This month has seen a spate of events marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe. Now there’s a moving exhibit at the German Historical Museum in Berlin that’s worth your attention should you find yourself near Germany’s capital city between now and October 25th.
The exhibit looks at life immediately following the outbreak of peace. And it doesn’t just examine Germany; Great Britain, the Soviet Union, and 10 other countries are included.
It may surprise some younger folks to learn that at the end of the war, parts of Great Britain—especially London—were in shambles, the result of years of German bombing. And there was every manner of shortages, as well. Largely untouched on the home front, the US was fortunate compared to the countries of Europe.
The exhibit focuses on 36 people, some as well-known as Lord Mountbatten and others unknown except to their families. Using letters, ration coupons, physical mementoes, and photos, the exhibit vividly displays the hopes, fears, and destruction faced by survivors right after the war.
From Denmark comes the surprising news that the country’s banks and retailers are pushing for the abolition of cash. In other words, keep your wallet in your pocket unless you’re reaching for a credit or debit card or are paying via NFC.
What’s an NFC?
The theory is this, and it’s not a bad one: Thieves go where the money is. And if there’s no cash in a store, there’s no money to steal. Plus, there’s no cash to have to count at day’s end, no cash that has to be ferried to a bank for deposit, no cash that can be filched by a larcenous employee.
Some retail operations in Denmark are already refusing cash, accepting only credit or debit cards or near-field communication, contactless payment. There–that’s “NFC”–near-field communication. That’s what you’re using if you have Apple Pay or some similar app loaded into your phone—you just wave your device near an electronic reader, and the sale is done.
NFC is progressing slowly in the US because not all retailers have the technology to implement NFC transactions. Right now, Denmark may be leading the way, but soon it will be the way we live, too.
Try flying United or Cathay Pacific flights that link Newark airport with Hong Kong. But take along a couple of books—it’s a 16-hour flight. That’s about the same time it takes to fly Qantas between Sydney, Australia, and Dallas.
If it’s South Africa you want to see, take South African Airways’ flight out of New York to Johannesburg—it’s about 16 hours and 15 minutes. Hey, that’s five minutes shorter than the Qatar Airways’ flight between Doha and Houston. It’s 16 hours and 20 minutes, same as the Emirates flight between Houston and Dubai that oil moguls like to take
Ten minutes longer is the Etihad flight from LA to Abu Dhabi—it’s 16 hours and 30 minutes. Emirates from LA to Dubai is five minutes longer.
But here’s the longest flight: Atlanta to Johannesburg. It takes nearly 17 hours depending on the direction you’re going and seasonal winds.
How, you might ask, how does anyone survive flights that long? Well, the planes are full almost every day. Books, movies, naps and iPods help, as does a sense of adventure and patience.
I recently stayed at the Ace Hotel in New York City. It’s an über-hip hotel whose first location was in Portland,OR, and its most distinguishing characteristics are bunk beds in some rooms and a lobby that’s a major gathering place for millennials who seem to like to socialize and work on their laptops or tablets in semi-darkness as rock music throbs in the background.
But it’s worth visiting the Ace Hotel in Manhattan if only to eat in one of the two restaurants off that crowded, happening lobby. Both are under the auspices of celebrity chef April Bloomfield. You may know her first book, A Girl and Her Pig.
There’s the seafood restaurant, John Dory Oyster House, and there’s The Breslin Bar & Dining Room featuring nose-to-tail cooking and fresh, local ingredients. It’s open until midnight, though if you’re a guest, there’s 24-room service. I’d take the top bunk.
If you’d like to replicate Bloomfield’s cooking, she has a new book titled A Girl & Her Greens that celebrates spring’s flavors from nature with recipes for dishes including roasted carrots with Burrata cheese.
Oh, and don’t miss Stumphouse coffee just off the lobby, too. It must be what fuels all that energy there.
The controversy flared up a couple of years ago with the release of a documentary titled “Blackfish.” It was a scathing look at the treatment of Orca whales held in captivity and used for entertainment at places such as SeaWorld. The question is: Should you patronize those shows?
The documentary noted the killing of a SeaWorld trainer by an orca named Tilikum. It challenged SeaWorld’s assertion that orcas lived as long in captivity as they do in open waters. SeaWorld only recently began a public relations effort to blunt the impact of the documentary that the company admitted had hurt its business.
Now comes a book by one of the participants in “Blackfish.” John Hargrove is a former SeaWorld trainer, and his book is titled Beneath the Surface: Killer Whales, SeaWorld & the Truth Beyond Blackfish.
Hargove claims despite SeaWorld’s assertions that it spends millions to support research of whales and rescues, rehabilitates, and returns to the wild hundreds of wild animals every year, the parks still separate mothers from their calves, keep orcas in pens, and keep them hungry so they’ll perform for the reward of fish during shows.
Should you visit? I’ll put a link to the book and SeaWorld’s rebuttal to critics in the transcript of today’s “Travel Minute” at rudymaxa.com.
“Blackfish,” the documentary
SeaWorld’s response to “Blackfish,” the documentary.