The good, the bad and the bizarre in the world of travel
Wishing peace, health and prosperity to our IBIT friends in China and Chinatowns around the world as they ring in the Year of the Snake on this Lunar New Year.
EAT, DRINK AND GO TRAVEL
Every so often, I go back through old digests of mine to look for recurring themes — and if you’re a regular reader of the IBIT Travel Digest, there’s at least one you’ve spotted already. Nearly every digest, it seems, features at least one mention of food or drink.
So starting today, FOOD & DRINK gets its own section in the digest — and it kicks off with two subjects equally dear to my heart and my tastebuds.
New Orleans was a foodie town long before someone invented the term “foodie.” The word itself is out of favor these days among the blogerati (not that I give a damn), but the NOLA’S flare for flavor will never die.
From its beginnings, New Orleans cuisine has blended a mélange of influences — French, Spanish, Native American, African, Italian, Irish. Starting with the 1980s, though, a new taste fell into the city’s gumbo pot — the flavors of Vietnam.
San Diego was the first American city to receive South Vietnamese refugees en masse following the 1975 fall of Saigon, which made it the first to be exposed to Vietnamese dishes in a big way.It didn’t take long for pho and banh mi, with their fresh ingredients and vibrant mix of flavors, to become staples here.
And for you gumbo purists out there (and you know who you are): Yes, they do put in okra on request.
But while the Vietnamese cuisine tsunami was washing over San Diego, other refugees gravitated to the Gulf of Mexico to resume their lives as fishermen. Inevitably, many settled in New Orleans.
A city that already treated po’boys and gumbo as basic food groups had little trouble embracing pho soups and banh mi sandwiches. And among the Vietnamese and their descendants who grew up in the NOLA, the feeling seems to be mutual, as the New York Times recently discovered.
Today, within an easy drive from my house in San Diego are at least two Vietnamese restaurants whose menu is a mix of Vietnamese and New Orleans Creole dishes, run together by people from both locales. The nearest one features a daily special that includes half a banh mi and a bowl of gumbo.
But the best place to see the result of this marriage of cultures is in the Crescent City itself and you’ll see it below in the inaugural FOOD & DRINK section of the IBIT Travel Digest.
IBIT says: Bon appétit…or perhaps, chúc ngon miệng!
WILL TRAVEL FOR JAZZ
Back at the turn of the 20th century, as Europe was plunging into the first of its two disastrous world wars, Paris witnessed the arrival of blacks from America, mostly soldiers, who brought with them a style of music Parisians had never heard before.
The Americans called it jazz, and Paris promptly fell in love with it. And as Jonathan Lorie discovered when he went roaming Ernest Hemingway’s old Parisian haunts for London’s The Guardian newspaper, the love still burns.
Jazz may be an American invention — perhaps the best of all American inventions — but there may be no better place to enjoy it than Paris. And as you’ll see in Lorie’s article, there are a lot of venues in the City of Light where you can enjoy it.
Lorie’s piece also links four other famed Jazz Age authors — F. Scott Fitzgerald, Dorothy Parker, Christopher Isherwood and Somerset Maugham — and their jazz hangouts from New York to Germany and even Sri Lanka.
But if all these folks were still around today, they all might leave their hearts in San Francisco. The reason is SFJAZZ, which opened late last month in the city’s Hayes Valley neighborhood.
It is the first concert hall in the United States — and maybe the world — built expressly for jazz. It features an auditorium, an ensemble room, rehearsal areas, a digital learning lab, and even a sidewalk cafe.
IBIT says: Hemingway would’ve dug it…once he got used to the no-smoking rule.
USA Today reports that Kate Hanni, head of the airline consumer organization FlyersRights.org, is stepping down as the group’s executive director, walking away from the outfit she founded in 2006.
You can read the entire USA Today story here.
She formed Flyers Rights after being stuck on the tarmac aboard an American Airlines flight in Austin, TX — for nearly nine hours — and getting little more than lip service from the airline. Her outspoken efforts since then led to federal regulations governing how the airlines handle flight delays.
Not surprisingly, Ms. Hanni didn’t make a lot of friends in the airline industry during her time with Flyers Rights, but she did prove that consumers who organize at the grassroots and speak truth to power can make a difference.
IBIT says: Thanks for all you did, Kate, and all you tried to do.
And now, here’s The Digest:
from the Los Angeles Times
In the eternal hunt for airfare bargains, booking too early can be as costly as booking too late.
from Travel Weekly
You may soon be able to watch in-flight shows and movies on-demand on Southwest Airlines flights, streamed to your own personal electronic devices. That’s the good news. The bad news? You’ll be paying extra for it.
from Budget Travel
A survey of travel agents says that when it comes to booking their clients on connecting flights, Atlanta-Hartsfield is one of their most favorite airports. It’s also one of their least favorite airports. Am I confused? No. I’m just booking non-stops.
from Travel Weekly
Frequent-flier miles…from an airport? Starting in June, the parking, food, merchandise or airport hotel stay you buy at Dallas-Ft. Worth International (DFW) will count toward airline miles.
When is a “free” airline ticket not really free at all? FareCompare’s Rick Seaney counts the ways, and there are five of them.
from Condé Nast Traveler
The world’s ten most beautiful train stations, according to CN Traveler, right on time as New York’s Grand Central Terminal marks its 100th anniversary. Some are classic, others ultra-modern, and some brilliantly mix old and new. SLIDESHOW
from Travel Weekly
For the third time since it first opened in 1981, San Francisco is set to expand its Moscone convention center.
from the New York Times
Lust and luxury aboard the Queen Mary 2. Just don’t call it a “cruise.” It’s just not done, you know…
from Travel Weekly
Kai Tak, Hong Kong’s old airport, where almost every landing seemed like an adventure, is returning to the travel business — this time as a gleaming $1 billion cruise ship terminal that can handle the largest vessels in the business, even Royal Caribbean’s behemoth Oasis-class ships.
from Tanzania Daily News (Tanzania) via allAfrica.com
Tanzania draws up plans to aggressively promote tourism in overseas markets. Its top four markets — Britain, the United States, Germany and Italy.
from Angola Press via allAfrica.com
Angola’s environmental agency building bungalows, other facilities in the country’s national parks in a bid to boost ecotourism.
from The Guardian (London UK)
When your mother takes you on a sailing excursion to Central America at the age of six, just the two of you — and it lasts for four years — school field trips may have a hard time holding your attention after that.
from the Washington Post
Singapore spent so many decades living with the reputation of being the straight-laced capital of Asia, that it’s hard to imagine this city-state having a quirky side. But it does have one. Yes, it does.
from France 24
When a man is tired of London, he is tired of…graffiti? The city’s Shoreditch neighborhood is becoming a mecca for lovers of street art.
Edited by P.A.Rice