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food / travel

Society

Colombia Celebrates Its Beloved Drug For The Ages

This essential morning drink for millions worldwide was once considered an addictive menace, earning itself a ban on pain of death in the Islamic world.

-Essay-

BOGOTÁ — October 1st is International Coffee Day. Recently it seems as if every day of the calendar year commemorates something — but for Colombia, coffee is indeed special.

For almost a century now we have largely tied our national destiny, culture and image abroad to this drink. Indeed it isn't just Colombia's star product, it became through the course of the 20th century the world's favorite beverage — and the most commonly used drug to boost work output.

Precisely for its stimulating qualities — and for being a mild drug — coffee was not always celebrated, and its history is peppered with the kinds of bans, restrictions and penalties imposed on the 'evil' drugs of today.

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My Failed Attempt At An Eco-Friendly Summer Vacation

Mass tourism developed by taking advantage of cheap and abundant energy. But those days are over and we are all going to have to reinvent how we holiday. But as I found out, that is no easy task.

-Essay-

PARIS — I had a wonderful vacation, thank you for asking. At the same time, I couldn't let go and relax fully because one question has been on my mind all summer. Is my vacation sustainable? In other words, will my kids be able to take the same kind of vacation 20 years from now?

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Family Sacrifice: How I Found My Colombian Grandmother At Eid In Morocco

The writer, a Bogota native, was in Tangier for the recent celebration of Eid al-Adha, the Muslim festival of sacrifice. She had been warned about how shocking the ceremony could be, but an impromptu invitation from a local family brought her back to her own.

TANGIER — Four years ago I went to Rabat, Morocco as an exchange student from my native Colombia, arriving in early August just after the Eid al-Adha celebrations, the festival of sacrifice that was so important for the worldwide Muslim community.

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Holy Mess! Spain's Disfigured Christ Mural Remains A Hit With Tourists

The clumsy restoration of a mural of Christ in a Spanish chapel 10 years ago shocked, then amused Spaniards and millions more abroad, and gave the local town a level of publicity, and tourist revenues, it never had nor could have hoped for. Here's how it looks 10 years later.

BORJA — Among the countless pictures and images of Christ around the world, it might not be outlandish to imagine that one of them might seek revenge — using humidity as the instrument of its vengeance.

One might say this of a by-now notorious mural of Christ inside a chapel in Borja in the province of Aragón, northern Spain.

Painted in 1930 by a painter and academic, the image was smothered in 2012 by Cecilia Giménez Zueca, a local resident and amateur painter. She wanted to help no doubt, but her "unfinished" restoration turned a venerable image of the suffering Christ — an Ecce Homo — into a bloated, indefinable cartoon.

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Society
Eric Delon

How Our Post-COVID Travel Fever Is Changing Tourism For Good

Frenzy has replaced frustration, and some have dubbed it "revenge travel." But far away or nearby, people want to move, move, move...to travel! Beyond the ridiculous moniker, “revenge travel,” this never-before-seen rush may bring on lasting changes for tourism.

PARIS — Lilly, a social media manager at a large French-speaking media, was still living with her parents when the first lockdown took the planet by surprise in mid-March 2020.

Lockdown after lockdown, this 23-year-old travel lover waited impatiently. In early Oct. 2021, she finally headed out alone to Thailand, criss-crossing the country with just a backpack and her reporter's notebook. “It was super intense. I met many people there. There were almost no tourists. Life was cheap, I was in my element.”

Responding to a “gentle family pressure”, Lilly eventually came back to France in January. But she had the same goal: Leaving again “far away” next October and broadening her range of destinations: South America, Laos, Vietnam, Indonesia and Australia where she will join a French-Swiss friend she met during her first trip in Thailand.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War
Hannelore Crolly

Baden-Baden Postcard: Haven For Wealthy Russians Reduced To Tourist Ghost Town

For 200 years, the Black Forest spa town of Baden-Baden has been the destination of choice for Russian tourists, with oligarchs shopping in the luxury boutiques and buying up swathes of property. Now Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has changed all that and the town's once-bustling streets are empty.

BADEN-BADEN — Some idiot hung a bag of cartridges on the door of the hotel, receptionist Juri tells us. He says it happened one night towards the end of February, shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine. “It had live ammunition in it,” he adds, shaking his head as though he can hardly believe it.

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The perpetrator must have had insider knowledge of the hotel world because who else would know that a nondescript three-star hotel in the center of Baden-Baden, a popular tourist destination in southwest Germany, was owned by a Russian family? That is why Juri does not want us to use his full name here or that of the hotel.

When Russia invaded Ukraine five months ago, the “most Russian town in Germany” felt the impact straightaway. The spa took down its Russian flag, and the town hall started flying a Ukrainian one.

