Travel Newsstand for Early July, 2018
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Read all about it! Trains around the world are a matter of the good (China's high-speed network), the bad (Europe's fractious and costly systems) and the ugly (America's railroad). Can you really pick a best airport restaurant in each state? And why would you? Plus America's prettiest drive-in theaters, the case for hotel housekeeping and more.
The Good (China), the Bad (Europe) and the Ugly (USA) Trains
We spend almost all of our business travel lives on airplanes. But much of the world--and, in fact, some Americans--live their lives on the road on the ground, in trains. So let's look at some recent developments, um, er, coming down the track around the globe.
No nation is building its rail network faster than China. And its high-speed trains are literally the envy of the world. Business Insider rode some high-speed Chinese runs and you can't help but be impressed with the infrastructure (left) and the travel experience. Yet nothing is free of controversy, especially when the repressive regime of China gets involved. The Communist Party has put its foot--and its jackboot--down and will soon have a rail "security checkpoint" in the heart of Hong Kong, purportedly an independently run SAR (special administrative region).
Meanwhile, Europe's once-admirable train network isn't quite the jewel it seems. The Germans, for instance, are unhappy because Germany's ICE trains run more slowly than French trains. "What's going wrong on rail tracks?" asks Der Spiegel magazine. And Deutsche Bahn, the government-owned rail system and one of Europe's transport titans, has abandoned plans for a London-Frankfurt high-speed train. In fact, Europe's high-speed rail is a slow, "ineffective patchwork," says the European Union watchdog. And the United Kingdom's privatized trains are at risk, due to the largest decline in passenger numbers in 25 years.
America's shameful rail network suffered another blow recently when the fabled Lake Shore Limited shut down for the first time in more than a century. The suspension of the direct New York-to-Chicago run is supposedly temporary and caused by desperately needed bridge and tunnel repairs. On the other side of the country, California's planned high-speed network is at risk because costs are spiraling and public support is waning. Meanwhile, you're tripping if you believe Texas will next year start construction on its privately financed, $15 billion Dallas-to-Houston high-speed line.
The 'Best' Airport Restaurant in Each State? Really?
Do we really need to name the "best" airport restaurant in each state? What is the purpose? Will you fly in to a state just to eat at an airport restaurant? What if you fly to Cincinnati, for instance, only to learn the "best" airport restaurant in Ohio is in Cleveland (Bar Symon)? If you can answer all of these existential questions, there is this: What story can truly be trusted to find the "best" restaurant at each airport let alone the "best" airport restaurant in an entire state? All this said, I don't want you to think The Daily Meal's feature, The Best Airport Restaurant in Every State Gallery, is a failure. It is, but, it still makes for irresistible reading. Which isn't to say there aren't some excellent choices. The Legal Seafood outlets at Boston/Logan are terrific and Ink.Sack at LAX is great. But One Flew South at Atlanta/Hartsfield is almost a cliché. And the Berghoff at Chicago/O'Hare? Really? I hasten to point out that ORD is home to several great Rick Bayless places and the Wicker Park sushi bar. Is Tucker's Onion Burgers (above) at Will Rogers World Airport a patch on the Tucker's in downtown Oklahoma City? And while Vino Volo is reliable, especially for an airport chain, is it really the "best" place to eat in all of Wisconsin's airports? Of course, this is the same site that claims it can pinpoint the best hotel in each state. But that's a different train wreck for a different time.
Tight Connections ...
Dirty Laundry, Hotel Division Hotels love it when we opt out of housekeeping services because it keeps operational costs down. But is it a good idea? Longtime hotel consultant Larry Mogelonsky thinks housekeeping staffs are crucial. "Aside from the base hygienic benefit for guests, having a roving army of room attendants provides several other important benefits that may go overlooked," he suggests.
Big Screen Beauties If Architectural Digest is to be believed, there are only about 350 drive-in theaters remaining in America. And since it is a design magazine, Architectural Digest feels compelled to tell us which are the 25 most charming drive-ins still standing. The pictures are pretty, though.
Chinese Canadian British Columbia has been a magnet for Chinese immigrants since the Hong Kong "brain drain" in the early 1980s. Now well-to-do mainlanders have come, too, attracted by the province's relatively mild weather and natural beauty. Which means a collection of some of the best Chinese restaurants in North America. -- Joe Brancatelli
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