Mexico’s best barefoot beach

(CNN) — Isla Holbox is a small, slender island just north of Mexico‘s Yucatan peninsula in the Gulf of Mexico. Mexicans have long been in the know about this laid-back, go-everywhere-in-flip-flops getaway, but the news of Holbox’s beauty and ease of living has started to get out.

Though it’s in the state of Quintana Roo not far from Cancun and Playa del Carmen, Holbox’s vibe is more barefoot on the beach than late nights at the club. If that weren’t incentive enough, it’s also a gorgeous destination, with clear green-blue waters in every direction.

How to get there

Ferries from the small town of Chiquila pick up throughout the day, and you often don’t need to make a reservation in advance. Getting to Chiquila, however, can be a travel challenge if you can’t or don’t want to drive.

There are two buses a day from Playa del Carmen, and taxis will be pricey. If you do drive, the trip to Chiquila is 2-3 hours (depending on traffic and whether you take the toll highways or the local roads), and the ferry is passengers-only, so you’ll need to leave your car on the mainland.

isla holbox 8

Aquatic-inspired art is everywhere on Holbox.

Getty Images/Dallas Stribley

Generally, your best bet is to purchase a package from a travel company like Holbox Adventures, which will pick you up in Cancun at the airport or a tourist district hotel, drive you to the ferry terminal, get you and your bags on the boat, and meet you on the other side for hotel transport, all for about $145 per person (even though you may be in a small shared van with a few other people).

Several island hotels offer this door-to-door service as well, so ask about it when you book.

The good news is that once you actually get to Holbox, it’s easy to get around on your own by foot or bike.

isla holbox

In case you forgot how to spell Holbox, these letters along the beach should help.

Getty Images/James R.D. Scott

How to pronounce it

It’s hole-bosh, not hole-box. And you can drop the “isla,” as locals generally just call it Holbox.

The lay of the land

Holbox is a small island that measures about 26 miles long and one mile wide, and it only has about 2,000 full-time residents.

Many love the simple way of life, but that simple way of life can sometimes come with a price — sanitation services are sometimes taxed by the high number of visitors at peak season, and it’s not unusual to have power and/or WiFi blink out for days at a time if there’s a lot of rain.

Still, the latter scenario is often welcomed by travelers who are trying to get off the grid for a while.

isla holbox

This is what passes for a busy street on Isla Holbox.

Getty Images/Dallas Stribley

The roads in Holbox are narrow and not all paved, which means that the primary way to get around is by golf cart (if you see a yellow one, that’s a cab and you can hail it just like you would anywhere else in the world).

Pedestrians and cyclists have the right of way, but you should still keep an eye out for the occasional truck coming around a tight corner or who doesn’t have enough room to get around you.

isla holbox

Holbox’s design aesthetic is all about bright colors.

Getty Images/Dallas Stribley

Holbox is a great destination for street art. Many homes are painted in bright colors, and it’s not unusual for local businesses to hand-paint signs or decor for their restaurants and shops. On top of that, artist visitors often leave their own work behind them. To see great street art simply begin walking — you never know what you’re going to find.

Living la vida playa

Once you get to Holbox, you wouldn’t be blamed for doing absolutely nothing.

Each quadrant of the island is slightly different in terms of terrain, and the warm water is great for swimming. Along the northern shore, the water is often so calm that it feels like a warm, jewel-toned bathtub.

isla holbox sunset

Don’t miss a sunset on Holbox — even the birds come out to watch.

Getty Images/Jesús Gabán

There are stretches of sandbar visible at low tide, and most adults can simply start walking outward from the beach to the sandbar with the water coming no higher than their waists.

If you want to just spend the day in a palapa reading a book, Holbox is the perfect place for that. But if you want to go stand-up paddleboarding, swim, hike, do yoga, kayak or snorkel, there’s plenty of room for that too.

Many of the most beautiful discoveries are found along the northwestern shore of the island near the terribly named Mosquito Beach.

