Destination: England

That’s Not a Bible in Your Bedside Table

Today in “Not an Onion Headline”: A hotel in Britain’s Lake District has swapped all its Gideon Bibles for copies of the racy bestseller “Fifty Shades of Grey.” The hotel manager, when asked about the change, noted that the Bible is also full of sex and violence. (Via The Awl)

‘Downton Abbey’ and the Art of the English Library

Like so many people, I’ve been glued to PBS’ “Downton Abbey” and the scheming and backstabbing unfolding in Highclere Castle. Here, series creator Julian Fellowes discusses his favorite room in the castle: the library. I love his take on it. The French have their drawing rooms. The Austrians have their ballrooms. Libraries, he says, are the rooms the English get right.

R.I.P. Notting Hill’s Travel Bookshop

Despite a last-minute campaign by editors and even celebrities, London’s Travel Bookshop has closed.

USA Today’s Laura Bly received an email from the founder yesterday: “The shop is currently closed—but I am going to open it and be there myself this Saturday 10th - for a final day’s sale. Then sadly, that’s it for the Travel Bookshop.”

The store was featured in the 1999 Hugh Grant movie “Notting Hill.” As we noted recently, Alec Baldwin, who appeared in the film, was among those Tweeting his support for efforts to find a buyer.

Meet Heathrow Airport’s New Writer in Residence

Novelist Tony Parsons is the latest writer to sign up for a week at Heathrow. According to the Evening Standard, Parsons will “roam around the airport, among passengers and staff, as inspiration for his 13th book which will be a collection of short stories based on his experiences there.”

“The Art of Travel” author Alain de Botton was the airport’s first writer-in-residence back in 2009. We interviewed him about the experience.

(Via @johnleewriter)

Splitscreen: A Love Story

Splitscreen: A Love Story from JW Griffiths on Vimeo.

Mesmerizing travel video shot entirely on a Nokia mobile phone.

(Via Kottke)

Travel Movie Watch: ‘The Trip’

NPR notes that British comedians Steven Coogan and Rob Brydon have put together a travel-themed comedy that sees them playing themselves (or, versions of themselves) on a restaurant tour of northern England. The film is mostly improvised and, says Coogan, “what makes it interesting is that there’s an edge to it and a discomfort to it that makes it engaging. It’s not just a couple of actors saying, ‘Get a load of me. I’m laughing at myself.’ There are a couple of moments where I find Rob irritating—genuinely—and I respond naturally, but not the way that I would in reality.”

I’ve been a fan of Coogan’s since his Alan Partridge days, and the movie will take place in my old expat stomping grounds, so I’ll hope to catch this one when I can. “The Trip” went into limited North American release last weekend.

World Travel Watch: Tube Strike in London, Election Worries in Egypt and More

Larry Habegger rounds up global travel news

Read More »

World Travel Watch: Traffic Restrictions in Italy, Conflict on the Thai-Burmese Border and More

Larry Habegger rounds up global travel news

Read More »

World Travel Watch: Cholera Outbreak in Haiti, Tsunami in Indonesia and More

Larry Habegger rounds up global travel news

Read More »

Are the Olympics ‘Toxic’ for Tourism?

That’s the concern in London, where a report from the European Tour Operators Association suggests that host cities routinely overestimate the visitor bounce they’ll receive from the Games. Here’s the Guardian’s Owen Gibson:

Lord Coe, chairman of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games, has talked of 1 million “extra” visitors coming to the UK for the games.

But the ETOA report claimed that the perception that the host city would be crowded and prices expensive was likely to tarnish the view of the country as a whole.

It said its members were already dealing with the perception that the UK would be crowded and so best avoided in 2012.

For what it’s worth, London, I’m hoping to be there.

Photo You Must See: Shooting Star Over Stonehenge

Photo You Must See: Shooting Star Over Stonehenge REUTERS/Kieran Doherty

A meteor drops through the starry sky above Stonehenge, in southern England, during the annual Perseid meteor shower

See the full photo »

Googling Romeo

Claire Bushey couldn't stop thinking about the handsome actor she met on a trip to England. Then she did something she'll always regret.

Read More »

World Travel Watch: Tube Strikes Looming in London, China’s Epic Traffic Jam and More

Larry Habegger rounds up global travel news

Read More »

VisitBritain Preps Londoners for Olympics Tourism: ‘Don’t Mention the War’

The country’s tourism agency has issued some, er, helpful guidelines for locals in preparation for the 2012 Olympic Games, which will be held in London. Among the tips? Don’t serve prepackaged jam to Germans, don’t mention the Falkland Islands to Argentinians and don’t bring up the Mexican-American War with Mexicans. In the accompanying video, a Guardian reporter takes the tips for a test drive.

Chinese Developers to Recreate Salvador Dalí‘s Hometown

Xiamen Bay is the new Costa Brava! From the Guardian:

Sources at the company said they had found a spot that was geographically similar to Cadaqués, with its gently sloping hills and protected bay. “Building work will start in September or October,” a spokesman said.

More than 100 acres of land will be used to build a near replica with a capacity to house some 15,000 Chinese holidaymakers who want to enjoy the Costa Brava experience without having to travel 6,500 miles.

The Chinese version will not have the sparkling Mediterranean, the madness-inducing Tramontana wind or as many jellyfish as Cadaqués, but the promoters say they will try to get as close to possible to the real thing.

The developers are following in the footsteps of Lyon in the desert and Thames Town outside of Shanghai, among other places.

Dali would surely approve. As the Guardian notes, “One of his favourite money-making habits was to sign, and sell-off, blank sheets of paper for prints and lithographs. As a result, he is one of the most frequently copied and forged artists in the world.”