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French rail strike enters second week, pirate attacks rise in Southeast Asia and two crocodiles move into Dubai Mall

Get the best travel news here curated by Lonely Planet Destination Editors, who use their expertise to bring you the stories that matter from all over the world. In today’s edition: Rail misery continues for travellers as French rail strike enters its second week, pirate attacks rise in Southeast Asia, Australia issues travel advisory for visitors to Sri Lanka and a pair of crocodiles have taken up residence at Dubai Mall.

Europe
Asia & the Pacific
The Americas
Middle East & Africa

YOUR WORLD TODAY

18 June is …

Benguet Foundation Day, the Philippines

National Day, Seychelles

Evacuation Day, Egypt

EUROPE

Stories curated by Lonely Planet’s Europe Destination Editors: Jo CookeJames SmartBrana VladisavljevicKate MorganAnna Tyler and Gemma Graham.

The Horton tower, Northhamptonshire

The Horton tower, Northhamptonshire. Image by Neosnaps / CC BY 2.0

Lost medieval English villages get legal protection
Several deserted medieval villages in Northamptonshire, England, have been designated as scheduled monuments. The villages were mostly settled in the ninth or tenth centuries, but were deserted when arable farming was replaced by sheep rearing in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. The villages, including Little Oxendon, Clipston, Horton, Ashby St Ledgers and Kirby, contain earthworks that show how medieval people interacted with the landscape. Read more: bbc.co.uk

New Viking ship museum planned for Oslo
Norway’s Ministry of Education has kicked off plans to build a new and expanded Viking ship museum in Oslo’s Bygdøy peninsula. The ministry has been working closely with the University of Oslo – which holds the world’s largest collection of Viking ships and treasures in the world – to find the best solution to displaying the ancient artifacts. Current plans will require political approval but will see the current museum expanded to three times its present size. Read more: newsinenglish.com

Norwegians vote to keep fårikål as their national dish
After six months of deliberation, Norwegians have voted to keep fårikål as their national dish. The humble lamb and cabbage stew has held the honour for 40 years, but its fate hung in the balance after the Norway’s Food and Agriculture Minister launched a competition in January to find a replacement. Other suggestions included kjottkaker (a kind of meatball) and raspeball (potato dumplings). Read more: thelocal.no

Russia launches coins with new currency symbol
Russia’s Central Bank has started circulating the new one-rouble coin. It is the first coin to bear the newly designed currency symbol chosen in December 2013. There was previously no symbol for the Russian rouble, which is now represented by the Roman letter ‘P’ (‘R’ in Russian) with a horizontal line through it. Read more: themoscowtimes.com

Athens to get new metro line
The Greek Ministry of Infrastructure has announced its plans for the construction of a new line of the Athens metro network. The new U-shaped Line 4 will have 29 stations servicing densely populated parts of the city, but the first phase of the project includes the construction of nine new stations. Read more: news.gtp.gr 

Scenic railway through Sicily’s Valley of the Temples reopened
The railway that runs through Agrigento’s Valley of the Temples reopened last week after being out of action for more than two years. Visitors will be able to catch a vintage train along the scenic line which runs from Porto Empedocle to Agrigento and offers panoramic views of the Ancient Greek temples of the Unesco World Heritage Site. Read more: italymagazine.com

Breastfeeding areas to be introduced in museums in Veneto
As part of a UNICEF program to encourage breastfeeding, museums and libraries in Italy’s northern Veneto region will be introducing dedicated ‘Baby Pit Stop’ areas for breastfeeding and changing babies’ nappies. Similar schemes are also in place elsewhere in Italy. Read more: ansa.it

Beavers reintroduced to Scotland. Image by Paul Stevenson / CC BY 2.0

Beavers reintroduced to Scotland. Image by Paul Stevenson / CC BY 2.0

Scotland’s beavers thriving
Scotland’s small beaver population is healthy and growing, according to a government report. Sixteen beavers were released in Knapdale Forest, Argyll in 2009 as part of a trial. Eight have survived, and there are now nine young. The study also found that the beavers, which were hunted to extinction in the UK in the sixteenth century, were causing no harm to vulnerable wildlife. The trial may be extended to other areas of Scotland next year. Read more: Scotsman.com