You’ll see a few ramshackle structures on the verge of toppling into the sea, hammocks or swings that are just inches above the water at high tide and bright letters spelling out “Holbox.” Unsurprisingly, these are all great spots for Instagram, and it’s hard to take a bad picture on Holbox with so much beauty accessible.

Food, drink, and more food

Holbox’s low-key lifestyle means that early risers might want to plan ahead if they like to eat first thing in the morning.

Le Jardin is a France-meets-Mexico café and bakery that opens by 9 a.m., which means that there’s almost always a line and visitors are encouraged to share table space with a new friend. In the French style, owner Stephane bakes fresh daily and when they’re out, they’re out — which means you’ll want to hurry if you love croissants, pains au chocolat and other sweets.

Once the afternoon heat kicks in, stop by Angeles y Diablitos in the main square for house-made ice cream or a cold beer (they have a solid selection of Mexican craft beers, including Quintana Roo’s own Cerveza Pescadores brand.

For an upscale (although still inexpensive by US standards) dinner, Los Peleones off the main square has fresh seafood and pasta plus a cutesy Lucha Libre theme. Just down the road is Restaurante Colibri, which is as notable for its daily seafood specials and hyper-strong coffee as it is for its decor of street and found art — yes, even on the ceiling.

Le Jardin, Calle Lisa 2, Holbox, 77310 Holbox, Q.R., Mexico, +52 984 115 8197

Angeles y Diablitos, Calle Porfirio Díaz 3760, Holbox, Q.R., Mexico

Los Peleones, Calle Tiburón Ballena, Holbox, Q.R., Mexico +52 984 120 9685

Restaurante Colibri, Calle Tiburón Ballena & Calle Porfirio Díaz, Holbox, Q.R., Mexico

Where to keep dreaming

One thing you won’t find on Holbox are mega-sized chain hotels. If you want the upscale experience without the pretentiousness, Holbox Dream is a good bet. Its central location means you can walk just about anywhere, and there are enough beachfront palapas that nobody goes without.

For a more remote option, Hotel Villas Flamingos is on the northeastern end of Playa Holbox, where the water turns melon-colored and the terrain feels more like a rainforest.

And if you truly want to embrace the simple life, Casa Barbara is just a five-minute walk from both the ferry terminal and the central square, with pared-back rooms, a small pool and nautical-themed decor.

Holbox Dream, Calle Pedro Joaquin Codwell Mza. 19, 77310 Isla de Holbox, Q.R., Mexico, +52 984 875 2433

Hotel Villas Flamingos, Calle Paseo Kuka S/N, Playa Norte Holbo, 77310 Isla Holbox, Q.R., Mexico, +52 984 875 2167

Casa Barbara, Av. Tiburón Ballena, 77310 Holbox, Q.R., Mexico, +52 984 875 2302

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This is the world’s happiest country

(CNN) — Reindeer jerky, anyone? Finland is the happiest country in the world, according to the latest World Happiness Report.

Norway, last year’s winner, came in second place in the 2018 report. It’s followed by Denmark, Iceland and Switzerland.

The World Happiness Report was released by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network for the United Nations on March 14, days before World Happiness Day on March 20.

The report ranks countries on six key variables that support well-being: income, freedom, trust, healthy life expectancy, social support and generosity.

“The top five countries all have almost equally high values for the six factors found to support happiness, and four of these countries — Denmark, Switzerland, Norway and now Finland — have been in first place in the six World Happiness Report rankings since the first report,” said report co-editor John Helliwell, a professor emeritus of economics at the University of British Columbia.

“In a division with such excellent teams, changes in the top spot are to be expected,” he said.

Finland also had the happiest immigrants, a special focus of this year’s report.

Differences among the top five countries are small enough that jostling among the top five is expected every year.

The Netherlands came in sixth place this year, followed by Canada, New Zealand, Sweden and Australia.

In the 2018 list, the top 10 countries shifted spots compared with the 2017 report, but none dropped out of the top 10 list (which means there were no new entries this year).

