Navigation | Page content | Additional information

Page content
From Berlin with Love - Celebrating 50 Years of ITB Berlin
From Berlin with Love - Celebrating 50 Years of ITB Berlin
startgrafik BUCHAREST | ROMANIA TEL AVIV | ISRAEL STOCKHOLM | SWEDEN VIENNA | AUSTRIA ABU DHABI | UNITED ARAB EMIRATES COPENHAGEN | DENMARK BERLIN | GERMANY - WHERE IT ALL BEGAN MIAMI | FLORIDA REYKJAVIK | ICELAND MERRITT ISLAND | FLORIDA - SPACE TRAVEL MOSCOW | RUSSIA IBIZA | SPAIN SANKT PETERSBURG | RUSSIA CAPE TOWN | SOUTHAFRICA PRAGUE | CZECH REPUBLIC CHICAGO | USA TOKYO | JAPAN BUENOS AIRES | ARGENTINA FUERTEVENTURA | SPAIN - CLUB HOLIDAY NUREMBERG | GERMANY SYLT | GERMANY LOS ANGELES | USA HELSINKI | FINLAND BRUSSELS | BELGIUM JEREZ DE LA FRONTERA | SPAIN LONDON | UNITED KINGDOM ISLA CONTOY | MEXICO LANZAROTE | SPAIN OBERTAUERN | AUSTRIA MUNICH | GERMANY COLOGNE | GERMANY BUDAPEST | HUNGARY NAPLES | ITALY GAMBORONE | BOTSWANA VENICE | ITALY NEW YORK CITY | USA LA ROMANA | DOMINICAN REPUBLIC LISBON | PORTUGAL ANTALYA | TURKEY PERTH | AUSTRALIA SINT MICHIEL | CURACAO LYON | FRANCE WARSAW | POLAND SINGAPORE | ASIA SHARJAH | EMIRATE OF SHARJAH CATANIA | SICILY MADRID | SPAIN AXOS - CRETE | GREECE BANDOS ISLAND | MALDIVES KOZHIKODE | INDIA

"From Berlin With Love!"
is our motto:

50 Berliners travel to 50 destinations all over the world, where they meet 50 representatives and speak about 50 special events, topics or projects.

Click on one of the little pictures to discover the story behind it!

ITB Berlin Buddy Bear

Follow our ITB Berlin Buddy Bear around the world!

ITB Berlin Buddy Bear

Follow our ITB Berlin Buddy Bear around the world!

ITB Berlin Buddy Bear

Follow our ITB Berlin Buddy Bear around the world!

50 Insider Tips

Benefit from the insider knowledge of our hosts! Each of them gives you a personal recommendation for their destination - this can be either a local recipe or an advice for a special trip or location!

Discover the hidden gems!

#itb50

Would you like to congratulate ITB Berlin for its anniversary?

We're happy to receive your personal greetings via email to itb50@messe-berlin.de or using the hashtag #itb50 via

BERLIN | GERMANY - WHERE IT ALL BEGAN

BERLIN | GERMANY - WHERE IT ALL BEGAN

HIstorical ITB Berlin

The World's Leading Travel Trade Show

When Manfred Busche opened the first ITB International Tourism Exchange in 1966, he paved the way for a success story that has lasted for nearly 50 years. What started back then with nine exhibitors from five countries and a mere 250 trade visitors, has grown into a huge international success story.

The temporary “super travel agency” has gone through turbulent times, brought about by great social and political changes, in its five-decade-long history, including a time when the tourism industry became one of the key economic factors globally. ITB assumed a pioneering role in this field. It gathered knowledge, experience and contacts, identified market trends and continuously implemented new concepts. This is what made the international travel industry’s World's Leading Travel Trade Show what it is today: a success accelerator and a trend barometer.

The figures speak for themselves: in 2015, more than 10,000 exhibitors from 186 countries presented their products and services to approx. 175,000 visitors. And the success story is set to continue…

Current ITB Manager meets ITB Founder

Two people who have one major thing in common are meeting in the small Brandenburg town of Ketzin near Berlin, the hometown of Dr. Busche. Both are looking back on the many years of eventful trade fair history as well as sharing a vision for the next 50 years of ITB Berlin.

ITB Berlin manager and founder

Prof. Dr. Manfred Busche (right)
Former CEO Messe Berlin, Prof. Dr. Manfred Busche, successfully shaped the development of Berlin as a trade fair and congress city for more than 34 years. He launched the ITB International Tourism Exchange in 1966.

David Ruetz (left)
The native Swiss, David Ruetz, has been managing ITB Berlin as Senior Manager since 2004. He discovered his passion for the travel industry at a young age when he started his career as a bellboy in a Swiss Hotel.
www.itb-berlin.com

How did you come up with the idea of launching ITB?

Manfred Busche: We thought about the expansion of the exhibition program in Berlin because we felt something was missing. At first we thought about a hunting exhibition but we eliminated that thought quickly due to the fact that it had to do with shooting. Regarding the four-power status in Berlin this seemed illusory. Afterwards, we came up with the idea of the travel trade show – which made sense.

Who was critical of the idea of ITB in the beginning?

MB: In the beginning, ITB was a difficult subject because it threatened the interests of many. Powerful travel agencies believed that ITB would harm their business because it would mean a shift of the business. Additionally, the hoteliers’ opinions were divided; they took a critical stance towards ITB, as they were against the expansion of the hotel capacity in Berlin. On the other hand, the hoteliers also appreciated the idea of meeting others from the industry to discuss business.

What was the biggest success of ITB in the past?

MB: Talking to the exhibitors about the next ITB meant the greatest success. “Don’t you want an additional square meter next year? Do you want to be in this or that exhibition hall?” This is how we knew that the current trade fair was good but that the next one would be even better.

Mr. Ruetz, what was the biggest success during your career at ITB?

David Ruetz: The establishment of the ITB Convention was a major milestone. This tourism congress, which is attended by experts from almost all tourism sectors worldwide, is running parallel to the trade fair. Increasing visitor numbers speak for themselves; the convention can be seen as a “think tank” discussing relevant future topics of the tourism industry and discovering trends.

Mr. Ruetz an Mr. Busche talking

Mr. Ruetz, how do you see the development of ITB in the upcoming years?

DR: In times of the Internet and in the digital age, the longing for personal encounter is increasing. An annual family reunion such as ITB, where you look one another in the eye and shake hands, is an absolute must. Additionally, I believe that ITB can grow in other markets due to the strength of the brand, just take a look at ITB Asia. Finally, I think that ITB can offer and develop additional services, such as consulting and training. I also have the vision of extending the collective think tank, consisting of the congress and studies. Ideally, we will be important to the world all year around, not just five days a year.

VIENNA | AUSTRIA - ORIGINAL SACHERTORTE

VIENNA | AUSTRIA - ORIGINAL SACHER-TORTE

Sachertorte

Vienna's way of life

Austria’s capital is not only popular amongst tourists. Its residents are also fortunate because they live in the city with the highest quality of life in the world. The Viennese way of life is appreci­ated internationally - and any visitor to the city can feel it. A trip to Vienna allows its visitors to travel back in time. The splendor of times past and the city’s fascinating history create a unique atmosphere. Vienna abounds with historical buildings and sites.

Those who want to get to know Austria’s capital are faced with one big challenge: a multitude of choices. Rushing from one tourist attraction to the next, however, is hardly what it means to experience the original, relaxing atmosphere of the city. Because Vienna means one thing above all - Gemütlichkeit, or easy, cozy living.

Still, one aspect of the tourist attractions does fit in with easy living: many of them, such as St. Stephen‘s Cathedral, are located right in the main district. Instead of spending time covering long distances between sights one can use it to experience Viennese coffee house culture, which has been on UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list since 2011.

Both Vienna’s residents and visitors have the pleasure of experiencing a historical tradition of several centuries at any time – by enjoying a delicious piece of the Original Sacher-Torte.

Food Blogger meets hotel director

If there is one cake that brings people together from two different worlds, it is probably the most famous cake in the world: the Original Sacher-Torte. Cathrin Brandes is a cookbook author for sweet treats (“Sweet Berlin”) and is discovering the culinary trends of Berlin’s food scene, while Reiner Heilmann is carrying on the century-old tradition of what is probably the sweetest seduction - and bringing it to the modern era.

Ambassadors vienna
Ms. Brandes handing over the Berlin Buddy Bear - our present for each of the 50 representatives.

Cathrin Brandes (left)
She is living in Berlin and is a famous culinary ambassador of the city. Since her childhood she has been fascinated by food and cooking. Hence, she baked her first Sacher-Torte at the age of 14, using a recipe from an old cookbook she had been given by her grandmother.
www.tidbits.de

Reiner Heilmann (right)
He has been managing the Luxury Hotel Sacher in Vienna for 25 years, a hotel routinely frequented by heads of state, top models or opera stars. Heilmann is also responsible for the pastry manufactory, so he knows the secret recipe for the Original Sacher-Torte.
www.sacher.com

What is the connection between the Hotel Sacher and the inventor of the Original Sacher-Torte?

Reiner Heilmann: In the year 1832, the story of the Original Sacher-Torte began: Prince Metternich was expecting important guests and ordered his kitchen staff to create a new dessert. Since the head chef had other obligations, the delicate task was given to the young chef Franz Sacher. The rest is a genuine success story. A couple of years later, in 1876, the Hotel Sacher was opened by Franz’s son, Eduard, and his wife Anna Sacher. It started out as a gourmet shop and only later a restaurant was added, which then evolved into a hotel over time.

Ms. Brandes, when you were 16 you wanted to become a pastry chef. Back then, was the Sacher-Torte relevant for you?

Cathrin Brandes: I received a very old cookbook from my grandmother, which was from around 1916, and it already had a recipe of Sacher-Torte in it. As a teenager, I tried it out, but I failed. Although the cake was good, it was in no way comparable to the Original. However, when I was 18, I travelled to Vienna and one of my first stops was the Hotel Sacher, where I ate my first piece of Original Sacher-Torte. A piece of luxury for me.

Interview

What makes the cake so unique today?

RH: Just like 180 years ago, the Original Sacher-Torte is made by hand in 34 work steps, starting with the cracking of an egg all the way to the packaging. A significant secret lies in the different varieties of chocolate used for the glaze. The cake is an original that is often imitated, therefore only the real cake may be written this way: Original Sacher-Torte, a registered trademark. The cake is typical for Vienna, and deeply connected to the city. It is a piece of tradition representing Vienna. It definitely contains emotion.

Every year, 120,000 entire cakes of Original Sacher-Torte are ordered online and shipped across the globe. Is there a connection between culinary art and travel?

CB: Yes, for sure. In the past, people often neglected to try out the culinary specialties of a travel destination. Nowadays, there is a greater awareness for it and a desire to get to know the regional dishes. I think culinary exploration will gain more importance. For example, if people order the Original Sacher-Torte to their home, they also receive a piece of Vienna and their travel experiences along with it.

Farewell

Ms. Brandes, professionally you focus on discovering culinary trends. Do you think that traditional houses or products have great difficulty staying successful in this new food culture era?

CB: There is a saying that goes “He who does not move with the times, will be removed over time”. I believe this to be true. Traditional companies need to follow the motto: adapt to the wishes of the clients over time, and don’t stand still. Today’s focus lays on quality products. The ingredients used in the production of the Sacher-Torte are of the highest quality. That’s what the cake stands for.

RH: Keeping up with the times is a big topic for us. We don’t want to stay behind, we want to move along. Tradition must be kept alive. (Editor’s note: For example, a few years ago Sacher joined Facebook and conquered Social Media. So you can follow how the “souvenir” Sacher-Torte travels around the world.)

Behind the Scenes

Join us on a tour through Hotel Sacher!

Photo gallery

Please enable JavaScript.

BUCHAREST | ROMANIA

BUCHAREST | ROMANIA - THE DANUBE DELTA

Danube

The Danube Delta - an ecotourism showcase

The Danube Delta and its 4187 km2 of wetland marshes, floating reed islands and sandbars is one of Europe’s best-preserved deltas and an eco-paradise. It is so important that the Romanian part of it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991. This natural phenomenon, where the Danube meets the Black Sea after travelling 2800 kms from its source in Germany’s Black Forest, attracts tourists from around the world.

Many birdwatchers are regular visitors because of the Delta’s importance as a stopover for birds migrating between central and Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean and Middle East and Africa. Some 320 species of birds, including notable colonies of marsh tern, white-fronted and red-breasted geese, pelican and white-tailed eagle can be found at the Delta.
Birds are not the only residents. There is an abundance of freshwater fish and various communities of mammals including bears, foxes, wolves, otters, weasels and occasional visitors like boar or deer.

The Danube Delta is a remarkable ecosystem and successful initiatives, like the Association of Ecotourism in Romania’s “Discover Eco-Romania”, have been put in place to make this outstanding destination a role model for ecotourism. The AER continues to bring together the public and the private sector for the sake of nature conservation and sustainable tourism development. The AER Ecotourism Certification System complies with international standards and serves as a guarantee of quality for those visiting the Delta.

Ecotourism expert meets ornithologist

Andrei Blumer from Romania and Rolf Nessing from Germany are both deeply immersed in conservation and ecotourism. A successful ecotourism concept seeks long-term preserve of the environment, supports local business and fosters traditions. This is a complex challenge that both accepted gladly - the two men raise awareness for responsible tourism and nature protection in their respective region. Also, both are fascinated by the diversity and beauty of the Danube Delta.

Ambassador and host with ITB Berlin Buddy Bear

Andrei Blumer (left)
He is president of the aforementioned Association of Ecotourism in Romania. Trained in both environmental sciences and leisure, his expertise encompasses outdoor recreation, protected areas and local community development. His main focus is using these skills to raise the standard of ecotourism in his country.
www.eco-romania.ro

Rolf Nessing (right)
He is an active environmentalist and ornithologist. Mr. Nessing conducts bird watching tours in and around Berlin and is committed to environ¬mental education for children. He first visited the Danube Delta in 1976 and its biodiversity has had him enthralled ever since.
www.birdingberlin.com/

How important is the protected Danube Delta to ecotourism?

Andrei Blumer: In terms of size and biodiversity it is the most important area for nature protection in Romania. Nature and human settlements are intertwined. It’s fantastic that predators like wolves and bears can co-exist with humans. The Delta is both important and perfect for ecotourism.

How has tourism in the Delta developed over the last five years?

AB: It has developed massively thanks to the input of people from the area. It is important to establish local services and then follow up with supporting them. For example, local people are the ones that provide accommodation for the tourists. The surrounding population is also a source pool for tour guides. Our community-based initiatives have led to many interesting things, like the rejuvenation of traditions such as wooden boat building.

Rolf Nessing: There have been lots of changes in the Danube over the last few years. Sadly, not all of it has been good. There has been a large influx of tourists and nature can only cope with a certain amount of them. Big hotels shouldn’t be replacing private guesthouses.

What standout activities are there for tourists to the Delta?

AB: You can take a rowing boat to go fishing or observe the colonies of water birds. Cycling is a great option, too. As the region has so many ethnic groups, the kitchen fare here is very diverse. I think there is so much to do but I would recommend that tourists take their time in discovering and enjoying the attractions of the Delta – there are so many.

RN: That’s true. I often notice that guests who travel with me to the Delta enjoy the slow pace there. You definitely need time to take in the unique landscape. This includes the human element, for instance, the traditional fishing villages with their lovely reed-roofed wooden houses.

What role do eco-certificates and the like play in ecotourism?

AB: The certification process is part of a marketing strategy aimed at international tourists. We developed our own “Eco-certified’ label in order to create a network of responsible businesses. The label itself does not attract clients but it does ensure that those visiting can expect certain environmentally friendly standards.

Ambassador and host

What developments in terms of ecotourism would you like to see in your respective areas over the next 10 years?

AB: We want the Danube Delta to be on the international market as part of a network of high-quality tourist destinations. I would like to see the growth of small independent businesses that are locally owned and generate good quality products. I would also like people to come and really take time to discover what a wonderful area it is, to soak up the environment at a pace that’s in tune with the rhythm of the Delta.

RN: Brandenburg is the biggest county with the least population in Germany. It is known for its well-preserved natural environment, there are 15 large protected areas, some inhabited by wolves and elks. We could tackle the state’s high unemployment in the next few years by creating more job opportunities in ecotourism by creating more job opportunities in ecotourism.

TEL AVIV | ISRAEL

TEL AVIV | ISRAEL - LGBT TOURISM

Tel Aviv LGBT

Tel Aviv - Hotspot of the LGBT community in the middle east

The long Mediterranean beaches, the distinctive Bauhaus architecture, the diverse range of cultural activities, as well as the openness and tolerance of its people, are the very things that make Tel Aviv unique.

The city in the Middle East has become a hotspot for the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) community. In 2001, Israel was the first country in Asia to protect homosexuals with an anti-discrimination law. Since 2002, homosexuals have been able to register their partnerships in Tel Aviv and receive benefits from the municipality.

The Tel Aviv Gay Pride parade took place for the 17th time in June 2015. Floats, lovingly designed by the LGBT community and accompanied by parade participants, toured through the city center before finally stopping at Gordon Beach. More than 100,000 people joined the celebrations, 30,000 of them tourists that had come from all parts of the world especially for the festival.

Thanks to its openness, Tel Aviv has become a popular travel destination for the LGBT community. Travel operators such as airlines, hotel chains and tour organizers have been reacting swiftly and offering special packages for gay and lesbian travelers.

Manager meets women travel consultant

Betti Keese and Russell Lord have made it their mission to create trips aimed especially at the LGBT community. As ambassadors for the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association, they are both representing their countries and promoting equal rights for LGBT travelers. Moreover, their hometowns are connected by a difficult shared history, which makes international understanding and peace key issues.

Russel and Betti

Russell Lord (left)
The travel consultant at Kenes Tours is specialized in LGBT travel. Lord, who was born in New York, visited Israel for the first time in 1982, fell in love and stayed there. For more than 30 years, he has been working on establishing Tel Aviv as a hotspot for LGBT people.
www.kenes-tours.com/

Betti Keese (right)
Having received her MA in „Sustainable Tourism“, Betti Keese decided to establish a travel agency especially targeted at women. Since 2012, she has been successfully running her own business named „GoBeyond“ and accompanies many of its organized tours.
www.gobeyond-reisen.de/

Berlin and Tel Aviv are each known as respective „meccas“ of the LGBT scene. Where do people meet?

Betti Keese: In general, Berlin is very open-minded. One can move around freely, kiss and hold hands. The main scene, however, is located in Schöneberg, around Nollendorfplatz. There are many clubs, bars and shops for gay people.

Russell Lord: We don’t have a „Gaybourhood“ like Berlin does, but our guests will find the most exciting night life with cutting-edge pubs, dance bars and party lines. Furthermore, Tel Aviv’s beach, which is located right in the city center, is the meeting spot for everyone, locals and tourists alike.

What are other reasons for LGBT travelers to Tel Aviv?

RL: We offer warm weather and white sandy beaches along with a cutting-edge urban scene. Eclectic dining options abound, from simple Middle Eastern eateries to the finest restaurants. To top it off, the ancient treasures of Jerusalem and Galilee as well as the Dead Sea are only an short drive away.

BK: Tel Aviv is very hospitable, you feel welcome and can express your feelings openly, also as a lesbian. Less than four hours flight time away from Berlin, you can find explicitly gay-friendly hotels and even a gay beach, the Hilton Beach.

What is the most important factor for the steady development of LGBT tourism in general?

RL: Everything comes down to the feeling of safety, openness and friendliness that the destination provides. Our Tel Aviv municipality has gone above and beyond to actively attract LGBT tourists. A city must have a clear mission, a savvy marketing strategy and the will to devote resources to attract its chosen market.

How is lesbian tourism different from gay tourism?

BK: Gay tourism has existed for a much longer time, for instance the gay tourism guide „Spartacus“ has been around since the 1970s. Nothing like it is available for lesbians even today. When I first established my company in 2012, I initially had to find out how to connect with the lesbian scene, because there isn’t such a well-connected network. Also, the travel requirements are different, e.g. safety plays a much more important role for female tourists.

What is your personal mission with regard to the development of LGBT tourism for the next years?

RL: My personal mission is to leverage the authentic experiences, the native foods and diverse culture that can be found here, and to deepen the tourism experience by exposing travelers to a variety of people.

BK: I am hoping to get the gay and lesbian community on the same page. We have to work together and communicate with each other in order to learn from one another and with each other.

STOCKHOLM | SWEDEN

STOCKHOLM | SWEDEN - PIPPI LONGSTOCKING

Villa Killekulla

Sweden's most popular children's museum

Astrid Lindgren’s stories are known to almost everybody throughout the world. Pippi Longstocking, Emil of Lönneberga or Karlsson-on-the-Roof have been children’s favorites for many decades. It’s this popularity that led to the building of Junibacken, Sweden’s most visited children‘s museum, on the island of Djurgården in Stockholm.

The first stop for visitors is Storybook Square, where each house is devoted to a Swedish children’s book author (not Astrid Lindgren in this case). Children step into a world of storybook fantasy and meet well-known literary characters like Alfie Atkins, the Moomins, Gary Gadget, Pettson and Findus. It’s then time to jump on the Story Train, a journey through Astrid Lindgren’s stories where the narration, music and lighting are a delight.

The train ends its journey at Villa Villekulla, home of the strongest girl in the world, Pippi Longstocking. Here you can ride her horse and romp around her house.

Junibacken is a whole lot of fun for children of all ages. Moreover, it is also home to one of the biggest Swedish children‘s theatres and the largest children’s bookstore in the country.

As if that isn’t enough to do, for those not worn out by Junibacken, there is the nearby village of Vimmerby where you can visit Astrid Lindgren’s World and play with the six Bullerby Children.

Junibacken manager meets lucky winner

Jenny Helldahl welcomes Eric and his family to Junibacken in Stockholm and helps them to experience the plentiful attractions at the magical children’s museum.

Jenny helldahl and the lucky winner

Jenny Helldahl (left)
Ms Helldahl works as communication officer and project manager for Junibacken. She enjoys interacting with children and building exhibitions for them. Like Pippi Longstocking, Jenny Helldahl loves pancakes, although nowadays she prefers the adult version with vegetables in them.
www.junibacken.se/

Eric Paul Steuernagel (right)
The 4-year old Pippi Longstocking fan won a trip to Stockholm through a competition run by Radio Teddy, the Berlin-based station. Eric went with his family to have some fun and discover more about Astrid Lindgren.

Ms. Helldahl, what is the meaning of Junibacken?

Jenny Helldahl: Junibacken is the place where Madicken lives. Madicken is a character from a novel by Astrid Lindgren. The founder of this museum asked Astrid Lindgren for a name and she chose this one.

How old is the museum?

JH: We opened twenty years ago in 1996.

Eric on Old Man

Eric, what do you like most about this museum?

Eric Paul Steuernagel: I like the Pirate Island and Pippi Longstocking’s horse (Old Man). And I like the slide of Villa Villekulla.

What can you do at the Junibacken Museum?

JH: We have lots of exhibitions and they are all based on children´s books. They are all 3-dimensional, so it’s like stepping into the books. It‘s common in museums to see signs that read: “Please Don´t Touch”. Our motto is: “Please Touch!” So the kids are allowed to interact and experience everything. We also have theatre pieces every day.

