MegaBus introduces sleeper bus overnight Glasgow-London

sleeper busEver wanted to travel like a rock star? Now in the UK, you can travel on a sleeper bus between Scotland and England and pretend you’re on tour. This week, while budget transportation company MegaBus announced new routes in the southern United States, with free tickets to celebrate), they also introduced a new sleeper bus service between Glasgow and London.

The 400-mile journey is a bit slower by bus than train (just under 8 hours vs. 7 hours, 10 minutes on ScotRail’s overnight service), but it’s cheaper, with fares from 1 to 40 GBP each way. Along with free wi-fi, coffee and tea service, and a plug in each berth for laptops and cell phones, each passengers gets an amenity pack with toothbrush and toothpaste, an eye mask, luggage label, and bottle of water. The 24 beds each have a pillow, duvet, and blanket and there are 24 regular seats as well if you want to spend part of the journey upright.

The BBC took a ride on the new bus and reported that while the berths lack headroom, they are still more comfortable for an overnight journey than a regular seat. One passenger said, “I found myself waking up in a panic, very aware that the ceiling was directly above my head, and I found it very uncomfortable” but still said she’d ride again.

Have you ever ridden on a sleeper bus? Tell us how you slept in the comments.

Photo courtesy MegaBus.

New exhibit sheds light on Antonine Wall, the Roman Empire’s northernmost border

Antonine Wall, ScotlandThere’s not much left of it now, just a deep swale in the earth and a few stones jutting out of the grass. Almost two thousand years ago, though, it was the northernmost boundary of the Roman Empire.

The Antonine Wall protected a narrow part of Scotland between the Firth of Forth and the Firth of Clyde, from the 140s to 160s AD. After the Emperor Hadrian built Hadrian’s Wall across what is now the border of England and Scotland, his successor Antoninus Pius decided to move 100 miles further north to gain a military and propaganda victory and add more land to the empire. The wall was built of turf on a stone foundation and stretched 39 miles, as opposed to the stone Hadrian’s Wall that ran 73 miles. Forts placed at regular intervals strengthened the both walls.

Now a new permanent exhibit at the Hunterian Museum in Glasgow brings together numerous artifacts from the wall to show what life was like for the soldiers living up there. Included are several elaborate sculptures commissions by Antoninus Pius to show off his great victory.

The Antonine Wall was only used from 142 to 162, and briefly again around 208. Later emperors decided it wasn’t worth the expense and effort and instead used Hadrian’s Wall as the northernmost boundary. Despite this short lifespan, several communities sprang up around it and there were at least two Roman baths. Excavations have yielded some interesting artifacts such as preserved sandals and a gravestone that shows someone from the Middle East lived there.

I’ve walked the length of Hadrian’s Wall along the Hadrian’s Wall Path and would love to do the same with the Antonine Wall, but sadly there is not yet a trail going along this important remnant of the glory of Rome.

Antoninus Pius, Antonine Wall

[Wall photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons. Photo of coin of Antoninus Pius also courtesy Wikimedia Commons]

Iceland volcano cancels flights

Iceland volcano, Grimsvotn
Here we go again.

After last year’s misery from the Eyjafjallajökull eruption, now another Icelandic volcano, Grimsvötn, is causing a new round of worries.

More than 250 flights have already been canceled as a cloud of volcanic ash blows over Scotland. Most of Ireland, northern Wales, and northern England will see the ash later today.

Several Scottish airports have been affected, including major ones such as Edinburgh and Glasgow. Other airports that will likely have problems today include Londonderry, Prestwick, Durham Tees Valley, Newcastle, and Carlisle. Officials say the cloud should move on and flights from Edinburgh and Glasgow will resume this afternoon. Airports in the far north of Scotland should get the all-clear tomorrow. Of course, that’s assuming there are no more eruptions or changes in the wind.

