news from the airlines. The good news? Continental Airlines is introducing WiFi Internet access and satellite TV on every flight, starting in January 2009. The WiFi will be free, and the satellite TV will cost $6 (unless you’re in first class, where it’s free). The bad news? United Airlines will start charging $25 for a second checked bag.

• Gadling wrote about the Airbus A380’s efforts to fly green. Last week, on a test flight from Filton, United Kingdom, to Toulouse, France, the A380 was the first commercial airline to fly with alternative fuel. Gadling suggests that Qatar Airways may be the first to fly commercially on gas-to-liquid fuel, but that won’t be until 2009. In the meantime, Gadling suggests its Eco-Travel Toolkit.