What is your vision for the museum?

JH: We want to focus even more on the literary aspect. People are reading less; it’s therefore our challenge to inspire children to read and, what is very important, to inspire adults to read to their children. Our other aim is to expand, we want to get bigger.

Many other “modern” child heroes and heroines have been created in the past 70 years. Why do today’s children still know Pippi? Why is she timeless?

JH: In the case of Pippi I think she is very independent, strong and does her own thing. At the same time she has a very good heart and wants the best for everyone. I think it´s this combination that makes her so attractive. It works today as it has for many years.

Do the Pippi Longstocking stories connect generations?

JH: Yes, of course! My first childhood experience is of my mother reading the stories about Pippi to me all the time. I remember the smell of the old books and then I remember that she had scribbled in them. So, as a young girl, it was nice for me to see the scribbles my mother had made in the book when she was my age.

EPS: My mama also reads Pippi Longstocking to me and I like it very much. That’s why I am happy I won.

In 1999 Astrid Lindgren was voted the most popular Swedish person of the century. Why did people vote for her?

JH: At least four generations know her and have a relationship with her through her stories. She was also engaged in issues like children`s and animal´s rights. When she said something, people listened. She had a real big impact on society and still does.

Are there other places in Sweden that Lindgren fans should visit?

JH: Yes, they can go to Vimmerby, outside of Stockholm, where Astrid Lindgren was born – they can pass the house where she lived if they want. Astrid Lindgren`s World theme park is also there and that has many attractions.

ABU DHABI | UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

ABU DHABI | UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - EMIRATES PALACE HOTEL

Emirates Palace Hotel

The luxury hotel of superlatives

Big, bigger, biggest, the capital of the Emirates is familiar with superlatives. At the beginning of the 21st century with the construction of the 5-star Emirates Palace luxury hotel, Abu Dhabi aimed to go beyond comparison – the greatest ever.

The Emirates Palace is perhaps the most luxurious hotel in the world. A global landmark, the state-owned concern adorns the city skyline like an electrified Arabian Nights temple. Operated by the Kempinski Hotel Group, it plays hosts to international conferences, caters for the luxury holiday market and takes attentive care of state officials on important business in the UAE.

The opulence of the hotel offers guests the chance to live like a bona fide sheik. It’s rooms and suites are topped with domes made of marble and gold. It goes without saying that each of its splendidly comfortable three hundred rooms is equipped with the latest technology. What elevates the hotel into the world of the superlative though is the full-time butler on hand to provide for a guest’s every day need.

Like the UAE itself, the Emirates Palace is a reflection of current Oriental “life should be lived with style” attitudes. To stay there is to experience an atmosphere that exquisitely couples classic Arabic design with the type of eye-catching modernity one would expect from a regional economic powerhouse.

Hotel Manager meets Trainee

This piece brings together two people who live and breathe the hotel industry. Celia Brodhagen is in the early stages of her career; her awards put her in good stead should she wish to become the manageress of a luxury hotel one day. Holger Schroth, on the other hand, has already achieved what others can only dream of; he manages the Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi.

Mr. Schroth and Ms. Brodhagen

Holger Schroth (left)
For over 20 years, Holger Schroth has worked at various locations around the world for the Kempinski Hotel Group. He has been general manager of the Emirates Palace since May 2013.
www.kempinski.com/

Celia Brodhagen (right)
She is taking her first steps in the hotel business after recently completing an apprenticeship in Hotel Management at the InterContinental Berlin. This year she won the Berlin Youth Championship in the “Hotel Business” category for the second year running.

What fascinates you about working in the hotel industry?

Holger Schroth: No day is the same and this is no different at every hotel around the world. Furthermore, I enjoy the direct contact with people and due to my various professional postings I have been able to sample life in many different cultures. My family has also benefitted in this regard, especially my children who have grown up in an international environment.

Celia Brodhagen: I can only agree with Mr. Schroth. There really are no two days that are the same. What I like about my work at the hotel is the so-called “wow” effect, which happens often in the service department. For instance, when you surprise guests with small, unexpected gestures. When you see them leave with a smile, knowing they are likely to return because of something you all did together, it gives you a great deal of satisfaction.

Ms. Brodhagen, what were your first impressions of the Emirates Palace? What surprised you the most?

CB: First of all the size of the hotel! When your cab stops at the entrance, you can see immediately that its dimensions differ from most other hotels, which are generally standard. I was also very impressed with the furnishings and the hospitality of the employees, I felt welcomed from the moment I arrived.

HS: It is worth mentioning that you can only see one third of the hotel when you pull up, like Celia did, at the front. The hotel complex is actually extended downwards but to get that perspective and see its true dimensions you have to go around to the other side.
The Emirates Palace is rated the most luxurious hotel worldwide.

Mr. Schroth, what distinguishes your high-end luxury?

HS: For a start we are not concentrating on a single VIP guest. It’s often the case that we have many of this type of guest staying with us. On top of the state’s official visitors, athletes and sheikhs, we also have regular guests, except in high summer, who we treat with the same special care. In the hotels where I have previously worked we had maybe one or two VIP guests per week but rarely did their stays overlap. Here we have a considerable VIP presence daily, especially at the end of November when Formula 1 takes place in Abu Dhabi.

Which architectural highlights does the Emirates Palace offer?

HS: Firstly, the dimensions. It is a kilometer from one end of the hotel to the other. The beach itself is 1.3 kilometers in length. It’s the logistics though which are of particular interest to hoteliers because they are just so well thought out. State guests, for example, arrive on a different floor so they can keep themselves away from the public eye. Other guest areas in the hotel are planned in such a way that everyone can come and go as they please without compromising their privacy.

Handshake

How does the Emirates Palace reflect the life of Abu Dhabi/United Arab Emirates?

HS: In 2005 the Emirates Palace was built initially for state visitors of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) government; its luxury mirrors that of the Royal Family and political leaders. However, like everywhere, luxury is part of the normal city life as a whole. In this general context, the UAE takes pride in having and operating the Emirates Palace here in Abu Dhabi.

COPENHAGEN | DENMARK

COPENHAGEN | DENMARK - CYCLING AS PASSION

COPENHAGEN | DENMARK

I want to ride my bicycle...

...I want to ride it where I like (Queen)

Everyone rides his or her bike in Copenhagen, young and old, in sunshine, rain or snow. Cycling is part of everyday life in Copenhagen; 55 % of its inhabitants cycle to school or work. The Danish capital is a world leader in cycling; even taxis have carriers so that customers can take their bikes with them. The city serves as a model for many others and is behind an increasingly popular term to describe the adaptation of conditions to suit cyclists: “To Copenhagenize”.

One particular reason for this success story is strategic, cycle-friendly urban planning. The city has plenty of clearly designated cycle pathways and even has bicycle superhighways.
There is also a lot done to ensure the safety of cyclists. For example, cycle paths are separated from main roads by curbstones. According to surveys, the vast majority of Copenhageners ride bikes because it is easy, fast and cheap.

Overall, cycling means freedom and independence and can give the feeling of a direct connection with nature and people. These are just some of the reasons why cycling holidays are becoming more and more popular all over the world.

Bike enthusiast meets bike enthusiast

The two cycling enthusiasts met in the Ukraine in 2007 and have been friends ever since. It was Bjørn Harvig who inspired Fredy Gareis to undertake his bike trip from Tel Aviv to Berlin. Cycling is part of everyday life for both men. Their trips are all about leaving their comfort zone, being open with their own thoughts and meeting “unknown friends”.

Fredy Gareis and Bjørn Harvig

Fredy Gareis (left)
The journalist, born in Kazakhstan, came to Germany when he was 2 years old. In 2012, after time as a correspondent in Israel, he cycled from Tel Aviv to Berlin. He wrote a book about his experiences during the four-month trip - Tel Aviv – Berlin: Stories from a Thousand and One Streets.
www.fredygareis.com/

Bjørn Harvig (right)
He has been going on extended cycling holidays since he was 20 years old. His first book, The Apple Garden at Igor’s, tells the story of his six-month long cycling trip from Scandinavia through Russia and down to Iran. He has since published many travel books.
www.bjørnharvig.dk/

What is the reason for you doing exceptionally long and adventurous cycling tours?

Fredy Gareis: When you travel by bike it is easy to meet people, you have an instant connection. There is no need to build up trust like a journalist normally has to do. People think you are either harmless or an idiot for making such an effort: “They only use a bike because they don’t have a car”. So most of them are keen to talk to you.

Bjørn Harvig: You pass roads that tourists normally don’t see. When I arrive at a village, the bike is generally an attraction. In many places people actually want to leave and so they are happy that you have come to visit. What is really surprising to me is how people offer you their friendship without you asking for it. I call them my “unknown friends”.

What have you learnt about yourself during these long trips?

BH: That it’s not about the distance you travel or the speed you go. It’s about trying to focus on being where you are at that moment. Most of the time the things you really want to experience turn out not to be the greatest. It’s at places where you least expect it that something always happens. You learn to give yourself time to stop and get lost.

FG: The lesson I have learned is similar to the one a climber has to learn, too. You will get frustrated if you constantly look at the top. Step-by-step is the key.

How do you transfer your experiences into books?

FG: I keep a detailed written diary every day. The beauty is in the details and you have to make sure you don’t forget them.

BH: Same here. The diary is a lifesaver, too. The writing gets you through bad days because it gives you a sense of: “I am doing this because I hope to gather some stories that people might want to read”. Also, the stories become more precious to me through the diary. We don’t talk to presidents or politicians but to normal people that have never told their story before.

Would you say the number of bicycle travelers has increased in recent years?

BH: Yes, I think so. Many people don’t want to buy a package tour; they want to plan their trips themselves.

FG: I am not sure about this development. The number has increased but many plan their trip in a secure and technical way. GPS is getting bigger, but isn’t it about getting lost? I guess in the near future, with GPS so prevalent, there will be cycle trips that combine adventure and convenience. We never use GPS, we use paper maps. Technical progress is generally a good thing but overplanning can weaken the experience, it is no longer an adventure.

Regarding cycling, do you think one can compare Copenhagen to Berlin? Does Copenhagen live up to its name of “bicycle capital”?

Cyclists in Copenhagen

FG: We don’t have enough bike lanes in Berlin and the behavior on the roads is quite aggressive. But it is still a good city compared to many others. Copenhagen is way better though.

BH: In Copenhagen they try to make it easy for cyclists because everyone cycles. We have a superhighway through the city and at the red lights there are panels to rest your feet. Also, there are roofs above the traffic lights so you don’t get wet on rainy days. We also have rotating garbage cans so you can throw away your banana peel while riding. They do a lot. I guess we have earned the title “bicycle capital”.

MERRITT ISLAND | FLORIDA

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER | FLORIDA - SPACE TRAVEL

MERRIT ISLAND | SPACE CENTER

A ticket to outer space

Outer space has always fascinated humankind. It’s long been a dream of adventure seekers to fly into space and experience weightlessness. Since the beginning of the 21st century and the advent of space tourism, that dream has become a reality. Nowadays there are numerous ways to escape planet Earth - for people with a very healthy bank balance.

One can take a leisurely sub-orbital spacecraft trip. During the flight you reach a maximum altitude of approximately 100 kilometers above Earth, which is just at the edge of space and where you can experience a few minutes of weightlessness. A more authentic, exciting and certainly more expensive possibility is a space flight to the International Space Station (ISS). Space tourists can stay here for a few days and get to feel like Neil Armstrong must have felt when he first looked down on Earth. Wouldn’t he be surprised to know that in the future, we all might have the opportunity to take a small step on the moon for humankind?

If you are interested in space travel, the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida is the place to visit. You can stand nose-to-nose with the Space Shuttle Atlantis and become immersed in the world of true-to-life space flight. You’ll have the feeling that everything is possible – even a trip to Mars!

Astronaut meets space fan

For space fan Nicole Grabsch, a long-cherished dream came closer to reality when she met former NASA astronaut Jon McBride at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Kennedy Space Center, Florida. She was able to get answers to the numerous questions she has always had about space flight, including one that Jon probably gets asked on a frequent basis: “How do you go to the toilet in space?”

Jon McBrida and Nicole Grabsch

Jon McBride (left)
From a very early age, astronaut Jon McBride’s goal was to go to space. He started as a naval aviator and then followed the same path as heroes like Neil Armstrong. He is now retired but still works with the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex as a member of the Astronaut Encounter team.
www.kennedyspacecenter.com/

Nicole Grabsch (right)
Nicole Grabsch is a dental assistant who has always dreamed of reaching the stars. With her visit to the visitor complex she took one step closer to her aim of becoming a space tourist.

Mr. McBride, what was your greatest moment?

Jon McBride: My very first glimpse of planet Earth from space forty-five minutes after launch over Australia. I thought my heart was going to jump out of my chest.

What did you miss most about Earth when you were up there?

JM: I was too excited and pleased to be there (for a short period of time), so I did not miss much of anything.

How much of a possibility is space tourism?

JM: I see it happening in the next 10 – 20 years.

Will we be able to travel to space like we travel by plane from one place to another?

JM: That depends on how driven we (the USA) are. Do we have the leadership and desire to do it, like President Kennedy had? Or will we do it at all? We have actually received a proven return of 5 to 10 dollars for every dollar spent. So it’s not really a matter of cost; it’s a matter of initiative, determination and priorities.

Are orbital flights really space travel? (NASA has set the official outer space border at 100 kilometers.)

Nicole Grabsch: I don’t care if some think that this is not a real space flight. It is important to me that I can see planet Earth from above and I am interested in that experience.

Why do so many people want to be space tourists?

JM: It’s the excitement of it all, to be on the edge of our next frontier, low Earth orbit and beyond. If I had a discussion with you in 1915 and told you that I believed a man would stand on the moon before 1970, you would have called me a fool. I will say, today, that it’s not unreasonable to think that we colonize Mars during this century.

Do you know what happens on a space flight, Ms. Grabsch?

NG: I have read that you fly up with the carrier aircraft, to which you are connected, to a height of approximately 18 kilometers. At that point you undock. Then the rocket lights its engines for a few minutes. After that you are in space for about 15 minutes, five of which are in weightlessness. On the way back, there are 2 minutes of re-entry into the atmosphere and then it takes about an hour to get back to the takeoff and landing site.

What are the physical and psychological requirements for space travel?

JM: Not much for a sub-orbital flight besides reasonable health. For extended stays, you have to be in relatively good physical and mental condition. Size and strength aren’t as important as brainpower and logic.

Behind the scenes

Follow Nicole and our colleague Teresa around Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex!

Photo gallery

Please enable JavaScript.

MIAMI | FLORIDA

MIAMI | FLORIDA - LIFEGUARD ON MIAMI BEACH

Miami Beach

Life is a beach

The multicolored lifeguard towers on Miami Beach are one of the city’s landmarks. The stilt structures are lined up side-by-side from South Pointe Park to 85th Street and give the white, palm tree-lined beach a certain uniqueness.

Hurricane Andrew destroyed all the original lifeguard towers in 1992. Afterwards, the city engaged architects and designers to come up with concepts for new towers inspired by the Art Deco district in Miami Beach. The result was a series of iconic structures that come in all sizes, shapes and colors – with more added over the years. The towers, together with the warm water and year-round sunshine, make the beach a great place to spend time.

It is little wonder that lifeguard jobs are so highly sought after. The Miami Beach Ocean Rescue Team, consisting of approximately 100 lifeguards, has been rescuing beachgoers from their overconfidence or dangerous rip currents since 1990. However, anyone who expects a Baywatch scenario greatly underestimates the responsibilities and challenges of a lifeguard in the city of Miami.

Pool lifeguard meets beach lifeguard

Dirk Winkler and Jessica Höhnke are both water lovers and fond of their jobs. They often hear the words: “I would love to spend my holidays doing what you do”. However, their jobs carry a lot of responsibility, including being involved in matters of life and death. But is there any difference between a lifeguard job on Miami Beach and a pool attendant job in Schöneberg, Berlin?

Jessica and Dirk

Jessica Höhnke, pool attendant in Berlin (left)
Jessica was already giving swimming lessons by the time she was a school pupil. After studying hotel management, she completed further training as a specialist in public bathing facilities. Since then she has worked at a public swimming pool in Berlin, where she lifeguards and hosts a popular aqua fitness class.

Dirk Winkler, lifeguard on Miami Beach (right)
Dirk Winkler, who is originally from Leipzig, Germany, has been working for the Miami Beach Ocean Rescue Team for six years. He previously worked as a model in New York for 14 years. His work allows him enough free time to enjoy his family and his passion for surfing and kiteboarding.
www.miamibeachfl.gov/

What education or qualification is necessary for your jobs?

Dirk Winkler: There is no general training in the USA but the job is highly sought after and the competition is fierce. It is important to have a swimming background, to be fit and to pass the open water swimming test. Some of the lifeguards were Olympic swimmers or national water polo players in the past. There are only a few female lifeguards due to the high physical demands. Additionally, one needs EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) training, which is equivalent to that for a paramedic in Germany.

Jessica Höhnke: In Germany one has to complete three years of education as a specialist. This involves technical matters, first aid, special children‘s entertainment programs and also, for example, the teaching of aqua fitness. People who only want to work as a lifeguard at a public swimming pool for a season need to have a lifeguard certificate.

What are the most common situations where you have to come to the rescue?

JH: We have a lot of cuts from when guests slip and fall, or head wounds from the slide. In general we maintain order to avoid disputes between guests. The tone in Berlin’s public pools can be quite harsh sometimes.

DW: First of all there is the issue of overconfidence or underestimating the ocean. Many tourists from inland US or Europe are not familiar with the strong currents, the so-called “rip currents”, which can be dangerous even for experienced swimmers. I frequently have to treat burns caused by the Bluebottle jellyfish (Portuguese Man o’ war). Heart attacks also happen or people getting heat stroke.

Would you call what you do a dream job?

JH: Previously, I completed training in hotel management and found out pretty fast that this was not what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Now, I enjoy what I have; a diversified job in the public service sector with customer contact. I couldn’t imagine having an office job.

DW: I love the water and the weather, and my job as a lifeguard suits my lifestyle. I am flexible; in my free time I can go surfing and kiteboarding. On top of that, one can really save lives here but this also means great responsibility. Financially speaking it is not really a dream job but I am paid better than you would imagine.

Is your job at the beach anything like Baywatch?

DW: (laughs) The plots and incidents on Baywatch do generally resemble real life but if something really happens, then it’s serious and not suitable for TV.

Would you switch jobs?

DW: If I could afford the same lifestyle as I have here, I would move to the Baltic Sea where my family lives. This appeals to me particularly because my kids could attend school there, as I prefer the German education system. But I am used to living right by the ocean and having great weather – which wouldn’t work at the Baltic Sea.

JH: To work in Miami Beach for a season is something that appeals to me. However, the requirements for the ocean are not comparable, therefore it would be difficult.

Miami Beach Panorama
REYKJAVIK | ICELAND

REYKJAVIK | ICELAND - ERUPTION OF EYJAFJALLAJÖKULL

Eruption of Eyjafjallajökull

A cloud over Europe

Eyjafjallajökull is a glacier volcano (meaning completely covered by an ice cap) located on the south coast of Iceland, 160 km away from the capital Reykjavik. Its eruption in 2010 made headlines around the world after it created a gigantic ash cloud, which drifted across the European mainland. In the ensuing chaos, more than 100,000 flights were cancelled and millions of travelers were stranded at airports worldwide.

These days, Eyjafjallajökull rises peacefully above the surrounding yellowish-green farmland that at the time was covered in a blanket of grey ash. A nearby museum, founded by an affected farmer, displays various images and items from the time of the eruption. It sells ash from Eyjafjallajökull in small jars.

These act as a poignant reminder that travel doesn’t always have to be about escaping our daily lives, it can also offer us the opportunity to educate ourselves about things and events that have a profound impact on them.

This is something you will understand on a trip to Eyjafjallajökull – if, of course, another eruption doesn‘t prevent you from catching a flight to Iceland.

Singing guide meets pilot

The pair experienced the Eyjafjallajökull ash cloud in different ways – one from the air, another from the ground. Helmut Kunz was the first pilot to undertake a nerve-jangling test flight through the ash cloud, while Arndis Halla walked through the thick layer of ash that covered Iceland.

Arndis Halla and Dr. Helmut Kunze

Arndis Halla (left)
A native of Iceland, Arndis Halla (left) lived in Berlin for 18 years where she was succesful new-classic singer and enthused during touring with the Show APASSIONATA over 4 Million people. She moved back home in 2012 and beside creating music she still works as a tour giude. In 2014 she published the album "Istónar", which was inspired by the untouched and fascinating landscape of Iceland.
www.arndishalla.is

Dr. Helmut Kunz (right)
Helmut Kunz has worked as a pilot for airberlin since 1987. He never wanted to do anything else, which is evident in the many drawings of planes he made as a young child. By the age of 14 he had graduated from glider school and that was the first step toward his present job, which he loves because it offers him, in his words, an everlasting place in the sun.

Which of your two jobs is closest to your heart Mrs. Halla?

Arndis Halla: Both, they go hand in hand. Music and acting are elements of my tours. I often sing to my guests because the landscape inspires me and encourages me musically.

Mr. Kunz, you have been a pilot at airberlin for 27 years. What is the best thing about your job?

Helmut Kunz: The best part is the sunny workspace I have above the clouds, where you have spectacular sunrises and sunsets. This is the reason why I love my job.

Did you ever fly over a volcano?

HK: I once flew over Mount Etna en route to Catania. It was a very impressive sight, I was able see the lava streams. A glance into the crater whilst in the air just takes your breath away; everything is intensely orange and red in color.

How did you experience the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull?

AH: I was living in Germany when the volcano erupted. I heard a lot about it through media coverage. I saw the ash myself when I went to Iceland a few weeks later, there was a thick layer of it everywhere.

HK: I perceived the ash cloud as very thin like cirrostratus, although extremely dense at a certain flight altitude.

Eyjafjallajökull caused unprecedented chaos in European air space. Mr. Kunz, you flew the first test flight through the ash cloud?

HK: There was a flight ban that at the time was already into its third day. airberlin has made some measurements and thought the cloud was safe for air traffic. In order to prove this, we decided to conduct a test flight. The whole aviation world had its eyes on our test flight. We started in Düsseldorf and flew all over Germany because that’s how far the ash cloud had travelled. The atmosphere was a little bit tense but also very mystical because we were the only plane in the sky. After the flight we checked the Airbus thoroughly and found the ash had caused no damage.

Mrs. Halla, do you offer visits to the volcano?

AH: On certain tours I pass the volcano and visit the farmer who lives directly beneath it. He engaged a camera crew at that time to document everything. You can see this film at the museum he opened, which also has numerous still images of the dust that covered the area.

At the volcano, what emotions do tourists display?

AH: Humility towards nature and a fascination with its power. There is general astonishment and mostly the question of how we in Iceland deal with the fear of another eruption.

Now we are right here looking at the volcano, how do you feel about it?

HK: Just seeing the present day, peaceful, dormant volcano that created such fuss and chaos back then brings indescribable emotions.