Happiest immigrants in the world

The 10 happiest countries were also 10 of the top 11 spots in the rankings of immigrant happiness. (Mexico, which came in 24th place in the overall rankings, placed 10th in the immigrant happiness rankings.)

“The most striking finding of the report is the remarkable consistency between the happiness of immigrants and the locally born,” said Helliwell in a news release.

“Although immigrants come from countries with very different levels of happiness, their reported life evaluations converge towards those of other residents in their new countries,” said Helliwell.

“Those who move to happier countries gain, while those who move to less happy countries lose.”

The United States’ ranking is dropping

The United States landed in 18th place, dropping four spots from last year.

“Governments are increasingly using indicators of happiness to inform their policy-making decisions,” said economics professor Jeffrey D. Sachs, director of Columbia University’s Center for Sustainable Development and report co-editor.

“US policymakers should take note. The US happiness ranking is falling, in part because of the ongoing epidemics of obesity, substance abuse and untreated depression.”

Other major powers didn’t crack the top 10 rankings, either. Germany came in 15th place, while the United Kingdom was 19th.

Japan came in 54th place, Russia came in 59th place and China came in 86th.

People in Burundi are unhappiest with their lives, according to the survey of 156 countries, followed by Central African Republic (155), South Sudan (154), Tanzania (153) and Yemen (152).

It began with Bhutan

The tiny country of Bhutan, which came in 97th place, brought attention to happiness as a metric for its people. Its prime minister proposed a World Happiness Day to the United Nations in 2011, which created an international focus on happiness.

One year later, the U.N. General Assembly declared March 20 as World Happiness Day, recognizing “the relevance of happiness and well-being as universal goals and aspirations in the lives of human beings around the world and the importance of their recognition in public policy objectives.”

This report is the sixth to come out since 2012. The rankings of the world’s happiest countries came from an analysis of data from surveys in 156 countries taken from 2015 to 2017. The analysis of immigrant happiness was based on surveys of 117 countries covering the years 2005-2015.

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How to fly with your dog — safely

(CNN) — Traveling anywhere by plane for a dog owner once meant a painful farewell, but thanks to a surge in the number of pet-friendly hotels and airlines, more people are taking their faithful friend with them when they fly.

But cases involving tragedy and confusion when transporting animals have raised questions over the best way to fly with a dog or other pet — and whether animals should travel by air at all.

Some, such as TV’s “Dog Whisperer” Cesar Millan, advocate traveling everywhere with your dog. Organizations such as the Humane Society of the United States urge caution.

Health check

There are steps you can take to ensure your dog remains happy and healthy while on board.

There are steps you can take to ensure your dog remains happy and healthy while on board.

David McNew/Getty Images North America/Getty Images

Kitty Block, CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, says flying with dogs and other pet animals should always be a last resort.

“If you have to fly […] don’t take your animal unless obviously there aren’t any options,” she says. “It’s not an ideal situation for an animal, and it can be stressful for the animal.”

If you don’t have a choice, she says, the key is to be as prepared as possible.

In the weeks leading up to the flight, the animal needs a veterinarian health check to make sure its fit to travel and its immunizations are in date.

Which airline?

As soon as you’ve decided to fly with your pet, call the airline, advises Block. Not all carriers take animals, and rules for flying with them varies.

Website has an extensive round up of global airlines and their policies on pets.

Among the most pet-friendly of the pack is Virgin Atlantic, with its Flying Paws plan that gives pets their very own reward scheme.

Sorry, no free flights though. Pets collect “paw prints,” which can be redeemed for gifts such as Burberry, Prada and Gucci pet clothing.

Fancy dress delights aside, pet owners do need to pay attention to the small print when booking flights for their animals.

For instance, Air France says some pets are accepted in the aircraft cabin and in the aircraft hold. But certain “attack dogs” similar to Staffordshire terriers or pit bulls, mastiffs and tosas, will not be carried.

