Flights: Cabin crew admit to doing this to passenger’s drinks onboard

Flight attendant: Drink serving secret

Flight attendant: Cabin crew members have admitted doing this to alcoholic drinks onboard (Image: Getty)

Flight crew members are primarily onboard the plane to protect passengers and ensure safety on a journey.

But when it comes to service or requesting items, some passengers can be rude towards flight attendants.

Intoxicated passengers are a large issue which has resulted in delayed flights and cabin crew assaults.

A recent study found flight crew admit to doing something to travellers who drink alcohol onboard.

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Jet charter company Statosjets.com asked 119 flight attendants in the study, with a range of male and female cabin crew members around the world.

In the study, 35.3 per cent of passengers admitted to watering down the alcohol drinks of passengers onboard.

While this is a sneaky way to prevent passengers from getting drunk (and buying more expensive drinks), it isn’t the only thing they admitted to doing.

Nearly 75 per cent admitted to refusing service to intoxicated passengers – something they are in their right to do if it is in the interest of everyone else’s safety onboard.

Passengers making a fool out of themselves should also beware the wrath of cabin crew members.

Flight attendant: Drink serving secret

Flight attendant: Intoxicated passengers are one of the biggest problems onboard (Image: Getty)

In the study, 62 per cent of staff admitted to making fun of passengers in front of their colleagues.

An anonymous flight attendant said: “It is not like the heydays of flying and attendants are not subservient individuals who cater to your every whim.”

A cabin crew member admitted on a Reddit forum some of the other secrets of the industry.

One of the secrets is lying to passengers about why the plane is really delayed.

The anonymous user wrote: “When people ask for the reason for a delay, we usually give a b******t response because the REAL answer would spook passengers.

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Flight attendant: Drink serving secret

Flight attendant: More than a third of crew admitted to watering down alcoholic drinks (Image: Getty)

“‘We have a minor technical problem and engineers are on their way’ and in reality the cabin pressure isn’t working.”

Last year was the safest year on record for aviation with no deaths for commercial flights.

Earlier this week, commercial flight Lion Air crashed shortly after take-off in Indonesia.

Search and rescue are currently investigating the crash site in the ocean but of the 188 people onboard, there have been no survivors.

An investigation has been launched to establish what caused the incident.

Flights: 93-year-old air United Airlines stewardess reveals this very strict 1950s rule

flights uniform united airlines cabin crew lax

Cabin crew: Ethel Pattison, 93 (right) joined United Airlines as a stewardess in the summer of 1951 (Image: Ethel Pattison)

Flights in the 1950s were a very glamorous affair indeed and saw travellers wearing their Sunday best suits and dresses for the occasion.

The fight attendants were all female and their fashion requirements were very strict.

In the 1930s and 40s, uniforms for the first flight attendants, dubbed “air hostesses”, were military inspired, but femininity and glamour became key in the 50s and 60s.

An air hostess who served with United Airlines in the USA in the early 1950s has revealed to Express.co.uk what fashion rules they had to follow.

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Ethel Pattison, 93, joined United Airlines as a stewardess in the summer of 1951 and flew into the autumn of 1952.

Today she is a historian at Los Angles airport in California, US. As the hub reaches its 90th anniversary, Ethel looks back with fondness on her time as an air hostess.

Ethel was based in Seattle and flew DC-3s, 4s, 6s, before jets were introduced in 1959.

She had to take a lot of care over her airline uniform – which has changed 37 times from 1930 to today.

According to The United Airlines Historical Foundation (UAHF), air hostesses wore navy blue wool gabardine single-breasted jackets of a fitted design with matching covered buttons.

“It was worn over a white short sleeve rayon blouse with a notched collar,” wrote the UAHF website.

“The matching suit skirt of slim design featured a front and back kick pleat.”

flights uniform united airlines cabin crew lax

Cabin Creww: Ethel (back row, third from right) had to take a lot of care over her airline uniform (Image: Ethel Pattison)

However, for Ethel it’s the hats that went with this uniform that stand out in her memory.

“Uniform hats were worn all the time as they wanted to keep the ‘stewardess look,’” she told Express.co.uk

According to UAHF: “The overseas style hat in matching fabric had multi-rows of top stitching and was worn through 1956.”

Ethel added that the rule for the crew to always wear hats was eventually changed.

The strict rules did not prevent Ethel from appreciating her time with United Airlines.

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Flights: International passengers arrive at Los Angeles Airport in 1963 where Ethel was a guide (Image: LAX)

Sky-high glamour: Air hostesses through the years
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Air hostesses: Vintage photographs of glamorous stewardesses through the years.

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Sky-high glamour: Air hostesses through the years

“I enjoyed being a stewardess, living with roommates in Seattle and travelling and learning about the United States, it was a great experience for me,” she said.

Ethel went on the become America’s First Airport Tour Guide in 1956 at Los Angeles airport.

“Tours were given to school children and adults to interest all in flying, and to make them comfortable with the airport, airplanes and flight,” Ethel explained.

“Flying gave the passengers more time to enjoy their destination, ticket prices were affordable, hence the growth and need for more passengers’ space.”

She added: “Looking back in time at how far LAX has come, it seems to adapt to its growth and increase in passenger totals well and we look forward to seeing it continue to reach its potential.

“The airport has been undergoing a USD $14-billion modernisation program over the past nine years, and the refreshing of the terminals is ongoing to create a more convenient and efficient travel experience for passengers.”

A flight attendant who served with Australian airline Qantas in the 1960s has revealed the measures they were instructed to take to improve their appearance. 

Mexico: How safe is it safe to travel as ‘dangerous’ Hurricane Willa hits today?

Mexico is set to be blasted by “dangerous” Hurricane Willa today. This is the latest travel advice.

The powerful storm has brought maximum sustained winds of 140mph this morning and could also hit Mexico with life-threatening storm surge and torrential rain, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC).

Hurricane Willa is now a Category-5 strength storm. It’s expected to be “a dangerous major hurricane when it reaches the coast of Mexico,” said the NHC.

Rainfall of up to 12 inches is anticipated and could lead to life-threatening landslides and flash flooding as well as “large and destructive waves” along parts of Mexico’s central and southwestern coast.

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The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has now updated their travel advice to Mexico.

“Hurricane Willa is expected to make landfall on the Pacific Coast of Mexico (Western Mexico), between San Blas and Mazatlan, late on Tuesday 23 October,” said the FCO website.

“A tropical storm watch is also in place between Playa Perula and San Blas. The hurricane season normally runs from June to November and affects both the Pacific and Atlantic coasts.”

The FCO warns travellers should be careful even if they’re not the near the centre of the storm.

“Be aware that effects of tropical storms and hurricanes can span hundreds of miles from the centre of the storm, causing flooding, landslides and disruption to local services, including transport,” they cautioned.

“You should monitor the progress of approaching storms on the website of the US National Hurricane Centre and follow the advice of the local authorities, including any evacuation orders.”

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Mexico: Is it safe to travel as ‘dangerous’ Hurricane Willa hits today? (Image: AFP/Getty Images)

Flights and airports have also been affected by Hurricane Willa as preparations begin.

Southwest Airlines has cancelled all of its flights at the International Airport in Puerto Vallarta, a resort town in Mexico’s Pacific coast in the state of Jalisco.

Passengers booked on flights from today through Friday 26 October, can change their flight without penalty. Passengers whose flights are cancelled are eligible for a refund or can rebook.

American Airlines has cancelled its flights in the city of Mazatlan – the second-largest city in the state of Sinaloa in northwestern Mexico.

The carrier also issued a travel waiver to the region for travellers ticketed to fly through Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta today and tomorrow.

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Mexico is set to be battered by “dangerous” Hurricane Willa this afternoon or evening (Image: NOAA)

mexico hurricane willa latest travel advice

Mexico: A shop is boarded up in Mexico ahead of impact from Hurricane Willa (Image: Getty Images)

Mazatlan is a popular tourist town is lined with hotels and celebrated for its 12-mile golden beaches, golf resorts and lively nightlife.

Other local tourist destinations expected to be in Willa’s path include Ezquinapa, where 60,000 people live.

It’s highly likely other airlines with flights to the region will also follow with travel waivers.

Hurricane Willa is the tenth of the 2018 northeast Pacific hurricane season. 

The 2018 Eastern Pacific hurricane season is the most active on record, according to an index called ACE – Accumulated Cyclone Energy – used to track hurricane activity.

Antonio Echevarria, governor of Nayarit, has said more than 10,000 people were being evacuated and schools would be closed.

