by Eva Holland | 12.27.11 | 2:41 PM ET
In The Atavist, Joshuah Bearman tells the fascinating story of the Baghdad Country Club, the only bar in the capital city’s fortified “Green Zone.” The bar was built and run by a mysterious British ex-military type, a contractor identified only as James. What intrigued me about the bar was the way in which it was both an escape hatch from the war and, at the same time, a place that was inextricably shaped by its surroundings. Here’s a taste:
In addition to tending bar alongside several Iraqi Christians, Heide manned the wholesale bottle shop that James and Ajax ran out of a guard shack on the property. The shelves stocked the finest spirits the pair could find, which sometimes meant actual quality, alongside gift-store items—T-shirts, mugs, and hats emblazoned with the BCC logo and motto: “It Takes Real Balls to Play Here.”
...Danny quietly managed the place: greeting patrons, dealing with staff, and running the kitchen. James wanted the menu to be good, which wasn’t easy. Whereas much of the food in the Green Zone was processed, packaged, shipped, and reconstituted, Ajax got fresh produce and meat for the kitchen. Danny got along well with Iraqis, and he made sure to serve the national dish of masgouf—fish with onion and pickles—alongside Western-style bruschetta, salads, and steaks. He brought in a chef named Dino to come up with recipes and marinades. Good fish was difficult to come by in Baghdad, but James knew a guy who knew a guy who could sometimes get trout flown in on Delta Force choppers. And Ahmed’s regular shipments of spirits kept the bar stocked for proper cocktails.
“We never hoped to get a Michelin star,” Danny says. “But we managed to give people the one thing you don’t have in Baghdad: a choice.”
The full (long) story is available for purchase from The Atavist—it comes in a variety of e-book formats. The Atlantic has a meaty excerpt. It’s a great read.
by Jim Benning | 11.02.11 | 12:40 PM ET
Jim Benning asks the musician about his new book of photographs and how travel has humbled him
by Eva Holland | 04.29.10 | 10:29 AM ET
The Independent rounds up the latest news from the country’s slowly-recovering travel industry. One thing worth noting, beyond the increasing availability of Iraq-bound flights from Western Europe? Apparently Iraq received more than a million tourists from the Middle East in 2008. Here’s hoping more travelers from outside the region can soon follow.
by Eva Holland | 08.03.09 | 10:59 AM ET
by World Hum | 06.05.09 | 9:26 AM ET
Indulge your armchair traveler with seven wanderlust-inspiring travel photos from around the world
by Eric Weiner | 03.27.09 | 9:49 AM ET
On the intersection of place, politics and culture
by Michael Yessis | 02.25.09 | 9:44 AM ET
- A Turkish Airlines 737 crashed in Amsterdam. The AP reports nine people were killed.
- Iraq’s National Museum—the one famously looted in the early stages of the Iraq war—reopened.
- Venice turns to Coke to “safeguard its artistic heritage.”
- The landslide winner of Freakonomics’ contest to find a six-word motto for the U.S.: We Are Too Big to Fail.
- Video: One hell of a paper airplane flight—with a quick glimpse of a New York landmark. (via Very Short List)
- Anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservations” has a new Facebook application.
- The Economist on “the first British-built steam train in almost 50 years.”
- Felipe Fernández-Armesto on the 1,047 page Encyclopedia of Exploration 1850 to 1940. (via Passport)
- ESPN sideline reporter Stacey Dales apparently quit her job because she didn’t want to fly coach. Boo hoo, right? There may be more to the story—Dales hasn’t confirmed the initial report.
by Michael Yessis | 02.09.09 | 8:33 AM ET
- Tom Miller examines how the way of life on the U.S.-Mexico border is “under siege.”
- An Italian man went to Falluja and declared, “I am a tourist.”
- The fires in Australia continue to rage. Here’s a map.
- Joe Leahy looks at Mumbai’s “experimental” music scene.
- Rick Moody looks at why Sonoran Arizona has produced its share of interesting and rather strange bands. (Via The Morning News)
- Here’s a list of the world’s most stylish hotel design details.
- Expat workers in Dubai have been abandoning their luxury cars at the airport and heading home.
- Lost your job? Tim Leffel suggests going abroad and teaching English.
- God and Jerry Springer vacation in Italy.
- Two Americans have been charged with barbecuing iguana in the Bahamas. They were busted after posting photos of their ‘cue on Facebook.
by Michael Yessis | 01.30.09 | 8:06 AM ET
- Russians heart Goa.
- But how will the free-falling ruble affect Russian travelers—and travel to Russia?
- The Fortune Cookie Chronicles writer Jennifer 8. Lee collects toothpaste from her travels.
- Slideshow: Inspired by brothels in Pakistan.
- “Bread for the World ” and “The United States of Europe” highlight Rick Steves’ MVBs. I believe that means his most-valued books.
- Charles Darwin’s house: Future World Heritage site?
- In Slate’s latest Well-Traveled, June Thomas asks: “Am I too frivolous for Japan?”
- An Italian city in Tuscany says no to ethnic restaurants in its central district.
- Tikrit unveiled a shoe sculpture to honor the Iraqi journalist who threw his footwear at former U.S. President Bush.
- PEE. SUX. BOO. Just three of the funniest airport codes from around the world.
- In the U.K., the Birmingham City Council banished apostrophes from its road and street signs. The Apostrophe Protection Society says, “It seems retrograde, dumbing down really. It is setting a very bad example.” I agree, and I’m sure the typo vigilantes do, too.
by Valerie Conners | 10.20.08 | 2:36 PM ET
The grant will be used to rebuild the National Museum and restore its collection, which was looted after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. Its estimated that 15,000 artifacts—including priceless items from ancient Mesopotamia—went missing at that time; some 6,000 pieces have since been returned.
Related on World Hum:
* Abu Ghraib to Become a Museum
by Eva Holland | 09.08.08 | 10:13 AM ET
The infamous Iraqi prison, which was used as a torture site under Saddam Hussein’s rule before achieving notoriety in more recent years, is now destined to become a museum detailing the crimes committed during Hussein’s rule, the Iraqi government has announced. Interestingly, notes the CBC: “There’s no mention in the announcement whether the abuses by U.S. soldiers will be covered in the museum’s exhibitions.”
by Ben Keene | 07.29.08 | 12:02 PM ET