Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Where do you fly to, my lovely?

The jet-set were immortalised in the 1969 song by Peter Sarstedt, “Where do you go to, my lovely?”, about a wealthy young lady named Marie-Claire who led a wonderful life, mixed with famous people, and was based in Paris when she wasn’t flying around the world to see her friends – “the jet-set”. The final verse in fact reveals the irony that Marie-Claire came from poverty in Naples. So who were the jet-set? Did they ever exist? Where have they gone to?

It is said that the term jet-set was originally used by journalist Igor Cassini to describe an international group of wealthy people who could travel around the world to different social events that were beyond the reach of most ordinary people.

It was in the 1950’s that jet passenger services became available, with BOAC launching the world’s first ever commercial jet service between London and New York, and because of the expense flights were only really available to the well-off. Soon Paris, Rome, Los Angeles, Bermuda and the south of France were on the jet-set circuit, allowing the wealthy to enjoy a very international social life, very much in the fashion of those portrayed in Federico Fellini’s movie “La Dolce Vita”.

However, from the 1960’s budget package holidays started to become available, and were well within the reach of a more affluent general population. So travelling by jet plane was no longer the preserve of the well-heeled. However, travel for the masses tended to be by package holiday charter plane, with scheduled flights, especially long haul, still being a major outlay to most people.

From the seventies however a new breed of jet-set emerged in the form of intrepid backpackers who travelled long haul, and to places such as India and Thailand that had been a bit of the beaten track for most travellers. Budget travel trips lasting a few months remain ever popular, and a member of the contemporary jet-set is now as likely to be somebody in jeans with a rucksack, as somebody in a fur coat. Let’s hope that rising fuel costs don’t completely put paid to this.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Fine fayre above the clouds

The thought of an airline meal tends to summon up images of a plastic carton of food that has just been in the microwave. So, does it get any better than this? Well, the answer is it can do if you fly first class, and you choose your airline carefully.

A recent survey into airline meals eaten in first class reported by AOL Travel found Gulf Air to be offering the most top notch repast, which may be something to do with the fact that each plane has a chef on board. The in-flight chef produces dishes such as honey glazed quail on a sweet potato cake, or Arabic spiced veal ragout!

In second place is Cathay Pacific, where the food preparation is completed on board with rice cookers, skillets and toasters which are used to complete a breathtaking variety of Chinese and Western dishes. In first class they also have a fridge where you can help yourself to top quality sandwiches, and other yummy snacks. A great way to pass the time in the air.

In third place was Singapore Airlines with its choice of two types of champagne - Dom Perignon, or Krug. Some of the dishes available recently have been Korean style eel fillet, Wagyu beef and spicy chicken satay. This very excellent food is served on Givenchy china, and you can wash it all down with a gourmet coffee afterwards.

In fourth place is Qantas who serve tasty caviar before every meal in first class. This is followed by no less than eight courses, including such fantastic delights as shiitake wontons, grilled lamb cutlets in olive sauce, and quince tart with thick cream.

So, be prepared to eat well if you choose to travel in style.

The best of Spain

A criticism I often here levelled at the idea of a holiday in Spain is that they lack any kind of cultural experience and rarely offer travellers an insight into the real Spain beyond bucket and spade package holidays, crowded beaches and cheap Sangria.

However, if you dig deep enough you will discover that there is much more to discover. Fiesta Bonita is the ultimate Spanish experience not to be missed on the Costa del Sol. It is bridging the gap between tourists and true Spanish fiesta enabling them to experience authentic Spain.

Founded by a small team with over 40 years experience in the leisure and travel industry, the fiesta Bonita concept was conceived through their united passion for all things great in Spain including Flamenco - a passionate art form and a mysterious and misunderstood culture that has been burning in AndalucĂ­a for hundreds of years.

This exciting firm promises customers a traditional view of Spain, beginning with a journey through the rolling hills amid stunning scenery, to a secret country location. From there, you will be stunned at the views and overwhelmed by the wonderful cortijo complete with a mini bullring where a flamenco horse show takes place. Following a taste of local wines, cocktails and traditional cuisine, a two part flamenco show will give visitors the opportunity to learn to dance and enjoy an authentic Spanish party in its true environment.

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Ways of preventing jet lag

An example of how much our bodies are attuned to the Circadian rhythm is shown by the fact that research into the design of space stations has found that altering the lighting to mimic the daily cycle of light and dark, helps astronauts to adapt more easily to being up in space and away from the earth.

So is there anything at all that you can do to prevent jet lag? Well, some of the symptoms of jet lag can actually be caused by dehydration, so be sure to drink plenty of water when you are in the air. Also try not to overdo the coffee and alcohol over the course of long haul, as both of these dehydrate the body. I must admit though that this is easier said than done.

Another tip is that before your journey you start to try and think in terms of the time at your destination, and get earlier or later nights as necessary, in order to match the cycle of day and night at the place you are travelling to. However this idea may not be terribly feasible if you have a busy work schedule to keep to right up to the point of departure.

If you do end up getting jet lag, you will probably find that while you are trying to adapt to the new time zone at your destination you are feeling lively and awake when everyone else is going to bed, and that you are exhausted and sleepy when everyone else is getting up and going to work. Try to counteract this by taking some modest exercise, such as walking, during the day, as this will help you to sleep that bit better at night. Try to rest when you are fatigued, and bear in mind that after a few days you will be fully adapted to your new daily rhythm.

Sunday, 5 October 2008

What causes jet lag?

If you’ve ever suffered from jet lag you’ll know about it, as the thrill of arrival at your final destination is tainted by symptoms ranging from a very obvious fatigue and disruption of sleep patterns, to slight nausea, headache, disorientation, feeling groggy, irritable and even mildly depressed. Some people seem to be able to fly long distances and not feel too bad, while others can’t settle down in their new environment for a number of days.

So what causes all this? One of the reasons for jet lag is that your Circadian rhythm has been disrupted. This is your natural bodily rhythm that attunes itself to day and night, light and dark, making you wake up at a certain time in the morning, and start to feel sleepy in the evening. Anyway, when you travel across a number of time zones, your body clock is out of synchrony with the time at your destination, so that when you finally arrive your Circadian rhythm is most likely still working according to the time at the place you departed from, not according to your place of arrival.

So if you do get jet lag, how long will it last? A good rule of thumb is that it will last approximately one day for each time zone crossed, so if you fly from the UK to Japan, you might expect to have your Circadian rhythm disrupted for around nine days, whereas if you flew from London to New York, you might only feel this sense of disruption for five days.

But there is one odd quirk, it is said that jet lag is worse when you fly from west to east, rather than the other way round.

In my next post, I will talk about some ways of alleviating jet lag.