THIS WEEK IN TRAVEL (ISSUE NO. 9)


There are only a few days left before it is officially spring, and although normally we start to transition into lighter layers around this time, and begin to rejoice in anticipation at the prospect of embarking on the first hike of the season, it seems that the days are a little ahead of the gloomy weather, which resists the sun’s efforts to warm us up (or at least that’s the case for us in the northern hemisphere). The weather is off its’ game, unreliable and making us mad crazy, but regardless the traditional Irish celebrations, St. Patrick's Day (or Paddy’s Day), are upon us, uniting us all in celebratory spirit, flooding the pubs with green, merry fellas, and of course, green beer! Fun fact, blue not green was originally the colour associated with Ireland. But after all, it seems we all have a bit of Irish in us especially during the month of March.

Dundrum,Newcastle Ireland. From Kosan archives. 

Even if you aren’t Irish, or prefer that sun soaked getaway, there is no shortage of sights to see in Ireland that are sure to make you fall in love with the culture and landscapes – not to mention the beer and those adorable, accents! You can find the most beautiful, natural scenery in Ireland, from seaside cliffs, and rolling green hills, to charming quaint towns and cow herds roaming along the narrow, winding roads. No doubt you’ve already heard of the Cliffs of Moher, which are insanely striking with a decent view to boot. And if you truly want to see Ireland slow down and explore the towns from coast-to-coast.

Cliffs of Moher, Ireland. Photo courtesy of Condé Nast Traveler. 

Meet Irishman Johnny Ward who's just visited all 197 countries in the world. Not an easy feat; there were many high and lows including being hospitalized, arrested and forced to bribe officials, but after 10 years of traveling he has done it! Ending the decade long challenge in Norway, Ward hit a couple of barriers visiting Saudi Arabia and Yemen making it difficult to conquer his goal. What sets him apart from others, who have checked off countless countries, is his determination to spend two to three weeks in each destination truly getting to know each place. Now that’s something special to aspire to.

According to Condé Nast there’s a side to Phuket, Thailand that perhaps we are missing. Aside from the ever-popular beaches, Phuket has some lesser-known areas that remain free of tourists (well mostly) and offer some solitude along the shorelines. Besides the beach, Phuket has a vibrant culture and locals worth meeting. If it’s your first time backpacking in Thailand, here's what to expect.

We aren’t normally the biggest fans of holiday tours, however these 25 holiday tours offer educational perks that we couldn’t resist. Beginner courses offer an opportunity for you to learn while you travel: immerse yourself in a foreign language, sail in Croatia, acquire expert tips from landscapes and travel photographers or master the art of writing while assimilating yourself in other cultures. 

From Kosan archives. 

Recent restrictions over immigration and less accessibility for entry have hugely affected the latest ranking conducted by Henley & Partners, which reveals that the German passport is the most powerful in the world. The ranking is based on how much visa-free travel a country’s passport allows, and Germany has held the top spot over the last four years, while the United States shares third place with Denmark, Finland, Italy and Spain. Not surprising, the United Kingdom position has slipped, most likely due to the Brexit results, and with recent news circulating more restrictions may be placed on Americans who travel to Europe. U.S. passport holders may not be able to freely travel throughout Europe without a visa soon enough.

Speaking of Germany, European airport strikes led to the cancellation of almost all flights at Berlin airports, Tegel and Schöenefeld, making it the worst week in travel in 2017 thus far. And it isn’t over yet. More strikes are to come throughout Italy, Finland and France. So if you can, avoid any airports in Europe that are actively involved in labour disputes otherwise you may be facing unexpected and unwanted delays.

In addition to the strike news, warnings against travel to Mexico's states have been issued by the U.S State Department informing travelers to avoid 14 of Mexico’s 31 states. Although no exact evidence has been provided, and in keeping with the government’s new communication strategy these days, the warning note states that U.S. citizens have been targets vulnerable to violence. US citizens are advised to check out regions that may pose threats to travelers especially those planning any last minute getaways to Mexico over spring break. Mexico is one of the world’s top most visited destinations and for good reasons too. Besides recent, and rather unwarranted travel notices, Mexico is home to some of the most picturesque landscapes including these vibrant, salt-filled, pink lakes, Los Coloradas, glimmering in the Mexican sun. There are many reasons to love Mexico: the unforgettable beaches, blazing hot sun, remarkable ruins and the welcoming locals. Remember this when you look to plan your next adventure.

Salt-filled, pink lakes of Los Coloradas. Photo courtesy of Expat Vegabond. 

It happened again, the Hawaii judge, Derrick Watson, blocked Trump's revised travel ban. Although not the first federal judge to take a stand against the travel ban, both judges in Maryland and Hawaii questioned Trump’s intentions of the ban. They have similar arguments accusing the ban to be “an instrument of religious discrimination” one, which violates citizens’ religious freedom. The US government have announced their intention to appeal against the rulings, which President Trump has suggested that the judges’ block is a “judicial overreach”. Don’t expect this back and forth to end any time soon for as Bill Maher has said on “Real Time” all season long, “We’re Still Here” and that means people will be standing up for what is right.

 

Happy Travels!

The Kosan Team