Disneyland Part of Governor’s Phase 3 Reopening Plan

Officials in California have announced Disneyland and other theme parks would be part of the third phase of the state’s reopening plan, as businesses welcome guests for the first time since the coronavirus outbreak began.

According to, Governor Gavin Newsom previously announced a “four-stage road map” to start reopening businesses in California, and there were concerns theme parks would fall into the fourth phase.

California Health and Human Services Agency spokesperson Kate Folmar said Disneyland, Universal Studios Hollywood and other popular attractions would be part of the third stage of reopening.

“Theme parks are slated to open in Stage 3 if the rate of spread of COVID-19 and hospitalizations remain stable,” Folmar told the OC Register. “The California Department of Public Health will issue detailed guidance with suggested modifications for how to minimize the risk of COVID-19 spread when theme parks reopen.”

On Tuesday, Newsom announced that Orange County, where Disneyland is located, and other areas would be approved for “accelerated reopening” and move to phase three of the governor’s plan, despite theme parks being considered a high-risk business.

In addition to limiting the number of people inside the facilities, the state’s health department will also work with theme park employers and employees to develop health and safety protocols.

Earlier this month, Shanghai Disneyland reopened its doors to the public with a stringent new set of rules and regulations to meet health guidelines implemented by the government, such as limiting capacity to ensure social distancing.

In Florida, Disney World officials reached an agreement last week with its employee union on a new set of health and safety guidelines to protect workers from coronavirus.

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Matthew Henson: the pioneering African-American Arctic adventurer

Passport details
Matthew Alexander Henson, perhaps the first person to the North Pole. Born Charles County, Maryland, US, 8 August 1866.

Claim to fame
Matthew Henson, the descendant of slaves, has a plausible claim to being the first explorer to reach the North Pole. He grew up in Washington DC and Baltimore, was orphaned and left school at 12 to be a cabin boy. When he was 22, a chance encounter with naval engineer Robert Peary resulted in a lifelong working relationship, including 18 years of Arctic exploration. On 6 April 1909, Henson, Peary and four Inuit drove their dogsleds to the North Pole – or as near as makes no difference. Peary took the credit for being first, but a newspaper article on their return quoted Henson as saying he’d been part of a leading group that had overshot the pole by several miles: “We went back then and I could see my footprints were the first at the spot.”

Supporting documentation
Henson’s engaging 1912 memoir, A Negro Explorer at the North Pole, reads like a Boy’s Own Adventure. Henson’s dog-handling skills, fluent Inuit and all-round resourcefulness were key to the expedition’s success. “I have a steady job carpentering, also interpreting, barbering, tailoring, dog-training,” he writes. The warmth of his response to the Inuit is striking: “I have come to love these people … They are my friends and regard me as theirs.” The memoir’s final page includes the names of 218 Inuit from Smith Sound, on Canada’s Ellesmere Island. Among them are Akatingwah, Henson’s Inuit lover, and Ahnaukaq, their son.

Distinguishing marks
Henson lived a long life. Photographs show him on board ship and as a genial old codger, but the most arresting image was taken after that dash to the pole: he peers out of his fur parka, quietly challenging assumptions of what an Arctic explorer might look like to some.

Last sighted
Henson lived the rest of his life in relative obscurity, working as a clerk for US Customs, and died in 1955. He married twice, and had no children apart from Ahnaukaq Henson, who, in 1987, at the age of 80, achieved his lifetime ambition of visiting the land of his father’s birth.

Intrepidness rating
Obstacles he faced included ice floes, snowstorms, frostbite and racism: 9.

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Adventure holidays: Dive in to the coolest underwater wonders

For those who do want to enjoy a spot of diving or snorkelling, you can find weird and wonderful sites ranging from ancient cities to sunken Boeing aircraft. Prepare for a dose of wanderlust as we take a look at the world’s coolest underwater attractions…


The “Two Eyes Cenote” has earned its name thanks to two sinkholes that form the cenote, joined by a 1,300ft-long passageway. It’s also one of Mexico’s largest underwater cave systems.

There’s an impressive amount of light that reaches the waters making them crystal-clear, and therefore a big hit with snorkelling and diving fans.