Arndis Halla and Dr. Helmut Kunze
IBIZA | SPAIN

IBIZA | SPAIN - HIPPY MARKET PUNTA ARABI

Hippy Market

Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair

Ibiza has well-established links with hippies. The island’s beauty, mild climate and liberal outlook attracted them in the 60s, and many remain to this day. During the time of General Franco’s fascist regime, which began in 1936, Ibiza gained a reputation as a retreat for artists and free spirits. By the 1960s, it had become Europe’s San Francisco. Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell were among the creative individuals attracted by its open-minded atmosphere. In later years Ibiza became a wild party scene with trance gatherings in the mountains and long nights at clubs like Pacha and Amnesia.

Around about the same time hippie markets began to emerge on the island. In 1973, the Es Cana market, located in the garden of the hotel club Punta Arabi, opened for the first time. Hippies used it to sell handicrafts and products from all over the world. What started back then with just 5 stalls has now turned into an Ibiza hotspot with over 500 stalls. Held every Wednesday from Easter until October, the Punta Arabi Hippy Market, as it is now called, has become a must-see for visitors to the island.

Female designer meets designer for females

Once a week, tourists and locals flock to Ibiza’s Punta Arabi Hippy Market and the flea market in Berlin’s Mauerpark. Elisabeth Hornung and Guno Blinker each have a stall at these respective markets where they make part of their living selling the clothes they have designed. When the two met at Punta Arabi their conversation turned to fashion as a means of expression and fair manufacturing conditions.

Ibiza Ambassador and Host

Elisabeth Hornung (left)
The daughter of Hungarian immigrants came to Ibiza from Swabia (Germany) at the end of the 1970s. For the past 30 years she sold her designer clothes at the Punta Arabi Hippy Market. She also owns a small shop in San Carlos.
www.lolipopibiza.com

Guno Blinker (right)
The Dutch fashion designer, originally from Suriname, founded his own fashion label Gu-BEE in Berlin a few years ago. He has been selling his designer wear at the Mauerpark every Sunday since 2007. He also has a studio just around the corner from this famous Berlin landmark.
www.gubee.de

What brought you to Ibiza and Berlin?

Elisabeth Hornung: As a child I loved to thumb through travel brochures and dreamt of distant countries. When I visited a friend in Ibiza in 1975, the flower power atmosphere really impressed me. So I spontaneously made paper flowers out of tissues and sold them at the hippy market. A few years after that, I returned to Ibiza with my boyfriend and then 5-year old son, and stayed. To this day, the free atmosphere here still captivates me.

Guno Blinker: When I was still living in the Netherlands, I fell in love with a German. After conducting a long distance relationship for about a year, I moved to Berlin. I like it a lot, especially because it is so multicultural and open-minded.

How did you get involved in fashion?

GB: I have 7 sisters, so I already knew as a small boy which style looks good and which doesn’t. I was fascinated by femininity and fashion for women, which is why I studied fashion design at the Academy of Fine Arts in Groningen. In 2002, I founded my own fashion label Gu-BEE.

EH: I kind of inherited a sense of fashion from my mother who worked at a textile company. I discovered my own creativity early on and began designing my first dresses when I was 11 years old. It would be boring for me though to just do fashion design, I also need the contact I get with customers at the market and my shop. Very important to me also is the challenge and adventure of realizing my own production in foreign countries and with different tribes there.

How would you describe your design style and who are your customers?

EH: I always say that my style is inspired by fairy tales and adventures, and by my own life as a child of the flower power movement. I have a wide variety of customers – ranging from the young vacationing girl to the rich and famous. the duchess of alba has been a frequent customer and 50% of all my clients visit me every year to check out the new collection.

GB: My designs are a mix of street and club wear. They are colorful and have a feminine feel. You could say that my customers are female individualists who want to dress extravagantly. However, my pieces are also suitable for everyday wear.

Where are your fashions produced?

GB: My items are produced in my own studio in Berlin and I hope to keep it that way. It helps that I am not producing a big collection every year but rather small fashion lines in small quantities.

EH: I produce my collection in winter, when the market is closed, with the help of my business partners in Thailand, Indonesia and India. I have a permanent place in their calendars and my collection represents the majority of their income. It is important to me that my partners are paid fair wages and have good work conditions. I contribute financially to the education of my workers’ children because education is the most important thing after all.

MOSCOW | RUSSIA

MOSCOW | RUSSIA - THE UNIQUE TRAIN CALLED ZARENGOLD

Restaurant Zarengold

The legend of the Trans-Siberian Railway

The legend of the Trans-Siberian Railway has grown since its construction in 1891. At 9,288 kilometers, it’s the longest direct railway connection in the world. It is Russia’s main transportation axis, linking Moscow with Vladivostok and the Far East. For many people a journey on the Trans-Siberian railway to the Pacific is one of the last great travel adventures in the world - an unbeatable journey of endless impressions.

A trip on the unique Zarengold train is one of the most popular among tourists. It travels all the way from Moscow to Beijing. During the journey people are taken back to the time of the tsars via lectures about culture and ethnology, typical meals and drinks, and numerous excursions. All the while they can enjoy panoramic views of places like Lake Baikal and Mongolia.

Restaurant manager meets chief tour guide

This is not the first meeting between Dietmar Ebert and Oleg Morozov. The two have hosted numerous travel groups from Moscow to China and back on the Zarengold. Quite often the moments that they see each other on these two-week journeys can be counted on the fingers of one hand. Most of the time they are too busy looking after their travelers around the clock.

Mr. Morozov and Mr. Ebert

Oleg Morozov (left)
Oleg Morozov is restaurant manager on the Zarengold. He started on the train as a hardworking kitchen assistant 15 years ago and worked his way up to his current position. He is from the greater Moscow area and has two daughters.

Dietmar Ebert (right)
Dietmar Ebert is a passionate traveller who turned his hobby into his profession. The freelance East Asia scientist has been chief tour guide for the Lernidee travel agency on the Zarengold for a number of years.
www.lernidee.de

What is the story behind the name Zarengold?

Dietmar Ebert: The last three Russian tsars had the Trans-Siberian Railway built 100 years ago and also inaugurated it. However, after the revolution in 1917 they weren’t able to use the route anymore. It was then mainly Bolsheviks/Communists who used the Trans-Siberian Railway to travel around the country and propagate their politics. Ultimately, we are using the name Zarengold to describe the time of origin and its special aura.

It is said that on the Zarengold people travel like the “red tsars” of the Soviet era. How is this nostalgia expressed?

DE: The authenticity is nostalgic. The train and its furnishing are still original, as is the way of traveling. This way of traveling is nostalgic because it doesn‘t exist anymore. The typical local and traditional dishes that we offer in our restaurants are also authentic. However, contrasting with this nostalgia are the cities that we visit. Nowadays they are very modern. This contrast is also a special feature of this journey.Many travelers rave about the impressive landscapes and the cordial care.

What, according to you, do guests enjoy the most?

DE: Most guests are delighted with a bath in Lake Baikal, that is always well received. But our lectures about regional studies and culture, as well as the themed events around vodka, caviar and dressed herring are also very popular with travelers – be they Germans, Americans or Brazilians.

Oleg Morozov: Many thank us for our cordiality. It’s in our blood. We want to please our guests, after all.

Zarengold cabin

Where do guests sleep on the train?

DE: The Zarengold train offers many different categories, from own bathrooms to communal showers to quad cabins. However, space is always limited because the cabin size of 6–7 square meters is relatively small. Usually, everyone is comfortable.

OM: I agree with that. We employees also often share a cabin and we feel always a little like at home.

Also the staff is exposed to special conditions. How are Russians, Germans, Mongolians and Chinese working together? What do they appreciate about each other?

DE: What I appreciate about the Russians is their almost proverbial hospitality, which is very special. I barely work with the Mongolians but from a purely business point of view the collaboration is excellent. Chinese top them even with regard to business collaboration.

OM: It is very important that we work extremely well together; I have already found some friends in the team. If we didn’t work well together the guests would sense it and we would not be able to satisfy them. We therefore work hand-in-hand.

SANKT PETERSBURG | RUSSIA

SANKT PETERSBURG | RUSSIA - THE STATE HERMITAGE MUSEUM

Hermitage, St. Petersburg

The Hermitage - endless art

With its 5 million inhabitants St. Petersburg is, after Moscow, the second biggest city in Russia and the northernmost metropolis in the world. The historical city center with its 2,300 palaces, majestic buildings, castles, museums and galleries make this city along the Neva River a magnet for art enthusiasts.

The Hermitage is the most visited and prestigious exhibition complex worldwide. It is up there with the most significant art museums of the world. The hard facts are overwhelming: its five buildings house more than 60,000 exhibits, displayed in more than 350 rooms. There are also a further three million items in the museum’s archive. The Winter Palace, where the majority of the collection is exhibited, is therefore a global attraction.

The list of artists whose works are on display at the Hermitage is very impressive. It includes artists such as Rembrandt, Rubens, Matisse and Gauguin, plus pieces by undeniable geniuses like Leonardo da Vinci and Pablo Picasso.

The Hermitage began placing special focus on Contemporary Art in 2001. Later in 2012, director Mikhail Piotrovsky established the Contemporary Art Department. Since then visitors have been captivated by modern exhibitions such as Newspeak: British Art Now, featuring modern British art from the Saatchi Collection and Antony Gormley‘s Still Standing: A Contemporary Intervention in the Classical Collection.

Photo artist meets curator

There is plenty to talk about when two art enthusiasts meet who have turned their passions into professions. This is an interview about inspiration, vision and a lifetime‘s ambition of seeing everything the Hermitage has to offer.

Mr. Goedicke and Mrs. Dr. Lopatkina

Claus Goedicke (left)
The photographer is originally from Cologne and studied nearby at the well-known Kunstakademie Düsseldorf. The list of his solo and group exhibitions is extensive; his work has been shown, among others, in Paris, London, Madrid and Berlin. He draws his inspiration from everywhere and anything - the attic and basement, something as slow as a snail or fast as a lightning flash.

Dr. Ekaterina Lopatkina (right)
The art historian is Chief Curator and Deputy Director for Contemporary Art at the Hermitage. She has organized more than 30 shows, including Jake and Dinos Chapman, Annie Leibovitz and Anish Kapoor. Her specific areas of interest are female artists, installations and the early history of Western Contemporary Art in Russia.
www.hermitagemuseum.org

What brought you into the art world?

Claus Goedicke: I wanted to be a downhillskiing racer when I was a child. Luckily, on my 16th birthday my parents gave me a camera as a present. From that moment on I was dedicated to photography. It became a habit to see the world through a lens.

Ekaterina Lopatkina: I didn’t have any idea what I wanted to be when I grew up, just something original. I was very young when I visited the Hermitage for the first time with my school class. In those days, as a child, you weren’t allowed to sit down on the floor. So what I remember is this awful pain in my legs (laughs). I then decided to study History of Art; I came back here and loved it.

What are the qualities of ‘good art’?

EL: Both the idea and the implementation of the idea are very important. Good art has to touch and inspire you. For example, the works of the Russian conceptional artist and poet Dmitri Prigow are very unusual. His drawings and installations combine the world of Soviet reality with a fantasy world. He lived in Germany for a while, by the way.

CG: For me, a good piece of art should be like stepping into Alice’s Through the Looking Glass. On the other side of the mirror I want to find a world that is new to me, one that touches me. And the most important thing: that it’s not me!

Mr. Goedicke, you often photograph everyday objects such as jars or food but you also do landscapes and portraits. How would you describe your work?

CG: I like to have a very clear view of the subjects I photograph, avoiding anything where it is necessary to search for the idea. I prefer a straight approach, which also helps the viewer.

Hermitage, St. Petersburg

How should one plan their visit to the Hermitage? How much time is needed to see everything?

EL: When I started working here in 2006, people told me that you need about 10 years to see everything. Now, I’ve been working here about that amount of time and I still haven’t seen it all. Maybe you need 20 years? There is just so much to see – so many objects, so many countries to travel to in your imagination and so many periods of time united in one place. My recommendation would be not to plan, just follow your nose and find something interesting and precious.

CG: Honestly, since I’d never been here before, I spent hours thinking about how to organize my visit. But in the end I think the best thing to do is to stroll around the museum to get an impression of what they have collected over the last centuries.

Mrs. Lopatkina, what is your vision for the museum over the next 10 years?

EL: The Hermitage only started exhibiting Contemporary Art in 2001 with a Louise Bourgeois show; and our department was only founded in 2012. It was very rare prior to that to see Contemporary Art here in the way those in the West would understand it. Nowadays we have a vision of showing everything that happened in art over the past 50 years, specifically photography, architecture, sculpture, installations and drawings. Personally, I dream of having a Sophie Calle exhibition.

PRAGUE | CZECH REPUBLIC

PRAGUE | CZECH REPUBLIC - THE RETURN OF GAS LIGHTING

Charles Bridge

GAS LIGHTING FLICKERS BACK TO LIFE

The Charles Bridge in Prague is one of the oldest bridges of the world, the symbol of the Golden City and the only one in the world with gas lamps. Built in the 14th century, this tourist attraction across the Vltava River connects the city’s historical Old Town with the Lesser Town (Malá Strana).

Until 1985 the bridge was lit by gas with every lamp having to be individually lit before the entire bridge was illuminated. This was a unique spectacle, which contributed greatly to the romantic atmosphere of the bridge. The city then changed to electric lighting for 25 years, but with the help of German engineering from Berlin, gas lighting once again returned to Charles Bridge. Nowadays, the lightning of the gas lamps is managed centrally, but upon request it is possible to get the lamps lit manually.

When visiting Prague, tourists should not miss the unique Gas Museum Praha, which attracts many visitors each year. It is a small, privately owned museum and the only one of its kind in the Czech Republic. It deals with the history of the gas industry and there are interesting, historical exhibits such as a gas-powered washing machine or a gas-powered head warmer.

MUSEUM DIRECTOR MEETS REGIONAL CITY MANAGER

Whether it is to make citizens feel secure or to enhance the wonder of certain tourist sites, proper lighting undoubtedly increases the attractiveness of public areas. This is a meeting between two lighting experts who discuss the future of their field. Let there be light, and if it’s gas light, all the better!

Mr. Žákovec and Mrs. Wiesenhütter

Jan Žákovec
The director of the Gas Museum was born in the Czech capital city and has lived there his whole life. He studied chemistry, with particular focus on the gas industry. He has been employed at the Prague gas works since 1989.

Silke Wiesenhütter
The Regional City Manager of Berlin City West was born in East Berlin and studied urban planning. The primary focus of her work for Berlin City West is business development, networking and communal consultation.

In your opinion, what is the significance of light?

Silke Wiesenhütter: Light stands for seeing: it helps you to find your way, to orientate yourself. Light also has an emotional meaning, which is often underestimated. Light means atmosphere, to feel safe, especially in public areas where the right lighting contributes to a feeling of comfort and security.

Jan Žákovec: Light is life, without it humans would not be able to live in comfort. We shouldn’t forget though that sometimes humans have a longing for darkness too, especially in cities that are always illuminated.

Gas lighting was abolished in Prague in 1985, but re-introduced to some areas of
the city in 2010. Why?

JZ: Gas lighting is more expensive and labor-intensive so it can’t compete with electric lighting. The only exceptions are historic districts and buildings, for example, the Charles Bridge or those in the old town of Prague. The gas lighting there creates a unique atmosphere, which wouldn’t be possible if electric lighting was used.

Light also creates a special atmosphere in Berlin. What was the aim of the Pearls of Light project?

SW: The primary objective was to upgrade public areas and in doing so increase the number of visitors. As part of the project, three railway bridges were equipped with unique LED light installations. The result was that places, which up until that point were usually avoided after dark, became spaces with a unique and pleasant atmosphere. LEDs have higher investment costs but they pay off in the end because of their low power consumption and longer service life.

Mr. Žákovec, you act as a voluntary lamp lighter dressed in a historical uniform. When can people watch you doing this?

JZ: During the pre-Christmas season I perform this activity for tourists and other interested parties. Those who are interested in doing so can have a go at lighting the lamps themselves. They have to turn the gas lighter at the top of the lamp on and off with a long bar.

Mr. Žákovec as lamp lighter in historical uniform

Gas lighting or LED lighting, which is the light of the future?

SW: Both. Gas lighting aligns closer with the basic human need for warmth and safety; the light creates a very unique atmosphere. Gas lighting will also be used intensively in historic city districts in the future. In comparison, LED is the light technology of the future; many challenges can be mastered with it. I say this not only with regard to energy efficiency and environmental protection, but also because nowadays it has a wider color spectrum.

JZ: We can compare the situation to that of our personal lives: we use the latest technologies but at the same time we appreciate antiques and old paintings. There are justifications for both of these things and it is the same for lighting in public areas.

CHICAGO | USA

CHICAGO | USA - STREET ART IN CHICAGO

Chicago graffiti

Believe the hype

While wandering through the streets of Berlin, Chicago or any big city, you will notice street art in the form of posters, stickers, murals and graffiti. It comes in all different shapes and colors and can be found on places like lampposts, buildings, trains or subway entrances. Some people think that street art is a blemish on public space, but others are convinced it makes a strong contribution to the general atmosphere of a city. In fact, some neighborhoods such as Kreuzberg in Berlin are considered hip due to the variety of their street art.

Ever since the street art mockumentary, ‘Exit Through the Gift Shop’ featuring big names like Banksy and Shepard Fairey, street art has gained a growing fan base. Without doubt there are some extremely talented people out there catering to this audience. Billy Craven, a street artist and screen printer, is one such person. He is pushing the art form’s agenda from his gallery base in Chicago. His goal is to give street artists a venue where they can showcase their talent on a local, national and international level.

Chicago is the third biggest city in the US and is considered as an important commercial hub. It also has a lively theater and museum scene, as well as being home to some fascinating street art. The authorities in the city still take a dim view of graffiti, however, three-dimensional street art made with a variety of materials is more and more tolerated.

Gallery owner meets street artist

Although Berlin and Chicago do not have much in common at first glance, both cities have a very active and evolving street art scene. Siegurd and Billy are both street artists who are inspired by the vibrancy of city life. Here they conduct a passionate conversation about art, and in particular, their version of it.

Billy Craven and Siegurd Gumz

Billy Craven (left)
The 52 year-old artist was born in San Diego, California. His father worked for the US Navy, so he spent his childhood traveling all over the US & Hawaii. As an adult he has lived in New York and Los Angeles. In 2012, he and his partner established the print-based Galerie F in Chicago.
www.galerief.com

Siegurd Gumz (right)
The 35 year-old from Berlin is at heart a street artist but makes his living as a graphic designer. All he needs to be truly happy is acrylic paint, cardboard, scissors and paste. He draws his inspiration from his immediate surroundings. His motto is: You have to keep your eyes open but also dream from time to time.
www.canion.de/

How did you get into street art?

Billy Craven: I have never been to art school or had anyone mentor me; my passion just comes from day-to-day observation. I have never bonded over normal, guy activities like jogging or soccer, generally I have always preferred to observe my surroundings and do solo things.

Siegurd Gumz: I was always fascinated with colors and tried out everything to do with that topic. This is the path that eventually led me to street art, which I found I enjoyed once I discovered it.

Do you also like art in the more traditional sense?

SG: I love impressionism. You can’t reach the human soul in a more thorough way than with colors and shapes. Artists such as Edgar Degas and Pierre-Auguste Renoir, but also Caspar David Friedrich, have always been my role models. Later on, graffiti artists such as Seen, Duster and T-Kid became my role models as well.

BC: I love it and I think it is very important to remember it because there is no present without the past. But as much as I like museums, the point is that I cannot engage with the art there. I cannot touch it and generally there is no personal relationship between the artist and myself, which is what I strive for with my gallery.

Mr. Gumz, how would you describe your own style?

SG: I definitely lean towards a more comic style. I believe that art should be positive; all these pieces with skulls and dead animals don’t show an artist’s positive attitude towards life. My art smiles from time to time and should be taken as fun. It is not my intention at all to convey a political message - my art is the message.

Mr. Craven, do you also travel to view street art? If so, how do you plan your trips?

BC: First my family and I agree on a destination. Once that is decided, I look for galleries and street artist in the neighborhood we will be staying in. I am always excited about going somewhere new because to me discovering street art feels like a scavenger hunt, you have to know how to read the signs. I recommend people visit Los Angeles and also Detroit, which is the street art capital of the world right now, I believe.

What is special about Galerie F?

BC: Galerie F is a space for all street art lovers – artists and fans alike. It is print heavy and focuses on screen print and letterpress. Our specialties are gig posters and art prints from local artists, theatres and movie houses.

Do you think the hype around current street art has any influence on the tourism industry?

SG: Yes, certainly in the case of Berlin, I think that the omnipresence of street art attracts visitors. Artists such as El Bocho, XOOOOX or Evol live and work there, and Banksy has created a presence in that city. So I can well imagine that young tourists would rather go and see an original Banksy than go shopping with their parents.

BC: We are currently working on a Chicago street art hand-out map because there are more and more lovers of it coming here from all over the world that are interested in where to find what. Street artists like Banksy or Shepard Fairey have made it accessible and acceptable to a broader audience. This has helped the art form and the industry behind it to grow, and this is a totally good thing.

TOKYO | JAPAN

TOKYO | JAPAN - JAPANESE CONFECTIONERY

Japanese confectionery

Wagashi - Art for the five senses

Wagashi are traditional, high-quality Japanese confectionaries made solely from natural, plant-based products such as beans, rice, sugar and seaweed. Nuts, seeds, blossoms and fruit enhance their flavor and also provide a special aroma.

Wagashi evolved into an art form during the time when Kyoto was the imperial capital of Japan. They developed initially as part of the tea ceremony, which was formalized in the sixteenth century. Their purpose was to compensate for the slightly bitter flavor of the powdered green Matcha tea.

There are currently about 80,000 Wagashi confectioners in Japan. Among them are many masters of their craft, who combine exceptional creativity with high-level technical ability. They apply their skills not only to the taste of their Wagashi but also to their presentation in terms of design, choice of colors and decoration.

Each Wagashi is a depiction of natural beauty, such as a fish in clear river water or stars in the night sky. A host can show off their cultural knowledge by choosing Wagashi that fit the season.

Creative director meets creative chef

This meeting is between two culinary perfectionists who are devoted to bringing Japanese tradition into the here and now. They both attach great importance to respect for our limited natural resources, the use of seasonal ingredients and an aesthetic that is pure and clear.

Kaoru Iriyama and Shinichiro Ogata

Kaoru Iriyama (left)
Kaoru Iriyama was born in Tokyo and moved to Berlin in 1998 to study. She received her degree in political science but quickly realized that her real passion is cooking. She owns her own catering company and gives cooking classes during which she teaches guests her modern interpretation of Japanese cuisine.

Shinichiro Ogata (right)
Born in Nagasaki Prefecture, Shinichiro Ogata established his award-winning design studio Simplicity in 1998. His aim is to redefine Japanese culture and design a concept of it for the next generation. To this end, he has developed his own establishments, including the Japanese dining club and tea house Yakumo Saryo, the Japanese confectionery brand HIGASHIYA and the product line S[es].
www.higashiya.com/en/

What is so special about Japanese sweets?

Kaoru Iriyama: Wagashi are traditionally offered with a cup of green tea and not as a dessert item on the menu like you would find in Germany. Japanese confectionaries are often highly sweetened to neutralize the bitter flavor of the green tea or even to emphasize it. The ingredients for the confectionaries are simple and they are designed in a very filigree way, particularly for the tea ceremony.

