Author Archives: Peter Jones

eye patch

Jetlag is all around me

eye patch

I’m in a business where Jetlag is all around me. Most people in my office fly transatlantic at least 5 times a year. I  fly more than that. And so what is the trick of Jetlag. Is there a secret beyond a sleeping pill or a beer and a Benadryl. The answer is not completely conclusive. If you take an overnight flight and the overnight flight lasts 6 to 7 hours and you’re traveling in economy, there’s a fairly good chance you’re going to sleep for about an hour. Yikes.

In other words, no sleep. When you get to the other end Because it’s early in the morning if you’re trans Atlantic, the hotel is not gonna be ready. Not to mention that you’re going to look pretty dreadful. But there are ways to overcome some of the negative impact of Jetlag. First there are the things to eliminate. Alcohol and caffeine.   And the most important and single danger you will encounter. Unqualified light. You have to be able to control the light that’s hitting you.  Either the airplane artificial light or the light outside as day breaks. They can be your enemy.  However, you can have some control at minimizing the damage.

Trying to adjust or fool  your circadian rhythm is the answer to your sleep/wake cycle so here’s a few basics. Always use an eye mask so that you can create darkness whenever you want. Also use earbuds as a  headset so that you can sleep easily without looking like a DJ on an airplane and minimize noise. Always carry sunglasses and as the plane is about to touchdown be sure that you are wearing them. You may even look like a rock star! Let’s be clear, none of this will rescue or convert one and a half hours of sleep into eight hours of sleep in your bed.

However, you can fool your body a couple of times into believing that it got the sleep it needed so that it can help you see the sites you want without feeling like you need to head back to the hotel and go to bed and who wants that?

Lonson

Battersea Power Station – London

If you’re in London for a few extra days and you want to do something different. Combine sightseeing The Thames with Battersea Power Station.

It’s a four-steeple architectural gem. It’s almost one of the first sights you see from the air as you fly into London. Only recently has it been renovated and fully decked out to attract sightseers and people looking for smart new upmarket places to live in the center of London. 

Accessible by tube and by the Uber riverboat. It’s one of the many urban renewal projects that dot our city landscapes. London has many and it has helped boost tourism and local revenue.

We took lift 109 to a reimagined observation deck situated on one of the steeples with incredible views of London and a thrilling experience as you hurtle to the top and literally beyond. But…It was a little disappointing because the people that were introducing the experience could not convert the fun and excitement we were about to have. And yet it costs 19 pounds, so not cheap!   We deserve better than that. And I’ve noticed that as a trend. Guiding and curation are an art. Maybe it’s training, maybe it’s staff shortage or maybe the people who run the place haven’t got a clue…more likely.  This is a huge opportunity. People want to buy in the shop. I bought a magnet…Maybe i would have sprung for more! They had a corny photo set up.

The photo booth was broken. So come on. It’s a big deal and the price of the apartments and the coffee there would suggest that money is coming in. So enthusiasm at every level would be helpful.

Battersea wake up. 

guns tsa

TSA and Gun is Surreal

I’m English living in the States. I’m not a fan of guns. So the other day, wandering through two different airports I saw these two signs. The idea is that if you try to take your gun as a carry-on and get caught, yeah, x-ray machines usually catch them, it will mean that you will lose and not be able to get TSA pre-approval anymore.

guns tsa

Wow! And it was really weird to see something that told you that you had to check over size bags and ….your guns. One second. If you’re trying to bring Christmas crackers back from the UK for Christmas celebrations…Guess what. You can’t. I have no problem with that. They’re like a mini firecracker. But guns are ok to check! Oh well, how weird is that?

travel

Climate Change and How it Affects Travel

If anyone doubted that we have a major tsunami of a climate change happening. Look around. It’s chaotic, extreme and plentiful. Patterns are out of rhythm. Warm and balmy days followed by severe temperatures. As a traveler, I feel torn. My plane journey is not helping. The bus is not helping. Even trains are not helping. Cruises. The monstrous 5000 floating hotels that pollute our coastal cities and seas are not helping. So. What to do. Traveling is important. It enriches and teaches us about differences and maybe helps us to approach the world with greater tolerance.  It sparks adventure. Something that sparks to most of us. Can we make a difference beyond just curtailing our travel plans. Traveling is a huge piece of our economic health. Creates jobs and adds greatly to a countries gdp.

