Food and Drink
A dozen ideas for man stranded in airport for 16 days
If you missed 2004's The Terminal, starring Tom Hanks (pictured at left) and directed by Steven Spielberg, don't bother: It is one of my least-favourite films of all time. Don't get me started...
That said, its premise is interesting: Inspired by the 17 years Iranian refugee Mehran Karimi Nasseri (pictured below) spent in Paris's Charles de Gaulle International Airport, it follows a (really annoying) man who becomes trapped in New York's JFK airport for nine months when he is denied entry to the United States and can't return to his native country because of a revolution there. (I also suspect he couldn't go home because he was really annoying. OK, I can move on now...)
Compared to Nasseri's 17 years, or even the fictional nine months endured by Hanks' annoying character (I really am done now, I promise), recent reports of Syrian refugee Wasfi Tayseer Jarad's 16 days at Dubai International seem positively mundane. Jarad, 34, is apparently in a similar situation to the aforementioned terminal-dwellers: Unwilling to return to war-torn Syria, he has been given permission by Dubai authorities to travel anywhere that will take him. Trouble is, no country has taken him in yet, including Jordan, where his family fled from Syria.
Grey Goose lets its origin story take flight in New York
I’m sitting in a plush velvet chair in a decked out basement speakeasy under a cozy boulangerie in the meatpacking district in New York City, custom Grey Goose martini (wet with a twist) in hand, chatting to Lyle Tick the company’s Senior Global Category Director.
This is not your average jaunt to the Big Apple.
Hotel "crashing" shows how low cheapskates will go
Some people will do anything for a cheap hotel room, even if it means being dirty, rotten scoundrels.
According to a recent CNBC article, a growing number of room-seekers are taking advantage of discounted prices on blocks of accommodations set aside for weddings.
Don't get me wrong: I support "traditional" wedding crashers. These uninvited guests usually do little harm when receptions feature open bars and buffet dinners, and as in the eponymous Vince Vaughan-Owen Wilson flick (pictured below) they may even spice up the proceedings. It takes a lot of nerve to crash a wedding, and I respect that. Heck, I'd like to crash one myself one day. I just need a powder-blue tux and a ridiculous fake name. Scheving Asvaldsson from Reykjavik at your service...
What I do have a problem with are "crashers" who have no intention of going to a wedding, yet who surreptitiously book rooms that by rights should go to legitimate guests. There's nothing fun about this; it's just cheap and mean-spirited. Attending a wedding can be very expensive, especially when an out-of-town trip is involved, and snatching discounts from guests is nothing short of despicable.
Survey reveals Canadians’ juicy vacation secrets
There are plenty of juicy statistical tidbits in a new survey of Canadian travel habits by Toronto-based fare-comparer Cheapflights.ca. But some could have been juicier.
The overarching stat -- that 61 per cent of the 1,012 respondents “take a break from being responsible” while on vacation -- is broken down into how, where, when and with whom Canadians behaved irresponsibly, along with the standards they let slide, on-the-road worries, and keeping vacation misbehaviour a secret.
It’s the last topic that really intrigues me. We’ve all heard of couples taking separate vacations, but secret vacations? According to the survey, nearly one in 10 respondents has kept a vacation secret from their partner or spouse. This jumps to 24 per cent when friends, employers and other family members are thrown into the mix.
Cynics (or is that realists?) would say that globetrotting trysts are behind the spouse stat. But the survey doesn’t delve into why vacationers kept their significant others in the dark, or even how they pulled off this deviousness. So, if you’re one of these sneaky devils, feel free to explain yourself in the comments section below (using a fake name, of course).
Similarly, the survey reports that 7 per cent made a “regrettable romantic decision.” But what happened? Why was it regrettable? The survey is no help here, as it yadda-yadda-yaddas over the best parts! (Again, feel free to share. I’m working on a screenplay and need some good material…)
Deals of the week
Think fall will go away if you just ignore it? Fact is, it will...when it turns into winter. Yes, bidding farewell to summer can be painful, but this week's podium can help you deal with the withdrawal by a) embracing the new and upcoming seasons, or b) keeping summer going beyond Sept. 22:
GOLD: This is the time of year when ski resorts lure eager schussers with early-booking bargains. But the latest offer from B.C.'s Big White (pictured below) will save you money and get you on the slopes ASAP. Simply book a two-night stay (or longer) between the provisional opening day of Nov. 28 and Dec. 19, and you get two free adult lift tickets for each night's stay. All told, this will save you at least $320. Room rates start at $134 per night (based on double occupancy), and some restrictions apply. To book, call Big White Central Reservations at 1-800-663-2772, and use booking code "one zero/1314."
Vacation days for computer use? Canada can learn from Greece
Warm Mediterranean waters, idyllic islands, spectacular ancient monuments...and until recently, some of the most outrageous paid vacation time on the planet.
Yes, it's good to live in Greece. In fact, it may be too good: The country's continuing economic crisis has been blamed in large part on cushy tax, pension and employment practices, to the point that a British reality TV series, Go Greek for a Week, followed three U.K. families as they lived what was purported to be the "Greek lifestyle."
The show overlooked vacation time, which, as far as I'm concerned, is the most appealing aspect of Greek citizenship. For example, when GGFAW aired in 2011, Greek civil servants got six extra days of paid holiday every year...for using computers for at least five hours a day.
I don't know about you, but this is one job perk I could get used to. Unfortunately for Greek civil servants, the scheme was discontinued recently, apparently as part of austerity measures aimed at cutting state spending and reforming the 600,000-employee public sector.
Let's not kid ourselves: there is no way any Canadian government, or any employer for that matter, would consider a vacation plan like this. But what about a few extra days off to acknowledge the unique challenges of the Great White North and, ultimately, to celebrate what it means to be Canadian? In my humble opinion, we should get extra days off for any of the following reasons:
Rake Break: Canadians with at least six inches of fallen leaves on their properties are entitled to one paid vacation day for yard cleanup and leaf-snorkeling.
Uncovering a TIFF pop-up lounge
Toronto’s annual film festival gives the city a unique buzz. It draws not only producers, production companies, media, and of course, the stars, but also thousands of people from all over the world who want to drink in the glory.