Tag: Politics

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

Larry Habegger rounds up global travel news

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The ‘Bill Clinton Ate Here’ Effect

Wherever former President Clinton eats, crowds follow. Writes David Segal: “[F]ew phrases are more bankable to restaurants around the world than this: ‘Bill Clinton ate here.’” Here’s why:

It’s widely (and correctly) assumed that he has good connections everywhere he visits, so he’s unlikely to wind up at a dud. More than most celebrities, he seems like a person who appreciates good food, and before he had heart surgery, he was known for his wide-ranging appetite.

And when Mr. Clinton visits a restaurant, everybody in the room knows it. Douglas Band, an aide who frequently travels with Mr. Clinton, says that his boss introduces himself to every diner, as well as every waiter and every kitchen staff member. He will always pose for photographs and sign guest books. Someone from his staff will send a thank-you note a few days later.

Anyone who trails in Mr. Clinton’s dining path will eat well, but should know that his taste in restaurants, when he actually selects them, runs to the bright, lively and unfussy. The white table cloth, 10-course prix fixe experience is not his style.

I’ve happily followed in Clinton’s dining path, here in D.C. and elsewhere. I regret waiting until my final day in Little Rock, a Sunday, to track down one of his favorite spots. Alas, it was closed.

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

Larry Habegger rounds up global travel news

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World Travel Watch: Second Bomb Threat at the Eiffel Tower, Rabies in Bali and More

Larry Habegger rounds up global travel news

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Tony Blair Calls for Cooperation on Holy Land Tourism

The former British Prime Minister thinks that Israel and the West Bank are due for a “major joint marketing campaign” to promote the region’s many holy sites. Speaking at Conde Nast Traveler’s World Savers Congress, Blair suggested that tourism—and the revenue potential it offers—could be a “huge support” to the peace process in the area.

Middle East peace through biblical bus tours? Seems like it’d be worth a shot.

World Travel Watch: Commonwealth Games Concerns in India, Elections in Cuzco and More

Larry Habegger rounds up global travel news

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World Travel Watch: Turmoil in Kashmir, Criminal Gangs in El Salvador and More

Larry Habegger rounds up global travel news

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World Travel Watch: Mudslides in Guatemala, Bombing in Cancun and More

Larry Habegger rounds up global travel news

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A Conversation With Fidel Castro

Atlantic writer Jeffrey Goldberg recently got a personal invitation to visit Cuba—from Fidel Castro. His first dispatch from the trip is live, and it’s a fascinating mixture of traveler’s observations and quotations from the rarely-seen Cuban leader. Here’s a taste:

The morning after our arrival in Havana, Julia and I were driven to a nearby convention center, and escorted upstairs, to a large and spare office. A frail and aged Fidel stood to greet us. He was wearing a red shirt, sweatpants, and black New Balance sneakers. The room was crowded with officials and family: His wife, Dalia, and son Antonio, as well as an Interior Ministry general, a translator, a doctor and several bodyguards, all of whom appeared to have been recruited from the Cuban national wrestling team. Two of these bodyguards held Castro at the elbow.

...Fidel lowered himself gently into his seat, and we began a conversation that would continue, in fits and starts, for three days. His body may be frail, but his mind is acute, his energy level is high, and not only that: the late-stage Fidel Castro turns out to possess something of a self-deprecating sense of humor. When I asked him, over lunch, to answer what I’ve come to think of as the Christopher Hitchens question—has your illness caused you to change your mind about the existence of God?—he answered, “Sorry, I’m still a dialectical materialist.”

In the next installment, Goldberg tells the story of “one of the stranger days I have experienced, a day which began with a simple question from Fidel: ‘Would you like to go to the aquarium with me to see the dolphin show?’”

Europe: East vs. West, or North vs. South?

Anne Applebaum thinks the continent’s axis is changing, from the East-West divide of the Cold War era to a new, and more fluid, North-South split. She writes in Slate:

North and South: Not everybody is going to like that concept, especially not the new South, some of whose members are not necessarily in the southern half of the continent. For these are not geographical designations, but political terms of art. The South contains all those countries whose political classes have not been able to balance their national budgets, whose bureaucrats have not been able to reduce their numbers, whose voters have not learned to approve of austerity: Greece, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Hungary, Bulgaria, and—at the moment—Ireland.