Dubbed the “Atlantis of the East”, Shicheng is an ancient city which sits about 85-130ft below the surface. Once a thriving city, the valley in which it is located was flooded more than 1,300 years ago.

It’s a popular diving site, mainly because the water has protected the stone architecture from wind and sun erosion. Nowadays you can take guided tours to get close to the ruins, although you will need to be a good diver for this one.


The Conrad Maldives Rangali Island hotel offers up a dining experience unlike any other – right in those picture-perfect ocean waters the Maldives are renowned for.The restaurant sits under the sea and has glass walls and ceiling so diners can take in views of the marine life that thrives around the shores, as well as the eye-catching coral gardens.


Bahrain’s new underwater museum opened in 2019 and features a sunken Boeing 747 jet for divers to explore.

The 230ft-long plane was submerged underwater on purpose, as part of the new attraction which will also boast 25 acres of activities and trails for divers, ranging from colourful artificial reefs to underwater sculptures.

One diver shared a video as he explored the site and while it doesn’t have much marine life at the moment, it’s still pretty impressive.


Usually art museums involve large galleries you wander through – but this one is completely submerged under water, so you’ll need to dive down and swim along.

There are more than 500 life-size sculptures to discover, all of which have been built to promote coral life.

You can explore through snorkelling and diving, but if you don’t want to get in the water there are glass-bottom-boat tours that offer a glimpse of the artwork.


Lake Huron in Ontario is where you’ll find the shipwreck of Sweepstakes, a schooner that hit a rock near Cove Island. It was towed to the nearby lake where it sank in the shallow water.

Nowadays you can snorkel or dive to get up close, while the picture-perfect landscape around the lake is worth a visit alone.


On the island’s southwestern coast sits a spectacular underwater waterfall. It’s actually the result of sand and silt on the ocean floor forming an illusion of a waterfall – but the strong currents mean this one is best admired from afar.

If you want to witness the natural phenomenon then you won’t be getting into the water – the best way to see it is from the air, and there are plenty of seaplane and helicopter tours on offer.


In the winter, the lake has depths of around 3-6ft, and is surrounded by a picturesque park.

However, come summertime, as the surrounding mountain ice melts, the lake fills up and the park is submerged, creating depths of up to 40ft. Oh, and thanks to the lush landscape, the waters boast a dazzling emerald green shade.


This underwater gallery of sculptures sits in a marine-protected area, and the striking artworks double up as artificial reefs, drawing in an impressive array of marine life.

There are heaps of sculptures of life-size people in various activities, from sitting at a desk in front of a typewriter to a circle of children playing a game.


Forget writing a traditional postcard – at the Hideaway Island marine sanctuary in the South Pacific you can send special waterproof messages to your loved ones from the underwater post office.

The hotspot is available to snorkellers and divers, and it makes for a quirky photo opp too.

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Postcard from the future: The Tour de France will have to wait another year | Felicity Cloake

This was going to be the summer when, after three decades of armchair spectating, I finally got to see the Tour de France in the sinewy flesh. We had planned to catch one of the mountain stages, and not just for the pleasure of sitting on a sun-warmed rock with a cold beer watching other people work. The siren call of the Alps themselves is an even stronger draw than seeing defending champion Egan Bernal and home favourite Thibaut Pinot doing battle before my very eyes.

It’s a landscape I can’t think of without a pang of longing so powerful it briefly sucks all the breath from me. Magnificent as they are draped in snow, the mountains are, for me, best in summer, when the freshness of the air hits you as you climb from the muggy valley floor, carrying with it the herbal perfume of the meadows and the gentle plink of cowbells below the looming peaks.

Having crammed bikes into the back of the car with the dog, we were hoping to tackle the final section of stage 17, from Grenoble to the ski resort of Méribel, once the Tour itself had moved on. Grinding up the Col de la Loze road from Courchevel, we would have passed the jump built for the 1992 Winter Olympics: still used for the World Cup every August it is, like the lifts dangling idly above the tarmac, a reminder that in a few months’ time this will be a ski run again.

