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Category: United Kingdom (UK) 🇬🇧

Japan’s passport offers the most travel freedom

The Henley Passport Index is a ranking of the world’s passports according to the number of destinations their holders can access without first obtaining a visa.

Henley & Partners released this press release today:

Japan has overtaken Singapore to claim the top spot on the 2018 Henley Passport Index, having gained visa-free access to Myanmar this month. Japan now enjoys visa-free/visa-on-arrival access to 190 destinations, compared to Singapore’s total of 189. The countries have been neck and neck since they both climbed to 1st place in February, pushing Germany down to 2nd place for the first time since 2014.

Germany has now fallen further to 3rd place, which it shares with South Korea and France. Their nationals enjoy visa-free access to 188 countries. France moved up a place last Friday when it gained visa-free access to Uzbekistan. Iraq and Afghanistan continues to sit at the bottom (106th) of the Henley Passport Index — based on exclusive data from the International Air Transport Association(IATA).

The US and the UK, both with 186 destinations, have slid down yet another spot — from 4th to 5th place — with neither having gained access to any new jurisdictions since the start of 2018. With stagnant outbound visa activity compared to Asian high-performers, it seems unlikely they will regain the number 1 spot they jointly held in 2015 any time soon.

In general, the UAE has made the most remarkable ascent on the Henley Passport Index, from 62nd place in 2006 to 21st place worldwide currently, and looking ahead, the most dramatic climb might come from Kosovo, which officially met all the criteria for visa-liberalization with the EU in July and is now in discussions with the European Council.

Russia received a boost in September when Taiwan announced a visa-waiver, but the country has nonetheless fallen from 46th to 47th place due to movements higher up the ranking. The same is true of China: Chinese nationals obtained access to two new jurisdictions (St. Lucia and Myanmar), but the Chinese passport fell two places, to 71st overall.

Dr. Christian H. Kälin, Group Chairman of Henley & Partners, says countries with citizenship-by-investment (CBI) programs all fall within the top 50 of the Henley Passport Index. Newcomer Moldova, which is due to launch its CBI program in November, has climbed 20 places since 2008. “The travel freedom that comes with a second passport is significant, while the economic and societal value that CBI programs generate for host countries can be transformative,” says Dr. Kälin.

The top countries are:

1. Japan (190 countries)

2. Singapore (189 countries)

3. Germany (188 countries)

4. (Tied) France, South Korea, Denmark, Finland, Italy, Sweden, Spain (187 countries)

5. (Tied) Norway, United Kingdom, Austria, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, USA (186 countries)

6. (Tied) Belgium, Switzerland, Canada, Ireland (185 countries)

7. (Tied) Australia, Greece, Malta (183 countries)

8. (Tied) New Zealand, Czech Republic (182 countries)

9. Iceland (181 countries)

10. (Tied) Hungary, Slovenia, Malaysia (180 countries)

New Michelin star restaurants in the UK and Ireland

The Michelin Guide has announced the new winners for 2019. 21 new restaurants in Great Britain and Ireland received their first Michelin star and three more received a second. None reached a third.

The first ever Michelin Guide was produced for French motorists 118 years ago, in 1900. One star meant a restaurant was good and worthy of a stop; two that it mérite un détour (justified a detour); and three that it was so exceptional that it warranted a special journey.

Restaurants to received two Michelin stars:

1. Clare Smyth’s Core in Notting Hill, London
2. James Knappett’s Bubbledogs Kitchen Table in Fitzrovia, London
3. Mark Birchall’s Moor Hall in Lancashire

Restaurants to receive their first Michelin star:

1. Tomos Parry’s Brat in Hackney, London
2. Jeremy Chan’s Ikoyi in Westminster, London
3. Nieves Barragán Mohacho and José Etura’s Sabor in Westminster, London
4. Ollie Dabbous’ Hide in Mayfair, London
5. Sam Kamienko, Ed Thaw and Jack Lewens’ Leroy in Hackney, London
6. Simon Rogan’s Roganic in Westminster, London
7. Simon Rogan’s Rogan & Co, Cartmel, Cumbria
8. Chris Simpson’s Gidleigh Park, Chagford, Devon
9. Steve Drake’s Sorrel, Dorking, Surrey
10. Tim Allen’s Flitch of Bacon, Dunmow, Essex
11. Chris Cleghorn’s Olive Tree, Bath, Somerset
12. Colin McGurran’s Winteringham Fields, Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire
13. Paul Foster’s Salt, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire
14. Paul Welburn’s Oxford Kitchen, Oxford, Oxfordshire
15. Daniel Smith’s Fordwich Arms, Canterbury, Kent
16. Tom Parker’s White Swan, Fence, Lancashire
17. Dom Robinson’s Blackbird, Bagnor Berkshire
18. George Livesey’s Bulrush, Bristol
19. Ahmet Dede’s Mews, Baltimore, County Cork
20. Takashi Miyazaki’s Ichigo Ichie, Cork
21. Rob Krawczyk’s Chestnut, Ballydehob, County Cork

There are now a total of 155 one-Michelin-star establishments, 20 two-star and five three-star in the UK and Ireland.

If chasing the most remote Michelin star restaurant is what you are after, then check out Koks, the worlds most remote foodie destination. (The New Yorker)

The Michelin Guide

More at Conde Nast Traveller

10 great long-distance cycle routes in Europe

There are others. These were suggested by readers of The Guardian.

