- April 9th 2012
In my twenties I did a lot of travelling. I seemed to get by on £600 for 6 weeks of roughing it around Europe, and I once went on a one way trip to Australia with £500 in my pocket and came back two years later! It was a great experience and I reminisce longingly about those good old days…maybe too often!
Image by Andy Hay
Of course, arriving in any great city you have to check out the main sights. I must now admit that I have been to India twice and shamefully have never visited the Taj Mahal.
I also spent a year and a half in Australia without even going to Sydney! It didn’t bother me, as I just saw other things instead, but if you DO make the effort to go and see the Seven Wonders of the World, or any famous landmarks, you want to have a good look at it!
There’s only one place that people head to when they visit Pisa in Italy. And it’s not Luigi’s famous pizza palace, although I hear it’s quite good. No, you have to go and pose with the incredible sinking building that is the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
Built between 1173 and 1274, when the city was at the peak of its artistic achievement and military might, the locals are reported to have been mortified that their massive tower began to tilt un-photogenically to the right.
I mean, how embarrassing! They should have noticed over the course of a hundred years that the soft sand and rubble foundation was not going to hold this monster up.
So, I perhaps shouldn’t have been surprised when, some 715 years later, I rock up to see the tower for myself and….it’s covered in scaffolding. So much for my photo opportunity, I was really miffed.
Getting ruffled in Singapore
It was the same when I ventured much further east and found myself one day in Singapore. This is a mega-space age style city, with their chewing gum ban and clinically clean streets and buildings.
But there was one thing I HAD to do when I was there…
The beautiful old colonial hotel, Raffles, is famous in Singapore and around the world for the part it played in the Second World War. The Japanese first occupied Singapore in February 1942 and it survived the hardships of the time, even as a transit camp of prisoners of war after 1945.
But I was actually after the famous Singapore Sling, a wonderful concoction of gin, cherry liquor, Benedictine and fresh pineapple juice, sometimes topped up with club soda. The British colonists of the twenties and thirties used to sip this in the Long Bar veranda at Raffles, as gin contains quinine which was known to repel mosquitoes.
I found my way to the Raffles Hotel that fateful day – and came face to face with a wall of morbid scaffolding! Once again, I had arrived in the midst of renovation work. How did they know I was coming? My Singapore Sling didn’t have quite the same effect whilst looking out through the fretwork of bamboo with drills and hammers ringing out.
Image by May Wong
Hard hats required
If you want a few tips from someone who has been there, here are the top four places to avoid this summer;
- The Panama Canal Extension has been under way since 2007 and due to be completed in two years time. I envisage lots of concrete and a whole lot of barging going on.
- The Colosseum in Rome is up for a major 25 million euro facelift this year. Work was supposed to start at the tail end of 2011 and commence for two and half years.
- The Statue of Liberty is shut, ladies and gentlemen, so that a secondary staircase and safety feature can be fitted. It closed in October 2011 for a year, although the Liberty Island is still open.
- Pixar movie “Cars” inspired Disney ride “Cars Land” in Disneyland, California, won’t be ready for another year, so those wishing to ride on it had better take a crash helmet and a good book.
Leave your tips for other places under renovation here, pretty please!
Sarah O’Neill fancies herself as a bit of a globetrotter. She writes articles for CB Construction, Bristol. They are well known for their extensions and loft conversions, Bristol and in the south west.
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- November 2nd 2011
Last week, we looked at the origin of some common travel terms. This week we follow it up with a look at the history of some of the most common forms of transport. Before we get to those, let’s look at the origins of the words that make up our company name.
Park, Ride & Fly
It seems that a park was an enclosure for military vehicles all the way back in the late 17th century, and the verb to park meant to put vehicles in such an enclosure. It wasn’t till 1844 that the current meaning of putting a vehicle somewhere appears. Interestingly, parking lots (1924) predate parking tickets (1925 by a single year and the first use of the now ubiquitous park and ride dates from 1966.
Ride has an older history, since it goes back to Old Norse, Old Frisian, Old English and more – no surprise when you consider how long humans have been on horseback. Its link with motorized vehicles dates from 1930. Fly also goes back a long way (at least in the sense of soaring through the air), but the origins of the current sense go back way before planes to the mid-15th century. The related term flight originally referred to flying by balloon and dates back to 1785.
And now to those transport terms we promised. Let’s start with ship. The ancestors of this word are found in the ancestors of English, in languages such as Proto-Germanic as well as Old English. No one is quite sure how it came into being, but originally it was use from small craft with masts. The related term boat may have come from Proto Indo European and there’s a suspicion that both terms originated from the act of hollowing out a tree to make a vessel.
We may think of cars as modern devices, but the Romans were driving cars long before we were (they called them chariots, though). It wasn’t until 1896 that the modern meaning came into use. The modern use of train dates from the 19th century (first published in 1816) with the meaning of a set of wagons pulled by an engine. This comes from the Latin trahere – to pull.
The ticket has also been around for a long time. In the 1520s it meant a sort note or document (from the Old French for label), but it wasn’t till the 1670s that it took on the meaning we know today: a paper that conveys a privilege or right (as in the right to travel). It took until 1930 for the verb to mean an official notification of an infraction and another 17 years for the parking ticket to arrive.
Bus derives from omnibus, a word from 1829 meaning a ‘four wheeled public vehicle with seats for passengers’. And finally, airplane dates from 1907, as does aircraft. It took over from the British aeroplane, which dates from 1873.
We hope you enjoyed that foray through travel linguistic history. Thanks again to the Online Etymology Dictionary by Douglas Harper for the definitions.