The last 6km to the top are newly paved, but closed to motorised traffic, which is handy for those of us who make slow progress above 2,000 metres. The way down into the village should be somewhat speedier, even without the prospect of a huge caramel fleur de sel ice-cream from the patisserie opposite the tourist office.

Right now, the idea of squeezing past fellow fans in the Sherpa supermarché, clutching nutty cheese and musty saucisson for our packed lunch, feels as far away as those peaks after weeks of flat London horizons. If the 2020 Tour does go ahead in August, it’s safe to say I’ll be cheering from home again – but this year not from the sofa but from the bony saddle of the exercise bike that now takes up half the sitting room. After months of comfort eating, some training might be in order for 2021.

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Greece holidays: Take the plunge in amazing Athens


On the outskirts of the Greek capital Athens, sits a majestic hotel, the Divani Apollon Palace and Thalasso. 

Located on the stylish coast of Vouliagmeni, around 15 miles from the city centre, the leafy coastal suburb is packed with smart restaurants and even smarter shops. This neighbourhood is where cool Athenians go to cool off on the beaches and be seen. 

The Divani is the place for wellbeing and the hotel offers a number of beauty and health programmes; from detoxing and anti-stress, to weight loss and thalassotherapy treatments. 

It has its own private sandy beach, two outdoor pools and sprawling views of the Athenian Riviera and Saronic Gulf. 


This is an all-singing, all-dancing resort hotel with plenty of outdoor space, relaxing areas and dining options. 

The hotel is a mid-rise building which overlooks the pools and manicured gardens. 

Rooms are elegant but not stuffy, with muted colours, lovely deep blue and rich terracotta-toned soft furnishings, floor-to-ceiling sliding doors opening onto balconies, and marble bathrooms.


The hotel’s heart is quite clearly the Spa and Thalasso Centre, one of the best spas in Greece. Its centrepiece is the thalassotherapy pool.

The spa is equipped with 25 treatment rooms, a hydromassage pool, fat-burning equipment, a doctor’s office and cryotherapy treatments. An added bonus is that the masseurs are trained physiotherapists, so they’ll be able to advise on or sort out any problems. 


This is where it gets complicated, as there are so many fabulous eateries. From casual dining at the Atlantis lounge and verandah to Anemos on the beach for Med cuisine. 

Mythos is a little more formal and romantic and the open-air deck is superb for sunset cocktails. And if you’re by the pool you don’t have to go too far as the pool bar is on a raised platform on the edge of the beach. 


The Divani hotel group has two further hotels in the capital:

The Divani Palace Acropolis, near to the ancient citadel, is a unique blend of ancient and new. Beneath lies the ancient ruins of Themistoclean wall, which were discovered in the foundations during construction and incorporated into the design.

It’s also a five-minute stroll away from the Acropolis itself, and its extraordinary museum, including structures from 3000 BC. 

For cocktail hour, head to the hotel’s rooftop pool for unrivalled views over the illuminated Acropolis. 

The Divani Caravel has an imposing 471-room structure in the cityscape which may appear daunting, however once inside, it’s relaxed and friendly. 

The centrepiece is an enormous art deco chandelier in reception. Rooms have clean lines with neutral palettes and massive beds. The Caravel has also made use of its roof with panoramic views of Lycabettus Hill. The JuJu Bar and Restaurant features bright modern artwork and serves up an enticing menu of Greek dishes with a flourish. 

Nearby is the famous Syntagma Square, the city’s focal point lined with cafes overlooked by the Greek Parliament building. Just beyond it is the city’s answer to London’s Chelsea, the chic Kolonaki area, where narrow streets are lined with boutiques. 

The Byzantine and Christian Museum has an unsurpassed collection of ancient artworks, everyday objects, religious garments and icons. 

Also nearby is the impressive privately-owned Benaki Museum, with a vast, diverse collection, including Islamic, Chinese and pre-Colombian art as well as Greek artefacts dating from ancient times to the early 20th century.


Rooms at Divani Apollon Palace & Thalasso hotel, Athens, start at £250 a night B&B. Rooms at Divani Caravel Hotel, Athens, start at £200 a night B&B.

