Interesting indoor spaces around the world

I love the outdoors, to the extent that I tend to bypass or overlook exceptional indoor spaces when I’m traveling or recounting a great trip. Fortunately, Lonely Planet author/former Gadling contributor Leif Pettersen’s recent list on LP’s website has reminded me that—as many a grandmother has said—beauty is on the inside.

Pettersen says only in recent years has he developed a special appreciation for the indoors. He had ample time to contemplate his new interest “during two sadistically cold weeks last winter when I voluntarily confined myself to the Minneapolis Skyway System as a livability experiment for an article I was working on.”

He’s since started a list of “singular, practical” indoor spaces (traveloguebookdealforthewin!) of note, including (obviously) Minneapolis’ Skyway System (“The largest contiguous skyway system in the world, connecting what may be the largest contiguous indoor space anywhere.”); Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar; Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest structure; NYC’s Grand Central Terminal (aka Grand Central Station); St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, and the Queen Mary 2. Here’s to keeping warm indoors this winter.

[Photo credit: Flickr user davedehetre]

Time lapse video: Queen Mary 2 sails the Atlantic

Queen Mary 2: Atlantic Timelapse from Adonis Pulatus on Vimeo.

Adonis Pulatus took these time lapse shots while aboard the Queen Mary 2 as it sailed from New York to the Caribbean last December. The luxury ocean liner appears to stay perfectly static as waves crash all around, making the boat almost appear to be photoshopped over a video of the deep blue. But Cunard’s ship isn’t really just a giant speed boat racing through the water, a fact that becomes clear once some brave souls zip around the swimming pool in the chilly air.

Deemed the “most luxurious ocean liner ever built,” the ship has been privy to an unfortunate series of events lately. Last month five women and four men – believed to be illegal Chinese immigrants – were taken into custody just after landing in New York. Before that, a 40-year-old stage hand was sentenced on child porn charges last September. Perhaps this is why the ship appears mostly empty in the videos – or maybe it’s just the cold.

Two Cunard Queens cruise to Long Beach

Not quite as cool as when Cunard Line ocean liners Queen Mary 2, Queen Elizabeth, and Queen Victoria, met in New York last month for the first time, two of the famed Cunard trio, Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria will cruise to Long Beach Harbor on March 3rd. Significant is the celebration of a milestone: the upcoming 75th anniversary of Queen Mary’s maiden voyage from Southampton, England on May 27, 1936.

“After the spectacular Cunard Royal Rendezvous in New York with our three modern Queens back in January, it is quite fitting that we continue the grand celebration on the West Coast,” said Peter Shanks, president of Cunard Line. “Queen Mary is an important part of our history and legacy and what better way to salute her than with a visit from Queen Victoria to celebrate the completion of her debut Americas season.”

Two queens coming to Long Beach is just one event in a long history of notable sailings.During Cunard’s 171-year history, the Queen Mary epitomized the golden age of ocean travel and served as a Cunard liner for more than 30 years. Additionally, she served as a troopship during World War II and a Royal Mail Ship, under contract with the British Royal Mail service.

Queen Mary’s influence lives on today as a hotel, museum and tourist attraction in Long Beach, California.

There will be three Queens in New York today

“Yeah so what?” one might ask. These three queens, Cunard Line ocean liners Queen Mary 2, Queen Elizabeth, and Queen Victoria, will all meet up in New York today for the first time.

The line’s flagship, Queen Mary 2 will arrive and dock at Red Hook, Brooklyn. The Queen Victoria and the Queen Elizabeth will sail up the Hudson and dock at the Passenger Ship Terminal in Manhattan.

“In January, 2008, Cunard Line’s first Rendezvous of their three Queens took place. It was quite exciting as it was the first time Cunard had three ships with Queen in the name and all three were together.” said cruise industry expert Stewart Chiron CEO, adding “It was the last time for many to see Queen Elizabeth 2, as she would depart the fleet later that year.”

The Queen Victoria and the Queen Elizabeth will have sailed in from Europe, doing what Cunard calls a “tandem crossing” where the ships sail side by side.

All three were expected to be passing under the Verrazzano bridge about 6:00 am today then spend a day in port before sailing by the Statue of Liberty to enjoy a fireworks salute to the famous ships before sailing off around 6:40 Eastern time.

“This time, Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria meet the brand new Queen Elizabeth amid fanfare fit for royalty. New Yorkers love these types of events and what’s bigger than three Queens passing by the Statue of Liberty amid a gala fireworks show? QE2 had a very special place in New Yorker’s hearts as the ship made countless visits during her 39 years in service.” said Chiron.

We can watch live via the Queen Mary 2’s onboard web cam right now.

Image courtesy Cunard Line

Obscenities and ethnic slurs fly on Queen Mary 2, get passengers ejected

Gloria Sher and her husband, Frederick Evans, believe they were defending themselves. And, let’s assume they are old enough to know what that means. She’s 82 years old, a spring chicken compared to her 91-year-old husband. Well, the elderly pair was thrown off the Queen Mary 2 over a verbal brawl that they say was kicked off by another passenger who made an anti-Semitic comment at a black-tie dinner.

Their five-week, $20,000 cruise almost came to an early end at a port in Quebec, which is where the ship was ready to drop them, banished for foul language. Other passengers came to the couple’s defense, however, and the pair was permitted to stay on board for another six days, though under house-arrest conditions. Sher and Evans weren’t allowed to leave their cabin – and their alcohol was confiscated.

So, what happened?”Minutes into their meal” at the black-tie event, Sher tells the New York Post, one of the people at his table told him to shut up before saying, “There are too many Jews on board.” Sher dropped the F-bomb in reply and went back to her room.

The ship’s captain took the side of the alleged anti-Semite, and told Sher she’d have to “leave the ship,” according to the New York Post, without even listening to his side of the story. The couple even knew the captain from previous trips – an inside connection that got them nowhere.

But, Sher may not be an angel, the New York Post continues:

But one passenger told The Post that the couple was at least partly to blame. Sher tends to get belligerent when drinking, the passenger said, recalling that she went on a rant one night because a lounge’s piano was closed.

Ultimately, they were able to stay on board, with occasional trips out of their room, until the ship got back to New York. The Cunard cruise line only offered a refund of $839 and said in a statement: “The Cunard cruise line — which would refund the couple only $839 — said in a statement that “Sir Evans and Lady Sher engaged in multiple incidences of disrespectful and disruptive behavior towards crew members and other guests.” The company supports the captain’s decision.

[photo by Dawn Endico via Flickr]