Flights: Are the myths about the brace position correct? Pilots reveal the real truth

flights pilot plane crash brace position news

Flights: Are the myths about brace position correct? Pilot reveals the truth (Image: Getty Images)

Flight safety cards and demonstrations all describe the brace position you should do if your plane crashes.

However, there are plenty of conspiracy theories that question this how safe the pose really is.

Two such theories are particularly alarming and rather morbid. The first is that it’s, in fact, the best position to protect your teeth and thereby allow for easier identification after a fatal crash using dental records.

The second is that it’s a position that will serve to swiftly break your neck.

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Conspiracy theorists say this is best for the airline as it reduces medical costs.

So how safe it is to adopt the brace position? Two pilots have revealed the truth.

One pilot told Express.co.uk it’s fully recommended passengers do the brace position to maximise survival should the worst happen.

The pilot, who wished to remind anonymously said: “It’s the best position to preserve life.”

Another pilot, at a different airline, agreed. “The brace position offers the best chance of survival in an emergency situation,” he confirmed.

The effects of the brace position were proved in a ’real life’ scenario in a 2012 Channel 4 documentary, The Plane Crash.

flights pilot plane crash brace position news

Flights: There are plenty of conspiracy theories that question this how safe the pose really is (Image: Getty Images)

A Boeing 727 carrying cameras, sensors and crash test dummies flew at 140 mph, descending at 1,500 feet per minute, and crashed land nose down in a remote and uninhabited area of Mexican desert.

The incredible footage saw the front of the plane completely ripped off while the middle and back remained intact.

However, of the three dummies, the one wearing a seatbelt and in the brace position, was the one identified by the experts to have “survived” the crash.

The dummy not in the brace position but wearing a seat belt would have endured serious head injuries.

The third, who wasn’t wearing a seatbelt and wasn’t in the brace position would have died.

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Flights: It’s fully recommended passengers do the brace position to maximise survival (Image: Getty Images)

Furthermore, when U.S. Airways Flight 1549 crashed into the Hudson River 2009 the pilot and flight attendants instructed all passengers to adopt the brace position.

The absence of fatalities on board is attributed to all passengers doing the position. None of the 155 people on board suffered life-threatening injuries.

To correctly adopt the brace position, put one hand over the other rather than locking fingers and protect your knees.

Do this by holding your legs and/or placing your feet flat on the floor, ideally further back than your knees.

If you have additional protection for your head, such as a pillow, put it to use and remove any sharp objects around you. Hold the position until the plane has come to a complete stop.

Pilots have also revealed to Express.co.uk the best place to sit on a plane in the event of a crash.

WATCH: Viral video of bikini-clad woman falling off swing on beach

The young woman appeared be on holiday with her partner as they were clad in their swimwear on the beach.

They both sat on the piece of wood which was attached to two palm trees by rope.

As they sat down, they put their arms around each other and prepared to swing.

At first it seemed to go well, only for it to quickly go wrong.

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The couple could not stay on the swing as the piece of wood dropped them into the shallow water.

They both fell backwards with a large splash into the water.

As they both tried to recover in the water on their hands and knees, they forgot about the swinging piece of wood.

The man, who began to stand up, was hit on the back of the head by the swinging apparatus.

The woman then reached over to make sure he was okay, although he was most likely just embarrassed.

Viral video: Bikini woman swing fail

Viral video: A young woman had an embarrassing incident on the beach swing (Image: Imgur)

Viral video: Bikini woman swing fail

Viral video: The young couple quickly realised their mistake on the swing (Image: Imgur)

The video has had more than 729,000 views already with many finding the situation hilarious.

One person asked: “Hah! Someone put that swing up as a trap; there’s no way to operate it without that happening!”

Many realised it was a seat, not a swing and was most likely made for taking photographs.

Another Imgur user remarked: “The part when he was hit on the back head was the funniest.”

Some users were a fan of the person taking the video, who was shaking in amusement: “I love how you can see the laughter of the camera man.”

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Viral video: The man was then hit on the head with the swing (Image: Imgur)

One person missed the point of the funny situation completely. They said: “And here I was expecting that dog to start pooping in the foreground.”

It is hardly the first time an embarrassing accident has been caught on camera during a relaxing holiday.

A young woman was attempting to get a picture in the Bahamas while standing in a deep hole in the rocks.

Suddenly, a spray of water came up and she put her arms above her head and posed.

The water gained strength and it suddenly knocked her from her feet with a large blast from the sea.

Queen Elizabeth II: The monarch can speak fluent French – and she’s not the only royal

Queen Elizabeth has travelled to numerous countries all over the world during her long reign.

The monarch often relies on the help of advisors when she greets officials abroad and carries out her duties.

However, there are some countries in the world where the Queen will need no aid when it comes to speaking the local language.

Thanks to her private education from a young age, Queen Elizabeth can speak fluent French.

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French is spoken as an official language in 29 countries in total, but the Monarch’s knowledge has been of particular use during trips to France and Canada.

In 2014 she carried out a state visit to Paris and held a conversation with former President Francois Hollande, easily discussing the weather.

She also addressed a State Banquet in both English and French for her fifth French State Visit at the Élysée Palace in Paris.

A year later, a schoolgirl in Dagenham addressed the Queen in French to which the Queen responded in the same language.

Most impressive of all is when, in 1964, Elizabeth visited Quebec in Canada and gave a speech.

For nearly 10 minutes the Queen spoke in French with excellent pronunciation – though she did use cue cards.

queen elizabeth ii french france foreign language royal

Queen Elizabeth II: The monarch can speak fluent French – and she’s not the only royal to know it (Image: Getty Images)

queen elizabeth ii french france foreign language royal

Queen Elizabeth II: The monarch is not the only member of the royal family to speak French (Image: Getty Images)

French language expert Camille Chevalier-Karfis, commented on video clips of the Queen speaking French.

“Her reading skills were excellent – both pronunciation and rhythm were very good, but you could feel she was quite tense,” she told The Local.

Queen Elizabeth most likely learnt French as a child when she was tutored by her governess Marion Crawford.

The monarch is not the only member of the royal family to speak French. Prince Charles and the rest of the Queen’s children also speak it.

Prince William has also been heard speaking French after a speech in Quebec in 2011. He also knows some Welsh and Swahili.

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Prince William has also been heard speaking French after a speech in Quebec in 2011 (Image: Getty Images)

The Queen’s passions and pastimes in pictures
Fri, June 1, 2018
Here is look back in pictures at the passions and pastimes of Queen Elizabeth II from corgis and ponies, to stamp collecting and photography.

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The Queen celebrating her birthday through the years (pictured on her 13th birthday) Getty Images

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A young Queen Elizabeth II has been riding horses most of her remarkable life.

When Prince Charles and Prince William filmed an anti-poaching message in 2014, they spoke several languages.

Between them, the father and son spoke five languages: Mandarin, Arabic, Spanish, Swahili and Vietnamese.

William’s wife Kate Middleton speaks Italian, after spending three months in Italy on her gap year.

Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle also speak foreign languages. Harry spoke Arabic at a charity fundraiser in Dubai in 2013.

Meghan was heard speaking in Filipino, saying “Salamat Po”, meaning thank you, during a visit to Edinburgh with Prince Harry.

She also previously admitted on her lifestyle blog The Tig, which has since shut down, that she once learned French and that she spoke Spanish after working at the US Embassy in Buenos Aires.

Prince George and Princess Charlotte have followed suit and are both learning Spanish.

Ryanair flights: Passenger beats new hand luggage rules with clever trick in viral video

ryanair flights holidays hand luggage rules viral video

Ryanair: The Briton enlisted the help of a tailor to modify a coat so it could store his stuff (Image: Facebook/Lee Cimino)

Ryanair flights have been criticised after the budget airline introduced their strict new hand luggage policy last week.

But one British man has discovered an ingenious way to cheat the new rules and avoid paying extra charges.

Ryanair passengers can now only travel with a personal bag that measures no more than 40cm x 20cm x 25cm for free and need to pay extra if they wish to extra bags on board.

Lee Cimino was so frustrated when this policy was introduced that he decided to take the matter into his own hands and get creative.

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Lee uploaded a video to Facebook which has rapidly gone viral, showing his cunning method in action.

His flight to Belfast was two days after the extra charges came into effect and he refused to pay the added money.

The Briton enlisted the help of a tailor to modify a coat so it could store all of his holiday belongings.

He used pairs of old underwear as large extra pockets on the inside of the coat where he could store clothes.

The tailor also added in a shoe compartment and sewed in little washbags where he could keep bits and bobs.

