Challenges for the first time solo travelers

Challenges for the first time solo travelers

Setting out on your own adventure is a great chance to expand your horizons and to see the world, but there are many aspects of international travel that become different when you are away. While traveling with friends or family can be positive in terms of providing you with support, they can also be a burden as the schedule will be chosen to suit everybody, and you won’t get to meet as many new people. There are however a few things that the solo traveler will have to face that can often make or break the trip, so here is a look at a few of the challenges and how to face them.

Discussing The Trip With Worried Parents

This will be one of the first challenges, as many people who set out on their first solo trip, whether they are young and just out of school or college, or more mature adults, will often have to discuss the trip and why they are doing it with their parents. Parents will have a natural concern, so try to be reassuring and assure them that you will be cautious and do your best to stay safe, and try to think about any of the questions they may ask you so that you have an answer ready.

Missed Flights Or Connections

Getting used to travel will often mean that you will have to deal with a late airplane or a missed travel connection from time to time. This isn’t anything to panic about, and while it is recommended that you give yourself plenty of time, it can still happen. Try to take the rough with the smooth, and be ready to adapt and to re-plan when things do go wrong.

Homesickness

One of the biggest issues that many solo travelers will have when they are not busy is homesickness, as it is in the quiet times that this really becomes something that people can think about. You won’t always be busy as you travel, so make sure that you are keeping in touch with family and friends regularly, and that you remind yourself of the positives of travel.

Noisy Dorm Rooms

There are some things that you can’t account for, and the number of people in your dorm or how noisy they are is one of those factors. Try to pick beds that are in the corners or in quieter areas of the dorm, while carrying ear plugs may also help you to get some sleep.

Explaining Something To Locals Using Sign Language

Unless you are proficient in many languages, there will inevitably be a point where you struggle to communicate with local people. The international sign language of pointing and gestures is what to use here, so try your best if you get in such a conversation, and enjoy the interaction.

Food Poisoning

This is something that can be a serious problem in some countries, and as most solo travelers will often eat from street stalls and fast food places. If you start to feel the symptoms coming on, make sure you have Imodium or something similar and dioralyte in your first aid kit, and consider getting a single room to ride out the storm. If things get worse or you don’t recover in a few days, seek medical help.

The Fear Of A Foreign Bus Journey

Taking the bus in a foreign country can be challenging, and having to converse with the locals to get your ticket, and having to ask which bus is yours can also be difficult. Try to get there well in advance, and see if the tickets can be booked online, and once you are on the bus try to get a seat in the middle of the bus, so that you aren’t too far back but don’t have to watch every turn the driver takes.

The Single Traveler Supplement

This is one of the biggest frustrations for anyone who is dealing with international travel on a regular basis, and particularly with cruises or packages, the additional supplement can be a serious bone of contention. Try to book the individual segments yourself, and haggle if there is only one company offering what you want – they will rather have you along than traveling with an empty space.

Leaving Luggage With Someone You Don’t Know

One of the biggest issues that solo travelers face when they are moving from place to place is that the rucksack is not always convenient if you have to cram into a toilet cubicle or need to get into a small phone booth. Sometimes the only option is to leave your bag with the staff, and hope for the best. Make sure you take any valuables out and stuff them in your pockets where possible!

Asking For A Table For One

Eating out is one of the great pleasures of travel, but asking for a table for one, where restaurant style seating is in place can be a little uncomfortable. Remember that everyone has to eat, and most waiters will be used to such requests, but in some places women may get some unwanted attention, so if this happens just be clear that you are only there for food.

Unwanted Male Attention

Along with those sitting alone in restaurants, women may get attention if they dress differently to the local women or if they are just out and about. Make it clear that you have no interest in any men that approach you, be ready to raise your voice, and do not be ashamed to shout for help if you feel that the attention is escalating too much. If you are just being hounded a little, walk into a shop or restaurant where you can ask for help.

Adapting To Make The Next Leg Of A Journey

Whether you naturally like to micro manage your trip planning, or you proceed with just a rough idea in your head, at some point you will get to a location where you have to figure out the next step in the journey. Be prepared to look at all the transport options, and consider multiple leg journeys to get you to where you want to be.

No Cell Phone Signal In Rural Areas

The coverage that local mobile networks will have can vary, particularly in countries that are quite poor, so don’t pin all your hopes on being able to call for help or navigate using the sat-nav app on your phone. Have a backup plan, and be ready to use it if you have no cell phone signal.

