Remembrance, Veterans and Armistice Day 2020

Remembrance, Veterans and Armistice Day 2020
November 11, 2020

Remembrance Day, as it is known in the Commonwealth, and Veterans Day, as it is known in the Americas, is celebrated every November 11.

Remembrance Day has its roots in the Armistice signed at the end of WWI, becoming immortalized as the day the Great War ended. However, the Armistice – agreement to ceasefire on both sides – which was signed on 11 Novermber 1918, did not formally become the end of the war until the Treaty of Versailles was signed on 28 June 1919. The ceasefire did however last for the full duration between the armistice and the peace treaty being signed.

Study Guide: What Caused World War I

Following the outbreak of WWII, the Commonwealth nations decided to change the name from Armistice Day to Remembrance Day to honour all the fallen and not just those of WWI.

During WWII and in the many wars that would follow, including the Vietnam war, the Gulf war, Afghanistan and Iraq, millions more would perish as servicemen from all around the world fought for their countries.

Hence, Remembrance and Veterans Day celebrate the bravery of these service personnel, both fallen and returned heroes, and gives thanks and recognition for the service that they have given.

Large celebrations and commemorations often take place, including ‘Remembrance Sunday’ across the Commonwealth, the Sunday closest to the 11th of November, where crowds gather to mark their respect with a 2 minute display of silence, and Veterans festivals in the US such as the celebrations we visited in San Diego.

2020 has marked other important war anniversaries, most notably the end of WWII in Europe and the Pacific, and the liberation of the Auschwitz Concentration Camp 75 years ago, and the beginning of the reunification of Vietnam 45 years ago following the end of the Vietnam war.

Watch FREE: Grass Roots – Veterans Day in San Diego

Grass Roots – Veterans Day in San Diego

Main image: World War I Cemetery in The Somme Valley, Pilot Productions.

Where next? Travel beyond the COVID-Zone

Where next? Travel beyond the COVID-Zone

Leaving aside the all-consuming question of when, we’ve been thinking about all of the places that we just can’t wait to travel to.

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

One of Europe’s most unique cities, Amsterdam is known for its relaxed, liberal atmosphere, beautiful historic canals and its love of cycling. With a wealth of diverse, rich museums, lush green parks and thriving nightlife, Amsterdam is one of the most tourist-friendly cities in the world, accommodating to a variety of different tastes. There really is something for everybody here.

Made it onto the world’s most welcoming cities list, and the top cities for millennials to live list

Top 10 Things To See & Do In Amsterdam

Beijing, China

China’s capital is one of the oldest cities in the world, with a rich, extensive history stretching back over three millennia. This history is exemplified by the plethora of physical relics, which convey a rich portrait of the city’s long, illustrious history. However, Beijing is not just a blast from China’s past but a thriving, massive modern city. The ancient and the ultra-modern sit side by side in one of the most world’s most culturally and historically rich cities.

The Top 10 Things to See & Do In Beijing

Watch: Pocket Guides – Beijing

Athens, Greece

One of the oldest cities in the world, Athens is also one of the most culturally and historically rich. The birthplace of democracy and by extension Western Civilization, Athen’s evolution has been critical to the culture of the world around it, and it remains a more vital destination than ever. In addition to the unparalleled wealth of ancient treasures it still houses, the city has emerged as one of Europe’s premier modern cultural destinations.

Study Guide: Ancient Greece

Read: Athenian Civilisation and Ancient Greece

Read: A Pocket Guide To Athens

Read: Top 10 Things To See & Do In Athens

Read: The Food of Greece

Mexico City, Mexico

Mexico City is the biggest and most densely populated city in the whole of the Americas, its vast size matched by its rich cultural and historical identity. A bustling cosmopolitan city, Mexico City is a thriving centre for contemporary culture and the site of several breathtaking historical sites.

Read: Top 10 Things To See & Do In Mexico City

Watch: Pocket Guides – Mexico City

Watch: Empire Builders – The Maya

Watch: Bazaar – Mexico City

Sumatra, Indonesia

One of Indonesia’s most beautiful islands, Sumatra is known for its jaw-dropping natural landscapes and diverse range of wildlife. With many of the endemic species under threat due to deforestation and natural disasters, the island is definitely worth a visit to glimpse some of the world’s rarest creatures while you still can.

Being the coffee obsessives that we are, we’re very keen to drink some of the highly sought after Sumatra speciality crop. In fact, the highest rated coffees in the whole of Indonesia come from northern Sumatra where the Gayo Mountain, Lintong, and Mandheling coffees take top prizes as among the best in the world.

