In a world somewhat obsessed with latest technology, living in the fast lane and a focus on the future, it’s comforting to know that in some places you can go back to the good ‘ol days. Imagine being able to relive the times of travel by steam engines, accommodation sculpted by renaissance architecture or experiencing the excitement of going to a brand new drive-in. Turns out, history is not as buried as we may think and all these things are just a decision away. This month, we look at travel then and now; how people got around, where they stayed and what they did, back when times were a little different.
The ways and means of navigating the world are continually evolving. Gone are the days of penny farthings and horse-drawn carriages, but no matter the progress of modern transport, at the core it remains undeniably tied to its humble beginnings. Descartes said "Traveling is almost like talking with those of other centuries", and even when this is true of nothing else, transport nevertheless connects us to the past. From vintage flying machines to hypersonic jets (4,500 miles per hour) and traditional steam trains to China’s CRH 380A (258.9 miles per hour), vintage transport played an imperative role in getting us to where we are today (excuse the pun).
Hot Air Balloons
It has been said that ever since man saw birds, we have wanted to fly. Following numerous and varied attempts at flight, 1783 brought the first successful flying machine that could transport passengers; the hot air balloon. From its humble beginnings as something of a science experiment transporting a sheep, duck and rooster, to its modern-day popularity for leisure flights, photo opportunities and countless wedding proposals, a certain magic continues to endure; without the task of actually having to transport people anywhere specific and without any mechanical aid to direct its course, the original spirit of flight for the sake of flying lives on only in hot air ballooning.
The original spirit of flight for the sake of flying lives on only in hot air ballooning.
To experience this unforgettable pleasure, get in touch with the UK’s popular Bailey Balloons. Having received numerous awards over the years and flown well-known personalities, such as Jamie Oliver and Ant and Dec, their authority in the industry is unquestionable. Aside from the various launch locations and flights available, Bailey Balloons also offer accredited training for ballooning enthusiasts.
For a full-blown ballooning spectacle, head to the annual Bristol International Balloon Fiesta (8 - 11 August 2013). The biggest balloon festival in Europe, it attracts over 500,000 spectators and sees 150 balloons launched, including two nights of the famous Nightglows. Want to know more? Check out www.bristolballoonfiesta.co.uk.
Olden-day air travel is a world apart from the modern flight experience. Some may fondly remember the golden days of aviation, while others may relish that the bygone days are over and done. From strictly-single, high-hemmed stewardesses to gender-equal flight attendants, and free-for-all onboard smoking sections to strict bans on even carrying a cigarette lighter through the security check, plane travel certainly isn’t what it used to be. Remember the days when you could meet loved-ones right at their gate, when you didn’t have to take off your shoes to get passed security, and luggage arrived untouched without having to wrap it in plastic? Or when the price of a ticket included a five-star meal, unlike today where certain airlines charge extra for food and drinks, onboard blankets and even standard-sized carry-on luggage.
We may never again be able to recreate the glamorous and somewhat romantic air travel of decades past, but at least we still have the opportunity to experience vintage aeroplanes. Classic Warbirds brings “vintage aircrafts to life”. With over 60 different aircrafts to choose from and a variety of flights across the UK, you’re guaranteed a memorable experience. For more information; www.classicwarbirds.co.uk.
Alternatively, if you would like to honour aviation history, contact the Vintage Aircraft Club for membership information or to subscribe to their Club Magazine: www.vintageaircraftclub.org.uk
Trains have been around since the early 1800s. Said to have revolutionised transport and greatly affected societies on the whole, still today they remain to be one of the most useful and popular means of travel. And even in movies and literature - many a train has played a climactic role; just think of those whodunnit films where a powerless character is mercilessly tied to the tracks (only to be saved by the brave hero), and all the edge-of-your-seat fight scenes that have carried avenging men to the rooftops of speeding trains.
It’s true that trains of bygone days were applauded for catering to all wallet sizes (even if it meant squashing into an open-air carriage), but in the present day and age, train travel is often far removed from the once leisurely and grand transport experience previously afforded to first class passengers.
