Plans for an international ‘wine train’ plus the world’s happiest countries
By Maureen O’Hare, CNN
A direct “wine train” could soon link London and southern France, and the world’s happiest country is set to share its secrets with a lucky few in a free master class on home turf, with travel expenses covered.
Europe’s trains know how to party
Good news for guys who like to shine their machine. Switzerland has just unveiled Shania Train, a revolutionary new high-speed, track-jumping train. It’s named — improbably and wonderfully — after Canadian country pop legend Shania Twain.
And the party doesn’t stop there. A new direct “wine train” linking London with the vineyards of Bordeaux is in the planning stage and could be whisking Brits on five-hour trips to the south of France by 2026.
It’s hoped it could be the first of several new routes linking London with European cities including Cologne, Frankfurt, Geneva, Marseille and Toulouse. Dyan Crowther, CEO of HS1, the UK’s first high-speed railway, tells CNN, “We are keen to expand our network and grow through new international routes.”
The perfect suitcase for a wine vacation is already on the market: the VinGardeValise Grande suitcase comes with 12 foam inserts for safely transporting bottles. Our partners at CNN Underscored, a product reviews and recommendations guide owned by CNN, tried it out.
One of Europe’s busiest airports, Amsterdam’s Schiphol, is being forced this month to cut flights because of Dutch plans to reduce carbon emissions. So it’s a good time to familiarize yourself with the best new train journeys for 2023. (But watch out for delays caused by pesky badgers).
Food and drink
People the world over love digging into tacos, burritos and margaritas, but visitors to Mexico will find hundreds of dishes that rarely appear on menus outside of the country. Here are 23 Mexican dishes you should try.
And if you have room for more, sample four recipes from Eva Longoria inspired by her Mexican heritage. Her CNN series “Searching for Mexico” starts Sunday.
The Muslim holy month of Ramadan started March 22 and runs to April 21, and a couple of billion people around the world are fasting from sunup to sundown every day. Here are some etiquette tips for non-Muslims.
Our animal friends
A 90-year-old critically endangered tortoise named Mr. Pickles surprised handlers at Houston Zoo by becoming a first-time dad to three tortoise hatchlings, named Dill, Gherkin and Jalapeño. Watch here.
And if teeny tiny testudines don’t do it for you, why try this video of clumsy panda cubs flopping and rolling at Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in China.
“Professional bear huggers” are needed at New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, which is hiring for conservation officers. Aside from cuddling duties, trainees will also be involved in conducting wildlife surveys and educating the public about wildlife management.
Misbehavior of the week
Giant snails have hit Detroit! Customs officers quickly confiscated the African gastropods, newly smuggled from Ghana, as they can carry a dangerous parasite called rat lungworm.
Two Indian SpiceJet pilots were grounded after an alleged cockpit coffee break which could have had disastrous repercussions if their hot drinks had spilled.
And in more reckless vehicle management, a US tourist was fined for driving into Florence’s visitor-thronged Piazza della Signoria. Why is it always the dudes in red Ferraris?
The world’s happiest countries
Global happiness has been “remarkably resilient” despite the trials of recent years, says the 2023 edition of the World Happiness Report.
Finland has been named the world’s happiest nation for the sixth year in a row, and now it’s hosting a four-day master class where Finns will share their secrets. Applications are open through April 2 for the class, which is free and includes expenses-paid travel to Finland for the chosen participants. The event will take place in Finnish Lakeland this June.
In case you missed it
The US State Department is facing “unprecedented demand” for passports.
Current wait times are up to 13 weeks.
A tourist survived a bungee jump fall in Thailand after the cord snapped.
Watch the terrifying video.
February’s massive earthquake devastated Turkey.
Here’s what that means for tourism.
CNN Travel has a new Unlocking Mexico newsletter.
There’s a hotel shaped like two gigantic swords.
Here’s what it’s like.
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