Rooms at Divani Palace Acropolis hotel, Athens, start at £180 a night B&B.

easyJet flies to Athens from Bristol, Gatwick. Manchester and Edinburgh. One-way fares start at £69.21 return.

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Flying long haul during Covid-19: air travel has never been stranger

When I booked my flight home after spending more than two-and-a-half months in Europe, I knew what my journey would entail. With no more direct flights between Paris and Hong Kong, I would have a brief layover in London. I knew that when I landed at the Hong Kong airport, I would be tested and held at a facility for roughly eight hours until my results came back.

In the best case scenario – if I were negative – I would be spending two weeks in home quarantine, my whereabouts tracked by an app and a chunky device worn on my wrist. If I were positive, I would be sent to the hospital.

I’m used to traveling alone, but I wasn’t expecting the feeling of isolation as I moved from one dystopian scene to another. Flying long haul has never been stranger.

‘Confusion reigns’: life inside Hong Kong’s coronavirus quarantine centres

Heathrow, like Paris’ Charles de Gaulle Airport, was eerily quiet. I was alone when I went through security. All of the shops and restaurants were closed, there was no music or boarding announcements, and none of the usual din of tens of thousands of passengers making their way to their gates. Looking at the handful of flights listed on the announcement board, I realised that I could safely assume that any other passenger I encountered in the terminal was on my flight.

Once we had all boarded, the captain remarked over the PA system that there were only about 100 passengers and that we would all be entering a quarantine of some sort when we landed. He didn’t expect any delays; the skies were empty.

When you fly from one international hub to another in normal life, you never know where your fellow passengers are coming from, where they’re going, or what they’ll be doing when they land. But this time – with Hong Kong allowing only residents in – I knew that we had all chosen to return, for one reason or another, and to accept what came next.

Hong Kong, despite tens of millions crossing its border with mainland China every year, has only had 1,052 cases of Covid-19 and four related deaths in a city of 7.4 million. Until Wednesday, when a 66-year-old woman with no recent travel history was confirmed to be infected, every single new case that Hong Kong had recorded in the previous 23 days had been imported from abroad – meaning none of the patients had caught the virus within the city itself.

The British Airways staff member who greeted us on the plane and directed us to our seats wore a mask and gloves, but for the remainder of the journey, the rest of the crew did not. In absurd contrast, some of the passengers wore full-body protective suits, plastic face shields, goggles and gloves. Every single one wore a face mask. The passengers were calm, with none of the usual stressed urgency of air travel: no one was in a hurry to get anywhere.

Inside the confines of the plane, it was as if passengers and cabin crew functioned in parallel universes: flight attendants served food and drink as normal – an act impossible to perform without being at least within an arm’s reach – to people wearing levels of protection normally reserved for highly dangerous environments.

Arriving in Hong Kong

When we landed in Hong Kong 12 hours later, people were patient and cooperative, though they politely kept their distance from each other. We were all being treated as we were potentially infected. There was the sense that we all knew that we were traveling under extraordinary circumstances and everyone was doing their best to do their part.

We were herded through station after station, each with its own discrete purpose. At one, we got health forms and orders. Before we could advance, we had to download a tracking app. At another, someone recorded our phone numbers and checked that they worked. Someone gave us our tracking bracelets, and someone else activated them. A health official signed and stamped my quarantine order and gave me a thermometer, explaining I was to record my temperature twice a day. He told me not to worry, and assured me that assuming I were negative, I would be eating dim sum on the morning of the 28th.

I went through immigration, picked up my luggage and cleared customs. But I wasn’t heading home. We were herded onto a bus that took us to a convention centre nearbythat had been converted into a testing facility. We stood in line – separated by at least a metre from one another – and a health worker gave us testing kits as well as tag numbers to wear around our necks. She patiently explained how to perform the test on myself. Afterwards, we had to watch an instructional video in a giant hall, where the video played on repeat on three large screens in front of dozens of equally spaced chairs.

