Offbeat + Strange
We’ve all heard of Oktoberfest, that annual two-week-long beer- and wurst-fueled party—though party seems a bit of an understatement, no?—held in Munich, Germany. But what some of you may not know about is that the U.S. has its own pint-sized version of the celebration in Cincinnati, OH—renamed "Zinzinnati" for the event.
The streets of Reno, Nevada, resembled the final scenes of a Quentin Tarantino bloodfest this weekend by the time the local fire department arrived to hose down the squishy red residue of 50,000 pounds of squashed tomatoes left clinging to the sidewalks and shopfronts of the Biggest Little City in the World. More than 5,000 people wound up their pitching arms on Saturday to hurl tomatoes at one another and at city officials in what is being called the largest food fight in North America, La Tomatina.
Ever wondered what Europe smelled like before plumbing? I’m discovering this very thing in the recently published The Smell of the Continent: The British Discover Europe (Pan Macmillan, $32), which recounts 19th-century British travel to Continental Europe. Oxford historians Richard Mullen and James Munson get into the less savory details of sanitation (a scarcity of bathtubs in France; flea-infested sheets in Sicily; four toilets in a 60-room hotel in Germany).
Pardon us for being a bit tardy on this, but when you’re on the kangaroo beat here at Carry On you don’t really expect to handle much in the way of news. Sometimes, honestly, we’re caught napping. So you’ll forgive us if the following tidbit is several weeks old.
A few months ago we reported that a number of kangaroos had escaped from an Australian theme park in southern France (yes, that’s correct) and gone romping through the countryside near Carcassonne before they were rounded up and returned to their rightful roost. We’re not sure if that was the beginning of a trend, but several weeks ago another rebel ‘roo, this one named Will, flew the coop from his home in the village of Gente.
Summer’s here and the time is right for packing your towel and sunscreen, hailing a cab to the heart of town, and hitting the beach. Four of our favorite (faux) city beaches:
Paris-Plage, a network of three sandy oases set up every July and August along the Seine’s Right Bank, complete with chaises longues, boules courts, and palm trees.
Copenhagen’s Havnebadet (“harbor baths”), an industrial pier in Islandsbrygge converted into a beach club and park with space for 600. Barbecue pits, a volleyball lawn, and great city views add to the scene—and you can actually swim in the newly cleaned-up harbor.
Istanbul’s Suada, a chic swimming club by day and bar/disco/sushi restaurant by night with an Olympic size pool—floating in the middle of the Bosphorus.
And, not least, the latest incarnation of New York’s Water Taxi Beach, this one on Pier 17 next to South Street Seaport, in the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge (the original WTB, pitctured above, is across the East River in Queens). The new location, which opened Memorial Day weekend, has the same trucked-in beach sand, picnic tables, and DJ’s after dark, but it also offers an expanded menu that adds fish tacos to the usual burgers and dogs, plus—wait for it—mini-golf and skeeball. If that doesn’t release your inner 10-year-old, who knows what will.
(For the best real city beaches, check out this slideshow.)
Peter Jon Lindberg is Travel + Leisure's editor at large.
Photos courtesy of Rui Pereira (Paris-Plage) and Isuru Seneviratne (Water Taxi Beach, Queens)
The Fiat 500 gets my vote for the car you’d most like to hug, a car that threatens to unload 17 tumbling clowns when it pulls into the middle of the Big Top. Just looking at one makes you want to buy a ticket to Italy—or at least a DVD of Gidget Goes To Rome. The 500 is so small and inexpensive it seems to shout, “I’m a death-defying cheapskate and I don’t care who knows it.” In other words, a perfect car to be introduced into the United States in these trying times.
If there’s one thing I love about living in NYC, it’s the constant element of surprise. There’s always something interesting to catch my attention, especially when it comes to promotion. I’ve seen it all: giant heads, edible flavored insects (I’ll pass, thank you), oversized vending machines with human occupants…So you can understand why I wasn’t phased in the least when I stumbled across this bit of awesomeness in Midtown’s Bryant Park:
That’s right. A giant trampoline masquerading as a giant bed. Put on by InterContinental Hotels as a part of its Biggest Free Nights offer (for every 2 nights booked, guests are rewarded with a free third, to be used later), passersby were invited to throw on a pajama shirt and do what parents always forbade them to do as kids: jump on the bed.
