Remember the movie The Terminal? Robert Wladyslaw Parzelski lived it.

robert wladyslaw parzelski File this one under “news of the weird.” Robert Wladyslaw Parzelski was sent back to London 18 days after arriving in São Paulo on a one-way ticket … and never leaving the airport.

The story is still unfolding, but Slate reports that Parzelski, a Polish man, traveled on a British Airways flight from London on June 17 on a one-way ticket purchased by a friend in Poland. He was to return with “two telephone sets.” How, when, or why has yet to be determined.

Parleski, who spoke no Portuguese and arrived without any cash, was supposedly meeting a friend in São Paulo, but the friend never arrived, and Parzelski, like Tom Hanks in The Terminal, simply lived in the airport, subsisting on water, yogurt and cigarettes given to him by airport custodians.

When asked what he was doing, he simply replied “I’m Poland.”

This story caught the attention of the Folha de São Paulo paper, where reporters began an attempt to figure out Parzelski’s story.

Newspaper reporters (not authorities) finally found a doctor in São Paulo who spoke the language and was able to speak to Parleski — sort of — and determine that he was, in fact, “lost” inside the airport. The doctor revealed to the media that Parzelski was a father of five from Krakaw, Poland, who moved to London to work as a builder. After he was laid off, he traveled to Brazil at the behest of a Polish friend in London with the mission to return with two telephone sets. Why the telephones? Nobody is sure.

“Before embarking … [we] spotted Parzelski enjoying a dark ale at a bar inside the departure lounge,” the Folha de São Paulo wrote Wednesday.

Parzelski’s story has ended, though. He left São Paulo on a Swiss Airways flight on Tuesday, bound for Zurich and then London.

[Flickr via MarkHillary of Sao Paulo airport]

Incredible video: Thousands of lanterns floating over Poland


11,000 Lanterns Floating Over Poland – Watch more Funny Videos

Although most Break.com videos are of people face planting and other epic fails, this video from Poland will have you staring in awe instead of wincing and turning away.

Thousands of paper lanterns filled the night sky last week in Poznan, Poland to celebrate Midsummer Night, or the shortest night of the year. The event, which was organized on Facebook, took place on a field in the city. Around 1,000 fiery orbs were released en masse around 11:30 at night, easily beating the Polish record for the largest number of lanterns released at one time. With in an hour, some 8,000 lanterns had been sent skyward.

Poland is already planning another event for next year, when they hope to beat the Guinness world record for number of lanterns released in the sky. That record is currently held by Indonesians, a title earned when 10,000 lanterns were sent soaring in Jakarta in 2009.

European Travel Commission launches Facebook contest

Facebook contestThe European Travel Commission (ETC) today announced the launch of their new social media Facebook contest entitled I Wish I Were There. Hosted on the ETC’s official Facebook page, the contest will encourage fans to photoshop images of themselves in their dream European destination and then post the new photos to the ETC Facebook page to be automatically entered to win a Grand Prize trip for two to Europe.

Choosing to vacation in Austria, Croatia or Poland, the Grand Prize winning photo will be picked from the top five photos that got the greatest number of “Likes” obtained by Visit Europe Facebook fans. The national tourism organizations of Austria, Croatia or Poland are sponsoring the prize which includes hotel stays, ground transportation and cultural activities for the winner and one guest.”I Wish I Were There” is one of several social media events targeting the U.S. consumer. The “Follow Your Dreams: Visit Europe” campaign aimed to educate travelers on the compelling tourism offerings available within Europe with an emphasis on history, culture and gastronomy.

The European Travel Commission (@visiteurope) was established in 1948 to promote Europe as a tourism destination and provides travelers with commentary on services and attractions to help plan their visit to Europe.

Some German airports shut because of Iceland volcano

ash, Iceland volcanoAsh from the Icelandic volcano Grimsvötn that caused hundreds of flight cancellations in the UK, Denmark, and Norway yesterday has now moved over Germany, shutting down airports in the north of the country.

Hamburg and Bremen airports are closed. Berlin airport will probably close this morning as well. At least 600 flights are expected to be affected.

Poland may also be affected today but otherwise flights in, out, and around Europe should be operating. There may be knock-on delays because of the disruption in Germany so check ahead before going to the airport.

In better news, Grimsvötn has stopped erupting. Let’s hope it keeps behaving.

Have you been affected by the volcanic ash? Feel free to vent in the comments section!

[Micrograph of volcanic ash courtesy US Geological Survey]

UPDATE: (9:23 EDT) The BBC is reporting that Hamburg, Bremen, and Berlin airports have reopened. About 700 flights were cancelled.

Knocked up abroad: second trimester travel

second trimester travel

Not far along enough for second trimester travel? Read more about pregnancy in a foreign country, Turkish prenatal care, travel in the first trimester,Turkish superstitions, and foreign baby names on Knocked up abroad.

