That's me! The best aspect of this Hong Kong noodleteria--which the New York Post didn't have space to include--is that if you ask, one of the waiters can recite all of New York's bridges. Or even if you don't ask.
And all that. I don't have many photos of Christmas-y things, so here's a curry chicken dish with Thai basil from Angel restaurant in Prague. In addition to tasting delicious, it's also got the Christmas colors thing going--and the Asian food on Christmas Day thing going.
George is right in that possibility of predicting airfares come 2009 is next to impossible. What I suspect, based on my gut alone, is that there will be good fares at the last minute or for specific dates the airlines want to push. Like cruise companies, who are rather nervous about their year to come, locking people in becomes more and more appealing as the economy continues spiral. Consequently, I suspect a lot of the discount fares in '09 will be heavily restricted.
Likewise, what's happening with hotel rates is instructive. There is a definite split between properties and companies that believe in true revenue management, that is, filling the rooms no matter what, and those are still worried about sullying their brand. For example, Vegas properties are in Column A, while Miami hotels are still in Column B. Some of the Column B types are coming around, but many of the higher-end remain cagey. Watch out for packages where you give back the savings on discounted spa treatments or room categories than the most basic ones.
What do I see for 2009? Vacationers should go where the deals are. Hotels in Florida, Jamaica, London and Hawaii are acting cocky because they think the guests will come no matter how bad the economy gets (and they are counting on airfares going down before they have to lower their rates) but that's shortsighted and, frankly, wrong. Go somewhere, anywhere, that wants your business but doesn't expect it by dint of their existence: Las Vegas, Chicago, South Carolina, Spain and Budapest all remain good buys in 2009.
Good luck, and maybe I'll see you at the Flamingo.
Las Vegas Airport had a snow day! I know because my father was meant to fly home to Memphis after a mileage run of his own this week. There are worse places to be stranded, especially in a snowstorm. The dry (that is, alcohol-free) airport in Johor Bahru comes to mind straightaway, as does Portland, Maine, where they roll up the carpets come 9:00 p.m. Then again, getting home from the airport when there’s bad weather is no easy task, either.
When I was five, my mother and I set out from upstate to fly from JFK to Los Angeles. My father left the day before, and we were meeting him there. As we rode the bus down the Thruway, it started to snow. And snow. And really, really, snow. By the time we arrived at the airport, JFK was a mess; all of the flights were cancelled, and the airport was rapidly becoming last-chopper-out-of-Saigon situation. This was in the days when they were serious about shutting down the airports, instead of greedily keeping fliers on the airplane during delays while charging them for blankets and food. I wonder if they let you run a tab?
Anyway, we scrambled our way home and ended up at the bus station in New Paltz late at night. The weather had transformed into an all-out blizzard, my father was already in Los Angeles, and there were no taxis to be had. So my Mom did what any enterprising woman with a five-year-old would do: she hailed down a snowplow, and the snowplow drove us the four miles back to our house. It was inspired. How she got to that thought, I’ll never know. As I saw it, riding a snowplow was way more fun than flying to Los Angeles, though I’m sure my Mom was motivated to get home in order to fly out the next day and stab my father, who was already in Los Angeles drinking wine on a patio and watching the sun set.
None of it would have happened if there had been calming, narcotic slot machines in Kennedy Airport, so I guess the moral of the story here is that gambling is good, unless you want to ride a snowplow. Or that family should all suffer together. Or maybe the moral is, don’t try to fly in a snowstorm unless there are slot machines in the airport. Yup, that’s definitely the moral here. Merry Christmas!
The World Hum redesign is up--check it out here. Anchoring the relaunch: a Tony Bourdain essay and a list of the 40 Best Travel Songs. The site looks great, and the songs are way classier than most of the ones I picked, which is why wrote about Jonathan Richman and Golden Earring. Here's my full ballot; also check out fellow contributor Newley Purnell's full ballot here.
Most travel writers are nerds, I suspect there was a split vote among Talking Heads songs.
1. Talking Heads--TheBigCountry
2. The Modern Lovers--Roadrunner
3. MIA--Paper Planes
4. U2--I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For
5. Del Shannon--Runaway
6. Silver Jews--Random Rules
7. Lucinda Williams-- Car Wheels on a Gravel Road
8. Michael Franti--Hello Bonjour
9. Golden Earring--Radar Love
10. Blur--Girls and Boys