- October 26th 2011
I’m a bit of a word nerd, and recently I got to wondering about the etymology of some of our most used travel terms. So I went on the hunt and found a treasure trove in the Online Etymology Dictionary compiled by Douglas Harper from a raft of reputable print sources. Here are some of the things I found out.
Journeys, Voyages and Travels
According to the etymological dictionaries at least, we’ve been journeying long before we voyaged or traveled. The word ‘journey’ goes back to the start of the 13th century with the sense of following a defined course. The 14th century word is descended from Old French, via Latin and had the sense of completing one’s day of work.
‘Voyage’ comes from Old French too, via Latin, and had the sense of provisions for a journey before it attained its modern sense of ‘a trip’. The verb ‘to journey’ dates from the 15th century. ‘Travel’ comes from the late 14th century, a descendant of the 14th century word ‘travailen’ meaning to make a journey. It has much in common with the word ‘travail’ and is thought to have had the sense of going on a difficult journey – all journeys were difficult in the Middle Ages.
Interestingly, although people were going places, it wasn’t until the end of the 16th century that people started talking about their travels (giving the sense of an account of a journey – forerunners of travel blogs). And it would be another three centuries (1885) before we got the ‘traveling salesman’.
Vacations and Holidays
The origins of the word ‘holiday’ pre-date those of ‘vacation’. In Old English, a holiday was a holy day, which was a religious festival and day off work. The current spelling dates from the 1500s, while another variant ‘haliday’, no longer used now, dates from the start of the 13th century. In contrast, ‘vacation’ dates from the late 14th century. It comes from Old French via Latin meaning leisure time, a time when you have no duty to do. Its use for times when normal activity is suspended (like for legal processes and schools) appears to date from the mid 15th century, while its use as a replacement for the word ‘holiday’ – and the term most common here in the US – dates from 1878.
Next time, I’ll look at the origins of some common forms of transport.
- April 13th 2010
If you depend on the weather to make your holiday a success, then you may face disappointment. Some friends of mine visited the Caribbean on holiday only to find that it rained almost every day and there was a tropical storm as well. Adapting to these changed circumstances can be a real test of your flexibility, good humor and ingenuity – because what do you do on a holiday in the sunshine if the sunshine suddenly disappears?
Ignore the weather
Unless there’s a storm in the area, you can probably still go to the beach. Sure, the locals might look at you as if you’re crazy, but the air and water will still be warm and you can have a lot of fun splashing about or swimming. With any luck the sun will come out in time for you to dry off, but even if it doesn’t you will have had a great time.
Check out the facilities where you are staying. Most hotels have games rooms or lounges where there are a few things to do. Playing pool or shuffleboard might not be your first choice, but can seem remarkably appealing in wet and windy weather.
Follow the locals
Stalk the locals – not literally, of course, but see where they hang out. There must be things to do off-season that don’t depend on good weather. Strike up a conversation and find out where so you can do them too. Alternatively, get on a bus (an ordinary one, not a tour bus) and see where it goes. There’s bound to be something interesting at the end of the line and you will see a side of the country that you might otherwise have missed.
Work on your tum instead of your tan and do a tour of local restaurants and bars. You’ll enjoy some delicious food you might not otherwise have tried, might make some new friends and will almost definitely stay warm and dry.
Museums, not monuments
Change your tour plans. Go back to your guidebook and see what else you would have missed by lying in the sun and add some new stops to your itinerary. Instead of monuments (often outdoors), visit museums (usually indoors). You can enjoy getting to know local history and seeing local artifacts until the sun comes out.
OK, so you won’t have many pictures of you lying bronzed on the beach, but you’ll still have a great time and have lots of wonderful travel experiences to share.
- March 4th 2010
According to a recent study vacation planning makes us happier than taking a vacation. I found this little titbit through a post on by Christine Garvin on the Matador network, titled The Truth About Happiness and Travel. In it, the author examines this study and finds that there might be some truth in those results but I began to think about how this applies to my own situation, and concluded that I didn’t entirely agree.
Planning A Trip
For me, while there is some anticipation in the planning stage of a trip (mainly because I’ll be thinking about a really great place) this part of the process can also be stressful. That could be because I’m a control freak — or to be a little kinder to myself, like to get every detail right. When making decisions about how to travel and where to stay, I have no idea how it will turn out. Depending on how good my research is, that might be a cause of stress.
Where’s The Fun?
I agree with Christine Garvin that some parts of travel aren’t as much fun as they could be. As I said before, when ranting about the things that annoyed me about travel, spending hours in queues even when you are using the fast bag drop, the interminable security process, cramped seats and poor airplane food (when you get any) make the journey to your destination not that much fun. Some people relax the minute they decide to go on holiday; I only relax when I’ve reached to where I’m staying. (I’m not saying that’s the way to do it; that’s just the way I am.)
Vacation Travel — Still A Thrill
Where I disagree, however, is in finding that the actual vacation experience is less thrilling than I anticipated. Generally speaking I really enjoy vacations. They represent a good chance to see, do and eat something different. They are a change of scene. It doesn’t much matter whether I am traveling for a short while longer period — I still enjoy the experience of being in a new place. Keeping some perspective also helps make vacation travel an enjoyable experience. If you don’t expect everything to be the same as it is at home then you will find difference exciting rather than exasperating.
For me, this was the best point Christine made in her post:
The point of travel is not only to achieve a high return on happiness – it’s also to learn about ourselves, other cultures, and even to be challenged to grow via those pesky annoyances.
I definitely agree with that.