Trashcam Project Shows A Different Side Of Hamburg

Called the Trashcam Project, Hamburg’s sanitation workers have equipped standard 1,000-liter garbage containers with pinhole cameras. Using these cameras, the “binmen” (and one “binwoman”) take pictures of their favorite places showcasing the beauty and the changes of the city they keep clean every day.

“Pictures for the Trashcam Project are created by hanging large sheets of Ilford photo paper (not film) inside a closed dumpster with a few holes drilled into the front,” says CNET. “To create the eerie photographs you see here, the pinhole photographers line the ‘camera’ up with their subjects and secure it in place – by locking the wheels of the trash bins, we’re guessing. Then they wait, for up to an hour, until an image is formed.”

trashcam projectThat process produces images like this one called “Berlin Cathedral Seen by a Dumpster.” Trashcam Project explains:

“This is one from the archives. The first trashcam picture we made just to find out if it was possible. So this is not Hamburg but Berlin. We were so afraid the bin would bend and light would leak in that we didn´t dare to move it more than a few meters away from our office (Yes, it is nice to work here). As you can see our processing skills have developed since then. But still a gripping shot. It was taken on four sheets of Rollei Vintage paper we glued together to get the giant format. Exposure is about four minutes.”

For more images, check out the ongoing Trashcam Project’s Flickr photostream.

Some German airports shut because of Iceland volcano

ash, Iceland volcanoAsh from the Icelandic volcano Grimsvötn that caused hundreds of flight cancellations in the UK, Denmark, and Norway yesterday has now moved over Germany, shutting down airports in the north of the country.

Hamburg and Bremen airports are closed. Berlin airport will probably close this morning as well. At least 600 flights are expected to be affected.

Poland may also be affected today but otherwise flights in, out, and around Europe should be operating. There may be knock-on delays because of the disruption in Germany so check ahead before going to the airport.

In better news, Grimsvötn has stopped erupting. Let’s hope it keeps behaving.

Have you been affected by the volcanic ash? Feel free to vent in the comments section!

[Micrograph of volcanic ash courtesy US Geological Survey]

UPDATE: (9:23 EDT) The BBC is reporting that Hamburg, Bremen, and Berlin airports have reopened. About 700 flights were cancelled.

Hotel cooking classes let you savor travel memories at home

You know what they say…”take only pictures, leave only memories.” But what if you want to take it home with you? That searing pad ka prow that leaves a film of sweat on your brow, a fragrant bouillabaisse, schnitzel so thin and crisp it practically floats?

What you need is a cooking class, from one of the many resorts, hotels, or cruises offering full or half-day demonstration and hands-on programs that let you recreate regional specialties. Depending upon the class, you might find yourself shopping at the local market for ingredients, visiting wineries, or truffle hunting.

In the Southwest, Inn on the Alameda joins up with the Santa Fe School of Cooking for “Muy Sabrosa,” a package demo class/lunch, and two nights stay, including breakfast, daily wine and cheese reception, and $40 gift certificate to Mucho Gusto cafe. Rates start $376 for two and dates are available throughout the year.

In Jamaica, Jake’s Island Outpost offers private lunch classes utilizing local ingredients, and featuring traditional dishes like “run down,” for just $20 a pop. Farmers often visit Jake’s to sell their produce, while fisherman pull up onto the beach each day, so guests can cook with with freshly-caught seafood. Crystal Cruises has hands-on classes on all Wine & Food sailings, which feature guest celebrity and award-winning chefs, winemakers, and mixologists. Each trip has a theme, such as sushi or Latin American food.

In Europe, Park Hyatt Hamburg has classes focused on seasonal ingredients such as spring asparagus, or cooking a Christmas goose. An October 16 class features quinces, apples, and pears from the “Old Land,” Europe’s largest fruit orchard, just outside of the city. Students will use the fruit to make braised venison with porcini. At Hotel Crillon le Brave, a charming boutique property in the Provence countryside, class participants this fall can immerse themselves in five, half-day intensives, including excursions to local markets, and the aforementioned truffle hunting. In Switzerland, La Réserve Genève’s chef lets guests in on his professional secrets during his Chef Workshops, each based on a different dish or theme, such as fresh pasta, or chocolate.

Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, in Northern Thailand, are famed for their cooking schools and classes. Anantara Golden Triangle Resort & Spa lets students choose from one of four set menus in their half-day program, which includes a guided tour/shopping expedition of the Chiang Saen food market. Over in Abu Dhabi, Desert Islands Resort & Spa, on verdant Sir Bani Yas Island, offers the unusual experience of Arabic cooking classes, where students learn to prepare dishes like moutabel, and prawns haram.

Talking travel with Emirates Airline VP Nigel Page

This Friday will mark the launch of the first regular route in the world on the A380, from Dubai to New York JFK on Emirates Airline. I’m here to talk to Nigel Page, Senior Vice President of Commercial Operations (Americas) about this exciting development, the airline’s famed “private hotels in the sky,” and why we should book a ticket to Dubai.