And that’s precisely what makes the Orient Express so extraordinary. ”A journey on board the iconic train is top of many a wish list, with the vintage 1920’s and 1930’s Art Deco carriages transporting guests to a more elegant age of travel. Romance, adventure and style are all intimately bound up in journeys and tours that criss-cross Europe, rolling through sublime scenery to some of the continent’s most alluring cities. Once settled in their plush cabins, white-gloved stewards will be on hand to top up the fine crystal glasses with champagne. Dressed in their finery, guests dine in the beautiful, original Art Deco dining cars, enjoying the finest cuisine with an ever changing landscape to savor. Vintage cabins, gastronomic cuisine and lively on-board entertainment make a journey aboard this iconic train one of the world’s finest travel experiences, a sequence of unforgettable moments.” For more information about the Orient Express, go to www.orient-express.com.
It’s the feel of the open road beneath your wheels... the hum of your engine as you grip the throttle...
Now for land travel of a different form. Ridden by millions, lauded by even more, and dreaded by mothers across the world, motorbikes have to be the Kurt Cobain of all transport. Invented in the late 1800s, they have continually evolved, both in functionality and design, to this day. And as anyone who owns and rides a motorbike knows, there’s so much more to it than just a mode of transport. It’s the feel of the open road beneath your wheels, the freedom inspired by the air rushing right past you, the hum of your engine as you grip the throttle... and from the array of makes, models and designs to choose from, you get to feel like your bike is, quite possibly, unlike any other.
Some biking enthusiasts may maintain that the golden days of motorcycles have come and gone, that they just don’t make them the way they used to. And indeed they don’t, but that doesn’t mean that the world is done with classics like the Royal Enfield and Triumph. I’m by no means a biker, but I have been on the back of an Enfield, riding through the Southern Indian countryside on a warm afternoon - and I’ve never experienced anything else quite like that.
To relive the best of motorcycle history yourself right here in the UK, there are companies who organise vintage bike tours. For example, check out Classic Bike Hire, who boast a selection of classic models, and offer tailor-made tours, to be enjoyed on your own or with a well-qualified tour guide. For more information, go to www.classicbikehire.com.
Just like trains, passenger cruise ships date all the way back to the 1800s. Granted that over the years certain cruise liners have been splashed across the headlines for sinking, crashing or being captured by pirates, by and large cruises continue to be a much loved and sought-after travel experience.
Although passenger ships may have had humble beginnings (due to originally only being used to transport cargo), by the early twentieth century, superliners were being introduced and the world became acquainted with the idea of massive floating hotels. These liners essentially attempted to recreate all the comforts and luxuries of land-bound hotels, but also offered guests the experience of glamour and delight as they made their leisurely way across the Atlantic Ocean.
Modern cruise holidays may be somewhat quicker paced and mechanically advanced than passenger liners of old, but they are purported to be no less grandiose. Nowadays, onboard entertainment has been taken to new heights, cabins are afforded the highest possible levels of comfort and just like the lavish dining experience of decades before, passengers are invited to several-course meals, three times a day, in lavishly decorated dining halls.
If a cruise sounds like a good way to spend your next holiday, then visit www.thomascook.com/cruise/ to take advantage of their special offers.
Ferries are popular the world over. Water-side cities across the globe offer passengers fast and frequent trips, often accommodating cars too, and ultimately bringing cross-waterway destinations a whole lot closer together.
It’s a mode of travel that dates back hundreds of years.
While the idea of ferrying is said to date back to ancient times with Greek mythology describing a boatman who carried souls to the underworld, that’s not exactly what I’d call vintage travel. So instead of giving you a rundown of their history, the next time you find yourself on a ferry, maybe consider just how much a part of history they are. Unlike luxury trains or grand cruises, ferries are transport for the sake of transport. Nonetheless, it’s a mode of travel that dates back hundreds of years and will hopefully continue to carry us into the future.
By Caitlin MurphyBack to top
February is more than just the month of romance and expensive heart-shaped teddy bears. It’s a period where tradition and love mix - whether this love is for your family or your partner - to make an unforgettable combination of fun and memories. One of the best ways to do this is to immerse yourself in a different time. So why not take a trip back in time, when accommodation was more than just a modern skyline hotel with free wi-fi. Here's everything you need to have a bygone accommodation experience in 2013.
