Plus, a British engineering marvel turns 100, Paris reveals its best baguette and a spectacular desert show offers a new way to honour the world’s oldest continuous living culture.
As the world fully reopens, the next few months will see more people travel than before the pandemic. From personal success stories to long-awaited openings, here are five bits of recent travel news that are making us fall back in love with the world this season.
A spectacular desert show above Uluru
Although you might think that Uluru and the vast outback skies need no adornment, a new experience in Australia’s Central Desert might make you reconsider. A world-first Indigenous tourism experience called Wintjiri Wuru has opened at Uluru that tells a chapter of the Mala ancestral story using lasers, light projection technology and 1,100 drones in a blend of ancient and new. Most importantly, it was carefully created in collaboration with Anangu elders to make sure their story was told in the right way. It took five years, and the result is spectacular.
Meaning “beautiful view out to the horizon”, Wintjiri Wiru is a unique way to honour the world’s oldest continuous living culture. “We are thinking about our future. We are looking forward and have created Wintjiri Wiṟu for the next generation, for our grandchildren,” said Rene Kulitja, on behalf of the Anangu Consultation Group.
If you haven’t been to Uluru yet, this show is an excellent reason to plan a trip. There’s two shows every night from May through Dec, and one show per night in January and February, including a three-hour sunset dinner using locally sourced ingredients.
Paris’ crowns its best baguette
Every year since 1994, a jury of experts has gathered in the French capital to determine the very best baguette in Paris. Known as the Grand Prix de la Baguette, the world’s most revered baguette competition sees bakers from across the city submit two baguettes to a panel who evaluate each loaf in a blind taste test, grading each baguette’s appearance, cooking, texture and taste. The winner receives €4,000 and a year-long contract to supply baguettes to the French president.
In recent years, many winners have been bakers whose origins are far from France, and this year was no different: Tharshan Selvarajah, a Sri Lankan immigrant and a baker at Au Levain des Pyrénées in the 20th arrondissement, was recently crowned as this year’s winner. When he heard the news, he said: “I cried because we are foreigners, and we came here to learn how to make traditional French bread.”
The Flying Scotsman turns 100
An engineering marvel and an icon of British rail travel, The Flying Scotsman is celebrating 100 years of service this year. While celebrations have been going on since the start of the year (including a programme of events at the National Railway Museum in York and the release of a new £2 coin), this summer brings a selection of exciting one-off excursions on the steam train, including a day trip on the spectacular Settle & Carlisle Railway, one of Britain’s most famous railway routes.
The US’ most anticipated museum opens
After more than 20 years of planning, the International African American Museum (IAAM) in Charleston, South Carolina, finally has a set opening date: 27 June 2023 – just after Juneteenth. In many ways, the museum is 2,300 years in the making.
The IAAM chronicles the history of Africans’ earliest enslavement, starting in 300 BCE, and is built at Gadsden’s Wharf, which was once one of the most prolific slave-trading ports in the US. The $100m building rests atop a series of 18 stilts and is designed to not touch the ground in a sign of respect for the enslaved people who once walked the land below. Inside, a permanent collection of 300 artworks and historical artefacts tells the story of the Middle Passage, in which millions of Africans were captured and forcibly brought across the Atlantic.
The world’s largest e-ferry launches
On 25 April, the same week India surpassed China to become the world’s most-populous country, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi appeared in the southern Indian city of Kochi to unveil what is being billed as the world’s largest electric ferry fleet. Seventy-eight slick, brightly coloured electric vessels now connect Kochi, located in the state of Kerala, with 10 nearby islands in the Arabian Sea.
Kochi’s launch is the latest in a growing trend of eco-friendly water-bound transit solutions sweeping across global cities. In Stockholm, a 30-passenger electric hydrofoil ferry will begin testing this summer and is set to be the world’s fastest electric ship when it debuts next spring. In Oslo, Hyke is planning to launch a partially solar-powered, wirelessly chargeable ferry in May and operate four e-ferries along the Seine for the 2024 Paris Olympics. Northern Ireland is unveiling a zero-emissions e-ferry in 2024, while Bangkok has been ordering new e-ferries to replace its ageing diesel-powered boats.