In which we present a regular round-up of news from the world of Grown-up Travel
Where to eat in Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar
Visitors come to the Grand Bazaar for the shopping, but they should make a point of staying for the food – the market makes an atmospheric backdrop for great restaurants where locals eat.
We like to think of Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar – open since 1461 – as the world’s oldest shopping mall. If that’s the case, shouldn’t the Grand Bazaar be home to the world’s oldest food court? That may be stretching the analogy a little too far, but for us the Grand Bazaar is as much of a food destination as a shopping one.
As we see it, one of the hidden pleasures of going to the bazaar (once you get past the overzealous shopkeepers hawking souvenirs) is exploring some of its quieter back alleys and interior courtyards for new dining possibilities, especially some of the smaller restaurants that cater not to tourists but rather to the locals who work in the sprawling marketplace. Here are three of our favourite places.
Gaziantep Burç Ocakbaşi
A friend directed us to Gaziantep Burç Ocakbaşi and we are forever in her debt. Located on a narrow side street off one of the Grand Bazaar’s busy thoroughfares, this unassuming grill house serves up very tasty food from Gaziantep, a city in south-east Turkey, that is considered one of the country’s culinary capitals.
Our ali nazik, tender morsels of marinated beef sitting on a bed of garlicky yogurt-eggplant purée, was perfect. The delicious salad served with it, topped with chopped walnuts and zingy pomegranate molasses, was impeccably fresh. We were even more excited about the restaurant’s speciality: extremely flavourful dolmas made out of dried eggplants and red peppers that had been rehydrated and stuffed with a rice and herb mixture, then served with yogurt on the side.
The future of in-flight entertainment
While a short promotional movie called Howdy Chicagowas shown to passengers on an plane that flew over the Chicago World’s Fair in 1921, there were no regular in-flight movies until 1961, when Trans World Airlines (TWA) began offering that novel perk to its first-class customers.
Video games (1975), seat-back video (1991) and live in-flight television (2000) followed, and today passengers in all classes, on both long and short haul flights, have come to expect some sort of airline-provided, in-flight entertainment.
And they get it. Often on a personal, seat-back multi-channel systems that deliver everything from creatively produced safety videos to movies, games, live television, shopping opportunities and, increasingly, access to the internet.
But tech-savvy passengers toting tablets, laptops, smartphones, e-readers, and other portable electronic devices are giving airlines and the traditional in-flight entertainment systems a run for their money. This has forced providers to re-think how they use technology to entertain and interact with passengers in the sky.
I got a good look at how that process is evolving earlier this month in Long Beach, Calif., when I served as one of the judges for an award given out by the Airline Passenger Experience Association(APEX) at its annual expo. The event also featured educational sessions about the wide variety of technological changes coming to in-flight entertainment systems, plus a giant hall filled with exhibitors representing products, services and content you may experience on a future flight.
Nazi bunker hosts art show
Art patrons Christian and Karen Boros have thrown open the doors this week to their own personal World War II air raid bunker in Berlin, showing off gems from their 700-work collection.
A tree made of found objects by Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei, Turner prize winner Wolfgang Tillmans’s edgy photography and giant spider-web installations by Tomas Saraceno all resonate against a one-of-a-kind backdrop.
In the centre of the German capital, near the old Cold War border crossing at Friedrichstrasse station, the vast and gloomy concrete above-ground cube has over the last four years become one of the city’s top artistic attractions.
In May 2008, a first selection of works from the couple’s private collection went on display, attracting around 120,000 visitors until it closed earlier this year for a top-to-bottom overhaul.
“It was a difficult decision to take” to close the original exhibition because most artists featured in it had personally installed their creations themselves, Karen Boros said at a preview of the show.
“But we said to ourselves that if we were going to change something we should change everything.”
Karen Boros and her Polish-born husband, who made his fortune in advertising in western Germany, delved into their archive to decide which works should now get a turn in the spotlight.
All the artists now featured have ties to Berlin, where many air raid shelters and disused industrial spaces have won a new lease of life as cultural venues.
“The oldest work dates from 1990 and the most recent, six hours ago,” Christian Boros said last week.
“Thomas Zipp, who has a key to the bunker, came to install his work overnight,” said the collector, who takes pride in the relationships he has developed with the artists he supports.
World’s tallest Ferris wheel coming to New York
The Big Apple is getting another “biggest”: the world’s tallest Ferris wheel, part of an ambitious plan to draw New Yorkers and tourists alike to the city’s so-called “forgotten borough”.
The 190-metre-tall, $220 million New York Wheel is to grace a spot in Staten Island overlooking the Statue of Liberty and the downtown Manhattan skyline, offering a singular view as it sweeps higher than other big wheels like the Singapore Flyer, the London Eye, and a “High Roller” planned for Las Vegas.
Designed to carry 1440 passengers at a time, it’s expected to draw 4.5 million people a year to a setting that also would include a 100-shop outlet mall and a 200-room hotel.
It will be “an attraction unlike any other in New York City – in fact, it will be, we think, unlike any other on the planet,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said as he unveiled the plans against the backdrop of New York Harbor. While the privately financed project faces various reviews, officials hope to have the wheel turning by the end of 2015.
The wheel would put Staten Island on the map of superlatives in a place where “biggest” is almost an expectation – home to the nation’s biggest city population, busiest mass-transit system, even the biggest Applebee’s restaurant.
The attraction stands to change the profile of the least populous and most remote of the city’s five boroughs, a sometime municipal underdog that has taken insults from New Jersey and was once known for having the world’s largest … landfill.
“It’s going to be a real icon. The Ferris wheel will be Staten Island’s Eiffel Tower,” Sen. Charles Schumer enthused.