Alternative Vintage Accommodation
Vintage accommodation isn't all about grand ballrooms and elaborate architecture. Sometimes, the simple and creative are far more appealing. To get that transported-back-in-time feeling, I tried to find accommodation that has managed to maintain its unique, vintage style in a competitive modern era. The hidden little places really are the true gems.
Think back to the period of steam engines and the 1926 Oxford Bullnose Cowley, and you’ll get an idea of what your experience at Old Station will be like. More than a century ago it was known as Petworth Railway Station and transported passengers from the former London single-track Pulborough to Midhurst. Shortly after freight traffic closure in 1966 the railway was converted into a charming guesthouse. Guests have the luxury of choosing to stay in the Old Station or to be transported back in time if they decide to stay on the actual train. The rooms are fitted with modern baths and showers, but all have a vintage decor theme, which only adds to the natural ambience of the quirky setting.
It’s the perfect way to escape the craziness of the modern world
Old Station rooms are beautifully decorated and the carriage, although narrow, makes up for space with its four poster bed and rich brown interior. The waiting room will take you back to the days of old, brown leather couches and warm fires crackling in winter, all while listening to the classics of the 1940's. The breakfast is highly recommended (a mix of traditional English, and a healthy, filling fruit salad). It’s the perfect way to escape the craziness of the modern world and immerse yourself in a scene from The Great Gatsby.
In 2013 it’s hard to find a place that doesn't strive to be ultra-modern and equipped with the fanciest, most technologically advanced amenities. Sometimes, all you want to do is lay back and revel in peace and tranquility.
Vintage Vacations specialises in taking caravans from another era and maintaining them so that the old-time feel is still around. Their oldest caravan, a 1946 Spartan Manor, is tiled with that retro red, white and black check design from the era, along with brown wooden walls and patched quilts. If you’re planning on booking the caravan accommodation, you should try Doris, a mid-fifties British fisher caravan. On the outside she really does look the way she sounds - like an old woman. The inside is cosy with mix-matched knitted covers on the furniture. Really, you won’t find better vintage accommodation anywhere else!
Hotels - Then and Now
From classic railways and rustic caravans to something a little more elegant. The skyscraper buildings with impeccable service and a good reputation often have a deep history - some even date back to pre-war times when hotels were turned into hospitals.
The Langham London
A popular attraction for London’s elite.
The Langham London is one of the more dazzling hotels that has gone through a complicated history. When it opened in 1865 it was the largest building in London. The launch was grand; the Prince of Wales, later known as King Edward VII cut the ribbon. Understandably, the hotel was a popular attraction for London’s elite. Besides royalty, other notable guests included Napoleon III of France, Oscar Wilde and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. At the time of the opening, the hotel had nearly 600 rooms, 300 water closets with hot and cold water and the world’s first hydraulic lifts.
Through the years, the hotel has changed owners a few times, suffered through a fire and was even petitioned to be demolished by the BBC. Today, however, it is controlled by Langham International Hotels, and its old reputation that made it one of the most important and stylish hotels in the world during the 1800s is well on its way to being restored. Princess Diana was also a frequent guest there and don’t be surprised if you see Elton John or Richard Gere strolling through the hallways.
St.Pancras Renaissance Hotel
There are many hotels throughout the world that have a significant history, but British hotels just seem to carry a timeless feel. Perhaps it is the presence of former-royals in the halls, or maybe the fact that even today, many British traditions prevail. Either way, we couldn’t help but pick another hotel in the United Kingdom. Even the name, St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel, speaks of a time of grand balls, influential literature, groundbreaking art and plenty of scandal. Previously known as the Midland Grand Hotel, the construction took a few years - beginning in 1868, it was finally completed in 1876.
Historic Hotels - Then and Now tells the story of the Gothic Revival Architecture Movement, which was popular at the time; the hotel was built to model this design.The grand staircase with its High-Victorian, Gothic decoration was one the hotel’s most well-known features. If that’s not enough to attract you to this elegant, classic hotel, then maybe its previous guests will; among them were Johnnie Walker and Commodore Vanderbilt, one of the wealthiest men in the world, who loved the design so much that he took it back to the states and used it as a guide when building Grand Central Station.
