Not often you see motorcycles forced to stand still. Props to the few drivers who dared to go the other direction.
Not often you see motorcycles forced to stand still. Props to the few drivers who dared to go the other direction.
One of the world’s most crowded beaches. Good luck building a sandcastle.
When the travel agency Flyhome declared bankruptcy on Wednesday, there were slightly more than 650 travelers still stranded in Iraq.
Lennart Landrén, a lawyer associated with the now defunct travel agency suggested they “now turn to the [Swedish] Transport Agency and [Swedish] Consumer Agency and discuss the situation that has arisen.”
Landrén added,”It’s a sad statement to make. According to the information I have received, there are no guarantees provided.”
Name Pam Mandel
Who? She started blogging as an expat in Austria over 10 years ago has since had her work featured by Conde Nast Traveler, National Geographic Traveler, MSNBC, and USA Today. She was the contributing editor for travel at Blogher for five years and blogged about Hawaii for World Hum. She’s written guidebooks for Thomas Cook, radio stories for WGBH Boston (NPR), and travel stories for World Hum, Perceptive Travel, Scanorama, International Living, and more. Find her entertaining and insightful travel musings on the web at Nerd’s Eye View.
Countries Visited 28
1. Worst Airport The international terminal at LAX. After being yelled at and herded by airport security, I proceeded to spend a horrible week there one evening while waiting for a delayed flight.The only food available was from a rattling nearby vending machine. All the restaurants were before the shouting TSA staff – going hungry was more appealing than facing the guards again.
2. Worst Hotel Thuan Loi Hotel (Chau Doc, Vietnam) in a border town on the Mekong. Dirty nylon sheets, mosquito nets punched full of holes, windowless cell-like rooms, and a perpetually damp bathroom floor. To exit the room, I had to climb over a spiderweb of daisy chained extension chords. That bedbug ridden guest house in Kargil, India, seemed positively cozy by comparison.
3. Worst City for Driving Pisa, Italy. I’ve had to transit Pisa four or five times and each time, I’ve exited the city and gone back in, exited and gone back in because I cannot find the correct way out. The last time, I seriously considered abandoning the car and looking for a job.
4. Worst Car Rental Experience Honolulu, Hawaii. “I tried to return the car downtown last night, but the building next door to the return lot was on fire.” I will not soon forget the look on the airport rental car agent’s face.
5. Worst Toilet Some forgotten village, Bahawalpur Province, Pakistan. It wasn’t so much a toilet as it was two vertical stacks of bricks over a pile of… yeesh. Every morning, a child-servant would come with a bucket and a spade to remove all the waste from the previous day.
Been on the road for a bit. Back in the saddle now! New posts on the way.
Air France’s Rio-to-Paris flight was forced to return due to a “technical flaw in some of its bathrooms,” the airline said.
The plane was in the air for five hours, but it was determined that passengers wouldn’t last the entire 11-hour flight with fewer bathrooms.
Passengers were offered a later flight and many were placed in hotels or driven home, but a few missed connecting flights and many seemed to find it all absurd.
Sports reporter Erin Andrews has filed a lawsuit against Marriott International Inc. and several hotels affiliated with it, for negligence, emotional distress and an invasion of privacy.
The lawsuit states refers to incidents in 2008 in which a 32-year-old man named Michael David Barrett (who pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 30 years in prison) videotaped Andrews naked through hotel room peepholes in several US states and posted the footage on the internet.
Where does Mariott come in? According to Andrews’s lawyers, when Barrett called the hotels to find out which rooms she was staying in, the hotel confirmed she was a guest, told him the room number and provided him a room just beside.
Yahya Wehelie, a 26-year-old man from Virginia, was stuck in Egypt for more than two months when his name popped-up on a no-fly list. He spent the two months of delay living in a ramshackle Cairo hotel and subsisting on fast food coupons provided to him by the US embassy. He is now allowed to return to the US.
Why the delay? FBI agents questioned him about his time in Yemen, Wehelie said. He had gone to Yemen two years ago at his parents’ request so he could learn Arabic and find some guidance in his life. Wehelie is of Somali descent, but many Somalis live in Yemen, where educational opportunities are cheaper than in other parts of the Middle East. Wehelie was studying information technology at the Lebanese International University.
Wehelie has no ill will toward the US or the FBI. “I’m not angry at all. I know who I am and I knew eventually I would go home,” he said. “They’re trying to find the bad people, so more power to them.”
A drunken 36-year-old in the Western Australia town of Broome climbed into a crocodile enclosure and rode a 5-meter long male croc named Fatso.
Fatso took issue with being ridden and attacked the man, who was able to escape with severe lacerations on his right leg and received dozens of stitches. Appears he will live long enough to be able to kill himself with another stupid stunt.
During the reign of Silvio Berlusconi, over 150 laws to crack down on anti-social behavior have become a part of daily life.
A young couple sitting on a monument in a piazza in Vigevano, a town near Milan, had to pay a fine of €160 . Another couple was caught kissing in a moving car in the town of Eboli and had to pay a €500 fine. In the coastal town of Eraclea, it is forbidden to build sandcastles, as they “obstruct the passage” of those strolling along the beach. And don’t even think of wearing wooden clogs on the island of Capri — they’re too noisy and have thus been banned. In Venice, it’s a €500 penalty to feed the pigeons.