Shinichiro Ogata: The culture of Wagashi derives from the Japanese mentality that enjoys and cherishes the four seasons and the variation of nature. It used to be a deeply rooted part of our culture, however, recently the idea of the neighborhood Wagashi shop has faded away from our everyday lives. People now tend to see Western sweets as the norm and Wagashi only as confectioneries for special occasions or celebratory gifts. We want to reverse this development.

What are your favorite childhood sweets? Are they associated with any specific memories?

SO: I like Manju, which is a Japanese sweet bun. When I walk through our shop ‘HIGASHIYA man’, I remember the steam and the smell from my childhood. Buying a Manju back then was a treat, a sensual experience.

KI: Mine is Ohagi, a mochi rice ball with a thick azuki paste. My grandmother made them twice a year. I fondly recall her working lovingly with the ingredients. My grandmother’s Ohagi were made of, and smelled like, beans and rice but they weren’t as sweet as the ones you could buy in a store. I can also make Ohagi but they don’t taste the same as my grandmother’s.

What does Japanese culinary culture mean to you?

KI: My master Hirohisa Koyama in Tokyo taught me that it is the duty of chefs to keep every ingredient alive and to use it with respect. So I try to teach my guests and students the same conscious attitude towards ingredients. I like to explain that we have to make an effort to highlight the natural taste of all ingredients, instead of drowning things in spices and sauces.

SO: Japanese culture is indispensable in a world seeking balance between humankind and nature. I continually strive to express this in my own way through food, tableware and space. I want to bring traditional Japanese aesthetic senses into the present day and make them a part of our daily lives.

How can we improve our diet here in Germany?

KI: Allow me to say that Germans are eating healthier nowadays but they still eat way too much and there is too much monotony attached to food. In Japan all dishes are served as small portions and are more versatile. This so-called ‘a little bit of everything’ automatically gives us a well-balanced meal.

What role do sustainability and seasonal ingredients play for your work?

KI: As far as possible I try to only use ingredients that can be obtained in Berlin. Of course, I still miss some typical Japanese ingredients but I am also discovering unknown ingredients such as parsnips or sauerkraut. One can cook Japanese with these.

SO: I think we need to learn how to live and co-exist with the limited resources we have on our planet. This is why I designed a line of paper tableware called WASARA, which can be recycled back into nature after use, since it is 100% biodegradable and compostable. With regards to food, all of our sweets are seasonal.

FUERTEVENTURA | SPAIN

FUERTEVENTURA | SPAIN - CLUB HOLIDAY

Fuerteventura ROBINSON Club Jandia Playa

All-inclusive at 'Le Club'

The founder of club-type holidays was a Belgian called Gérard Blitz. His original blueprint was a resort he called ‘Le Club’, which catered for 2,300 holidaymakers housed in army tents pitched in a pine forest in Alcúdia, Majorca. The concept of group vacations in a warm southern European climate was developed further when Blitz teamed up with Frenchman Gilbert Trigano, who had provided the tents for Le Club. Using Le Club idea, the pair created ‘Club Méditerranée’ (Club Med) and opened a second club in 1954 in Italy based on this concept. These tented resorts that focused on getting close to nature and sporting activity proved a major success.

Club holidays are still popular today, although they have undergone a few changes since their formation. For a start the tents have gone, which is probably a good thing now that you can enjoy winter club holidays. Also, since the 1960s and the opening of a Club Med resort in Tahiti, holidaymakers are able to enjoy group vacations at various locations around the world. However, in its present form, a club holiday still models itself on that original Le Club all-inclusive resort, only these days there is no doing you own washing, and all gastronomic and leisure needs are taken care of.

Over the years other companies, including Aldiana and ROBINSON Club, have also established themselves in this sector. These organizations, along with Club Med, are among Europe’s leading club vacation operators.

Club Manager meets loyal guest

ROBINSON Club manager Tom Pick meets frequent guests Rosemarie and Rainer Rehnisch. The couple has been coming to the first ROBINSON club Jandia Playa for over 40 years, since it opened, and has an amicable relationship with the staff who welcome them with open arm on each visit.

Mr. Pick and Mr. and Mrs. Rehnisch

Tom Pick (left)
Tom Pick was born and raised in Hesse but ROBINSON has been his home for more than 20 years. He manages the ROBINSON Club Jandia Playa in Fuerteventura, where he lives with his wife Zuzanna and their daughter Vanda. He is a passionate chef who often cooks for club guests. He enjoys taking motorcycle trips as part of maintaining a good work/life balance.
www.robinson.com/jandia-playa

Mr. and Mrs. Rehnisch (middle & right)
In 1973, on their 10th wedding anniversary the couple stayed at the ROBINSON Club Jandia Playa in Fuerteventura for the first time. Now into their well-earned retirement, they have been loyal visitors to the club for decades.

How did you come to ROBINSON?

Tom Pick: After my apprenticeship I submitted an application to ROBINSON. At that time they were looking for personnel for their food & beverage department. I didn’t know anything about ROBINSON, the only thing I knew was that they had an office in Frankfurt. I went there and knocked on their door and asked whether they had received my application. They laughed and showed me an enormous pile of applications. We placed mine on top of the pile and three months later, in 1987, I started working at Club Jandia Playa.

Rosemarie Rehnisch: My sister put the idea in our heads. She visited Club Jandia Playa with her husband in 1971, the year that it opened. However, she actually advised us against going because she thought that because we were young we might not enjoy the club, which is quite secluded and away from everything else. However, we liked the sound of it, so we took our first trip to the Club Jandia Playa in 1973 on our 10th wedding anniversary. We also spent our golden wedding anniversary here and have celebrated many other anniversaries at various ROBINSON resorts.

Mr. Pick, do many anniversary guests come to your club?

TP: Yes, many of our guests celebrate milestones here like birthdays, wedding anniversaries or other important personal dates because they get hands-on service and feel well looked after. We adjust to the preferences of each guest and individualize their special day.

What is so special about the ROBINSON concept?

TP: The great thing about ROBINSON is the communication amongst everyone. Nobody remains anonymous, guests get to know each other and employees mingle with them and get them involved in things. This is why people such as Rolli and Rainer come once and then come again and again. Many guests build friendships and arrange to meet others at the club at a certain time each year.
Rainer Rehnisch: The sense of community is something very special. The concept is such that 6 to 8 guests sit at a table for every meal. In this way you always get to know new guests and it is never dull.

How has Jandia Playa developed over the years?

RaR: Nowadays, the number of guests has tripled and the whole club has gotten bigger. Back in the beginning, it was a small family but now it is a big one. I remember that back then there weren’t any self-service buffets, the food was served at every table. If a table of 6 wasn’t fully occupied, it wasn’t served and so guests were encouraged to come together.

Do you still remember how you were welcomed on your arrival?

RaR: In the past, arrival and departure were only on Mondays. We all arrived on the same day, addressed each other impersonally and were one big group.

RaR: There was a sign in reception that displayed the arrival times of new guests on this Monday. We were asked to come to the reception at these times to welcome the new guests.

TP: Nowadays there is no need for Rolli and Reiner to introduce themselves, they are welcomed by name.

Interview
BUENSO AIRES | ARGENTINA

BUENOS AIRES | ARGENTINA – MULTICULTURE

Buenos Aires

The Paris of South America

The capital city of Argentina is a mix of architectural styles: Colonial, Art Deco, Art Nouveau, Neo-Gothic and French Bourbon. It is the neo-baroque architecture, however, that has often led it to be referred to as the Paris of South America.

All of this is down to immigration; a third of the country’s inhabitants live in the capital and most of them have ancestors from Italy, Spain, Germany and France. After independence in 1816, these ancestors rejected Spanish culture and drew inspiration from styles prevalent in other European countries. It is little wonder then that a stroll through the streets of Buenos Aires is like walking through Barcelona, Paris, or any major European city.

In addition to its architectural diversity, the city has a rich cultural life. It has the highest concentration of theaters in the world and there are many museums, orchestras, libraries and bookstores. A dream come true for every lover of culture.

One interesting cultural phenomenon is the continued use of Lunfardo, an urban slang developed during the wave of immigration that happened in the second half of the 19th century. Immigrants incorporated words from the language of their old home into the language of their new home. This is the story of Lunfardo, which nowadays is still spoken in Buenos Aires and often used in tango music.

It’s not all old-world influence in this vibrant city; in recent years Porteños (inhabitants of Buenos Aires) have developed their own homegrown sense of style. The city continues to evolve accordingly, and in places like Palermo Soho and Palermo Hollywood where many artists and creatives live, the focus is on current trends and innovations.

Next to the cultural delights on offer, there is always the option to simply relax outdoors with a mate or cortado and watch people vitalising the city.

Linguistic Enthusiast meets Porteña

Julieta Barra and Juliane Gaebler have known each other for a few years because of their work for ITB Berlin. They are both impressed with the diversity of Buenos Aires and the openness of the Porteños (the name for inhabitants from a port city and in particular the name given to people from Buenos Aires).

Mrs. Gaebler and Mrs. Barra

Juliane Gaebler (left)
After finishing her studies at the FU Berlin and the Universitat de Barcelona, she specialized in service management. She has been a sales manager at ITB Berlin since 2003 and is an expert in the international hotel industry and travel technology industries.

Julieta Barra (right)
After her cultural industry studies in Buenos Aires, Julieta Barra moved to various locations in Germany to work and continue her studies. Since 2010 she has worked for the German Chamber of Commerce in Buenos Aires in the field of trade fairs and exhibitions.

What was your first impression of Buenos Aires?

Julieta Barra: I am from Campana, a small town near Buenos Aires, and when I was little my parents and I often came here. For me it was the big city, where you could get everything. You could go to the theatre or concerts and, of course, go shopping. When I was 18 I moved to Buenos Aires. For me the city meant freedom – everything was possible and everyone did something different with his or her life.

Juliane Gaebler: Oddly enough, I started connecting with Buenos Aires back in 1991 because, as well as studying, I was working at a jewelry manufacturer alongside many Porteños. I not only learned a lot about Argentina from my colleagues, but also picked up my first words of Spanish. However, I only visited Buenos Aires for the first time in 2014.
My first impression was that it was just like Paris, Madrid and Barcelona all in one place, but also very different.The majority of the Porteños have roots in Europe.

Mrs. Barra, were your ancestors from there?

JB: Yes, my family on my father‘s side is from North Italy. My grandmother even spoke Piedmontese. On my mother’s side I have Italian and French roots. We are a good example of the diversity of the inhabitants in Buenos Aires. I also have a lot of friends who have German or Spanish grandparents. You generally notice it because of the food or customs.

Where does „Lunfardo“, the dialect of Buenos Aires, come from?

JB: It is a mix of the languages of the European immigrants, Gauchos, Indios and Porteños. The dialect dates back to the second half of the 19th century, but it is still spoken today. I unconsciously use many of the words of this dialect. Lunfardo also plays a major role in Argentinian tango.

Tangotänzer

What is special about tango?

JG: Tango can convey emotions incredibly well and is very diverse from a musical point of view; it can’t be so easily pigeonholed. I associate the music in particular with my initial steps into the Latin American linguistic arena. I myself don’t dance tango but I am a big fan, especially of Tango Nuevo, and I also like electronic tango.

JB: I learned how to dance tango at 18, when I moved to Buenos Aires. My grandmother on the other hand danced tango as a young girl, although my parents didn’t do it at all. After the dictatorship anything that was nationalistic, that had symbolic character, wasn’t seen in a positive light. It can be said that my generation has reinvented tango. There are many new bands and trends, such as electronic tango, so we are proud of it again. By the way, in Berlin there are also lots of tango schools and a very active scene.The architecture has a very international character.

What is your favorite part of Buenos Aires and why?

JG: San Telmo is great because the neighborhood is off the beaten tourist track and conceals many treasures. Some of the houses and shops look like they haven’t changed in the last 100 years; they breathe Argentinian flair. What’s interesting is that just as in Berlin or London, among this old-look space you might also find a new shop by an independent designer or a newly opened bar.

JB: In general you can say that every neighborhood has its own style and that the architecture is different on every corner. I like Palermo a lot, which used to be a family-dominated neighborhood in the past but nowadays its also home to many artists. My favorite place is the waterfront in Puerto Madero, where you find a contrast of architectural styles and times. You come across, for example, buildings by famous architects such as Santiago Calatrava and Norman Foster.

SYLT | GERMANY

SYLT | GERMANY - HIGH FLYING CUISINE

Plane flying over airberlin

Jewel of the North Sea

There is a reason why vacationers return to Sylt year upon year. The island on the northern tip of Germany offers dream beaches, cascading dunes and picturesque Frisian cottages dotted around its valleys. The cool sea breeze and unique landscape offer the perfect conditions for either a relaxing break from the city or an activity-based getaway. It’s possible to pass time lying on the beach in the warm sun, but if that’s not your thing, you can always do some riding, sailing, surfing or kite surfing.

For many years, Sylt has been known for its exclusive hotels and range of dining options. One good example of this is Sansibar, founded by Herbert Seckler in 1978. Initially it was no more than a snack bar serving sausages and light refreshments. This changed after the ‘old’ Sansibar burnt down in 1982 and it was reconstructed as a larger restaurant. Little by little people discovered the ‘new’ Sansibar’s qualities and these days it is considered a place of pilgrimage, an eatery where both celebrities and vacationers are gastronomically inspired.

In 2007 Sansibar took its brand a step further when it entered into a collaborative food venture with the airberlin group. Sansibar’s currywurst (curry sausage) is now a top seller in airberlin’s airport lounges and on its planes, with more than 350.000 sausages sold each year.

Hospitality manager meets restaurant owner

Both men actually came to work in gastronomy by chance; their professions finding them rather than the other way around. They are passionate about making their guests happy and both have been successful at it for many years. The two of them have been friends for a long time and share a mutual affection for Sylt.

Thomas Ney and Herbert Seckler

Thomas Ney (left)
Born in Berlin, Mr. Ney’s background is in the hospitality and catering industry. He has worked for airberlin since 1996 and is currently the Senior Vice President of Hospitality & Operations. His responsibilities include satisfying the culinary wishes of guests in both the airport terminal and on board. He particularly enjoys the variety his job brings; no two days are the same.
www.airberlin.com

Herbert Seckler (right)
The Swabian chef moved to Sylt in 1974, where he initially worked at a catering company in Westerland. He then bought a small snack stand on a section of the beach called Sansibar, from which he sold home-style cooking fare. After a fire damaged the shack, Seckler built a bigger Sansibar restaurant, which has achieved a high degree of fame in Germany. Mr. Seckler now has a small empire around the Sansibar brand, including stores and restaurants in cities such as Berlin and Düsseldorf and a tie-up with airberlin.
www.sansibar.de/

Sweet or savory?

Herbert Seckler: Savory.

Thomas Ney: Both.

How did the collaboration in 2007 between Sansibar and airberlin start?

TN: We were looking for a new service concept: food as good as possible for as many people as possible. For this we took a chance on charging for in-flight food as a guarantee of good quality. The collaboration with Sansibar has proved to be a huge success.

HS: The previous manager of airberlin asked me to come and see the production facility in Aachen with a view to a possible collaboration. That’s how I met Mr. Ney, on the plane travelling down to Aachen. I was skeptical at first and was actually flying there to turn down the offer. But the production conditions were so professional and convincing that I agreed to work with airberlin, under the condition that our side had complete control of ideas and the philosophy. All the recipes are jointly developed and we keep working and tasting until they are perfect.

Sansibar Sylt
Sansibar Currywurst

What are the difficulties with regards to offering good in-flight food?

TN: There are some technical issues to consider, for example, the long supply and refrigeration chain, and the limited heating capacity on a plane. Furthermore, a lot of food doesn’t work at 10,000 meters – frozen peas collapse inwards, the breaded Wiener Schnitzel is no good, fries become stodgy and fish has too strong a smell. Our taste buds also react differently when we are airborne, so dishes served on board have to be approximately 25% sugared and a further 30% seasoned.

HS: A different style of cooking is needed because up in the air everything tastes different.

What makes a good host and a good guest?

TN: The perfect host automatically has the perfect guests. It is important for us to not just transport 180 people by plane from A to B. Every single person is our guest and we want to provide him or her with a pleasant time.

HS: Someone once told me: “Those who have the best guests, have the best restaurant.” Quality is very important to me because happy guests are good guests. In addition, unlike Mr. Ney’s situation, people who come to us are on vacation, so we are basically selling an experience. This is our goal.

What is so special about Sylt?

TN: I think there are only two types of people – those who love this island and those, who say ‘I don’t need it’. It is simply the case that when I have a problem I go down to the beach, and when I reach the beach, the problem is gone. Here other things become more important. Do I have a beanie and a scarf? This is more important than other things.

HS: It is the overall atmosphere. It can’t really be explained, it has to be experienced. We have sunshine almost every day here and I love the light and colors.

LOS ANGELES | USA

LOS ANGELES | USA - LA MARATHON

Los Angeles

Sporty Los Angeles

The city of Los Angeles is one of the world‘s most popular tourist destinations because of its good weather and beach life. Los Angeles is the economic and cultural center of California and has plenty to offer visitors, including numerous museums, theaters, amusement parks and, of course, Hollywood. There is also the world-renowned Walk of Fame, a series of more than 2, 500 stars embedded into the sidewalks of Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street. They are there as permanent tributes to entertainment industry figures from the worlds of film, music, theater, etc.

There is more to Los Angeles than abundant sunshine, culinary delights and celebrities – it is also very sporty! The city is home to the Los Angeles Lakers, perhaps the most famous basketball team in the world, whose games are often and a gathering point for many of the city‘s celebrities. Fans include Jack Nicholson, Leonardo DiCaprio, Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Salma Hayek.

Every year the city also plays host to the LA Marathon - formerly the City of Los Angeles Marathon – which is one of the world’s biggest marathons and particularly popular for first-timer runners. It was inspired by the 1984 Summer Olympics and has been on the City of Angels sporting calendar since 1986. The 26 mile run is a firm favorite with locals as well as a being a magnet for marathon runners the world over.

Legacy runner meets ITB Ironman

When our two runners from Berlin and Los Angeles got together, they proved that sport really does have the capacity to unite people. They laughed their way through their meeting as they shared their marathon, triathlon and Ironman experiences.

Danny Smith and Thomas Ibach

Denny Smith (left)
Denny Smith is a retired schoolteacher who was born and raised in Los Angeles. He is one of only 173 people – but the only one to do it wearing a Santa hat - who has participated in every one of the 30 LA Marathons that have taken place to date. He is also the founder of the ‘Legacy Runners’ group.
www.legacyrunners.com

Thomas Ibach (right)
The former architect couldn’t image his life without sport. The Berlin-based triathlete works part-time for a big sports equipment retailer and is also a personal trainer, all of which keeps him busy. ITB Berlin sponsors him at all major sporting events he takes part in.
www.tibachtraining.wordpress.com

Where did your passion for running come from, were you born sporty?

Denny Smith: Sports came naturally to me, I played a lot of them but I was not a runner, which changed because of this female athlete in college. She was the hottest runner I had ever seen and I wanted to get to know her better so I took up running. With her encouragement I started with a 5k and gradually moved on to longer distances, which I found that I enjoyed.

Thomas Ibach: I have no clue whether I was born a sportsman or whether my parents inspired me. They did introduce my brother and I to various different sports like skiing, soccer and so on. Once you get older, you start looking for a sport that suits you and for me it was running.

Where does your passion for multi-discipline events like the Ironman Hawaii come from?

TI: It all started with biking and running, which I did with the same intensity, and that only left one more (triathlon) discipline which I felt I had to try. The hardest part was catching up with the swimming because until that point I had only ever had lessons at school. I trained for all three disciplines and competed in triathlons until I reached the Ironman Hawaii – the mother of them all.

DS: I wouldn’t enjoy participating in the Ironman because there are rarely any women taking part and there are sharks in the water. (laughs)

Can you describe the feeling crossing the finish line?

TI: In my first Ironman Hawaii I didn’t make it to the finish line, so after my second time I kissed the ground. It was the greatest moment of all.

DS: Of course I feel different about it nowadays but after my first or second marathon I was so proud of myself, my feelings were immense. On the last mile before the finish line you forget the pain that you have experienced during the whole marathon. And when you finish you just think: ‘I did it!’ and after that you just think about food.

As the creator of your group, what kind of club is it?

DS: Legacy Runners are a group of united people from different backgrounds, incomes and cultures. We represent what Los Angeles is really about. We flag our city to the outside world.

TI: The runners club in Berlin I ran for - the offical Jubilee Club - is similar to this. We have about 2,700 members in total.

DS: Running in groups brings people closer; we push each other, we try to set a leadership example for runners, especially those running their first race.

Why should people run the LA Marathon?

DS: It´s inspirational. Of course LA is just an impressive big city like any other but our marathon route travels past inlaces with history and mystery as well as the iconic monuments.

TI: You could be my tour guide here.

DS: For sure! I like being a tour guide.

How has the LA Marathon changed over the last 30 years?

DS: I think the route is probably the biggest thing that has changed over the years – from the industrial areas to new and beautiful parts of the city. Of course the weather reminds me that I am running a specific marathon, we do have some very hot days but we also have some rainy ones. The other thing that has changed is the growing numbers of people that take part in the race.

Danny Smith
NUREMBERG | GERMANY

NUREMBERG | GERMANY - CHILDREN'S CHRISTMAS MARKET

Children's Christmas Market

The magic of christmas

Every year from the first Sunday of Advent until the 24th of December, one of the oldest and most famous Christmas markets in the world takes place in Nuremberg. The Christkindlesmarkt is held in the old city at the romantically lit main market. Here, in the wooden stalls of the ‘Städtleins aus Holz und Tuch’, one can find traditional, handcrafted Christmas decorations and sweet treats, such as gingerbread and speculoos. Visitors can also enjoy a delicious glass of mulled wine there.

The big Christkindlesmarkt adjoins a charming, smaller market, which is for younger guests – Nuremberg’s Children’s Christmas Market. A nostalgic carousel, a steam train, visits from the Nuremberg Christkind and great interactive booths await young visitors. At this market everyone is invited to prepare small delicacies and create works of art. One can bake cookies and gingerbread, paint glass, write a wish list to the Christkind or ride the carousel and Ferris wheel at the fairground. There is also a colorful cultural and narrative program tied to the Christkindlesmarkt on offer at the Sternenhaus Holy Ghost Hall.

Nurembergs's Head of Tourism meets little christmas fan

Nuremberg’s Head of Tourism warmly welcomes Christmas fan Maximilian and his parents to the city and watches his eyes light up when riding the train at “Kinderweihnacht”, the Children’s Christmas Market.

Yvonne Coulin and Maximilian Beyer with his parents

Yvonne Coulin (left)
As Urban Transport Director of the city of Nuremberg and Managing Director of the Congress and Tourism Centre, she is responsible for marketing the city. The Heidelberg native fondly remembers how packages filled with gingerbread sent from Nuremberg used to herald the start of the Christmas season at her home.

Maximilian Beyer (right)
The 3-year-old traveled from Berlin to Nuremberg with his parents to experience a lot of exciting things, including meeting Santa Claus and the Christkind at Nuremberg’s Children’s Christmas Market. At other times, Maximilian and his family like to go climbing or hiking together and taking vacations at the Baltic Sea, their favorite holiday destination.