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Economy
Thomas Straubhaar

Why The Era Of Low-Cost Air Travel Must End

Many of us have become accustomed to cheap flights, but as prices spiral, it's time to ask about their true cost. And politicians' plan to bring in cheap labor to keep down prices is doomed to fail.

-Analysis-

BERLIN — You get what you pay for. It’s a cliché, but it’s true. It is hypocritical for passengers to complain about the chaos that has dominated airports since the start of the holiday season. These problems could easily have been predicted.

No one can seriously believe that a business model whereby passengers are transported from A to B for such a ridiculously low price is sustainable. When flights cost a fraction of a train ticket, something must be wrong. Costs are either being disregarded or passed on to someone else.

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food / travel
Ahmed Medhat and Rana Mamdouh

Denied The Nile: Aboard Cairo's Historic Houseboats Facing Destruction

Despite opposition, authorities are proceeding with the eviction of residents of traditional houseboats docked along the Nile in Egypt's capital, as the government aims to "renovate" the area – and increase its economic value.

With an eye on increasing the profitability of the Nile's traffic and utilities, the Egyptian government has begun to forcibly evict residents and owners of houseboats docking along the banks of the river, in the Kit Kat area of Giza, part of the Greater Cairo metropolis.

The evictions come following an Irrigation Ministry decision, earlier this month, to remove the homes that have long docked along the river.

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Society
Hannah Steinkopf-Frank

How The Pandemic Spread Private Jet Travel Beyond The Super-Rich And Powerful

Once the reserve of the super-rich and famous, private jet travel has soared during the pandemic. Amid border closures and travel restrictions, private charter flights are sometimes the only option to get people — and their pets!? — home.

PARIS — Traveling by private jet has long been a mode of transportation long exclusively reserved for the super rich, extremely powerful and very famous. This article will not report that it is, er, democratizing....but still.

During the pandemic, a surprisingly wide demographic have turned to private jets not because it was a luxury they could afford, but out of desperation, trying to reach a destination in the face of border closures and widespread flight cancellations. Last year, private jet hours were close to 50% higher than in 2020, according to the Global Business Aviation Outlook. While some of the increase can be attributed to more travel in 2021 because of COVID-19 vaccination, it still amounts to 5% more hours than before the pandemic, as Deutsche Welle reports.

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Economy
Béatrice Brasseur

Blockchain Uncorked, Champagne And Fine Wine Hit The NFT Market

In just a few months, NFTs, the digital equivalent of collectables, have generated over $10 billion. Now, luxury champagne and wine brands are moving into the world of digital assets. But as investors and vineyards toast to the future, will the concept pop or fizzle?

PARIS — What's new in champagne? Tokenized bubbles!

In October, Dom Pérignon demonstrated it perpetual creative effervescence by launching limited edition boxes of its 2010 vintage and its 2006 rosé, which were "designed" in collaboration with the megastar Lady Gaga (available only on the French market). The 100 bottles — a few drops in the ocean of bubbles produced by Dom Pérignon — and their digital versions were offered for sale in a 100% virtual space. In search of new fans and eager to "create rarity within rarity," the champagne brand has thus become the very first in its sector to take the plunge into NFTs, the digital answer to collectibles.

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food / travel
Gil Zohar*

Bethlehem To Nazareth To Jerusalem: A Christmas Tour Of COVID And Politics

On the same day that Bethlehem’s Mayor Anton Salman inaugurated the Christmas holiday season earlier this month with an impressive fireworks display and tree lighting in the town square, residents of the West Bank city’s three refugee camps — Aida, Dehaishe and Jibrin, also known as Azza Camp — continued their daily protesting against the Palestinian Authority.

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food / travel
Héctor Abad Faciolince

The Madrid Neighborhood Where The Spanish Literary Giants Live On

There is a charming little sector of central Madrid where towering figures of Spanish literature lived, loved, wrote ... and mocked each other.

-Essay-

MADRID — Many people think that in contrast with politics (where it's all daggers drawn, spite and calumny), the denizens of the Republic of Letters — novelists, intellectuals and poets — get on very well. If they were ever to quarrel, they would do it with elegance and arguments devoid of envy or calculations.

In fact, the opposite has long been the case, at least since the Greek playwright Aristophanes mocked Socrates, possibly contributing to his execution by the city of Athens. Envy, hate, backbiting and rivalries are commonplace in the Republic of Letters. It is, literally, a republic of missives, as its luminaries exchanged letters wherein they condemned certain peers and praised others. Alliances were made in those letters, and groups and currents founded in opposition to other schools or literary cliques.

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