In which we present a regular round-up of news from the world of Grown-up Travel
Birmingham takes the culinary crown
London has long been Britain’s culinary star, but according to new rankings by UK food magazine Olive, a new city has taken the foodie crown.
With points awarded based on famous foods, festivals, local initiatives, food retail shops and restaurants, Birmingham in the West Midlands beat both London and Edinburgh in Olive’s 2011 list of the UK’s foodiest towns. Britain’s second largest city earned high marks across all categories, scoring points for being home to the Creme Egg-creatingCadbury company, hosting three annual food festivals and organizing not one, but two of the country’s best farmers markets , established Moseley Farmers’ Market and up-and-comer Stirchley Community Market. Birmingham’s Balti, a curry dish invented in the 1970s, also helped drive home the win.
In Shropshire, England, the town of Ludlow took the silver medal for its role as pioneer of Britain’s slow food movement. The Local to Ludloworganization runs a twice-monthly produce market, community cookery classes and farm visits. An annual September food fest, the Ludlow Marches Food and Drink Festival, features 180 independent producers, with specialty butchers competing for the “Sausage of the Year” award.
Known as the “rural capital of food”, Melton Mowbray tied for third place with Edinburgh in the awards. The birthplace of afternoon tea, stilton cheese and pork pies, the Leicestershire town earned the highest points in claims to food fame. Edinburgh scored high for its Michelin-starred restaurants and a university-backed project that teaches food skills and promotes locally grown foods.
Living the high life: Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong – a hotel in the clouds
Who hasn’t dreamt of sleeping in the clouds? In Hong Kong — one of the world’s most dynamic cities — you can get pretty close at the Ritz-Carlton hotel. It’s a hotel in the clouds, between sea and sky — the highest in the world.
Opened last spring, the Ritz-Carlton is located in the International Commerce Centre in west Kowloon. It is the tallest building in the city, and the hotel occupies the top 17 floors of the 118-story building, which stands nearly a half-kilometre high.
You enter the elevator with a bit of apprehension. But one deep breath later you find yourself on the 102nd floor — so quickly that every worry vanishes. A friendly, animated staff member escorts us to one of the 312 rooms with a view of Hong Kong and the South China Sea.
Upon entering the room, my gaze is immediately stolen by the glass wall. The view is extraordinary and takes my breath away. Looking toward the South China Sea, the late-afternoon sun sinking in the sky creates a beautiful effect on the city skyline.
Huddled up in pillows along the massive window, I take in the immensity of the vista. From this vantage point, the sun creates a spectacular light show against the sea and the numerous boats that draw white lines through blue water. Mountains in the distance speak to the age of this great land.
The room is decorated in a modern Asian style. Comfortable and spacious, it is made up of warm greys, blacks, browns and deep red accents.
In the morning, at the restaurant, we are served fine Chinese cuisine as well as Western fare — flaky croissants, chocolatines (pain au chocolat), baguettes and amazing coffee — even baked beans and smoked salmon.
On a nearby table, delicate orchids are displayed in beautiful vases. Outside, the water is sparkling in the sun. All of the buildings surrounding the Ritz-Carlton are pastel coloured with their pink tones reflected beautifully by the morning sun. Grey-blue mountains sparkle in the distance.
A young woman who works at the hotel points to one of the nearby buildings: “Look, that’s where I live with my family, and every time I work here I feel like I’m in a new city.”
Ask the Captain: How close do planes fly to each other?
Question: Hi captain, is it compulsory to have the TCAS (Traffic Collision and Avoidance System) working within the USA and Europe? Can you explain how it works? — submitted by reader manoflamancha
Answer: Traffic Collision and Avoidance System (TCAS) is a wonderful technology that provides flight crews with information of potential midair collision threats. TCAS advises the pilots about a threat based on information from the transponder (a device that transmits specific data in response to a radar pulse). If both airplanes are TCAS equipped and the paths get too close, TCAS provides a coordinated maneuver (one airplane is instructed to “climb” while the other to “descend”). If only one airplane has TCAS, those pilots are instructed to climb or descend to provide the maximum separation.
TCAS can be inoperative for a few flights using the provisions of the Minimum Equipment List (MEL). The MEL is an FAA-approved document that lists many components and systems within the airplane and provides operation limitations if they are inoperative. If a component is not listed in the MEL, it must be operative prior to flight.
I saw the benefits of TCAS one afternoon descending into Florida. We and another airplane would have passed very, very close without TCAS providing separation. I became a true believer in the technology after that day.
Q: A few years ago I was flying from San Diego to Newark. We were at our cruising altitude, but couldn’t tell where (it was within 1.5 hours of takeoff) and it was cloudy. As I looked out of the window of our 737, I saw another aircraft going the opposite direction come within (what appeared to be) 500 feet from the wingtip (estimating wingtip to wingtip). Visibility wasn’t good and it freaked me out. I thought ATC wouldn’t allow two aircraft traveling in opposite directions to come within 2 miles horizontally or 2,000 feet vertically. Is this normal and did the pilots know about the incoming aircraft? As I recall, our aircraft did not move left, right or any vertical direction.
The world’s best street food according to Lonely Planet
It can be a mix of pleasure and pain at times, but letting your tastebuds do the walking while on holiday can lead to unforgettable experiences.
Lonely Planet has compiled a selection of the best street food around the world, from little-known cultural specialities to popular dishes.
It has also revealed the secrets to how travellers can recreate them once they’re back on home soil.
From giant sea snails to oyster omelettes or fried octopus, there are a range of dishes out there for the adventurous.
There are also the popular options such as Israel’s felafel, the US’s hot dog, Thailand’s phat thai and the Indian masala dosa. And don’t forget the Mexican taco or Chinese spring roll.