What a monumental year 2021 has been so far. In the UK, where we’re based, the start of the year compared to where we are right now, is unrecognisable.
In January, we were in a full lockdown, we couldn’t dine out with our friends or family, the gyms, nightclubs, and high streets were closed, and everyday life as we knew it had come to a halt. London, a city known for its hustle and bustle became a ghost town, there was hardly any traffic, and the trains were not crowded during rush hour!
It’s come back to life now, and human beings as creatures of habit, it was fascinating to see how quickly people fell back into routine.
The lockdown was something that affected everyone’s lives across the globe, including over here at Pilot. Be sure to have a read of our MD and producer Ian Cross’ experience with the lockdowns, particularly in Australia where his family live and where he was unable to visit during a bereavement in his family. A lot of people reached out, resonating with Ian’s story.
This is the first time in our lifetime that the world has endured a pandemic of this scale. It affected every corner of the world. You’d be surprised to learn that the world has encountered lockdowns and pandemics before. Have a look at our phenomenal documentary, which was produced during the lockdown!
The successful vaccine rollout brought normality back into our lives but the implications and impact still remain. Time has flown by since the first lockdown back in March 2020 and so much has changed.
We’re now in the final quarter of a memorable 2021, let’s finish it strong.
In January 2021, my mother died in Canberra. She had lived in the same house for almost 60 years but then spent the last few years in a nursing home suffering from dementia.
I have lived in London for 30 years and throughout that time, returned home two or three times a year to visit her. But as the Covid-19 pandemic unfolded at the same time as my mother entered palliative care, and then received an end of life diagnosis, I investigated in the second half of 2020 the prospect of returning one last time.
After my sister experienced the quarantine restrictions associated with a visit in those final weeks from just over the border in Melbourne, we as a family determined it was just too difficult and restricting to return. Grieving while isolating alone in paid quarantine, attending the funeral while practicing extreme social distancing, and the inability to meet friends and family and attend a wake afterwards, put paid to that and I participated in the funeral by video link, like so many Australians living abroad before or since.
The extreme measures enacted by the Australian authorities have been the subject of much debate inside and outside the country. Based on my personal experience I am definitely in the camp that believes the Australians have gone too far.
In the 18 months since the start of the pandemic I have travelled to numerous parts of the world and witnessed first hand the issues associated with travelling internationally in the Covid Zone. What has become clear to me is not only how different each place has responded to the crisis or how each has been affected by the pandemic, but also how this response has affected travellers.
On June 2021, in Athens, Greece, the tourist crowds were so sparse that when I visited the Parthenon, atop the Acropolis late in the day, there were only four other tourists there. At Delphi, the pantheon of the gods in Ancient Greece, I was the only tourist being watched over by a solitary security guard. At Olympia, the birthplace of the Olympic Games, there were more than 20 security personnel. But at 9 in the morning I was again the only visitor. Bored security guards had so little to do that I was cautioned several times not to stray from the well marked paths.
I was watched so closely l felt I had done something wrong by even being there. Normally such iconic sites are over run by coachloads of tourists. This surreal, dystopic world of international travel has its advantages if you want to avoid crowds. But many tourists are put off not just by fear and uncertainty, or, for many older folk, the technological challenge of endless on line form filling, but by the costs of travelling in The Covid Zone.
The Greeks allowed international visitors who had been vaccinated to enter without further tests, but re-entering the UK required a total of four tests: the first within 72 hours before leaving Greece to show you were Covid negative. The second test was on Day 2 of a ten day quarantine back in the UK. A third optional test, known as the Test and Release test taken on Day 5. It was not compulsory but required if you to get out of quarantine early. And even with a negative result, a fourth test was required on Day 8. The cost of these four tests was £400, a cost beyond the reach of many people, particularly families. No wonder there were so few tourists at Greece’s iconic historic sites.
For the past 25 years I have run a business in Los Angeles which necessitated visits there three or four times a year. As a non American, I have been prevented from travelling there directly from the UK since Donald Trump’s travel ban announced in March 2020, which has not been lifted at the time of writing by the Biden administration.
