Showing posts with the label Editor Greetings

Greetings from Venizelos airport, Athens

Interim greetings from the transit area of Venizelos airport in Athens, where I encountered some positive developments that I would like to share with you.

Mindful of the best in class global Airport review that we covered as a Perpetual Traveller feature article last week, it comes to me as a pleasant surprise to see some welcome pro-traveller changes at the airport that serves Athens, which was built at the beginning of the new millennium.

At last free WiFi has been organized to compliment the free Internet stand alone computer podiums. This makes Athens (ATH) one of the few significant and proactive airports in the whole of Europe that provides comprehensive free Internet access. May the rest of Europe follow this lead?

Moreover, a large area of e-checkin desks has been provided for in the departures hall, which permits any passenger to check-in online with a host of participating airlines that permit and enable an online check-in service. The same facility allows online reservations…

Daring to fly with Ryanair

Inappropriately dressed in a suit coming straight from a management training session on the Costa Concordia, I threw caution to the wind and embarked on a courageous Ryanair flight from a miserably equipped Palermo Airport (especially in the non Schengen area), which is far from the busy town center and takes over an hour's drive during peak time.

It would be true to say that the route and time of my flight was convenient and as such my Corporate travel team rightly presented it as the best option.

It soon dawned on me however that in essence Ryanair is an acronym...

R - Rushed
Y - Yellow
A - Annoying
N - No Sanitation
A - Animal-like
I - Irritating
R - Rip Off

Let's take a look at the detail...

The moment that there was the slightest stirring of the inadequate embarking counter a rush or more like stampede occurred of people jostling for position in a human fragmented line. From my perspective the flight did not appear to be full, so it was difficult to understand the hys…

Warm Southern Hemisphere

Greetings from the Cruise Port city of Santos, where the temperature reached over 36 degrees this week. Here I am tucking into a bowl of Acai, a wonder Berry from the Amazon that apparently prolongs life, gives energy and helps one to lose weight! Best of all is tastes great and one can eat it like a Sorbet.

Well what a challenging travel year its proving to be, first we had to experience major transport delays all over Europe and East America in particular due to snow, ice and blizzards and now Lufthansa is on strike! The poor German travellers have had it hard and the timings could not be more annoying for the Business Traveller that needs to visit Germany.

Its been a tough time for Greeks too, as the economy slip slides away and we learn the reality of their deficit, which is 4 times lower than EU rules. The Euro is under pressure and the outlook for the Pound does not look promising, so is this the great return of the Dollar?  More interestingly Aegean Airlines and Ol…

The deep freeze causes travel chaos

Greetings from a snow driven Genoa, where like most European cities weather conditions are below freezing and travel chaos is the natural consequence, with airports closing and long traffic build ups becoming the norm.

The only reliable advice I can give you for the coming Christmas is simply don't travel! I'm sure that this is precisely what many readers do not want to hear, due to family and festive commitments, but here are some reasons why not:

Freezing conditions caused widespread travel disruption and challenges throughout Europe. Few places in Eurozone were spared as air, rail and road traffic suffered delays, closure or disruption.

In particular Eurostar Channel Tunnel trains (between UK and France) came to a stand still somewhere in the 25 miles of tunnel track, as thousands of passengers waited with diminishing Oxygen levels inside carriages for up to 15-18 hours without food or water provisions! Eventually passengers were evacuated. Electrical problems were sited…

Greetings from the Gateway of Cyprus

Warm Greetings from the gateway of Cyprus, Larnaka the hottest place in Europe with temperatures unbelievably above 20 degrees in December, whilst most of Europe is experiencing rain with many northern locations suffering a sub-zero freeze.

Its here in Larnaka a city of only 70,000 residents that the new state of the art international airport terminal opened in mid-November (see article) that is equipped to handle 7.5 million passengers. Larnaka will also see the development of a new cruise ship port and marina in the coming years and currently the winning consortium of a long tender bid process is negotiating with the Government. This development will underline the fact that Larnaka is the clearly the gateway of Cyprus.