The hotel has endured a fire and was home to the British Rail Offices before attempts to demolish it were presented. The movement against Gothic architecture and the notion that it was “too beautiful and too romantic to survive”, made it a target. Luckily, the building was preserved and used as a backdrop for many films, photo shoots and music videos - the Spice Girls’ Wannabe music video among them. Today, after one of the most costly and significant restoration projects in English history, St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel epitomises the period of grandeur and splendour.
We’ve covered the elegance of the Victorian era and the high-energy period of the roaring twenties, as well as the movement in the post war period. But there is still a vital time that was filled with fun, activities and dirty dancing: the eighties!
Mountain Lake Hotel
Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey made the idea of a resort holiday exciting and mysterious. Its popularity soared when the cult-classic production was released and today, with families wanting to get away from the busy modern lifestyle, resort holidays are becoming popular again. What better place to start at then, than the place where Dirty Dancing was actually filmed - Mountain Lake Hotel, or as it is known in the movie, Kellerman’s Resort.
The film may have been released more than two decades ago, but the resort is still capitalising on its success. Comfortably tucked away in the USA's Virginian woods, Mountain Lake Resort offers hiking, mountain biking, volleyball, lawn chess, golf and of course, dancing. Their rooms reflect their retro/vintage style and guests can choose to stay in one of 12 units (the same units that the dancers from Dirty Dancing - The Time of Your Life reality series stayed in) - a cottage that features a family room, sofa bed and snack area. You can also choose to stay in the historic Stone Hotel.
You truly will be transported back to the magical days of Dirty Dancing.
The hotel was opened in 1936 and has been restored to reflect a Virginia country style while continuing to maintain the rustic, historic charm of the original building. It’s the perfect getaway for a family, as there are activities for both parents and kids. There is even a Dirty Dancing festival, where you will get dance lessons, have the opportunity to enter the Baby and Johnny lookalike competition, get the chance to cruise in an antique car and visit the movie locations. And a portion of the proceeds will be donated to the American Cancer Society in honour of Patrick Swayze.
Bridge View Bed and Breakfast
When talking about holidays, it would be criminal not to include a seaside resort. The taste of fish and chips, the smell of the sea and visiting nature reserves is something that can’t be replaced by an Ipad or Xbox. Conwy County in Llandudno is one of the UK's most beautiful seaside resorts. The Bridge View Bed and Breakfast is one of those homely, welcoming B&Bs, which aren’t so easily found these days. The building was formerly part of a police station and magistrates court - a hearty, traditional English breakfast is even served in what was previously a courtroom. The lounge and garden overlook the river and the whole B&B is ideal for birdwatching.
Although the accommodation itself doesn’t have activities, the tiny town does. Besides visiting the zoo and nature reserve, you can also experience Conwy’s medieval castle or the Great Orme’s prehistoric copper mines. Or indulge in the watersports on offer - from skiing and sailing to surfing and canoeing. If that’s too extreme for you then the Royal Cambrian Academy Art Gallery and theatre performances at Venue Cymru will be ideal. The holidays of walks on the beaches and picnics on green lawns are back, with a modern touch, for you to enjoy to the fullest.
By Caelyn WoolwardBack to top
Taking part in various activities while travelling has always been the best way to create memories. Of course, over the years some of these activities have changed along with the development of the world. This month, I’ve decided to take a look at the activities that were popular for travellers way back in the day, and still prove to be popular today. From sports, to leisure to pure entertainment, here's the then and now of travel activities for you.
While there are so many different types of holidays people can take, there’s no doubt that most people will indulge in a bit of leisure time while travelling. I've selected a couple of activities that date back years and yet you can still experience them today. Here's how you can take part in some leisure time - vintage style:
Jazz Clubs - Chicago, USA
Nothing says “leisure” more than sipping on a drink and enjoying a hearty meal while listening to some live music. The popular music genre of jazz started gained popularity in the 1910s, in New Orleans. The “Roaring 20s”, however, brought the musicians to Chicago - making this decade “The Jazz Age”. But this was also the era during which the sale of alcohol was banned, resulting in speakeasies - clubs that sold liquor illegally.
