Students, the elderly, history buffs and tour operators — these are the kinds of people who typically guide visitors on sightseeing expeditions around their city. But Barcelona is proving tour guides really do come from all walks of life, thanks to a new program that puts homeless people in charge of leading tourists.
The Spanish city says it’s aiming to improve the lives of the unemployed and give tourists a unique perspective on the city by offering some of Barcelona’s 3,000 homeless people the chance to guide travelers on the Hidden City Tours walk. The tour will provide visitors with a historic look at the city and hopes to open their eyes to the “social reality” of the region.The concept was inspired by a similar program employing homeless guides in Britain. The tours will begin in mid-October and be available in English and Spanish.
However, it’s not just in Europe where you’ll find travel industry workers who are homeless. The New York Times revealed today that many of the Big Apple’s homeless shelter residents hold down several jobs, including positions as security guards at JFK Airport.
While early explorers may have spent countless weeks plotting their journeys on maps and charting the best course to get to their destination, it seems many modern day travelers don’t have a clue about where they’re actually going.
A new study has found massive numbers of travelers can’t find their vacation destination on a world map. When asked where Cyprus was located, 53% of respondents were stumped, pointing to countries like Greece instead. This is despite having traveled to the Mediterranean island within the past year. Turkey also had recent visitors scratching their heads, with around half of those surveyed hard-pressed to locate the nearly 1,000 mile long country on an atlas.What’s most bizarre, however, is those people who seemed to have trouble locating their own country on a map. When asked where France was, a surprising 14% of French respondents pointed to their northern neighbor Belgium.
But perhaps we shouldn’t be so hard on the French. After all, remember this famous gaffe a few years back, when a Miss Teen USA contestant was asked why a fifth of Americans couldn’t locate the US on a world map?
But it’s not just beauty pageant contestants that are stumped by geography. Even politicians can get tripped up, like in this interview where John McCain refers to the problems at the Iraq/Pakistan border…which doesn’t exactly exist.
And then there was the time that President Obama managed to visit all corners of the US, including “about 57 states”.
Do you think it matters that so many people are confused by world geography? Or is understanding maps irrelevant in this day and age of GPS and technology?
Most passengers don’t even wait for the seat belt light to go off before jumping up from their seats and getting ready to disembark the plane, so it’s no surprise that in the hurry belongings often get left behind.
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You’re probably imagining that most of the forgotten items involve things commonly stowed in the seat back compartment, such as passports, books and cell phones — and you wouldn’t be wrong. But it seems many of our fellow travelers are also flying with some pretty strange cargo, at least according to a study by booking site Skyscanner, which rounded up the most bizarre things left behind by passengers on planes.
Some of the oddities forgotten on flights include underwear, handcuffs and bags of diamonds — all the kinds of things that would certainly have you questioning who you’re sitting next to. Animals also made the list, with parrots, frogs, falcons and even eggs forgotten by their owners. Other items we’re not sure how the owners walked off without include prosthetic legs and glass eyes.
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However planes aren’t the only place where travelers experience forgetfulness. Airport security is an all too easy spot to misplace belongings and while many fliers forget their belts and keys, others leave behind false teeth, wigs and adult toys. London City Airport said these made the list of strangest things left in the terminal, along with an artificial skull, signed blank check book and yet another bag of diamonds.
Hotels have also seen their fair share of wacky objects forgotten in rooms, including a showjumping horse, a life size cardboard cutout of a comedian and a wok (apparently the guest had filled the toilet with charcoal in the hopes of turning it into a barbeque).
Delta has received a slap on the wrist for failing to properly compensate passengers who were bumped from their flights. The government handed the airline a $750,000 fine, saying the carrier had routinely mishandled overbooked flights by bumping passengers without asking for volunteers or compensating travelers.
Airlines regularly overbook flights since many passengers end up cancelling or changing their travel plans. If flights are still full when departure time rolls around, airlines typically ask travelers to volunteer for a later flight in order to avoid having to bump (and compensate) any passengers. However, not all travelers realize that they may be entitled to cash or understand the rules about it works.In general, if the alternative flight a bumped passenger is placed on arrives within one hour of when the original flight was scheduled to land, airlines don’t have to pay them anything. But according to U.S. federal regulations, passengers who are involuntarily bumped and will have their travel plans pushed out by more than an hour are entitled to at least 200 percent of the one-way fare to the destination (with a cap at $650). Compensation for longer delays maxes out at $1300.
This isn’t the first time Delta has been penalized for bungling how it deals with overbooked flights. The airline was fined back in 2009 for the same infraction.
Traveling on a beer budget isn’t easy when you have champagne tastes but it seems some vacationers have found a way to cheat their budgets – as well as everyone around them. A survey of British vacationers has revealed the lengths some travelers will go to in order to pinch their pennies, including lying and stealing, among other tactics.
One notorious strategy involves couples pretending to be on their honeymoon in order to score flight or room upgrades, with about 5 percent of survey respondents admitting to faking a special event so they could receive a perk.
Twelve percent of travelers confessed they’d used the pool or other facilities at a hotel they weren’t actually a guest of, while 8 percent said they had used another hotel’s shuttle bus.In some instances, entire families have been drawn into the charade, with about 11 percent of those polled saying they had lied about their children’s ages so they could pay a lower entrance fee when entering theme parks.
Other travelers looked for ways to cut costs when it came to food and drink. A whopping 39 percent of respondents owned up to pinching food from the breakfast buffet in order to save money on lunch. A handful of others admitted to stooping even lower by leaving a bar or restaurant without paying their bill. Reassuringly, only 1.4 percent of people fell into that category.
[Photo credit: Flickr user Marion Doss]