The North contains the budget hawks: Germany, Poland, Estonia, Scandinavia, the Czechs, and the Slovaks. Britain’s new government, with its austerity budget, aims to return to the North, following its recent experience of life in the South. France floats somewhere in between. Wealth, as such, isn’t northern: Much of the South is very rich. But in the North, private wealth has grown more or less in tandem with the public sector. Private wealth and public squalor are more typical of the South.

Political Pundits Tackle American Vacation Time

‘Tis the season for lots of vacation talk, and so the Capitol Hill crowd turned its attention to shrinking vacation syndrome this week: First, a British columnist speculated that Americans “find it hard to relax” because of their Puritan heritage. Washington Post columnist Ezra Klein responded:

I’d say it’s more closely related to the fact that it’s hard to pass social welfare legislation in the American political system, and thus America is the only industrialized country that doesn’t guarantee its workers some amount of paid-vacation leave.

NRO’s Reihan Salam followed up with a mild defense of the American system. (Via The Daily Dish)

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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World Travel Watch: Tube Strikes Looming in London, China’s Epic Traffic Jam and More

Larry Habegger rounds up global travel news

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P.J. O’Rourke Goes to Afghanistan

The occasional travel writer takes a fun shot at parachute journalism:

If you spend 72 hours in a place you’ve never been, talking to people whose language you don’t speak about social, political, and economic complexities you don’t understand, and you come back as the world’s biggest know-it-all, you’re a reporter.


Talking Truth in Turkey

Claire Berlinski offers a provocative take on Turkish culture in World Affairs:

As the First General Law of Travel tells us, every nation is its stereotype. Americans are indeed fat and overbearing, Mexicans lazy and pilfering, Germans disciplined and perverted. The Turks, as everyone knows, are insane and deceitful. I say this affectionately. I live in Turkey. On good days, I love Turkey. But I have long since learned that its people are apt to go berserk on you for no reason whatsoever, and you just can’t trust a word they say. As one Turkish friend put it (a man who has spent many years in America, and thus grasps the depth of the cultural chasm), “It’s not that they’re bad. They don’t even know they’re lying.” 

(Via AL Daily)

World Travel Watch: Deadly Heat Wave in Moscow, Underground Colosseum Tours and More

Larry Habegger rounds up global travel news

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Where’s the Perfect Presidential Vacation Spot?

Over at McSweeney’s, Chris White looks back at the presidential vacations of yore, and wonders where—in a much-changed America—today’s presidents should go. Here’s White:

We need something isolated, like an island. But not just any island. Martha’s Vineyard is easier on the Secret Service, but it comes at a terrible price: you are known as the kind of person who vacations in Martha’s Vineyard. Public opinion takes no vacations, and you cannot be a man of the people while throwing champagne in the face of the insolent butler who smudged your boat shoes. Harry Truman had the right idea, chilling out in earthier Key West—but there was much less vomiting and public nudity in Key West those days, even when Hemingway was in town.

Last summer, our own Tom Swick had a few presidential vacation suggestions of his own. (Via @travelerlauren)

Travel Weekly Tackles ‘the Ralph Nader of the Skies’

Travelers who’ve been following the fight for a Passengers’ Bill of Rights will probably recognize the name Kate Hanni—she’s one of the leading voices lobbying for an end to tarmac strandings and other issues. Travel Weekly has just published a meaty look at the activist, in which “current and former members of the group’s inner circle have criticized Hanni’s leadership, questioned her motives and impugned her credibility.”

The story includes everything from allegedly hacked email accounts to accusations of influence peddling on Capitol Hill.

Catalonia Votes to Ban Bullfights

Or as the Spanish newspaper El País proclaimed in its headline, Cataluña prohíbe los toros.

The historic vote marks the first time a Spanish region has moved to ban the pastime. Reports the New York Times:

In many ways, however, the ban reflected less on the animal rights than on a political debate over Catalan identity and a push by local parties for greater independence from the rest of Spain.

That hasn’t stopped animal rights groups from claiming a victory.