A notably famous speakeasy from this time was The Friar’s Inn. This jazz club was located in a basement in the popular community area, Chicago Loop. While it welcomed a growing number of jazz fans, it also attracted infamous mobsters such as rivals, Al Capone and Dean ‘Dion’ O’Branion. In those days, gangsters made big cash by illegally supplying liquor to the clubs.
There are legal ways to experience the jazziness that is Chicago
Nowadays, while gangsters and these underground jazz clubs still exist in Chicago, there are legal ways to experience that jazziness. If you happen to visit America’s “windy city”, make sure to catch a live performance at Andy’s Jazz Club. Established in 1951, this is one of the most well-known jazz clubs in the city, luring tourists and locals alike. The club is best known for its top jazz artists, great food and their cheap entrance fee of between £6 and £9 ($10 - $15) depending on what time you go. Best of all, it’s fun for the whole family as kids under 21 are also allowed to enjoy the live music if they’re with a parent.
Photography - Anywhere In The World
A trip abroad wouldn’t be complete without taking photos. Photography is the awe-inspiring art of freezing a moment in time, and it became popular way back in the 1800s. Back then, photos were all monochrome (black and white), yet even with the creation of colour photography, monochrome remained the preferred choice for many years, due to its classy look.
The 1940s introduced photography as a way to help boost the careers of actresses, models and burlesque performers, by bringing in the notion of “pin-up girls” such as Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn. Even today, these photos are sold in poster formats and hung up in houses all over the world to give it that vintage feel.
Now, with the rise of digital photography, comes a modern type of art - one involving high resolution, bright photos that have been edited in programs such as Photoshop. For just £75, you can attend workshops all over the UK given by Going Digital to learn all about digital photography. Despite the way this art has advanced over the past 200 or so years, many people prefer to recreate the vintage, old-school look.
Invest in a lomography camera - as this still uses film
If you want to be authentic about it, I would recommend you invest in a lomography camera - as this still uses film. Another option for some truly vintage portraits is to go to Julia Boggio Studios in London, owned by the award-winning photographer. Here, women can choose categories such as “Vintage Boudoir” to feel glamourous, or they can choose to channel their inner Marie Antoinette-style with some “Antoinette Boudoir”. Couples can opt for a “Vintage Couple” shoot too. A truly memorable experience to recreate the classic nature of the art of photography.
After the sightseeing is done, many people seek to be entertained in the city they’re exploring. Some attend famous concerts on Broadway, others might head to the movies or go ice-skating. The options, depending on which city you’re visiting of course, are often limitless. I've selected a couple of means of entertainment that have really stood the test of time.
The Drive-In - USA
Nothing screams vintage entertainment to me more than drive-ins. While I’m aware that they exist all over the world, I always think of America when I hear about people going to the drive-in - perhaps it has something to do with that famous scene at the drive-in in Grease. This form of entertainment of watching a movie while parked in your car is still, and always has been, perfect for families and romantic couples alike.
The citizens of Pennsylvania were introduced to their first drive-in in the early 1930s. This drive-in, Shankweilers, is still open today and has double features every night. And what’s a movie-going experience without popcorn? This place has a great snackbar where you can buy big boxes of popcorn, hot and cold drinks and candy.
You'll want to visit Ford Drive-In in Michigan
If you want to go to an old drive-in that still captures the era in which it was established - the 1950s - then you’ll want to visit the Ford Drive-In in Michigan. The venue is huge, with space for almost 3,000 cars. It also has a double feature every night, portable speakers for inside your car and even portable car heaters for those cold, winter nights. In order to stick to its tradition, they still show the famous food animation during the intermission.
Take a look at the intermission cartoon in the background as a heartbroken Danny sings about Sandy at the drive-in in Grease:
Moulin Rouge - Paris, France
For a night of sheer entertainment in the beautiful city of lights, Paris, watch a performance at the iconic Moulin Rouge. Opened in October 1889, the Moulin Rouge has become a landmark in Paris with its famous red windmill on the roof; and it’s the very same place where the modern, faster and sexier version of the can-can was born. I would even go so far as to say that this is one of the most famous cabaret theatres in the world.
In the earlier years of its existence, the shows were inspired by the circus and therefore featured some quite acrobatic acts. The Moulin Rouge was destroyed by a fire in 1915, but successfully reopened again in 1921. The venue and its - albeit risque - shows attracted tourists and locals as it continued to become more and more popular through the years.
