Would you play a mid-flight ukulele?



Jack's Flight Club ✈️ Travel News & Inspiration

Hi again, joy-filled JFC-ers,

All right, after a summer of travel chaos, we’re probably all in the mood for some reopenings, aren’t we?

First up, the Netherlands have dropped all of their COVID-19-related restrictions, while Spain no longer requires any visitors to complete a health form ahead of arrival.

Meanwhile, Panama has returned to its pre-2020 entry requirements.

And finally, Hong Kong has announced that it intends to drop its hotel quarantine requirements for visitors (although masking requirements and restrictions on groups of more than four people are likely to be retained).

In unhappier news, this week has seen a spate of natural disasters across the world, from an earthquake in Mexico and a typhoon in Japan, to Hurricane Fiona in Puerto Rico and continued flooding in Pakistan.

We’re sending our love and thoughts to anyone affected - and of course, if you’re planning to travel to any of these destinations, please keep abreast of the latest guidance and stay safe.

Many thanks and happy flying,



Your Next Trip: Culinary Quests in Europe

In our regular feature, we offer tips, advice and travel inspiration in response to your questions.

We love a challenge, reader - and this is a whopper.

You’re quite right that a lot of European cooking courses can be pretty pricey (we’re seeing a lot of luxurious and Google-dominating packages across Italy and France going for 3000-4000€).

You’ve probably also seen that some of them will tack on a supplement for solo travellers - after all, with limited spaces and accommodation on offer, they need to ensure they’re maximising their profits.

Here are a few choice picks we’ve found that are a bit more in your budget range (and which have enough positive traveller reviews to ensure that you won’t be picking hairs out of your arancini all week long):

#1: Visit amazing Abruzzo

The Abruzzo region on Italy’s Adriatic coastline has its own delightful (and often surprising) local delicacies picked up from the sea and the mountains alike, from arrosticini meat skewers to Brodetto alla Vastese fish broth.

Founded by Vasto local Fabrizio, Italia Sweet Italia offers food and drink tours exclusively in the Abruzzo region, and we think they look like a great shout - not least because they don’t enforce a supplement for solo travellers.

The fact that you’re opting for winter dates works in your favour, too. We’ve seen Italia Sweet Italia offering a four-night cooking and culture course for £1097 per person, and their Christmastime courses go as low as £1350 for seven nights.

Transfers, accommodation, activities and meals are included.

They also boast over 200 exclusively five-star reviews on TripAdvisor, with travellers praising Fabrizio and his team for their passion, kindness and thoughtfulness.

(And if you can find the time, we’d strongly recommend that you take a few days for yourself to explore the region’s stunning landscapes and magnificent castles, like the clifftop Castello Roccascalegna, pictured below.)

#2: Gorge at Le Gargantua

On the upper edge of your price range, this one (a week’s course will set you back around £1500-1600), but worth considering for the quality alone: Le Gargantua School in Anzex, south-western France, has seen praise from the Independent, Travel Channel and the Guardian, and it specifically focuses on smaller groups to ensure that every participant gets a chance to shine.

Course range from baking to seasonal French cooking - in the wintertime, you’ll be focusing on hearty classics such as “Cassoulet, the hearty Garbure, boeuf bourguignon, croustade (apples, prunes and armagnac in pastry)...” Yum!

It's a bit surprising that cassoulet has never taken off in the UK, really, given that its key ingredients are 'sausage and beans, in a pot'.

#2: Grab a spot at a guest-house

Another option is to try and shave some money off the cost of a cooking course by looking at guest-house or BnB accommodation, rather than the big hotels and villas that often host these experiences.

In our experience, that certainly doesn’t decrease the quality of the food or the teaching - and since classes tend to be smaller and personalised, you may even get a better experience as a solo traveller! (The only downside, in fact, is finding a room.)

Booking through a guest-house won’t always provide you with a pre-set package necessarily, but hosts tend to be flexible and accommodating, and you can simply chat to them about providing you with an experience (and a length of stay) that works for you.

Here’s a few we’ve seen in France and Italy:

Gourmet Guesthouses

In Normandy, the well-reviewed Old Farm of Amfreville offers a four-night cooking masterclass, including accommodation, breakfast and dinner, cooking classes, cidery and market visits, with the cost coming in from €650 per person.

In Treviso, the agriturismo initiative and guesthouse Ca' de Memi A offers a wide variety individual (and customisable) cooking classes to its guests, using locally-sourced ingredients to serve up dishes from risotto and pasta to pastries and jam - its rooms can go as low as 60 Euros for single-occupancy.

If you’re willing to forgo France and Italy, we’d point you towards Fincas las Encinas in Cordoba, Spain - it’s a B&B which runs a 6-day cooking course for 820€ (including a solo-traveller supplement) and comes equipped with its own vegetable garden and chickens.