  1. Passau, Germany, to Vienna, Austria.
  2. The pilgrim route from Canterbury to Rome.
  3. The River Loire, France.
  4. The Romantic Road, southern Germany.
  5. From Rotterdam, take the Eurovelo 2cycle trail, also called the Capitals Route, across the Netherlands and Germany to Berlin, then on to Moscow if you wish.
  6. Gospić to Karlobag, along the Croatian seaside.
  7. The Amalfi coast, in Italy.
  8.  Milan to Sanremo, 200 km leg of the The Giro d’Italia.
  9. From Dieppe to Paris in the French countryside.
  10. Baie de Somme, Picardie, France.

More at The Guardian

UNWTO report confirms another record year for tourism, for most

According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization’s 2018 Tourism Highlights, the total number of international tourist arrivals (overnight visitors) grew 7 percent from 2016 to 2017.

International tourist arrivals reached a total of 1.323 billion in 2017, some 84 million more than the previous year and a new record. The sector has now seen uninterrupted growth in arrivals for eight straight years.

2017 was the eighth consecutive year of above- average growth in international tourism following the 2009 global economic crisis. The growth in the travel and tourism industry has been fuelled by the global economic upswing, resulting in strong outbound demand.

By region, Europe and Africa saw bigger than average growth of 8 and 9 percent, respectively. By subregion, North Africa and Southern and Mediterranean Europe saw the greatest increases in 2017, reflecting strong demand for destinations along the Mediterranean.

When looking at sheer numbers, Europe continues to lead with almost half of the world’s total international arrivals, at 671 million. Europe was also home to six of the ten most visited countries in 2017, with France remaining in the lead.

Spain overtook the USA for second place as international tourism to the USA was down almost 4%.  Continue reading

The Economist ranks the world’s most livable cities

Each year, the Economist Intelligence Unit release its annual Global Livability Index which measuring the most livable large cities in the world. In this year’s report, Vienna, Austria has succeeded in displacing Melbourne, Australia from the stop spot, which it previously held for a record seven consecutive years.

The Economist says:

The concept of liveability is simple: it assesses which locations around the world provide the best or the worst living conditions.

The Economist Intelligence Unit’s liveability rating quantifies the challenges that might be presented to an individual’s lifestyle in 140 cities worldwide. Each city is assigned a score for over 30 qualitative and quantitative factors across five broad categories of Stability, Healthcare, Culture and environment, Education and Infrastructure.

The 20 top rankings are populated with cities in Europe (9), Australia (4), Japan (2), New Zealand (1), and Canada (4).

Honolulu was the highest U.S. city at number 23. The next highest American city was Pittsburgh in 32nd position. Manchester was the highest ranked in the UK at number 35.

Here are the top 50:

1. Vienna, Austria

2. Melbourne, Australia

3. Osaka, Japan

4. Calgary, Canada

5. Sydney, Australia

6.  Vancouver, Canada

7. (Tied) Tokyo, Japan

7. (Tied) Toronto, Canada

9. Copenhagen, Denmark

10. Adelaide, Australia

Continue reading

Unicorns are very real in Scotland

National Geographic:

Scotland associates the mythological animal with dominance and bravery. They are portrayed with a white horse head, body, and mane, a singular horn arising from the top of its forehead, and a gold chain that wraps around its powerful body.

Western civilizations believed in the existence of unicorns for thousands of years—it was a symbol of purity, innocence, and power in Celtic mythology. The unicorn first appeared on the Scottish royal coat of arms in the 12th century by William I. In the late 15th century, Scottish coins featured an image of the unicorn, and it even appeared in artistic works during the Middle Ages, symbolizing the holiness of virgins, including the Virgin Mary. According to popular belief, only a virgin maiden had the ability to capture a unicorn because it was so enthralled by her virtue.

7 places to visit in Scotland you may not have heard of

  1. The Isle of Harris, the Western Isles
  2. The Quiraing, Isle of Skye
  3. St Kilda, the Western Isles
  4. Foula, the Shetland Islands
  5. Cairngorms National Park, the Highlands
  6. Loch Torridon, the Highlands
  7. Thurso, the Highlands

According to Robin McKelvie, written up in Rough Guides

Scotland: Right to Roam

This Patagonia film explores how being respectful, reasonable, and responsible allows universal outdoor land access and the shelters that support mountain folks to rove freely.

Ness Knight fell in love with Scotland’s fragile beauty

Ness Knight is gearing up for the biggest adventure of her life, to row the Pacific Ocean — solo — later this year. Yet she makes time for other adventures, like exploring Scotland. Next month Ness will head off to the Guyana with Laura Bingham and Pip Stewart to paddle the Essequibo River.

Tom Ough, writing for The Telegraph:

We often think of the British Isles as tame, wildlife-wise, and crowded. But neither is true of the Highlands, and that was part of Ness’s justification for going there. She is an adventurer, having crossed the harsh Namib desert solo, paddle-boarded 1,000 miles of the Missouri river, and cycled the breadth of Bolivia without spending any money – but in exploring wild Scotland, she believed, she could show her online followers that you don’t have to take a long-haul flight to go adventuring.

Ness worked her way clockwise around the north of Scotland, starting at Glencoe and moving on to Skye. From there she went to the Outer Hebrides, visiting the hilly, weather-battered island of Barra, before heading back to the mainland.

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