Apparently Idaho (walk, don’t run to your nearest travel agent) is the just one of the weirder destinations to be trading on the name of Ernest Hemingway, the all-hunting, all-fighting, all-beard sporting writer who seems to have popped up just about everywhere you care to go doing all manner of suitably manly things.
Ketchum, in Sun Valley, is where Hemingway killed himself with a shotgun on July 2, 1961, at age 61. He's buried in the local cemetery. The town attracts hordes of fans, and has for a while now made moves, through merchandise stalls and festivals, to profit from the grim connection.
Before his demise, though, ‘Papa’ schlepped his testosterone-fuelled way across the world quite impressively: if he wasn’t participating in wars, he was drinking his way through 1920s Paris, running with the bulls in Spain, taking aim on big game safaris in Africa, or landing Marlins with his bare hands whilst deep sea fishing off Cuba.
And everywhere he went, there’s now some kind of memorial tourist trail where you can drink what he drank, catch what he caught and pass out where he passed out.
I’ve never quite worked out just what is it about Hemingway that makes tourists swoon over his every move and take photos of every bar stool that he plumped his rump down on? Not that I’m immune, mind you – there are photos of me at La Floridita in Havana, grinning like a loon next to his statue. Yes, just like that loon in the photo.
I’ve only ever read one of his novels! I’ve never arm-wrestled a deep-sea fish or drunk fourteen pints of tequila! Yet still, the legend draws you in, and if you’ve been to any of the above destinations, and you’ll have seen the countless bars, restaurants, cocktails, hotels, tours and museums dedicated to him.
Let’s face it, the man props up more bars now than he did when he was alive.
I'd kind of love it to be uncovered that he was actually a less-than-macho charlatan, who was actually all talk and liked nothing more than a quiet night in with a nice romantic novel, some crumpled chinos and his travel iron. I’d like to see people construct an industry around that.
But while his legacy remains one of lion-taming and rhino-boxing and drinking vats of brandy, there’ll always a profitable persona in Papa.
As our platform only allows RSS feeds to follow our blog, we'll post updated links to our features here as we post them. Thank you for reading.
Destination comparisons are commonplace as people try and present places in a context that the wider travelling public will understand. I recently went to the Westmann Islands in Iceland, where the lava-engulfed villages have earned it the title of 'Pompeii of the North'. It's an easy shortcut, and you could feasibly use it any number of ways - it's the Milan of Micronesia, it's the Vegas of Peru, it's the Iowa of Sub-Saharan Africa, etc.
One place (along with Paris) that seems to have more than its share of destination doppelgangers around the world is Venice. Venice makes for an easier comparison than Paris even because in its embarrassment of waterways, it has a readily-identifiable characteristic. So, then, does any city that can boast a couple of canals become The Venice of the (Insert compass point).
Both Amsterdam and St Petersburg have vied for the position of Venice of the North, with bragging rights just going to the Dutch capital. The Venice's (Venici?) of the West are similarly not very far from he actual Venice. Nantes in France kind of makes a half-hearted stab at living up to the name, while Monasterevin in Ireland also sniffs around the mantle (though it doesn't strictly have canals). The Venice of the East is more impressively further afield, with Suzhou in China having the most authentic claim - this city was actually so named by Marco Polo, who was FROM Venice, so he knew of what he spoke. There are a few water-riddled towns around the city that grasp the coattails but there's little doubt as to the real contender here.
Finally, the Venice of the South. Officially, this is, er, Venice. The entire country of Venezuela (see previous blog post on country names) has an undeniable claim being as it translates as 'Little Venice', while the numbers here are made up otherwise just by places that flood a lot. Nice try, Tawi-Tawi and Davao (both in the Philippines) but just having to live on stilted houses because of seasonal floods doesn't mean you are master canal builders.
In any case, the wealth of Venices/Venici is still nowhere near as annoying as the number of bars that claim Hemingway drank there.
Think about the country you probably (if Google Analytics are to be believed) live in, with its boring, workaday name. Now, think how much would you prefer to live in a country called something more Game of Thrones-y, like Warrior King (Ghana), People of Ten Arrows (Turkey), or Lion City (Singapore)?
