The cutting-edge holiday cottages of Dungeness
Dungeness is unusual both biologically and geologically: a cuspate foreland formed by the meeting of longshore drift from the north and west, there are 600 species of plants, abundant birdlife as well as moths and invertebrates not found elsewhere. Officials have designated it a National Nature Reserve, a Special Protection Area and a Site of Special Scientific Interest. There’s a birdwatching centre, a miniature railway for day-trippers, two lighthouses and two pubs. And looming over it all, the power station — two of those in fact, opened in 1965 and 1983, sitting side-by-side on the beach.
Recent years have brought an even more intriguing element to this unlikely mix: Dungeness is becoming a focus for pioneering architecture, as former fishermen’s shacks, coastguard cottages, industrial and military buildings are transformed into cutting-edge seaside retreats.
The Google Squeeze
OTAs have always been a special case when it comes to Aggregation Theory; like Aggregators, they serve customers on a zero marginal cost basis, and they have power over supply (hotels, primarily) by virtue of delivering them demand. The hangup for me is how they acquire that demand: first and foremost from Google.
This arrangement between OTAs and Google has long been beneficial to both sides. Google drives traffic to the OTAs, which can monetize that traffic via commissions extracted from suppliers.2 Google, meanwhile, not only receives relevant results it could serve to customers, but also makes billions of dollars from OTAs buying search ads.
My name causes an issue with any booking
Whenever I get a ticket through an agent and they put my first name as Amr, it lands as A only in the Airlines system. That happened with many airlines and different agents. That is pretty much annoying, specially during the online check-in.
In the case of a Travel Agency connected to Amadeus, for example, this means that they are likely using ATE: the Amadeus Terminal Emulator, which as the name implies emulates the terminals of old.
Check the Quick Reference Guide, p. 33 on how to create a PNR:
Using a space, the parsing is unambiguous, however not all agents put a space
Boarding soon: the five-star airship bound for the North Pole
To date, the Airlander 10 has done seven test flights. Now a Swedish company, OceanSky Cruises, is selling tickets for trips to the North Pole starting in 2023. It promises “a flying five-star hotel”, with polar bears and whales lingering below. The round-trip from Svalbard — including cocktail, dinner and breakfast on the airship, lunch in the snow, and another dinner and cocktail on board — takes 38 hours.
Only $79,000 if you book now!
Another article: https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20191107-how-airships-could-return-to-our-crowded-skies
George Peabody Library
College libraries can be claustrophobic, institutional affairs, more concerned with eliminating distractions than providing a scholarly atmosphere. But the George Peabody Library on the campus of the Peabody Conservatory of Music, now owned by Johns Hopkins University, was seemingly designed to create a space where studying feels monumental.
Built in 1878 at the behest of philanthropist George Peabody, the library was originally part of an arts and culture institute—America’s first music conservatory—that he created to be available to the people of his beloved Baltimore. The Peabody Institute is still among the world’s finest music schools, graduating many of classical music’s finest performers, teachers, and composers.
My summer vacation: London public transportation
The two main forms of mass transit are the tube and buses. Passes are good for both systems, except where noted. There aren’t many options, which is good, because it makes decision-making easier. I’ll start by focusing on tickets for zones 1 and 2, which is where the major tourist attractions are. Prices are as of summer 2019.
A visit to the Large Scale Systems Museum
I didn’t expect to find two floors filled with vintage computers in a sleepy town outside Pittsburgh. But that’s the location of the Large Scale System Museum, housed in an abandoned department store. The ground floor of this private collection concentrates on mainframes and minicomputers from the 1970s to 1990s featuring IBM, Cray, and DEC systems, along with less common computers. Amazingly, most of these vintage systems are working. Upstairs, the museum is filled with vintage home computers from the pre-PC era.
St. Helena Airport
Your average flight from Washington, D.C. to St. Helena Island, located in one of the most remote parts of the world, would be a very arduous affair, a flight that would take nearly two full days, and at least three distinct layovers along the way—first in Ghana, then in Johannesburg, then a refueling stop in Namibia—before you got to your destination. If there’s a delay at any of the three stops, it might compromise the entire trip, because if you don’t make your connecting flight, you’re screwed. And once you’re there, you’re not leaving for a while. I’m endlessly fascinated by these far-off connections, these obscure airports that few people would ever think to travel to—and St. Helena is somehow more hopelessly obscure than the rest. But you’re going to know a lot about it by the time you finish reading today’s Tedium. Strap in—we’re talking about odd airports.