Paris introduces P’tit Vélib bike share for kids
The highly successful bike share scheme, Vélib, will roll out to kids on Wednesday in Paris. P’tit Vélib bikes will be available to rent for kids from five different spots around town including the park areas of Bois de Boulogne and Bois de Vincennes and along pedestrian-only areas of the Seine. Read more: thelocal.fr

French rail strike continues into its second week
Rail disruption continues in France with no sign of resolution as the strike enters its second week, becoming one of the longest rail strikes in recent years. For train service updates head to SNCF. Read more: france24.com

ASIA & THE PACIFIC

Stories curated by Lonely Planet’s Asia & the Pacific Destination Editors: Megan EavesSarah ReidJoe BindlossLaura Crawford and Tasmin Waby.

Sun Moon Lake, Taiwan. Image by Pai Shih / CC BY 2.0

Sun Moon Lake, Taiwan. Image by Pai Shih / CC BY 2.0

Taiwan’s Sun Moon Lake gets halal food
One of Taiwan’s most popular tourist sites, Sun Moon Lake, has instituted a halal food certification programme. Only one restaurant near the lake currently caters to Muslim travellers. Under the scheme, area restaurants will participate in workshops on meeting Islamic dietary requirements and Muslim-friendly hospitality. Read more: chinapost.com.tw

Pirate attacks on the rise in Southeast Asia
Once the scourge of the Melaka Strait, pirate attacks have almost tripled in Southeast Asian waters during the past five years, with anti-piracy experts calling for stepped-up patrols. While attacks on pleasure boats remain rare, they tend to occur at isolated moorings. Read more: bangkokpost.com

Bhutanese youngsters risk lives on ‘mirror-faced cliff’
In a gruelling game of dare, hundreds of Bhutanese teenagers risk serious injury by climbing the ‘mirror-faced cliff’ at Larjab near Mongar to gain Buddhist merit. Larjab is one of dozens of nye (sacred sites) dotted around Bhutan where pilgrims seek spiritual improvement, often facing immense physical challenges. Read more: kuenselonline.com

Australia issues travel advisory for Sri Lanka
Following Monday’s communal riots in Aluthgama and Beruwala, Australia has issued a travel advisory warning for visitors to exercise a high degree of caution when travelling in the area because of the unpredictable security situation. A curfew remains in place after the riots, which saw clashes between Buddhists and Muslims and the security forces. Read more: dailymirror.lk

Kazakhstan to get new domestic airline
Starting next year, Kazakhstan will have a new domestic airline. Formed out of a partnership with Canada’s Bombardier Inc, Air Kazakhstan will operate with a fleet of 10 planes initially on domestic routes, freeing up the country’s other airline, Air Astana, to focus on its international expansion. Read more: reuters.com

Zouk nightclub, Singapore. Image by Riza Nugraha / CC BY 2.0

Zouk nightclub, Singapore. Image by Riza Nugraha / CC BY 2.0

Singapore superclub owner threatens closure
Zouk, Singapore’s most famous nightclub, will shut its doors before the year’s end unless a three-year lease extension is granted, says owner Lincoln Cheng. Ranked among the world’s top ten clubs, Zouk hosts one of Asia’s largest annual dance festivals, ZoukOut. Read more: straitstimes.com

Philippines mountain clean-up yields 2.6 tons of rubbish
A clean-up effort by a team of mountaineers and hikers on Mt Apo, the highest peak in the Philippines, has resulted in the collection of 2.6 tons of rubbish. Many non-biodegradable items were reportedly among the haul, including empty water bottles and food wrappers. Read more: mb.com.ph

Airport to Mt Fuji direct train service to commence
Travellers will be able to take an express train from Tokyo’s Narita Airport directly to Kawaguchi-ko Station, the closest station to Mt Fuji, with a new service launching late July and running throughout the Japanese summer. The service will allow visitors to avoid changing trains in central Tokyo. Read more: japantimes.co.jp

