Best Airline-Inspired Products For Home And Travel

Airline design Bordbar beverage carts
Courtesy Bordbar

Most souvenirs remind us of travel to a specific place, but how about products to remind us of the journey? Some crafty designers have made home and travel products inspired by (or even made of) airplane designs.

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Baggage tag: You can use your initials or your favorite airport code on the baggage tag design of this messenger bag ($129).

Beverage cart: Ever thought those narrow beverage carts would look cool in your home? Bordbar has vintage and new customized beverage carts from 329 euro for a small galley box, 979 euro for the full size trolley.

Boarding pass: With mobile phone check-in, paper boarding passes might soon be a thing of the past. Take your laptop out for security in this snazzy sleeve, which you can customize with your name and flight info ($28.95-32.95).

Flotation device: The same designer as the belt below has taken flotation devices and fashioned them into sleeves for the iPad and iPhone, but we still wouldn’t recommend getting them wet (49-69 euro).

Remove before flight tag: Rather than wear one of those funny-looking neck pillows, use one made with an aircraft tag, complete with a loop for carrying. Don’t feel you have to follow the “remove before flight” instructions though, it works perfectly on a plane or at home ($25).

Safety card: You shouldn’t actually take the safety card from the seat pocket, but you shouldn’t leave your passport there either. Keep it safe with this $20 passport holder (slim wallet also available, $18).

Seat belt: Stay buckled in for safety with a white belt made with a real airplane belt (79 euro). Keep in mind you’ll likely still have remove it for TSA security.

Photo Of The Day: Guam Beach Bar

Photo of the day - Guam beach bar
Flickr, pkorsmok/Peter Rood

There’s something about a bar on vacation that relaxes us. It could be a fancy hotel bar, an unassuming neighborhood watering hole or a trendy nightclub; and it can be friendly and chatty, or anonymous and discreet. Perhaps it’s comforting to know that our cocktails are made more or less the same the world wide, there’s nearly always another person to strike up a conversation with if you need local tips, and there’s far less social etiquette and customs to break than in a restaurant. The bar in today’s Photo of the Day is on Gun Beach in Guam, a place foreign to many Americans even though it’s part of our larger nation. Flickr user Peter Rood notes that it’s a “great place to grab a beer after diving and watch the sunset.” The patrons in this bar could be tourists or natives, but everyone looks comfortable and relaxed, whether or not anyone knows their name.

Want to see your travel photos featured as a future Photo of the Day? Upload them to the Gadling Flickr pool, and if we can download and share here, we’ll be sure to credit you too.

An Education In Mezcal

mezcal

I inhale. The scent is earthy, smoky. I take a sip, rolling the liquid around my tongue, exploring its flavors. Per instruction, I gurgle. My mouth explodes, the alcohol transforming into a liquid fireball that burns the insides of my cheeks. It takes a few minutes before the sensation expires.

There is a saying: “para todo mal, mezcal, y para todo bien también.”

For everything bad, mezcal, and for everything good too.

In Oaxaca, mezcal is as much a part of the landscape as the mountains, textiles and colonial architecture. Legend has it that a form of the tequila-like liquor existed prior to the Spanish conquest of Mexico, but mezcal as we know it was first distilled by the conquistadors in the 17th century. It is a generic name for spirits distilled from the agave plant, or maguey as it is traditionally called, of which there are 11 types. The state of Oaxaca is the traditional home of mezcal, and the countryside is littered with small family distilleries.

But not all mezcal is created equal. There is a difference between artisanal mezcal and the touristy stuff sold in bodegas across the city. I learned the difference at the Mezcaloteca, a tasting library run by a group dedicated to the preservation of traditional mezcal production.

It turns out, pure artisanal mezcal isn’t brown – it’s clear. And those larvae at the bottom of the bottle? Pure marketing, intended to bait unassuming tourists with the promise of a G-rated “Fear Factor” experience. (“I can’t believe you actually ate the worm!” your friends back home will gape.)

No, the best artisanal mezcal is crystal clear and worm free. David, our bartender-cum-teacher, filled us in on some other ways to tell the difference.

  • Look for the words “100% agave,” which signifies that the liquor is pure and not mixed with cheaper additives.
  • Make sure that the stated alcohol content is 45% or greater.
  • Check the label for the state of origin, type of agave plant and name of the maestro mezcalero, or mezcal master.
  • Shake the bottle and see if bubbles arise – they should, unless it is a mezcal with more than 55% alcohol content, in which case the bubbles only arise when you stir it.
  • Do not buy mezcal that is reposado or anejado in barrels – the wood destroys the distinct flavors and aromas of the mezcal.
  • Rub a drop of mezcal between your fingers to evaporate it – the scent should be of cooked agave.

Now for tasting the mezcal.

  • Mezcal is traditionally consumed from a gourd or wide-mouthed cup.
  • Pour the drink from one cup to another to see the bubbles rise.
  • Inhale the mezcal. Try to find the aroma that you smelled when you rubbed the mezcal between your fingers. Then inhale with your mouth closed and try to discern other smells. You’ll notice that there is a difference.
  • Sip the mezcal and rinse your mouth for 10 seconds without swallowing. Exhale through your nose. Feel the flavors on your palate.
  • Take another sip, rinse your mouth for 10 seconds, then swallow and feel the burn.

According to David, these flavors are the essence of mezcal.

The Mezcaloteca is located at Reforma 506 in central Oaxaca. Tastings are available by appointment only, though you may be able to piggyback onto another group’s tasting if you swing by at the right time. Prices vary, but a basic four-pour tasting cost us 150 pesos (about US$12). Call +52-01-951-5140082 or email mezcaloteca@gmail.com for reservations.

[Photo Credit: Jessica Marati]

Islamists Attack Hotel Bar In Tunisia

Tunisia
Tunisia has long been a favorite North African destination for its beautiful beaches, ancient ruins, and relatively tolerant atmosphere. That tolerance, however, may be changing.

The BBC reports that a group of Salafists, Muslim hardliners who have been gaining in influence in recent months, stormed into a hotel bar in Sidi Bouzid. The Salafists had warned the Horchani hotel management to stop serving alcohol and when they didn’t comply, dozens of Islamists entered the hotel bar, chased away the customers, and smashed the bottles. They also entered rooms in search of alcohol and turned their wrath on the furniture.

There were no reported injuries.

Sidi Bouzid was the birthplace of the Arab Spring. It was here in 2010 that a fruit seller set himself on fire to protest government corruption and oppression. This set off a chain of events that toppled governments in several Arab nations. While the Arab Spring has opened up the possibility of democracy, it has also encouraged Islamist groups that were generally suppressed by the old-style military dictators.

[Photo courtesy Flickr user spDuchamp. This is not a photo of the Tunisian hotel and is used for illustrative purposes only.]

A Tour Through The World’s Longest Bar In Düsseldorf, Germany

Taking advantage of a long layover in Düsseldorf, Germany last month, we took a team into the city to check out the reported longest bar in the world.

Bad news? It’s not an actual bar but actually a series of bars linking across several miles of real estate in downtown Düsseldorf.

Good news? It involves copious amounts of drinking and bar-related activities, including but not limited to: stag and hen parties, greasy food, massive steins of beer, shots and no shortage of laughing and shouting. Take a look at our trip above.