Vitamin drips and cryotherapy at Manhattan’s Equinox Hotel
So began an unusual stay at the first luxury hotel to grow out of a cultish New York gym. Soon to follow would be other health-enhancing treats, including a deep-tissue massage with CBD oil and a flash freeze in a cryotherapy chamber at minus 100C (minus 150C, if you include wind-chill).
The Stranding of the MV Shokalskiy
Mawson’s experience distills the Victorian age of Antarctic exploration to its essence, combining an unbelievable personal fortitude with the overall pointlessness of the endeavor. Even by Antarctic standards, George V Land was unexciting. The best thing you can say about it today is that sometimes a meteorite lands there.
But Mawson left behind a hut, and by the iron laws of Antarctic nostalgia that apply to any human structure below the 70th parallel, that hut is now an object of veneration, and must be visited.
In 2011, the Australian climate scientist Chris Turney heard the call of the Antarctic. As readers of this blog know, that can be an expensive call to hear. But the approaching centenary of Mawson’s expedition gave Turney a unique fundraising hook.
And then things went a bit sideways.
The New York City passport office
The New York passport office. Wow. Where to begin?
My other visit here was thirty years ago, and most of all I am surprised by how little has changed. The architecture now looks all the more retro, the alleyways all the more noir, and the motorbikes have by no means vanished. Yes there are plenty of new stores, but overall it is recognizably the same city, something you could not say about Seoul.
Expedia: from software bug to customer service nightmare, a modern Odyssey
Instead of keeping an account and my data private, Expedia created a fake account. Instead of deleting the fake account, Expedia deleted both accounts. Instead of reactivating the account I had to create a new account. Instead of adding points to the new account, Expedia deleted the new account again. After 30+ interactions over two months with the massively incompetent support, I lost about 10,000 points, my status, but received $75 and 3000 points (about $100 total) in compensation. Go Expdia!
Mirrored Ceilings and Criss-Crossed Stairwells Give a Chinese Bookstore the Feeling of an M.C. Escher Woodcut
Zhongshuge bookstores, designed by Shangai-based architecture firm X+Living, feature incredible rooms coveted by book and illusion lovers alike. Each location in this chain of Chinese bookstores has uniquely designed spaces with reflective elements that immerse guests in parallel environments. In the Chongqing branch, criss-crossing staircases and a mirrored ceiling double the room for an effect that seems straight out of an M.C. Escher woodcut or an infinite Indian stepwell.
Rain Much on Your Vacation? One Italian Island Offers Hotel Refunds
But beginning this month, the Italian island of Elba, off the coast of Tuscany, started offering tourists an unexpected guarantee: Hotels will refund guests if it rains.
For cramped New York, an expanding dining scene
My first culinary encounter was with pizza, a mysterious kind of baked tlayuda, covered in macerated tomatoes and milk coagulation, and occasionally smothered with a type of thinly sliced lap cheong called pepperoni. The odd dish, sometimes referred to as a pie, washed ashore from Naples some years ago. While the taste takes some getting used to, pizza can be enchanting when done properly.
Look no further than Roberta’s in up-and-coming Brooklyn, a dangerous, brooding suburb accessible through the city’s antiquated system of underground metal cars (similar to Los Angeles’ Metro system, but more expensive). It was, nevertheless, worth the arduous trip to enjoy a Lil’ Stinker pizza ($18), covered in tomato mash and curdled milk, along with garlic and tangy peppers.
Airbnb and Miami Beach Are at War. Travelers Are Caught in the Crossfire.
“It came as a shock,” Airbnb says in its lawsuit, that the city “expected home-sharing platforms to comply both with the registration-number display requirements and the geofencing provision.”
Robot Hotel Loses Love for Robots
Turns out, robots aren’t the best at hospitality. After opening in a blaze of publicity in 2015, Japan’s Henn na, or “Strange,” Hotel, recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s first robot hotel, is now laying off its low-performing droids. So far, the hotel has culled over half of its 243 robots, many because they created work rather than reduced it.
The Man in Seat 61
This site explains how to travel comfortably & affordably by train or ferry where you might think air was now the only option.
Gluten Free Antarctica
Far below the Antarctic circle, I watch a woman cry real tears because she can’t get gluten-free toast.
Mary is a plummy old English lady traveling alone, an Agatha Christie figure who I expected would spend her time solving mysteries on the ship. When people started disappearing in the Ross Sea, Mary would work the case and gather everyone in the ship’s saloon for the spectacular reveal.
Unfortunately, Mary turned out to be a bit of a shipboard bully, bad-talking the other passengers instead of helping to solve their murders. But I am still not ready to see her go to pieces over toast.