There was also a small plastic bag where he could keep his liquids, in line with airport security rules.

From the outside, however, the coat looked just like a normal coat – although it does stick out slightly at the back from the added bulk.

The entertaining video shows Lee trying to get through the airport without being caught out.

His friend films him walking through the airport as he frets he might not be able to get away with it.

“What are we going to do if it doesn’t work?” he asks his pal – as ominous-sounding music accompanies the footage.

“It looks like they’re proper checking everyone,” Lee says as they stand in line at the Ryanair gate for their flight.

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Flights: Ryanair passenger beats new hand luggage rules with ingenious travel hack (Image: Getty Images/Facebook/ Lee Cimino)

ryanair flights holidays hand luggage rules viral video

Ryanair: The entertaining video shows Lee trying to get through the airport without being caught out (Image: Facebook/Lee Cimino)

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However, next time the camera shows Lee he is running down the stairs towards the plane with a wide grin on his face – his coat ruse a success.

Lee captioned the entertaining footage: “This is for you if you’ve ever been frustrated by Ryanair. This is how you get around the new baggage charges every time. It might even make you smile.”

His Facebook followers have been full of admiration for Lee’s stunt and praised him online.

“You absolute legend,” one person wrote, “This is fantastic only you can do this matey,” another added.

One Facebook user said he should take the enterprising design to business TV show Dragon’s Den.

Ryanair has announced that it will be closing its website and app for 12 hours tomorrow as it updates its systems, and is encouraging passengers to check-in online today ahead of the web closure. 

Travellers will be unable to make new bookings or make changes to existing flights during the 12-hour closure.

Vietnam passes the taste test | Activity Holidays | Travel | Express.co.uk

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Junks at Ha Long Bay (Image: Matthew King/Getty Images)

THERE’S a knack to crossing the road in Vietnam.

You pick your moment then step out into the non-stop traffic and keep moving at a steady pace until you reach the other side.

The cars and hundreds of mopeds with riders carrying anything from shopping to livestock, chairs and even trees, simply drive around you.

It made our Vespa Adventure in Hanoi even more of an experience when we were taken as pillion passengers to some of the capital’s best eating places.

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Met by four smiling Vespa riders and tour guide Finn it was an ideal introduction to the city’s old quarter as well as an entrée into Vietnam’s fresh and diverse cuisine.

Up on the roof terrace among greenery and fairy lights at Café Eden, beside St Joseph’s Cathedral, Finn introduced us to Vietnamese coffee made with condensed milk (delicious, actually) and two drivers delivered a bag of nemchea – fermented pot roast pork – for an impromptu starter.

We were going on to several other venues but Finn told us the most important meal of the day in Vietnam is breakfast: “You don’t skip breakfast here,” he said. “Even if you work in an office you go in to switch on the computer then go to eat.”

Our next stop was Ray Quan, only feet from the railway track that runs a thousand miles to Ho Chi Minh City. We watched its stately progress perched on the tiny plastic stools used by local eating places in Vietnam, sitting in the steamy darkness drinking fruit-flavoured rice wine and snacking on dried shredded water buffalo.

The first course came at Huong Lien, a bun cha restaurant (bun means noodles, cha is grilled pork) made famous by a visit from Barack Obama in 2016. The multi-storey canteen serves the Hanoi speciality dish bun cha – a broth with grilled pork to which you add cooked noodles and aromatic herbs.

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Cooking school chef Mimi leads a Hoi An market tour to buy ingredients including herbs, ginger (Image: NC)

To our delight, the table where Obama slurped noodles with American TV chef Anthony Bourdain is now preserved within a Perspex box. This was our first encounter with the intense freshness of Vietnamese food – and Bourdain. The chef, who died in June, particularly loved Vietnamese cuisine, as we discovered in Hue a few days later.

But for now we were driven through Hanoi’s glamorous French Quarter and past the Ho Chi Minh mausoleum to enjoy noodle rolls of satay beef with lettuce and coriander, shredded grilled duck with fresh basil leaves dipped in soy sauce, and lightly steamed pak choi with banana blossom salad in the final eating house, Vinh Phong.

WE HAD booked our tailor-made holiday with VIVID Travel, speaking to travel designer Eline to work out our included daily guided tours. So there was never any doubt that we would get to our hotels, catch two internal flights and be taken to places including Ha Long Bay, where we spent two days on a ship among the limestone stacks and small islands of this Unesco-listed archipelago.

In Hué, the former imperial capital, we were taken by cyclo – Vietnamese rickshaw – over the Perfume River to the Citadel, where the Imperial City is being restored.

Copied from Beijing’s Forbidden City, these palaces were badly damaged during wars with France, then America but are now rising from the ashes – like the phoenix that decorates the buildings along with dragons and Oriental unicorns.

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Pho noodle soup, Vietnamese traditional food (Image: GETTY IMAGES)

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Deborah and family’s street food breakfast at Saigon’s Ho Ma (Image: NC)

Hué is a remarkable city, home to emperors’ tombs such as the final resting place of Vietnam’s penultimate emperor, Khai Dinh, which has dragons running down steep steps and stone statues for bodyguards.

But at the centre of Hué, as in all Vietnamese towns, is the market. Dong Ba market has stalls piled high with red dragon fruit, mangoes, lychees and herbs, while a massive hall features sacks of rice and household goods.

It was here that we stumbled across another Anthony Bourdain favourite, a stall where we bought skewers of barbecued meat and bowls of noodle soup.

The lady in charge was proud of her photo with Bourdain, hung above her steaming pots, but it was at Hoi An that we experienced Vietnam’s culinary culture hands-on.

Signed up for a morning at Red Bridge Cooking School we were taken by chef Mimi to buy herbs, ginger and turmeric then through the meat market past neat piles of pig heads, trotters and legs. “Every part of the animal is used,” we were told, as Mimi gestured towards a tray of innards.

On riverside fish stalls we saw vivid blue crabs and piles of fish landed that morning and being taken to hotels and restaurants.

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Unesco-listed Hoi An has lovely 18th-century wooden houses (Image: GETTY IMAGES)

A brightly painted boat took us past rice fields to the school, surrounded by banana trees and bird of paradise flowers. My favourite recipe was for Hoi An pancakes, made from turmeric-laced rice flour batter poured over strips of pork, prawns and bean sprouts.

Hoi An itself is an old trading town with lanterns strung across the streets and Unesco-listed buildings including a Japanese covered bridge and timber houses in ancient Chinese, Japanese and Vietnamese styles. It’s a world away from Ho Chi Minh City, or Saigon as most people still call it.

Saigon retains more French cultural references than elsewhere, particularly when it comes to food. Saigon baguettes – banh mi – stuffed with grilled pork, bean sprouts and coriander cost less than £2 at Ben Thanh market, perfect for anybody with noodle-fatigue.

And at our VIVID-arranged visit to Henry Cabot Lodge House, the former American Ambassador’s home, we feasted on Mekong Delta king prawn that was like a small lobster, with Vietnamese crème caramel for dessert.

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Hué, the former imperial capital, is home to tombs of emperors (Image: NC)

It was a complete contrast to breakfast the next day when our guide, Tre, took us to Saigon’s oldest bread shop, Hoa Ma. Sitting in the road on little plastic stools beside a tiny table we wolfed down fried eggs, Saigon sausage, fried ham and salami presented in the skillets they were cooked in, as traffic honked past us.

Finn was right: noodles and pancakes are all very well but breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

GETTING THERE VIVID

Travel (020 3918 9482/vivid.travel) offers a 12-night Harmony of the Elements tour of Vietnam from £1995 (two sharing), B&B. Price includes return flights from Heathrow to Hanoi, two internal flights and guides with drivers. Cities include Hanoi, Halong Bay, Hoi An and Hué and Ho Chi Minh City.

Cruises: Avoid long queues by doing this during busy periods | Cruise | Travel | Express.co.uk

Cruise secrets: Avoid queues during port day

Cruise secrets: How to avoid queues and crowds during a holiday (Image: Getty)

Cruise holidays are a popular choice with families wanting a trip around the world, yet come with a downside – long queues.

With some cruise ships able to hold more than 3,000 passengers at a time, this can often result in crowded areas.

Queues at breakfast as well as at the activities such as pool parties and climbing walls can tarnish a holiday.

Thankfully there is an easy way to beat the queues.

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Adam Coulter, UK Managing Editor of Cruise Critic spoke to Express.co.uk on how to avoid them during a trip at sea.