Read: Top 5 Things To See & Do In Sumatra

Read: Southeast Asian Coffee

Study Guide: A Global Guide To Coffee Tasting

Watch: The Story of… Coffee

Cuzco, Peru

The historical capital of Peru and the Incan Empire, Cuzco is the country’s most historically and culturally rich city, which has cemented its status as one of the country’s premier tourist destinations. With both Incan and Spanish Colonial relics adorning the city, Cuzco is a must-see destination for those travelling to Peru.

Read: The Top 10 Things To See & Do In Cuzco

Study Guide: Inca Empire

DVD: Around The World – Conquistadors, Aztecs & Incas

Watch: Bazaar – Peru

Algeria

Algeria has blossomed, since its independence in 1962, into a must-see travel destination that is ripe with ancient culture, classical history and genial hospitality.

Series (coming soon): Hidden Algeria

Read: Visiting the Middle East: Customs & Culture

Read: North Africa’s Natives: The Berbers

Travel in the COVID-Zone

Travel in the COVID-Zone
October 13, 2020

Cruise Ships dismantled for scrap metal

A number of disused cruise ships are being dismantled and sold for their scrap metal value following the disastrous impact of the coronavirus on the cruise ship industry.

The ships are being stripped down at a ship-breakers yards, the Aliaga Ship Recycling Facility, in Turkey.

Machu Picchu opened up for one lone tourist

Peru has opened the Inca ruins of Machu Picchu for a single Japanese tourist who had been waiting for almost seven months to visit the world heritage site.

Jesse Katayama was due to visit Machu Picchu in March before it was closed due to coronavirus. He went into lockdown with the rest of the nation, finding himself stranded.

Mr Katayama submitted a request to the ministry of culture and was granted special access to see the World Heritage Site before his return journey to Japan.

The ancient Inca citadel – Peru’s top tourist attraction – is expected to re-open next month, although no exact date has been given.

Jesse Katamaya’s Instagram

Lunch at Singapore Airlines, anyone?

Another quirky initiative by an airline has grabbed headlines this week, with Singapore’s national carrier offering lunch on a plane without a flight.

Diners, travel lovers and aviation enthusiasts have purchased tickets priced between $40 and $500, with every available seat selling out.

The airline is also offering home delivery of its meals, which also includes the airline’s tableware and amenity kits.

Phobic Traveller: The Next Chapter for Air Travel

Other Coronavirus News & Statistics

  • World Health Organization director-general has warned against allowing coronavirus to spread in the hope of achieving so-called herd immunity, saying the idea is “scientifically and ethically problematic”.
  • Texas has overtaken California as the state with the second highest Coronavirus death toll, after New York.
  • Trump returns to campaign trail less than 2 weeks after positive Coronavirus test. On Sunday, 11 days post positive test, Trump’s doctor said he was no longer a COVID transmission risk to others and said later on Monday that his most recent tests had all come back negative.
  • Worldometers: Up to date Coronavirus statistics

Main image: Machu Picchu, Pilot Productions ©

Travel in the COVID-Zone

Travel in the COVID-Zone
October 6, 2020

President Trump and First Lady contract coronavirus

U.S President Donald Trump tested positive for the COVID-19 on Thursday sparking widespread alarm and concern for his health. The President, who has previously expressed skepticism of the coronavirus, spent three nights in hospital receiving treatment before quickly reappearing to put on a strong face for the American public.

The president himself has expressed in a number of statements that he is feeling better. With the presidential election looming, he has made it clear that the show must go on.

Aside from the condition of his health, a number of people have criticised the President for maintaining a busy schedule whilst remaining potentially contagious to others.

Other world leaders who previously contracted the virus include Brazil’s Jair Bolsanaro and the UK’s Boris Johnson.

Air pollution in New Delhi expected to worsen COVID-19

India’s capital is bracing itself for its annual ‘air pollution season’ where officials expect the poor air quality and other pollution related health issues to exacerbate the already serious coronavirus health crisis.

The air quality in New Delhi drastically deteriorates between October and December — to levels which are often considered ‘hazardous’ — due to various factors including stubble burning after the harvest, vehicle pollution, cold weather and post-monsoon low atmospheric pressure.

Cycling is still wheelie popular in Europe

A combination of a summer of fantastic weather, the desire to avoid public transport, and err… the pandemic… have proved the perfect series of events for the cycling industry.