Mrs. Coulin, what makes the city of Nuremberg unique?

Yvonne Coulin: What’s unique about Nuremberg is that it was a free imperial city. It was the center of Europe several hundred years ago and is used to having people staying as guests. It is a very self-confident and open-minded city. Trade and commerce were important, hence the fair that was established here. The guilds, craftsmen and families used to be prominent in the city, which is something that can still be felt to this day.

Why does the Christkindlesmarkt attract so many people?

YC: I think it’s because with its traditional stalls and offers it is authentic. The market has been around for many years; it is a welllived tradition and embedded in the city. It happens in the heart of the main market and in that setting, with the castle in the background, it is a dream scene.

Maximilian, what did you experience at the big Christkindlesmarkt?

Maximilian Beyer: We ate sausages and mum and dad drank mulled wine. I saw the big Christmas tree.

YC: Have you also seen our Nuremberg tin toys?

MB: Yes, a fire truck from sheet metal. I want one for Christmas.

Which dishes are characteristic for the Christkindlesmarkt?

YC: There are the world-famous Nuremberg sausages, which Maximilian has already tried, and the gingerbread, which is from a recipe passed down through the generations. But the mulled wine is great, too! Few know that many well-known brands of mulled wine, that are offered nationwide, are produced by Nuremberg’s family-run businesses.

What was your favorite activity at the Children’s Christmas Market?

MB: Baking gingerbread. I made the gingerbread by myself.

Maximilian’s Father: And also ate it alone (laughs).

YC: The Children’s Christmas Market is great! It is a more recent concept than the traditional Christkindlesmarkt. Here too, the people of Nuremberg have stayed loyal to their traditions and still fulfill the wishes of children visiting the market.

Maximilian rides the train

What else did you experience Maximilian?

MB: Dad and I played with the model railroad and rode the train.

Maximilian, what did you wish for when you met Santa Claus and the Christkind?

MB: I wished for a police car.

Which Christmas Market in Berlin do you like best?

MB: The one with the big Ferris wheel at the Marienkirche. My Mum likes the one at Gendarmenmarkt.

What festive season traditions are special to you?

YC: In my hometown, Heidelberg, Nuremberg was always a topic because when Christmas season arrived we always ordered the original Elisenlebkuchen. When the big package finally arrived from Nuremberg, it signified that the Christmas season had begun.

MB: Baking cookies with Mum and Dad.

BRUSSELS | BELGIUM

BRUSSELS | BELGIUM -THE BEER CAPITAL OF THE WORLD

Brussels Beer Project

The rise of the craft beer

Export figures show that nearly 60% of Belgian beer is exported. But not everyone imports beer from Belgium; many people from all over the world also visit the country to enjoy the special taste of its beer. Beer brewing in Belgium dates back to the Middle Ages and has led to the development of over 500 different types of beer. The Vandervelde Act in 1919 contributed to the diversity of beer varieties. It banned the sale of liquor in bars, which then created a demand for beer with higher alcohol content. Additionally, the cultural diversity of Belgium (Dutch, French and German are still official languages) is a reason for the wide assortment of Belgian beers such as abbey beer, Trappist beer, fruit beer, pale and dark, light and strong beer. These beverages include ingredients ranging from hops to orange, ginseng, ginger, saffron, local elderberry and juniper berries, and chili.

There are currently over 160 breweries in Belgium. Many of these are microbreweries producing craft beer, which originated in America in the 1970s and has been established in Brussels and Berlin for a while. Craft beer provides the opportunity to express oneself creatively through the brewing process. Its production can be very complex, but by using daring innovation and the right ingredients, one can produce beer of the highest quality.

Beer enthusiast meets craft beer brewer

Yes, there are people who travel for beer – meet Mrs. Gojowy from Berlin and Mr. Movan from Brussels - two young beer enthusiasts. They got together to talk about good taste and current trends in brewing. Naturally their conversation was accompanied by a glass of their favorite drink. Cheers!

Alexandra Gojowy and Sébastien Morvan

Alexandra Gojowy (left)
Mrs. Gojowy was born and raised in Berlin. After stays abroad in Denmark and Sweden, where she studied media communication, she returned to her home city. She works there as a project assistant for the travel team of a communications agency.
www.heretonow.de/en

Sébastien Morvan (right)
This Frenchman is an ambitious all-rounder – he studied economy and politics, and has travelled the world. He eventually ended up in Brussels, where he attended the Brewing Science Institute. In 2013, with the knowledge he gained there, he fulfilled a lifelong dream by founding the Brussels Beer Project with his partner Olivier de Brauwere.
www.beerproject.be/en

How important is beer to tourism in Brussels?

Sébastien Morvan: Beer is associated with Belgium, so it is a big issue for tourism. There is a growing interest in quality beer and people come from everywhere on a pilgrimage to Brussels. It is an honor that our breweries here are an inspiration to others all over the planet.

Was it love at first gulp with beer?

SM: I had my first good craft beer in Canada 10 years ago. This is when I fell in love with the qualities of a good beer. All the beer I drunk before that time doesn’t count – it was all industrial and tasteless. How can you enjoy tasteless?

Alexandra Gojowy: I had my first beer at 14 and I did not like it. I used to be more into mixed drinks. Beer was something for older men, you know, in the beer commercials it’s always men – soccer players or sailors – who walk into a bar and order a beer. I did not know for a long time that it is also cool for a woman to drink beer.

What makes a beer good?

SM: The appreciation of good beer is a journey, it barely happens at first sip. I am always on the lookout for new styles. I really like hybrid beers that play with your mind, for example, I love barrel-aged beer, which is a hybrid of beer and wine – this taste of grapes and beer is not something you experience every day. A good beer is full of taste, but not easy, not accessible. I am talking about bitterness – this is an acquired taste. We are programmed to love sweet, so it’s not easy to love bitterness straight away.

AG: I totally agree. Also, I think it is important to enjoy it in a nice bar with good company. I prefer light beers produced by warm fermentation, like IPAs. When I was studying in Stockholm I had friends who brewed their own beer and they used a type of fermentation with raisins, which was amazing!

Different beer types from Brussels Beer Project

Mr. Morvan, what is the Brussels Beer Project?

SM: It‘s a collaborative project with beer lovers via crowdfunding, and with fellow brewers from different parts of the world. We try to be as creative as possible. We brewed the first bread-beer in the world - recycling unsold bread to make tasty beer. Our goal is to be at the forefront of the Craft Renaissance in Belgium & Europe.

How would you describe the beer scene in Brussels and Berlin?

SM: The Brussels beer scene is a small but diverse microcosmos, like the city itself. In spite of Brussels’ size, you can find everything from old tradition to craftoriented microbreweries. Many of them are into experimenting but still respect the products. To create good tastes and flavors it is important to use good quality ingredients and the element of surprise.

AG: There used to be a lot of big breweries in Berlin, like Kindl or Schultheiss, but they vanished over time. The old breweries are now converted to restaurants or art spaces. The focus these days is on small craft breweries, which mix old knowledge and tradition with a sense of DIY and trends like organic brewing.

HELSINKI | FINLAND

HELSINKI | FINLAND - FINNISH SAUNA

Finish sauna at a lake

If there is one Finnish word that has entered the global lexicon it is ‘sauna’. Warming your body in a steam-filled room is a favorite pastime of the Finnish; there are over 1.5 million saunas in the country.

In times gone by, the sauna was the only room in the house with hot water. It was the cleanest and most sterile room and as such replaced the bathroom as the place to wash your body. It still serves that purpose, but these days it is designed more with relaxation in mind. And while saunas in modern Finnish houses run on electricity, the Finns still swear by the older, more traditional method of generating heat by burning wood. A popular form of this type of Finnish sauna is the smoke sauna - a wood-paneled room where water is poured on stones to create high temperature and high humidity.

In addition to their house saunas, many Finns have one in their vacation homes. These Mökki houses, as they are commonly known, are normally located on the waterfront next to one of the country’s many lakes. With a Mökki sauna one does not use the shower to cool off afterwards, instead one jumps directly into a lake or rolls around in the snow.

Sauna enthusiast meets finland fan

Summer or winter, these two can be found at their saunas nearly every week. To them there is nothing more relaxing than steaming themselves in silence and then cooling off by jumping in a lake. When you consider that both men are also professional chefs, this encounter was a perfect match.

Markus Maulavirta and Maco Ruokamo

Markus Maulavirta (left)
This Finnish native has been a chef since 1979 and in 2001 began a career as a TV chef. For him, sauna means everyday relaxation and it has become a vital ingre - dient in his life. He has two, one located in the basement of his home and one in his Mökki by the lake, where he likes to refresh himself afterwards by jumping in a hole cut in the ice.

Marco Ruokamo (right)
A professional chef since 1998, he currently works in the American embassy in Berlin. He has a keen interest in Finnish culture and is a sauna enthusiast, even going so far as to install one at his allot - ment garden in Berlin

Why do you like the sauna?

Marco Ruokamo: It is a ritual and I enjoy the pleasant feeling of anticipation before a visit. You are able to completely relax and shut off from everything, but it can also help you concen - trate on important matters. Of course, this is only possible if you are alone in the sauna. Long conversations in the sauna aren’t really my thing.

Markus Maulavirta: I also prefer a quiet sauna. For me, the sauna has always been a feature of my life; even the grandmother of my grandmother enjoyed the sauna (laughs). You can forget about everything when you are in there, it’s just you and your heart. When life is going too fast, a sauna will slow things down.

What type of sauna do you prefer?

MM: The smoke sauna is the best for me. It is hot but at the same time it is soft. I don’t real - ly need much at the sauna, maybe a few birch twigs and soap and rubbing salt for after.

MR: I also prefer a wood-heated sauna. It is great with birch twigs and sometimes I enjoy fragrance oil, for example, one with a forest herb aroma.

What is the best way to cool down after a sauna?

MR: The best way to cool down between sessions is to jump in a lake; it’s something that I can’t get enough of. I tried rolling around in the snow after a sauna but I won’t ever do it again, it’s just too painful.

MM: This is true; cooling down in the snow can be rough. Going for a swim in a lake is the best, especially ice hole swimming. Once you’ve tried that, it is hard not to do it again because it is so fresh and healthy. It is said that ice hole swimming is the poor man’s pharmacy.

MR: I have no experience of ice hole swimming but I am very excited by the thought of it.

Sauna equipment

What is your favorite post-sauna activity?

MR: There is no better feeling than the time after a lengthy visit to the sauna. I like to drink a beer and just enjoy what is left of the day.

Mr Ruokamo, have you ever been to Finland?

MR: Yes, many times. In my opinion, Summer is the best season in Finland. You see all the colors of nature and can swim in the lakes. During summer at a vacation home, you really feel how relaxed and easygoing the Finns are at this time of the year. However, if you are planning a first trip to Finland in winter, then I recommend a trip to Lapland. It is a fantastic snowy wonderland.

Mr. Maulavirta, it seems a bit of a silly question, but do you have your own reindeer?

MM: (Laughs). I do. As a chef I have been connected to reindeer breeding for a long time. I have met reindeer breeders and also joined in with their work, for example, in product development. I was given my own reindeer and now I follow its life. Sometimes I meet it when I am out in the woods in Lapland.

BEHIND THE SCENES

A small glimpse behind the scenes of the the great day the two guys shared in the finnish woods:

Photo gallery

Please enable JavaScript.

CAPE TOWN | SOUTH AFRICA

CAPE TOWN | SOUTH AFRICA - LUXURY TOURISM

Paternoster Panorama

Their own definition of luxury

South Africa is one of the most diverse tourist destinations in the world. It offers jaw-dropping landscapes, breathtaking flora and fauna, and national parks that provide the irresistible promise of adventure. One can spend a vacation there in a number of ways with a variety of accommodation to suit your needs: privately owned lodges and guest farms, bed and breakfasts for backpackers, family hotels and luxury resorts.

There is one luxury retreat hidden in the dunes of the picturesque fishing village of Paternoster, a haven of unspoilt West Coast, just 150 km north of Cape Town, where thousands of years ago the indeginous Strandloper tribe lived. The hotel complex blends seamlessly with the surrounding landscape and the peacefulness is interrupted only by the reassuring sound of surf breaking on the shore. This is a place of restful contemplation, which offers its guest the ultimate luxury of space and time, and this being South Africa, the possibility of a chance meeting with the odd whale or dolphin.

Architect meets hotel owner

This is a meeting in beautiful Paternoster near Cape Town of two people who have German and South African connections. In their respective roles, they are at the forefront of a redefinition of the term ‘luxury tourism’, which they explain in more detail in our interview.

Dr. Luyanda Mpahlwa and Simone Jacke

Dr. Luyanda Mpahlwa (left)
The Cape Town-based architect had to leave South Africa in 1986 during the apartheid era. He moved to Germany with the help of Amnesty International and lived there for 15 years. During that time he studied architecture in Berlin. In 2000 he returned to the land of his birth and founded the Architecture and Design firm DesignSpaceAfrica.
www.designspaceafrica.com/

Simone Jacke (right)
Born in Germany, she found love in Mauritius when she met her now husband Deon Brand, who is originally from Paternoster. They returned to his hometown and opened the Strandloper Ocean Boutique Hotel in 2011, a place which gives a whole new meaning to the term ‘luxury’.
www.strandloperocean.com/

Mrs. Jacke What did you do before you opened your hotel?

Simone Jacke: After receiving my journalism degree in Berlin, I left for Mauritius where my husband Deon and I met volunteering for an animal welfare for island stray dogs. Deon is originally from Paternoster so we came here and opened the hotel in 2011.

Dr Mpahlwa, as Ambassador for the Strandloper Ocean Boutique Hotel, how did you get to know Simone?

Luyanda Mpahlwa: From exile in Germany back in Cape Town I have made contact with German citizens living here and she is in the same circle of friends.

Parts of the Strandloper land are heritage sites, right?

SJ: When we were starting out an archaeological team came here and explored the area. One of the areas next to the hotel was declared as heritage site. We are lucky because cultural heritage is extremely well protected in South Africa.

How do you combine the natural surroundings with your luxury concept?

SJ: It is part of our strategy to be an integral part of nature. We hope that little by little every guest becomes a Strandloper; that they connect with nature and regain selfawareness.

As an Architect do you find this successful?

LM: With its magical views across the landscape I regard Strandloper with its bright rooms, furnishings and in-dooroutdoor experience very successful in achieving ultimate luxury and relaxation.

Do you incorporate sustainability into your approach?

SJ: We feel it is our responsibility to preserve this beautiful planet. That is why we work with solar energy and try to generate as little waste as possible. We have an organic garden and cook with regional and seasonal products from local farmers and fishermen.

What made you decide on luxury tourism?

SJ: We took the conscious choice to build a five-star hotel on the beach front as, although Paternoster has become a very popular tourist destination, there is no other such facility. For us, luxury doesn’t stand for opulence or wastefulness but rather it’s about being close to nature in a laid back way.

How is your experience with luxury tourism?

LM: I agree with this definition Hotels like Strandloper care for every individual in a personal and high-quality way; guests get to know their hosts on a personal level. This makes a difference.

What are guest looking for nowadays?

SJ: I have the feeling that modern-day guests are looking for concepts, where sustainability is important; close to nature to find one’s roots again as modern society disconnects us from where we really come from. Our simple approach to an easy barefoot luxury, being oneself and establishing balance in one’s life and reconnect with nature like the Strandloper tribe – is very appealing.

LM: I believe that size also plays an important role. Boutique hotels such as this one are rather small, manageable and offer intimacy

Birthday greeting from Cape Town
ISLA CONTOY | MEXIKO

ISLA CONTOY | MEXICO - PRESERVING NATURE

Isla Contoy

The turtle sanctuary

Isla Contoy, only 8.75kms in length, is a treasure trove of nature and was designated as a national park in 1998. It is a sanctuary for four species of marine turtle that nest each year on its eleven beaches. There are no mammals on Contoy due to lack of fresh water but its seven lagoons, mangroves and coastal stretches are an important nesting and feeding site for marine birds. The surrounding waters, including the Ixlache Reef on its southern tip, are home to more than 250 species of fish.

In 1994, a team of seven salaried staff was employed to assist in the management of tourist facilities on Contoy. They were supported by a group of five tour operators from nearby Isla Mujeres and Cancún. This effort, which included a field station and necessary equipment, was made possible on the back of donations - an extra dollar was added to the cost of tourist excursions to the island.

Amigos de Isla Contoy works extensively with other NGOs, government agencies at federal, state and municipal level, and local, national and international educational institutions. Its information center in Cancún organizes trips for local, national and international visitors. In an effort to preserve the island’s magnificent fauna and flora, the number of people allowed access to its shores is limited to 200 a day.

Biologist meets turtle specialist

The turtle enthusiast from Germany is deeply impressed with the work Catalina Galindo de Prince has done with Amigos de Isla Contoy. Naturally, when the two met Mr. Jessl was keen to hear about how Ms. De Prince’s agency protects not only turtles, but all the natural phenomena on Isla Contoy.

Catalina Galindo de Prince and Dieter Jessl

Catalina Galindo de Prince (left)
The Mexican biologist first visited Isla Contoy during a vacation with her husband. She immediately fell in love with the small island and moved with her family to Cancun, the closest mainland city. She has been the Executive Director of ‘Amigos de Isla Contoy’ for more than 12 years and coordinates more than 1,000 activities for the association. It is dedicated to the conservation of Isla Contoy natural resources.
www.islacontoy.org

Dieter Jessl (right)
The Berlin resident’s passion for turtles began In South Africa, where he spent a few childhood years. He campaigns on behalf of abandoned turtles for ‘aktion tier’ (Initiative Animal) and advises private owners on turtle welfare. He likes to spend his free time outdoors and also plays in a band.

Mr Jessl, what do you admire about nature conservation on Isla Contoy?

Dieter Jessl: I am impressed by the commitment of the environmentalists who are trying to increase people’s awareness of nature. Those connected to the island understand how important it is to respect the precious animals, like turtles.

What can visitors experience on Isla Contoy?

Catalina Galindo de Prince: They can experience a completely natural island that is very peaceful and has exotic birds flying overhead. One can visit the lagoons and observe the nesting birds or view the comings and goings of animals on the beach and in the water.

DJ: One can also encounter rare animal species on the island, especially the turtles, which humans don’t usually come across.

What role does Amigos de Isla Contoy play on the Island?

CGdP: Amigos de Isla Contoy is responsible for the tourist areas on the island. It runs the visitors center with its small museum and displays, and also trains the tour guides that accompany the tourists on Contoy’ nature trails.

What is the ultimate aim of Amigos de Isla Contoy?

CGdP: Our vision is to motivate visitors and remind them to protect natural resources, as they are the basis for the habitats in which we all have to live. We do a lot of teaching about sustainable development because we want everyone here being engaged in preserving the nature that tourists come to Contoy to admire.

ITB Buddy Bear

One part of that nature is the turtles, how do you protect them?

CGdP: We do not disturb their nests. We monitor the shore at night and measure and tag the female turtles that arrive on the beach. We are able to tag around 200 turtles per season with the assistance of another NGO. We also mark the nests so we can then locate them via GPS. The eggs take about 45-60 days to hatch, after which we go back to watch over the baby turtles as they come into the world. The great thing is that the lives of the turtles are not disturbed in any way.

DJ: I heard that Isla Contoy is the only sanctuary for marine turtles in the state of Mexico.

Turtles

There are no mammals on the island, so what is the main danger to the turtles?

CGdP: The major hazard is that if the turtles make their nests too close to the coastline, it is possible that a tidal surge will flush them away.

DJ: And plastic waste in the sea is one of the main hazards.

How can people contribute to the protection of turtles?

DJ: Firstly, don’t buy any products that are made from turtle. Secondly, stop environmental pollution. One in every two turtles has plastic material in their stomach and we can stop this by, for example, not leaving rubbish behind on the beach.

CGdP: I think it´s important we make people more aware by giving more information about turtles to schools and spreading knowledge on social media networks.

Mr Jessl, does private turtle breeding make a contribution to the overall preservation of the species?

DJ: Yes, private breeding is important. For example, when terrapins or turtles from Asia are traded worldwide, people are interfering with nature. This is because the turtles are taken from their natural habitats and arrive at their destination in poor health. Privately bred animals are usually healthy and are used to human contact and a captive environment.

LANZARAOTE | SPAIN

LANZAROTE | SPAIN - ARCHITECTURE BY CÉSAR MANRIQUE

César Manrique house, Lanzarote

In harmony with nature

César Manrique was a passionate painter, architect, sculptor and environmentalist and has become an immortal figure on the island of Lanzarote. He actively influenced its image by pushing for sustainable and traditional construction on the island.

The natural beauty of Lanzarote, which is highlighted by a combination of art and nature, bears all the hallmarks of Manrique. His fundamental aim of making it the most beautiful place on earth is reflected in all of his work. He pursued the goal of making Lanzarote an example for sustainable tourism, one that respects tradition and carefully handles resources. His vision was that no building on the island should have more than two floors and that the architecture should be modeled on the structure of the island’s traditional small white houses.

The island’s government supported Manrique in the sixties and early seventies – and Lanzarote was, thanks to its famous mastermind, recognized for many years for its unusual combination of nature, tradition and tourism. The ‘Arte de Obra’ center of culture is the realization of an idea born during Bettina Bork’s apprenticeship under César Manrique. It realizes an architecture developed in harmony with the environment and conveys an “I want to stay” feeling for visitors.

Architect meets former student of Manrique

It was inspiring for Christoph Tettenborn to meet Bettina Bork because as a former student and colleague of César Manrique, she was in a position to tell him about many of the architects exciting visions.

Christoph Tettenborn and Bettina Bork

Christoph Tettenborn (left)
The architect followed in his father’s footsteps and works in carpentry. His woodwork is a result of the desire to create something with his own hands. He specializes in the design and building of home furnishings. He founded “OffCut Berlin” in cooperation with Yena Young and creates works of art from residue material.
www.offcutberlin.com/

Bettina Bork (right)
The German used to work in other fields until she discovered an affinity for architecture. Motivated by César Manrique, she moved to Lanzarote and eventually worked with him between 1985 and 1992. Nowadays she cooperates on architectural projects with the population of Lanzarote. In 2004 she founded ‘Arte de Obra’, a cultural arts center in Haria.
www.artedeobra.com

How do you define sustainable architecture?

Christoph Tettenborn: Sustainable architecture is when you always keep in mind that our resources are limited. An important factor is the cautious handling of construction materials and energy, as well as incorporation of nature without destroying it. I feel this is what Manrique was aiming for.

Bettina Bork: The materials Manrique used were truly sustainable. For instance, he used old, empty oil drums for formwork. It is now known that the space inside the oil drums works as a perfect climate regulator.

What did César Manrique want to create?

BB: He wanted to create an environment where nature and art should be in tune. For him, art was every room that we live in. It was important to Manrique to connect housing with nature, without creating borders.

CT: The aspect of reduction interests me and also to see how this reduction can be achieved.

Pool at César Manrique house

What are the hallmarks of César Manrique?

BB: Manrique was more of an artist than an architect. He played with shapes; there were no 90-degree angles for him. What’s characteristic of his work are round shapes and narrowed entrances to rooms. After walking through a spectacularly narrow hallway it opens into a large space with a panorama or a piece of art – it is always a surprise effect.

