2022 Round-up part two! Travel grinds to a halt…
Chalkmarks: Lights on the River Thames, London, England, UK, December 2022

Good morning. This is what happened in the world of travel this year: July to December 2022
*Chalkmarks could not have happened this year without our editor-in-chief MH. You can find him hiking, biking and reading our newsletter with a wee whisky in hand, somewhere in the lowlands of Scotland. Needless to say, if you spot any typos, they are his fault entirely!

Do you remember all those Covid rules and regulations we were dealing this time last year? Two jabs, three jabs, pre-departure PCR tests; passenger locator forms, masks on, masks off? There has been a lot going on this year but what can we expect in 2023? This much we know: Flights will be more expensive due to higher fuel costs. There’s the war in Ukraine to consider. There’s the impact of Brexit bringing in more border checks. More recently, the pound has fallen in value against the US dollar, and of course Covid is still around. Plus there’s climate change, and world leaders are trying to save the planet. We wrote about it all year in this newsletter.
And where were we in 2022? We wrote live from Paris, we sailed on Celebrity Cruises most luxurious cruise ship, Beyond, and we got stuck in the airport chaos on the first flight to Akureyri, the capital of the north of Iceland. This is home of geothermal spas, humpback whales, volcanic landscapes, waterfalls, lava fields, super Jeeping, puffins and a Eurovision museum.
We then whizzed our way across to Central Europe by train taking in BrugesAntwerp, Budapest, Vienna and Venice. Here are our pix from the trip. But we also crossed the cliffs and beaches of Britain. We ate hot cross buns along the river Cam in Cambridge, followed in the footsteps of 28 former PMs and went to Oxford. We visited the recently Unesco-listed Roman spa city of Bath, then went on to Bristol and had our picture taken with the Beatles on the waterfront in Liverpool. And, we plan to do more and go farther in 2023. Happy Holidays!

PART 2: WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE RAIL JOURNEY?

July

Has travel lost its way? Airlines were routinely “ripping off” customers with “little fear of facing any consequences” said consumer group Which?…British Airways pulled 650 flights…there was “total chaos” at Heathrow after the airport cancelled flights at the last minute saying it couldn’t serve the high passenger numbers…travel agent Barrhead Travel said bookings were back to 2019 highs…Baz Luhrmann’s film Elvis caused a spike in bookings to America’s Deep South…Brighton in East Sussex and Santa Monica in California became “friendship cities”. Why? No idea…research showed four in 10 over 40s seek adventure when they’re away…German train company Deutsche Bahn launched a €9 (that’s £7.61) train ticket for travel anywhere in Deutschland…Booking.com offered up stays in the Kennedy’s house on Ramsay Street…Heathrow announced a 100,000 daily departing passenger cap until 11th September…Emirates screamed “Airmageddon”…there was also misery across airports in Brussels, Frankfurt, Lisbon, and Paris…extreme heatwaves in Europe caused wildfires to reach holiday hotspots…an old North Sea oil rig pitched up on the beach in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset to be transformed into a See Monsterthe mercury hit 40.3C in Lincolnshire and inflation went up to 9.4 per cent…Boris Johnson said hasta la vista…The RAC warned the great summer getaway had begun and predicted the roads would be the busiest they’ve been for eight years…Sky News reported four-hour queues at Dover, blamed on French immigration controls…at Luton Airport this week flights were suspended when the tarmac buckled during the heatwave…the annual Henley Passport Index revealed the Japanese had the best global passport access, Britons came in 6th place…In the Passport Office, staff were still working from home, an emergency hotline was closed due to hot weather, then the fire alarm went off…the last episode of Neighbours aired…Sunny Beach in Bulgaria and Marmaris in Turkey were named the two cheapest holiday resorts in Europe…the Economist said a glass of bubbles at the Ritz was up…the Colosseum in Rome is worth £65 billion, said accountants at Deloitte….The Independent showed us the most-viewed destinations on TikTok: The UAE came first, followed by New York City and then London.

August

The last summer of cheap flights! Everyone and their nan were stuck in the airport chaos…birthdays, weddings and holidays were ruined…despite the bad press, holiday bookings surged…travel agents saw strong sales for late getaways, autumn trips and 2023 holidays…the surprising destination for Britons was Indonesia…the weather in the UK was sweltering…we went off to Brussels…UK travellers faced forking out double what they paid in 2019 for a flight to Athens, Greece, the Algarve, Portugal and Bangkok, Thailand…Ryanair announced its €10 ticket was over…the famous Coast-to-Coast walk from St Bees in Cumbria to Robin Hood’s Bay in North Yorkshire was to became an official National Trail….Heathrow Airport announced it would extend its passenger cap until 29th October…London woke up to a walkout from TFL, the Overground and London buses…on the trains 40,000 workers were also on strike…Larry the Cat spotted Boris Johnson and his wife Carrie on holiday in Slovenia and then Athens…American Airlines bought supersonic jets to fly from London to New York in 3hrs30 hours…The Guardian reported that Tanzania would start providing internet access along the slopes of Kilimanjaro…budget hotel chain Travelodge said it was looking for new sites to open up 140 new hotels…holidaymakers were warned to stay away from 52 popular seasides spots around England and Wales after sewage was discharged into the sea…another load of British Airways flights were cancelled…Ryanair said “Hopeless!”…Sky News brought news of train passengers walking through the Channel Tunnel when the Eurotunnel Le Shuttle broke down between Calais and Folkestone…the Italian government offered £12,700 for people to move to Sardinia…Notting Hill Carnival returned after two years away. 