Surviving On A Small Daily Budget

A great thing about solo travel is that it really helps you to develop resilience and self sufficiency, and even if you’ve never had to manage your budget, solo travel will make you think about this. You don’t want to blow all your money in the first two weeks if you are traveling for three months, so be ready to calculate how much you can spend a day, and find ways to live within that budget.

Should You Accept The Offer To Join Others On An Activity?

One of the things about traveling solo is that you will make friends easily, and you will sometimes be offered the chance to join them for an activity or side trip. Make sure you are keeping to your budget, but if you feel comfortable then some of the best memories will come from the spontaneous choices.

Having To Wash In Unpleasant Surroundings

Not all bathrooms in every country will have the hygiene standards to be found at home, so be prepared to lower your standards, and accept that sometimes you will have to wash in unclean bathrooms. Soap will always trump any dirt in the bathroom or taps where you will be washing!

Hostels Without Plugs To Charge Your Gadgets

This will often force you to become more reliant on traditional methods of dealing with travel challenges, as some of the older hostels may not offer enough sockets to allow everyone to charge their devices. Be ready to survive without your cell phone for a day or two if this happens.

Getting Up For Early Morning Bus Journeys

Backpackers especially will come to know this particular dilemma, and getting out to catch that 8am bus will often require you to get up early order to make it. Hostel rooms will usually have a few people getting up early, so you will not be alone stumbling out of the door bleary eyed to get to the bus.

Communicating With Family In Different Time Zones

Waking up your parents at 5am will usually be a mistake that only happens once, and having to calculate what time it is at home is often a problem for communication. Some people will agree that email or social media messages may be a better way of communication, or will pre-schedule calls.

Not Knowing The Foods On The Menu

If you intend to travel in many different countries, then there is a strong likelihood that you will come across a restaurant that has a menu that doesn’t have an English translation. If you know a few words then you can take an educated guess at different items, but sometimes just picking out a few words that look interesting and asking the waiter for those is a learning experience in itself!

48 Hours in Amsterdam

48 Hours in Amsterdam

Amsterdam… city of Rembrandt, red lights, canals, cannabis and… bicycles. The slowly whirring sound of wheels is the soundtrack to a city constantly on the move on models that haven’t changed since the 1940s. Well, why bother with gears when everywhere is so flat? But then who needs even two wheels when you can walk from one end of Amsterdam to the other in 40 minutes? That’s how long it takes to fly there from the UK too, so Chris Drew gets on his bike for a two-day trip to Holland’s biggest city…

Friday Morning

First surprise is Schipol Airport, which has the look of a 21st Century shopping mall. And every sign is in English. Not much of a shock really, as you almost have to beg the Dutch to speak their own language. A 20- minute ride on a double-decker train (pounds 2.10) and you are at Centraal Station. Stop off at Platform 2 for a 48-hour Amsterdam Pass. For pounds 28 you get unlimited travel on the metro, buses and trams, free entry to more than 20 museums and two canal boat trips.

Save your feet by catching the No.2 or No.5 tram to the Rijksmuseum (Jan Luijkenstraat). It’s undergoing a major makeover but all the masterpieces of the golden age of Dutch art are housed in the Philips Wing. Star of the show is Rembrandt’s Night Watch.

48 Hours in Amsterdam

Next, take a 60-minute cruise along some of Amsterdam’s 150 canals. The Golden Bend is the stretch where you’re sure to grow green-eyed gazing at the double-fronted mansions once owned by the city’s most opulent merchants.

Back on dry land, head for the Van Gogh Museum (Paulus Potterstraat) which has more than 200 of his paintings and 500 drawings. Expect to queue. Van Gogh has a lasting appeal, especially with the Japanese and most leave with a Toblerone-shaped box containing one of his posters from the impressive bookshop.

Friday Afternoon

For llunch sample Holland’s contribution to fast food, a cone of chips with a dollop of mayonnaise. Wash them down by visiting the nearby Heineken Experience (Stadhouderskade). You have to pay pounds 6.50 for the brewery tour but this includes three glasses of beer and even the glass. There are also interactive rides which see you as a Heineken bottle careeering around on a drayman’s wagon. Unsteadily weave your way back towards Dam Square, stopping off to gawp inside the luxurious Magna Plaza (Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal), a shopping mall that used to be the general post office.