An inquiry for an exemption to the US embassy in October 2020 was promptly rejected. There was no reason given, and I was informed there was no possibility of appeal. In addition, an attempt to change visa status has not been possible as US embassies have been shut in most parts of the world for Immigration visa appointments.
I know colleagues who have travelled abroad from the UK just to achieve a visa interview appointment at an US embassy that remains open. Back in the UK, I had managed to secure an appointment in October 2020 for an appointment ten months later, in August 2021, only to be told a month earlier that all visa appointments for August had been cancelled and I would need to get a new appointment. This has now been arranged for March next year, a full 18 months after I first applied and paid my US$200 dollar visa fee. And there is no indication as to whether the Americans will postpone the appointment a third time.
But this year, as the months and then a year drifted by, and with a business and house in Los Angeles, I became more and more concerned about the impact on both. Attending to these properties remotely was becoming increasingly ineffective and frustrating.
A decision was made to enter US by the back door. I would travel to Mexico where British nationals could enter and if I remained there 14 days, I could enter the US as long as I received a negative test within 72 hours of arriving. There were, at the time, no restrictions on entering Mexico except a declaration that one didn’t have Covid. On arrival at Mexico City airport, social distancing was in place. The routine at the airport would be repeated over the next two weeks: masks everywhere, temperature checks and sanitiser on entering any indoor space, which in many cases also involved being sprayed all over with disinfectant.
Other than that, life in Mexico seemed normal; people were getting on with life. Mexicans know how to enjoy themselves, even in the most difficult of circumstances.
One of the most uncertain aspects of travelling in the Covid zone is the possibility that you can so easily lose control of your life and plans. Even those who have been vaccinated twice, face this uncertainty. This usually means the taking of the pre departure Covid test. Despite being vaccinated and having a history of negative tests, the possibility always exists that you could have picked up the virus on your travels and may test positive.
For international travellers, this remains a nagging doubt in your mind: what if I test positive? Such a result can destroy even the best laid travel plans, quite simply you won’t even be allowed on the departing aircraft. For authorities everywhere have dumped all the grunt work associated with Covid checks onto the poor, loss making and now long suffering airlines.
Back in Mexico, my mind started buzzing with imaginary Plan B scenarios if I tested positive for Covid. What to do? Tell your hotel you have just tested positive and could you stay in the hotel for another two weeks? Or disappear and travel to an isolated coastal hideout until the next test in 14 days. It’s easy to become pre occupied with Plan B scenarios . I contemplated them as I took my lateral flow test in my Guadaljara hotel administered by a medic who could officially certify the results. This one only cost 50 dollars. The test takes ten minutes to deliver a result. I was reassured when the medic told me at the five minute mark that the longer it took for the second (positive) line to appear the more likely it was that you were negative. I was reassured but then the medic ruined it by saying, “But I have seen the second (positive) line appear at nine and a half minutes”. Thanks!
In July 2021, I finally touched down in LA after an absence of 18 months. After Mexico, where the masked population seemed to just get on with life, Los Angeles was a scene of devastation. Many shopfronts remained empty and boarded up. This city had clearly been devastated and deeply affected by Covid. The whole vibe was flat, quiet and depressing. Friends and colleagues who were on unemployment spoke in quiet, downbeat tones.
As in Mexico the USA, which has one of the highest death rates in the world from Covid, backed away from mandatory sanctions for those who don’t isolate or test. Although blanket international travel bans remained for those wanting to arrive directly from Covid hot spots like Europe, once on the ground, there was no mandatory requirement to test or isolate in the days after arrival. And the rapid antigen tests, cheaper and supposedly less reliable than the PCRs required by the UK, were deemed acceptable in most circumstances too.
The Europeans have been more structured in their response. Arriving in Barcelona, Spain, travellers have to spend hours filling in on line forms proving vaccination and test status, which once accepted by the system, produces a QR code which is then checked by a phalanx of masked health officials before you can collect your bags. But once out of the airport a disruptive world emerges. In Barcelona, there was a shortage of rental cars. It took two hours to get one, and I had already given all my details and was in the fast track.
In Spain, few people, unless older, wore masks in crowded places outside. And there seemed little social distancing anywhere, even on Spanish beaches.