September

Travel like a Queen! Gibraltar became a city, again…researchers started digging through the National Archives and found it had already been granted by Queen Victoria in 1842 but nobody ever knew…the Queen died…the news broke on the PA news wire at 6.30pm on Thursday 8th…flags were lowered and the UK entered 10 days of mourning…famous landmarks including the London Eye switched off their lights in tribute…the national anthem was sung in theatres across the West End…mourners made their way to royal residences to lay flowers and rainbows appeared over Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle…London Bridge had fallen, and we had a new King, Charles III…hundreds of thousands of people queued for 14 hours to see Her Majesty lying-in-state in Westminster Hall….rail strikes were postponed…we are in Bruges for the weekend..then Antwerp for some diamond ring window shopping…Athens was named the cheapest city break in Europe by Post Office Travel Money…flight prices to Tenerife had more than doubled…rail strikes were back affecting the London Marathon…the Titanic pump-house became a whiskey distillery…the pound fell to $1.03, a record low…we were in Budapest, Hungary…Which? found plane fares are 42% more expensive this half-term school holiday than they were before the pandemic. …Antwerp finally reopened its Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten Antwerpen, an £88 million renovation, housing favourites from the old masters Peter Paul Reubens and Jan van Eyck. 

Have you seen our pictures: Our fantastic travel photos, which capture some of our favourite destinations around the world, are now available for sale on Alamy. Woohoo!

October

UK currency crash! As the leaves fell and the sky clouded over in the UK, jammy travel experts met in Marrakesh to review this year’s holiday habits…the Abta 2022 survey found that 45 per cent of Britons travelled abroad in the 12 months to August..most Britons took beach holidays and went to SpainFranceItaly and the US…the all-inclusive package holiday was shaping up to be the must-have break for 2023, booked with a travel agent…Heathrow regained its title as Europe’s busiest airport having fallen to 10th spot a year ago…the pound rose, then fell again against the dollar (£1.12 to the $1)…Japan reopened its borders to visa-free travel after more than two years being closed since the pandemic…almost 40 Ukrainian museums and historical sites had been looted since the start of the war in February…lucky Liverpool won the bid to step in to stage Eurovision 2023 on behalf of Ukraine…accommodation on Airbnb and Booking.com sold out…the PMs just kept coming – that’s three so far this year…on a rainy afternoon Liz Truss quit as Prime Minister, after 44 days in the job. ..the Daily Star announced the lettuce had won and Ryanair posted Truss a ticket to anywhere…readers of Conde Nast Traveller voted for their best cities in the world: winner was San Miguel de Allende, Mexico…the Royal Caribbean introduced its latest cruise liner the Icon of the Seas – the largest ship on the high seas when it’s ready in January 2024…Bond Street station was the latest station to open on the new Elizabeth Line this year…we had a new PM, Rishi Sunak…Boris Johnson was in the Dominican Republic then came back…Heathrow announced it would lift its 100,000 passenger cap at the end of October…trains became the most popular choice when travelling between London and Edinburgh thanks to the cheaper Lumo (£37) ticket…Scotland’s Hogmanay was back after a two-year pandemic hiatus and the Pet Shop Boys are headlining.

November

Christmas rail strikes are announced! 700 ground handling staff walked out at Heathrow Airport affecting football fans flying with Qatar Airways ahead of the World Cup in Doha…the last plane landed at Doncaster Sheffield Airport before it shut its doors…a Swiss train snaked its way through the Alps smashing the Guinness World Record this week for the longest passenger train…Norwich was named the top spot in the country to find buried treasure…we were at WTM (World Travel Market)…We tweeted a lot, we couldn’t help it…the experts told us travel was booming… Ryanair announced it’d made £1.2billion in the first six months this year…the travel industry was optimistic this mini-boom will lead to a post-Covid recovery in 2023…holiday prices are set to increase by 15-to-20 per cent in 2023…Who’s travelling with Covid? Almost 90 per cent of us it seems…The Azores, northern Greece, BulgariaScotland, Estonia, Netherlands, SicilySloveniaWales and Bratislava were named the most underrated destinations in Europe…Which? told Britannia Hotels was the worst hotel chain for the 10th year in a row…Glastonbury tickets all sold out after about an hour…we experienced the dreaded FOMO watching the G20 in Bali, Indonesia (see more here)….passengers flying with British Airways to Malaga, Spain, can board without a passport using the latest in facial recognition technology…British Airways announced a new US route between Heathrow and Cincinnati taking off next summer…the RMT union voted for more rail strikes in the run up to Christmas….from 2024 holidaymakers will no longer have to take out their travel minis at airport security thanks to super-duper advanced 3D scanners being trialled at Heathrow…Leeds Bradford was named the worst UK airport for its long security lines that can take up to an hour…Fly Atlantic launched a route from Belfast to North America starting in summer 2024…the home of Robin Hood, Nottingham Castle closed down despite a £30 million revamp and reopening in June 2021.

December

Lights, strikes and the fastest flights! No Christmas rail strike deal was struck…Elton John to headline Glastonbury…the humble French baguette earned a place on the Unesco world heritage list recognised as Intangible Cultural Heritage…President Emmanuel Macron said it was “250 grams of magic and perfection”…a new rail route run by a new train operator Grand Union Trains will link London to south west Wales from 2024…St Ives was named the happiest place to live in the UK…one of the largest dinosaurs to ever walk the earth –  titanosaur – will be on show at the Natural History Museum in March…underneath those front-page headlines of Harry and Meghan’s Netflix documentary were some very important Christmas travel news…all strikes for Christmas went ahead…in January the strikes continue ending on Saturday 7th… Which? found that London City Airport had the quickest security times at just 12 minutes 3 seconds…the Northern Lights can be seen right here in the UK from Scotland’s Cairngorms National Park.

In case you don’t follow us on social media you really should. Here we are, here too and over here. Say hola muchacha! 

Happy New Year!

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