Friday Evening

AT 5pm Amsterdammers stop for a borrel (drink). At De Drie Fleschjes (Gravenstraat) you get a free jenever or Dutch gin with your Amsterdam pass. The Dutch don’t trust optical measures and the small bell-shaped glass will be filled to overflowing. Just lower your chin to the bar and slurp.

To eat, try the Jordaan, an enticing backwater criss-crossed by canals, streets and alleys with plenty of pub restaurants. Cream potato soup with shrimp followed by guinea fowl and a glass or two of beer costs pounds 16 at De Reiger (Nieuwe Lekiestraat).

Saturday Morning

Visit some houses. The Willet-Holthuysen Museum (Herengracht) is a peep behind the curtain of a 17th Century canal house with its imposing dining room and magnificent ballroom. Rembrandt did everyone a favour by going bankrupt in 1656, because the authorities took a full inventory of the contents of his house on Jodenbreestraat – a historical record which has allowed the curators to refurnish it just at it used to be.

Our Lord in the Attic (Oudezijds Voorburgwal) is the oldest museum in Amsterdam and the most surprising. A church with two galleries was hidden away on the top floors of a canalside house in the 17th Century when Catholics could not openly celebrate Mass.

There’s nothing secret about the services offered by the girls standing in the windows of the house a few doors away. And there is the same openness about the cannabis cafes with their appeals to “support your local dealer”. But Amsterdam’s drug connections have been overstated – you won’t be tripping over discarded syringes.

Pick up some bargains at the Albert Cuyp street market. Eat lunch as you browse – another Dutch delicacy is raw herring and pickle for pounds 1.50. Then try a wheat beer at De Engel, a huge pub in what was once a church. The plastic swizzle stick with crusher, by the way, is for dunking the slice of lemon hanging on the side of the glass.

Saturday Evening

BE sure to visit the Anne Frank House (Prinsengracht). There is a hushed silence as visitors disappear behind the moveable bookcase and enter the hiding place where ske kept her diary for 25 months before her family was betrayed and sent to the Nazi death camps.

Finish off your break with a meal overlooking a canal at Luden (Spuistraat), a French restaurant that does excellent fixed price menus for pounds 12 and pounds 14.

The Essentials

Where to Stay: Hotel Fantasia (Nieuwe Keizersgracht, www.fantasia-hotel.com) is run by a guy crazy about cows with pictures and models of the beasts everywhere. Basic rooms with B&B from pounds 60 for two per night.

Getting There: easyJet.com have flights from Belfast, Bristol, Edinburgh, Gatwick, Glasgow, Liverpool Luton and Stansted, with bargains if you book early. We flew for pounds 31 each return. You could also try Amsterdam Travel Service.

Related Link: View more Amsterdam travel tips on Amsterdam Travel Guide

Focusing on San Francisco

Focusing on San Francisco

Take in the sights… and take home your best pictures ever. Go ahead, leave your heart. You can’t help leaving a piece of it, anyway. It will get lost in the crowded, bustling streets of Chinatown, the picturesque Victorian “painted ladies,” the vast green expanse of Golden Gate Park.

San Francisco is a photographer’s paradise, with its endless array of impossible-seeming angles, ever-changing show of light and shadow and treasure trove of old and new architecture. It is also a city that will make a photographer out of the uninitiated – one simply must capture a part of San Francisco.

Reduce the country’s most beautiful city to a mere few images? Impossible. But for starters, here are a few favorite shots from photographer J’vIark E. Gibson-who’s lucky enough to make a living at it. Gibson has been using Canon equipment for 22 years. “It’s performed extremely well for me-I’ve never been tempted to switch,” notes Gibson.

Cable Cars… Poetry in Motion

They are the only National Historic Landmarks that move-and perhaps the single most recognizable icon of the City by the Bay. The cable car system represents the charming contradictions of San Francisco at its best: functional frivolity, 120-year-old remnants of the old world stubbornly and happily bustling along with the new. Adventurers can still ride along on the outside-just hold on tight around those curvy streets and plunging hillsides.

Focusing on San Francisco

California Street, at the crest of Nob Hill

Gibson explains, “The perspective is from the top of Nob Hill, looking downtown. From here, you can get a great front end view, because tbe cable car runs up and down California. And, if you’re at tbe right cross streets, you can get wonderful sideviews of other moving cars, or people getting on and off. In the background, tbe view stretches all the way downtown, and beyond to the towers of the Bay Bridge. It’s a fantastic mixture of visual elements.”

According to Gibson, time of day is important for this shot. It’s best with good frontal lighting, so make sure the sun is behind you.