Close to Florence in the Tuscan countryside, international chef Eleonora Uccella runs La Cucina B&B, with her music-loving partner Achref, two dogs and one duck called Matilda. (Which is enough to sell us almost instantly.)

Eleonora also uses the space for cooking classes, which can be purchased on a one-off basis - if you can bag a £100 room for a couple of nights, then, this could be a great way to get a world-class lesson on your own terms (her classes get rave reviews, but are price-on-demand). After that, head on into Florence for cheaper tutorship - like the Pasta Class Florence’s 3-hour workshop for £70.

(You could equally stop off at the Fattoria San Martino B&B, which runs half-day vegetarian cooking classes for 120€.)

Which leads us neatly onto our final recommendation…

#4: Do It Yourself

There are clear and compelling benefits to booking a cooking-holiday package for an entire week - everything is taken care of for you, you’ll be cooking alongside the same group and the same chefs, and you’ll be able to follow the process from start to finish, building up your skills in a specific space.

But your budget is a strict one, reader, and with that in mind, one practical and cost-effective solution might well be to arrange your own gourmet journey through your country of choice. (We’d recommend Italy, for the sheer variety of options for cooking.)

For a seven-day adventure, on the budget that you've mentioned, you’re looking at 163€ spending money per day, excluding flights.

Get savvy with your accommodation (for example, for your date range, you could manage a 60€-per night private room at the well-rated Beehive hostel in Rome, which actually offers 50€ cooking classes itself, where you can test your skills at ravioli, tagliatelle and Roman-style pizza) and you’ll be left with enough money for food, transport, and one half-day cooking workshop - like this pasta-making evening course in Frascati, for instance.

When you're starting out, you might worry that everyone else knows more than you do - but remember, that's just the impasta syndrome talking.

Even if you can only afford a single 3-hour cooking session each day, that’s about as much actual cooking time as we’ve seen on many of the package tours, which tend to pad themselves out with visits to the market, wine-drinking, and so on.

You can learn how to make pesto in Levanto for 39€; pizza in Naples for 39€, and Apulian cheese for 65€.

You see where we’re going with this. Set aside a budget for train fares and you could comfortably manage a low-cost odyssey across Italy, tackling different regional cuisines in cooking lessons across the country - and paying about the same for seven days of gastronomic delight as the cheapest package trip would charge you for four or five days.

If you've got a travel experience (funny, unique, or just plain odd) that you'd like to see in The Detour, we'd love to hear from you. Drop us a note at [email protected] and let us know!

And as ever, if you've got an idea or a request for an article, please do share it with us!

Ask us a travel question here 🌴


Our Pick Of The Clicks

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

Faro nuff: Passengers on board a Ryanair flight to Portugal from Dublin were understandably peeved this week when they unexpectedly landed in Spain instead.

(The plane had been delayed by French traffic control strikes, which resulted in it arriving too late to actually land at Faro airport - making this an endearingly multi-national mess-up.)

More like Aurora More-Of-All-This, Please: From Wanderlust, here are some very convincing reasons why you should visit Swedish Lapland this winter. (Yes, we would like to befriend a moose, thank you for asking.)

They're no Israel Kamakawiwoʻole, put it that way: Striking terror into the heart of introverts who just want to read their book in peace everywhere, Southwest Airlines provided an entire flight to Hawaii with ukuleles and then gave the (apparently delighted) passengers an in-flight music lesson.

Be ready for a long walk to the bus stop: The BBC has been shining a light on Koks, a gourmet restaurant hidden away in West Greenland, 200km into the Arctic Circle.

Newark, Newark, it's a hell of a time: According to a new annual report from J.D. Power, Minneapolis is now the highest-rated major US airport amongst travellers - while Newark, Chicago, and Los Angeles airports were rated the worst for customer satisfaction after a summer of cancellations and delays.


And Finally...

Deep in the Sierra de la Macarena national park of Colombia, you can find the Caño Cristales (or Channel of Crystal) - an extraordinary river, filled with waterfalls, rapids and potholes.

The waters of the Caño Cristales are incredibly clear, and it's home to a wide variety of colourful aquatic plants - so much so that it's known as the 'River of Five Colours' , or the 'Liquid Rainbow', with sections of the river lighting up in black, green, blue, yellow and in particular a gorgeous red colour from July to around November.

If you're hiking out into the national park to see the magnificent waters for yourself, we'd recommend booking a night's stay at Hostal Cano Nevera, which is within walking distance of the river - it's family-owned, friendly, and David and Jorge also have a pet duck (we're not sure why this is a running theme in this week's Detour, but we hope it catches on with hotel owners everywhere).