In Australia , after almost gloating that they had licked Covid, and with one of the lowest transmission rates in the western world, the Australian government botched the vaccine roll out and now have some of the toughest restrictions in the world. And in my home town, the capital city, Canberra, the entire city was locked down after the discovery of just one case after a year with none. In the UK, where there were 30,000 cases a day and many restrictions have been lifted, it seemed a totally disproportionate response, even baffling, particularly as Canberra, on account of its layout and size. It is a place where most people socially distance anyway, even if they don’t want to .
Now I am back on holiday in Crete, Greece, a year after my last holiday there, also taken in the midst of the pandemic. Last year this buzzy tourist town was quiet place. Those who would travel enjoyed empty beaches and relaxed restaurants. Then I would have daily calls with my siblings and my mother, as she slowly drifted away. Now I am back in the same place. My mother has gone, but here life is slowly getting back to normal.
To start with, there are a lot more tourists. In fact, the local car rental firm tells me it’s their best year in 20 years. But there are reminders of the pandemic everywhere. Our hotel is full again and the buffet breakfast is back, except you have to serve yourself while wearing gloves which is a strange and complicated experience. And on the beach, Dimitri, who rents out sunbeds and umbrellas, tells us he caught Covid in April and was hospitalised for eleven days. All alone in a hospital ward for this time except for one other Covid patient who was even more sick, he contemplated his future. Dimitri is young, fit and a marathon runner, and he tells us he is still recovering and it has affected his heart.
When I can return to Australia remains an open question. I love my country but after the comparative freedoms of the rest of the world, being marched from the airport baggage carousel to a quarantine hotel for an enforced, two week stay, for which I have to pay, is simply not something I am prepared to do. And I am not alone.
I felt at the beginning of this pandemic that the Aussies would be the first to close and last to reopen. Having set the bar so high after an early, world beating pandemic response, the results seem increasingly desperate.
If the vaccines had been rolled out earlier it could have been averted. Now the country is called the Hermit Kingdom. A loss of business caused by this enforced isolation will be inevitable. New Zealand’s loss of its half billion dollar Lord of the Rings franchise because of the difficulty of cast, crew, Amazon executives and their families getting in and out of the country, is just an early visible example of what is to come.
As the outside world recovers and learns to live with Covid, the cost of disruption is becoming clearer. This is a world of product and labour shortages, or surpluses, depending on the industry you work in. The inefficiencies and non sustainability of remote working is increasingly obvious. Bigger institutions and facilities struggle to achieve decent service levels due to communication problems and the sheer number of workers who have either left the office, or the company, and who aren’t really working from home at all, when they should be. Some have simply lost the motivation to work.
For the consumer, it can take hours, even days, to address the simplest of problems. Anyone actually trying to produce something, rather than taking money on the way through, faces an obstacle course in getting their product out there.
During the early stages of the pandemic last year, I produced a documentary on the history of pandemics called “Hope and Fear: How Pandemics Changed the World“. All the experts I interviewed agreed this pandemic would, like the others before it, end. But like those earlier pandemics, the cost and changes to our lives would, they said, remain with us for years, if not decades, ahead.
After my travels around the world, I will be intrigued to see how Australia looks and feels after a long absence. My last visit there was in January, 2020, just as the pandemic was erupting, although we didn’t really know it at the time. Then I struggled to even find a mask to wear. I needed it given the bushfires that had broken out that month and threw them away on my way out of the country not realising the gathering storm that would break in my return to the Northern Hemisphere.
Eighteen months on, there is the same lingering uncertainty. What will I find when I return eventually to Australia to bury my mothers’s ashes. For me, that will be the final curtain to this life changing and ending saga, but I still do not know when that will be.
Spring is coming in the Northern Hemisphere and the flowers are beginning to bloom.
While it’s a beautiful season everywhere, mid-March through April marks peak cherry blossom season in Japan. Watch our lovely Cherry Blossom season in Japan where we join the annual spring ritual, a unique Japanese celebration of hope and renewal.
Check out our stories and videos on Springtime in Holland, to learn more about the history behind the Dutch national colour and about the origins of the gorgeous tulip.
And of course, back to the Northern Hemisphere, don’t miss our new study guide and TV mini series, A Short History of the English Garden. Our two part documentary beautifully illustrates how the English Garden has evolved through the ages.