Fisherman’s Wharf… The Fabled Dock of the Bay

The pungent aroma of fresh seafood and the irrepressible pulse of seafaring commerce beckon us to discover the sights and sounds of the incomparable Fisherman’s Wharf. The Wharf draws in 87 percent of San Francisco’s visitors-unquestionably its perennial catch of the day. Enjoy the teeming humanity right along with the succulent crab, shrimp and fresh sourdough, as you stroll through the waterfront marketplace. But calm tranquillity is always as near as the water’s edge, where colorful fishing boats punctuate the horizon.

Docked fishing boats

“The vantage point of this shot is from the pier, approximately eight feet above the water. This tight close up shot emphasizes the repetitive pattern of the fishing vessels. Use a slow shutter speed and a tripod or pier railing to prevent camera movement and to get a clear sharp-focused shot,” advises Gibson.

Golden Gate Bridge… Gates of Heaven

“I don’t know who decided to paint it orange, but God bless them,” declared the author Susan Cheever, speaking of the Golden Gate Bridge. And whether it provides your doorway into the great city or your conduit to the neighborly delights of Sausalito and Marin County, the sight of its 4,200 foot expanse at sunset is not one you’re likely to forget. But bring your camera just in case.

From north of the Bridge-Marin headlands road

“Drive across the bridge and get on the elevated road that goes along the Marin headlands shoreline,” says Gibson. “As you drive west along that road, looking back you can find a spot on the road where you align the north pair of towers of the Golden Gate Bridge with downtown San Francisco-it’s a great shot with the bridge in the foreground and the skyline behind it. You can get a detail of the Bridge tower with the Bank of America and the Transamerica Pyramid behind it. It’s a very popular shot for people who want both elements.”

When conversing with Mark Gibson about shooting San Francisco, his excited reverence is irrepressible. “Visually, this is an incredibly rich place. There is such variety, with the hills and the water, the bridges and the architecture. And the lighting is phenomenal-fog, clouds and clear blue skies in rapid succession. There’s always another perspective. How could anyone get tired of it?” Here are a few tips for shooting in San Francisco:

Don’t let San Francisco’s trademark fog make you camera-shy. It can add a dramatic mood to your shots, but use a fast film for clarity. When photographing a moving cable car-or from a moving cable car-be sure you’re holding the camera steady and press the shutter release gently.

Here on the Marina Yacht Harbor jetty at the foot of Baker Street, our feathered friend offers a slightly different angle of a familiar landmark: the majestic Golden Gate Bridge.

Related Link: View more travel tips and ideas >>

This Is Las Vegas?

This Is Las Vegas?

Though Celine Dion is pretty private, David Sun knows when his Lake Las Vegas neighbor is around. The clue? “Golf balls embossed with her name on them” land in his yard, says the Shady Canyon resident who, six years ago, bought his Vegas-adjacent second home, which faces fairways on two Jack Nicklaus-designed golf courses.

Sun and his wife, who have two young children, started coming to Las Vegas primarily to play golf about ten years ago and liked it so much they bought their 3,700-square-foot Mediterranean-style vacation home 15 minutes after seeing it. Originally the Suns did the four-plus-hour drive out to the desert about once a month. Now they spend about a quarter of their time at the 2,600-acre residential and resort community 17 miles from the Las Vegas Strip, with its 320-acre lake, three private golf courses, a marina, and four- and five-diamond hotels, the Hyatt Regency and The Ritz-Carlton, respectively.

“We feel spoiled out here,” says Sun. “It’s very beautiful and relaxing with the golf courses and things to do on the water, but we can also be on The Strip in 20 minutes.” It’s that close-but-not-too-close aspect of luxury developments like Lake Las Vegas that evidently appealed as well to Dion, who lives with her husband and manager, Rene Angelil, and their 5-year-old son, Rene Charles, in a stylish three-bedroom villa across from hole 11. Their house’s contemporary design, in muted beiges and grays, is replicated in the private apartment dressing room at Caesars Palace, where Dion of ten performs. With the short commute to The Strip, she can be home before 11 p.m. after her 90-minute show.

Comedienne and playwright Rita Rudner has an even shorter commute to work. From her residence in Turnberry Place, one of the first luxury high-rises built near The Strip, she could walk to the New York-New York casino where she has been performing in the Cabaret Theatre since 2002. One of her neighbors, Carol Russell, of Newport Beach, does too, sometimes. But part of the appeal of Turnberry Place is free limo service to The Strip or McCarran International Airport three miles away. “We tend to take the limo,” Russell says.