Other Coronavirus News & Statistics

  • Paris has once again closed bars and restaurants as officials raise their coronavirus alert level to maximum.
  • Virgin Atlantic has become the first UK airline to introduce COVID-19 pre-flight testing at its Heathrow base for its cabin crew and pilots.
  • Worldometers: Up to date Coronavirus statistics

Main image: Donald Trump, Gage Skidmore, Flickr Creative Commons

Travel in the COVID-Zone

Travel in the COVID-Zone
September 24, 2020

New restrictions for British public

The UK government has this week announced a new curfew on hospitality venues whereby they must close at 10pm. This new rule follows restrictions placed last week on the size of gathering, reducing the maximum number allowed in a group to six.

According to reports, police call handlers have been experiencing a very high volume of six-people violation reports. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has also stated that he is considering using the armed forces to support the police in enforcing new restrictions.

Meanwhile in Northern Ireland, pubs serving alcohol without food have been allowed to reopen for the first time since March.

Quantas sightseeing flight sells out in record time

It’s nice to share some positive aviation news this week after such a tough year.

Phobic Traveller: Getting Aviation Off The Ground

For a bit of novelty and fun for some, Australian flag carrier airline Quantas cunningly put on a flight which departs and arrives at Sydney and completes a 7 hour round trip of some of Australia’s most naturally stunning sights – from the sky!

The so-called Great Southern Land flight sold out in just 10 minutes, with ticket prices ranging from $787 for economy seats to $3,787 for business class seats (AUD).

Travel within Australia is largely prohibited at the moment, meaning that many have not been able to see the multiple incredible sights that the nation has to offer. The due to its sky-high nature, the flight circumvents the border restrictions and will allow those who choose the opportunity to appreciate the views!

Due to the popularity of the flight, Quantas have suggested that they might run more similar events.

A very quiet Taj Mahal

The world witnessed scenes of a very quiet Taj Mahal this week after it reopened for the first time since March. The absence of foreign visitors made for a very eerie atmosphere in a venue which welcomed more than 6.5 million visitors in 2018!


More Coronavirus News & Statistics

  • More than 600 students of Glasgow University have been told to self-isolate after 124 have tested positive
  • A handful of Dutch celebrities have been heavily criticised in the Netherlands after publicly announcing they were abandoning efforts to combat COVID-19.
  • Worldometers: Up to date Coronavirus statistics

Main image: The De Beauvoir Arms, De Beauvoir Town, London. Ewan Munro, Flickr Creative Commons

Travel in the COVID-Zone

Travel in the COVID-Zone
September 14, 2020

Israel returns to full lockdown

Israel is to impose a new three-week nationwide lockdown from Friday in a bid to again slow down the spread of COVID-19. Daily new infections are currently closing in on nearly 3000 a day.

The move has attracted criticism from some of the nations’s conservative religious leaders due to the coincidence of the lockdown with two of the most important events in the Jewish calendar – Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) and the most holy of all, Yom Kippur (The Day of Atonement).

Others have heralded the move as crucial in order to protect the nation from even more deaths, which currently stands at 1,126.

The logistics of shipping a vaccine around the world

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has suggested that over 8000 Jumbo Jets would be required to ship a vaccine for the coronavirus around the world.

Most vaccines require storage temperatures of between 2C – 8C, excluding a number of other aircraft from the task at hand.

While no vaccine has yet been fully developed, a global airlift plan is being developed between airlines, the IATA, governments and scientists to deliver the vaccine, on the basis of one dose per person.

Tensions are rising in Australia

Over the weekend, Melbourne saw clashes between the authorities and the public during two anti-lockdown protests. Over 80 people were arrested during the protests for breaking the current stay-at-home legislation.

The protests come as the state of Victoria has extended its ‘state of disaster’ for another month, giving the authorities extended powers to enforce public health orders. The state has been on lockdown since early July.

Meanwhile in Queensland, the cheif health officer has been given police protection following death threats which come after strict state rules prevented a young woman from attending her fathers funeral.

Australian prime minister Scott Morrison has expressed concern at the extremely tight border restrictions upheld by Queensland and other state legislatures, and has since agreed with the suggestion that Australia is losing its humanity in the face of the public health crisis.

Other Coronavirus News & Statistics

  • England has imposed stricter measures on the size of gatherings, limiting them to just 6 people. This comes following criticisms of young people for allegedly not respecting the social distancing measures already in place.
  • Canadian airline refuses to take off because of a 3 year old child allegedly not wearing a face covering. The airline’s (and the Canadian government’s) policy requires all children over the age of 2 to wear a face covering.
  • Worldometers: Up to date Coronavirus statistics

Main image: Tel Aviv, RG in TLV, Flickr Creative Commons

Travel in the COVID-Zone

Travel in the COVID-Zone

Travel, Explore, Defer?