The 5th of May this year will mark the 200th anniversary of Napoleon’s death on the isolated island of St Helena where he had been exiled after his defeat by the Duke of Wellington at the Battle of Waterloo.
Although Napoleon remains a divisive figure, plans are underway in France to commemorate the milestone.
Much of the urban footprint of modern Paris, including thoroughfares and monuments such as the Arc de Triomphe, was the work of Napoleon. He also established the Banque de France and the civil and legal “Code Napoleon” which is still in use in France today.
But Napoleon also sewed chaos and carnage throughout Europe caused by expansionist wars.
If there is a silver lining to come out of the Coronavirus pandemic, it’s an increased awareness on our health and motivation to keep us as fit and strong as possible.
Nutrition is crucial to that; we all know what food can do for you and what it can do to you. We live in a world where we can cook the cuisines of other countries and get a step by step recipe with the click of a button, and we are spoilt for choice!
Soups are a wonderful way to add a rainbow of nourishing fruit and veg into your diet without it feeling like you have to! Delicious and wholesome, the following are 3 soups to soothe your soul during the COVID-Zone.
Chicken rice soup with ginger
Ginger is one of nature’s natural medicines; it holds antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, providing a perfect protection against the COVID-19 virus which targets the respiratory system as well as the common cold and flu.
Aromatic and full of natural goodness, ginger is wonderful to have in your diet. Keeping your sinuses clear, have a read of Pilot’s chicken rice soup with ginger recipe here.
Sinigang with milkfish and prawns
Sinigang is a chicken and egg thing, with many debating whether it is a soup or a stew. Originating from the Philippines, its uniqueness is in the balance of getting the savoury and the sourness right.
You can explore many flavours, from meats such as beef or seafood, a wonderful way to get your source of protein or omega-3. Seafood in particular has been proven to boost your immune system and helps protects against infections – very fitting for these times! Read our savoury goa and manila recipe here.
Ajoblanco (White garlic soup with grapes)
Garlic has been proven to have multiple health benefits ranging from your cognitive to physical performance.
Garlic is a natural remedy to preventing colds and boosting the immune system. The powerful smell can easily be overshadowed by its health benefits and something for you to enjoy.
Leading a healthy lifestyle and cooking nutritious soups can be fun, lovely and delightful. At Covid-19 times as well, we have made it a point to put our health in our own hands and look after ourselves as best we can. Nutrition is a key part of that and soups are a brilliant way to add nourishing dishes to our diets.
British Explorers: The Mausoleum of Sir Richard Burton
The Mausoleum of Sir Richard and Lady Burton (pictured above) is a Grade II listed tent-shaped mausoleum of Carrara marble and Forest of Dean stone in the churchyard of St Mary Magdalen Roman Catholic Church Mortlake located in London.
Sir Richard Burton, who died in 1890, was an explorer, geographer, translator, writer, soldier, orientalist, cartographer, ethnologist, spy, linguist, poet, fencer, and diplomat. He was famed for his travels and explorations in Asia, Africa and the Americas, as well as his extraordinary knowledge of languages and cultures. According to one count, he spoke 29 European, Asian and African languages.
Burton’s best-known achievements include a well-documented journey to Mecca in disguise, at a time when Europeans were forbidden access on pain of death; and a journey with John Hanning Speke as the first Europeans to visit the Great Lakes of Africa in search of the source of the Nile.
Any visitor to Californian cities, such as Los Angeles, can’t help but notice the proliferation of shops selling cannabis legally to the public. In addition, a number of industries have sprung up to support this growth.
Here are ten questions answered about California’s legal cannabis boom.
1. Why has it happened?
California has always been known as being amongst the most socially progressive states in America, so its relaxed laws on cannabis come as little surprise. Indeed, cannabis has been decriminalised in California since 1975 before being legalised for medicinal purposes in 1996. Thus, there has been much precedent for cannabis’ complete legalisation in 2018. Due to these long-term relaxed laws, cannabis has been a major part of California’s cultural identity. Even prior to the complete legalisation of cannabis, the state has been generally accepting of recreational marijuana use. Thus, the legalisation of cannabis in California is a culmination of its cultural and legal history within the state in addition to the significant potential economic benefits.