The cosmopolitan aspect of Turnberry Place, which includes a European-style spa and fitness center, indoor and outdoor pools, a tennis complex, and the Charlie Palmer-directed restaurant in the private Stirling Club, was such a hit that most of the million-dollar-and-up units were sold out before construction was completed. “It’s about 90 percent second or third homes,” says John Riordan, Turnberry Place’s sales and marketing vice president. And most of those buying have been from Southern California.

Luxury tower residences like Turnberry Place are literally on the rise in Vegas. The W Las Vegas hotel, casino, and residences (opening in 2009) and the George Clooney and Rande Gerber $3 billion condominium, resort, and casino project Las Ramblas (first phase slated for 2008) appeal in their proximity to all things Vegas-shows, dining, shopping, and, of course, gambling-and the fact that Nevada doesn’t have a state income tax. “More and more people are making Vegas their primary home and their residence in Brenrwood or Palm Springs their second home to take advantage of the tax situation here,” says Riordan. “Luxury condos in Vegas are a bargain, particularly compared to Southern California.”

Developers of Turnberry Place are now building Turnberry Towers, where residences will have the same elegant amenities-Italian cabinetry by Snaidero, Gaggenau appliances, and marble bathroom floors and showers, as well as access to his-and-hers spas, pools, tennis courts, and gourmet restaurants-but will come in smaller packages of 1,400 to 1,500 square feet at the Towers compared to 3,000 square feet and up at Turnberry Place. “The desire, regardless of income, is for smaller places,” says Riordan.

Meanwhile, Vegas realtors like Gene Nonhup, who moved to Lake Las Vegas from Southern California, believes the real growth in Las Vegas vacation homes will continue in nearby communities outside the city. “I take people out to Lake Las Vegas or out to MacDonald Highlands, near the mountains at the southern end of the valley, and they don’t believe that they’re in Nevada. It’s absolutely gorgeous. It’s a relaxed atmosphere with everything to do, but at the same time, there are all the resort services to manage everything for you, from stocking your fridge with wine and cheese to heating the Jacuzzi before you arrive. I mean, what more could you ask for?”

Cary Krukowski, director of marketing for Lake Las Vegas, agrees. “We look at ourselves as the candlelight to the neon of The Strip.” Which makes Lake Las Vegas the perfect solution to living close-but not too close-to Sin City. Within walking distance to The Strip, Turnberry Place, with its private Stirling Club for residents, is popular with Southern Californians.

Route 66: Iconic Road from Los Angeles to Chicago

Route 66: Iconic Road from Los Angeles to Chicago

Route 66 that crosses through the western United States from Chicago to the location of Los Angeles is an iconic American highway.

The Mother Road, as it was referred to as has been the subject of songs (“Get your kicks on Route 66.”) The backdrop of quite a couple of movies, and even a component of a typical Disney movie (Cars.) Traveling Route 66 is really a dream for some Americans, rather. Here are some fundamental reasons and know why.

Route 66 was developed in 1925 when Congress decided to join many small roads between Chicago, Illinois, and Los Angeles, California. At that time, traveling by car was a brand new concept, so this concept has contributed to the evolution of U.S. highways. As soon as people began generating this trip, they leave places essential to eat, sleep and put gas in their car. Enter the lot of a now-famous stops along Route 66.

Motels actually got their start at this point in time. Travelers needed a place they could drive right up to rent a room to rest before continuing their journey. Not surprisingly, some motels were much more elaborate than others. The Wigwam Motel in San Bernardino, California, and Holbrook, Arizona are some of the most famous and well known to date.

Diners also became popular and necessary along the Mother Road. Travelers need to eat, so people started providing fast and cost restaurants that provided standards like fried catfish, fries, chili, chicken pies and milkshakes. The 66 Diner in Albuquerque, NM is an example of a dinner that provides the food in a style similar to what was available in the early days of Route 66.

Traveling Route 66 also required an approach to fill the gas tank of the car. For this reason, the home based business gas station exploded from the start. Although the stations used to be necessary in a city, now people now, these days producing long trips needed a chance on a typical gas, which provided a lucrative opportunity organization for men and women who lived near Highway 66.