Singapore Airlines requires that your pet has a certificate of good health but does not allow pets to travel in the cabin of the aircraft.

Most North American airlines, however, do let small pets travel in the cabin with you on flights provided you let them know at the time of booking. Fees can be steep, and some allow only domestic travel.

“We don’t recommend one [airline] over the other,” says Block. “What we say is call ahead, be the best advocate for your animal.”

Dog passports

Travel with a dog (1)

Taking your dog on vacation is not always the best option, if you have to — there are tips you can follow.

Courtesy Pexels

So you’ve found an airline that will accommodate you and your pooch. Next comes the hard part. Red tape.

Pet immigration laws are specific to each country, but one way to cut down on some of the headaches is to create a pet passport, which is “a collection of all identifying and required documents for entering a given country,” advises

A pet passport is an essential part of the Pet Travel Scheme (“PETS”), a system that allows animals to travel into the United Kingdom without undergoing quarantine if all the regulations are followed.

It was originally introduced in 2001 for animals entering or returning to the UK from other European Union countries, but has since rolled out to other countries such as the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. has a full list of country-specific pet immigration rules, with an option to purchase the necessary forms online.

Pet preparation

Next step: pee control.

Though probably a little easier than flying with kids, heading out on an epic journey with your dog isn’t as simple as throwing it into a pet carrier and taking off, warns Cesar Millan.

You need to prepare them for the long journey and let them get used to their carrier.

“Don’t just put them in a crate the day before. It should be a transition,” he told CNN in a 2012 interview. “You have to teach your dog to hold its bladder — it’s almost like training for a marathon.

“Go through the process before you fly. For example, flying from Los Angeles to Spain is 14 hours.”

Before you buy a pet crate, check out the International Air Transport Association’s list of pet carrier requirements, which most airlines adhere to.

What to do on board

When it’s time to fly, your pet should either be checked in as cargo or stowed in a cage under the seat in front of you, depending on its size.

Cargo has risks, says Block. Potential hazards include poor ventilation and extreme temperatures.

“You just have to make sure that you keep in mind if you’re traveling in the summer months how hot it is, you want to avoid any layovers so your dog is not in cargo holds or sitting in tarmacs and then having multiple transfers,” advises Block.

Taking your animal in the cabin? Bear in mind the size restrictions for animals. Some airlines also have limits to the number of animals allowed per cabin.

Each airline has its own regulations and procedure, which Block advises familiarizing yourself with before the flight.

Keep communicating

Traveling with a pet is always more stressful.

Traveling with a pet is always more stressful.


The Humane Society advises that you should be vocal about your animal and its needs — whether it’s with you in the cabin or in the hold.

“It never hurts to let as many people know [that your animal is on board],” says Block. “There can always be break down of communication.”

She also voices her concern over an recent incident in which a dog was mistakenly shipped to Japan instead of Kansas.

“We can’t stress enough that when you have an animal in commercial travel, you really have to keep making sure that everyone’s aware of it and that it’s proceeding correctly.”

Rules for so-called assistance and emotional support animals (which recently made the headlines when a woman attempted to bring her “emotional support peacock” on board a flight) are slightly different.

“Because these animals are emotional support they stay with the passenger,” explains Block. However, she stresses there are no universal rules — and passengers should still check with the airline before traveling.

Changing rules

Block and her team at the Humane Society are currently advocating against animals being placed in the overhead locker, which caused recent dog death on a United Airlines flight.

“We’re looking at legislation that would prohibit […] a small carry-on animal ever being put in the overhead bin — clearly that was a disaster, with dire consequences,” she says.

But Block is hopeful for the future, describing the incident as a potential “watershed moment.”

In an ideal world, commercial air travel would be introduced specifically for animals, catering for their needs.

“The statistics are not good of how many die each year, and so that should not happen,” she says. “There are always going to be some accidents, but this many is a problem, so we’re really looking at this as it’s time to clean this up and it’s not an afterthought.”