“Port days often involve a mad dash to the gangway as soon as the all-clear has been given for passengers to start the disembarkation process,” he explained.

“Those booked on ship-sponsored shore excursions are generally given priority, but people still cluster at the exits.

“If you want to avoid all the hubbub, stay onboard (or leave the ship a bit later in the day).

“Should you choose to forgo your port day – especially if you’ve already visited a particular port on the itinerary – you can avoid crowds at the pool, in the spa, at the buffet and just about anywhere else on the ship.”

Cruise secrets: Avoid queues during port day

Cruise secrets: Crowds are to be expected during port day (Image: Getty)

Cruises often have many holiday destinations on offer when sailing around the Caribbean.

For frequent cruise-goers, this might mean heading to similar destinations year on year.

Therefore, if there is one area that was not a favourite and not one to return to, then staying on the ship could be a better way to spend the day.

It also means having an emptier ship to walk around and experience.

There is also a way to always avoid the breakfast queue when trying to make the most of the buffet.

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Cruise secrets: Avoid queues during port day

Cruise secrets: Staying on the ship can mean a much more relaxed experience (Image: Getty)

Travellers may not realise that they can order food from the menu during breakfast in the dining hall.

Most flock to the buffet cart to make the most of the food on offer straight away.

However free menu options not only mean avoiding the queues but also offer a much fresher option.

Some buffet options could even be days old and simply reheated.

One item that isn’t as fresh as it seems are the eggs – these are often cooked with powdered egg and other ingredients.

Cruises: Never book this activity onboard the ship during your holiday | Cruise | Travel | Express.co.uk

Cruises: Avoid teeth whitening treatments

Cruises: Avoid one particular activity onboard a ship (Image: Getty)

Cruise ships cater to every person, offering fine dining, evening entertainment and family activities onboard.

Some offer beauty treatments such as massages and makeovers as well.

These can often be tempting if they provide discounts or cheap deals to entice guests to book.

However there is one activity that should be avoided at all costs.

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One passenger advised against getting a teeth whitening treatment during a cruise holiday.

This is because of how sensitive they can be after the procedure.

Speaking to Cruise Critic, they wrote: “Do not go for the teeth whitening, no matter how cheap it is.

“We made the mistake of doing it on our first day and our gums were so sore for a couple days, we couldn’t enjoy the food.

Even if it seems to be a great value, passengers should only opt for it towards the end of their trip if they really want to make the most of it.

Cruises: Avoid teeth whitening treatments

Cruises: Some ships offer cheap teeth whitening treatments (Image: Getty)

Teeth whitening, no matter how expensive or professional, often leaves the teeth aching for a few days after.

This is because of the peroxide used in the gels to brighten them.

It can strip the top layers of the teeth off, meaning food such as ice-cream and hot meals can cause a lot of pain.

The pain does, however, wear away after a few days.

Teeth whitening isn’t the only thing to be avoided on the first day of a cruise holiday.

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Cruises: Teeth whitening can leave them sore for days, ruining a trip (Image: Getty)

Buying souvenirs on the first day is advised against if looking for a bargain.

Some cruise ships lower prices towards the end of the holiday to shift stock before the next excursion.

This can mean getting a much cheaper memento to remember the trip.

Taking photographs, however, should be done at the beginning of the holiday.

Cruise ships are often much cleaner and better maintained at the beginning of a trip.

Flights: Airports launch lie-detector tests to catch terrorists boarding flights

flights news airport security AI lie detector test EU

Flights: Hungary, Latvia and Greece airports to have AI lie-detector tests to fight terrorism (Image: Getty Images)

Those travelling through certain airports may be compelled to take a lie detector test with the aim of catching terrorists, criminals and illegal immigrants.

Passengers will be asked a number of questions while a special machine asseses the accuracy of their answers.

The questions will allude to the passenger’s luggage and their identity.

Would you be happy to undergo lie a detector test at airport security?

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Airports in Europe are set to trial new Artificial Intelligence in a bid to fight terror and catch illegal immigrants entering the country.

Lie detector tests will be rolled out at airports in Hungary, Latvia and Greece as part of an EU-funded drive to fight crime.

The three nations all border non-European Union nations and will employ the new iBorderCtrl technology on travellers from outside the EU.

These fliers will have to use an online application to upload pictures of their passport, visa and proof of funds if they wish to travel.

They will then have to answer questions from a computer-animated border guard through a webcam.

They will be interrogated regarding their name, age and date of birth as well as the purpose of their trip or questions about their luggage.

According to New Scientist, some of these questions include: “What’s in your suitcase?” and “If you open the suitcase and show me what is inside, will it confirm that your answers were true?”

The questions will be personalised to the traveller’s gender, ethnicity and language.

The micro-expressions of those tested will be analysed to work out if they are lying.

Interviewees who are flagged as high-risk will undergo a more detailed check.

If iBorderCtrl identifies the person as telling the truth they will receive a QR code to let them pass the border.

flights news airport security AI lie detector test EU

Flights: Airports in Hungary, Latvia and Greece will be trialling new lie detector technology (Image: Getty Images)

If it suspects they are lying, biometric information will be taken, such as fingerprinting, palm vein reading, and face matching. This will recalculate the potential risk posed by the traveller.

A human border guard will then take over and will review the information and make an assessment.

“It is hoped that trials about to start in Hungary, Greece and Latvia will prove that the intelligent portable control system helps border guards reliably identify travellers engaging in criminal activity,” said a European Commission statement.

“The trials will start with lab testing to familiarise border guards with the system, followed by scenarios and tests in realistic conditions along the borders.”

The technology will not currently prevent anyone from crossing the border.

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The iBorderCtrl team told New Scientist they are “quite confident” the success rate of the AI can reach 85 per cent.

“We’re employing existing and proven technologies – as well as novel ones – to empower border agents to increase the accuracy and efficiency of border checks,” said project coordinator George Boultadakis of European Dynamics in Luxembourg.

“iBorderCtrl’s system will collect data that will move beyond biometrics and on to biomarkers of deceit.”

London Heathrow Airport will be launching the hub’s first end-to-end biometrics trial next summer, bringing facial recognition to each point of the departing passenger’s journey. 

It will be the first time Heathrow has carried out a full-scale rollout of the new technology and will mean the London airport will have the world’s largest deployment of biometrics trial next summer, bringing facial recognition to each point of the departing passenger’s journey. 

Holidays: Britannia Hotels revealed as the worst hotel chain in the UK by Which? Travel

Hotels are expected to provide a certain standard of service to paying guests – but one hotel chain has continued to disappoint for six years in a row.

Britannia Hotels has been named as the worst UK hotel chain in new research by Which? Travel.

The chain – which has 105 hotel –  has ranked bottom place for the sixth consecutive year and received a  very low customer score of 35 per cent.

Britannia’s poor customer service, shabby rooms and bad food have been complained about by nearly a quarter of guests.

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It received one star in most categories and just two stars for average price paid, bed comfort and customer service.

A one-star rating signifies “a sub-standard hotel well below average in its category,” while two stars means “an adequate hotel that has room for improvement.”

The terms “old,” “shabby” and “outdated” were repeatedly used to describe the chain when guests were asked to describe how they found their stay with Britannia Hotels.

One guest went as far as to describe the hotel they stayed in as a “filthy hovel,” while another advised not to bother and to “find somewhere else.”

The hotel’s website promises to offer “character and style” but photos taken by a Which? investigator show crayon on the bedroom walls, stained carpets and grubby towels.

The communal areas were just as bad, with gaffer-taped rips in an armchair and some chewing gum stuck to a bannister.

A whopping 42 per cent of guests who stayed with Britannia had a problem with their stay.

In fact, nearly one in four guests had made an official complaint to the hotel compared to the average of less than one in 10 and only two per cent of people who had stayed at a Wetherspoon Hotel (which received a 71 per cent customer score).

hotels holidays britannia hotel complaints which

Hotels: Britannia Hotels revealed as the worst hotel chain in the UK (Image: Getty Images)

Most complaints surrounding stays at Britannia related to poor customer service (41 per cent) and poor quality of rooms (41 per cent), followed by cleanliness (32 per cent) and quality of food (27 per cent).

To make matters worse, most guests (71 per cent) who made an official complaint to Britannia were dissatisfied with the outcome.

Express.co.uk has contacted Britannia Hotels for comment on their low ranking.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, the best hotel chain in the UK was revealed to be Premier Inn.

Premier Inn garnered a 79 per cent customer score and won top place for the fourth year in a row.