2. What is the extent of the boom in shops selling cannabis?
Prior to the official legalisation of cannabis at the beginning of 2018, cannabis was available for medicinal use through dispensaries. These are prevalent throughout the state. Since legalisation, however, there has been a considerable uptick in cannabis-associated businesses covering a number of different brands. Due to the robust infrastructure already in place from the medicinal marijuana industry, it has been very easy for recreational cannabis sellers to rise up quickly. There are currently 261 separate dispensaries in addition to many more medicinal dispensaries. The only state with more dispensaries is Oregon, where cannabis has been legal for a longer period of time. None of these dispensaries have permanent licenses yet, instead being endowed with temporary ones. In addition to dispensaries, a number of other businesses have emerged including delivery services such as Eaze and dispensary locator apps. A full-fledged, sophisticated industry has emerged surrounding the cannabis industry.
3. What do these shops sell? Are there different types of cannabis reflecting brands and strengths?
Cannabis products in California are divided into four major categories: Flowers, Concentrates, Edibles and Applications. Flowers refer to the marijuana plant itself – dried buds, which are by far the most popular form of cannabis consumption. There are hundreds of different varieties of strains, each slightly different from the other. Concentrates refer to a number of different products created through the extractions of trichome from marijuana plants. Trichomes are the small, shiny crystals found on mature plants. These are generally stronger than flowers and are made into a number of different products including wax and oils. These are most often consumed through the use of a vape pen, a more inconspicuous means of consumption. Edibles, as their name indicates, refer to food items incorporated with cannabis extractions. These often have more of a delayed effect than other means of consumption. Applications are a more medicinal means of consumption, containing high doses of CBD in the forms of patches used to alleviate physical pain or mental disorders such as anxiety.
Cannabis is divided into two main forms – Sativa and Indica, with hybridised forms of the two also being available. Sativa strains are known for being more cerebral effects with a higher THC content whereas Indica strains are known for their more sedate effects and have a higher CBD content.
4. Is the cannabis sold for medicinal purposes?
Cannabis has a number of medicinal functions and has been legal in California for medicinal purposes in the state of California since 1996. There has been evidence to suggest that cannabis has beneficial effects in alleviating pain and nausea for those suffering from illnesses such as cancer, HIV/AIDS and even multiple sclerosis. Its use for mental disorders is more inconclusive such as PTSD, anxiety and depression. Cannabis can have adverse effects, including cognitive impairment and psychosis. However, these effects differ from person to person. Its medicinal purposes, while they doubtlessly exist, are not supported by overwhelming evidence due to laws over its legality restricting research.
5. What are the legal issues?
As of the beginning of 2018, cannabis is legal for recreational use in the state of California. Despite this, there are still certain restrictions in place regarding its consumption and distribution. Users of cannabis must be over the age of 21, the same as alcohol. Furthermore, like alcohol, consumption is legally prohibited in public spaces and there is a penalty of a $100 fine for those who do this. Cannabis in excess of one ounce must be privately stored in one’s residential property away from a public space. There is a limit of six plants at any one residence. Consumption of cannabis while driving is also illegal, as is possession within a school area.
6. Is there a similar boom in the number of growers?
Cannabis plantations can be found throughout the entire state, although production is mainly in the region of Northern California nicknamed the ‘Emerald Triangle’. Prior to legalisation, a vast network of authorised growers were active, producing vast quantities of cannabis for medicinal consumption. Following legalisation, the law allowing adults to grow up to six plants within their own residence has been ratified. There are no limits to the amount those growing marijuana for medicinal purposes, although these laws are rumoured to change. There are over 68,000 cannabis cultivators in California, although fewer than 1% of these are licensed. Many growers have struggled to adapt to the new regulations of cannabis production. Despite the legalisation, a black market still remains intact.
7. How is cannabis taxed? Is it a revenue earner for the government?
Since legalisation, a number of different taxes have been imposed upon the emerging cannabis industry. In the first quarter of 2018, the California State Government collected $60 million in tax from cannabis, well below expectations. The excise tax generated $32 million. Cultivation tax comprised $1.6 million while the sales tax comprised the remaining $27.3 million. Despite falling short of initial predictions, cannabis is projected to generate a considerable tax windfall for the Californian government in the coming years. Prices are increasing from an average of $54 per ounce to $65 per ounce.