Following many requests, Perpetual Traveller is now open to receive articles from Tourism Authorities or Travel Agencies to pitch a destination to the 20,000+ Perpetual Traveller readers. Each Newsletter sending will feature a different…

Cyprus Tourism arrivals down by 10% in 2009

Greetings from the Island of Love where we are just coming out of another heatwave with temperatures crossing the 30 degrees (yes three zero you read it right) mark on some occasions. Yet despite such spectacular so called autumn weather and the fact that Cyprus is literally the hottest spot in the EU, the Tourists have in the main disappeared already, when October is precisely the best time of year to visit, along with spring. In fact Tourism arrivals are down by 10.7% overall during the first 9 months of 2009 with 1.75 million tourist recorded, compared to 1.96 compared to 2008.

What is fascinating about these numbers is that the worst decline in arrivals stems from the usually buoyant Russian market, which is massive 20.1% down. Is it the downturn or are they finding new places to vacation to? Sweden is down 19.1% and the UK (most important market to Cyprus) is down 7.2%, less than expected, especially with the ultra weak pound.

There are some bright spots though, as the Austrian m…

Greetings from the futuristic Berlin Hauptbahnhof station

Late summer greetings from the magnificent train station of Berlin Hauptbahnhof, which has the appearance of a futuristic universal travel centre, with its tubular glass lifts, its array of stainless steel moving stairways feeding multiple levels and a healthy selection of services.

Most trains appear to operate to a time precisioned and extremely well organised stress free system, without any evasive security checks whatsoever. The whole experience for the traveller is fluid, hassle free and convenient. So why is it that travel through an airport these days is so inconvenient, stressful and sometimes leaves one with a degrading feeling?

Trains carry hundreds of passengers, they frequently cover cross border routes, the main terminals cater for thousands of people and yet no intrusive or security or paranoia about liquids exists.

I am not campaigning for more security in train stations; on the contrary, I am saying we have gone too far in airports and I am calling for a more intellig…

Greetings from London, New York, Tampa and Miami

Just arrived back from Cyprus from a twin vacation in both the UK and US, having visited the cities of London, New York, Tampa and Miami. I expected to see droves of people in masks due to the Swine Flu, however I saw only one mask in summer calm on the streets, despite disappointing weather in the northern cities. Nevertheless, there were many outbreaks of Swine Flu in many summer camps across the US, especially in Maine and we can all expect a massive outbreak of the Flu in Autumn.

Taking a vacation to a city in the summer may seem like an odd concept upon first analysis, although when one studies the matter deeper there is much to gain. Firstly in London and New York, many of the residents vacate the city for their summer beach retreats and the business activity slows down significantly, hence the streets are calmer and the best rates can be obtained in quality Hotels, particularly so for the business variety. There is entertainment in the form of Musicals, concerts, local festival…

Greetings from London Heathrow

Greetings from an overcrowded and tired Terminal 3 at London Heathrow! With all the hype and attention on Terminal 4 and 5 in recent years, the others are looking worse for wear. In particular Terminals 1 and 2 have reached the point of no return, as they cannot be patched up any more. The new Spanish operator that bought BAA are bargaining with the British Government to invest in combining Terminals 1 and 2 (completely new development) in exchange for a third Runway. The environmentalists and locals will love that!

So if you are not flying with BA (see new BA article) and you are going to the older Terminals of Heathrow, expect a crowded, low ceiling feeling and rough around the edges experience.

Grant Holmes
Perpetual Traveller

What makes Munich Airport popular?

Hot summer 09 greetings from a mild Munich Airport, a facility that is reported to be one of Europe's best. So what makes this airport so popular?
Is it the bright shiny granite looking floors or the Germanic organisation? The long efficient Schindler walkways maybe or the rather unique retail area that includes a SPA, Sex Shop and high street type boutiques in the mix? Perhaps its the presence of window to window light filled glass, featuring glass fronted shops, a cluster of Camel sponsored glass Smoking cubicles (highly frequented and no Flu masks in here) and glass backed Cafes.
Or even my favourite the Viennese Sausages with bread for 4.90 euro and the Napcab a little safe sanctuary of privacy. The Napcab is in essence a cubicle in the middle of gate H32 with a bed, screen, table, Internet connection, atmospheric lighting and of course a glass door! It costs 10 euro per hour from 10pm - 6am, then 15 euro outside these times (minimum consumption 30 euro). It is a neat little …

Greetings from Oroklini

Greetings from the village of Oroklini where the summer is in full swing and the weather is Habanero HOT! An Irish friend of mine visiting the area said that going outside here is like walking into a massive Hairdryer!