Guests rated the chain five stars for cleanliness, the comfort of its beds and customer service. In fact, it was hard to find a guest review that did not describe their stay as “excellent.”

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Hotels: Photos taken by a Which? investigator show crayon and stains on the bedroom walls (Image: Which? Travel)

hotels holidays britannia hotel complaints which

Hotels: Which? photos shows dirty glasses left on a desk with a broken drawer (Image: Which? Travel)

hotels holidays britannia hotel complaints which

Hotels: Britannia has 105 hotels across the UK and received a very low customer score of 35 per cent (Image: Which? Travel)

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Simon Jones, Managing Director Premier Inn and Restaurants commented: “At Premier Inn we welcome thousands of guests through our doors every day and so we are delighted and overwhelmingly proud that Which? readers have chosen us as their number one for the fourth year running.

“Our thanks go to all the readers who rated us so highly, but also to the people who we wouldn’t be able to do this without, our thousands of team members across every one of our hotels and restaurants. Whether they are responsible for the spotless rooms, ensuring our beds are the most comfortable, cooking up one of our famous breakfasts, or just a friendly, welcoming smile at the end of a long day.”

Hilton: Garden Inn came in second place with a 77 per cent customer score and Fuller’s Hotels were in third with 75 per cent.

Rory Boland, Which? Travel editor, said: “Britannia has superb locations, fabulous buildings – but terrible hotels. Guests looking for a safe bet, with no nasty surprises, should opt for a no-nonsense option like Premier Inn.

“Anyone looking for a cheap and cheerful hotel could do worse than booking a stay at a Wetherspoon – complete with an added bonus of only a staircase separating you and your bed after a slap-up meal and a glass or two of wine.”

Guests have also been warned about the dangers of using the coffee machine in a hotel bedroom as they could make customers very sick indeed.

TITANIC 2018: Of all the things to do in Belfast you MUST see the Titanic museum | Short & City breaks | Travel | Express.co.uk

Titanic Belfast

Unsinkable: The Titanic Belfast will remain the toast of Belfast for many years to come (Image: Titanic Belfast)

Two working ports, perhaps not quite in full flood, but still all gantries and cranes and imposing vessels filled with grapefruits and iPhones and cheap underpants and lord knows what else and all on that overblown scale which makes everything feel slightly surreal. Especially in the light of a 7am dawn sunrise.

And then there’s the big, no, colossal, elephant in the room inextricably linking these two proud, honest towns for all of the rest of history – RMS Titanic.

Registered in the Port of Liverpool, built by maritime engineers Harland and Wolff in the Port of Belfast, and now one of the world’s deepest graveyards two and a half miles below the north Atlantic waves about 370 miles off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada.

The Titanic, the world’s biggest, most prestigious ship, so safe she really didn’t see the need to bother with lifeboats, went down on April 15, 1912, after colliding with an iceberg. She took with her 1,500 souls, long since reclaimed by the sea.

It is the disaster which refuses to go away.

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There have been infinitely greater disasters. The 1931 floods in China left four million dead, the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami claimed 240,000, and in 1987 the Philippine ferry Dona Paz went down with 4,386 on board. But these seem barely a footnote in humanity’s history compared with Titanic.

The Titanic legend persists and persists, as a monument to both human hubris and human frailty (and perhaps the inverse relationship of the two). It is Macbeth’s vaulting ambition which o’erleaps itself in 53,000 tons of plate steel and rivets.

It’s not just a big ship, it’s a memento mori.

Which is perhaps why Belfast’s Titanic exhibition (Titanic Belfast) is so utterly mesmerising and enthralling.

Liverpool by dawn

Liverpool by dawn: Port city is intrinsically linked to Belfast and Titanic (Image: Paul Baldwin)

I took the kids as I thought it might be a vaguely improving hour for them.

We spent actually three and half gripping, fascinating, and even emotional hours – and would have stayed longer if the night watchman hadn’t pointed out that the place had closed 30 minutes earlier and what were we doing there anyway?

Titanic Belfast

Titanic scale: The rudder and screw of RMS Titanic replicated in Belfast (Image: Titanic Belfast)

It’s hard to convey just how good this exhibition is. On a physical level it’s brilliantly laid out so you keep moving and the exhibits change around you without ever getting the feeling you’re being pushed along. The staff, many in character, are beautifully informed and seem genuinely proud of their shipbuilding heritage (Harland and Wolff of course is still very much the maritime giant just the other side of dock).

Titanic cabin

A night to remember: Titanic interiors are painstakingly rebuilt (Image: Titanic Belfast)

It is that strange sense of intermingled deep pride and profound tragedy which powers this exhibition. And it is best summed up in the faltering final communications from the Titanic’s wireless telegraph, at first casually defiant, then increasingly desperate and finally quietly accepting.

Belfast is a city break with loads to offer but to be honest it’s worth a weekend here for this exhibition alone.

The Titanic Experience, 1 Olympic Way, Queens Road, Titanic Quarter, Belfast.

Tickets from 18.50, 8.00 child 45.00 family.

Kate Winslet topless?

Topless Titanic: Surely that’s not Kate Winslet topless?! (Image: Titanic Belfast)

How to get there from mainland Britain: There’s something quite glorious about sailing majestically into the port of Belfast – not quite Titanic, but a brilliant way to arrive.

Stena Line run two sailings to Belfast a day – morning and overnight – and prices start at £79. We’d advise booking yourself a ‘comfort’ suite taking the 10.30pm sailing, bedding down for the night and waking up in Northern Ireland.

(Of course if you live in Northern Ireland you can just jump in the car!)

Beyond the beaches of Rio | Short & City breaks | Travel | Express.co.uk

rio

Rio de Janeiro, overlooked by Christ the Redeemer (Image: GARDEL Bertrand / hemis.fr / GETTY)

THERE’S a joke among Paulistas (locals from São Paulo) that Christ the Redeemer, the emblematic statue that looms over Rio de Janeiro, stands with his arms outstretched waiting to applaud the first person there to do a day’s work.

There might be lots of ribbing and gentle rivalry between Brazil’s two major cities but it’s a piece of banter that speaks volumes about the fabrics of these two polar opposite metropolises despite them being less than an hour apart.

Rio, with its good looks and vivacious soul, may get all the attention but overlook São Paulo at your peril.

In a bid to discover their two very different characters, I embarked on a twin-centre trip combining both.

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First impressions can be tricky things. Upon first glance, São Paulo isn’t much to look at.

A sprawling urban jungle of highways and high-rises, it’s the country’s financial hub and home to more than 13 million people.

ON And while it may boast little in the way of famous sights or natural beauty – there are no beaches or glittering lagoons like you’ll find in Rio – we all know that beauty is more than skin deep.

So, keen to dig a little deeper, I sought the help of local guide Bruno.

“São Paulo is a richly cultured place that takes many by surprise,” he said, as we strolled through the handsome Centro district, its streets lined with curved buildings designed by Oscar Niemeyer, one of Brazil’s most influential architects.

Once an area best avoided, gentrification has arrived here in a big way.

New restaurants have sprung up (everything from gourmet hot dogs at Hot Pork to New York-style pastrami and gherkin sandwiches at Z Deli) and nightlife has evolved, too.

sao

São Paulo’s commercial heart, Paulista Avenue (Image: GETTY)

The newly opened Tokyo Centre is the place to go for late-night sake, sushi and karaoke, clearly catering for the largest Japanese community outside of Japan.

If you like your nightcaps with a view, head to new rooftop joint Bar Obelisco.

This achingly trendy spot serves up tasty cocktails as a million city lights twinkle far and wide.

To the west is the arty district of Vila Madalena.

Independent cafes, boutiques and galleries are in abundance here, as is street art of the highest order.

A short stroll down Batman Alley reveals bold and brilliant murals depicting illustrious individuals such as Batman locked in a tight embrace with national footballing legend Pelé.

For the briefest of moments, I almost forget about glamorous Rio.

At around 40 minutes, a flight between the two is barely long enough to sip a G&T.

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Beco do Batman (Batman Alley) in Vila Madalena – Sao Paulo, Brazil (Image: Diego Grandi / Alamy Stock Photo)

Those who choose to fly should bag themselves a window seat on the right-hand side for marvellous views of the Marvellous City as the plane descends into a city formed of a patchwork of world wonders, natural and man-made, from Christ the Redeemer to Sugarloaf Mountain, with bays and peaks all the way to the hazy horizon.

But flying is not the only mode of transport available. What of the wild and wonderful land that separates the two?

Opting instead to cover the 255 miles by road, I journeyed through Rio de Janeiro State along what may well be South America’s most impressive stretch of road.

