July 28, 2021

Travel

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Jimmy Elidrissi, Waldorf Bellhop for Five Decades, Dies at 74
Travel

Jimmy Elidrissi was 19 when he left his native Morocco for the United States, alone and barely able to speak English but full of ambition. He knew that as an immigrant he could never grow up to become president, but he found a job in New York where, he said, he got to meet nine of them.He became a bellhop at the Waldorf Astoria, where he remained until Jan. 31, 2017, a month before that storied Park Avenue hotel closed for a six-year gut renovation. On the day he retired after 51 years, he was its longest-serving employee and probably the longest-serving living bellhop in Manhattan, according to his union, the Hotel Trades Council.Mr. Elidrissi died at 74 on July 6 at a hospital in Queens, where he lived. The cause was pancreatic cancer, his daughter Rajaa Elidrissi said.
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Every Year, This Italian Town Hand-Delivers Salt to the Pope
Travel

On the Adriatic coast of Italy, under the hot sun, shirtless and barefoot as is the tradition, Oscar Turroni moves a long rake over a pool of water, separating salt from water and mud and pushing the salt into a mound in a crystallizing pond. There, the water will evaporate, leaving a gleaming mountain of crunchy white salt that Turroni will take to a burchiella, a flat-bottomed barge somewhat like a gondola, that will transport it across shallow lagoons to storehouses.Since 1974, Turroni has been a salinaro, or salt picker, at a salt pan in the little town of Cervia, whose multi-tiered salt-harvesting system goes back to Roman, or perhaps Etruscan, times. The salt that Turroni and his fellow salinari harvest, Cervia Salt, is one of the purest on earth, with a singular, almost maddeningly sweet first taste on the tongue.
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International Quilt Museum in Lincoln, Nebraska
Travel

Tucked away on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's East Campus, the International Quilt Museum boasts the world's largest quilt collection. Numbered in the thousands, quilts in the collection date from the 1600s to today and everything in between.While visitors may see quilts they may recognize from their own life, there's plenty more to uncover. The IQM has an extensive collection of works made from around the world. Some of the most notable international collections include pieces made in China, India, Japan, and several Central Asian countries. The museum also has a collection of art quilts, that is quilts that were made to go on gallery walls instead of on the bed.
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See disaster-stricken lagoon turned pink
Travel

A lagoon in Argentina has turned pink after experts and activists say the water was polluted from a nearby factory.
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6 of the best ways to experience the Cultural Heart of Germany
Travel

As normality slowly returns to our lives, and more and more people are vaccinated, our ability to travel also gradually improves. Should you happen to find yourself in the regions of Saxony and Thuringia, known as the Cultural Heart of Germany, here’s  a selection of top experiences, including magical bridges and trails in gloriously unspoilt woodlands, for you to enjoy.Take a deep breath in ancient woodlands A tourism initiative to our liking: Thuringia’s “Urwaldpfade” (jungle trails) take hikers to a selection of the region’s most primeval and ancient forests. You can choose from more than a dozen routes, including in the wonderful UNESCO-listed Hainich National Park, to dive deep into unspoilt nature. It’s clean, green, and just what we all need now. Handy: Outdoor platform Outdooractive lists all of them with an English translation option.
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Bix Beiderbecke Museum & Archives in Davenport, Iowa
Travel

When people think of great jazz music, the state of Iowa probably doesn't come to mind. Yet, Iowa was the birthplace of Bix Beiderbecke, one of the most influential musicians of the Jazz Age. In 2017, a museum was built to preserve that history.Located in the basement of a concert venue in Davenport, IA, the Bix Beiderbecke Museum is described as a hidden gem by local residents. The permanent exhibit is packed with artifacts from the Prohibition Era of jazz as it chronicles the life and legacy of Beiderbecke, along with the musicians he performed with during his career.Highlights of the collection include items such as Beiderbecke's piano and childhood cornet, a custom mandolin Eddie Condon used to hide liquor bottles inside, Frankie Trumbauer's saxophone and traveling trunk, clarinets used by Pee-Wee Russell, a variety of 1920's record players, and even the doorknob and peephole from Beiderbecke's apartment. 
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Henry McNeill's Resting Place in Mid and East Antrim, Northern Ireland
Travel

Henry McNeill was born in the coastal village of Glenarm on February 14, 1836, and later moved to Larne Town in 1853 to start his own business in the tourism industry. He believed that the Antrim Coast was a spectacle that needed to be shared with the world. McNeill’s tourism business started as a hotel caterer and travel tour company, but as the development of the Larne Port and the Railway Line from Belfast to Larne progressed, so did tourism to Larne. The rail line helped McNeill forge his tourism empire.At one point, McNeill had over 200 horse-drawn jaunting cars transporting groups of tourists up and down the Antrim Coast daily for tours of the Giant’s Causeway, Glenariff Forest, Gleno Waterfall, and the Gobbins Cliff Path on Islandmagee.
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The Travel Industry’s Reckoning With Race and Inclusion
Travel