Do we slow our travel. Business travel has never recovered from Covid. Zoom has replaced it. That helps. Should we avoid those wish list places, cruises and multi faceted mega all inclusive resorts. If we did we would likely shave some of the strain from our daily travel grind. Should we stop visiting the Arctic and Antarctic circles. Essentially leave them be. It would help a little. Nothing is a silver bullet. Awareness and an analytic would help. To fully understand the damage we are doing. Maybe slow it down a little. Dont stop traveling. Just be smarter and more selective and maybe we will see a difference. Cruises are banned from entering certain harbors. That’s good. And make travelers be super aware of how to offload recyclable garbage. It’s often not clear and therefore it goes to the waste pile. Lots of small ways that keep us moving but keep us aware.

CHRISTMAS

Christmas in the Countryside

Every year for the past 30 years, we have created our Christmas in the countryside. It’s cold and crisp and the houses and farms all around us are lit up as if it is a movie. The town next-door lights the bridge, and there is a hustle and bustle as the restaurants and bars are open to the freezing customers who sometimes trudge through mounds of snow, and sometimes not.

Christmas is a strange and beautiful time. A time to exchange presents and say goodbye to the old year and begin the new year. It’s a time to pull Christmas crackers. It’s a time to also remember how fortunate some of us are and to wish good tidings across the world in these difficult times. A time  to wish for peace and better times ahead. It’s  a time to play the Bells of Dublin by the Chieftains, watch White Christmas and It’s a Wonderful Life.  Here in the countryside looking up into the brilliant sky of sparkling lights, tracing the shape of the plough , being with our family it’s humbling.

Metro

Paris Metro Prices Rising

I just learned that Paris metro prices are doubling over the Paris Olympics. I hate what
that is all about. I don’t think London doubled their prices over the Olympics. Nor
Barcelona. What’s that all about?

The idea is to get people to use public transpiration without feeling ripped off. And why does Paris not have a tap-in, tap-out system like every major metro in the world except Moscow! If you’re going to charge more, make it easier. Not that bloody Navigo system that makes an Oyster card look state of the art!

And I love Paris!

WINDRUSH:PICTURE FROM WIKIPEDIA

Windrush

Lovely statue in Waterloo station to remember the Windrush generation. From 1948
until 1970, nearly half a million people moved from the Caribbean to Britain, which in
1948 faced severe labor shortages in the wake of the Second World War. Those who
came to the UK around this time were later referred to as “The Windrush Generation.”

I worked in Brixton market in the early days. It was so lovely. Such energy and hard
work as the West Indian community integrated into the post war staid English culture.
Music, cricket, fruits and vegetables I had never seen before. Fun, laughter and
colors everywhere. That was the Windrush generation.

It’s nice to see a statue that celebrates these brave people who came to work in our strange land of grey skies and rain and bad food from their island in the sun.

Their legacy is everywhere.

Hangers

What Do you Take from Hotels?

A friend of mine was telling me a story of what a friend of hers takes from hotel rooms under the guise of its ok as “I have paid for room!” And I wondered why hotels install those coat hangers that essentially are designed as a deterrent to people taking them home. I mean really, who takes coat hanger’s home! I have enough of them. I need to get rid of them. So, who are these people. What else do they take!

Apparently, they are out there. Towels, toilet paper (yep believe it or not) shampoos, lotions, bathrobes, basically anything not locked down. Crikey! I am often struck that the one thing you need, toothpaste for example, hotels are stingy, mainly not providing. But I was shocked.

