Destination: Europe

World Travel Watch: G20 Alert in Seoul, Volcano in Indonesia and More

Larry Habegger rounds up global travel news

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Paris vs. New York: The Blog

Paris vs. New York, a tally of two cities is a fun graphic blog that pairs up aspects of the two iconic spots—Quasimodo vs. King Kong, for instance, or the macaroon vs. the cupcake. I guess this is one city-to-city comparison that never gets old. (Via Kottke)

Gary Shteyngart in Russia: ‘Not a Tourist, Not a Native’

The author is in his native Russia for a book tour, and the New York Times’ Clifford J. Levy takes a look at his reception there:

While Mr. Shteyngart is a rising literary star in New York, he is a nobody in Russia, selling fewer translations of his books here than in Belgium. It may be that Russians don’t quite get his three-ring circus narratives, or are not amused by his caricatures of post-Soviet life. But Russia has a splendid tradition of satire, and current writers like Viktor Shenderovich, whose wit has been compared to Jon Stewart’s, have followings. (As well as the disapproval of the Kremlin.)

Maybe, then, it is something deeper: Russia does not like to celebrate the achievements of its wayward sons, often eyeing them with suspicion and even envy. Mr. Shteyngart said that some of the reviews of his work by Russian critics could be summarized as “Balding traitor betrays homeland.”

World Hum contributor Rob Verger talked with Shteyngart about his dual roles as novelist and travel writer last year. (Via The Book Bench)

World Travel Watch: Cholera Outbreak in Haiti, Tsunami in Indonesia and More

Larry Habegger rounds up global travel news

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Did Canaletto Paint Venice as Tourists Wanted to See It?

The Economist’s Prospero blogger thinks so. In a recent post, he describes a new exhibit at London’s National Gallery, Canaletto and His Rivals, as “painted propaganda,” and argues that the Venice depicted in its paintings bears little resemblance to the real deal:

The sun always shines in Venice; the sky is always blue. This is how visitors like to remember that most beautiful island city. Not coincidentally, that is how Canaletto most often painted the place. His clients, after all, were Grand Tourists, many of them back home in dark English country houses, worrying about farm rents. They longed for the gorgeous, licentious place their memories turned into paradise.

(Via The Daily Dish)

World Travel Watch: Protests in France Turn Violent, Entry Fee in Venice and More

Larry Habegger rounds up global travel news

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Let Us Now Praise Tour Guides

Here's to the men and women willing to go off script

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My U-Turn Over Greenland

I was flying home to Los Angeles from Germany this week when, mid-way, the pilot made an announcement: We would be turning around and flying more than an hour back to Iceland to drop off a sick passenger. We weren’t told much about the elderly passenger; I saw him stand before he was led off the plane, which I took to be a good sign. In any case, it made for what I imagine to be a rare sight on the seat-back flight tracker:

Photo by Jim Benning

A Cup of Coffee and a Soft Chair

A Cup of Coffee and a Soft Chair Photo by visualpanic via Flickr (Creative Commons)

After 14 months traveling overland from Beijing to Istanbul, Joel Carillet faced a gingerbread latte -- and a series of unexpected fears

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World Travel Watch: Strikes in France, Festival Season Crime in Nepal and More

Larry Habegger rounds up global travel news

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Thoughts From the Amerika Section of a German Grocery Store

Cheese Zip By Terry Ward

Amid the Cheese Zip and the Marshmallow Fluff, Terry Ward remembers what it means to be American

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Oktoberfest 2010: By the Numbers

Spiegel crunches some remarkable numbers from the 200th edition of the Munich festival: This year’s partiers consumed a record 7 million liters of beer, stole 130,000 of the famous glass mugs and consumed 117 roasted oxen. Impressive stuff. But the list of lost items is probably my favorite:

One hearing aid was also found, as were a leather whip, a live rabbit, a tuba, a ship in a bottle, 1,450 items of clothing, 770 identity cards, 420 wallets, 366 keys, 330 bags and 320 pairs of glasses, 90 cameras and 90 items of jewellery and watches.

(Via The Daily Dish)

World Travel Watch: Penalties for Touts in Delhi, Tourist Tax in Lisbon and More

Larry Habegger rounds up global travel news

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Venice Faces Backlash Over ‘Grotesque’ Billboards

I don’t get it. Why would a city that’s banned shirtlessness, pushed back against souvenir vendors and fought a war against pigeons—all in the name of preserving the urban scenery—allow its most famous views to be obliterated by building-high billboards?

But that’s just what Venice has done, and the results are hideous. And the Mayor’s response to criticism over the ads? “If people want to see the building they should go home and look at a picture of it in a book.” Nice.

U.S. Issues Travel Alert for Americans in Europe

The State Department alerted U.S. citizens in Europe yesterday to “the potential for terrorist attacks.” From the alert:

Current information suggests that al-Qa’ida and affiliated organizations continue to plan terrorist attacks. European governments have taken action to guard against a terrorist attack and some have spoken publicly about the heightened threat conditions.

The government suggests U.S. travelers in Europe register their travel plans, but not cancel them. The Under Secretary for Management Patrick F. Kennedy added some context in a teleconference:

We are not, repeat not, advising Americans not to go to Europe. That is not - this is an alert, and we put out an alert, as you said - as I’ve said, and I think you’ve noted, to ensure that American citizens are aware of the possible incidents.

Now, we tell them that - basically, to use common sense if they see unattended packages or they hear loud noises or they see something beginning to happen that they should quickly move away from them. These are common sense precautions that people ought to take - don’t have lots of baggage tags on your luggage that directly identify you as an American, know how to use the pay telephone, know how to contact the American embassy if you need help.

And very importantly, as it says in the Travel Alert that we put out today, register - and you can do that online and the website tells you how to do it - register with the American embassy or consulate in the location you’re visiting so that if you need help, we might be able to find you, and if anyone inquires about your welfare and whereabouts, should there be, tragically, an incident, we would know how to reach out to you.

The vagueness of the alert has baffled and frustrated some travelers.

In follow up stories, however, some news organizations are noting specifics. CNN points to intelligence chatter about “Mumbai-style attacks,” referring to the “commando like attack featuring small units and small firearms” across the Indian city in 2008. ABC reports several European airports are among potential targets.