A few years ago, before the word staycation foisted itself into the travel lexicon, babymoons were all the rage. A babymoon typically referred to the last getaway for expecting parents, often a deluxe resort vacation replete with couples’ massages, room service, and lots of pampering. I’ve spent my my pre-baby travel slightly differently, exploring post-Soviet museums before needing a stroller, eating at restaurants that have never heard of kids’ menus, and learning what non-alcoholic drinks are on offer in local dive bars. Living abroad in Istanbul has also changed my short-haul destinations considerably. In the first trimester, my husband and I traveled to Kiev and Warsaw, Russia in the dead of winter, and to Frankfurt for the Christmas markets, and I don’t regret having gone without the his-and-hers massages. For second trimester travel, I found Singapore to be nearly ideal: the food and shopping are epic, the street food is safe, and the people polite and helpful. Though the hotel prices and high temperatures can be hard to deal with, the Southeast Asian city-state is a nice balance of relaxation and city exploration.

Ask any new parent or doctor and they will tell you that the second trimester is the best time to travel, after the early days of morning sickness have passed and before you get so uncomfortable that a walk around the block feels like a marathon. Given the relative comfort level, the second trimester is also the best time for longer trips further from home. I flew 10 hours home to New York (my first trip back to the US in 10 months) in late February at 20 weeks, and just returned from a week in Malaysia and Singapore at 27 weeks. Today I hit the 28-week mark of pregnancy, a big milestone as it means the end of unrestricted air travel. For many international airlines, including Turkish Airlines, British Airways, and Qantas, you are required to bring a doctor’s note certifying you are fit to fly overseas. We all want to avoid childbirth on a plane, even if it could mean free flights for life.

Here are a few lessons I’ve learned from travel in the second trimester:

  • Travel when you are showing: Part of what makes first trimester travel tough is that no one knows you are pregnant other than you and your travel companions. Exhausted and need a seat? Tough luck, lady, we’re all tired. Need to make sure that foreign drink is non-alcoholic? Better stick to (bottled) water. While my friends cooed over my five-month baby bump, not a single person gave me a seat on the NYC subway in a week of rides, even when I unzipped my winter coat and looked longingly at strangers. Two months later in Singapore, I barely stepped onto a train before several people offered me a seat and every car has a few reserved seat for passengers in need.
  • Don’t skip the creature comforts: Even if you skip the traditional resort babymoon, you should still give yourself a break when traveling. When booking air travel, if you can find a way to upgrade yourself to business class, you’ll be glad to stretch out even if you can’t sip that free champagne. Coming from rainy and chilly Istanbul, a week in tropical Southeast Asia seemed heavenly, but walking around in humid 90-degree weather felt more like hell. I must agree with my food blogger friend Kate over at Savour Fare who said that “swimming pools are God’s gift to pregnant women.” Staying at a hotel with a pool gave me much-needed relief in between wandering the historic (but seriously hot) streets of Penang, Malaysia.
  • Bring documentation: As noted before, many airlines require a doctor’s note for women to fly between 28 and 35 weeks. But how do you prove how far along you are in the earlier weeks? At my last doctor’s appointment before flying to Asia, I asked for a note allowing me to travel just in case, having heard that Malaysia sometimes restricts entry to pregnant women in later months for fear that they will give birth in the country. Good thing I did as nearly every Turkish Airlines personnel asked me for my medical report: when checking in, at the gate, and on the plane. If you’re traveling internationally after 20 weeks, play it safe and bring a note.
  • Do half as much: For first trimester travel, I noted that you should realize your limits have changed. Though energy levels may increase in the second trimester, jet lag and extreme weather still take a major toll. I had a long to-do list in Singapore but could barely manage half the things. I scoffed at paying for the tram at the zoo, but in hindsight, it would have been much easier and more comfortable to get around Singapore’s massive animal park. Even if you normally avoid overpriced museum cafes, they might provide the break you need to stay a little longer. Taxis are another friend of pregnant women, especially when they are air-conditioned.
  • Buy local snacks: Pregnancy is a double-edged sword when it comes to eating: your hunger is greatly increased but you have to watch what you put into your body, whether you’re in a foreign country or not. Often flights arrive late at night or you mistime your lunch break when all the restaurants are closed, leaving you without many food options. Penang is known as Malaysia’s food capital but I had to make different choices for safety’s sake and avoid some of the famed street food, though Singapore’s hawker centers are quite hygienic even when you are eating for two. A visit to a supermarket can provide an expecting traveler with a range of unusual but safe food. Each night in Asia I tried different bottled drinks, from the tasty calamansi juice to the vile lemon-barley drink. Having a stash of local snacks made me feel better about staying safe with street food while still enjoying products only found in Malaysia. America needs to get with the Kit Kat drumstick ice cream cone, though I’m not so sure about the blueberry-and-hazelnut Pringles.
  • Dress for comfort: Nearly all pregnant women experience swelling in the hands and feet, particularly in the last few months. Air travel, salty foods, and humidity exacerbate this, so halfway through my vacation, I worried I’d burst out of my shoes like the Incredible Hulk. If you’re traveling to a hot place, pack shoes that give you a bit of room and remove your rings before flying (good opportunity to find a nice necklace to wear them on). Also be sure to dress in cool clothing that still provides coverage to avoid (or protect) sunburn.

With three months to go, there’s still more Knocked up abroad to come, stay tuned for more on pregnancy travel.