Unfortunately, today much of the Route 66 passes through the invisible travelers because of the motorway program. Route 40 was built to cover about the exact route west along Route 66. This caused the closure of many stores of the diners and motels that were once very busy. While Route 66 fans can still travel over the road, however. It really is an exceptional method to see America in a multi destination path that takes you through the perspective of the first passenger car.

Related Link: Read more Popular Culture articles

Athens, Greece: Taverna, Food and Drink

Athens, Greece: Taverna, Food and Drink

Despite our general admonition to patronize the tourist restaurants in Athens, you’ll want to try a typical Greek taverna (that’s spelled “TABEPNA” in Greek) at least once. And there’s no need to worry about the absence of an English-language menu in these establishments, because the custom at tavernas is to go into the kitchen and select your courses from the pots on the stove!

And by the way, don’t worry about the price of what you’re ordering. Hope and I had one of the thirstiest and most famished evenings of our travels when we last dined at a taverna, choosing two bowls of delicious tomato soup to begin, then two huge Greek salads, one veal and vegetable casserole, one order of moussaka, one beer, two orange drinks, and one iced coffee.

Grece Style Food and Drink

As earlier noted, virtually all the Athenian restauran ts we’ve discussed are tourist restaurants, equipped with menus printed in English or French. Because of that, and because few of our readers (induding your author) can read Greek, we have not included a translation of Greek menu terms in our menu chapter, appearing further on in this book. But we do have some menu comments:

When in doubt, ask your waiter for “moussaka”-a staple dish served in many of the Athenian restaurants and in all of the “tavernas” (smaller and totally unpretentious restaurants). Moussaka consists of baked, ground meat, covered with vegetables and spices, and sometimes topped with alayer of dough or mashed potatoes.

Athens, Greece: Taverna, Food and Drink

lts quality varies from place to place, but if you’re lucky, you’ll make a wonderfully tasty meal of it. And it’s filling: you’ll be more than stuffed if you have, for dinner, a plate of moussaka, a tomato salad, bread and wine. Eaten in the normal taverna, that combination should never cost much.

We’ve already mentioned “dolmothakia” (rice and meat in vine leaves). For a lighter snack, ask for “souvlakia,” which are roasted and spitted chunks of lamb, Havored with oregano.

The Greek table wine is “retsina” -a red wine Havored with resin (pine sap)-and it’s death to American tastes. To get it without the resin, specify that you want your wine “aresinato.”

The Greek aperitif-a before meals drink-is “ouzo,” which is terribly cheap, and is taken either straight or in water (which it turns cloudy white). A Seven-up type drink, which Hope very much likes, is “garzoza” (or at least that’s how it’s pronounced!)

Babel’s Secret in New York

Babel's Secret in New York

The story of America’s national unity and the Homogenized Baby is not without interest at this point. If memory serves, it was on a prewar February day that the office boy was told to run down to the big newspaper stand on the corner and bring back the current issue of half a dozen foreign-language dailies.

Some one had made a speech the night before on New York as an un-American city. The speaker offered in evidence the babel of tongues you hear on the subway and in front of the Broadway movie palaces. He was even more deeply impressed by the numerous publications he saw displayed on the Broadway newsstands in outlandish tongues and alphabets. Our foreign-language papers are a long-standing grievance. As far back as one can remember they have been deplored as an obstacle to the assimilation of the newer Americans. It is, on the face of things, a charge not to be lightly dismissed.

That particular February morning, however, it occurred to some one to raise a question. Just how foreign are the city’s foreign-language newspapers? How much do they differ from their local contemporaries written in the language of the country, and to what extent are they alike? It seemed a good idea to send out the office boy for half a dozen specimens and then mobilize all the available linguistic talent in the office for an intensive study of the material. It would be a good test not merely of the foreign language press, but perhaps of the foreignness of New York in general.

Babel's Secret in New York

Even before the boy came back with his assortment of papers it was decided that for the purposes of our inquiry the front page was of comparatively little importance. It was a critical day in the war news and a person was prepared to find the first page in all the papers pretty much the same. Minor differences within the general context of the day’s war news there would be, no doubt. The relative emphasis would be determined by the particular reading public — German, Hungarian, Italian, Yiddish, Greek, Russian. According to the special public there would be special dispatches. But on the whole the front page need not long detain us. The research must concentrate on the inside pages, and in particular on the advertising columns.

People’s opinions about a world war or anything else are apt to be expressed in general formulas which they borrow from others. People reveal their own selves in what they eat, drink and wear, in their cultural practices and their recreations. It is commonly said that the heart of a newspaper, or at least the heart of the newspaper owner, is in the advertising pages.