Betweenthe Covid-19 pandemic, which brought tourism to a near-complete halt for months on end, and last summer’s protests for social justice, the past year has been one of reckoning for the travel industry on issues of race and inclusivity.In the wake of George Floyd’s killing, everybody from hotel operators to luggage makers declared themselves allies of the protesters. At a time when few people were traveling, Instagram posts and pledges to diversify were easy to make. But now, as travel once again picks up, the question of how much travel has really changed has taken on new urgency.“From the very emergence of the Covid pandemic and especially in the wake of uprisings last summer, there’s a question about place,” said Paul Farber, the director of Monument Lab, a Pennsylvania-based public art and history studio that works with cities and states that want to examine, remove or add historic monuments. “What is the relationship of people and places? Where are sites of belonging? Where are sites where historic injustices may be physically or socially marked?”
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Île Sainte-Marguerite in Cannes, France
Travel

On the other side of the sea from the glamorous Cannes, the silhouette of Île Sainte-Marguerite harbors an unsolved mystery. The island is part of the Lerins Islands and is articulated by several paths that run between pine and eucalyptus forests. At the island's fortress, known as the Fort Royal, the mysterious "Man in the Iron Mask" was held captive for 11 years in the 17th century.In his 1751 work The Age of Louis XIV, Voltaire told the story of a captive whose face was hidden by an iron mask. (Historical records suggest that Voltaire got the material wrong, that the mask was actually made of black velvet, not iron.) According to the witness of other prisoners, this mysterious prisoner had treatment of preference: "He was not denied anything he asked for, he had exquisite tastes in the way he was dressed, he played the guitar and was given the best meal..."
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Frustration Mounts at British ‘Confusing’ Traffic-Light System
Travel

So-called “Freedom Day” in Britain, which last Monday marked the government’s lifting of all remaining coronavirus requirements, was a far cry from the blithe liberty that many locked-down British residents had dreamed of for the past year. Nearly 40,000 new coronavirus cases were recorded in the 24 hours before the anticipated day, while hundreds of thousands of people received a notification on a government tracing app, asking them to self-isolate for 10 days because of possible exposure to the virus.On the same day, vaccinated Britons who had escaped across the English Channel to France, to enjoy new privileges of quarantine-free travel, were abruptly informed that they would have to self-isolate when they returned home, regardless of their vaccination status. It was the second time British authorities had swiftly reversed course: In June, just weeks after letting British travelers freely travel to Portugal without quarantining upon their return, they changed the rules because of concerns about the prevalence of the Delta variant. Thousands of British residents rushed to Portuguese airports trying to get back home before the quarantine rule went back into effect.
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A San Francisco Airport Site Is Crawling With Snakes—And That's a Good Thing
Travel

During a typical year, some 55 million people pass through San Francisco International (SFO), the nation’s seventh busiest airport. At some point during their journey to or from the terminal, each one of them will travel by a seemingly unremarkable 180-acre parcel of land, soggy and spartan, bounded by highways and train tracks, bisected by rows of power lines. It may look like any other overgrown vacant lot, but this one is home to the world’s largest population of the strikingly beautiful and highly endangered San Francisco garter snake. A recent study conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) confirmed the presence of approximately 1,300 snakes at SFO’s West of Bayshore property—it’s the greatest concentration ever recorded.
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Maine Mineral & Gem Museum in Bethel, Maine
Travel

The town of Bethel, Maine with a population of under 3,000 is home to the unassuming, yet nevertheless, stunning Maine Mineral & Gem Museum (MMGM), which opened in 2019. The main exhibit hall takes a local approach to geology, with the official Maine state mineral, tourmaline, on display along with other locally-sourced minerals such as amethyst, beryl, quartz, and many others.The MMGM also showcases a geological history of Maine, including the official state fossil, Petrica quadrifaria, believed to be one of the largest terrestrial plants of the Devonian period. The display also includes a collection of local minerals, fossils, and petrified wood from the pre-Cambrian era, through the Mesozoic era and Quaternary period.
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The Cape Town Opera Company is hitting all the high notes
Travel

Hear the powerful voices of an award-winning ensemble tell universal stories, and follow along in South Africa as they build a new audience and educate the next generation about the fun side of this classic art form
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Jardin Public de la Fonderie in Douai, France
Travel