Ultimately, Block says as much care should be taken with animals traveling as humans.

“These are not cargo, they’re not suitcases, they’re living beings and they’re our family members. So we really have to make sure that it’s safe for our animals.”

Saying goodbye

If you do have to leave your dog behind, don’t worry about separation anxiety. Millan says that with proper training your pet can handle the time apart — even if you can’t.

But it’s also an issue that needs to be worked out if you’re traveling with your dog, as there will be times you want to leave it in the hotel room without having to worry about it barking and clawing at the door or chewing things up when you’re out.

“Separation anxiety is created by humans because they feel closer to the dog the more they bond. That’s not realistic for the dog, which doesn’t understand.”

“I have to help people and show them how we create separation anxiety. In Mexico, a dog is not allowed in the intimate space. We don’t have a living room. Dog lives outside. Detached from humans.

“In America, a dog lives on top of the human. The human goes to work, the dog doesn’t know how to separate from them. It’s easy to rehabilitate, but you have to understand the concept of proximity for training to work.

“It’s not good to let your dog follow you everywhere. Tell them when they can be near you, then tell them to go away,” suggests Millan as a method of lessening your dog’s attachment to you.

The Humane Society offer more detailed tips for animal travel on their website.

Other useful sites:,,,

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Secrets of the Tower of London

(CNN) — Mix together murder, terror, rebellion and romance, add in glistening historical jewels and stir in an ancient legend of impending catastrophe. What do you get?

In the UK’s capital, it’s the recipe for one of the city’s most popular travel destinations: The Tower of London.

This turreted fortress, built of white stone on the banks of the city’s ancient River Thames, is a London landmark that’s stood for more than 900 years.

Each year, more than three million people flock to the Tower to discover the secrets, myths and legends hidden behind the imposing walls of this destination.

And if they’re lucky, they’ll bump into one man who knows more about them than most — the Ravenmaster.

Skyline staple

London landmark: The Tower of London has stood over London for over 900 years. The fortress was established in roughly 1078 by William the Conqueror — the first Norman King of England. Now it’s a tourist hotspot, more than three million people visit each year to discover the secrets behind the Tower’s stone walls.

Courtesy Francesca Street/CNN

Approaching the Tower from the river bank, the fortress cuts an impressive figure. It’s surrounded by a waterless moat and a sturdy stone wall. The view is pretty much unchanged from the panorama once experienced by England’s medieval Queens and Kings.

The Tower of London was the brainchild of William the Conqueror, the first Norman King of England who claimed the throne following his victory in the Battle of Hastings in 1066.

In the years since it’s grown, helping shape modern Britain. Visiting in 2018, you’ll struck by its size: the Tower covers 12 acres of the city — it’s almost a village in itself.

Inside, the medieval buildings contrast with London skyscrapers glimpsed beyond the stone walls.

Tower 49

The building was designed to be etched into the hearts and minds of Londoners.

Courtesy Francesca Street/CNN

It’s a maze of cobbled-streets and impressive stone structures, from the White Tower that dates from the fortress’s inception to the Waterloo Block, home of the Crown Jewels.

A peek at the Queen’s collection is a must. Visitors can marvel at the twinkling gemstones, crowns and orbs, which are under armed guard inside a vault.

The jewels have been a staple of the British monarchy since William the Conqueror — but much of the medieval bling was melted down when monarchy was abolished in 1649-1660.

When royalty was restored in the 1660s, new jewels were constructed. The majority of the regalia worn by Queen Elizabeth II dates from this period.

The only exceptions? Three 17th century swords and one 11th century coronation spoon. The spoon was sold off during the interregnum, but the buyer personally returned it to Charles II in order to get in the newly anointed King’s good books.

All these opulent trinkets are visible to Tower guests. Walking through the chambers, visitors are shepherded through the display on moving walkways, allowing them to admire the gems without battling other guests for the best view.

For many visitors, the jewels are the Tower’s chief attraction — but there are plenty of other delights.