Traditionally July marks the beginning of the PEAK TOURISM SEASON across most parts of our fascinating planet. Naturally, in the climate of a recession destinations and resorts in all corners of the world are expecting the worst, however best estimates forecast a 7 – 10% decrease in Tourism overall. If that holds true in times of a depression that many media channels report as the worst since the second world war, the impact on Tourism will not be quite so dramatic as expected.

There will of course be winners and losers in the great summer escape. In particular resorts with non-euro currencies are expected to do well this year or destinations with excellent value for money. Tourism is also expected to GO LOCAL, whereby families will choose to vacation in their own count…

Greetings from Vienna Airport

Greetings from Vienna Airport where red is the colour. Here they take Security seriously and for some non Schengen flight the Passport Passport control is at the gate, along with a second security check and 3 checks of ones Boarding card.
On the topic of security at airports, which is a process that few people like and all experienced travellers know could be handled more intelligently so as not to alienate passengers, we are often asked how can one make the experience a little smoother.
Well to start with what you actual wear when dressing to be processed through airport security can make a difference. Here are some tips...
1) Avoid wearing a belt, so that you do not have to put it on and off again in public within confined. All your efforts should be focussed on retrieving your personal items. Wear elasticated trousers or closer fitting trousers.

2) Carry a light empty pouch (preferably with a zip) then place your watch, rings, bracelets, coins and metal items inside so…

Greetings from the Flower Festival of Larnaka

Greetings from Larnaka, where the Anthestiria Flower Festival took place last weeked, which is a celebration of spring and nature's rebirth. What a pleasure it was to see the parade of flower floats and locals carrying beautiful, fresh flowers along Larnaka's attractive seafront promenade.

The festivities date back to ancient Greek times, when feasts were organised in Athens every four years to honour the god of theatre and parties, Dionysus. Anthestiria were also the festivals of souls, plants and flowers, celebrating the rebirth of man and nature. The word Anthestiria derives from the Greek word anthos, meaning flower.

Meanwhile, our lead Perpetual Traveller article this week is to place Budget airlines on the spotlight and we will ask “How far can Ryanair go?” with their extra charges that is! La Dolce Vita focuses on Canada, whilst we have more from Aviation Security, Hypo Global, Global Security and Cyprus Events.

Here’s wishing you a colorful week!

Grant Holmes

Greetings from Incredible India!

Greetings from the Indian Culinary Academy in Hyderabad, a city of 10 million inhabitants that is widely known for its exceptional Chefs, Doctors, Dentists and IT experts.

It is therefore no surprise that the cuisine in the city is varied with spices and of a high quality. Meanwhile, Medical Tourism is growing fast in Hyderabad with emphasis on cosmetic and essential operative surgery, which takes place in Hospitals that are akin to 5 star Hotels with high quality services and exceptional Medical care, all at a fraction of the cost in the west. Indian Surgeons tend to get more practice with a growing population, which contributes to their competence.

The outsourcing trade and IT in general has taken a turn for the worse of late, as a consequence of the global recession. In particular the Satyam IT Company account manipulation with Real Estate, caused their bankrupty only 6 months ago and resulted in the loss of around 25,000 jobs.

Elections are now taking place in India, which is the …

Will the Island of Love reunite?

Greetings from the the Republic of Cyprus where clear signs of summer are in the air and I have already reverted to wearing short sleeve shirts.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the divide in Northern Cyprus last weekend elections were held. The resounding winners were the UBP, spearheaded by Dervis Eroglu, who was actually a former Turkish Cypriot ‘Prime Minister’. His party won 44.06% of the vote, giving them an outright majority in the 50-seat parliament. With contrasting fortunes, the ruling Republican Turkish Party (CTP) who are aligned with the current Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, took just 29.25% of the vote, thus becoming an early Political consequence of public discontentment due to a weakend economy in addition to the perception of ongoing international isolation.

