In which we present a regular round-up of news from the world of Grown-up Travel
Virgin Atlantic’s withdrawal adds to Kenya’s tourism woes
As Virgin Atlantic announces it will cease flights to Kenya, Gill Charlton reports on the problems the country faces in attracting the volume of tourists it used to enjoy.
It came as little surprise this week when Virgin Atlantic announced its withdrawal from Kenya. Last winter – at the height of the tourist season – the airline was reduced to selling return flights to Nairobi for as little as £125 before taxes and charges were added.
Virgin has long struggled to make money on a route dominated by British Airways and Kenya Airways. BA has also made cuts to its service, dropping its second daily flight to Nairobi. Kenya Airways survives by using its Nairobi hub to offer tour operators attractive prices on multi-centre package holidays in the region.
Last winter saw a fall in tourist arrivals from the UK to Kenya due, in part, to rumours of an imminent terrorist attack in Nairobi (which did not happen) and the abduction of two foreign tourists and the murder of another on the Lamu archipelago. Last week the Foreign Office finally lifted its advisory against travel to Lamu but the damage this has done to the coast’s tourism industry will take years to repair.
Another problem is the ageing hotel stock on the beaches around Mombasa. Those British holidaymakers who can still afford a winter sun holiday are now favouring the new resort hotels and villa complexes found in Thailand, Goa and Zanzibar which have bigger rooms, a choice of dining and the latest spa facilities.
While Kenya’s safari lodges remain the envy of Africa for their diversity of game and warm welcome, the country is also finding it hard to compete on price with holidays based around the self-drive game parks in South Africa and Namibia.
So it’s not surprising that Virgin Atlantic is focusing on its service to Johannesburg where it can sell money-making Upper Class seats to business people and the well-heeled British crowd who fly in for golf, partying and winter sun. Full fare seats on the Nairobi route are largely bought by charity and aid agency staff, many of who have had their travel budgets cut.
In “Cloud City” on the Met Museum’s roof
Argentine artist Tomas Saraceno combines art, architecture and science in a striking installation on the rooftop garden of The Metropolitan Museum of Art that gives visitors a different perspective of the sky, clouds and the city around them.
“Cloud City,” which opened on Tuesday and runs for six months, is a giant jumble of interconnecting modules, measuring 54 feet long and 28 feet high, that rises to varying levels and incorporates reflective materials, mirrors and glass with New York’s skyline and Central Park as the backdrop.
Visitors can enter and walk through the spheres in what Saraceno described as a way to experience connections and relations that make it appear you are not where you are.
“Upside down, Central Park is a flying garden embedded in a cumulus cloud, mirrored buildings and skies appear under your feet, gravity seems to reorient itself, and people are multiplied in patchworks of cloudscape, forming unexpected interconnected networks,” he said.
The exhibit, which is Saraceno’s first in the United States, was commissioned specifically by the Metropolitan Museum of Art for the roof garden and was two years in the making.
It is the 15th single-artist installation on the roof site.
Anne Strauss, the associate curator in the Department of Modern and Contemporary Art, described the installation as “a bold and exhilarating endeavor.”
“Tomas Saraceno is an artist who opens our eyes to ideas and possibilities and his site-specific structure is so successfully in dialogue with the setting. It is a microcosm against the microcosm that is Manhattan,” Strauss told a press briefing.
She added that if it were not for the steel cables that anchor the structure to the museum, it seemed as if it might take off and join the clouds in the atmosphere.
Saraceno’s work was inspired by various phenomena and structures including clouds, bubble, bacteria, foam and social and neural communication networks, according to the museum.
Submarine bar takes partygoers to new depths
It’s the funky deep-sea bar on board a submarine and the perfect place to sample a “depth charge”.
The Guinness Deep-Sea Bar, built as part of the 250th anniversary celebrations, has just completed a test run in the Baltic Sea around the Stockholm Archipelago.
The bar is approximately 11sqm and has been designed to capture the feeling of being “immersed in a dynamic, flowing experience”.
The interior includes sculpted nooks for seating, tables and – of course – a bar constructed from glass-reinforced plastic.
The shell is covered in rubber disks that look like bubbles, with some hollowed out and inserted with LEDS and others left empty to hold cans and glasses.
The sub was transformed by London-based architecture firm Jump Studios.
15 crazy potato chip flavors around the world
Forget Cool Ranch (oddly, renamed “Cool American” in Iceland) or sour cream and onion—these chip flavors will make you crave a salty snack … or just cringe.
Now here’s the kind of endorsement I like in a chip: “Won’t get you drunk, but certainly hits the spot!” Pop open a bag of these chips from Devon, England, for breakfast—you may pack on the pounds but at least you’ll be sparing your liver.
And here’s a different kind of cocktail (you may know it as a shrimp cocktail), a seafood-themed one. Hugely popular in England, these chips are billed as “a crisp with a little bit of class” based on the fact that shrimp cocktails are what fancy people eat, we suppose.
Already thinking about what to make for next year’s Easter dinner? Forget baking for hours—just open up a bag of honey-glazed ham chips for everyone. You’ll have to head to Australia to pick up a pack of Smith’s chips, though.
How do you improve on a product that’s generally made out of a mix of mysterious beef parts? Distill that flavor down into a chip. The geniuses at Jumpy’s chips (sold in Australia) have done just that, so bring a pack of these to a ball (cricket) game.
Hot Chili Squid
Do you like the taste of squid, but hate how the tentacles feel in your mouth? Lucky for you, Lay’s has solved this problem by combining the tasty flavors of squid and chilies into a chip. Sorry Lay’s American fans—these chips are sold in Thailand.
Thanks to the global magic of Amazon, you don’t have to go all the way to Korea to get Octopus-flavored chips. Shaped like goldfish but tasting like octopus, Tako chips are sure to delight and confuse your tastebuds.