How did Manrique convey his vision to the island’s tourists?

BB: His dream was that visitors should fly in gently and flow through the island, its beautiful gardens, its caves and its lovely houses. Everyone was supposed to flow, without concrete highways, on roads that Manrique designed for that purpose.

So the idea for your project ‘Arte de Obra‘ is based on the ideals of Manrique?

BB: Yes, the establishment of the center was an idea that came alive because of Manrique. As a student in Lanzarote I lived in a model of the cultural center. The fundamental idea was to bring over many students of different nations to the island who would work on the idea of the ‘utopian dream’ for Lanzarote. So the idea was born and later it came to life in the form of ‘Arte de Obra’.

Mr. Tettenborn, you repurpose material residue at “OffCut Berlin”. What are the thoughts behind the project?

CT: Our project stands specifically for upcycling. We use high-quality material residues and repurpose them; if we had to dispose of them. We stimulate our creativity by thinking about what we could manufacture from the residues. It’s a process with which we want to encourage our customers to think about sustainability.

LONDON | UNITED KINGDOM

LONDON | UNITED KINGDOM - TRAVEL TECHNOLOGY

London skyline

Tech makes the world go round

As well as being a leader in education, arts, fashion and media, London is also Europe’s financial center. It is therefore no surprise that it has the third-largest technology start-up cluster in the world after San Francisco and New York City. Silicon Roundabout is located in East London and features over 2,000 start-ups, 30 accelerators and 48,000 people employed in the digital economy. This is partly thanks to governmental efforts such as big PR initiatives, tax incentives and the ‘Entrepreneur Visa’ for people from non EU-founder nations. These advantages are coupled with the present availability of capital and a driving entrepreneurial spirit to make London a buzzing scene in this field.

Travel Technology is a hot topic in many start-up scenes. In a broader sense, the term means the application of IT, software and e-commerce solutions to the travel and tourism industry.

London has a very active Travel Tech scene with several events and activities hosted every month by, and for, start-ups and tech companies. The UK’s capital even has a designated Travel Tech co-working space, the Traveltech Lab, which adds to its reputation as a vital hub for the travel industry.

Sales expert meets data specialist

Although these Travel Tech insiders had never met before, their connection was such that the interview in London felt like a meeting of two old friends. Both have a great deal of experience in the Travel Tech sector and are excited by the impact it has had on the global travel industry.

Charlotte Lamp Davis and Steffi Schweden

Charlotte Lamp Davies (left)
Originally trained as an opera singer, Mrs. Lamp Davies decided to go into sales and marketing 18 years ago. She joined DataArt London in 2012 as Vice President of Travel & Hospitality for Europe. She enjoys speaking at industry events where she passionately endorses innovative Travel Technologies.
www.dataart.com/

Steffi Schweden (right)
Mrs. Schweden worked for the Amadeus IT Group for 10 years before joining the OTDS (Open Travel Data Standard) association as CEO in 2012. OTDS is a free data format developed to serve the travel industry. Travel providers use it to distribute their offers to all sales channels, be they travel agencies or websites.
www.otds.de/en/home/

What is Travel Technology exactly and what challenges does it face?

Charlotte Lamp Davies: Travel Tech represents evolution and is a necessary evil; we wouldn’t be here without it. In the past few years, technology has grown up and with it the needs and habits of the consumer. This combination is a real challenge for the sector because it is still behind some others, e.g., retail, which knows exactly how to reach its clients.

Steffi Schweden: For me, it’s the invisible heart of the travel industry. It keeps it running and connects the billions of providers and in-between sellers with billions of customers. The Internet has changed the industry, today’s consumer is much more educated and self-confident, and they have the chance to buy directly, which has brought new players and completely new business models to the industry.

Where is Travel Tech heading?

StS: I think, with the help of big data, we can expect more personalized solutions. For instance, I am a kite surfer and I’m waiting for the day when my smartphone tells me: your calendar shows a free weekend in three weeks and a weather site points out that there is going be windy conditions in Denmark. It will then suggest a way for me to get there and allow me to book it all at a push of a button. This is what I see happening with Travel Tech.

CLD: More and more gadgets are coming into the market which will enable consumers to have the experience they want. Bizarrely enough, we talk and talk about Big Data and we collect it, yet, for all the information gathering, travel companies are still unable to tell Steffi when to go kite surfing in Denmark. I strongly believe we’ll address this successfully in the future through technology. We have to.

London Underground Station

What makes London and Berlin meccas for start-ups?

CLD: London is such a fertile breeding ground because it is a melting pot of cultures and nationalities and it has venture capital. It just epitomizes the entrepreneurial spirit. I fell in love with the city for this reason.

StS: Berlin was lucky to get the chance to redefine itself after the wall came down. There was a sense of “now we can do everything” and a great level of enthusiasm, which is still there. Great minds come to the city to start companies because rent and living costs are still relatively low. Still, I see room for development regarding real Travel Technology. For example, we could create companies that use ideas to improve mobile travel solutions.

Is there gender equality in Travel Tech?

StS: In fields like marketing and product management it is already quite balanced, but there are still more men working in software development. What we need are schools guiding young girls and women into, for instance, Ruby on Rails (programming language). We should give them first rate programming ideas and show them success stories, so they get excited about working in this field.

CLD: We’re definitely seeing more women going into software development. We are also seeing a culture shift as more women are encouraged to go down a path previously seen as male driven. To maintain this, the educational system has to make it enticing and exciting for women to want to get into tech. It is not for a lack of ability that we have gender imbalance in technology. Millions of women have mathematical talent, are process driven and fit right into the world of technology. It’s not a matter of gender, it’s a matter of education and a desire to work in what is a very challenging, fun and sexy industry.

OBERTAUERN | AUSTRIA

OBERTAUERN | AUSTRIA - YOUTH TRAVEL

Young people skiing

The early bird catches the snow

Obertauern in the province of Salzburg is one of Austria’s most popular ski regions. Skiers, snowboarders and cross-country skiers came to enjoy the roughly 100 kilometers of well-prepared slopes and 26 kilometers of cross-country ski-tracks. And because its slopes are situated at an altitude of between 1.600 and 2.300 meters above sea level, snow is guaranteed.

Whether you are a beginner or an advanced skier, there is a perfect slope for you in Obertauern. The more adventurous skiers like the legendary ‘Gamsleiten 2’, which is one of the steepest descents in the Alps. For snowboarders, the Longplay Snowboard Park is a special highlight. In addition to its inviting Alpine conditions, many skiers are attracted to the region because of its so-called Tauernrunde. The layout of its 26 skilift stations is designed so that one can start at any location and after having skiied all the slopes, finish up at your original location without having passed the same slope twice.

In Obertauern, when you pack away your skis at the end of the day, you can settle down in a local chalet to enjoy hearty Austrian specialties and après-ski parties. Such hospitality is one reason why Obertauern records more than more than one million overnight stays per year. 10% of which are adolescents visiting with their school or other organized travel groups, like Young Austria. It is the country’s largest privately owned youth tour operator and runs sixteen hostels in Austria, three of which are in Obertauern. They offer young guests skiing courses and winter sports weeks.

Youth Travel organizer meets snowboarder

For Ms. Benjamin and Mr. Seidl the perfect weekend definitely includes snow. They prefer to get up early because being the first on the slopes is a situation they both crave – no matter if its on skis or snowboard.

Laura Benjamin and Bernd Seidel

Bernd Seidl (left)
The Managing Director of Young Austria is a native of the province of Salzburg and ended up in the tourism industry after he finished his business management education. The enthusiastic skier loves his job – the youngsters keep him busy and he never stops learning new things.
www.youngaustria.com/

Laura Benjamin (right)
Ms. Benjamin, who studied law, is self-employed in the industry of event and band management, where she organizes tours and arranges music band bookings. She also works for the Public Relations Department of Humboldt University in Berlin. Winter sports have been her passion since she was 4 years old.

Skiing or snowboarding?

Bernd Seidl: Skiing.

Laura Benjamin: Snowboarding.

When did you learn to ski / snowboard?

BS: My uncle is an instructor and owns a ski school. He taught me skiing when I was a child. As a teenager, I temporarily switched to snowboarding but nowadays, since I was 17, I mainly ski. Of course it is never too late to learn how to ski, but perfecting the motion sequences is easier as a child. So it’s good to offer school skiing courses because they awaken the passion at the right time.

LB: I learned how to ski from my father and big brother when I was 4 years old. When I was 7, we vacationed in Kaunertal and my teacher taught me how to snowboard – ever since then I have been addicted. I am not good at multitasking; so it’s better that I just have one board beneath my feet (laughs).

What’s the great thing about winter sports?

BS: I particularly enjoy the nature – the magnificent mountain settings. I also love the speed. Last but not least, winter sports are a collective experience – you share your time with your friends and get to meet many new people.

LB: Yes, exactly. The solidarity aspect is, apart from the speed, the most important feature. You can’t help but meet new people and always make new friends.

What is a perfect day in the snow?

LB: My boyfriend lives in Munich, so I usually go skiing when I visit him in the winter season. We get up quite early, drive to a ski region and spend all day on the slopes. A snack break at one of the many alpine cabins is definitely part of the fun.

BS: Yes, getting up early in the morning is important because you can be the first one leaving tracks in the snow, that is a great feeling. Ideally it has just snowed the day before and there’s a new layer of powder snow on the prepared slopes. And yes, taking a break around noon at one of the cabins and enjoying the sun is a must.

What do you like to do in the evenings after skiing / snowboarding?

BS: If I want to take it easy, I relax by the fireplace. Of course I also like to celebrate après-ski with friends. You simply have to surrender yourself to the madness that is so perfectly staged at the Austrian alpine huts. The important thing though is to ask what’s in the drinks because the lodge hosts serve quite strong ones sometimes, which may affect you the next day on the slopes (laughs).

LB: I like to go to the sauna to warm up again. Afterwards it’s usually just relaxing on the couch and chatting with my friends. However, when we’re in a large group then après-ski is part of the fun.

What does Young Austria do?

BS: We are Austria’s largest privately held youth tour operator and market 16 youth hostels with 2.800 beds. During the winter season we mostly rent our houses to groups, provide the infrastructure and organize the accompanying program, such as a disco and karaoke. In the summer we also organize summer camps or school trips with a focus on education through experience. We want kids to form a closer relationship with nature and offer activities such as rafting, canoeing, biking and caving.

Ski lift
JEREZ | SPAIN

JEREZ DE LA FRONTERA | SPAIN - THE ROYAL ANDALUSIAN SCHOOL OF EQUESTRIAN ART

The royal school of equestrian art

Bring on the dancing horses

The southern Spanish city of Jerez is known for two major cultural features: Sherry (Sherish is the Moorish word for Jerez) and The Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art. Since 1973 this equestrian institution has devoted itself to the upkeep and promotion of The Andalusian, also known as the Purebred Spanish Horse, and the promotion of the region’s culture and tradition in general. There can be no doubt therefore that the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art is a very important part of Spanish culture. This fact was confirmed in 1987 when the riding school received official recognition from King Juan Carlos.

The riding school is known around the world for its dressage show ‘Como Bailan Los Caballos Andaluces’ (‘How the Andalusian Horses Dance’). It is an equestrian ballet featuring quintessential Spanish music and 18th century-styled costumes. The show is choreographed using movements based upon Classical Dressage, Doma Vaquera (country-style riding) and traditional equestrian tasks. Naturally the magnificent Andalusian horses are always center stage. The ‘Horse of Kings’, as it is known, has been on the Iberian Peninsula for over 3000 years. Wherever they appear, equestrian lovers are never less than impressed with the Andalusian’s elegance and expressiveness. When watching them perform in one of the school’s spectacular shows, one gets the feeling that they and their riders are guided by a higher will.

Equesitrian school director meets equestrian fair director

Every year in December, 22,000 horse lovers come to the HIPPLOGICA Berlin to watch equestrian competitions, shows and exhibitions. While more than 150,000 people a year visit the Real Escuela to be enchanted by the Andalusian horses. This is a meeting between two dedicated professionals who represent these institutions, during which they share their thoughts on equestrianism and its importance to the tourism industry.

Juan Carlos Román Lopez and Kerstin Ebel

Juan Carlos Román López (left)
Born in Jerez, Mr. Román López came to The Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art in 2002 after completing his business studies degree. He was responsible for the department of administration and human resources before becoming the director at Real Escuela in 2011. In his spare time he enjoys cooking and also plays tennis and squash.
www.realescuela.org/en/

Kerstin Ebel (Right)
Ms Ebel from Berlin is a lover of everything to do with equestrianism. She studied Agribusiness and Management in the Netherlands, before starting work at HIPPOLOGICA Berlin. In 2012, after 4 years as a project organizer, she was promoted to project leader. She is responsible for the overall coordination of the planning and execution of HIPPOLOGICA Berlin, something she really enjoys.
www.hippologica.de/en/

What is so special about the Real Escuela and HIPPOLOGICA Berlin?

Kerstin Ebel: HIPPOLOGICA Berlin is a huge part of the equestrian calendar. It is a big tournament with high-class competition in disciplines such as dressage and jumping, as well as riding and carriage driving tests. Additionally, we have an exciting show itinerary and an outstanding professional framework program with experts from the horse industry. Equestrian sports enthusiasts can get everything from hoof picks to horse trailers from exhibitors that come from all over the world.

Juan Carlos Román López: We seek to preserve and carry on the heritage of Andalusian equestrianism. We do this in a number of ways. For a start there is the specific education of our riders and experts. We are also thorough in the selection of our Purebred Spanish Horses, which are used for reproduction and conservation of the species. Finally, there is our research and the general dissemination of equestrianism, for example, via our museums or sporting competitions.

Mr. Román López, in terms of education, what can people learn at your school?

JCRL: Our foundation cares deeply about the training of experts. People can apply for a multiyear apprenticeship, but we also offer shorter courses. We teach various disciplines such as dressage and equestrian sports, carriage work, reproduction and breeding. Of course, students dream about participating in our shows when they have completed their apprenticeship.

Kerstin Ebel and Juan Carlos Román Lopez
Dressage show

What are the highlights of the trade fair and the riding school?

KE: The highlight is our big equestrian tournament with high-class dressage and jumping competitions and our show program with many Spanish horses and baroque riding styles.

JCRL: Our traditional dressage show ‘Como Bailan Los Caballos Andaluces’ is our most successful event. The riders dress in traditional 18th century costume and our horses “dance” to classical music by Luis Cobos and Manolo Carrasco.

What role do the trade fair and the equestrian school play in tourism?

KE: HIPPOLOGICA Berlin is of major importance to tourism in our city. It attracts 22,000 visitors each year who stay for at least 4 days. They are accommodated in hotels and spend money in the numerous restaurants and bars in the city. We are happy to have them here.

JCRL: We have 150,000 visitors per year and are therefore very important to the tourism industry in Jerez, in Andalusia, and in Spain as a whole. Our aim is to constantly promote our school through international roadshows and trade fair appearances. We travel the world with our show and have been to, among others, Europe, Russia and the United Arab Emirates.

Could you imagine coming to HIPPOLOGICA Berlin with ‘Cómo Bailan los Caballos Andaluces’?

JCRL: That sounds like a great idea! This trade fair is very interesting and would definitely suit us.

NAPLES | ITALY
NAPLES | ITALY

NAPLES | ITALY - PIZZA NAPOLI

Pizza

Good pizza is all about passion

Several hundred years ago the Greeks and Etruscans baked flat dough slices on hot stones in the fire and seasoned them with olive oil and herbs. The Romans then acquired this basic recipe and spread it throughout Italy, where it became very popular in Naples. The Neapolitans introduced the tomato to this dry bread in 1520 and it was transformed into the template for the pizza of today. Only one ingredient was missing at this point – mozzarella. When this was added the ‘Pizza Margherita’ was born. This simple dish of dough, tomato, mozzarella and basil, which was a representation of the red, white and green Italian flag, was given its name because it was said to be a favorite of none other than Queen Margherita of Savoy.

The pizza continues to play a major role in Naples and one family has contributed greatly to its development: the Sorbillo family. In 1953, Luigi Sorbillo established a pizzeria in Via dei Tribunali, one of the oldest streets in Naples. It consisted of four square marble tables, a counter for laying out the dough and a wood-fired oven. As Luigi’s business flourished, so did his relationship with his wife Carolina, with whom he had 21 children. Not one of these children failed to become a pizza maker – thus making pizza the center of family life for generations to come.

When Luigi died, his eldest daughter Esterina took over the business and the care of her twenty younger siblings. In her hands the company became a dynasty that spread from Via dei Tribunali 35 to the rest of Naples, then onto other Italian cities, and finally to rest of the world.

Three third generation Sorbillos have since returned to Via dei Tribunali and have settled down next to number 35. Gino is on the left at 32, and Gigi and Antonio on the right at 38. They argue playfully about which of them makes the better pizza. One thing that they never disagree on is that they, and their Sorbillo relatives throughout the world, have an historical love affair with pizza.

Buffalo mozzarella manufacturer meets pizzaiolo

The unbridled passion for fantastic food was clear to see in this meeting between two men with interesting business backgrounds. Both have strong connections to Italian food and are committed to making sure that love and attention goes into every product that they prepare for the public.

Mike Daschewski and Gino Sorbillo

Mike Daschewski (left)
The CEO of Mozzarella Paolella GmbH is a real Berliner. His company produces delicious buffalo mozzarella, which comes from the 350 water buffalo he keeps on land near the capital. When he isn’t working, he enjoys sport.
mozzarella-paolella.de

Gino Sorbillo (right)
Two things play a role in his life: family and pizza. He grew up in Naples as the 19th of 21 children – all of them became pizza makers. The family’s pizzeria was always the epicenter of his life and he is now the managing director of a pizzeria chain bearing the Sorbillo name, as well as being a famous TV chef.
www.sorbillo.it

Mr. Sorbillo, what was it like growing up in a large pizza making family?

Gino Sorbillo: I was born in the center of Naples very close to the pizzeria that belongs to my family. Our home and our pizza were – and still are - the heart of all our lives. Together they are a single unit that represents our habits and our history, which is that of a family with 21 children who have spent all their lives connected to the culture of pizza.

What is your family’s pizza philosophy?

GS: For us, making a pizza is a mission; it’s a fusion of life, art and culture. Our aim is to always appreciate the quality of the ingredients. My passion as a pizzaiolo dates back to when I used to spend all my free time with the family experimenting with new techniques and blends, as well as new tastes. I still do, Pizza Sorbillo is always a work in progress!

They say that Neapolitan pizza tastes best. Is that true?

GS: My pizza has become an obligatory stop on the tourist route in Naples, but it is still a democratic pizza with an affordable price both for an actor like Robert de Niro or an regular customer on a small budget. However, the Neapolitan pizza like mine is not the only good one. It has to be said that a great pizza comes straight from the heart of the pizza maker, this is what happens with me when I make pizza.

Mike Daschewski: Definitely! Those that I have tried so far were fantastic! In my opinion, no matter where in the world, it is important that the dough is crispy, that the tomato sauce has a fruity taste and that the topping is modest. For me, some buffalo mozzarella on top is enough (laughs).

How did Mozzarella Paolella come to produce its own buffalo mozzarella in Germany?

MD: The founders of the company had a farm near Berlin and one of them owned an eatery where over seven tons of pizza mozzarella was consumed every year. When the price of cow’s milk mozzarella increased, alternatives were needed. They met the Italian cheese maker Gino Paolella and to cut a long story short, via him they came up with the idea of importing 103 buffalo cows and four bulls from Italy to their farm in Germany, which grew to the number of 350 they are at now.

Why is buffalo mozzarella superior to other cheeses?

MD: The main feature of our product is the quality, which we work very hard to maintain. However, we can only guarantee its quality by producing it with a non-industrial process. Although this is a different, more complex procedure, you can really taste it in the final product. For example, the buffalo mozzarella gives pizza a distinctive flavor of its own.

What do Mozzarella Paolella and Gino Sorbillo have in common?

MD: I think it is important to both of us that we satisfy our clients and customers and offer them the absolute best of what we produce. GS: For me with my three pizzerias, it´s important that the concept is always the same: enthrall, entertain and delight my customers.

GABORONE | BOTSWANA

GABORONE | BOTSWANA – RHINO RELOCATION PROJECT

Animals drinking from a waterhole

Southern Africa's sparkling diamond

Infinite space, magnificent wilderness, heavenly Gardens of Eden, with so many facets Botswana has every right to claim the title of Southern Africa’s sparkling diamond. The Republic’s wealth of nature is a rare treasure and it has plans in place to keep it that way – giving over one third of its total area to national parks and nature reserves.

For the last 20 years the government has embraced an exclusive form of ecotourism in order to protect the sensitive ecosystem. It has guarded its natural resources and its abun-dantly diverse flora and fauna with great success, so much so that nowadays the country is one of the most eco-friendly travel destinations in the world. To this end, the Botswana Ecotourism Certification System has been designed to fosterand support responsible environmental, social and cultural activity by tourism businesses and to ensure they offer a quality eco-friendly product to consumers. With such measures in place, Botswana hopes to maintain its special charm and rich cultural traditions for this and future generations

Trade fair consultant meets tourism minister

The plight of the rhino is of particular interest to conservationists all over the world. This majestic animal is a symbol of Africa and by protecting it one contributes to the preservation of Africa’s rich natural heritage as a whole. Two people who are deeply interested in the fight against rhino poaching are Holger Wilke from MB Capital Services GmbH and Tshekedi Khama II, Botswana’s Minister of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism. They came together to discuss the future of the rhino and Botswana’s determination to protect its natural wonders

Holger Wilke and Tshekedi Khama II

Holger Wilke (left)
The Berlin-based trade fair expert and long-standing partner of ITB Berlin is always seeking to discover new innovations in the adventure and responsible tourism segment of the tourism industry. It was,
therefore, a great honor for him to travel to Botswana to meet their tourism minister and talk about conservation projects – and one in particular that seek to save to save the rhino in southern Africa.

Tshekedi Khama II (right)
Tshekedi Khama II is Botswana’s Minister of Environment, Wildlife and Tourismand a Member of Parliament, where he represents the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP). He is the brother of the current president of Botswana, Ian Khama, and one of three sons born to the first president of Botswana, Seretse Khama and his wife, Ruth Williams Khama.

Mr. Wilke, what fascinates you about Botswana?

Holger Wilke: I am in awe of the wonders contained within its huge expanse of wilderness, which stretches from the Kalahari Desert to the Okavango Delta. I also greatly admire its best practice in sustainable tourism with projects like the Rhino Relocation Project or the Chobe National Park development.

Minister Tshekedi Khama II, the Rhino Relocation Project was established to save threatened rhino in South Africa. Can you tell us about it?

Tshekedi Khama II: Poachers are slaughtering more and more rhino in South Africa.
They were already endangered but now more are being killed than being born. To protect the South African rhinos, we transport them by plane to a safe place here in Botswana. The process is part of our large-scale Rhino Relocation Project, the aim of which is to establish rhino strongholds, where they can live in safety and reproduce the next generation of this beautiful animal.

Why is Botswana involved?

TK: Botswana, which is located in southern Africa, has been taking a leading role for a number of years as regards nature conservation. We view our fauna as a national treasure. It is therefore a great concern of ours to ensure that rhino are protected from the dangers they face in South Africa. Our government puts a lot of money into conservation projects like these.