What will be the configuration on the A380, New York-Dubai route? What are some of the amenities?

Emirates A380 on the New York-Dubai route will feature 489 seats in a three-class configuration. (14 first class, 76 business class and 399 economy class.) Our official unveiling takes place today as we accept the first A380 directly from Airbus in Hamburg, Germany. This will be followed by the first-ever commercially scheduled A380 flight to the United States on August 1st.

How much cost savings does the A380 provide over the traditional transatlantic equipment?

The A380 is an aircraft built to not only serve the customer better, but the operator as well. Fuel economy is perhaps the greatest advantage the A380 provides, as this aircraft receives better mileage per passenger than most hybrid passenger cars. This fuel economy, combined with the A380′s range and capacity, allows for a greater projected cost savings over other older aircraft.
As a luxury carrier, how do you plan to stay competitive in an industry that’s increasingly under pressure from high oil prices?

While high oil prices are a concern for every carrier, Emirates feels that we can stay competitive because of our younger fleet. With the average age of aircraft in the Emirates fleet at just over five years old, Emirates operates aircraft that are more fuel efficient than that of many other carriers. Additionally, we only operate wide-bodied aircraft that allow for a greater cargo capacity, and therefore result in greater profit margins.

Does Emirates’ position in the Middle East have any leverage over other carriers when bidding for jet fuel?

No, Emirates being a Dubai-based airline does not have any effect on other carriers when bidding for jet fuel. Dubai has an open skies policy and Emirates operates alongside 110 other airlines at Dubai International Airport. We receive no subsidies whatsoever.

Do you have any plans to enter the business-class-only market?

No, Emirates does not have any plans to enter the business-class-only market.

What are your other planned routes into the United States?

In addition to twice daily service from New York JFK and daily service from Houston, Emirates will launch Los Angeles service October 1st and San Francisco service November 20th.

Which airlines does Emirates see as its biggest competitors? And what does Emirates do better than them?

We can say that with our unique route network, competition largely depends on the market in which we are operating.

I’ve seen your first-class private suites. Quite jealous.

Emirates first class suites offer our customers the finest in-flight experience available. Amenities include our 1,000 channel ice entertainment system; 23-inch hi-definition personal viewing screen; full lie-flat seat featuring in-seat massage and pre-set seating adjustments; in-suite refreshment center; multiple personal stowages; Bvlgari amenity kits; 7-inch touch screen control for entertainment system and seat, dine on-demand service; and sleep amenities include sleep mask, slippers, and luxurious duvets. Our private cabins are practically a hotel in the sky.

What’s a weekend itinerary for first-time visitors to Dubai? (Let’s imagine an extended layover.)

A typical weekend in Dubai would include a stay at one of Dubai’s numerous outstanding luxury hotel properties, followed by a city tour hosted by one of Dubai’s tour operators like Arabian Adventures – visitors can experience the charm of Dubai’s historic heritage area including the famous gold and spice souks and enjoy the feeling of a city changing from a small trading post on the Arabian Sea to one of the world’s most futuristic cities.

Visitors can’t miss the spectacular shopping malls that have put Dubai on the map for being one of the world’s greatest shopping capitals- one of which even includes an indoor ski facility! Evening entertainment would not be complete without a desert safari and 4WD sundown dune driving, followed by an Arabian dinner with entertainment under the stars. Dubai has options catering to every taste and desire- from PGA golf courses to some of the most spectacular beaches in the world.

What are your favourite restaurants and hotels in Dubai?

Hotels: The Royal Mirage, the Madinat Properties, and the new Raffles Hotel are all lovely. Restaurants- Al Nafourah in Emirates Towers has wonderful Lebanese food. There are a number of new restaurants opening in the new Dubai Festival City complex which will also be excellent.

What are the top three “undiscovered” / underrated destinations in the Middle East?

Muscat, Oman, the rugged East Coast of the UAE (Hatta, located in Dubai, Fujeriah, and the east coast of Sharjah are all lovely and terrific for wadi hikes, outdoor camping and offroad adventures), and Petra Jordan.

Hamburg’s oldest brothel closing

I wonder what it actually means when brothels close because “business is falling.” Does it mean that German men are getting way too civilized and sophisticated to frequent brothels? Doubtful.

Yet, Hamburg’s oldest brothel, Luxor, a family-run operation in the heart of Germany’s premier red light district, is closing its doors, IHT reports.. Business, apparently isn’t what it used to be. They used to have 10 girls, now they only have 4. No word on whether they are all family members.

They are probably getting pushed out by bigger and cheaper competition, some multi-national brothel operation. What a shame. Do you have no sense of tradition and old-school values, people?

Where is Eliot when they need him?