Tower of terror

The Tower has witnessed grisly deaths and disappearances.

The Tower has witnessed grisly deaths and disappearances.

Oli Scarff/Getty Images

The Tower of London is best enjoyed as a full day outing. Tickets are on the pricier side, so it’s worthwhile to see as much as possible.

Arriving early avoids long lines that build later on. Unsurprisingly, weekdays are quieter than weekends and public holidays. And while winter isn’t the best time to visit anywhere in London, the Tower is always slightly quieter in the off season and most of the highlights are indoors.

Whatever time of year, there are always fascinating facts to discover.

Turns out the nation’s money was made at the Tower until 1810 and Britain’s pioneering Ordnance Survey map system was conceived here in the 1700s.

The Tower also hosted a menagerie for more than 600 years — home to exotic pets including alligators, Britain’s first polar bear and an elephant gifted by Louis IX of France in 1255.

Tower Bridge can be glimpsed from inside the Tower of London's walls.

Tower Bridge can be glimpsed from inside the Tower of London’s walls.

Tom Shaw/Getty Images

Many tourists visit the Tower to learn more about is grisly reputation as a prison.

Infamous Tudor king Henry VIII remodeled parts of the White Tower in honor of the coronation of his new bride, Anne Boleyn in 1533. But only three years later, Anne was executed at the Tower — accused of adultery and treason.

The White Tower is a highlight thanks to its historic exterior and what lies inside: the “Line of Kings” is one of the Tower’s earliest museum exhibits, charting royal armor through the ages and providing an intriguing insight into 17th century tourism habits.

One of the Tower’s greatest mysteries is the lost princes. These young boys disappeared in the Tower while under the custody of Richard, Duke of Gloucester — it’s widely believed Richard murdered them in his gory path to the crown, but their bodies have never been found.

William Shakespeare immortalized Richard’s rise to power in his play “Richard III.”

Guests can discover grisly history in the Lower Wakefield Tower, where displays showcase the painful methods of torture used at the Tower and replicas of the terrifying instruments used to administer pain.

In total, there were 22 executions inside the Tower of London, fewer than might be expected given its reputation. The last person to be executed was a German spy, Josef Jakobs, who parachuted into England during World War II and was killed in 1941.

In the 1950s, infamous gangsters the Kray twins were held in the Tower for one night — after failing to turn up for their national service. They were the last prisoners to be incarcerated in the Tower.

Meet the Ravenmaster

The ravens are the true VIPs of the Tower of London.

The ravens are the true VIPs of the Tower of London.

Courtesy Historic Royal Palaces

Today, the Tower’s residents are no longer disgraced prisoners. It’s considered a great honor to call this famous building home.

About 150 people live inside the Tower’s walls, including 37 serving Yeoman Warders, affectionately known as “Beefeaters.”

To become a Yeoman Warder requires at least 22 years service in the UK’s armed forces ranked as a warrant officer or senior non-commissioned officer. Candidates must also hold a UK military Long Service and Good Conduct medal.

One of the Tower’s most famous Yeoman Warders is Chris Skaife, who looks after the Tower’s real VIPS: The ravens.

Tower 23

Skaife has a particular bond with raven Merlin, known as Melina.

Courtesy Francesca Street/CNN

Skaife’s unique job is integral to the Tower — thanks to an ominous legend linking the ravens to the Tower of London.

“There are many myths and legends associated with the Tower, one such legend reminds us that should the ravens leave the Tower of London, it will crumble and a great harm will befall the Kingdom,” explains Skaife.

Historians are divided as to the origins of this legend. When Charles II came to the throne in 1630, he decreed that there must always be six ravens at the Tower to ensure Britain’s safety. The official title of Ravenmaster was introduced in the 1960s.

The Tower’s VIPs

Tower 19

Ravenmaster Chris Skaife looks after the ravens at the Tower of London.

Courtesy Francesca Street/CNN

There are currently seven resident ravens at the Tower.