The BR-101 Highway reveals beaches and islands and jungle laced with walking trails. With so much to see, I took my time and factored in an overnight stay in Paraty.

This laid-back coastal town, oozing with colonial charm and backed by verdant peaks, was originally home to the Guaiana Indians before the Portuguese arrived in the 16th century.

Today, Paraty – the old indigenous name of a local fish – remains fabulously atmospheric, with old churches and crumbling buildings along narrow streets cobbled with stone.

Boat trips and leisurely strolls are the order of the day.

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A reveller of the Salgueiro samba school performs during the second night of Rio's Carnival at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro AFP/Getty Images

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A reveller of the Salgueiro samba school performs during the second night of Rio’s Carnival at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro

My hotel, the lovely Pousada Porto Imperial, was just around the corner.

Dating back to 1804 when it was a merchant’s warehouse, its 43 rooms are filled with antiques and intriguing old touches while the swimming pool is centred around tropical gardens laced with bromeliads and native orchids.

As dusk descends and lanterns illuminate the old streets, the outdoor tables of the cafes and restaurants are soon busy with people feasting on locally caught octopus and Brazil’s national dish feijoada (pronounced fey-jwah-dah), a hearty stew of pork and black beans.

The next morning, the quiet harbour is filled with boats, each colourfully painted with names such as Bella.

We board one that’s pretty and pink and set sail along the jungle-cloaked coast to a deserted crescent beach, scattered with starfish in the shallows.

Later, we are escorted by a pod of playful dolphins who seem to be enjoying the surroundings just as much as us.

With a heavy heart, we bid a reluctant farewell to Paraty and press on further east towards a city that needs little introduction.

Rio de Janeiro finally materialises some five hours later, the windy coastal roads replaced by congested flyovers that soar, dip and twist around favelas that tumble down the steep hillsides.

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Cariocas play football on Ipanema (Image: Alexander Spatari/Getty Images)

I first fell head over heels with Rio around 15 years ago and even now, countless visits later, it’s still the city that makes my heart sing the loudest.

My preferred base is always the Copacabana Palace.

The grande dame of Rio’s hotels, with its grapefruit-infused marble lobby and sweeping staircase to its 243 rooms (splash out on one with an ocean view), it was designed by French architect Joseph Gire in 1923 and has attracted royalty and A-listers ever since.

But best of all, it’s the perfect base from which to explore everything Rio has to offer.

Quick cab rides take me to the hippy hilltop enclave of Santa Teresa with its cafes and artisan workshops and to the raucous samba bars of Lapa, while the world’s most famous urban beach is literally across the road.

Move over Bondi and step aside Santa Monica because there’s no inner city shoreline that beats Copacabana and neighbouring Ipanema.

I rent a bicycle from the hotel and join the procession of joggers, bikers and skateboarders along the promenade.

The journey isn’t particularly long or arduous but it takes me most of the afternoon on account of my leisurely pace and frequent stops.

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Cafes filled with people during FLIP International Literary Event in the Old Town of Paraty, Brazil (Image: DDurrich/Getty Images)

I sit under palm trees and sip fresh water straight from bulbous coconuts, watching sprightly Cariocas (Rio residents) somersault and flip during energetic volleyball matches on the beach.

Some run into the shallows with their surf boards, others perfect their already perfect bodies on the sidewalk climbing frames but most are content sitting on fold-up chairs with a caipirinha in hand and the warm sun on their skin.

Just a normal Thursday afternoon in Rio.

Over my shoulder and just visible in a gap between two apartment buildings is a familiar figure. Perched at the top of Corcovado, a rocky outcrop cloaked in emerald forest, is the main man himself.

Christ the Redeemer, erected in 1922, stands poised to applaud. But looking around me, at all the relaxed bronzed beauties, it’s obvious he’ll have to wait a little longer.

THE KNOWLEDGE Journey Latin America (020 8600 1881/ journeylatin america.co.uk) offers nine nights from £2,727 (two sharing), B&B. The price includes return flights from Heathrow, transfers, accommodation in São Paulo, Paraty and at the Copacabana Palace in Rio. TAP Air Portugal (0345 601 0932/flytap.com) flies to São Paulo and Rio from Heathrow via Lisbon from £601.

Brazil tourism: visitbrasil.com

Christmas 2018: The top 10 BEST Christmas markets in the UK revealed

christmas market 2018 best xmas markets uk

Christmas 2018: The top 10 BEST Christmas markets in the UK (Image: Getty Images)

Christmas markets attract children and adults alike on an annual basis as they offer an array of festive foods, stocking fillers and fun rides. Such markets are held throughout the UK in December – and some as early as November – so there’s bound to be one near you where you can grab a glass of mulled wine. These are the top 10 in the UK.

Edinburgh

16 November – 5 January

Edinburgh celebrates Christmas at Princes Street Gardens with a plethora of bespoke and traditional Christmas stalls. There’s a festive atmosphere and a huge range of artisan gifts and traditional food and beverages.

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From 17 November to 24 December children can enjoy Santa Land with festive fairground rides, a Christmas Tree Maze and even a visit to Santa’s grotto. Alternatively, head to St Andrews Square to take a spin on the ice rink with a gorgeous backdrop of the glittering city.

Manchester

9 November – 23 December

Manchester Christmas market was ranked number one, according to research by travel website Booking.com. Famed for its shimmering Santa Claus, this year will be the last time the market graces Albert Square for at least the next four years.

Spread across the city, the stalls are bustling with gift ideas and culinary delicacies – guaranteed to get you in the festive spirit. Once you’ve shopped for homemade crafts, toys, gifts and garments, treat yourself to a traditional bratwurst, Hungarian goulash, Spanish paella or a good old-fashioned hog roast.

Winchester

17 November – 20 December

Coming in at second place in Booking.com’s rankings and set next to Winchester’s breathtaking cathedral is the Winchester Christmas Markets.

This is the perfect event to take in the local architecture and history. Inspired by traditional German markets, the pretty wooden chalets, enchanting nativity scene and open-air ice rink make for the perfect family day out.

York

15 November – 23 December

With a beautiful medieval backdrop, York Christmas Festival boasts stalls bursting with local produce, ice skating and even festive pantomimes.

Check out the market stalls of St. Nicholas Fair, explore the alpine chalets on Parliament Street or sample food and drink at St Sampson’s Square with tasty treats such as hot chestnuts and warm mulled wine.

edinburgh christmas market 2018 best xmas markets uk

Christmas 2018: There’s a festive atmosphere and a huge range of artisan gifts in Edinburgh (Image: Getty Images)Lincoln

6 December – 9 December

Voted the third best Christmas market by Booking.com, Lincoln Christmas market is set in the heart of the medieval city.

The historic and enchanting gothic cathedral makes the perfect backdrop to the 200 stalls there are to explore – offering everything from handmade presents to hand-poured candles, hand-crafted wooden toys and locally created art, as well as excellent fresh produce from the local area.

London

22 November – 6 January

Although the capital offers numerous Christmas markets, the King of them all is undoubtedly Hyde Park Winter Wonderland.

This Christmas extravaganza is a festive event not to be missed with market stalls, Santa Land, funfair rides and an ice kingdom. This year there are new attractions including Ice Sculpting Workshops and Peter Pan On Ice. The Magical Ice Kingdom is returning with a sparkling new theme – “The Secret Forest”.

Bath

22 November – 9 December

Bath’s Christmas Market is brimming with local designers showing off their artisan products making it the perfect place to find unique homeware, Christmas decorations and special gifts for your loved ones across 180 twinkling chalets.

There are sights and smells throughout to satisfy any appetite, including burgers, hog roasts and mulled wine.

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Christmas 2018: The King of London Christmas markets is undoubtedly Hyde Park Winter Wonderland (Image: Getty Images)

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Cardiff

15 November – 23 December

Cardiff Christmas Market has been around for over 20 years and offers an alternative shopping experience. Each year, there is an extensive rolling programme of over 200 individual businesses selling a wide variety of diverse arts and crafts interspersed with seasonal food and drink. Make a day of it, buy someone something special and enjoy some delicious and heart-warming Welsh cuisine.

Birmingham

15 November – 23 December

Birmingham German Christmas Market was ranked the fifth best Christmas market in the UK by travel website Booking.com.

Stalls can be found scattered around the Victoria Square and New Street areas. If you’re looking for the ultimate German market experience, this is the place to visit, due to its close ties with Frankfurt, with Pretzels, schnitzels, bratwursts, and roasted almonds as well as glühwein, weissbeer, or hot chocolate all there to tempt your taste buds.

