Travel Briefings

Freely Travel Briefing: Issue No.77

Photo by: Ilnur Kalimullin

For 18 years, Iranian man Mehran Karimi Nasseri lived in Paris’ Charles de Gaulle Airport. This week, in honour of his recent passing in Terminal 2F, we’ll be taking a look at Mehran’s extraordinary story – which ended up inspiring the Tom Hanks film ‘The Terminal’. We’ll also be taking a whirl around the world to look at how dining habits differ by culture and country, seeking to find out whether there really is an ideal time to eat dinner. Finally, we’ll take a flight to Vermont seated next to a cloud listener, and will have a conversation about leaps of faith.


Is there a right time to eat dinner?

Photo by Markus Winkler

“The time we eat dinner needs to be looked at household-by-household, culture-by-culture and person-by-person.”

It’s not uncommon for health advocates to claim fixed rules about what time we should be eating dinner, but does it really matter? In Spain, it’s not uncommon to start grazing on tapas at 10pm. In India, many restaurants serve dinner until 11.30pm, with street vendors often hawking snack food until late. Over to the Middle East, and dinner in some countries may not be served until night prayers are complete. “The time we eat dinner needs to be looked at household-by-household, culture-by-culture and person-by-person,” claims dietician Margaret Hays. “We all just need to slow down, lower the food anxiety and enjoy what we eat!”

Read: Yasmin Noone for SBS Food


 Iranian Who Made Paris Airport Home Dies of Natural Causes

Photo by charles-de-gaulle

When Mehran found himself in France’s Charles de Gaulle Airport, he decided to stay there.

When Mehran Karimi Nasseri returned to his home country of Iran after studying in England, he was imprisoned for protesting against the shah. After being expelled without a passport, he made claims to several countries seeking asylum, only to be rejected. So when Mehran found himself in France’s Charles de Gaulle Airport, he decided to stay there. From 1988 until 2006, he slept in Terminal 1 on a red plastic bench, passing the time by writing in his diary, studying economics and surveying passing travellers. Fondly nicknamed ‘Lord Alfred’ by staff, he eventually received refugee papers, but didn’t leave until years later, going on to reside in a Paris shelter. According to airport staff, Mehran was unwell and had recently returned to live at Charles de Gaulle. On Saturday last week, he died from a heart attack. Vale, Mehran. ❤️

Read: Al Jazeera

On Leaping Into the Unknown

Photo by Suhyeon Choi

“It was only after I uprooted my plans that I understood how brave you had been to uproot yours.”

On a tiny plane from Boston to Vermont in the US, a nervous Erica Berry found herself seated to a woman who listened to clouds. Though the pair shared different realities, they were both about to take a giant leap into the unknown: Erica to embark upon a writer’s residency before settling down with a partner, the stranger to chase a guru. “It was only after I uprooted my plans that I understood how brave you had been to uproot yours,” Erica writes in this moving letter to her plane mate. “Courage and foolishness, I now knew, could go hand in hand.” ☁️

Read: Erica Barry for Off Assignment

AROUND THE WORLD


Trade association figures show that global air travel has rebounded to 74% of pre-pandemic levels, with the Asia-Pacific region (which Australia is part of) recording the biggest jump. In the wake of Japan, Hong Kong and Taiwan’s recent lifting of border restrictions, these figures are sure to keep on climbing! ✈️
For the tenth year in a row, Britannia – which has more than 60 hotels across Great Britain – has been named the UK’s worst hotel chain. A consumer survey revealed that nearly a third of guests were unhappy with their stay, with one describing their room as “absolutely dire, drab and smelly”. Guy Hobbs, the editor of Which? Travel, said that with UK hotels now costing a fifth more than they did last year, travellers want to be sure they are getting bang for their buck… which we guess means steering clear of Britannia!
Newly elected far-right Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni is cracking down on charity lifeboats that operate in the Mediterranean to save asylum seekers drowning at sea, accusing them of acting as de-facto taxi service. On Friday, a ship carrying 234 people who had been rescued when their boat sunk was finally allowed to dock at a French port after being refused by Italy and having to hover in international waters for more than two weeks as health and sanitary conditions worsened for everyone on board – including 57 children.

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