Why is this protection necessary?

TK: There are currently only five rhino species left throughout the world, two of them here in Africa – the white rhino and black rhino. We have to protect these two species, they are our heritage. Therefore, we rescue the rhinos that are in danger in South Africa and integrate them into Botswana. As a result of what we do, we now have a much bigger population living here.

HW: In my opinion, Botswana‘s Rhino Relocation project is enormously important to the future of the species and a symbol of Botswana’s policy of protecting the wilderness, the ecological system, biodiversity and small-scale tourism.

Rhino

How do you protect the rhinos once they are in your country?

TK: We take DNA samples from the horns of rhino and create a big DNA database. We can then track the horns in instances of poaching and make it much more difficult for the people doing this to take the horns out of the country.

Mr. Wilke, what role does Botswana play in the tourism industry?

HW: I was lucky enough to travel here for the first time in 1999 as a trade fair design and marketing expert. Working hand in hand with ITB Berlin, we established their adventure and sustainable travel segment. In my opinion, Botswana is now a role model for ITB’s responsible travel segment. It is also one of the best places for youth travel in Africa because of its infrastructure, safety and ecological sustainability.

COLOGNE | GERMANY

COLOGNE | GERMANY - CARNIVAL

Drummer at a carnival parade

The biggest street party in Germany

Mention Cologne to anybody in Germany and the first word you will get in reply is Carnival. Every year, this city in the heart of North-Rhine Westphalia plays host to the biggest street party in the country. Although Carnival takes place early in the year, it actually begins a few months before on November 11th at 11.11am. Then the Carnival season is launched on Cologne’s Alter Markt with musical performances and a presentation of the Dreigestirn to around 70,000 revelers. This trio of regent’s prince, a farmer and a virgin (usually a man dressed as a woman) are the Carnival’s figureheads.

While festivities are toned down over the Christmas period, there are still numerous masked balls and gatherings during this time. These so-called Session Carnival events (running as a complement to Street Carnival happenings) take place in the associations, clubs and pubs of the city and are important for keeping the general atmosphere bubbling until just before Lent and then during Street Carnival itself.

Street Carnival then officially opens with the Woman’s Carnival Day and Cologne takes timeout from day-to-day life to get down to the serious business of enjoying itself – night and day. Plenty of the local beer, Kölsch, is consumed as locals and tourists enjoy Carnival Friday and Carnival Saturday. On Carnival Sunday there is a parade through the city center during which school groups convene in fancy dress and original costume.

The climax of Carnival takes place on Rose Monday. It features an official parade with around 12,000 people on floats and over a million spectators, in complete party mode, lining the route. The parades then move to the city’s suburbs on Carnival Tuesday. Once Ash Wednesday comes along, the local Carnival slang, the ‘Butzchen’ (peck) kisses, the cries of “Kölle Alaaf!” meaning “Long live Cologne”, the throwing of sweets ‘Kamelle’ and posies ‘Strüßjer’ from floats, the total craziness, it all just disappears as if nothing ever happened. Well – that is until the next time, next year.

Carnival veteran meets carnival princess

When two Carnival lovers meet, one does not have to worry about getting them in a good mood. The Cologne Carnival is famous all over the world and the Berlin Carnival is following suit. Who knows if their meeting is the start of an overlapping of their respective city’s Carnival festivities, but if it is, you can be certain these two will be there to make sure it is a great party.

Dr. Joachim Wüst and Christiane Holm

Dr. Joachim Wüst (left)
Dr. Wüst is a man with many hats: lawyer, accountant and President of the Great Cologne Carnival Society. His love affair with Carnival started in his younger days when he jumped on a float. Since then he has never looked back, although these days his costume is a little less exuberant.
www.grossekoelner.de

Christiane Holm (right)
The HR representative and lecturer works full-time in a workshop with handicapped people. She lives in Berlin and is currently Vice-President of its Carnival Festive Committee and the current Carnival princess.
www.festkomitee-berliner-karneval.de

What is it that is so fantastic about Carnival?

Joachim Wüst: The Cologne Carnival is a tourist magnet that brings many people from around Germany and the rest of the world to the city. For me, the great thing is to see the interaction of these people in crazy costumes in a traditional setting. As a student, I also stood on the stage and once you have been up on it, you can’t let go of Carnival.

Christiane Holm: What fascinates me most is how Carnival can really bring people together. Although Berlin is not a stronghold like Cologne, we are very socially engaged and it’s a lot of fun. Here, the session Carnival is bigger than the street Carnival, but we are working on it.

What is the role of the Carnival Committee?

JW: The Cologne Carnival Festive Committeerepresents the interests of over 100 Cologne Carnival Societies and among other things, organizes the Rose Monday parade. The Great Cologne Carnival Society, founded 1882, is one of the biggest Carnival Societies in Cologne and a Frackgesellschaft (tailcoat society), which means without crazy costumes. We conduct sessions; nostalgic ones without a lot of music for more established members and modern ones for younger members. We are also part of the parade with two floats – one of which is equipped with an LED screen because one has to stay up to date.

CH: The Berlin Carnival Festive Committee is Berlin’s governing body. We bring together all of Berlin’s Carnival societies, organize the great Carnival parade and appoint the royal couple – our Carnival figureheads.

What was your first costume as a child and what is it these days?

CH: When I was a little girl I dressed up as a snowflake. The last time I dressed up as a vampire.

JW: My brother and I used to dress up as sailors when we were children. I don’t wear a costume these days, just my official tailcoat.

Do your children also participate in Carnival activities?

CH: Of course! My daughter is the treasurer of the Prinzengarde (Prince’s guard) society and my granddaughter is Tanzmariechen (dancing girl).

JW: When you are as active in Carnival as I am, the children and partner just have to join in. My three daughters performed on stage with me for a while. Now they are part of a dancing group and just as ‘jeck’ (crazy) as their father.

Costumes
MUNICH | GERMANY

MUNICH | GERMANY - OKTOBERFEST

Party tent at Oktoberfest

The world's biggest fair

Every modern traveller has heard of Oktoberfest, it is the world‘s biggest beer festival, attracting around six million people every year. Known locally as ‘Wiesn’, it began life over 200 years ago as a proposal to celebrate the marriage between Ludwig of Bavaria and Princess Therese with a grand horse festival. King Max I. Joseph of Bavaria was enthusiastic about the idea and on October 17th 1810, the first Oktoberfest took place, in honor of the Crown Princess, on a meadow called ‘Theresienwiese’. There was widespread agreement the following year that celebration be repeated and so it became a regular event on the calendar.

The Oktoberfest developed over the years into a beer festival, where visitors drink their way through 7 million liters of Bavarian beer. Traditionally the Wiesn is opened with the tapping of the first keg by the Lord Mayor of Munich and with their proclamation ‘O zapft is!’ After this the fun begins with pop and folk music providing the backdrop to an enormous party, which is often deemed a success once everyone ends up dancing on the tables.

Bavarian in Berlin meets World Champion

Anita Schwarz and Helmut Amberger are original Bavarians. Both of them live the Bavarian way of life with everything that it entails: Lederhosen and Dirndls (traditional Bavarian dress), Weißwurst and Leberkäs (Bavarian specialty foods), local traditions and customs, and a love of beer and the Oktoberfest.

Helmut Amberger and Anita Schwarz

Helmut Amberger (left)
A true Bavarian, Helmut Amberger, originally from Amberg, Oberpfalz, moved to Berlin 40 years ago to study. Once there, he joined the ‘Bayern in Berlin e.V.’ association (Bavarians in Berlin) where he is the current chairman. Helmut and his Bavarian compatriots host their own Oktoberfest every year in the capital.

Anita Schwarz (right)
Mrs. Schwarz has been carrying beer mugs as a waitress at Oktoberfest for the last 25 years and is a world champion at it. Anita Schwarz started on that road by carrying liter containers of milk over long distances to build up her arm strength. Nowadays, she does this in the gym and because of it can carry 21 beer mugs at a time (1 mug contains 1 liter of beer).

When was the first time you visited Oktoberfest?

Helmut Amberger: When I was 15 I took a train with a friend and his dad to Munich to visit the Oktoberfest for the first time. I still remember how fascinated I was that everyone in the beer tents was dancing on the tables. We missed the last train home and had to spend the night at the station in Munich.

Anita Schwarz: I have worked at Wiesn every year since 1987 and each time feels like the first time.

What is so special about Oktoberfest?

HA: Each time I go to the Wiesn I am fascinated by the atmosphere. Everyone is standing on the tables, swaying to the music and raising their glasses to each other. I particular enjoy the fact that people from diverse backgrounds come together and experience the wonderful atmosphere at the Wiesn.

AS: The Wiesn has to be experienced in all of its rich diversity – sight, smell and taste. The local delicacies, the decorated tents, the rustic brass music mixed with the modern music, all are part of the festival atmosphere.

Isn’t it a bit of a tourist trap nowadays?

HA: I think it is still authentic, although the Oktoberfest has gradually become a party mile over the years. Nevertheless, the Bavarian lifestyle is still brilliantly represented

AS: The Wiesn is still genuine because it has become an annual family reunion. You don’t have to arrange a meeting with anyone at another time because it is a tradition ritual of ours to join up at the Wiesn.

As a true Bavarian,what does Oktoberfest mean to you?

AS: It stands for tradition and history, but also home. Above all it is great to welcome people from far and wide as guests to Bavaria. I am fortunate and proud to work at the Wiesn.

HA: It means the coming together of people from all sections of German society, as well as many people from other countries, who all gather to experience and celebrate the Bavarian way of life.

Anita Schwarz carrying beer mugs

Tell us the story behind your World Champion title.

AS: In 2000 I set the first official Guinness World Record with 17 beer mugs. Over the years that followed I continued to improve and have now got it up to 21 mugs, however, I haven’t achieved this during an official assessment. My current world record is officially 19 beer mugs, a total weight of 45kg, which I carried for 40 meters. All mugs, which I stack on top of each other in a special way, have to reach the finishing line filled up to the calibration mark. The trick is to have the right beer froth because that’s how the beer stays in the mug.

HA: I‘m impressed, the most I have ever been able to carry is 10 mugs.

Mr. Amberger, you are chairman of ‘Bayern in Berlin e. V.’ How do the Bavarians live and celebrate with their Prussian friends?

HA: We cultivate the Bavarian traditions and way of life with everything that this entails. This is why we also celebrate traditional Bavarian festivals. The Prussians in our organization have taught me the so-called “Schuhplattln” (a traditional folk dance), which is unknown in the Oberpfalz.

BUDAPEST | HUNGARY

BUDAPEST | HUNGARY - FALL OF THE WALL

People crossing the border

A daring escape to the West

The Berlin Wall really began falling in August 19, 1989, in a place called Sopron, close to the Austrian-Hungarian border. Under the cover of an official Pan-European Picnic between Hungarians and Austrians, hundreds of GDR citizens escaped to West Germany. The incident was a stepping-stone in the eventual fall of the Wall on November 9, 1989 and a milestone in the collapse of the GDR itself.

The Pan-European Union had the idea of using a ‘picnic’ near the border southeast of Vienna as a symbolic gesture for the consolidation of Europe. The gate on the street between the Austrian Eisenstadt and the Hungarian Sopron, which had been locked for decades, was to be opened so that people from the Austrian community of St. Margarethen could come over to Hungary for the ‘Picnic’.

Once the gates opened, around 600 GDR citizens took advantage of this gap in the Iron Curtain to rush to freedom. Border officials, under the command of Árpád Bella, looked away and let the cheering refugees walk into Austria. Once there, the escapees received travel documents from the West German embassy in Vienna and started their new lives in the country they had been divided from for so many years. These days, Árpád Bella is hailed as a hero for doing something that could have seen him thrown in jail.

GDR refugee meets Border official

Two men, who are part of the story of the fall of the Berlin Wall, met each other for the first time in Budapest. They still remember quite clearly the emotions connected to that flight to freedom by GDR citizens in 1989.

Kay Steffens and Árpád Bella

Kay Steffens (left)
The East Berlin native fled to West Germany via Budapest in September 1989 before the official opening of the Berlin Wall. He originally settled in Cologne, but later moved back to Berlin. He likes to spends his free time with his childs and also enjoys water sports.

Árpád Bella (right)
Now retired, in 1989 he was the senior border officer at the crossing near the Hungarian city of Sopron. His actions, or inaction, allowed hundreds of GDR citizens to escape to Austria. Years later his heroic deeds were rewarded with the Hungarian Order of Merit and the German Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit.

On August 19, 1989 an official delegation was supposed to cross the Hungary-Austria-border as part of the Pan-European ‘Picnic’. What was the purpose?

Árpád Bella: The Hungarian opposition organized a ‘Picnic’ that entailed a group of roughly 100 people symbolically dismantling the wire fence between Hungary and Austria. A gate from the West was to be opened, through which people from an Austrian village were supposed to walk and then meet and have a feast with people on the Hungarian side.

Instead of the official delegation a different group of people crossed the border. When did you realize they were not who they were supposed to be?

AB: We had a view down the street and suddenly saw a group of people walking toward us. We thought it was the delegation but when they got closer we saw that there were children among the group – quite strange for a political delegation. Suddenly many people appeared on the Austrian side of the border, among them photographers and television crews.

Did you try to stop the crowd?

AB: I quickly realized that I could not stop the crowd in a peaceful manner. If I were to stop them, then it would by force and blood would have been shed. I had about 20 seconds to decide what commands I should give.

Kay Steffens: We heard about this incident secretly in the GDR, news of what had happened travelled fast.

Border officer

How did you react?

AB: I was aware that I was going against orders if I let the people walk through the gate. According to the former law I was facing 5 – 8 years of prison time. However, I also thought if none of my superiors instructs me about how to handle things, I’ll let the people go. I was very unsure of what the consequences of my actions would be for me.

What was the reaction of the East German refugees?

AB: The refugees were cheering. They ran past us frantically and it seemed to me that they didn’t even know where they were. They only had one goal: get away from here. Fortunately, the Austrian border officials also just let them go on their way once I had talked to them.

Mr. Steffens, why did you want to escape the GDR?

KS: I couldn’t cope with the GDR regime, I felt confined. I am a foster child and lived in a special children’s home, where there was abuse that the state turned a blind eye to. Also, consumer goods were withheld from the people; for example, I had to wait six months for a new washing machine.

You escaped via the Hungarian border in September 1989. How did you manage it?

KS: Those who had not requested an official application of departure, or had received a rejection on their departure request, planned their escape together. We bought round trip tickets to Budapest – a one-way ticket would have been too obvious. Once we arrived in Budapest, we went to the German embassy right away. We stayed there for a couple of weeks and when they actually opened the border we were taken to West Germany by train.

After your escape what was the experience like of living in West Germany as a GDR citizen?

KS: It was conflicting – we first went to a refugee camp in Bonn and from there we were allocated different cities. We came across many West Germans who welcomed us, but also some who were against us, which we did not understand at all because to our mind German was German.

What difference did you notice between East and West Germany?

KS: The smell! I still enjoy stopping at perfumeries because they emit that particular scent that reminds me of the past.

ANTALYA | TURKEY

ANTALYA | TURKEY - PEARL OF THE MEDITERRANEAN

Coastline of Antalya

Sharing is caring

The Turkish city of Antalya is often referred to as the ‘Pearl of the Mediterranean’. It is the focus of an ever-growing tourism hub on the Turkish Riviera, which is visited by more that 2.5 million tourists each year. The city is located between the azure blue sea and the 3,000-meter high Lycian Taurus Mountains. So one can enjoy the beach during the summer while enjoying the unusual but stunning backdrop of snowcapped peaks. Besides Antalya’s natural beauty, it has many fascinating manmade features. These include the Hellenic city walls with their ancient Hadrian gate, as well as a well-preserved old town and a bustling marina. There is also the vibrant seaport in the southern part of Antalya. The beach is nevertheless the main attraction of this city of roughly two million inhabitants. There are several wonderful ones both east and west of the city center. Patara, for example, is the longest beach in Turkey, and its 18 km of sandy shore are perfect for a wonderful walk.

No trip to Turkey would be complete without a full sampling of its excellent cuisine, which is as versatile as it is healthy. The Turkish kitchen is characterized by its extensive and time-consuming preparation of dishes. This effort may explain why the Turkish also take a lot of time in the evening, at home or in a restaurant, to sit together with friends or family and really enjoy their food. As a visitor to Antalya, a city not lacking in generous hospitality, this is something you will no doubt be invited to experience yourself.

Restaurant administrator meets travel agency owner

What could be better than sitting together with your favorite people, eating delicious food and enjoying interesting conversation? During this meeting it became clear that the desire for companionship is not culturally specific but universal. Of course, offering excellent food is a sure way of bringing people together.

Cengiz Yurdakonar and Susanne Blankenberg

Cengiz Yurdakonar (left)
The son of restaurant owners is an IT specialist and works in the buying and controlling department of the Alara restaurant business. His father founded this successful family concern, which encompasses two restaurants, 27 years ago. The eateries are very popular among couples, business people and tourists.
www.alararestaurant.com

Susanne Blankenberg (right)
The Berliner has been a travel agent since 2008, after starting her career in the hotel business. She opened her own travel bureau at the beginning of 2005. Trips to Turkey are very popular with her clients. Ms. Blankenberg has a skipper’s license for coastal and inland waters and enjoys sailing Brandenburg’s lakes and rivers in her free time.
www.reiseboa.de

How would you characterize Turkish cuisine?

Cengiz Yurdakonar: The Turkish kitchen is very healthy and versatile. In our restaurants we offer salads and mezes (appetizers). Fresh fish and meat dishes, which are prepared with lots of olive oil, are very popular. Jerky, a dried meat, is also a big trend at the moment.

Susanne Blankenberg: I love the salads that you get in Turkey. They don’t taste refrigerated like in Germany, but are very fresh and have a very intense taste, as do most of the ingredients in Turkish cuisine. The salads are also very healthy due to the use of olive oil and lemon juice.

In Germany we link Turkish cuisine with doner kebab, is it really that common in Turkey?

CY: Doner kebab in pita bread is easy to prepare and is seen as street food, a quick snack. The philosophy behind it has nothing to do with the real Turkish kitchen, which consists of many little steps and is generally very time-consuming to prepare and eat.

turkish apatizers

Which roles do food and community play in everyday life?

SB: It is very important to me that the family sits around a table for dinner. Generally, I think that these days we do not spend enough time eating together or exchanging thoughts and ideas with family or friends in a communal setting.

CY: I totally agree, community is also very important in Turkey. These days you have to make a big effort to bring everyone together. I think having delicious food is a good start (laughs).

Mrs. Blankenberg, which destinations are favorites amongst your clients?

SB: Trips to Turkey are actually ranked first, but also cruises and travel to the Mediterranean area in general are very popular. I offer all-inclusive tours to Turkey, but also trips with a few stops and special city breaks. Overall, lots of best agers book tours and many of them stay in Turkey for 4-6 weeks. This is not to say that families and couples don’t enjoy trips to Turkey, because they do.

How important is tourism to Antalya and especially to your restaurants?

CY: Antalya’s economy is based mainly on agriculture and tourism. As far as our restaurants are concerned, we have local guests but also many tourists that have heard about us via recommendation or on social media. Newly-weds or those that have recently fallen in love seem to enjoy our nice atmosphere and the relaxing and romantic sea view.

What do tourists particularly appreciate about Turkey?

CY: I think it is the sheer variety on offer. We have interesting cities like Antalya and Istanbul, stunning beaches on the Mediterranean or the Black Sea, mountains, steppes and historic sites. There is so much to see and experience in this country.

SB: The versatility is definitely a big attraction. Many tourists already know the beaches but want to discover more of the country. There is a section of the population that I have noticed in my travel bureau that is moving away from all-inclusive trips to tailor-made ones where you move around the country, e.g., hiking trips. Whichever type of vacation they take, people always appreciate the things Turkey has to offer like good food, a pleasant climate and wonderful hospitality.

LA ROMANA | DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

LA ROMANA | DOMINICAN REPUBLIC - GOLF TOURISM

golf course

Tee off in paradise

The Dominican Republic, with its many gold-standard courses, has become one of the most popular golfing destinations in the world. The Caribbean island is increasingly attracting European golfers, unsurprising considering many of its courses have been crafted by renowned designers such as Jack Nicklaus, Tom Fazio or Pete Dye. In addition to their attractive designs, the courses are set amid some spectacular nature and have the advantage of being playable all year round.

The island’s flagship golf resort is Club Casa de Campo located on the southeast of the island. On the outskirts of La Romana, the country’s third largest city, it offers a choice of three stunning 18-hole golf courses. The most popular of them is called ‘The Teeth of Dog’ and is cut from the rock and coral lining the Dominican coastline. It is ranked the no. 1 course in the Caribbean and as high as no. 52 internationally.

Courses in the Dominican cater for beginners, intermediates and advanced golfers. A handicap is not mandatory in order to play on the island and equipment can be rented from all facilities. So no matter which course you choose, you can be guaranteed an athletic challenge in aesthetic surroundings, which is exactly what golfers all over the world look for in a golfing vacation.

Golf pro meets former boxing champ

When Sven Ottke retired from boxing golf became his new passion. It was therefore a great pleasure and honor for the ex-world champ to meet Willy Pumarol and receive a few tips and pointers from this up-and-coming young golfer while sharing a round at Club Casa de Campo.

Willy Pumarol and Svel Ottke

Willy Pumarol (left)
Willy Pumarol is a talented young professional who is blazing a trail for golfers from the Dominican Republic. His father, a pro coach, laid the foundation for his professional career by putting a plastic golf club in his hands on his 3rd birthday. Mr. Pumarol is the first Dominican golfer to attain a World Golf Ranking and uses this position to act as an ambassador for Dominican tourism.
twitter.com/willypumarol

Sven Ottke (right)
The ex-world middleweight boxing champion retired in March 2004. He’s still keen on sports and gets his dose of athletic activity on the golf course. He is a member of the ‘EAGLES Charity Gold Club e.V.’ and supports many worthy causes via participating in fund-raising golf events.
www.sven-ottke.de

What is your golf handicap?

Sven Ottke: At the moment I play off nine but I have been down to six, which is where I’m aiming to be again. Your mind and psyche are very important when playing golf. If you desperately want to reach a certain goal, you will only hold yourself back. So the simple rule is to take it easy. Having said that, I am a passionate athlete and always want to give my best and win, so the balance between tension and relaxation is not always optimal (laughs).

Willy Pumarol: That’s a good question. I try to explain to people that when you’re a professional, the handicap system does not apply anymore. It is a method used by amateurs in order to identify the level their game is at. So I don’t have one.

Mr. Ottke, you retired in 2004 as an undefeated world champion, what did you do after that?

SO: The months following retirement were rough, which I am sure every boxer can comprehend. As an athlete I had a precise daily schedule with defined tasks and then suddenly I had no disciplined plan anymore, which was not easy. Golf is a great sport. I was already playing it as a hobby and wanted to become a golf coach. That didn’t work out, so these days I simply play for fun and take part in charity events.

What is the challenge of golf and is it similar to boxing in any way?

