Journey step by step |  The independent

Journey step by step | The independent

Simon Calder, also known as The Man Who Pays His Way, has been writing about travel for The Independent since 1994. In his weekly opinion column, he explores a key question of travel and what it means to you.

“Stay inside, close all windows and shutters” – it doesn’t really feel like a holiday to me. But as Alison Roberts, a journalist from the north of Portugal, told BBC Radio Scotland, this is the official advice on how to deal with the extreme heat that afflicts the interior of the country, which in recent days had touched 47 ° C in the Douro valley. .

“We are seeing an extreme fire danger in the central and northern interior of Portugal,” he said Live lunch.

Across the border in Spain, according to BBC forecasts, the maximum average in Seville will be 35 ° C or more for the next two weeks. Even at night the temperature will not drop below 20 ° C on weekends.

The Spanish capital, Madrid, should feel fresher as it is the EU’s highest capital. The altitude of 657 m (2,156 ft) didn’t help much Friday night: the day’s temperature peaked at 7 p.m., reaching 37 ° C – normal body temperature (98.6 ° F).

Nine months of winter, three months of hell this is how the madrileños describe their climate: nine months of winter, three months of hell.

Annie Shuttleworth of the Met Office said so The independent that temperatures in parts of southern Europe could be 10 ° C above average during a third summer heatwave.

All of this places the inhabitants of the south of the continent in a heartbreaking position. People living in southern latitudes all year round face the prospect of a more extreme climate to come, along with the imminent danger of fires and the long-term threat of chronic drought.

Vacationers, on the other hand, have the advantage of choosing where to spend time and money. Could British travelers decide that August in the deep south of Europe no longer attracts? The intense demand for Mediterranean travel at the moment suggests otherwise: Saturday afternoon, seats from the London area to Malaga for travel on Sunday average £ 250 each way, baggage excluded.

However, as global leaders struggle with the possible consequences of climate change, the growing prospect of being told to stay inside behind closed shutters (or, more likely, with inadequate air conditioning) should trigger an afterthought.

It’s a question of degrees: the relationship between latitude and temperature. There is anything but a linear link, of course. Altitude and proximity to an ocean have a strong influence and extreme heat can occur in the strangest places – just ask the people of Coningsby in Lincolnshire, holder of the highest recorded temperature in the UK (19 July 2022, 40.3 ° C). That’s 104.5F in old money, although along the coast in Skegness it was a little more invigorating on that hot Tuesday.

Destination choices are made on all kinds of criteria: culture, cuisine, countryside … But if you take our two favorite countries for travel abroad, Spain and France, their continental lands cover a wide range of latitudes: from 36 to 43 for Spain, from 42 to 51 for France.

The beaches of Dunkirk in the far north of France are on par with those of the deep southwest beyond Perpignan and for many British travelers easier and cheaper to reach. In Spain, the Galician coast in the far northwest is as tempting as the Costa del Sol, and the Atlantic ensures air conditioning is rarely considered.

As an August getaway, I praise the one I did last year (partly because international travel was so complicated in those absurd “traffic light” times): Shetland.

At 60 north, sunscreen is strictly optional. Over the next week, there appears to be a steady high of 15 ° C in the island’s capital, Lerwick. And you can reach this surprisingly scenic and historic archipelago without flying. You could recalibrate your travels next summer.

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