Let's face it, most country names are relentlessly boring and descriptive to the point of tedium. OK, we get it, it's the Land of the Angles/Fins/Ice. A similar number are just plain geographical references - it's the place near that river/mountain/bush.
Some other impressively rock and roll names include Flaming Water (Malawi), Lion Mountains (Sierra Leone) and Black Mountain, though a great name for a metal band, is also the translation of Montenegro.
Slightly less impressive on the scale of awesomeness, though cute in their own way, would be Shrimp (the meaning of 'Cameroon'), Year-Old Calf (Italy) and Little Castle (Luxembourg). Hippopotamus is a possible translation of Mali and Spain is possibly named after a land full of rabbits. Little Venice, as well as being a posh neighbourhood of London, is the meaning of Venezuela.
Some country names are obvious with some basic Spanish - Sunday Island (Dominica) and Equator (Ecuador) are the best known, and it's not that much of a stretch to The Shallows (Bahamas - literally 'low sea'). Barbados could have been the first hipster colony, its name meaning The Bearded Ones, though it's possibly a reference to the appearance of the island's fig trees (Barbuda has similar origins).
Malta is literally Land of Honey, And let's nod to the appropriateness of Ireland, meaning Fertile Land.
There aren't too many recently-named countries, though in 1983, Upper Volta became Burkina Faso, which means 'Land of the Honest Men'. Stage a successful coup, you pretty much get to decide what to name your country. Too bad Warrior King was already taken.
"The hotel was so luxurious I could barely close my suitcase."
Here at SP, we're pretty light-fingered when it comes to hotel amenities. I mean, within the realms of the law - we're not trying to liberate the plasma TV, but if it's in the bathroom and not nailed down, chances are we're leaving with it in our washbags. You can never have too much body lotion, after all.
(That statement could be untrue).
But why is it that hotels provide SOME toiletries, but not others? Where's the artisanal toothpaste and shaving cream? Anyway, we found this article from earlier this year which looks at why hotels give with one hand and, er, don't give with the other:
WHY SHAMPOO BUT NO TOOTHPASTE? (via Slate)
TIME WAS if you wanted the world's most expensive cup of coffee, you had to go to your steaming pile of Paradoxorus dung on the Indonesian Island of Sumatra. These small jungle mammals eat the red coffee cherries and through the miracle of digestion, produce a nicely fermented bean some time later. It was discovered (we'd love to know how) that these specially treated coffee beans produced a superior cup of joe, and a high end coffee industry was born. (More details here).
Well. Shandy Pockets recently visited the Siam Hotel in Bangkok, a swanky urban resort where we spied Elephant Dung Coffee being advertised in their deli at £25/$40 a throw. We weren't quite intrigued enough to actually buy a cup, but we DID inquire as to its origins. Seems the beans are grown, ingested and secreted by a troupe of elephants in Northern Thailand, and not just ANY beans, eaten willy-nilly off the trees. No, the beans are the finest, hand-picked Arabica beans, grown on a small estate and then mixed with fruit and rice for the elephants to feast on.
Although the theory to the Paradoxorus coffee is similar, thanks to its massive gut, the elephant is more like a slow cooker than the mammal microwave, and so the result is said to be much smoother. It's served in a funky, steampunk-looking contraption if that makes the price tag any more palatable? (See photos of the process)
EDIT: As noted in the comments section, a portion of the profits are ploughed back into elephant conservation, and the prices quoted do get you six servings. So do give it a try if you get the chance...
Apparently the modern traveler isn't so much obsessed with spending as little money as possible these days, but with getting the best possible VALUE for their hard-earned cash. We're happy to spend more on getting that extra bit of luxury for a steal rather than skimping. So where can you get the most five-star bang for your anxiously-proffered buck? Well, according to the Hotel Price Index, you should set your course for Warsaw in Poland, where the average top flight hotel room goes for just $133/£90 a night. Second place Cairo might best be avoided for the very near future, but Mumbai (India) and Tallinn (Estonia) are also playgrounds for cut-price jetsetters..
I interviewed Sir Richard Branson in Jamaica a few years ago and though sadly the video has apparently been taken down, the newspaper at least left this image up. Nice to take with you into the weekend...