Grown-up Travel Guide News Update – 01.03.2012

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In which we present a regular round-up of news from the world of Grown-up Travel

World’s tallest tower completed in Tokyo

News.com.au

Construction of the Tokyo Sky Tree, the world’s tallest communications tower and second-highest building, finished Wednesday, two months late because of the quake and tsunami that struck Japan last March.

Tourist bosses in the country hope the 634-metre tower will be a big draw for foreign visitors, whose numbers have plummeted in the aftermath of the disaster and the nuclear crisis it sparked.

“The construction was originally scheduled to finish in December 2011 but was delayed due to a shortage of supplies after the disaster,” said a spokeswoman for the operator, adding that the finished structure is sound.

“The building was officially handed over” from contractors to the operating firm, linked with Tobu Railway Co., on Wednesday afternoon, another spokeswoman said.

Construction of the tower, near the popular Asakusa traditional district on Tokyo’s eastern side, began in July 2008.

The Tokyo Sky Tree tops the 600-metre Canton Tower in China’s Guangzhou and the 553-metre CN Tower in downtown Toronto.

It is the world’s second-tallest manmade structure, beaten only by the 828-metre Burj Khalifa in Dubai.

Some 580,000 workers were engaged in the construction, which cost over $744 million ($Y65 billion) for the tower alone, the spokeswoman said.

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London plans museum on 2012 Games

Toronto Sun

London will set up its own Olympic museum near the new stadium as a legacy of this year’s Games, the British Olympic Association said on Monday.

Plans for the museum, to be situated next to the landmark Orbit Tower in the Olympic Park in a formerly rundown part of east London, are for it to open in 2014 with visitors likely to be charged “a modest entry fee”.

“As the only city to have earned the honour of hosting the Olympic Games three times, London occupies a truly unique place in Olympic history,” said BOA chairman Colin Moynihan in a statement.

“I believe the British Olympic museum is the perfect way to ensure the spirit, excitement and unforgettable memories of the London 2012 Games live on to inspire future generations to follow their own dreams.”

London hosted the 1908 and 1948 Games but there are few relics of those earlier Olympics which used the White City and Wembley stadiums in the west of the city.

The International Olympic Committee has its own museum in Lausanne, Switzerland, while 1992 Games host city Barcelona also has one.

IOC president Jacques Rogge welcomed the initiative as something that would “become part of the lasting legacy that London 2012 will leave the UK for generations to come.”

BOA chief executive Andy Hunt said the museum, whose design and content were under discussion, would cost 10 million pounds to develop and operate for the first three years before breaking even and becoming cash generative.

“Our plans are to build a really leading attraction within the Olympic Park,” he told reporters.

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Chicago serves up a tasty pizza tour

The National

Chicago is famous for many things, not the least of which is its pizza. As Mo Gannon discovers, the Windy City has a pizza tour that proudly dishes on the city’s hot spots, history and famous fans

I’m standing alone on a sidewalk on East Madison Street, just as grey and as cold as the day, when a guy in a hoodie and a baseball cap pops his head out of Pizano’s restaurant. “I’m the crazy guy who’s going to kidnap you and feed you pizza all day,” is how Jon Porter, the affable owner and guide of Chicago Pizza Tours, introduces himself after he invites me inside.

I’m a willing captive. I’ve got two days by myself in Chicago, and after wandering around for one of them, I’m numb from the cold and tired of my internal dialogue. Chicago is a food town, and I want to eat my way around it.

Jon’s tour makes it easy, taking small groups on his “Dough Force One” bus to four restaurants in three hours, combining a mix of the well-known pizza joints downtown with lesser-known neighbourhood pizzerias.

There is much for foodies to relish in Chicago, from its lowly hot dog carts to its Michelin-starred restaurants, but nothing seems to inspire more passion in its people than pizza. Look no further than the two most powerful Americans, Obama and Oprah. Obama’s declared favourite is thin crust from Italian Fiesta Pizzeria in his Hyde Park neighbourhood, whose owners were flown to DC to make it for his inauguration. Oprah’s favourite thin crust is from Pizano’s, pronounced Pie-zano’s, which is a fitting place for us to begin.

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The world’s worst tourists? The answer might tick you off

USA Today

We have seen the enemy and he is us. Or so indicates a new travel behavior survey to be released Friday by LivingSocial.

Americans topped the list as being the worst-behaved travelers in a survey of 5,600 respondents, 4,000 of whom were Americans. Other respondents were in Australia, Canada, Ireland and the United Kingdom. But even American respondents buttonholed their compatriots as the worst travelers from a list of 16 nationalities. (Canadians and Australians also put Americans in the No. 1 spot. Irish respondents pointed to UK residents and UK respondents gave Germans the nod. On the other hand, 37% of Americans opted for “none of the above” in answer to the worst-tourists question, displaying more tolerance and open-mindedness than the other nationalities.)

Other survey questions had respondents ‘fessing up to pilfering from hotels. Four in 10 U.S. survey-takers said they’d stolen something – mostly towels (28%) and bathrobes (8%). Other popular pinched items included pillows, remote controls, Bibles (!) and sheets.

Not surprising is that Americans have less time off from work than other nationalities. Americans reported getting 16 days off, compared to 28 days for the Irish, 27 days for Australians, 23 days for UK workers; and 21 days for Canadians.

More surprising is that 78% of the American respondents said they’d visited at least one foreign country and 61% said they’d been to multiple foreign destinations. (That figure doesn’t square with the fact that only about 37% of Americans possess a passport. Go figure.)

In the travel mishaps department, the most common travel disaster reported by Americans was lost luggage on an airline (21%); bad weather (21%); and getting very lost (16%).

As for places Americans most want to see, Disney World and Las Vegas made the top 10, but they weren’t at the top of the heap. And New York didn’t make the cut.

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