In the next hall, I was assigned a testing booth, where I could hock up saliva from deep in my throat – the government video instructed us to make a “kruuua” sound – and spit into a tube in semi-privacy. I handed it in and was taken to a hall where I was given my own table and chair, with a welcome note, “house rules” and a rubbish bag. Later, a food cart brought sandwiches and water bottles. As the hours passed, the food cart came by again with chocolate digestives and crackers.

Seven hours later, they finally announced that passengers from my flight would be released. Our tag numbers were called. I went up to the counter and was told my test came back negative. I was given a second test kit, which I am to perform on myself again in 12 days. I was free to go home, where I have to stay for the next two weeks.

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Spain holiday hotspot keeps hated tourist tax DESPITE being desperate for Brits to return

Before the coronavirus outbreak, tourism chiefs had announced an extensive clampdown on drinking in the most popular resorts of the island, specifically Magaluf and Playa de Palma, as well as San Antonio in Ibiza. They intended to target all-inclusive hotels, limiting drinks to six a day in a bid to eradicate drunken tourism.

Yesterday, the Balearic government announced a raft of measures to try and revitalise the economy which is being hit by the lack of tourism.

Most of the £3billion proposals centre around promoting key sectors such as construction, renewables, housing and innovation and to get away from the dependency on tourism.

But eyebrows have been raised by two potentially very unpopular measures which will affect Brits who do decide to return.

They are:

1 The banning of self-dispensing alcohol containers in all-inclusive hotels “with the aim of raising the quality of establishments and limit accommodation models linked to excesses”.

2 The continuation of the tourist tax which costs holidaymakers between £1.50 and £3.50 a night on arrival, despite calls for it to be scrapped by hotel associations.

The Balearic government has decided to postpone the planned introduction of single-use plastics in hotels, such as plates, cups, trays, straws and cutlery, until the coronavirus crisis is over.

The law was to have been introduced from January 1, 2021 but island leaders say the coronavirus restrictions on movements and companies means a delay in the manufacturing of new “easily re-cyceable” items.

The measure will still eventually happen.

Balearic president  Francina Armengol said hotels in Calvia, which includes Magaluf and Playa de Palma, could be turned into social housing if owners were struggling and all red tape in the usual planning process would be cut out. 

Instead, the owner would only have to make a “responsible statement” and the work could go ahead this summer with acoustic laws lifted because “there will be no tourists to disturb.”

The granting of licenses for the vacation rental of single-family homes in Palma has also been prohibited until December 31, 2021. 

This, says the government, will mean less tourist places but will foster diversification into other markers instead of total reliance on the holiday industry.

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5 reasons to take a family safari after COVID-19 – A Luxury Travel Blog

All across the world, people have experienced fundamental changes in their lives due to the COVID-19 outbreak.  We have been plunged into a new ‘normal’ that, for most of us, is very different from what we were used to. These shifts in our lifestyles have made us realize how much we may have taken things for granted, including the freedom to travel into wild places freely and safely.

Chances are that by now you and the family have already adapted and settled into your new daily routines. The many platforms from which to travel virtually allow us to imagine we are somewhere other than our living rooms, at least for a while. But the entertainment of armchair safaris can only last so long and no number of wildlife documentaries can prepare you for the exhilarating experience of being in the African bush.

So, once this pandemic abates – because, yes, this too shall pass in time – and the lifting of travel bans makes regional and international holidays with your family safe again, there is good reason to head to the wilderness to revel in the wide open spaces and a refreshed perspective. In fact, we have found at least five reasons to take a family safari in Africa once COVID-19 is over.

Connect deeply with nature

Considering what we know about the consequences of trading and selling wildlife for human consumption – highlighted once again by a coronavirus outbreak – the emphasis on truly valuing and respecting nature is important now more than ever. Cultivating a sense of wonder and appreciation for the natural environment and the myriad wildlife that rely on it has always been one of the effortless outcomes of a safari, for both adults and children.

An immersive experience in nature can reignite imagination and creativity, giving you a fresh pair of eyes with which to take in a new place. Discovering the unexpected wonders of the bush helps to cultivate an inquisitive mind for adults as well as children, who are often already naturally interested and curious. Going on safari offers you and the family a special chance to really reawaken your senses by connecting with nature, yourselves and each other.