When the boy came back with his half-dozen papers, then, the front page received just a glance. For that matter, if we had only this minute not forsworn all argument from the news pages we might take some time to point out the exceedingly American look of the front page makeup. A person standing far enough away to make it impossible to identify the particular language would find it hard to say if these were foreign-language newspapers at all.

Five out of the six papers that morning had a bold ribbon headline running all the way across the page, and four of the six papers had a double ribbon. Below the main headlines, five out of six papers had the familiar bold-faced interior headlines, two or three columns wide, scattered all over the page. It is a make-up which gives to a newspaper page the appearance of being divided into squat chunks of type instead of the traditional columns.

If a person stood far enough away to get only the general effect without recognizing language or alphabet it would be extremely difficult to say that morning which was Staats-Zeitung und Herold, which was Il Progresso ItaloAmericano, which was Magyar Nepszava or Voice of Hungary, which was Russky Golos or Voice of Russia, which was Atlantis, or the daily voice of the Greek-Americans, and which were The Jewish Daily Forward and the Jewish Day; and whether they were not any or all of them Mr. Hearst Journal-American.

Aerial View of Central Park in New York City

Aerial View of Central Park in New York City

For whatever good reason he visits the park a person sometimes finds himself hoping that a corner here and there in this beautiful garden spot will elude the attention of the renovators. They are enormously useful public servants, the garnishers and clean-sweepers of the world who are all the time clearing away old rubbish and substituting fine clean concrete for cracked asphalt and aging brick and stone.

People ask themselves with wonder and contrition how could they have possibly been so blind to the approaching storm. On every hand the signs were staring them in the face.

The signs stared in the face of one elderly gentleman who used to stroll across Central Park on his way to work late in the morning, such being the special nature of his occupation. At that hour the perambulator and kindergarten population was already out in full force. Mothers and nurses gossiped on the benches while the little ones slept in their carriages or played games on the grass or rode their tricycles on the cement walks. The particular sign that stared this elderly gentleman in the face and which he completely failed to read was the number of small boys, averaging perhaps five years, who discharged toy pistols at him in the character of G-men.

Those were the days, it will be recalled, when all our minds, elderly gentlemen and little boys and little girls in Central Park, were being conditioned against war as a beastly and hateful thing. Tin soldiers for little boys were heavily frowned upon, and so were toy pistols and battleships which wound up like a clock and made a brave splash in the bathtub. Yet in the face of this far-flung crusade against the military life here were little boys on the park walks in the vicinity of Ninety-sixth Street pointing their guns at harmless elderly wayfarers, or actually leaping out of ambush with pistol flourishes and loud outcries of “Bang!”

To be sure, it should be said in justice to our elderly hero that he did occasionally wonder why there should be so much gun play among the five-year-olds in Central Park in the face of so much anti-war preaching and conditioning and outlawing. He arrived at the cynical conclusion that it was a case of the old Adam whom we kick out of the door as a soldier with a gun and he climbs in at the window as a G-man defending society with a gat. Further than this our hero’s imagination did not go. He was part and parcel of his times and of the illusions of the times.

Landlords with apartments to let along Central Park regularly — and quite legitimately — play up the fact that their fortunate tenants have outside their doors and windows a magnificent garden of 840 acres. They mean the park. The word garden is justified for more than one reason. Today Central Park is more of a garden and less. of a park than it was in William Jennings Bryan’s time, fifty years ago in round numbers.

It is more of a garden and less of a park than it was, in round numbers, thirty years ago when William Dean Howells sat there on a bench and watched the children play and saw men and women stroll by and reflected on life at eighty, as Howells then was. He set down his thoughts in his beautiful limpid prose for his monthly magazine article. Central Park around 1920 was less of a garden than it is today because it had much less of the formal granite and cement and miscellaneous garnishment of today. But even more important is the fact that Central Park as late as 1920 did not have the garden wall which today encloses it on three sides to the height, in places, of several hundred feet.

All About Central Park in New York City

All About Central Park in New York City

Central Park is an urban park in middle-upper Manhattan, within New York City, New York. Central Park is the most visited urban park in the United States as well as one of the most filmed locations in the world.

It was established in 1857 on 778 acres (315 ha) of city-owned land. In 1858, Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, two soon-to-be famed national landscapers and architects, won a design competition to improve and expand the park with a plan they titled the “Greensward Plan”. Construction began the same year and the park’s first area was opened to the public in the winter of 1858. Construction continued during the American Civil War further south, and was expanded to its current size of 843 acres (341 ha) in 1873.