Located near the city center and various popular squares, this very flowery and friendly garden gives visitors the opportunity to discover the remains of the old cannon foundry inherited by Louis XIV between 1669 and 1670. Inside are the remains of the La Furibonde, a cannon melted in Douai in 1744 by Jean-François Bérenger.Before Douai was invaded by Louis XIV in 1667, the area was home to the Castle of the Counts of Flanders. It was quickly converted into an arsenal and then destroyed by the king.Abandoned since World War I, the foundry was renovated into a public garden in 1990 at the same time as the construction of the modern building to the west. The high acoustic quality of the garden allows for performances by musicians from the conservatory. The garden is not open at night or during storms.
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Podcast: The Kalamazoo Gals of the Old Gibson Guitar Factory
Travel

Listen and subscribe on Stitcher, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and all major podcast apps.In this episode of The Atlas Obscura Podcast, we tell story of the women who stepped up to produce thousands of guitars during World War II, only to be written out of history.Our podcast is an audio guide to the world’s wondrous, awe-inspiring, strange places. In under 15 minutes, we’ll take you to an incredible site, and along the way you’ll meet some fascinating people and hear their stories. Join us daily, Monday through Thursday, to explore a new wonder with cofounder Dylan Thuras and a neighborhood of Atlas Obscura reporters.
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Silver Spring B&O Railroad Station in Silver Spring, Maryland
Travel

The original Silver Spring B&O Railroad Station was constructed in 1878. By the mid-1930s, it offered residents in the northwest parts of Washington D.C. and surrounding areas of Maryland the convenience of not having to travel to Union Station in downtown D.C. for rail travel.The station was upgraded in 1945, laid on the foundation of the original station with embossed CALVERT bricks from Williamsport, Maryland. The newly-minted station was a fixture in downtown Silver Spring for decades, serving as a critical part of the city's transit system. In 1997, an automobile careened into the station causing significant damage. This incident was almost the end for the station if not for the efforts of the local community, who saved the depot from demolition. The station is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
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Travelers' Frustration Mounts at 'Confusing' British Covid Restrictions
Travel

So-called “Freedom Day” in Britain, which last Monday marked the government’s lifting of all remaining coronavirus requirements, was a far cry from the blithe liberty that many locked-down British residents had dreamed of for the past year. Nearly 40,000 new coronavirus cases were recorded in the 24 hours before the anticipated day, while hundreds of thousands of people received a notification on a government tracing app, asking them to self-isolate for 10 days because of possible exposure to the virus.On the same day, vaccinated Britons who had escaped across the English Channel to France, to enjoy new privileges of quarantine-free travel, were abruptly informed that they would have to self-isolate when they returned home, regardless of their vaccination status. It was the second time British authorities had swiftly reversed course: In June, just weeks after letting British travelers freely travel to Portugal without quarantining upon their return, they changed the rules because of concerns about the prevalence of the Delta variant. Thousands of British residents rushed to Portuguese airports trying to get back home before the quarantine rule went back into effect.
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Abbey Sewage Pumping Station in Leicester, England
Travel

The Abbey Pumping Station is an unusual science and technology museum in Leicester, England. Its main attraction is the set of  four working steam-powered beam engines leftover from its time as a sewage pumping station, but it also houses a range of other exhibits.The building was constructed in 1891 by Leicester Corporation to pump the town's sewage to the main sewage treatment works. The impressive building, designed by Stockdale Harrison, houses four compound beam engines built by a local firm, Gimson and Company. Even if the building was empty, it would be worthy of preservation. The internal decoration of the pump room is a fantastic example of British Victorian civic pride.
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'Bruin' in Dundee, Scotland
Travel

The maritime city of Dundee has its fair share of statues depicting its illustrious character. These metal monuments often pay homage to historical figures such as Queen Victoria and Robert Burns in front of the McManus Art Gallery and Museum. There are also fictitious renderings of the city's illustrative output, like the Lemmings Statue and various characters from the Beano Comics. But it is the statue of a polar bear chasing a terrified man on High Street that might raise a few eyebrows and double-takes. Erected in 2021, this sculpture by artist David Annand and commissioned by the Dundee City Council commemorates an event that took place in the nearby vicinity in November 1878. As the story goes, a rather large polar bear escaped his handlers and caused havoc for several hours before being gently apprehended. 
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Farnham Colossi in Unger, West Virginia
Travel

A seven-acre parcel of farmland in Unger, West Virginia, is home to a small army of giants. Displayed around the property are more than 20 enormous fiberglass figures designed in the 1960s for roadside advertising. Although not all the figures are male (or even human), these “colossi” are known generically as “Muffler Men.”The figures are owned and displayed by George and Pam Farnham, who live on the property. Their bucolic homestead is called “Farnham’s Fantasy Farm.” In the early 1980s, George left a legal career in Washington, D.C., moved to rural Morgan County, West Virginia, and acquired room to spread out. Collectors by nature, the Farnhams’ hobby assumed gargantuan proportions when they acquired their first giant—a 25-foot-tall Muffler Man—from a Midas Muffler Shop in California. Constructed of molded fiberglass, he stands at the top of the driveway holding an enormous muffler and wearing a golden-yellow crown on his head.
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Dunn Gardens in Seattle, Washington
Travel