Make a positive difference

One of the sectors across the world most hard hit by the pandemic is travel and tourism. Tragically, millions of people have lost their jobs almost overnight and there has been a huge decrease in funding for wildlife conservation and community empowerment work. This is because a large part of the resources come from guest visits to the national parks and game reserves as well as the safari camps and lodges.

The vAcuum of funds resulting from local and international travel bans  – all completely understandable and necessary – means fewer rangers on the ground to patrol parks and reserves, leaving Africa’s endangered species highly vulnerable to poaching and theft for the illegal wildlife trade. Communities are left without the support that helps them manage both economically and socially, which if relating to healthcare, is a major concern during this time. So choosing to take your family on a safari after COVID-19, means contributing to these projects that are critical to the survival of the continent’s animal and human communities.

See the bigger picture

Whether it is learning about a different culture to yours and beginning to see the world through the eyes of others, or observing wild animals in their natural habitat where they should be, these are experiences that remind you that there is more to life than your everyday routine. They wake you up by offering a perspective that is possibly different and broader to that which you are used to.

Without being able to escape even into our own area’s countryside currently, we have realized how much we miss and need nature in our lives. The stories of animals taking their own journeys into the now quiet towns and cities reminds us who our other ‘neighbours’ are. Being in the remote wilderness on an African safari is an excellent way to expose your kids to the inter-connectedness of nature, wildlife and humans, whilst also enjoying some downtime together as a family.

Build resilience

During a time when we have been socially distanced from each other, we have still connected with our loved ones in other ways. As the world navigates this difficult experience collectively, we have all firmly become citizens of the global community. The acts of joyful creativity and deep compassion that have been shared in various ways across the world have shown us how powerful shared experiences can be in building resilience and support for each other.

If you have never visited an African country or been on a safari in the wilderness, doing so might be asking you and your family to step out of your comfort zone. Taking the leap and doing so, however, is so worth it as it will help build your and perhaps more importantly your children’s courage, resilience and ability to adapt to challenging circumstances. Something that they and you are already familiar with having gone through this current life-altering experience.

Celebrate life fully

Going on a safari as a family is a transformative experience. Spending time in a famed destination like the Maasai Mara in Kenya teaches you about celebrating life and living it to the full. After months of various limitations that have affected many aspects of our lives, the days spent tracking big cats on game drives, floating over wildebeest-covered plains in a hot air balloon, and being led through the bush on foot by red-robed Maasai warriors, will be nothing short of epic.

The wilderness becomes a huge outdoor classroom with the bush guides being some of the most inspiring and insightful teachers you and your children will ever have. Whether out on an adventure in the safari vehicle or learning on foot about the language of the bush from those that know it best, the entire family will be kept enthralled and engaged throughout a safari. It is also a time where the family can find beauty, tranquility and joy in nature together.

Bust myths of Africa

Unfortunately, when it comes to Africa, misconceptions and generalizations have long been perpetuated to the public through media and popular culture. These stereotypical representations are not only unfair but lack factual evidence. It is worth visiting a country or region of this continent to really understand just how incredibly multi-faceted it is.

Geographically, the landscapes within countries and across regions are so diverse and are reflective of the habitats and inhabitants of the ecosystems that fill them. There are dozens of independent nations, each one with a completely different history, culture, cuisine and identity. The cultural nuances, international influences and immense environmental diversity is best experienced up-close.

If journeying into the Africa bush piques your family’s interest, particularly during this time of being cooped up indoors for the most part of each day, then consider a safari for your post-COVID-19 holiday together.

Calvin Cottar is Director and Owner at Cottar’s 1920s Safaris. Cottar’s 1920s Safaris is an award-winning luxury 1920s safari camp and private bush villa located in the famous ‘seventh’ natural wonder of the world, the Maasai Mara in Kenya, and owned and managed by the oldest established and continuing safari family in Africa.

