Travel Snippets: The Grand Tour


As a gentleman in the eighteenth century, it was considered obligatory to further your education and gather exposure to aristocratic European society by means of the Grand Tour of Europe.  The length of your trip was directly related to your purse, with anything from a few months to up to eight years being considered acceptable.  (Quite some gap year!)  In particular, a gentleman was expected to include Venice, Naples, Sicily and Rome on the tour, and to return with a fine collection of art and antiquities.  Some also returned with rather more exotic diseases.

Over time, the use of rail and steamship travel made the tour accessible to the middle classes, and the Cook’s Tour emerged via the one and only Thomas Cook, who began taking parties on the “grand circular tour” of Europe in 1851.


Travel Snippets: Falcons On A Plane

I’ve long been a lover of all things avian; in fact my first job in the morning is to ensure a well-stocked bird table.  So you can imagine my delight when I found that there are special arrangements made for feathered birds of the air by the aluminium variety.  Hat tip to the forums on for making me aware of Royal Jordanian’s arrangements for the carriage of falcons onboard.

Firstly, you should be aware that falcons may only be carried in economy class.  They should be properly hooded, and must be seated by the window, along with their handlers, and only in the aft section.  They must be properly tethered to the seat leg, and carry valid health certificates and entry documents.

One falcon is charged at three times the normal excess baggage rate, and more than one falcon per handler requires that an additional seat be booked.  There is a maximum of two falcons per seat (to avoid squabbling over the arm rest?).  Finally, and somewhat beautifully, there is a restriction on the number of falcons depending on the nature of the aircraft: 10 on narrow bodied planes and 15 on wide bodied.

My mind then went free-wheeling on the potential for in-flight services.  Would they (on audio only, as they’re hooded) get Kes as the in-flight movie?  Seeded snacks? A special carrion service?

I’ve just checked the RSPB website and it reckons there are 1402 UK breeding pairs of peregrine falcons.  On that basis, they deserve all the on board pampering they can get.

Travel Snippets: Travel Firsts

  • the first motorway – May 1921 – was the German autobahn (it took Kraftwerk longer to get in on the act)
  • the first UK buffet car on the railway wa on the LMS train service from London to Nottingham in 1932
  • the first motorised coach trip went from Paris to Aix-les-Bains over six days in 1898
  • the first duty free shop opened at Shannon airport in 1947, selling neither tobacco nor alcohol.

Travel Snippets: On Early Performance Clothing

Recommendations for cycling tours…

“Wear as few petticoats as possible; dark woollen stockings in winter, and cotton in summer; shoes, never boots; and have your gown made neatly and plainly of flannel without loose ends or drapery to catch in your [bicycle]… Grey is the best colour, or heather mixture tweed, which does not show dust or mud stains, and yet cannot lose its colour under a hot sun.”

Hints for Lady Travellers: L C Davidson 1889

Travel Snippets: The Victorian Vice Of Tea

‘There cannot be a doubt that the intemperate use of this most delightful and refreshing beverage is becoming a grave evil amongst Englishwomen…It is a thousand pities to abuse by excess one of the most rational, pleasant and innocent indulgences which are open to the use of womankind.’

Hints to Lady Travellers: Lillias Campbell Davison, published 1889