Swansea

16 November to 20 December

At Swansea Christmas Market there are over 40 traders offering a fantastic selection of arts, crafts, fine foods, beautiful decorations and unique gifts. There’s also a selection of festive food to fuel you up and a Christmas Bar where you can relax with a mulled wine.

There’s also a Christmas Parade and Waterfront Wonderland. Fill your day with ice-skating, Santa’s Grotto, a fun fair, and scrumptious food from the Alpine dining cabins. The Swansea Christmas Express and Father Christmas himself are just some of the many exciting things to see during the parade.

Florida’s Key ingredient: Siestas and sensational sunsets | Beach Holidays | Travel | Express.co.uk

florida

US Route One, near Islamorada (Image: Getty Images)

The driver of the Conch Train proved to be a most illuminating guide to the vibrant and quirky town which is the last of the long line of islands of the Florida archipelago. 

A train full of tourists passing by his house would probably not have amused Ernest Hemingway, who lived here in the 1930s, but the islanders are immensely proud of the author who spent his time here writing, fishing for marlin and drinking (profusely). 

His house, built in the Spanish colonial style, is now a fascinating museum with a tour that ends on an inspiring note in the studio where he produced For Whom The Bell Tolls and The Snows Of Kilimanjaro. 

The house is home to 54 cats, which are descendants of Papa Hemingway’s polydactyl (six-toed) cat, Snow White, which was given to the author by a local fisherman. 

“Cats gave him a sense of peace when he was writing,” explains the house manager Jacqui Sands. 

Key West may be built on impenetrable rock but it did not deter Hemingway’s second wife Pauline, who was determined to have the island’s first swimming pool built in the garden – whatever the cost. 

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The pool was meant to be a surprise for Ernest, who was away covering the Spanish Civil War (and canoodling with the journalist Martha Gellhorn, who was to become his next wife) but on his return he was furious at the astronomical bill. 

You can still see, embedded in cement by the pool, a coin which Hemingway had tossed on the ground, ranting that Pauline had “spent his last cent”. 

No wonder he preferred to slip away for more rum at one of his favourite watering holes, Sloppy Joe’s, which is still doing a roaring trade, and was so named in the 1930s because the owner was taunted for running a “sloppy” place when the ice in his drinks kept melting in the heat. 

The bar holds the annual Hemingway lookalike contest, when around 100 men sporting beards compete to see who most resembles the grizzled author. 

Our road trip along US Highway 1 started in Miami, with two days at the Loews Hotel with the beach on one side and the city on the other. 

Joined by my wife and our 12-year-old daughter, we had planned a demanding itinerary to see as much as possible of the Keys, starting with a visit to the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, where we clambered aboard a boat to snorkel among the mangrove swamps and reefs of what is billed as America’s “first undersea park”. 

Captain Darrell certainly did his best to ensure we enjoyed a marvellous two hours dipping underwater to see angelfish, parrot fish and the occasional (and harmless) nurse shark. 

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Florida Keys, Grassy Key, Dolphin Research Center (Image: Stephen Saks Photography / Alamy)

That night we stayed in a simple room at the Amara Cay Hotel, the perfect place to relax with a supper served on the beach of grilled jumbo shrimp and Key Lime Pie, followed by a drink around the fire pit, listening to tales of the ever-growing size of their catch by a group of New York bankers on a boys’ fishing break. 

The next day, after a stop just off the highway at Islamorada for a fulfilling breakfast of pancakes at the Green Turtle Inn, turned out to be one of the most delightful of our trip. 

It was spent at the Dolphin Research Center, where assistant Erica Wisniewski introduced us to her family of dolphins and sea lions, many of whom have been rescued from injury. 

My daughter Marina was fascinated to watch the dolphins receiving their daily medical check-up and then even more delighted to have the chance to tickle the tummy of one playful individual, who turned out to be a descendant of Flipper, the star of the hit 1970s American TV series. 

A visit to this non-profit centre was uplifting and it was easy to understand how battle-damaged American military personnel, many of them Vietnam veterans, are among those who relish the chance to spend time with the empathetic dolphins. 

An introduction to an aquatic resident of a rather less playful nature came with a visit to the Hungry Tarpon, a restaurant just off the main highway at Islamorada. 

The Allure of the Seas: Inside the luxury Caribbean cruise ship
Thu, August 3, 2017
Allure of the Seas is the Royal Caribbean ship that helped to redefine cruise holidays in the Caribbean when it was launched in 2010. And after being “revitalized” with an 18-day refit in 2015 the Florida-based ship will be sailing back-to-back seven-night cruises around the Bahamas, Bermuda and the Caribbean until at least 2019

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The Allure of the Seas was launched in 2010, and refurbished in 2015 Royal Caribbean

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The Allure of the Seas was launched in 2010, and refurbished in 2015

After a delicious lunch (of conch fritters and blackened grouper with coleslaw and sweet potato fries) an invitation to “feed the tarpon” was met by blank looks from us, none of whom had ever heard of this fish. 

But we were encouraged to get a bucket of bait and toss it at these enormous things, that don’t have teeth but give the appearance of small sharks in the way they lunge for the titbits being dangled by people perched on the jetty. 

Pelicans vie to get the food first and the whole experience left us helpless with laughter as people shrieked at getting close to what were indeed very hungry tarpon. 

Now it was time to head for Key West, the best-known island and the one that definitely has a funky, semi-Caribbean vibe, thanks to its closeness to Cuba, just 90 miles away. 

Our base was the Southernmost Beach Resort, a collection of wooden houses painted in pale grey and yellow, with white verandas. 

The airy bedroom was shaded by a palm tree through which you could catch a glimpse of the ocean at the southernmost point of the USA. 

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Shops on Duval Street, Key West, Florida (Image: Getty Images/Lonely Planet Images
)

The ceiling fan was hypnotic when you lay down for a siesta to escape the humidity of the afternoon, and waking up in the heavy mahogany bed amid crisp linen sheets, it was easy to imagine yourself transported to a plantation owner’s house. 

For those who deemed the climate too tropical for sightseeing (not us!) the hotel has two pools, with a tranquillity pool for adults only. 

All had plenty of sunloungers and parasols, crucial for when the sun reached its zenith. 

However, there was little time for sunbathing, with the next adventure waiting in the form of Captain Jim – a sea dog with his greying hair in a ponytail and a penchant for playing Eric Clapton on his motorboat – who was to take us landlubbers on an expedition into the Gulf of Mexico in search of dolphins. 

Cap’n Jim certainly knew how to find them and soon we were rewarded with a pod of bottlenose dolphins playing around the boat. 

When they bored of entertaining the humans, it was time to weigh anchor for an hour of blissful snorkelling, mesmerised by sea urchins feeding off the coral reef. 

Cruising back was one of those lovely, sublime journeys, listening to the music with a beer in hand, watching the colours of the sky mature from vivid reds and orange into salmon pinks and lilacs. 

Sunsets on Key West live up to their reputation – the next night we saw another spectacular display, this time from the comfort of a wonderful restaurant in Mallory Square called Bistro 245. 

We had a feast of tuna sashimi and tempura prawns, while a fi re-eater performed to the sightseers gathered to watch the sun slowly dipping below the horizon. 

There was just time to enjoy one more portion of that famous Key lime pie, this time a version dipped in chocolate and frozen on a stick. 

Truly tasty and ultimately very cool – just like Key West.

Google Maps: Plane spotted ‘submerged’ under the sea off Scotland coast on Google Earth

Google Maps seemed to have taken a photo of a plane completely submerged in the sea.

Father-of-three, Robert Morton, 55, spotted the mysterious sight off the coast of Edinburgh, near Portobello on Google Earth.

He said he came across the bizarre photo by chance when looking at Google Earth.

The strange image shows the perfect outline of an aircraft through the dark blue water.

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It appears to be intact and does not seem to have suffered a bad crash – so how did it get there?

“It’s very, very strange. It’s incredible,” Robert told Mirror Online,

“I have never actually seen an aircraft on Google Earth so it is very strange. It appears to be underwater.”

The “submerged” plane is roughly nine miles from Edinburgh Airport.

However, there is likely a more rational explanation for the presence of the aircraft.

Robert has his own theory as he’d never heard of a plane crash in that region.

google maps uk earth scotland plane underwater

Google Maps: Plane spotted ‘submerged’ under the sea off Scotland coast on Google Earth (Image: Google Earth)

Robert Morton, 55, spotted the mysterious sight off the coast of Edinburgh

Google Maps: Robert Morton, 55, spotted the mysterious sight off the coast of Edinburgh (Image: Google Earth)

He believes the sighting in Scotland is, in fact, a “Google anomaly.”