Just another typical day in the City That Never Sleeps.
Joshua Pramis is online associate editor at Travel + Leisure.
Photo by Joshua Pramis
If you happen to be driving through southwestern France, do not be alarmed if you notice three kangaroos hopping along the fast lane of the A61 motorway. Vandals—some might call them marsupial liberationists—set loose 15 roos from an Australian theme park outside the double-walled medieval city of Carcassonne. A dozen of the bounders (the kangaroos, that is; not the vandals) were quickly rounded up and returned, while the remaining trio were causing chaos in the countryside.
But this story, originally reported by Agence France-Presse and soon picked up by media around the world, misses the main point, to wit: Who knew there was an Australian theme park in France?None of the stories I found about this incident even gave the name of the theme park or any details beyond its basic components. But thanks to an impressive investigative technique (i.e., Google), we’ve managed to track down the actual location of the Great Macropod Escape.
The place is called Le Parc Australien. Just like in real Australia, you can watch kangaroos do what kangaroos do, pan for gold, pet a wallaby, throw a boomerang, and get clobbered on Victoria Bitter. (Just kidding; you can’t really get clobbered on Victoria Bitter. They only serve Tooheys.) And you can get drunk on the beauty of emus and ostriches, the mournful lowing of the didgeridoo, and the reasonably priced handicrafts.
According to the Agence France-Presse report, the theme park was in the news last October when a pack of hunting dogs made their way inside the perimeter fence and killed 44 kangaroos. We’ll try to keep you posted on the fate of the three missing marsupials.
Buckets, hoses, water guns, balloons…not typical items associated with religious holidays—unless you’re in Thailand, evidently. That’s where, every April, the Buddhist New Year is commemorated with what just might be the world’s biggest water fight: the Songkran festival.
Songkran traces its origins back more than a thousand years, when celebrants heralded spring with the throwing of water. At first people would sprinkle drops on their elders as a sign of respect; then they began bathing statues of Buddha; eventually it evolved into the soggy celebration it’s become today. Songkran is a national holiday and, since it falls in one of the hottest months of the year, it’s no wonder that everyone’s eager to partake in the water wars.
For three days revelers run amok in the streets, soaking passersby indiscriminately. Thanks to the scores of people of all ages spraying everything in sight, if you’re out and about, you’re guaranteed to be the victim of a drive-by drenching.
So if you plan to be in Thailand from April 13–15, you may want to pack your rain poncho—and stow your water gun with your checked luggage.
For more information, check out thailandlife.com.
How is life different in Italy than here?Some might say it boils down to this: The USA bails out Ford, Chrysler, and GM; Italy, where they tend to have more style in such matters, has announced it will bail out the Parmesan cheese industry.
Seems it costs more to make a pound of Parmesan these days than it does to buy it at the local supermercato, so Silvio Berlusconi's government says it's giving the dairymen of Parmigiano Reggiano some financial help to the tune of 50 million euros (U.S. $65 million) to get them through the world economic crisis.
(Read the full article here).
For anyone interested in higher economics, we've broken down some of the key differences between the U.S. and Italian bailouts by focusing on one of GM's cars and a chunk of parmesan cheese:
The U.S. bailout provides for: More Chevy Aveos (yeah, we never heard of them either).
The Italian bailout provides for: Less Parmesan cheese (the feds are buying up the cheese to artificially raise prices).
The Chevy Aveo: Launched in Korea under the name the Daewoo Kalo in 2002.
Parmigiano Reggiano: Launched in the 13th century, give or take a decade or so.
Point to Italy
Aveo wheel options: Two sizes, 14 inches and 15 inches.
Parmesan wheel otions: One size only.
Point to USA
Price of a 2009 Chevy Aveo (fully loaded): $6.01/lb.*
Price of a wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano (fully aged): $4.43/lb.**
Point to Italy
Italy: 2 points
USA: 1 point
Tied: 1 point
* Based on a curb weight of 2,557 pounds and top MSRP of $15,365
** Based on the average top price of 7.50 euros (U.S. $9.75) per kilo