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Bourdain to Buena Vista Social Club – readers reveal their travel heroes

Anthony Bourdain’s food and life lessons

Anthony Bourdain every time. He was not perfect, and some episodes of his TV shows are hard to watch given what we know now about his mental health struggles. But he showed the joys of travel: a drink and a chat with the table next door; eating street food at the stalls with the longest queues; and navigating the morals of travelling with humility and open eyes when you’re often richer than the local people. I started watching his shows in my 20s, and it was because of him that we roughed it across Morocco, landed in Mumbai with no plans, and went to the most expensive wineries we could on a shoestring in Italy (arriving sweaty on bikes – they weren’t impressed). He changed my life.
Lydia Taylor

My brilliant Aunt Linda

Aunt Linda was from humble beginnings: growing up, a holiday for her was a day trip to Weston-super-Mare. On leaving school she became a nanny. My earliest memory is of Christmas Eve when I was two, and my aunt randomly turning up on our doorstep in Birmingham, fresh off a flight from Australia. As I grew up, I would get so excited when, every few months, we’d receive a postcard from her from Jordan, the US, Germany, Lebanon, Greece or wherever. It was so exotic: no one from Erdington did that. Subsequently, I did a decent amount of travelling and have lived abroad. All because of those postcards, with their funny-looking stamps and indecipherable postmarks. I’m looking at the boomerang she gave me that Christmas. I’m 44 now. (Also, apologies Weston.)
Antony T

The Buena Vista Social Club took us to Cuba

Inspired by and loving the Ry Cooder album and [subsequent Wim Wenders] film, The Buena Vista Social Club, we took our honeymoon in Cuba. We stayed in a shared apartment in Havana and travelled in something resembling a taxi to the historic town of Trinidad. It was just fantastic, with music, food and good people everywhere. Hats off and raise a glass to Ry Cooder – he had to push the US system to be able to record these musicians. I’m so happy he did – even if I never want to hear Guantanamera again.
Paul Bailey

Around the world with Grandad

While I sat in my grandfather’s lap, he would spin a globe. If he’d been to where my finger landed (and he often had), he’d tell me a tale of his adventures there. As an officer in the Norwegian navy, he’d searched for lost polar explorers around Svalbard, and survived both the London blitz and numerous torpedo attacks on the convoys he led from Canada to Russia. After the war, he helped establish the Ethiopian navy and got to know the country’s emperor. He instilled in me such a wanderlust, that it has truly become the core of who I am today.
Kim L’Orange Sørenssen

Homage to Patagonia

When Brian Keenan and John McCarthy were held hostage in Lebanon in the 1980s, they dreamed of setting up a yak farm in Patagonia. Between Extremes is the account of their real trip to Chile five years after their release. They revel in the freedom to travel the length of that diverse country, bringing alive the wonders of geysers in the Atacama, Pablo Neruda’s poetry and pumas in Torres del Paine national park. I was inspired to follow them and had the best holiday of my life – stargazing in the desert, street art in Valparaiso, palafitos (stilted seaside houses) on Chiloé island, and the sight of a puma in Patagonia. Their trip was tailor-made by Journey Latin America, as was mine.
Jane Law

The stranger on my wall

I don’t know this man. In fact, I know very little about him. I don’t know where he lives, his name or even if he is still alive. This photo was taken by my father in August 1977 in a town called Guelmim, while on a road trip around Morocco. Hanging in my father’s house, the Bedouin nomad – AKA “the blue man” – filled my inquisitive mind with daydreams of the unknown and the world outside my four walls. To this day I credit this picture with igniting my love for travel, people and culture. I sometimes wonder if it would ever be possible to meet this man on a future adventure.
Elena Mura-Bates

Walk on the Wild side

My travel hero is Cheryl Strayed. I read her Wild: A Journey from Lost to Found during this lockdown. Her determination to stick with a journey full of uncertainties and challenges is empowering. More than the physical journey, it is her quest for discovering herself anew from the bruised past she left behind that is touching. The honesty with which she dealt with all the emotional and physical challenges left me in awe of her spirit. Her every step felt like a personal journey, and in the process I’ve found confidence to take a leap like hers after the pandemic is over.
Simanta Barman