For most of the northern hemisphere, this time of year marks the start of a new academic year, and for many students this means upping sticks and moving to a new house, city and sometimes even country!

As with many other things over the past few months, the coronavirus has now put pay to this year’s foreign cohorts. A report conducted by Ernst & Young estimates that only about 330,000 foreigners are studying in Britain, the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand this year, down from 1.09 million in 2019.

However, they also predict that 2021 will see up to 1.85 million people starting degrees in foreign countries, as those who deferred this year resume their studies.

Why not check out our free Study Guides?

In the UK, Cambridge University has said it will be only conducting online teaching for the duration of the new acadmeic year, deferring the arrival of over 20,000 students to the city, which usually make up around a sixth of the entire city’s population!

Meanwhile, Harvard’s 2020 freshmen have arrived on campus in a socially distanced manner, with most student expressing relief at having made it, and a little disappointment at the lack of buzz about the Yard. In past weeks, the New York Times has tracked thousands of cases that were linked to students returning to campuses across the nation.

Hope and Fear: How Pandemics Changed the World

Our latest documentary explores the impact on our planet of viral diseases across the ages.

COVID-19, which struck with such devastating impact in the early months of 2020, is just the latest in a long line of pandemics that have devastated, and in some cases, destroyed societies throughout time.

Like all pandemics, COVID-19 was sparked by human interaction with the animal world.

“Hope and Fear: How Pandemics Changed the World” looks at the circumstances that have caused these diseases – whether it be hygiene, poverty, overcrowding, urbanisation or the growth of cities – and how travel has impacted on their rapid transmission resulting in pandemics.

Other Coronavirus News & Statistics

  • The University of Georgia has advised its students to wear face masks during sex. In a COVID pamphlet, it said: “Consider wearing a face mask during sex. Heavy breathing and panting can further spread the virus, and wearing a mask can reduce the risk.”
  • British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is leading by example and has been spotted exercising in a bid to shed his excess pounds after asking the nation to do the same. In 2018, 63% of adults in the UK were overweight or obese, and 20.2% of children aged 11 were obese. It is understood that being overweight puts you at risk of becoming seriously ill with the COVID-19 virus, along with multiple other health complications.
  • Worldometers: Up to date Coronavirus statistics

Main image: Cambridge University, Mark Fosh, Flickr Creative Commons

Travel in the COVID-Zone

Travel in the COVID-Zone
August 18, 2020

Italy closes nightclubs after a surge in infections

The government of Italy have ordered nightclubs and other dancing venues to close following a spike in infections leading back to evening entertainment venues. The government have also advised that anyone out and in a public space between 6pm and 6am should wear a face covering.

Roberto Speranza, Italy’s health minister has also urged young people to be more cautious due to the risk of causing “real damage” to their parents and grandparents by transmitting the virus to them.

Infection discovered at Utah mink farm

Mink at two farms in Utah have tested positive for the zoonotic virus which causes covid-19 in humans. Employees at the farm have also tested positive for covid-19. Researchers are currently trying to determine whether the humans passed the disease onto the mink or vice-versa, and if any other mink have been infected at other farms.

Bali’s reopening pushed back to September

Heavily reliant on tourism for income, Bali has been hit very hard by the coronavirus. Inviting in a record-breaking 6.28 million foreign visitors in 2019, covid-19 has put pay to the island’s tourism winning streak this year with only 880,000 foreigners arriving in the first half of 2020 .

Many of Bali’s 4 million residents have been relying on the tourism industry for generations, with tourism making up over 80% of Bali’s local economy. With people staying home due to the coronavirus travel restrictions, its residents are struggling.

Bali resident and Aussie expat Jon Gwyther, who has lived in Bali for 20 years, has documented the eerie streets of tourist hotspot Kuta, where “Only Echos Remain”

Only Echoes Remain

Posted by Pilot Guides on Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Norway ‘recommends’ mask wearing

The Norwegian government has introduced guidance encouraging people to wear masks on public transport when a safe distnace of 1 metre cannot be maintained, such as rush hour. Somewhat late to the mask-party, this face mask recommendation is the first the government has made since the beginning of the pandemic.

Norwegian health officials are certain that the population understand the magnitude of the situation and will choose to follow guidance, and do not expect to have the rules enforced by the police.