Recently at a very nice 4-star hotel in London, the coat hangers were simply not stealable. And according to my friend, with good reason. Hotel thieves are out there. Walking out in broad daylight under cover of a suitcase with a stash of lotions, shampoos and towels and toilet paper. But not the coat hangers!

tour manager

Tour Managers Appreciation

tour manager

It’s sometimes said that Tour Guides or Tour Managers are an important link between the past and present. Like an ancient storyteller they recount history, massage facts, and pass them through generations. And like an actor in a play, every telling, every anecdote is different each time. It’s a fascinating business. They need to be equipped with a few languages, and for sure a super personality. They don’t regurgitate history or current events; they paint pictures and bring to life ancient stories well-trodden. They must imagine even though they have seen or been through the story a million times, that this is a first time for their audience. Their excitement must be palpable to their audience. That’s the gift. That’s when the transfer of knowledge happens. And funny enough, it happens frequently and can be life changing.

Every year we celebrate our group of Tour Managers with an annual meeting somewhere in Europe. This year it was Lisbon. One of my favorite cities. The starting point for many explorers in the 15th century. And there we were. Our merry bunch of explorers getting together before the holidays and the new season begins.

chicago

When Different Languages Speak Volumes

I just recently attended a language convention in Chicago. It was the national convention for teachers who teach foreign languages. Teaching in itself is an amazing profession. You become an influencer you create curiosity, and you teach tolerance.

We work in partnership with educators, across-the-board. Teachers of math, teachers of science, teachers of language, teachers of history and English. But this weekend, it was our privilege to host  language teachers . They are an amazing group of people. They travel, they travel with kids. They teach kids other cultures and how to break through using language to understand cultures that they would never usually interact with.

Teachers change lives. They help kids change direction and furthermore, a lot of the kids go study abroad. And many of them will end up living overseas. Language is a gift. Even if you try and you’re not brilliant, it’s a real gift. Thanks to all of the amazing teachers who travel with us and all who came to see us in Chicago. Love Chicago!   

And on this particular day before Thanksgiving, let’s hope that the educational blocks we build seep through. Never a better time than now to teach tolerance and hope that we can achieve some kind of stability in our troubled  world.

Happy Thanksgiving.

The Lovely World Travel Market, WTM

Every year, I go to the World Travel Market, WTM, in London. It’s a fabulous journey in more ways than one. I take the underground, and if the day is nice, I usually begin my WTM adventure by taking the cable car renamed the “London Cable Car”that soars across East London with views looking along the winding River Thames and the massive development of East London that once was a wasteland.

Travel is an extraordinary sector in our global economy over $15 trillion industry nearly 12% of the overall global economy. Imagine how devastated this economy was for two years. Now, in 2023, it’s reported that we are higher than 2019 levels. Great news all around.

At WTM, the world is divided by a central corridor of cafés and food places. Oh, wish it would be that simple! One side is Asia ,Africa, Australia, Middle East and the Americas and the other side is all of Europe. There is a huge technology section that straddles the two. There are places that are conspicuous by their absence. No Myanmar. No Russia. And no Israel. Booths that seem to have grown beyond all imagination are the Saudi and Quatar booths. Saudi, previously not a tourist destination is now a huge player. And then there is the traditional fringe market. Cuba, hanging on a limb, trying to compete with glitzy Caribbean destinations.

Somebody asked me once why I go to the world travel market every year. It’s to see colleagues, to bump into friends and most importantly to have a walk around the world and to see or gain ideas for new places, new destinations and see what’s going on in travel. There are lots of entertaining talks about about sustainable tourism and new trends in travel in general. And the Elizabeth line, the new underground line in London, takes you all the way to Custom House, and makes the journey from central London out to the conference center even faster than before.

Walking around World Travel Market is a walk through the world. A glimpse of every country imaginable. Music, costumes and a rich piece of global travel fabric, all under one roof! And in the end, a chance to chat with old friends, get some ideas and if you really want to to discover a little bit of the east end of London, walk around or get off at Canary Wharf.

London weaves modern with ancient in a totally groovy way.

I can’t wait to see you again. What a great conference. This was. Thank you

Carl Larsson's house

Carl Larsson – A Timeless Artist

What a thrill to get to see his country house in Sundborn.