These impressive birds are well-looked after by Skaife and his team. They get fresh meat from nearby Smithfield market and top notch veterinary care. To discourage them from flying away, their flight feathers are regularly trimmed by the Ravenmaster.

“I feed them, look after them, let them out during the day and make sure that they’re nice and healthy for the members of the public to come and see them throughout the day and photograph them,” says Skaife. “And then at night time of course I have to put them back into bed, so I shepherd them back into bed at night time, back into their enclosure.”

In the six years Skaife has been Ravenmaster, he’s developed relationships with the birds.

“I do have a large bonding with one of our other ravens called Merlin, or affectionately known as Melina, and we’re really good friends,” he says.

Social media superstar

Tower 7

The Yeoman Warders AKA the Beefeaters — live and work inside the Tower.

Courtesy Francesca Street/CNN

Skaife has catapulted the Tower’s ravens to international notoriety via popular Twitter, Instagram and Facebook accounts, with followers including actor Hugh Grant and writer Margaret Atwood.

On Instagram, he posts videos of his ravens and photos of the birds — they always seem ready for their close up.

Skaife’s account allows him to form connections with other raven lovers throughout the world:

“I could be having a conversation with someone in New Zealand, someone in North America, someone in Russia, at the same time, talking about the same thing,” he says.

Skaife says living in the Tower of London is “an honor and a privilege.”

“It is one of the greatest things that I’ve ever managed to achieve in my life, especially being able to be the Ravenmaster here,” he adds.

The Tower of London, St Katharine’s & Wapping, London, EC3N 4AB

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Japan unveils new Shinkansen ‘Supreme’ train

(CNN) — The 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics may be two years away, but Japan is already flexing its transportation muscles.

Central Japan Railway Co. has rolled out its new high-speed Shinkansen N700S — or Shinkansen Supreme — train model.

The smarter, sleeker and quieter train will debut on the Tokaido Shinkansen Line, running between Tokyo and Shin-Osaka, in 2020.

But test cars will start operating March 2018.

“The (N700S series) has been completely redesigned through renovating main facilities and equipment,” Masayuki Ueno, deputy director-general of JR Tokai’s Shinkansen Operations Division, told the Asahi Shimbun.

“We have produced a train that can symbolize a new era for the Tokaido Shinkansen Line.”

New technology: Quieter, lighter and greener

New Shinkansen Supreme N700S

The new N700S train (left) will have a sharper nose than the old N700A model.

courtesy JR Central

In addition to its new, golden Supreme logo, the N700S series boasts a number of technological advancements.

Compared to the boxier N700A series, which entered service in 2013, the new Supreme series will have a curvier head profile.

The sharper nose design, called “dual Supreme wind,” will reduce noise when entering tunnels and lessen air resistance.

The 16-car variation is a whopping 11 tons lighter than the older generation, partly thanks to the new silicon carbide semiconductors and natural air cooling system.

As a result, the new Supreme train will consume less energy.

The latest technology applied to the N700S train will also shorten the braking system’s reaction time.

The underfloor equipment has been streamlined, allowing more customization flexibility. The usual 16-car variant can be shortened to eight- to 12-car formations, for example.

It’s hoped that this flexibility will make the model more attractive for potential overseas and domestic buyers.

In terms of speed, however, the new N700S model isn’t going to be any faster. It will have a maximum speed of 300km/h, the same as other N700 series trains.

More comfortable interiors

New Shinkansen Supreme N700S

Each seat will have its own power socket.

courtesy JR Central

The interior of the new Supreme model has also gone through a major facelift.

All passenger seats will be fitted with power sockets for electronic devices.

The reclining movements on seats are smoother. Passengers traveling on Green Cars — JR’s version of first-class — will enjoy 15% more foot space.

Other thoughtful new designs include head compartments that light up when a train approaches stations to remind passengers to pick up their belongings.

CNN’s Chie Kobayashi also contributed to this report.

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