It was designated a National Historic Landmark (listed by the U.S. Department of the Interior and administered by the National Park Service) in 1962. The Park was managed for decades by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, and is currently managed by the Central Park Conservancy under contract with the municipal government in a public-private partnership. The Conservancy is a non-profit organization that contributes 75 percent of Central Park’s $65 million annual budget and is responsible for all basic care of the 843-acre park.

Central Park, which has been a National Historic Landmark since 1962, was designed by landscape architect and writer Frederick Law Olmsted and the English architect Calvert Vaux in 1858 after winning a design competition. They also designed Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. Central Park is one of the most famous sightseeing spots in New York. It is bordered on the north by Central Park North, on the south by Central Park South, on the west by Central Park West, and on the east by Fifth Avenue.

Only Fifth Avenue along the park’s eastern border retains its name; the other streets bordering the park (110th Street, 59th Street, and Eighth Avenue, respectively) change names while they are adjacent to the park. The park, with a perimeter of 6.1 miles (9.8 km), was opened on 770 acres (3.1 km2) of city-owned land and was expanded to 843 acres (3.41 km2; 1.317 sq mi). It is 2.5 miles (4 km) long between 59th Street (Central Park South) and 110th Street (Central Park North), and is 0.5 miles (0.8 km) wide between Fifth Avenue and Central Park West.

Central Park also constitutes its own United States census tract, number 143. According to Census 2000, the park’s population is eighteen people, twelve male and six female, with a median age of 38.5 years, and a household size of 2.33, over 3 households.[49] However Central Park officials have rejected the claim of anyone permanently living there. The real estate value of Central Park was estimated by property appraisal firm Miller Samuel to be about $528.8 billion in December 2005.

Central Park’s size and cultural position, similar to London’s Hyde Park and Munich’s Englischer Garten, has served as a model for many urban parks, including San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, Tokyo’s Ueno Park, and Vancouver’s Stanley Park. The park, which receives approximately 35 million visitors annually, is the most visited urban park in the United States. It is also one of the most filmed locations in the world.

The park is maintained by the Central Park Conservancy, a private, not-for-profit organization that manages the park under a contract with the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation,[56] in which the president of the Conservancy is ex officio Administrator of Central Park. Today, the conservancy employs 80% of maintenance and operations staff in the park. It effectively oversees the work of both the private and public employees under the authority of the Central Park administrator (publicly appointed), who reports to the parks commissioner, conservancy’s president.

As of 2007, the conservancy had invested approximately $450 million in the restoration and management of the park; the organization presently contributes approximately 85% of Central Park’s annual operating budget of over $37 million. The system was functioning so well that in 2006 the conservancy created the Historic Harlem Parks initiative, providing horticultural and maintenance support and mentoring in Morningside Park, St. Nicholas Park, Jackie Robinson Park, and Marcus Garvey Park.

Ski Holidays in Davos, Switzerland

Ski Holidays in Davos, Switzerland

At 1,560m Davos, located in Graubünden, is one of the highest towns in Europe and has grown to become Switzerland’s largest ski resort. Schatzalp/Strela, Parsenn, Pischa, Jakobshorn and Rinerhorn are the five ski areas surrounding the town of Davos. The Parsenn funicular railway takes skiers right up to Weissfluhjoch at nearly 2,750m in altitude and from the top of the Parsenn there is skiing back down to the town or, in a northwesterly direction, over to the neighbouring resort of Klosters.

Off-piste skiing, fun mogul slopes and long cruising runs, some up to 9 miles in length, complete the picture for skiers of intermediate and advanced levels in Davos. The Jakobshorn area is a very popular ‘inplace’ for snowboarders with various slopes just perfect for boarding. The Pischa area is recommended for families as the slopes are mainly easy, less populated and sunnier.

Large numbers of good bars and restaurants including The Postli Club, the Tonic Piano bar or the Cabanna club.

There is a great choice off excellent restaurants including Davoserhof for Nouvelle Cuisine, Bünder Stübli for traditional dishes and the Café Weber for delicious cakes. The area is vast so there are plenty of opportunities to ski into hidden valleys and find pretty villages and undiscovered bars. Mountain restaurants are dotted all over. Après ski in Davos is comprehensive and Klosters is more traditional but still lively.