It’s about 2 and half hours out of Stockholm. Nice drive. Carl Larsson is Sweden’s most iconic painter. He symbolizes the arts and craft movement that was thriving  at the end of the 19th century. He is most famous for his paintings of family life in Sundborn.

The house is full of his and his wife Karin’s arts and crafts style. Painted walls and wood everywhere. Eclectic furniture. Simple beds with secret alcoves and a beautiful studio that is cluttered but simple in a most comfortable way. His Swedish family life, the snowy winters and the warm summers with endless Scandinavian light. It is all depicted in a family fun way.

The river flowing fast into the lake , the jetty, the boats and the whole place adorned with flowers and secret gardens. It gives you a sense of closeness with him that you rarely feel with other artists. A family life captured forever for all of us to enjoy. 

Money is a drag!

Remember those days of money where cash was King? Well, traveling throughout Europe is changing faster than you can put your credit card down.

Scandinavian countries are not in the Euro currency yet. Norway is not even in the EU. The UK disastrously voted out of Europe and never went into the Euro currency. So how to deal with Euros?Pounds? Danish? Norwegian and Swedish Krona?!

How much money should I bring? In Norway, I asked a young person at the hotel where the nearest ATM was! She had no idea what I was talking about. She confessed she had not used cash in two years. She never took her credit card with her. She simply tapped her phone. Apple Pay.

And so I have been experimenting. A bag of potato chips here. A coffee there. No cash. Just tap. I have tried it in France. Same thing. Tap. Subway London  Tap. No oyster card. Taxi  Tap. And I thought of all the cash that simply doesn’t get circulated anymore. In pubs, cafes and corner stores. The ATM looks lonely. Cash is kind of dirty. Coins are a pain. Our mobile devices have taken on a new life. Travel just became a lot easier!

How do you handle your money when you travel? Comment below.

Nightmare on Crooze street: To Cruise or not to cruise…

In the relatively tiny town of beautiful Stavanger in Norway, I woke up this morning and looked out of my window and thought I would be peering across the gorgeous harbor I recalled from the evening before.

So, imagine my surprise and shock when I thought a building had gone up overnight about 20 yards away from the hotel. But wait. The building had boats on the side. And every apartment had a little Balcony.

And of course , I knew that Nightmare on Crooze street had arrived! They come in all sorts of sizes. This one was 6000 passengers. They descend like a fog on the town and 200 guides get to work with their flags and numbers as the inhabitants wonder off onto dry land to seek out a sight.

I’m not against them. They serve a purpose. They keep people traveling when otherwise it would be difficult. They are for an older generation. And travel is always better than not. But why 6000? Food is included, so local restaurants gain little. Museums are blocked from the normal traveler. Imagine 6 cruise ships arriving in a major port of Rome. 36000 people trying to get into the Vatican and the Colosseum. 1200 guides. Capacity reached before the month begins.

Just a thought. My rather nice view was blocked by a nightmare on Crooze street! Count me out!!

Oslo, Norway

Norway and Herring Culture

It’s been a while…

I am more of a sardine person. I admire the herring culture but have rarely succumbed to it. Starting with weather. Usually always less than optimal but with more warnings about sun damage and not withstanding lack of opportunities for solar development it might have possibilities. But, it’s basically crap. Quality of life index. Very strong. Infrastructure? Top marks.

Taxes high but everything is included. Health care and education are best. Possibility of strikes? Zero. Apathy zero. Road conditions. Perfect. Train schedules – on time. Queues orderly. Humor – borderline  Politicians. Honest  Herrings. Plentiful. Sardines.

The other story. Plenty of sun. Wildfires and volcanoes. Plentiful. Strikes. Plentiful. Healthcare and education. Sub optimal. Trains. Variable. Roads. Not maintained. Service and apathy. Bad and high. Queues. Shambles. Guides. Rambling. Humor. Plentiful. Politicians. Corrupt. Mafia plentiful.

But here we go, into the heart of the Herring land, Norway. Land of Vikings and the midnight sun.

Oslo,Norway