Luckily the wind has taken much of the ash away from populated areas, over the far north Atlantic, eastern Greenland, and north of Scandinavia.

Several airlines are not flying through Scottish airspace. You can see a full list here. Since the northerly route between Europe and North America passes through the ash cloud, transatlantic flights may have to be diverted, causing delays. Check ahead before going to the airport.

So far this doesn’t look like another Eyjafjallajökull. The Grimsvötn eruption is smaller and the ash particles are bigger, meaning they fall to earth more quickly instead of hanging in the atmosphere for days.

Have your travel plans been affected by the Grimsvötn eruption? Tell us about it in the comments section!

[Photo courtesy Roger McLassus]

Four United Kingdom cities show what rudeness is, Manchester meanest

Four levels of rudeness in the United KingdomSometimes, it can be pretty hard to face facts. Nobody wants to be called rude, and many destinations make great efforts to be perceived as welcoming. Well, forget what you see in the brochures and pretty PR pictures – some places are just tough.

Like the United Kingdom.

Now, I’ve hit London and several cities in Scotland. I had no problems at all. Then again, I’m from New York and grew up in Boston, two towns with reputations for rudeness over here. So, there’s a shot I just missed it. Thankfully, The Sun picks up the trail and shows us just how rude the people of Manchester, London, Glasgow and Bristol can be.

Why is The Sun picking on these three cities? Well, it’s pretty sad, really. A 77-year-old man lay unconscious on the street for close to five hours in freezing weather. Hundreds of people walked by and gave not a damn.

Of course, this could have happened in any major city, but The Sun decided to operate in its own back yard. Let’s take a look at what the newspaper learned by leaving a reporter out on the ground in below-freezing conditions:1. Manchester: The most sympathy the reporter got here was from one woman: “I thought you were dead. Your face didn’t look good.” Meanwhile, 15 people ignored him in 13 minutes. A builder asked his friend, “Is he homeless or p***ed?” but did nothing and several shoppers stared.

2. Glasgow: At the freezing mark, a philosophy student checked to see if the reporter was breathing. Was he rude? Not at all! In fact, Marc Deane, the concerned citizen who stopped, told The Sun, “”Some people don’t want to get involved in anything out of their routine. But it’s a small price to pay if somebody’s life is at stake.”

3. London: It took six people for someone to care to roll up and say something. The rest, according to The Sun, were severe: “One man gave barely a second glance and a grunt before walking on, still chatting on his mobile. Others just looked straight through our reporter.”

4. Bristol: Like Glasgow, Bristol knows how to treat a cold-weather victim. The reporter was “picked up off the ground almost as soon as he hit.” Bravo, Bristol![pho

[photo by Lara604 via Flickr]

Christmas in Afghanistan: Safer than New York City?

Nothing beats Manhattan for the holidays. I’m already seeing signs of Christmas appear all over the city. Lights are already wrapped around trees on W. 58th Street, and gigantic fir candy cane sculptures are beginning to adorn the city’s skyscrapers. There’s no doubt that the holiday season is nothing short of magical in New York City, and if you’re looking to experience Christmas away from home, this is the place to do it … unless you’re listening to the NATO.

Mark Sedwill, NATO’s senior civilian representative, has called Kabul, Afghanistan a safe place for kids, saying they “are probably safer here than they would be in London, New York or Glasgow or many other cities,” according to The Independent.

Of course, Sedwill is already backing away from his original comment, saying, “I was trying to explain to an audience of British children how uneven violence is across Afghanistan.”

%Gallery-106020%The Independent continues:

“But, in cities like Kabul where security has improved, the total levels of violence, including criminal violence, are comparable to those which many western children would experience.

“For most Afghans, the biggest challenges are from poverty – the absence of clean water, open sewers, malnutrition, disease – and many more children are at risk from those problems than from the insurgency.”

So, is that where you’re going to go to watch the tree-lighting?

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[Via Gawker, photo by zedwards via Flickr]