Destination: England

What it Means to Travel Back to the Future

Another great piece by Peter Jon Lindberg, who returns to London and a pub he called home 20 years ago. He finds “not the workaday tavern of memory but a roomful of attractive people sipping Pinot Grigio” and lingers for “12 uncomfortable minutes.” Among his findings:

Good Lord, listen to me. I’ve become a bad novel: Aging crank revisits lost youth; cue strings, bittersweet regret. Forgive my maudlin self-indulgence. (If it’s any excuse, I just turned 40.) But really, what on earth did I expect? Only a child—a 20-year-old—could have wished London not to evolve, not to grow up.

Of course, this isn’t just about London, is it? It’s about the feeling any traveler has returning to a place he once knew as well as any: A city that seems to hold you in it, or some earlier incarnation of yourself. Going back, you become again that long-ago person, even while the city changes utterly around you. As it is I’ve spent most of my post-London life in New York, 5,000-odd days of it, such that I’ve scarcely noticed the incremental, wholesale transformation of Manhattan over the past 15 years. Yet an Englishman returning here after a decade away might feel the same about New York as I do about London: that it looks like an artist’s rendering; that “it’s all about money now”; that glamour has eclipsed grit, and something has been lost in the process; that the city no longer belongs to me, but to other, younger, wealthier, more exciting people.


London Mayor: ‘Harry Potter is Not American’

Universal Orlando’s latest theme park creation, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, opens next week—and London Mayor Boris Johnson will definitely not be attending any ribbon-cutting ceremonies. Strong words from the Mayor:

I deeply and bitterly resent that Orlando is about to become the official place of pilgrimage for every Harry Potter fan on earth… Because the fact is that Harry Potter is not American. He is British. Where is Diagon Alley, where they buy wands and stuff? It is in London, and if you want to get into the Ministry of Magic you disappear down a London telephone box. The train for Hogwarts goes from King’s Cross, not Grand Central Station.

Don’t worry, London. I’m sure there are still plenty of Potter fans that will want to visit the, er, not-quite-real thing. (Via The Book Bench)


Bill Bryson: Britain has Become ‘Self-Absorbed’

The travel writer was commenting at a recent literary festival on the changes he’s seen in his adopted country. The BBC quotes Bryson: “When I first came to Britain it really was all about fair play and queuing… Everybody is in a hurry now and there is a ‘the rules don’t apply to me’ sort of thing.” (Via The Book Bench)


Rory Stewart Wins in UK Election

“The Places in Between” author and Tory politician Rory Stewart captured 53.4 percent of the vote and will represent Penrith and The Border as a Member of Parliament. As Slate’s June Thomas tweeted, “Let the walking begin.”


The Titanic Awards: 10 Worst National Cuisines

The Titanic Awards: 10 Worst National Cuisines Photo by onlinehero via Flickr (Creative Commons)

More than 2,000 travelers from 80 countries voted in the Titanic Awards survey. Here are the unlucky winners.

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Photo You Must See: Vapor Trails and Moonlight

Photo You Must See: Vapor Trails and Moonlight REUTERS/Phil Noble

A plane passes in front of the moon over Manchester, England, earlier this week

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World Travel Watch: Drug Violence in Acapulco, iPad Ban in Israel and More

Larry Habegger rounds up global travel news

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Ash From Iceland Volcano Forces Cancellation of Thousands of Flights

Ash From Iceland Volcano Forces Cancellation of Thousands of Flights REUTERS
Airport display board in Edinburgh, Scotland, today. (REUTERS/Russell Cheyne)

Oh Iceland. Now look at what you’ve done.

Amazingly, the closing of air space across parts of northwestern Europe due to widespread ash from a volcanic eruption in Iceland is, according to the New York Times, “among the most sweeping ever ordered in peacetime.”


Photos: ‘London for Loners’

We’ve seen what Los Angeles looks like without traffic. Here’s what London looks like on lonely Sunday nights.


World Travel Watch: Protests in Thailand, Dingo Trouble in Australia and More

Larry Habegger rounds up global travel news

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World Travel Watch: Dubai’s Burj Khalifa Closed, Alternate Routes to Machu Picchu and More

Larry Habegger rounds up global travel news

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Photo You Must See: London Light Trails

Photo You Must See: London Light Trails REUTERS/Luke MacGregor

Light trails made by a passing bus illuminate the night sky in front of the Houses of Parliament in London

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Five Photos: England Under Snow

Five Photos: England Under Snow REUTERS/Stephen Hird

As you rarely see them: Buckingham Palace, a London Underground sign, Westminster Bridge and Bodiam Castle.

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Photo You Must See: Stonehenge in the Snow

Photo You Must See: Stonehenge in the Snow REUTERS/Kieran Doherty
REUTERS/Kieran Doherty

Snow blankets Stonehenge, the ancient monument outside Salisbury, England.


Photo You Must See: Snowbound Britain by Satellite

Photo You Must See: Snowbound Britain by Satellite Photo via NASA
Photo via NASA

A satellite image shows a snow-covered Great Britain. The walloping has left thousands without power.