World’s top tourist destination on ‘very high’ travel risk list

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You all excited for a third year of the pandemic? Neither are we. But as restrictions tighten around the world, CNN Travel has been taking solace in the world’s greatest cocktail bars and Europe’s finest cheeses.

Here are the latest travel developments you need to know about from the past seven days.

Omicron is still complicating travel as the holidays creep up

Since the world learned of Omicron in late November, travel restrictions have changed minute by minute. With new medical information trickling in, travelers face a complicated landscape for the holidays. We’ve got expert advice from US doctors on whether the new variant should figure into holiday travel plans and gathering for parties.

If you’ve got an international trip coming up and want to know what’s what, CNN Travel has 35 regularly updated destination guides on our Unlocking the World page, covering the Covid rules everywhere from Antarctica to Uruguay. Just click on the banner at the top of any of our Unlocking the World articles to dive in.

France moved into the CDC's highest-risk category for travel this week.

Each week, many of these destinations move up and down the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s travel risk list. France, the world’s top tourist destination pre-pandemic, moved into the highest-risk category on Monday. It’s among seven destinations that joined the “very high” risk this week.

A passenger jumped out of a jet while another assaulted crew

Omicron is sweeping through Europe. The United States is preparing for full-throttle winter holiday travel. And Australia and the Caribbean island-nation of St. Kitts and Nevis are relaxing visitor restrictions.

Then on December 8, a man who told police he wanted to steal a jet so he could fly to Area 51 to look at aliens was arrested after he used a limo to drive through fences at Las Vegas McCarran International Airport, parked on an aircraft ramp and made a bomb threat. The following night, a Delta flight from Washington, DC, to Los Angeles made an emergency landing in Oklahoma City after a passenger allegedly assaulted two people.

No wonder people are looking at alternative, perhaps less stressful, ways to travel.

A 67-year-old Slovenian is swimming the world’s most dangerous rivers, braving pirates and piranhas on his way. It’s certainly one way to avoid check-in queues.

Remember when travel was glamorous?

There are lots of cool new high-speed trains

Created to give Pan Am airplane crew and passengers luxurious places to stay, InterContinental hotels sprang up globally in the 1960s and ’70s. Here’s how they combined distinctive US midcentury style with local inspiration.

As the world faces up to climate change, short-haul flights are looking increasingly unattractive to many travelers. For intercity or international journeys of up to 700 kilometers (345 miles), high-speed rail is looking to be the most effective alternative, and these days, trains can reach speeds of up to 290 kph (180 mph) or more.

China is the world leader in the field, but Spain, Germany, Italy, Belgium and England are expanding the European network and other countries are expected to follow suit by the 2030s.

CNN’s Ben Jones has put together this round-up of where you can travel on the world’s fastest trains in 2022.

London has the world’s best bars

For the second year in a row, London’s Connaught Bar – at the 124-year-old Connaught Hotel in Mayfair – has been crowned the best bar in the world. That’s thanks to its elegant Cubist-inspired setting, five-star hospitality, and a cocktail offering which includes a Martini trolley where personalized drinks are prepared tableside.

If contemporary industrial chic is more your thing, Tayēr + Elementary, across town on East London’s Old Street, specializes in bottled cocktails and is No. 2 on the annual World’s 50 Best Bars list.

And Europe has incredible cheeses

We’ll never know the identity of the ancient glutton of yore who realized that when bacteria curdles milk, the results are delicious after a while. We – or the lactose-tolerant of us, at least – do owe her or him a huge favor. In honor of that dairy-loving pioneer, this week CNN Travel put together a list of Europe’s most delightful cheeses.

For the real turophiles in the house, you can follow that up with a read about maggot-ridden casu marzu, the world’s most dangerous cheese, or settle down with the tale of how the humble cheddar won hearts around the world.

You might also want to put the newly crowned world’s best cheese on your to-taste list.

Total eclipse over Antarctica

TOPSHOT - This handout picture released by Imagen Chile shows Chilean and US scientists looking at a solar eclipse from the Union Glacier in Antarctica on December 4, 2021. - RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT AFP PHOTO / IMAGEN CHILE / FELIPE TRUEBA - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISIGN CAMPAIGNS -DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS (Photo by FELIPE TRUEBA / Imagen Chile / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT AFP PHOTO / IMAGEN CHILE / FELIPE TRUEBA - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISIGN CAMPAIGNS -DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT AFP PHOTO / IMAGEN CHILE / FELIPE TRUEBA - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISIGN CAMPAIGNS -DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS (Photo by FELIPE TRUEBA/Imagen Chile/AFP via Getty Images)
See total solar eclipse over Antarctica
01:00 - Source: CNN

A full solar eclipse brought a few minutes of total darkness to Antarctica, which usually experiences 24/7 daylight during its summer.

In case you missed it

Camels were disqualified from a beauty pageant because of Botox use.

But those beautiful eyelashes are real.

A climber found jewels worth $168,700 on Mont Blanc.

And he gets to keep half of them!

What up, IKEA…

Sweden wants its place names back.

Dead chickens have been keeping airplanes safe for years.

And you never even thought to thank them.

A photo from the other side of the world sparked a continent-spanning pandemic love story.

And no, it wasn’t on a dating app.

CNN’s Melissa Alonso, Caroll Alvarado, Julia Buckley, Alaa Elassar, Jack Guy, Ben Jones, Sharif Paget, Teodora Preda, Francesca Street, Mohammed Tawfeeq and Maegan Vazquez contributed to this report.

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