In which we present a regular round-up of news from the world of Grown-up Travel
Spirited Traveller: Drink like a lion in Istanbul
Bridging Europe and Asia, Istanbul has become Turkey’s financial, cultural and historic centre. In addition to quality local wines and beers, the city’s tipplers consume their fair share of distilled spirits – particularly vodka, tequila and whiskey – with a cocktail culture on the ascent.
“The most popular drink in Istanbul is raki,” says Cevat Yildrim, bartender at local restaurant Lucca.
This clear, anise-flavoured spirit, widely considered the national alcoholic drink of Turkey, is made from grapes and distilled to an alcohol level comparable to vodka (40% alcohol by volume or higher).
Most consume the spirit straight up as a shot, or diluted with water, which changes the colour of the spirit to a milky white (leading to its nickname “Lion’s Milk” – also a reference to the courage of those who dare to drink raki).
According to Istanbul-based tour guide Burak Sansal, drinking raki has its own set of rituals. “Most important is what it is to be partaken with,” he writes.
“White cheese is the main and unchangeable ‘meze’ of raki,” though cold vegetable and seafood dishes also are favoured pairings.
The Bosphorus divides Istanbul in two, and most of the best places to eat and drink come with vast water views. Although many bars and clubs close their open-air terraces during the winter months, Istanbul is noted for its lively approach to nightlife and drinks flow freely.
In addition to his own establishment, Yildrim also recommends venues such as Sunset Grill & Bar, noted for its stunning views of the Bosphorus, strong wine list and affluent clientele.
Other picks include Turkish-Italian restaurant Paper Moon and Ulus 29, a bar and club located on the hilltop of Ulus.
London 2012: Olympic hotel prices fall by 25 per cent
The price of a hotel stay in London during the Olympics has fallen by around a quarter in the last two weeks, according to new research.
Average room rates in the capital between July 27 and August 12 are currently £160 a night – still 75 per cent up on the same time last year, but down significantly from £202 earlier this month.
The booking website Hotels.com, which published the figures, said that a large number of rooms were available for far less, with rates starting at around £59 a night.
Hoteliers in the capital have been widely criticised for trying to cash in on an anticipated influx of visitors this summer.
Telegraph Travel reported last year that some visitors to London during the Olympic Games next summer were being asked to pay up to 10 times the usual rate for a hotel room, while the London mayor’s office recently accused hoteliers of spoiling the city’s image as an affordable destination.
However, high prices appear to have put off ordinary summer holidaymakers, with one inbound tour operator claiming that bookings for breaks in London were down by 35 per cent. This month Trivago.co.uk, another hotel booking website, said that 36 per cent of hotel rooms in the capital remained unsold for the period covering the Olympics.
Seamus MacCormaic of Hotels.com agreed that the falling prices were due to a lack of demand from overseas visitors, and added that the opening of several new hotels had increased availability in the market.
The Tune Hotel, for example, is opening its fourth London branch in King’s Cross next month, and has rates during the Games starting at £99 a night. The CitizenM Bankside hotel, meanwhile, opens on July 5.
The rollercoaster index: How ambitious new theme parks reflect economic ups and downs
It’s not just about height and speed – big rides can say a lot about the places they’re built in.
The unmistakable sight of a helical steel track streaking across the horizon, combined with a soundtrack of whooshes and screams, makes your heart quicken. If you think back to the fondest memories of childhood, the chances are rollercoasters are writ large in them.
Remember when Jim fixed it for Sutton St Mary’s Cub Scouts to eat their lunch on Blackpool’s Revolution? But rollercoasters don’t just offer base thrills to kids (and big kids). They are stark statements of intent; unwitting symbols of a country’s ambitions and economic prowess.
The United States has been at the peak of the rollercoaster game since Disneyland opened on orange groves outside Los Angeles in 1955. The ever-increasing size, speed and spread of US rollercoasters in the latter half of the 20th century asserted the primacy of American pleasure in the same way as the skyscrapers of Midtown Manhattan asserted the primacy of American capital in the first half of that century.
Now the world’s most famous architects build theme parks: Frank Gehry designed Disneyland’s back offices. Rollercoasters fetishise railways – their steel gigantism crows about the might of industrial society. They subvert the utility of the form, tricking boring physics into playing games with our senses. The quest to build bigger, longer, faster coasters is constant. “Most record-breaking rollercoasters have been built in the US,” Robert Coker, author of A Thrill Seeker’s Guide To The Ultimate Scream Machines, says. “But Japan boasts several record-breakers, and China is building enormous coasters at a frantic pace.”
Beans and broccoli causing turbulence in the sky: Foods to avoid when flying
Travellers are being advised to remove beans, bread and broccoli from their diet before flying.
The three Bs are among a range of foods that can produce two more Bs – belching and bloating – by causing gases in the stomach to expand. The result, known as Jet Bloating, is lose-lose for the sky-high traveller and those within close proximity.
In 2006 a flight in the US was forced to divert and land after passengers noted a suspicious smell in a bathroom.
The odour was that of a spent match, lit by a fellow passenger to disguise an unfortunate wind incident.
Singapore Airlines has released a guide on how to prevent bloating, fatigue, jet lag, travel sickness and indigestion whilst flying, recommending you go easy on deep fried goodies (slow indigestion), salty snacks (water retention), carbonated drinks and peaches (gas) in the lead-up to take-off.
Green tea is good for stimulating digestive enzymes and has all-round detoxifying properties which help to alleviate trapped wind, a common in-flight problem, it states. Other helpful foods are bananas, berries, onions and garlic.
To aid indigestion the airline suggests you eat food such as potatoes, turmeric and pineapple. And fish is easier to digest than meat.
If you are an anxious flier get stuck into a few celery sticks before boarding as they can relax your central nervous system. Vitamin B can reduce stress, but stick to whole cereal grains and leafy green vegies. Foie gras and beans are also vitamin B foods, but these may cause more problems than they solve.