The esteemed Olmsted Brothers Landscape firm designed the eight-acre Dunn Gardens in 1915. It is the only residential garden designed by the Olmsted firm that is open to the public in Washington state. Because of this, Dunn Gardens has both regional and national significance.The Olmsted Brothers were prolific landscape architects, famous for designing New York City's Central Park, the U.S. Capital in Washington, D.C., Biltmore Estates in North Carolina, the World’s Exposition in Chicago, Belle Isle in Detroit, and many many other projects and municipal gardens of significance around the United States. 
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Loy's Station Covered Bridge in Rocky Ridge, Maryland
Travel

Named for an old rail station, this bridge was originally a single span but now features a pier at the midpoint. The bridge was constructed using a multiple kingpost design. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.This bridge has taken a beating over the years. In 1991, an arsonist attempting to file a fraudulent insurance claim against the bridge parked a truck inside of it and set it ablaze. A huge outpouring of time and energy from the local community in the form of fundraising helped to save the bridge.After a debate ensued over whether to rebuild the bridge to its original specifications or to use reinforcements as had been done during a renovation around 1930, the latter option was chosen. The bridge was rebuilt on the parts of its frame that had survived the fire. Three years later, the bridge was re-opened. The bridge was also struck by vehicles and damaged twice in 2013 but was quickly restored both times. 
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Dilkusha House (Albert W. Taylor House) in Seoul, South Korea
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Nearly a century past its construction, a derelict colonial-style house in Seoul’s Jongno district has been restored. Its lformer residents—Albert W. Taylor, a Nevada-born businessman who worked in Korea’s mining industry, and his wife Mary L. Taylor, a British actor—witnessed and recorded critical moments in Korean history. In 1919, when Korea was under Japanese occupation, Albert was tapped to cover an abdicated Korean emperor’s funeral as a foreign correspondent. In the same year, Mary gave birth to their son at Seoul’s Severance Hospital. It was a moment of joy for the Taylors, but for the greenhorn newspaperman Albert, a thrilling discovery came into sight: a copy of the Korean Declaration of Independence, tucked under the sheets of his wife’s bed. It had been furtively printed in the hospital’s basement to prepare for one of the most significant events of Korea’s independence movement, and a nurse had hidden a copy. Albert was fluent in Korean by then and recognized the document. He filed a report via his brother, who stuffed the documents in the heel of his shoe, whisked it to Tokyo to avoid police surveillance, and cabled the American press. Later on, Albert further contributed to the Korean cause by reporting on a massacre by the Imperial Japanese Army and trials of Korean independence activists. 
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Is Jeff Bezos an Astronaut Now?
Travel

Say you’re Jeff Bezos.You’re the richest person in the world. You’ve spent billions of dollars starting up a rocket company that has just launched you and three others high enough that everyone agrees you reached outer space, even if just for a few minutes.Are you now an astronaut?The answer appears to be no, at least in the eyes of the Federal Aviation Administration, which last week revised its definitions on whom it considers to be an astronaut.But for Richard Branson, the billionaire who went to space a week earlier on a rocket plane operated by Virgin Galactic, a company he founded, the answer might be yes.The advent of the age of space tourism brings along a question of semantics: Is the word “astronaut” something that describes where someone has been — outer space — or is it a job description like pilot or sailor?
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The first Rosewood Hotels & Resorts property to open in Spain
Travel

The most iconic hotel on Madrid’s Paseo de la Castellana boulevard – Hotel Villa Magna – is to become the first hotel in Spain to operate under Rosewood Hotels & Resorts. Situated in the heart of Madrid, Rosewood Villa Magna is located among renowned and architecturally impressive restaurants, shops and attractions. With a refreshed contemporary sense of style and service that speaks to today’s travelers, Rosewood Villa Magna will feature 150 thoughtfully appointed guestrooms and suites, distinct dining experiences and an inspired Sense, A Rosewood Spa. “As one of the world’s most alluring cultural capitals, Madrid is an ideal destination in which to raise the Rosewood flag, and we are thrilled to have the opportunity to join together with our valued partners at RLH to breathe new life into one of the city’s most prolific properties, Villa Magna,” said Sonia Cheng, chief executive officer of Rosewood Hotel Group. “A mecca for arts, culture and cuisine that perfectly balances the old with the new, Madrid offers the perfect canvas for our guiding A Sense of Place® philosophy. We look forward to bringing our differentiated approach to ultra-luxury hospitality to Spain with this special hotel.”
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