Subsequently, this vote was nothing short of significant defeat for the CTP and also personally for the credibility of Talat, who only last year proactively started peace talks with the Cypriot Republic …

Greetings from Exotic Manila

Exotic greetings from Manila, otherwise known as the American capital of Asia. Its here in the Philippines that the greatest national export is actually people, which is not surprising with their excellent service attitude and work ethic. There are approximately 3 million overseas workers, however thousands of Philippino's are returning home after in their droves after being laid off in the Middle East (especially Dubai), Macao and other parts of the world. The demand from the Cruise Industry is lowering too and once again its becoming a recruiters market. By Government law, each Philppino is required to send home at least 80% of their salary. This ruling, along with Visa processing. Documentation, airport taxes, Certification on necessary training and tax on recruitment / handling agencies helps to drive the national economy. Subsequently the country feels this global recession in different ways to us in the west.
Meanwhile, according to IATA, the Airline Industry is in serious c…

Greetings from Larnaka Airport

Greetings from Larnaka Airport, where construction of the new state of the art facility is bang on schedule for a November 2009 delivery. The current Terminal is like an old aircraft shed in comparison and it most pleasing to see that Larnaka and Cyprus as a whole will be propelled into the 21st Century with a grand new Terminal Building that features a shining glass front and is capable for handling 7.5 million air passengers per year. On a related topic, more good news came from the Cyprus Tourism Organization with their recent proactive decision to lower Government commission interests, which in turn will cause a decrease in the airport fees. This decision was actually long overdue, but welcome all the same, let’s hope that there is still time to gain new air traffic business. We urge the Airport Operator Hermes to make a similar gesture, in order to lower Airport fees further and allow Cyprus to compete on a level playing field with the nearby airports.

Meanwhile not so far away i…

Greetings from Cyprus Airways flight to Milan

Perpetual Traveller Greetings from the air on board a Cyprus Airways flight from Larnaka - Rome (FCO) - Milan (MXP), which is a new double drop service. Who said that Business class is all but dead in Europe? Despite the fact the plane is a little tired, the food and service is really quite reasonable. Well done to state-owned Cyprus Airways who also bucked the Aviation trend in Europe by making a 2008 post tax profit of 1.7 million euro.

The Republic of Cyprus receives around 2.4 million tourists annually of which Cyprus Airways carries around 1 million making their aviation contribution critical to the country. Cyprus like all other Tourist destinations is apprehensive about the coming summer, as no one knows for sure how many in the western world will take a vacation in this widely reported year of gloom.

I’m bound for my Hotel room the security of which is the theme for Perpetual Traveller this week. Hotel Security is becoming an increasingly important consideration, especially in…

Green Greetings from the Troodos Mountains

Green Greetings from the Troodos Mountains of Cyprus, which was the centre of activity this past Bank Holiday weekend on the Island. Monday was a National Holiday in Cyprus called "Green Day" whereby traditionally families and loved ones go for a picnic in the parks and rural areas of the country with special emphasis on the Troodos Mountains region. Sadly Monday was a grey day, which has been the norm in this winter of unusually (at least in recent times) frequent rainfall, which is in stark contrasts to the two previous years of virtual drought and water shortages. On the bright side, this means that at least the mountains were Green on "Green Monday", even if the sun did not appear too often, so you can’t have it all! What truly fascinates me is all the Cypriot families rushing to see the snow in the mini ski resort at the peak of the Troodos Mountains. They travel from all parts of the Island just to catch a glimpse of the crisp snow and the children seem to vi…

Greeting from Larnaka Airport

Greetings from a vantage point overlooking the new Larnaka Airport site; where the pace of construction is gaining momentum. By all accounts it will surely be delivered on time later in November of this year to much fanfare. The construction Company responsible is the mighty Bouygues International (reported to be the biggest construction Company in the world) who have been successful in building a reputation for delivering on time in Cyprus. Recent evidence of which can be found in the new Paphos Charter Airport, that was successfully delivered in Autumn 2008. Larnaka is the central “Gateway of Cyprus” though and the new airport will be a state of the art facility catering for a capacity of 7.5 million passengers (not bad for a country of only 800,000 residents). This will launch the Island into the 21st century where airport terminals or entry points to Cyprus are concerned, and it’s a quantum leap from the current terminal shed looking building.

The main concern however is not how w…