In which we present a regular round-up of news from the world of Grown-up Travel
App vs map on a trip to Paris
Equipped with a smartphone, Emily Jupp aimed to navigate her way around the city. But did technology trounce the traditional guidebook?
Where are we?”
“Somewhere in Montmartre.”
“I need a drink.”
“We can have a drink once I get the map working. It’s just taking a few minutes to boot up.”
“While you stand there like a tech-addicted loon, I’m going to take action… Excusez-moi! Il y a un bar près d’ici?”
And so my self-inflicted challenge to navigate Paris using an iPhone begins, much to the chagrin of my travel companion. A multitude of apps, ebooks and integrated, virtual platform guides for travel, of the kind once imagined only in science fiction, is now available at the fingertips of the humble traveller. But do they work? And will they ever replace the guidebook? Travel-guide companies are investing heavily in their digital resources in order to make sure the tech-savvy traveller is catered for, but is this tech addiction just a foolhardy case of “have iPad, will travel”?
“It was a case of just realising that once these devices were available, people would want to use them,” explains Amy Schuman, former associate director of marketing for Frommer’s, the travel-guide publishers, whose digital and print offering has just been sold to Google for an undisclosed sum. Its ebooks, available on iPad, iPhone, Android and Kindle, do more than just replicate the print format. Frommer’s is developing audio functions, so you can take in the scenery rather than just burying your head in an ebook. A disembodied voice will spontaneously tell you about a point of interest as you happen to be near it, so you don’t have to follow a prescribed route.
How Berlin is fighting back against growing anti-tourist feeling in the city
A new underground political movement in Berlin, Hipster Antifa Neukölln, is combating a wave of anti-tourist abuse directed at foreigners – and hipsters in particular – who some blame for rapid gentrification of the city.
“We are being labelled traitors,” says Jannek quietly, sipping a coffee. “We have been threatened, they say they know where we live and our cars will be burned.”
Jannek – not his real name – claims he is being targeted because he is one of the few people to criticise the growing wave of foreigner bashing in Berlin.
Affluent expats and tourists from Italy, Spain and the UK are being blamed for the city’s turbocharged gentrification. This has mutated into physical attacks and abusive graffiti (“yuppie scum” being a favourite) in trendy but poor frontline areas like Kreuzberg and Neukölln.
It all started about two years ago when anti-tourist graffiti appeared in bars, cafes and on the street. Around the same time, says Jannek, bars started posting “no hipsters or tourists” signs on their entrances. “Then people started saying ‘we can’t stand any more of these people’, meaning tourists, hipsters or ‘long-time tourists’, making no distinction between them,” he adds. Then the attacks on hostels and hotels began, accompanied by verbal insults against individuals in the street. Latte-serving cafes have been attacked with bricks and bottles, he says.
Last year an estimated 6,000 people marched peacefully through Neukölln to protest against soaring rents.
Many of the aggressors are not from Berlin, they just got here first, says Jannek. He tells me of a Berliner who attacked a “tourist” on the underground – and they both turned out to be from the city.
A few months ago Jannek, who is neither a hipster nor a foreigner, set up the underground political group Hipster Antifa Neukölln with four others, an anti-fascist movement tackling the growing hatred. He believes that much of the anger is spearheaded by other anti-fascists. The punks of Kreuzberg, who once built their ideologies around a hatred of Nazis and right-wing thinking, are using this same energy to blame tourists for driving them out of the neighbourhoods they love.
Fight to save JFK’s Pan Am terminal
A campaign has been launched to save the Worldport terminal at JFK airport, known for its flying saucer shape, from demolition.
One of the buildings which underscored the glamour of the jet age is facing demolition – yet its imminent demise has scarcely raised an eyebrow.
Opened in 1960, the Worldport was once Pan Am’s global hub – Boeing 707 “Clippers” carrying the great and good pulled up under the eyecatching flying saucer roof and disgorged their cargo of suit-wearing gents and women clad in mink. You could even catch a helicopter shuttle to the top of Pan Am’s Manhattan HQ, a huge skyscraper which still looms menacingly over Grand Central Terminal. On January 22 1970, the world’s first commercial Jumbo Jet service left the terminal – bound for Heathrow.
But the Worldport’s days of glitz are long gone: no more Martinis or miniskirt-wearing girls chain smoking Lucky Strikes – the brand Mad Men’s Don Draper obsesses about. The building has reached her half century and the future looks bleak. The Port Authority of New York And New Jersey – who run JFK Airport – along with the terminal’s current tenants Delta, want to pull it down. The biggest indignity of all: it will be used to park up today’s prosaic airliners. Terminal 3 – as the Worldport is now known – will cease to be. Neighbouring Terminal 4 is being expanded for Delta in a huge $1.2 Billion USD building project.
But not everyone is letting go of the Worldport without a fight. “I’m interested in saving the Worldport because it is my family’s legacy to the world of modern American architecture,” says Lisa Turano Wojcik. Her father Emanuel Turano was lead architect on the building, designing the otherworldly structure replete with sleek, curvaceous lines, in the late 1950s. “Worldport is a superlative example of my late father’s talent and life’s work,” she says, sadly.
Wojcik is leading a campaign to get the US equivalent of listed status for the Worldport, to protect it from the bulldozers – which are due to do their worst in 2015. It’s not been easy convincing the Port Authority – who have their hands full cleaning up after Superstorm Sandy. Yet they deigned to save the Trans World Flight Center – the beautiful Eero Saarinen terminal at the airport which was the home of Pan Am’s rivals TWA. That 1960s building has just been restored, and campaigners believe the Worldport could be renovated and filled with shops, restaurants and lounges.
Hollywood’s iconic sign’s unveiled after refurbishment
The refurbished Hollywood sign was presented in all its freshly painted glory Tuesday after its biggest makeover in 35 years, in time for 90th birthday celebrations next year.
Some 1363 litres of fresh bright white paint was applied over the last two months to the Tinseltown icon, which sits atop Mount Lee in the Hollywood Hills, north of Los Angeles.
“This sign is so beautiful. It’s where people, when they get off the plane at LAX (airport), this is where they want to come to. It’s a special day,” said the LA city council member for Hollywood, Tom LaBonge.
He and other dignitaries spoke at a press conference held beneath the sign by the Hollywood Sign Trust, which manages the structure, to announce the completion of the paint job.
Over the last two months, workers have used window-cleaner style platforms to strip down the 15-metre tall letters, power-wash the corrugated iron and apply fresh primer and topcoat paint.
“The sign was scrubbed to the bone, and two tonnes of makeup was put on her best side. A lot was done to her backside but we’ve leaving that her secret,” quipped Trust head Chris Baumgart.
Victor Galindo, one of the team of painters, said he felt proud of having worked on the world-famous landmark.
“It’s a privilege for a lot of us to be up here, because a lot of us grew up here in the City of Los Angeles, and we’re used to seeing this sign from far away, and now we’re so close to it, painting it,” he told AFP.