Monday 21 Jan, 2008

Travel Tidbits: A conquering hero


One of the 20th century’s greatest explorers, Sir Edmund Hillary, died January 10. He and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay were the first known people to reach the top of Mount Everest.

Hillary and Norgay literally stood on top of the world on May 29, 1953, when they reached the summit of Mount Everest, 29,035 feet above sea level, the highest point on Earth. Of reaching the pinnacle moment, Hillary wrote:

“Another few weary steps and there was nothing above us but the sky.
There was no false cornice, no final pinnacle. We were standing
together on the summit. There was enough space for about six people. We
had conquered Everest. … Awe, wonder, humility, pride, exaltation—these surely ought to be the confused emotions of the first men to
stand on the highest peak on Earth, after so many others had failed.”

Since then, more than 3,000 people have ascended Mount Everest, but Hillary—like Roald Amundsen reaching the South Pole in 1911, Charles Lindbergh crossing the Atlantic in 1927 and Neil Armstrong setting foot on the moon in 1969—was the first. He devoted much of the rest of his life to assisting the mountain people of Nepal.

World Hum and Gadling
both paid tribute to the man whom New Zealand Prime Minister Helen
Clark called “a colossus.” You also can read obituaries from the Associated Press and The New York Times. The New Zealand native was 88.

It’s been awhile, so we have several other Travel Tidbits to catch up on:

• Cyprus and Malta both switched currency to the euro as of January 1. In case you’re stuck with any leftover Cypriot Pounds or Maltese Lira, the Lonely Planet Travel Blog recommends checking out Travelex Cash Passport, which will accept redundant currency for up to three years. According to Lonely Planet, there are now 15 nations and 318 million people using the euro.

• Also at the start of the New Year, both Paris and Berlin both instituted bans on cafe smoking. And, speaking of Berlin, About.com’s Guide to Student Travel listed Berlin Blogs Worth Perusing.

• Need help finding a loo in London? Relief might be around the corner. Both Gadling and Intelligent Travel wrote about “SatLav,” a new restroom-locating service from the Westminster City Council. If you gotta go (and you have an international cell phone), just text “toilet” to the number 80097 and you’ll receive a text message with the location of the nearest public restroom. The service is only available throughout Westminster, which includes popular attractions such as Big Ben and Westminster Abbey.

Globespotters praised Paris’ legendary Shakespeare and Company bookstore (complete with video) and wrote about Moscow’s Bookstore Cafes. If you’re stuck stateside, check out the Associated Press’ list of nine bookstores worth a tourist stop.

• The Los Angeles Times declared that Machu Picchu is the must-see travel destination for the jet-set. Visits last year by the likes of Cameron Diaz, Bill Gates, Ted Turner and Woody Harrelson, among others, have put Machu Picchu on the map with the A-listers. And, speaking of celebrities, Gadling passed on some travel tips from A-listers.

• The greatness of ABBA—the Swedish pop music group of the 1970s, and a particular favorite at EF—will be on permanent display in Stockholm beginning in 2009. An ABBA museum is due to open with a five-day festival in June 2009.

• If you’re looking for some winter free-time ideas, Intelligent Travel writes about Skating Rinks Around Europe.

Gadling and the Associated Press wrote about the new Jules Verne restaurant at the top of the Eiffel Tower. For more exotic tastes, Gadling also wrote about Greenland’s newest tourist attraction: Water! and the first flight to Antarctica.

• Speaking of Gadling, one of its top travel bloggers, Neil Woodburn, filed his 2,000th and final post yesterday. He wrote that he’ll be free now to focus on other writing projects. One of his more interesting recent projects was his 19-part series titled “Infiltrating North Korea.” You can read it from the beginning here.

• The 12th season of Amazing Race
came to an end last night. The last leg had the final three teams
racing from Taipei, Taiwan, to Anchorage, Alaska. In case you haven’t
see it yet, I won’t spoil the ending, but you can find out all of the
details (and the winners) in Gadling’s finale recap. The winners weren’t my first choice, but I’ve got no complaints.

• And, finally, World Hum bid adieu to its weekly roundup with its final World Hum Travel Zeitgeist.