Robert reckons the plane is, in fact, up in the sky, but the satellite is looking down on it through thin cloud which gives it the appearance of being in the water.

A Google spokesman confirmed the aircraft was not in the water but flying, as normal, in the sky.

He told Express.co.uk:  “The reason it looks like the plane is underwater is because each satellite image you see on the map is actually a compilation of several images.

“Fast-moving objects, like planes, often show up in only one of the many images we use for a given area. When this happens, faint remnants of the fast-moving object can sometimes be seen.

Earlier this year a man claimed he’d spotted the missing flight MH370 on Google Earth.

Video producer Ian Wilson claimed he spotted the remains of the missing Malaysia Airlines plane deep in the Cambodian jungle.

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Google Maps: Robert believes the sighting in Scotland is, in fact, a “Google anomaly” (Image: Google Earth)

Google Maps – The places you are NOT allowed to look at
Sun, June 17, 2018
Google Maps lets you look at almost anywhere around the world. But there are a few big exceptions. Here are the places you can’t look at on Google Maps

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You can look at almost any location on Google Maps. Almost. Here are the spots you're NOT allowed to see GOOGLE • GETTY

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You can look at almost any location on Google Maps. Almost. Here are the spots you’re NOT allowed to see

Images from Google Maps show a mysterious dark object lying among a huge swathe of green that is the jungle.

Wilson told the Daily Star: “Measuring the Google sighting, you’re looking at around 69 metres, but there looks to be a gap between the tail and the back of the plane.

“It’s just slightly bigger, but there’s a gap that would probably account for that.”

The gap Wilson has spotted could be where the tail and body fractured upon landing, he claims.

He has said the plane is at ground level due to the fact that Google Earth provides the option to “escape ground view” when near the plane.

WATCH: Flight 'stuck' in mid-air above Russia airport in viral video optical illusion

The flight seemed to be suspended in the air and not moving in the video.

Taken by a driver in Russia, the car drove forward at speed while the plane appeared stationary.

Usually, when close to the ground, a plane would be expected to be ascending or descending.

Instead, it seemed still in the air, baffling people online.

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Shocking image of sunken jet off Scottish coast found on Google Earth

The footage, taken near Vnukova airport in Moscow, has had more than 40,000 view on YouTube since it was posted yesterday.

The reason behind the weird sighting has resulted in many theories.

Some guessed it was a ‘glitch in the Matrix’, referring to the iconic film series.

Others suggested the pilot had used the handbrake in mid-air as a joke.

However, some had a much more logical reason behind the odd sighting.

Flight: Viral video optical illusion

Flight: An optical illusion was spotted in a video which has since gone viral (Image: YouTube)

It was most likely due to an optical illusion caused by the car and the weather.

Users pointed out that the plane could have been flying at a very low speed before landing.

With high winds blowing against it, this could then make it seem ‘stuck’ thanks to the clear skies.

With a number of vehicles driving in the opposite direction, this also added to the illusion.

A user wrote: “That’s a very common illusion. I see it all the time when driving toward the airport if airplanes are taking off in my direction.”

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Flight: Viral video optical illusion

Flight: The plane appeared to be “stuck” in mid-air (Image: YouTube)

Another plane optical illusion was recently spotted on Google Maps.

Spotted off the coast of Scotland, a submerged jet appeared underwater on Google Maps.

Robert Morton, 55, spotted the weird sighting near Edinburgh while using Google Earth.

No plane crash has ever been recorded there, leaving people baffled.

However, Robert believed it was simply a “Google anomaly” as opposed to a conspiracy theory and was simply a plane flying overhead.

Camilla Duchess of Cornwall: The item she packs when travelling abroad

Camilla Duchess of Cornwall, 71, is currently in West Africa with Prince Charles, 69, on a royal visit.

The nine-day tour has seen the royal couple visit Nigeria, Lagos and Ghana as they greet locals and foreign dignitaries.

Camilla often joins her husband on his travels as they go abroad in the name of the crown.

As a member of the Royal Family since 2005, she is subject to a number of rules, including what items to pack.

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Camilla will always be carrying a black outfit when travelling abroad.

While she is often seen in light colours with her Africa wardrobe being a mix of cream, blue and pink, a black outfit is a necessity.

This is something all royals are required to carry for a rather morbid reason.

On the occasion of a royal death when abroad, Royal Family members must have the mourning outfit to wear on their return to the UK.

This is so they are seen to be respectful when landing back in the country.

Camilla Duchess of Cornwall: Black outfit

Camilla Duchess of Cornwall: The item she will always travel with (Image: Getty)

Camilla Duchess of Cornwall: Black outfit

Camilla Duchess of Cornwall: Royals always travel with a black outfit (Image: Getty)

There was an occasion in royal history when this didn’t quite go to plan.

Queen Elizabeth, when she was still Princess, was travelling in Kenya when her father King George VI died in 1952.

The Queen returned to the UK immediately, although did not have a black outfit packed with her.

She was then required to wait in the plane while the appropriate outfit was brought to her.

She was then able to depart the plane with her black attire.

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Camilla Parker Bowles demands this during travels

Camilla Duchess of Cornwall: Black outfit

Camilla Duchess of Cornwall: The Queen once did not have one before the death of her father (Image: Getty)

The newest member of the Royal Family won’t struggle to find black outfits to pack during royal tours.

Meghan Markle has showcased a number of black suits and dresses since joining the Royal Family, despite it previously been seen as a faux pas.

She has often sported her Alexander McQueen black suit, as well as a Givenchy dress for a London exhibition and an Emilia Wickstead black gown in Ireland.

Other royals such as Kate Middleton, who wears black much less frequently, will also follow this rule.

Camilla Parker Bowles: Prince Charles’ wife hates doing this when she travels

Camilla Parker Bowles married Prince Charles in 2005 and has joined him on a plethora of royal tours during their marriage.

However, it has been revealed that the Duchess of Cornwall dislikes doing one thing when she travels.

According to a Clarence House spokesman, Camilla does not like flying in planes.

The spokesman said: “The Duchess does not like flying but I think she sometimes has to embrace that fear and get on with it.”

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The Duchess has recently cut her royal tour with the future King to West Africa short.

Prince Charles was seen arriving at Lagos airport in Nigeria without his wife as he embarked on the penultimate day of the nine-day tour.

Camilla’s early departure does not come as a shock, however, as it was scheduled ahead of the visit.

The Duchess did the same when the royal couple visited Australia in April this year.

A palace insider said it was because the Duchess of Cornwall “doesn’t want to take too much on.”

The source told Express.co.uk last year that Camilla had always planned to go home from Australia early.

camilla parker bowles duchess cornwall prince charles fear flights

Camilla Parker Bowles: Prince Charles’ wife hates doing this when she travels (Image: Getty Images)

camilla parker bowles duchess cornwall prince charles fear flights

Camilla Parker Bowles recently cut her royal tour with the Prince Charles to West Africa short (Image: Getty Images)

The insider said: “The Duchess doesn’t want this, she does get tired.

“When they visit Australia on a tour the Duchess is coming back early.

“The schedule is too much for her as she’s 70 years old. She doesn’t want to take too much on.”

When Camilla and Charles visited the Gulf region in 2007, the Duchess of Cornwall made an unusual demand.

According to the Evening Standard, the royal requested a pair of high heels she had forgotten to be flown to her from their home in Highgrove to Kuwait. 

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Camilla Parker Bowles: According to a Clarence House spokesman, Camilla does not like flying (Image: Getty Images)

Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall in pictures
Sat, July 28, 2018
Camilla Parker Bowles: The Duchess of Cornwall in pictures

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Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall in pictures PA

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Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall in pictures

It was requested the pair of heels, which matched her outfit for the dinner planned that evening with the Kuwaiti Royal Family, was sent out to her by plane.

But they then made the 3,000 mile trip to the country only for Camilla not to wear them at all.

A palace spokesperson told the paper: “The Duchess did not ask for the shoes to be sent, but a member of staff did arrange for them to be flown over to her after they realised that they had forgotten to pack them.

“They were not specially couriered, but were sent along with a number of items and paperwork as is often the case on royal tours.”

Camilla and Charles have other demands when it comes to travelling abroad in comfort. One of those is the meals that they want to eat during official visits.

“Her hosts are now sent a list of the foods she liked and disliked,” according to the Mail Online.