Kissing a pigeon in a moving car while wearing clogs? Probably a life sentence.
Carnival Cruise Lines admitted its Fascination ship lost power at sea for several hours due to a technical malfunction. The US Coast Guard was notified but didn’t need to take action — guess there wasn’t much risk of anyone starving to death. And the 2600 passengers received a 20% discount for the inconvenience.
We are used to overstuffed luggage falling from overhead compartments, but maggots? They fell from the overhead bin due to a spoiled container of meat (left behind by a passenger on the previous flight, according to US Airways). As the plane was taxiing, passenger Donna Adamo told AP, “I heard the word ‘maggot’ and that kind of got everybody creeped out. All of a sudden, I felt somebody flick the back of my hair and on the front of me came a maggot, which I flicked off me.”
At the gate, the plane was cleaned and fumigated before the passengers were brought back on board.
Michael O’Leary, Ryanair’s outspoken chief executive, has new book out containing his “wit and wisdom.” Here are a few quotes that illustrate where customer service comes in on his list of priorities.
On refunds: “You’re not getting a refund so fuck off.”
On airline security: “We are not going to die at the hands of toiletries.”
On popularity: “I don’t give a shite if nobody likes me.”
On customer service: “Are we going to apologise if something goes wrong? No, we’re f***ing not.”
On the European Commission: “Communists.”
On Travel agents? “Fuckers.”
Just when you thought airline ads couldn’t get much lower than Spirit Air’s “Check Out The Oil On Our Beaches,” comes this: the closest a commercial airplane comes to making a porn film. The Russian airline advert has flight attendants strip to bikinis and wash the plane with all the subtlety of a James Bond opening number or MTV rap video. Halfway through, the director seems to forget they were even washing a plane and just has the flight attendants wash themselves. Perhaps they were trying promote personal hygiene. Or maybe they ran out of time and had to return the aircraft.
Just when you thought the US Dept of Homeland Security’s “no fly” list could not get any less reliable, a six-year-old named Alyssa Thomas has been added. She was traveling with her parents from Cleveland to Minneapolis when a ticket agent informed her she was on the restricted security list.
Her father, Dr Santhosh Thomas, was puzzled. “She’s been flying since she was two months old,” he said, “so that has not been an issue. In fact, we had traveled to Mexico in February and there were no issues at that time.”
When the family contacted Homeland Security to resolve the issue, they received a letter notifying them that it could not be changed. Alyssa can still fly, but the check-in process will take much longer.
“The watch lists are an important layer of security to prevent individuals with known or suspected ties to terrorism from flying,” said a TSA spokesman, thus removing important layer of credibility from the organization he represents.
Spirit Airlines has a new steamy ad featuring women in bikinis that has ruffled some feathers… or drenched them in oil.
It was the toxic combo of bikinis and the slogan: “Check Out The Oil On Our Beaches.”
They set out to mock BP’s PR disaster, but ended up wading knee deep into their own muck.
“It is unfortunate that some have misunderstood our intention with today’s beach promotion,” the Spirit press statement said. “We are merely addressing the false perception that we have oil on our beaches, and we are encouraging customers to support Florida and our other beach destinations by continuing to travel to these vacation hot spots.”
Englishman Sandy Russell was informed by a stewardess to get off his flight from London Gatwick to Toronto because he could not fit in his seat — his 203kg (448lb) frame was taking up a third of the woman’s seat beside him. If he wanted to fly, he was told he’d need to pay for an additional seat and get on the next flight. The problem was that he couldn’t afford the extra fare and then his aunt died two days after he was due to visit her.
The passenger was naturally devastated and said he didn’t know his size would be an issue before he boarded the plane. “I always ask, (at check-in) if it’s a big flight, if there are any more seats that are available and she said it’s a full flight,” he told BBC. “A lot of people are saying to me, well, you should have known before you went on, but I have never, ever had a problem with any airlines, until now.
The reason? It was a full flight.
Air Transat spokesman said Mr Russell’s 52-inch girth meant that the armrest could not be lowered for take-off, as demanded by regulations, and that the airline was not allowed to ask passengers their measurements before they booked a flight as it was “a breach of their human rights.” The airline offered to refund Mr Russell’s ticket.
Titanic Verdict Yes, there should be a weight/size warning when people book tickets explaining that extra-large passengers of certain dimensions will need to purchase two tickets to guarantee a spot on the plane if there are not two adjoining seats available. However, it shouldn’t have come as a shock to Mr Russell. If he flies enough to know that he needs an extra seat and makes a habit of requesting them while flying, he should realize it’s just a matter of time before he gets a full flight and that no passenger should have to fly with someone else’s lard in their lap. It was an unfortunate way for him to find out there was no additional seats on the plane and sad he missed his aunt, but this an increasing problem for airlines and large passengers. On one hand, airlines are restricting space for all, which is unpleasant. On the other, they can’t be expected to accommodate such extremely wide passengers — those who are not prepared to get help for an eating disorder will have to make other sacrifices or pay extra fees or fly on airlines that choose to be more accommodating in this regard.