Destination: Venezuela

World Travel Watch: Plague in Bolivia and Peru, Warnings in Northern Ireland and More

Larry Habegger rounds up global travel news

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Venezuelans Show Some Love For Love Hotels

Japan’s love hotels get a lot of media love. Now it’s Venezuela’s turn in the spotlight. Rachel Jones writes:

University students such as Daniel Ramirez, 24, often turn to mid-range hotels in central Caracas to be with their significant others. On his first visit to Hotel Roda, Ramirez had the opportunity to be intimate with a month-long girlfriend for the first time.

“There was no place I could go to see her,” said Ramirez, who lives with his family because he can’t afford an apartment. He was reasonably satisfied with his experience—including clean rooms, wall and ceiling mirrors, and a television with pornography—and later returned with another girlfriend. The awkward part, he said, was a lack of privacy in the hallways.

“Couples pass each other like this,” Ramirez said, ducking his head and cupping one hand over his eyes.

World Travel Watch: New Trekking in Kashmir, Dengue in Venezuela and More

Larry Habegger rounds up global travel news

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World Travel Watch: Crime in Bali, Burj Dubai and Machu Picchu Re-Open, and More

Larry Habegger rounds up global travel news

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World Travel Watch: Demonstrations in Venezuela, Clashes in Namibia and More

Larry Habegger rounds up global travel news

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World Travel Watch: Protests in Nepal, Tensions in Nicaragua and More

Larry Habegger rounds up global travel news

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The Rise of America as Culinary Destination

Just a few decades ago, America was a culinary wasteland. Now, it’s foodie central. Why? Jerry Weinberger points to, among other things, the Great Woman theory of history:

The first wedding gift my wife and I received, in 1965, was a copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, by Julia Child (with Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle). It still sits on a shelf in our kitchen, bound now by tape, with almost every page earmarked and blotched. Published in 1961, Child’s book brought the techniques of French haute cuisine to the American kitchen, teaching us how to soak and sauté sweetbreads, how to make soufflé au Grand Marnier, how to cut up a duck—all within the limits of the American supermarket of the period. But it was Child’s later TV show, Boston PBS’s The French Chef, that really changed things. It was unintimidating French cooking: the chef was a goofy-talking giant who dumped in the butter and occasionally spilled things and whacked stuff with mallets and sometimes burned the sauce.

But Julia taught us how to master French cooking, not American. American food had to be invented before it could be mastered. And the inventor was another Great Woman, this one on the opposite coast. In 1971, Alice Waters opened Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California. This was the great transformative event in American culinary history. Chez Panisse grew out of Waters’s experience not with the butter and fat of Parisian haute cuisine, but with the foods of Mediterranean Provence (based on olive oil, the fresh fruits of the earth and sea, and the general habit of going to the market with a string bag every day). The principle of Chez Panisse was that food—both animal and vegetable—should be absolutely fresh, and that meant absolutely local. So it’s not quite right to say that Waters had to invent American food; what she did was rediscover and then elaborate on pre-canned, pre-supermarket, pre-tomatoes-all-year-round regional American food.

Noel Gallagher on ‘This Swine Flu Malarky’

Noel Gallagher on ‘This Swine Flu Malarky’ Photo by Sarihuella via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by Sarihuella via Flickr (Creative Commons)

Some days, I honestly don’t know how we ever got along without celebrity bloggers weighing in on the news of the day. The latest celeb-turned-citizen-journalist? Oasis guitarist Noel Gallagher, who reports from the Caracas airport about swine flu paranoia.

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How the Miss Universe Pageant Explains the World

Let’s face it, the Miss Universe pageant isn’t just about beauty. It’s about flaunting power on the world stage. It’s a metaphor for geopolitics. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Miss USA, Crystle Stewart—a Texan—tripped on her jewel-encrusted dress at the pageant yesterday in Vietnam, not unlike her Miss USA predecessor did so famously in Mexico a year earlier. These have been rough times for Miss USA winners around the globe. We can only hope that next year we’ll see a real change in the way the next Miss USA conducts herself abroad.

Just Another Day in ‘Bolivarian Paradise’

Fidel Castro Dials Up Hugo Chavez’s Radio Show

Why don’t we in the U.S. get radio shows like this? Now that’s entertainment.

The Venezuela-Cuba Freebie Vacation?

You bet. It’s Karl Marx meets Club Med! USA Today reports: “Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has plans to sign an agreement with Cuba to send at least 100,000 poor Venezuelans to the communist-led island for no-cost vacations, an official said Wednesday.” A free vacation? That’s one item on the socialist agenda I can get behind.

Nouveau Sandalista on Venezuela: ‘There Is So Much Vibe and Passion’

We noted early last year that Venezuela was the new, hip Latin American travel destination for good sandal-shod lefties (or naive commies, depending on your perspective). Cindy Sheehan, Danny Glover and Harry Belafonte, among other famed agitators, had already made the trek. Now comes another breathless report on the phenomenon. “From a trickle a few years ago,” the Mail & Guardian reports, “there are now thousands, travelling individually and on package tours, exploring a left-wing mecca that promises to build social justice in the form of ‘21st-century socialism.’”

Who Knew Hugo Chavez Had Oprah-Like Powers?*

Sure, like Oprah, the Venezuelan president has the gift of gab. But it turns out Chavez, too, can sell books—lots of them. After he recommended Noam Chomsky’s Hegemony or Survival: America’s Quest for Global Dominance at the U.N. Wednesday, the book shot up bestseller lists. What’s more, Chavez is a big fan of “Don Quixote,” and last year, he handed out a million free copies of the book in Venezuelan squares to celebrate its 400th anniversary—yet another Oprah-esque gesture. Any poli-sci graduate students searching for a thesis topic?
* Added: Chomsky will be discussing “Hegemony or Survival” on C-SPAN2’s Book TV Sunday.

Venezuela: Travelers ‘Want to See for Themselves What’s Really Going On’

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