Gearing up for festive travel chaos

  

THE

DETOUR

Sponsored by

Hey there, JFC-ers,

The festive season is well and truly upon us, and with it some seasonably appropriate weather, for a change! In just a few days, many of us will be frantically packing all our cosiest socks as we prepare to visit loved ones over the holidays.

Unfortunately, it’s really beginning to look like we could be seeing some serious disruption for the third year in a row - this time, thanks to the return of travel chaos.

The ice and snow has already caused flight cancellations and delays around the UK and Ireland. This includes a spectacularly poor show from Ryanair, who abandoned a plane full of passengers flying from Oslo to London at Edinburgh Airport - over 300 miles from their destination.

On top of that, a fresh round of rail strikes starting this week (all the dates here) is set to have Mick Lynch on our screens well into January, and airport chiefs have warned that Christmas flights will be cancelled if Border Force strikes go ahead. It’s all sounding great, really, isn’t it?

And although the USA has managed to avoid rail strikes, it can’t hide from the winter weather. Travel has been disrupted across the country as a result of a deadly winter storm, which has caused tornados, blizzards and up to 4ft of snow in some parts. The conditions are forecast to continue, so wrap up warm and stay safe out there!

There is a silver lining for anyone who finds themselves flying in or out of Heathrow before New Year, though - the airport is planning to spread Christmas cheer by giving away thousands of gifts. Just smile sweetly at one of the purple-clad ‘Little Here to Helpers’ (no word on whether they’re also elves) to be in with a chance of getting a prize.

Warm wishes and punctual landings,

Jack

🎄 The Top Twen-Tree🎄

 

Yule Better Watch Out

In the spirit of the season, we want to give you a taste of festive traditions around the world. And where better to start than with the cute little gonks that have been creeping into Christmas decor in recent years?

The eyeless infiltrators started life in Scandinavia as nisser, small spirits that live in a family’s house or barn and secretly act as their guardian. All would go swimmingly if a nisse felt appreciated - they would protect the family and its animals from evil, and they might even do the farmyard chores.

You don’t want to offend a nisse, though. One too many tea breaks or forgetting to leave out the obligatory bowl of porridge on Christmas Eve is enough to get you in the bad books, and that’s when the pranks start. Tying cows’ tails together and turning objects upside down sounds fairly silly and mostly harmless, but word has it they’d also break things or even attack people.

These days, nisser are considered friendly Christmas spirits who might still pull a few pranks here and there (much more elf on the shelf). They became the bearers of gifts in Denmark in the 1840s, with Sweden and Norway following suit later in the 19th century. The Yule Goat had previously held the reins on Scandi Christmas, but now they occasionally show up to hand out gifts together.

Iceland does things a little differently, of course, with not one but thirteen Jólasveinar, aka Yule Lads, and their rather unorthodox family. The Yule Lads come down from their mountain home one by one on the nights leading up to Christmas to give gifts.

Much like the nisser, their mean and violent tendencies have been softened over the centuries, so now they’re just seen as mischief-makers. Their appearance has also changed with time - the story goes that their mother, Grýla, is a troll, so they used to resemble weirdly proportioned elves, but have been increasingly depicted as human over time.

Icelandic children traditionally leave a shoe on their windowsill each night from 12th December until Christmas Eve in the hopes of getting a gift from the Yule Lads. Naughty kids needn’t bother, however - unless they really want to get a potato (sometimes raw, sometimes rotten). And that’ll certainly be your fate if you forget to leave out a laufabrauð for them, too.

So here are the 13 lads you’ll want to be looking out for over the next week. Thanks to nordicvisitor.com for the clear explanation!

