Tel Aviv flights cancelled in Gaza crisis, Commonwealth Games begin in Glasgow, Chinese town in lockdown after plague death and NYPD stumped by white flag mystery

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: US and European carriers cancel flights in and out of Israel, Glasgow’s Commonwealth Games are expected to attract an audience of 1 billion, the Chinese town of Yumen has been placed under quarantine following a man’s death from bubonic plague and the NYPD are investigating the appearance of mysterious white flags on Brooklyn Bridge.

Asia & the Pacific
The Americas
Middle East & Africa
Weird, odd & just plain fun


23 July is …

Haile Selassie’s Birthday, celebrated by Rastafarians everywhere

Renaissance Day, Oman

Revolution Day, Egypt


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

Rooftops of Catalonia at sunset. Image by Scott Wylie / CC BY 2.0
Rooftops of Catalonia. Image by Scott Wylie / CC BY 2.0

Record tourist numbers visit Spain in 2014
A record-breaking 28 million international tourists visited Spain in the first half of 2014, an increase of more than 7% on the equivalent 6 months last year. Spain continues to be the most popular destination for British tourists, with 6.5 million visitors between January and June. The most popular region was Catalonia. Read more:

Commonwealth Games bring Rod Stewart and Usain Bolt to Glasgow
The 2014 Commonwealth Games begin in Glasgow on Wednesday evening. A global audience of over a billion is expected to watch the opening ceremony, which features Rod Stewart, Susan Boyle and Sir Alex Ferguson. Usain Bolt and Mo Farah star among athletes from 71 nations associated with the former British Empire. England, Scotland, Australia, India and South Africa feature, alongside smaller nations including Nauru and Malta. Read more:

Denmark’s new sea pool isn’t making waves
A new sea pool in Nørre Vorupør in northern Jutland, Denmark, has turned a previously dangerous swimming spot into a safe place for visitors to take a dip. The area is hugely popular with tourists but rip currents and high waves in the waters have meant that, up until now, swimming has been risky. The local council hopes the new 50m x 50m pool, which opened this week and has a mechanism to block waves, will encourage more visitors to the area. Read more:

Plans for history-themed amusement park in Moscow
Russian billionaire Konstantin Malofeev is planning to create a Russian-history-themed amusement park in Moscow. The estimated cost of this project is 18 million roubles (US$514 million). The location of the 300-hectare park is still unconfirmed, but it should be completed within three years. Read more:

Abandoned Athens airport to become a coastal resort
Hellenikon, the old Athens airport which has been abandoned since 2001, is reportedly set to become a seaside resort. The 620-hectare complex will include hotels, a marina, a kilometre-long beach and a huge park. The project, worth 7 billion euros, is planned to begin in 2016 and it’s estimated that it will take 15 to 20 years to complete.  Read more:

The coast of Cinque Terre, Italy. Image by Daniel Stockman / CC BY-SA 2.0
Cinque Terre, Italy. Image by Daniel Stockman / CC BY-SA 2.0

Ancient Roman shipwreck found off the coast of Italy
An ancient Roman shipwreck containing hundreds of amphorae has been discovered near the Cinque Terre area in northern Italy. The 15-metre-long ship dates from the second century BC and was found by a sonar engineer. Read more:


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

Rice terraces in the Gansu Province. Image by apercoco / CC BY-SA 2.0
Gansu Province, China. Image by apercoco / CC BY-SA 2.0

Chinese town sealed off after man dies of bubonic plague
The 30,000 residents of Yumen, in China’s Gansu province, have been forced to stay put following confirmation that a local man died of the bubonic plague. A further 151 people have been placed under quarantine, but no further cases of the rare but highly infectious disease have been recorded. Read more:

Qantas flights to the Great Barrier Reef
Qantas has brought back direct services from Sydney to the Great Barrier Reef, complementing low-cost carrier Jetstar’s existing Hamilton Island  service. Qantas Domestic chief exec, Lyell Strambi said their customers wanted a leisure service to the Whitsundays that included checked luggage and inflight meals. Read more:

Bush Blitz study unearths new Australian plant and animal species
A government and industry funded nature-study program has been extended for another three years after so far analysing 700 new species of plant and animals in Australia’s remote bush. Discoveries include a fish that lives in the water atop waterfalls in the Northern Territory, a species of wolf spider that walks on water in the Kimberley and a new type of native truffle in Mildura, Victoria.
Read more:

Typhoon renders Taipei's city bike scheme out of service. Image by davidreid / CC BY-SA 2.0
Typhoon knocks out Taipei’s city bike scheme. Image by davidreid / CC BY-SA 2.0

Typhoon Matmo causes travel problems for Taiwan
Travellers were affected on Wednesday as Typhoon Matmo hit Taiwan. Most stores closed and Taipei’s city bike scheme remained out of service, while thousands were left stranded due to cancelled and delayed flights across the region. The storm was expected to hit southeast China by early Thursday and bring tropical rain to north Asia for the rest of the week. Read more:

Indian basketball players forced to play without turbans
Sikh basketball players from the Indian national team were forced to play without their turbans at the International Basketball Federation championship in Wuhan, after the Chinese hosts imposed a summary ban on headgear. Wearing a turban is one of the integral tenets of the Sikh religion, alongside the wearing of shorts, the carrying of a comb, steel bangle and dagger, and having uncut hair. Read more:

Bus dispute strands travellers in Nepal
A dispute between bus companies over the allocation of routes has left many travellers stranded in eastern Nepal. Services to some areas stopped completely on Tuesday, particularly around Dharan and Khandbari on the approach route to the Makalu-Barun trekking area, and more disruption is predicted. Read more:

Vietnam reveals airport sleep pods
Hanoi’s international airport (Noi Bai) has unveiled 14 ‘sleep pods’, the first in Vietnam, available for travellers awaiting flights. There are single-room and double-room pods, each with bed, wardrobe and wi-fi. A stay in a pod costs around US$10 for the first three hours. Read more:


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

The American Flag flying on the Brooklyn Bridge, New York. Image by Daniel X. O'Neil / CC BY 2.0
Stars and Stripes, Brooklyn Bridge, New York. Image by Daniel X. O’Neil / CC BY 2.0

Mysterious white flags appear on Brooklyn Bridge
In New York police are investigating how two white flags came to replace the American flags that fly from the Brooklyn Bridge. The flags appeared in the early hours of Tuesday morning, flying from poles on the stone supports of the iconic bridge which links Manhattan with Brooklyn. Surveillance cameras have captured the figures of 4 or 5 people crossing the bridge at 3am and the floodlights that illuminate the American flags went out at 3.30am. Read more:

No liquor sales allowed at Ford Fest in Toronto
Officials have denied the Ford family’s request for a permit to serve alcohol at this Friday’s Ford Fest in Toronto. The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario said the festival, which has been held for 19 years, was not ‘municipally significant’. A spokesperson for Toronto’s troubled mayor Rob Ford said the issue was that they did not have enough time to properly apply for the permit. Read more:

All Hawaii restaurants to display food safety placards
Earlier this year Hawaii signed into law, food safety standards that include requirements for health placards to be displayed in all restaurants. The new placards are color coded and will be placed on exterior walls in clear view of customers. A restaurant with a green placard means it has had at least one hygiene violation that was immediately rectified, a yellow placard signifies at least one violation that was not immediately corrected, and a red placard is the most serious violation and requires the restaurant to close until the health issue is fixed. Read more:

Argentine zoo denies petition to move depressed polar bear to Canada
An elderly, depressed polar bear will stay in captivity in Mendoza, Argentina despite a petition by half a million people asking him to be moved to a zoo in Winnipeg, Canada. According to Mendoza Zoo vets, 28-year-old Arturo is too old to be relocated safely. Temperatures in Mendoza can climb above 85°F, which environmentalists argue puts the animal at risk. Read more:

George Harrison memorial plaque. Image by Al Pavangkanan / CC BY 2.0
George Harrison memorial plaque, Griffith Park, LA. Image by Al Pavangkanan / CC BY 2.0

Beatles’ tree destroyed by beetles
A pine tree planted in Los Angeles’ Griffith Park to commemorate Beatle George Harrison has been killed off – by beetles. The tree was planted in 2004, along with a memorial plaque to the musician who died in Los Angeles in 2001, and had been doing well until attacked by ladybugs and other beetles. It will now be replaced by a new tree. Read more: 

Comic-Con begins in San Diego
San Diego‘s biggest annual event, Comic-Con, begins on Wednesday evening, bringing celebrities and tens of thousands of fans to the city. This year is the 45th time the convention has been held here and the five days of comic-lover action promises highlights such as meeting writers and actors, plus a top secret film schedule. Read more:

Massive mayfly swarm wreaks havoc in Upper Mississippi
A larger than average hatching of mayflies along the Upper Mississippi has been wreaking havoc in river towns in Wisconsin. The swarm appeared on Sunday evening and was so large and dense it caused a three-car collision, blanketed towns with the sticky bugs, and appeared on radar as a bow echo, usually the result of a huge rain storm. Hatchings of mayflies happen around three or four times a year along the Mississippi, but it is thought the delay of warm weather this year caused a mammoth simultaneous hatch. Read more:


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

Almost caught in the line of fire, Ben Gurion International Airport, Tel Aviv. Image by Sarah Stierch / CC BY 2.0
Ben Gurion International Airport, Tel Aviv. Image by Sarah Stierch / CC BY 2.0

US and European airlines cancel flights to Israel amid Gaza crisis
A number of European and US airlines have cancelled flights to and from Israel after a rocket reportedly struck near Tel Aviv’s international airport, Ben Gurion. These include Delta, Air France, Easyjet, Lufthansa, Turkish Airlines and Spain’s flagship carrier, Iberia, as well as a number of international airlines who have suspended flights to the country until further notice. British Airways has said it will continue a service. Read more:

Secret snaps: elephants caught roaming Garden Route forests
Although long thought to have left South Africa’s Garden Route forests for good, elephants have recently been photographed roaming the area. Die Burger reported that images of a female elephant were discovered late last week when the Landmark Foundation downloaded files from its camera traps in the Knysna forest. These cameras were being used to study the Cape leopards that live in the vicinity. Read more:

First flight takes off from Nairobi’s new terminal
Tuesday morning witnessed the first ever commercial flight departing from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport’s new Terminal 1A in Nairobi. Before boarding Kenya Airways’ Boeing Dreamliner for their morning flight to Johannesburg, passengers experienced the vast space of the new concourse, which is constructed from marble, glass and steel. Unlike its predecessor the new terminal is uncrowded and has a simple single security check point. Read more:


The fictional Grand Budapest Hotel. Image by Global Panorama / CC BY-SA 2.0
The fictional Grand Budapest Hotel. Image by Global Panorama / CC BY-SA 2.0

Reviews for the Grand Budapest Hotel posted on TripAdvisor
Popular travel website TripAdvisor already has more than 60 reviews for a hotel that doesn’t exist, the Grand Budapest. The hotel, featured in recently released Wes Anderson’s movie, is located in the (also non-existent)  Republic of Zubrowka. At the moment nearly 50 reviews find the hotel excellent, while several consider it terrible. TripAdvisor has added a prominent message to readers inviting them to post reviews while stressing that the hotel is fictional. Read more:
Brana Vladisavljevic

Could Denmark lay claim to the scariest theme park ride?
An attraction at Denmark’s Tivoli Friheden in Aarhus has been gaining notoriety on the internet, with many wondering if it could be the world’s scariest. Sky Tower involves being dropped 100 feet, with nothing but a simple net to break the fall. The experience is apparently so terrifying that similar rides have been used in experiments to simulate near-death experiences. Read more:
Gemma Graham