THE AMERICAS

Stories curated by Lonely Planet’s Americas Destination Editors: Clifton WilkinsonDora WhitakerAlex Howard and MaSovaida Morgan

Mexico’s football team more popular than the US team – in the US
Despite the growing popularity of soccer in the United States, it’s the Mexican national team who are getting the most supporters during their World Cup games, even within the US itself. Fans of El Tri, as Mexico’s side is known, have been filling stadiums across America to watch matches on big screens in much larger numbers than supporters of their US counterparts. Read more: nbcnews.com

Mayor’s dog poo controversy hits the fan
The mayor of San Marino, a wealthy suburb of Los Angeles, has been forced to resign after an incident involving dog poo throwing. The official, Dennis Kneier, was caught on camera picking up the excrement and throwing it onto the property of his opponent, Phillip Lao. The video went viral and Kneier has now stepped down. Read more: foxnews.com  

Civil War cannon to be displayed at Texas museum
Preservation experts unveiled a 12-foot Civil War cannon at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas on Tuesday. The cannon was part of the USS Westfield, but Union forces scuttled the ship to prevent its capture during the Battle of Galveston in 1863. The cannon and other artefacts were recovered in 2009, and will be part of a display at the Texas City Museum in Texas City. Read more: foxnews.com

American Airlines cuts flight service to Venezuela
American Airlines says it will cut 80% of its flights to Venezuela starting July 2. The airline will now only fly to the country from Miami and flights from New York, Dallas and Puerto Rico have all been suspended. As the dispute continues over tight currency controls and repatriation of ticket sale funds from the oil-rich country, many foreign airlines have already suspended or reduced the number of flights to Venezuela. American Airlines is the largest foreign carrier serving Venezuela. Read more: bbc.com

MIDDLE EAST & AFRICA

Stories curated by Lonely Planet’s Middle East & Africa Destination Editors: Helen Elfer and Matt Phillips.

Victoria Falls. Image by Zest-pk / CC BY 2.0

Victoria Falls. Image by Zest-pk / CC BY 2.0

Victoria Falls considers tourism tax
Zimbabwe’s municipality of Victoria Falls is considering a US$1 tourism tax for every visitor to the resort town. The tax is to be used to help pay off the municipality’s debt incurred during its refurbishment of infrastructure ahead of the UNWTO’s 20th General Assembly. Local tour operators oppose the idea, believing it will hurt the tourism industry. Read more: tourismupdate.co.za

Unesco verdict on Great Barrier Reef
Australia has been given one more year to address concerns about the state of the Great Barrier Reef before it is put on the World Heritage in Danger list. The action was decided by the Unesco World Heritage Committee meeting in Doha on Wednesday. The committee also expressed concerns about dredging and  dumping of soil on the reef, which was approved by the current federal government. Read more: smh.com.au 

Australia investigates backpackers exploitation claims
Travellers on working holiday visas to Australia are having their claims of exploitation while working as fruit pickers in rural Queensland heard by the Fair Work Ombudsman. One traveller from Korea says she was paid $7 for a day spent tomato picking and was then charged $125 a week rent for a bed in a room with 25 other backpackers. Read more: abc.net.au

Two crocs move into Dubai Mall
A pair of crocodiles from Australia, nicknamed King and Queen Croc, have been put on display in new enclosure at Dubai Mall’s Aquarium and Underwater Zoo. The male croc is one of the biggest reptiles in captivity, at 5m long and weighing 750kg. Both he and his partner will be kept in an environment designed to artificially replicate Queensland, Australia, with controlled humidity and water temperature. Read more: gulfbusiness.com 

South Africans now need visa for Kenya
As of July 1 South African passport holders will need to apply for a visa before travelling to (or transiting through) Kenya. The cost of the visa is R750, and it is expected to take five days to process. Applicants need to apply in person and supply various documents: a return air ticket, proof of funds, an invitation letter from a Kenyan host and a letter from their employer or school. Previously South Africans could travel for up to 30 days in Kenya without a visa. Read more: news24.com