8. Is big business getting involved?
There are so far 6,000 licensed cannabis businesses operating within California. A wealth of start-ups have emerged in tech hotspots such as Silicon Valley and Los Angeles in addition to boutique businesses. Larger conglomerates, having sensed the industry’s highly lucrative potential, have gotten involved. This development has left a number of smaller operations concerned, with there being government motions drawn up to protect small-level businesses from being put out of businesses. Despite this, given the ripe potential for the cannabis industry, it is only a matter of time before major companies become more intimately involved. With taxes driving up prices, wealthy companies may look to combat this by flooding the market and dominating supply and demand. This will drive small businesses out of work or alternatively consolidate them.
9. What other states and counties allow cannabis for sale?
Currently, cannabis is legal for recreational use in 9 US states – Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachussetts, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont and Washington as well as in the District of Columbia. With the exception of Vermont and the District of Columbia wherein the commercialisation of cannabis is prohibited, the laws are generally the same between these states. An additional 13 states have decriminalised recreational marijuana use. Furthermore, medicinal marijuana is legal in 31 states. Indeed, only in 3 states – Idaho, Kansas and South Dakota – is cannabis consumption entirely illegal. Despite this, cannabis use and possession is classified as illegal under federal law, which causes conflict and confusion over laws surrounding the drug throughout the country.
Outside of the United States, only three countries have legalised recreational cannabis use – Canada, Georgia and Uruguay. However, a wealth of countries around the world have decriminalised cannabis or have some form of medicinal marijuana laws. Portugal and Spain are well-known for their relaxed laws and the Netherlands is particularly well-known for its cannabis culture. While it is not legal all across the country, in certain areas such as the capital city Amsterdam, it is legal to consume cannabis within coffee shops. This style of cannabis culture differs from the more heavily-regulated one which exists in California and elsewhere in the United States.
10. Can anybody buy cannabis? What documents do you need to produce when purchasing?
Cannabis is available to purchase for those who are over the age of 21, producing a valid form of ID such as a passport or a driver’s license. In regards to medicinal marijuana, customers must be over the age of 18. Since the legalisation as of the beginning of 2018, it is legal for non-citizens to buy and consume, although it remains federally illegal.
Interested in all things Californian and revolutionary? In our Metropolis – Los Angeles episode presenter Charlie Luxton learns that LA’s unique architectural legacy stemmed from a freedom afforded no-where else on earth. In many ways, this was a city where anything goes, and did. Here, revolutionary ideas were tried and tested with spectacular results.
Captain Cook continues to inspire travel habits
As the 26th of August marked the 250th anniversary of Captain Cook’s maiden round the world voyage, take a look at some of the amazing destinations that were discovered on this epic journey.
Departing from Plymouth in 1778, Cook and his 100-strong crew embarked on the trip of a lifetime that would have even today’s jet-setters jealous.
This tiny island off the coast of Portugal, rising out of the Atlantic’s waves, was the first stop of the Endeavour. The iconic harbour of the island’s capital, Funchal – with its dazzling firework displays and botanical gardens – will be sure to keep you entertained. The island is also famed for its wineries, its sports fans and the CR7 Museum is also a must see!
Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
Cook used Rio De Janeiro as a supply stop, but travellers today will take in the sights of Copacabana Beach, Christ the Redeemer and shimmy to some Samba Music. Revellers will also marvel at the views from Sugarloaf Mountain or party the days and nights away in Rio’s carnival atmosphere. One thing’s for certain, Rio is a far cry from the days of Captain Cook.
Tierra Del Fuego, Argentina
When Cook ventured ashore at Tierra Del Fuego, he described the locals as, “the most miserable group of people on the planet”. Tierra Del Fuego truly could be ‘The End of the World’. But nowadays, travellers are blown away by the staggering scenery offered at the gateway to Antarctica. The snowy mountains and glaciers are timeless or visit Ushuaia’s busy port and take a boat trip to Penguin Isle.