Live, Seek, Travel

Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love not only inspires the traveller in me, but also the woman in me, empowering me to live more, seek more and be open to newer experiences. Gilbert braved every stereotype and travelled in 49 countries before she even wrote the book. Her confidence to explore new places alone, her sheer enjoyment of relishing food, her craving to learn new languages and nuances of the cultures and her desire to rediscover herself might just remind you of everything that you have always loved about escaping and exploring.
Ashiqua Ahmed

Inspiring travel companion

It was early 2016 when I met Clifin (pictured above), a 26-year-old Keralite, on the patio of a hostel in remote Bagan, an ancient city in Myanmar. We spent the evening chatting over beers, and agreed to wake up at 5am to cycle and see the sunrise over the temple plains. On our way there, I discovered Clifin had embarked on a mammoth, overland, one-year journey from Kerala, through Bangladesh and into Myanmar. His budget? $1,000. His intention? To show dedication was more important than money. A few years later, he cycled from Dubai to Moscow for the World Cup. He is truly inspiring.
Dawn Mickley

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Flights to resume between Australia and UK despite bans

Emirates has announced it will be restarting flights between the UK and Australia from next week – despite restrictions still not letting visitors in, and a ban in place on Australians leaving the country still in place.

Flights will connect in Dubai, another destination yet to allow travellers from the UK and other parts of the world to enter.

The carrier says it will fly to London Heathrow, Frankfurt, Paris, Milan, Madrid, Chicago, Toronto, Sydney and Melbourne from Thursday, May 21.

To restart the flights, Emirates said it will only accept passengers on these flights providing they “comply with the eligibility and entry criteria requirements of their destination countries” which includes approval from the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICA) for UAE residents who wish to return to Dubai.

Earlier today, British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab confirmed that UK residents will be able to return to the UK from Melbourne via the UAE from May 15, with some lockdown restrictions lifted due to low cases of coronavirus in Australia.

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Emirates will restart a raft of flights including a UK-Australia route. Picture: Chris Ratcliffe/BloombergSource:Bloomberg

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However, the UK Foreign Office not only advises against all non-essential travel, but Brits will not be able to enter Australia unless a citizen or permanent resident.

All travellers must also quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.

Adel Al Redha, Emirates’ chief operating officer said in an interview with The Sun that the airline was pleased to be able to provide travel from the UAE to these cities, and also between the UK and Australia.

“We are working closely with the authorities to plan the resumption of operations to additional destinations,” the spokesperson said, noting there would be significant changes on board.

“Magazines and print reading material will not be available during this time.

“Cabin baggage have to be checked in, and customers can only bring essential items such as a laptop, handbag, briefcase or baby items on board.”

Parts of the in-flight experience will change.Source:Supplied

On arrival at Dubai International Airport, for example, customers and employees will have their temperatures checked via thermal scanners and protective barriers will also be installed at check-in counters to provide additional safety during interaction. Masks and gloves will be mandatory for all customers and employees at the airport, while cabin crew and ground staff who interact with travellers will be required to wear personal protective equipment.

The airline said significant cleaning will take place, and each modern aircraft cabin had been fitted with advanced HEPA air filters to removed 99.97 per cent of viruses and dust particles on board.

“After its journey and on landing in Dubai, each aircraft will go through enhanced cleaning and disinfection processes to ensure safety and proper sanitation,” the spokesperson said.

Earlier this week, Etihad Airways announced it would operate a regular scheduled service from Melbourne to London Heathrow from May 15 and services from London Heathrow to Melbourne from May 21.

Etihad announced it will be launching flights between London and parts of Australia from this week. Picture: Mark Ralsto/AFPSource:AFP

The airline plans to maintain this link until it fully resumes its previous double daily connection between the two cities.

Etihad said it had implemented “an extensive sanitisation and safety program” on flights and at airports, and recommended face masks for travellers.

“The airline is practising the highest standards of hygiene at every part of the customer journey,” reads the airline’s statement.

“This includes catering, aircraft and cabin deep-cleaning, check-in, health screening, boarding, in-flight, crew interaction, meal service, disembarkation and ground transportation, among others.”

Additional safety and security measures will be in place at the destination and passengers will be required to self-quarantine, the airline said.

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