These days, the Moulin Rouge still has a lot of the same romantic decor that it originally had. With it still being one of Paris’ top attractions at the turn of the 21st century, it got even more recognition in 2001 thanks to the Academy Award-winning film, Moulin Rouge!, starring Nicole Kidman and Ewan Mcgregor. In 2009, the famous cabaret venue celebrated its 120th year in show business.
Besides the many concerts that the venue holds, it’s also available to host functions, galas and charity events. And, if you happen to be in the romantic city of Paris this Valentine’s Day, what better way to spend it than to wine and dine and see a performance? From 14 to 16 February 2013, you can buy a ticket for a special Valentine’s meal. But it doesn't come cheap, a booking here for the Valentine’s Day celebration will set you back a whopping £168 (€200).
Take a look at the modern twist of the cabaret and the can-can dance in 2001’s Moulin Rouge! in the video below:
Sport, in my opinion, has very much the same effect on people as music does, in that it completely unites people. While I’m not the biggest sports fan in the world, whenever I go watch a match live in a stadium, there’s no denying the incredible atmosphere you experience there. Sport has been around forever, way back in the times of the ancient Greeks and Romans, and it’s not dying down. I’ve chosen a couple of really old and traditional sports for you to enjoy - ones where you can get the feeling of participating in the “then and now” of sport.
Horse Racing Derby Days - England And USA
Derby days have always been seen as prestigious events, what with the fancy dress code, traditions and honourable guests. Probably the most famous derby day of all is the Epsom Derby Day, now also known as the Investec Derby Day. Established all the way back in 1780, it takes place at Epsom Downs in England and paved the way for derby days throughout the world. Men are meant to wear tail coats and top hats on the day of the race, while women must wear a formal day dress and a hat or fascinator (a small hat-type that is pinned to your hair). These age-old traditions still stand today. This year, the event takes place on 1 June 2013 - so make sure to go - you may even spot the royal family.
Epsom isn’t the only place where you can experience the vintage side of horse racing. The Kentucky Derby Day in USA is another great one to attend and is often frequented by a host of celebrities. Established in 1875, almost a century after Epsom, it has been famously dubbed as “the most exciting two minutes in sport”. Like Epsom, it’s also home to its own traditions, such as the Mint Julep, a refreshing, minty whiskey drink served in silver julep cups, and also a song that’s sung, “My Old Kentucky Home”. Traditions aren't only for the guests though - the winner of the race is also given a blanket of red roses, which is the official flower of the race. Lastly, you’ll feel like you've stepped into vintage paradise with all the big hats, fascinators, suits and pastel dresses as they stick to the accustomed dress code. The next Kentucky Derby takes place on 4 May 2013.
Cricket - England
Cricket may be a popular sport in countries around the world, but England is where it all began. Records prove that cricket was played as early as the 1500s, but it wasn't until the 18th century that it became England’s national sport. Of course, soon enough, it was played in other parts of the world too.
Back then, cricket was a sport for manly men and only considered for the rich gentlemen of that time. Nowadays, women play international cricket too and anybody can enjoy the sport.
Cricket fans the world over refer to Lord’s as the home of cricket
Cricket reached a milestone when Thomas Lord opened Lord’s, the world-renowned cricket grounds in St John’s Wood, now owned by the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC). The cricket grounds were established between 1787 and 1814 and remain open to this day. In fact, cricket fans the world over refer to Lord’s as the “home of cricket”. Lord’s is the perfect example of a “then and now” sports venue. You can go there today to watch your favourite teams play, and yet you’re always able to feel like you’re still experiencing it in the past, thanks to Lords’ rich history.
There are also tours available, which take you all over the iconic grounds. It’s about 1 hour and 40 minutes long and you get to see the MCC Museum, which has housed the famous Ashes urn since 1927 - brought about by former English team captain, Hon Ivo Bligh, who said he would “bring home the ashes” from their match against Australia. The museum also has many photos, artefacts and even paintings. On the tour, you’ll also be able to explore the pavillion. Although you can see cricket live on your TV in almost any country, any true fan will appreciate going back to the home of cricket.
By: Zoe HarringtonBack to top
Last Updated: February 2013