Tahiti, French Polynesia
Just the thought of Tahiti brings images of palm trees and sandy beaches. In fact, when it was time for Cook’s voyage to leave the island, two of his crew attempted to desert, due to falling for local women. The Polynesian hospitality and staggering natural scenery will make you fall in love with this little piece of paradise in the Pacific.
When Cook first arrived on the coast of New Zealand, he was greeted by the Maori people and the Haka. Nowadays, the traditional war dance can be experienced by watching the world famous All Blacks rugby team. New Zealand is one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations, and it’s not hard to understand why. The ultra-modern city of Auckland, the beautiful 15,000-kilometres coastline, and of course, the scenery and landscape that made Lord of the Rings possible.
When Cook landed at Stingray, New Holland, as the land Down Under was known back in 1770, he can’t have known that just 250 years later, the area would be home to the Sydney Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge and some of the most amazing beaches on the planet.
Indonesia’s capital was the port where the Cook’s ship, the Endeavour, received repairs after damaging itself on the Great Barrier Reef. Back then, it was part of the Dutch East Indies, but now, it could be one of the most multicultural spots on the planet. Javanese? Arabic? Malay? European? You name it, there is some part of the culture in Jakarta! Visit the old town for a taste of what Cook experienced when he sailed to this former Dutch Colony.
Cape Town, South Africa
Cook’s final stop on his epic voyage, Cape Town, sits on the Cape of Good Hope. Dramatic cliffs, table top mountain and Robben Island – the prison that held Nelson Mandela for 25 years – are tourist hotspots for visiting holiday makers. Cape Town can truly be seen as one of Africa’s jewels, and no true around the world voyage can be completed without seeing this incredible city.
The Austrian capital, Vienna, has beaten Australia’s Melbourne to be named the world’s most liveable city in 2018.
It’s the first time a European city has topped the rankings of the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) annual survey.
The worldwide league table ranks 140 cities on a range of factors, including political and social stability, crime, education and access to healthcare.
In the survey, Manchester saw the biggest improvement of any European city, rising by 16 places to rank 35th.
Interestingly, Manchester’s rise puts it ahead of London in the rankings by 13 places, the widest gap between the two cities since the survey began two decades ago.
The ten most liveable cities in 2018:
1. Vienna, Austria
2. Melbourne, Australia
3. Osaka, Japan
4. Calgary, Canada
5. Sydney, Australia
6. Vancouver, Canada
7. Tokyo, Japan
8. Toronto, Canada
9. Copenhagen, Denmark
10. Adelaide, Australia
The ten least liveable cities 2018:
1. Damascus, Syria
2. Dhaka, Bangladesh
3. Lagos, Nigeria
4. Karachi, Pakistan
5. Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea
6. Harare, Zimbabwe
7. Tripoli, Libya
8. Douala, Cameroon
9. Algiers, Algeria
10. Dakar, Senegal
Inspired to travel (or move) to this incredible European city? Watch our Vienna City Guide below!
France’s Chaîne des Puys joins the UNESCO World Heritage List
On Monday 2 July 2018, the World Heritage Committee inscribed the Chaîne des Puys, a group of 80 dormant volcanoes, on the UNESCO World Heritage List – making it the first natural site in mainland France to be listed. This unique landscape now joins sites such as the Grand Canyon, the Okavango Delta, Kilimanjaro and the Great Barrier Reef on this prestigious list.
The alignment of the Chaîne des Puys volcanoes and the Limagne fault provides evidence for a large-scale process which has fashioned the Earth’s surface continental break-up. A natural showcase, the site demonstrates how the Earth’s crust was faulted and underwent collapse, allowing magma to rise up and the surface to be significantly uplifted.
Backed by the government, this inscription is the culmination of a long process initiated 11 years ago by the president of the Puy-de-Dôme department, Jean-Yves Gouttebel. The nomination is deeply rooted in the local territory, drawing on local authorities, businesses, associations and inhabitants to further the recognition and preservation of this exceptional natural heritage. The dossier was compiled by the departmental council of the Puy-de-Dôme, in close collaboration with local universities for the scientific component, and the Auvergne Volcanoes Regional Park for that of the management. This international recognition follows more than 40 years work of protection and management of the site.