  1. Stekkjastaur (Sheep-Cote Clod) on 12th December – He sneaks into barns to steal milk from sheep.
  2. Giljagaur (Gully Gawk) on 13th December – This Yule Lad has a taste for cow’s milk and he’ll take it straight from the barn.
  3. Stúfur (Stubby) on 14th December – The shortest of the lads, he swipes leftover food from frying pans.
  4. Þvörusleikir (Spoon Licker) on 15th December – He licks spoons, of course.
  5. Pottasleikir (Pot Licker) on 16th December – This guy will steal unwashed pots from the kitchen so he can lick them clean.
  6. Askasleikir (Bowl Licker) on 17th December – He snatches bowls out from under beds and gobbles up any morsels of food.
  7. Hurðaskellir (Door Slammer) on 18th December – He slams doors, and he’ll do this all night if he finds any open.
  8. Skyrgámur (Skyr Gobbler) on 19th December – He’s ravenous for skyr, Icelandic yoghurt, and will pinch any that's up for grabs.
  9. Bjúgnakrækir (Sausage Swiper) on 20th December – Hide your sausages or this guy will eat them.
  10. Gluggagægir (Window Peeper) on 21st December – He’ll peep through windows in the hope he can steal something.
  11. Gáttaþefur (Door Sniffer) on 22nd December – You’ll find this large-nosed lad sniffing doorways in pursuit of baked goods.
  12. Ketrókur (Meat Hook) on 23rd December – He’s hungry for meat, so lock up your lamb chops!
  13. Kertasníkir (Candle Beggar) on 24th December – Finally, the last of the Yule Lads is known for making off with candles.

We’re sure we’ve already spotted a few of these guys out at work Christmas parties… looking at you, Spoon Licker!

But that’s not all - their evil troll mother is like the Icelandic Child Catcher, said to venture around Iceland looking for naughty children to whisk away in her sack. The only thing all the legends agree on is that she and her husband Leppalúði were cannibals, otherwise it’s up to us to decide how many tails and how many children they each had.

But one thing we know for sure is that together they own the giant Jólakötturinn, or Christmas Cat. She stalks the darkness on Christmas Eve, preying on anyone who didn’t get new clothes as a gift this year...

Our Pick Of The Clicks

All the important (or silly, or strange) travel news from across the web this week.

Always fancied a trip to Antarctica? The good people of TikTok are making sure you know exactly what you’re in for. After particularly violent waters caused the death of a cruise passenger, clips of the rocky two-day Drake Passage crossing have been going viral.

Maybe best just to save up for that 2-hour flight instead…

We’re looking at The Guardian’s ‘ Best new European train journeys for 2023’ to help us start planning next year’s adventures. We honestly can’t think of a much better route through Europe than Stuttgart to Zagreb, stopping in Venice, Vienna, Budapest, Ljubljana and Rijeka along the way.


And talking of Croatia, the EU has decided that as well as adopting the Euro, Croatia will join the Schengen zone from 1st January 2023. That means no more border or customs checks when going between Croatia and another Schengen country, even if you're flying.


Aer Lingus are already setting the bar high for summer 2023 flights. Lucky Dubliners are getting new non-stop routes to Kos, Sardinia and Puglia, and the transatlantic summer schedule is set to be their “biggest ever”. That includes their non-stop flights between Manchester and NYC/Orlando, as well as a new route from Dublin to Cleveland, Ohio (which is well worth a visit, FYI).

Those Orlando connections will come in pretty handy for anyone who might be interested in a visit to the utterly diabolical new theme park, Minion Land, which opens next summer.


LEGO fans might want to build in time for a trip to Belgium, which is apparently the cheapest country for getting your hands on a set of the colourful bricks. On the other hand, we wouldn’t recommend buying any in Argentina, where it’s nearly ten times more expensive.

And finally, the UK will be experiencing its very own great migration this festive season, as thousands of us take our furry pals across the country. Some might say, Santa Claws is coming to town…

If you’re one of the lucky pet parents about to em- bark on a big journey, here are some travel tips from pet food company Lily’s Kitchen:

  • Much like kids, try and tire them out before the journey, encourage them to go to the loo before leaving, and don’t feed them right before you travel (but do bring treats to keep them happy!)
  • Pack their favourite (calm) toys, chews and blankets to keep settled during the trip
  • Do a couple of trial runs on public transport or in the car. If you’re flying, try some finding some plane noise playlists online to help them acclimatise
  • Get them used to spending time inside a carrier, if necessary
  • Practise socialising as much as possible - both with other travelling animals and with nosy passengers. Everyone will want to say hi, so learn to say “no!”