Oslo’s bus operator, Ruker, along with Vy, the national rail operator, have said that they will not ask people to disembark if the do not wear a face covering, and that it is every individual’s responsibility to wear their mask and keep their distance.

Latest Coronavirus News & Statistics

  • Amazon today unveiled plans to create 3,500 new jobs as it gears up to return to office life with an expanded physical presence across the US. The firm will again buck the global trend and will be extending its office space in 6 major US locations.
  • The four-day Democratic National Convention is being held virtually this week, with live and prerecorded speeches coming from across the country along with virtual events.

Main image: American Mink, Kary Nieuwenhuis, Flickr Creative Commons

Travel in the COVID-Zone

Travel in the COVID-Zone
August 13, 2020

The Good News

Are you missing cruises this year? One Dorset ferry owner is taking nostalgic customers on mini-cruises to see the huge number of ships anchored between Portsmouth and Plymouth whilst they are out of service due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Not So Good News

Disruptive and challenging border rules in New South Wales, Australia have been criticised and branded ‘a political stunt’ by a hospital who can’t get their staff over the border to work. Lismore Base Hospital, NSW, which is around 70 miles from the border with Queensland, said over 100 doctors who reside the other side of the border are unable to travel in to work, leaving the hospital short staffed and relying heavily on relief doctors.

The United Kingdom have officially declared a recession – the first in 11 years – due to the impact of the coronavirus. The chancellor has stated the nation’s largely service based economy as the reason for the lockdown’s severe impact on GDP, which fell by a fifth in the 3 months to August.

New Zealand returns to lockdown after 5 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus, the first ‘community transmitted’ cases in over 100 days. Prime minister Jacinda Arden has also announced that the September 29 election date is under review following pressure from the opposition to move polling to a later date.

Latest Coronavirus News & Statistics

  • Spain remains in the European spotlight as cases continue to rise at quite a dramatic rate, topping the charts for infections within Europe.

  • President Trump has this week attempted to re-write history, claiming that the “1917 Flu” ended World War II…

Main image: Welcome to New South Wales, Yun Huang Yong, Flickr Creative Commons

Travel in the COVID-Zone

Travel in the COVID-Zone
August 5, 2020

Come Fly With Me

Virgin has unveilled designs for a new supersonic plane capable of travelling three-times faster than the speed of sound. A flight leaving London could reach Sydney in just 5 hours, though the jet would remain very exclusive, carrying only a handful of passengers, and is obviously not on 2020’s list of priorities. Back in the real world, uncertainty in the industry is causing Virgin huge financial worries, leading them to file for chapter 15 bankruptcy protection in the US this week, in the fear that cash reserves will dry up if a rescue deal isn’t struck on August 25th.

While demand for long haul flights looks very uncertain, short trips around Europe appear to be on the uptick, with budget airline Easy Jet laying on more flights to meet demand for holidays. This comes in spite of the extremely volatile and quick-changing travel guidance issued by governments. All this swivel-hips, flip-flop, u-turn madness has taken its toll on citizens, leading people to make their own decisions and take the risks into their own hands!

Departures and arrivals are still pretty much nonexistent in Australia, even for travel within its own shores, as lockdowns continue to intensify. In fact, our award for world’s strangest lockdown this week goes to Aussie state of Queensland which has banned People from travelling to the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) where there are no cases

Go Quietly

According to Anchorage Daily News, Alaska’s first cruise sailing of 2020 departed Juneau on Saturday, carrying 30 crew and 37 passengers, for a weeklong voyage in Southeast Alaska. The cruise operators are planning a handful of additional voyages for the remained of 2020.

Tag; you’re it!

Singapore has introduced a tagging system to help assist in enforcing quarantine, whereby foreign visitors must wear a tagging device to ensure that they do not break the rules. Current rules dictate that only business and official travel is permitted to the country, subject to testing. It is reported that 2,200 vistors entered Singapore in June, down from 1.6 million the same month last year.

Latest Coronavirus News & Statistics

  • According to a report by the World Health Organisation, COVID-19 has provided the perfect opportunity for Suriname to identify its health industry’s shortcomings, and to put a plan in place to address them.

  • The International Finance Corporation’s (World Bank Group) new $4 billion financing platform will help increase the supply to developing countries of health supplies needed to fight the pandemic.
  • After months gone by with no coronavirus deaths, Vietnam have reported a fresh outbreak of COVID-19.

Main image: Melbourne Airport Flight Information… Non-existent! Pilot Productions