SO: When golfing, the real enemy is you, even when you are playing with others you are really playing against yourself. Golf is a tremendous mental strain and you have to pay attention to so many different factors simultaneously. Boxing is the exact opposite of golf because while golfing requires little movement, boxing relies on lots of constant movement: left, right, dodging the opponent, launching an attack, etc.

Why is the Dominican Republic a great place to play golf?

WP: I think there is a combination of different factors that attract people here to play golf. For one, all courses are easy accessible from the major airports. Secondly, there are many different options in terms of courses offered by hotels and resorts. Then there are the stunning settings and wonderful hospitality. We have more than 18 golf courses and most of them are located at the seafront and are attended by very friendly people.

SO: In Europe, for example, is it not possible to golf during the winter but here in the Dominican Republic the weather is guaranteed to be great. Even though it takes some hours to get here from Europe, it is absolutely worth it. The atmosphere here is fantastic.

Willy Pumarol golfing

Has golf supported the development of tourism in the Dominican Republic?

WP: For sure, golf plays an important role in tourism. I recently read an article about this topic, which stated that golf brought in a profit of around 300 million dollars to the Dominican Republic between 2015 and the start of 2016. That is huge! Golf, therefore, is at the forefront of tourism in our country.

Casa de Campo is a very exclusive resort, what is so noteworthy about it?

WP: Pete Dye, who is a master of design who has designed courses all over the world, is the creator of Casa de Campo’s three courses. It’s an honor, pleasure and challenge to play his courses and that is the attraction for the many golfers that come here from all over the world. Add that to the fantastic landscape, the welcoming atmosphere and the topclass facilities and you have a great golfing destination.

LISBON | PORTUGAL

LISBON | PORTUGAL - URBAN TRANSPORT

Eléctrico Lisbon

A ride through the city of seven hills

Boulevards and narrow alleyways, seafaring romance and the sound of Fado – these attributes all unite Lisbon. On top of that, the city is surrounded by seven hills and these provide visitors and locals alike with views that are comparable to any city in the world. Lisbon is therefore a travel destination for romantic wanderers and those with an appreciation for the aesthetic.

The best-known view over the city is from the top of the Elevador de Santa Justa (The Santa Justa Lift). The elevator’s steel frame is similar to that of the Eiffel Tower and since its construction in 1902, it has been regarded as one of the city’s top attractions. Lisbon also has the Avenida da Liberade, a majestic boulevard in the Baixa district that is perfect for a stroll and a bit of shopping. Alongside this attraction are the tempting cafés and boutiques in the Chiado district, where one can still experience the authentic coffeehouse charm of Lisbon.

Fado is the musical soul of Portugal. At nighttime, the Bairro Alto and the cobblestoned Alfama districts, are transformed with its melancholic sound. This authentic music should not be missed during a stay in Lisbon. It is as much a part of Portugal as the ‘Eléctrico’, the characteristically yellow streetcar that has been navigating Lisbon’s steep streets since 1901. Both traditional elements contribute to the obvious charm of the oldest city in Western Europe.

Lisbon streetcar driver meets Berlin streetcar driver

When Lisbon streetcar driver, João Simas, let fellow streetcar driver and fan of historic transportation, Hartmut Gröschke, drive the famous streetcar line number 28 through the narrow alleyways of Lisbon for the first time, the Berlin guest was happy. This was a meeting where the obvious passion of both men for streetcar transportation was clear to see.

João Simas and Hartmut Gröschke

João Simas (left)
The man from Lisbon fulfilled a childhood dream when he became a driver on the city’s historic streetcars. He is proud to be part of one of the Lisbon’s standout features and takes pleasure in the interaction hehas with his passengers. When he is not enjoying his job, João likes to spend his time at the at the sea, being surrounded by his family.

Hartmut Gröschke (right)
The man from Berlin is a technical advisor for rectifier plants, which create the electric supply that enables streetcars to operate. He is also the proud owner of a streetcars driver’s license and when there’s a shortage of staff he is always ready to offer his services.

Mr. Gröschke, you have been a streetcar fan since childhood. Where did your passion originate?

Hartmut Gröschke: As a child I grew up next to a streetcar route and I rode the streetcar everywhere I had to go. Right after I finished school I worked for three months at a switchyard for streetcars, and after my studies I passed the driving test for streetcars.

Mr. Simas, does it make you proud to be a driver on Lisbon’s historic streetcars?

João Simas: It makes me very proud to be part of one of the main features of the city. When I am driving the streetcar I can see in the rearview mirror how people take pictures of the streetcar and hold their hands out of the windows in sheer pleasure.

Why are the Lisbon streetcars such an attraction?

JS: It’s a combination of the streetcars itself and the route it takes through the city. The streetcars is the best option to explore Lisbon because it reaches most of the neighborhoods.

HG: Driving the number 28 streetcars here in Lisbon is a truly incredible experience. It’s a roller coaster ride that takes you through the narrow alleyways where the gap between the parked cars and the streetcar is just a few centimeters, and yet somehow the drivers manage to maintain their calmness and friendliness.

What views can you enjoy from the streetcar?

JS: We drivers can see everything from up there on the streetcar routes and it’s a fantastic view. We get a real sense of the people, the Tagus river and the city. It’s not easy to explain, it’s just a great feeling you have.

What is the best part of your job?

JS: I like the vehicle itself, plus the opportunity it gives to meet people from all over the world. I like that feeling of being part of the city. I am even featured on postcards! (laughs)

HG: In Berlin, the best part is when you drive early in the morning on the forest routes on the outskirts and you are greeted by the twittering of birds. Then again, it is also nice when you drive through a bustling area where people sometimes give you a wave.

ITB50 Buddy Bear

150 years of streetcars – what have been the milestones for the Berlin streetcar?

HG: The first horse-streetcar operated in the Kupfergraben area in Berlin-Mitte in 1865. By 1881 the city had its first electric streetcars. Then later in 1925 we had the first major delivery of 500 rail- and sidecars. In 1967 streetcar traffic was stopped in West Berlin because they wanted to switch to buses. Personally, I also consider the introduction of the modern Tatra-wagons in 1964 as a milestone, as well as the first low-floor streetcars in 1994.

Will there still be streetcars in 50 years?

JS: I am not certain about the old streetcars, they’re mainly still around for tourism and to drive up the steep hills. The modern streetcars will certainly be there for a long time; they are a clean form of transportation.

Apart from Lisbon, in which cities are streetcars a fundamental part of the cityscape?

JS: For me it’s Prague, Berlin and, of course, San Francisco.

HG: Great cities with historic streetcars are Vienna, Prague and Budapest. A trip which I recommend to all streetcar fans is the one on the Isle of Man - an island in the Irish Sea, which is absolutely fantastic.

NEW YORK | USA

NEW YORK CITY | USA - THE “NEW” NEW YORK CITY

ITB50 New York

A bite of the Big Apple

We all have been to New York City in one way or another. Many of us have literally set foot in the Big Apple, while billions of others have experienced it through song, film or TV. After 9/11 there was a temporary decline in the numbers of people actually traveling to New York, but that situation has long been reversed. The city is now more popular than ever; in 2015 an estimated 58 million people visited its vast array of attractions. Officially, no other city in the world receives more tourists than NY.

Typical of the city that never sleeps, new attractions mean its skyline is always changing. Features such as the High Line – an elevated park built on a former freight rail line – and the new Whitney Museum of American Art building, designed by architect Renzo Piano, have been unveiled in recent years. There is also the new subway station ‘34th Street – Hudson Yards’, which is decorated with mosaics by artist Xenobia Bailey. It is attractions such as these that are creating the new‘ New York City.

Since May 2014, visitors have once again been able to look down on the East Coast metropolis from Lower Manhattan. This is after the opening of the One World Observatory on the 100th floor of the One World Trade Centre, currently the tallest building in the Western hemisphere. The panorama deck offers a spectacular 360-degree view of the city from a height of 380 meters. These are just some of the reasons why NYC has such a high rate of repeat visitors.

Marketing professional meets belly sculptor

New York City is a life-changing experience. Whether it‘s due to the ‚anything goes‘ attitude, the constant energy or its recent tragic history of 9/11, the city continues to influence residents and visitors alike. New York, and 9/11 in particular, certainly changed Anja von Behr‘s life (see interview below). Christopher Heywood‘s continues to work solidly on conveying NYC’s uniqueness and diversity to the world, and it‘s ability to, like in the case of Anja, bring the best out of people. When he took Anja on a tour of the new New York, it was impossible not to see how much both of them love the city.

Christopher Heywood and Anja von Behr

Christopher Heywood (left)
Mr. Heywood is the head of global communications for NYC & Company, the city’s marketing and tourism organization. He is dedicated to building economic prosperity, maximizing travel and tourism opportunities throughout the five boroughs, and spreading a positive image of New York City worldwide.
www.nycandcompany.org

Anja von Behr (right)
After witnessing the 9/11 attacks, Ms. von Behr made a promise to herself to devote her future to art and the emergence of life. She returned home to Germany and started working on creating belly-sculptures and casting kits for pregnant women. Today she is a successful and well-known belly cast artist heavily influenced by NYC.
www.bellyart.de

How did you experience 9/11 and the time that followed?

Christopher Heywood: In 2001 I was still working in Los Angeles, but one month after the attack I was in New York to see the ruins in Lower Manhattan. It was particularly emotional for me on a personal level but there was also a global response, everyone felt it. Today, we see a city that is revitalized. Following the opening of the One World Observatory, NY is a rebuilt city and is stronger than ever.

Anja von Behr: I was walking down Canal Street when the first plane flew over my head, the next second it hit the North Tower right in front of my eyes. I was really afraid when interceptors flew over Manhattan and the cloud of dust from the North Tower was bearing down on me. I realized at this moment that the world was changing. I was thinking: “If I get out of here alive, I will establish ‘belly art’ in Germany.” It was an idea that I had been thinking about for quite some time but had never had the courage to follow through with, not until 9/11. At the end of October 2001, I returned to Germany and since then have only occupied myself with my belly art and enjoying my life.

How has 9/11 changed New York?

AvB: It sounds cruel to the bereaved but from a cultural studies and evolutionary theory point of view, humankind would stand still without death. Today’s NYC would be a different city architecturally and culturally without 9/11. Death and resurrection are inextricably linked.

CH: NYC has always been an evolving, ever- changing, dynamic destination. The tragedy showed the resiliency of New Yorkers and the city itself. At the 9/11 Memorial and the 9/11 Museum, we celebrate the legacy of the individuals who perished in Lower Manhattan on that day we will never forget.

What is so special about New York?

AvB: NYC has changed my life. The idea of belly art was born there when I was inspired by a piece of art at the Whitney called “Shield” by Kiki Smith; it is a clay sculpture of a woman in the late stages of pregnancy.

CH: There is always something new to explore, be it new restaurants, parks or Broadway shows. The city constantly reinvents itself and people from all over the world converge there, the diversity is incredible. It‘s why they call it The Big Melting Pot.

High line

Which new constructions/buildings do you find particularly interesting?

CH: The city is always getting new buildings. My favorite attraction is the High Line, a park in the sky, which you can experience for free. Way up above the city you feel nature, the architecture and the energy of the people the world is walking with you! Also, in 2017, Staten Island will get the New York Wheel, the tallest observation wheel in the world!

AvB: For me the Whitney Museum of Modern Art always has one of the best collections of contemporary art. Thanks to Renzo Piano’s fantastic work, the museum’s façade is now covered in glass; it creates a shiny shell with a transparency, which I like.

VENICE | ITALY

VENICE | ITALY - THE FIRST FEMALE GONDOLIER

Venice

The black swan on Venice's canals

One of the world’s most enduring romantic images is of a The first documented reference places gondolas in Venice in 1094, although there are scholars who claim they were there some 300 years earlier. Equally, no one is quite sure of the origins of the name gondola, but most agree it is probably Turkish, Maltese or Greek.

What is known is that their shape has gradually evolved. In the 13th century the craft had twelve oars, which made it quite large. Three centuries later it had become smaller to deal with Venice’s shallow waters but it had also acquired a little cabin. By 1652, the boats had become so full of decoration that the authorities passed a special law to tone down any over-the-top designs. This was because gondolas had become a sort of status symbol for the wealthy.

The design of the present shape is this banana-like form, with the port side longer than the starboard side, seems to contradict all laws of physics. Yet it is a shape that ensures that the gondola does not veer to the side when the gondolier makes their stroke. The design also allows the gondolier to act as a counter-weight, and as such they are able to steer a craft and passengers with a combined weight of up to 700 kilograms with a simple flick of the wrist.

Not that controlling a gondola is an easy thing to do. It takes a great deal of skill and one needs to pass an exam to become a gondolier.

So if you are ever in Venice and are tempted by Riva degli Schiavoni or the Canal Grande by the loud shouts of “Gondola, Gondola”, know that your trip will not only be a very romantic one, but also one of deep scientific, cultural and historical significance. All the more so if Mrs. Boscolo happens to be your gondolier.

Shipping manager meets gondolier

Both women work in an environment that has traditionally been dominated by men. However, instead of focusing too much on this subject, they wanted to discuss the connection their respective cities have with water, and, of course, the allure of Venice.

Jennifer Hengst and Giorgia Boscolo

Jennifer Hengst (left)
The marketing manager for Stern and Kreisschifffahrt (Stern und Kreis Shipping Company) grew up on the banks of the Spree River. She treats herself to occasional boat trip through Berlin but is equally happy on land, where she might be found jogging in one of Berlin’s many parks.
www.sternundkreis.de

Giorgia Boscolo (right)
The native Venetian and mother of two comes from a family of gondoliers. Her father, uncle and cousin are all gondoliers and she knew as early as 7 years old that that she wanted to emulate them. This is something she achieved when she passed the professional exam and became Venice’s first ever female gondolier.
www.facebook.com/public/Giorgia-Boscolo

What do you like about Venice?

Jennifer Hengst: Simply put, Venice is so beautiful and romantic: bright sunshine reflecting in the water, mazy alleys, dreamy palaces and old, crumbling houses that all give the city a special charm. There are countless channels lined with gondolas and around 1,000 bridges, each one unique. Venice and its timeless cityscape will forever remain in my memory.

The gondola is a cultural fixture in Venice, what is its origin?

Georgia Boscolo: In ancient Venice gondolas were an elegant means of transport for the wealthy aristocracy. Each family had its own personal gondola. They were a status symbol with their gilding, seats upholstered in brocade or silk and colorful exteriors. Nowadays the 500 or so gondolas on the canals are used more for tourist trips than as an opportunity to display wealth.

Why is it better to discover Venice by gondola?

GB: You can’t reach all the old parts of Venice by foot; there are a large number of incredibly small waterways and canals that are just inaccessible to pedestrians. So with a gondola you are able to see views that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to look at.

Mrs. Boscolo, did you face any difficulties on your journey to becoming Venice’s first ever female gondolier?

GB: The gondolier profession only has approximately 450 members and the allocation of licenses is limited and usually bequeathed within families, so when I passed my exam in 2010 I didn’t receive a license straight away. Additionally, the job is physically demanding – to steer a gondola through Venice’s very narrow alleys requires a lot of strength, especially in windy conditions.

Do your male colleagues accept you?

GB: (Laughs confidently) After almost six years – yes, of course. My male colleagues have followed my career with mixed feelings. Nevertheless, sometimes they gave me some secret tips on how to make the work easier.

Is domestic shipping more of a male domain in Berlin?

JH: I wouldn’t call it a male domain. Of course more men still work as ship’s masters and boatswains, however, Stern und Kreis in particular are successfully engaging in the recruitment of female apprentices for the domestic shipping industry. Woman are now established in the field and accepted by their male colleagues.

Gondola trip

In terms of water, what has Berlin to offer that Venice doesn’t?

JH: I’m always fascinated by the different view you get of Berlin from the water. There is a staggering 180 kilometers of waterways in the city and many routes to discover. There is a unique combination of nature at the Landwehrkanal for instance, and modern architecture, as seen in Berlin’s government district buildings. Venice is anything but modern and green areas are basically non-existent. Venice’s waterways are more noisy and turbulent because of the city’s water taxis – in Berlin tours are like a brief vacation from the stress of everyday life.

WARSAW | POLAND

WARSAW | POLAND - PALACE OF CULTURE AND SCIENCE

Palace of culture and science

A tall story

Poland’s tallest building, the Palace of Culture and Science in Warsaw, is 231 meters high. With its 44 floors, 3,288 rooms and more than 5,000 employees, it is a city within a city. In addition to its many offices, it contains museums, movie theaters, restaurants, bars, private colleges, a swimming pool, a youth center, and a theater. It also houses numerous transmitters for broadcasting. From its panorama terrace on the 30th floor, known as ‘the thirtieth’, the building offers locals and tourists a fantastic view of Warsaw.

The skyscraper was designed by the Russian architect Lev Vladimirovich Rudnev and is built in the Socialist Classical style. It was ‘a gift from the Soviet nation to the Polish nation’ and was named initially after Josef Stalin. The Soviet leader made the decision to build it in April 1952, and by May of the same year construction had begun. By July 1955, in a period of just 3 years, a total area of 81,700 square meters had already been completed. Such progress was made possible by the efforts of 3,500 construction workers, 16 of whom died, working day and night.

The Polish people did not appreciate the building to their hearts for a long time, seeing it as a symbol of Soviet oppression. Over time, though, the citizens of Warsaw made peace with the structure and gave it nicknames like ‘Stalin’s Syringe’ or ‘Stalin’s Revenge’. Despite years of quarrels and discussion about its possible demolition or modernization, the Palace is now listed as a national monument and has become a landmark of the Polish capital.

The transformation has probably been helped by the many high-profile events that have been staged at the Palace. The Rolling Stones, Woody Allen, Bruce Springsteen, and Marlene Dietrich are among those who have performed in its magnificent congress hall.

Palace archivist meets travel blogger

For the two women, writing is a main part of their lives, both professionally and privately. Writing wasn’t the only topic of conversation, though, when the two met; they also spoke about the future of Poland and, of all things, Yuri Gagarin, the Russian cosmonaut.

Hanna Szczubelek ans Maike Grundwald

Hanna Szczubelek (left)’
Ms. Szczubelek was born and raised in Warsaw. After graduating from high school, she took a stenotype course and started working as a secretary at the Palace of Culture and Science. She then discovered a talent for writing. For the past 55 years, she has been putting this to good use as the Palace archivist.
www.pkin.pl/en

Maike Grunwald (right)
Ms. Grunwald, originally from Hamburg, studied Literature at Harvard University in Cambridge, USA. Since 1994, she has been working as a freelance journalist, editor, and author. She writes a travel blog and lives with her husband and two cats in Hamburg and Berlin.
maikegrunwald.com
www.reisetageblog.de

What did you want to become when you were a child?

Maike Grunwald: I always wanted to become a journalist and travel the world and my dream has come true. I work as a travel journalist and travel at least once a month, especially to Poland, Africa and Asia. I write for magazines and journals, but also have my own travel blog, which I write for myself as much as for the readers.

Hanna Szczubelek: I also dreamed of traveling the globe like Christopher Columbus. It didn’t happen (laughs), but I have seen a lot of the world. I know Poland very well from my time as a girl scout, but I also have experienced places like Egypt and Greece.

Chronical of Palace of Culture and Science

Ms. Szczubelek, what does a Palace chronologist do?

HS: I collect statistics and facts about events at the Palace. When I started in 1960, I visited every event and wrote about it, but these days I receive all the information after the event. I make hand-written entries into the chronicle and glue in any pictures. There are two criteria I consider for every entry: Will someone understand my article in 50 years? And will they find it interesting?

Which of the famous people that have visited the Palace have impressed you?

HS: I saw Marlene Dietrich during her rehearsal. I did not want to see the Rolling Stones as this is not my type of music. I was, however, part of the committee that calculated the damage caused to the concert hall by the audience (laughs). I have particularly good memories of Yuri Gagarin. I was his personal guide and when we were standing on the 30th floor, he said to me: “Oh, how far the ground is away from here!” I thought this was very funny coming from a cosmonaut.

How has Poland changed over the past few years, and how has that affected the tourism industry here?

MG: In my opinion, Poland has flourished. I love it here so much because it has so much to offer – great cities, the coast, and also awesome nature in areas like Masuria. The infrastructure has also improved because of the European Soccer Championship. Poland has become an easier destination for tourists these days, because more and more people speak English.

HS: Poland, in general, has changed for the better following the end of the Cold War and EU membership, certainly in terms of tourism. The Palace is just one of our many popular attractions; it had more than half a million visitors in 2015. Americans, in particular, are fascinated with any small detail and the fact that we have no air conditioning. I really hope the Palace will still exist in 200 years time.

LYON | FRANCE

LYON | FRANCE - INSTITUT PAUL BOCUSE

Institut Paul Bocuse

The birthplace of Grand Cuisine

Lyon is considered to be the birthplace of Grand Cuisine and is a destination for gourmets from around the world. The simple but refined food is characterized by its famous local produce, such as Bresse Chicken from Bourg-en-Bresse, cheese from Département Ardèche or wine from the Beaujolais.

Nowhere else in France you can find more restaurants per capita than in Lyon, 14 of which have been awarded Michelin stars. The ‘L’Auberge du Pont de Collonges’, a restaurant belonging to Grand Master Paul Bocuse, who also owns brasseries and luxury snack diners, has had three stars since 1965. He and other famous chefs from Lyon, such as Georges Blanc and Alain Chapel, have contributed to the city’s reputation for excellent cuisine. They follow in the footsteps of the traditional Mères Lyonnaises (Mothers of Lyon). They cooked in the homes of rich silk manufacturers until the beginning of the 20th century, when their services could no longer be afforded. As a result, some of the female cooks opened their own restaurants and became famous in the process. These include Mère Fillioux and Mère Brazier, who was the first woman to receive three Michelin stars and was also Paul Bocuse’s teacher. In order to preserve and pass on these traditions, but also to conduct research within the fields of gastronomy and the hotel industry, Paul Bocuse founded the Institut Paul Bocuse in 1990, which – since 1998 – has been presided over by Gérard Pélisson, co-founder of Accor Group. It welcomes 650 students of 37 different nationalities, preparing them for careers around the world by focusing on operational agility and high managerial competencies.

Head chef meets foodie

Street food markets and star restaurants couldn’t be more different at first sight. But Jean-Paul Naquin, a head chef, and Kavita Meelu, a passionate foodie, both agree that, although a barbeque and a fine dinner cannot be compared, both can be equally enjoyable. In the end, they believe it is the story behind the food, good company and the moment itself that count.

Jean-Paul Naquin and Kavita Meelu

Jean-Paul Naquin (left)
In 2010, the French chef – with a background of more than 30 years of notable culinary experience – joined the Institut Paul Bocuse as a teacher. He has acquired considerable international exposure after working in top restaurants and hotels in France, New York City, the Bahamas, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Indonesia, South Korea, Turkey and Dubai.
www.institutpaulbocuse.com

Kavita Meelu (right)
The Londoner with Indian roots worked in politics and advertising after finishing her business studies. When she fell in love with a German, she discarded her old life, moved to Berlin and devoted herself to her greatest love: food. Since then, she has stirred up Berlin’s food scene with interesting projects, such as street food markets, Mother’s Mother, or Kitchensurfing.
mothersmother.com

How did you come to dedicate yourself to gastronomy?

Jean-Paul Naquin: I grew up on a farm where you would pick up vegetables and 40 minutes later you had a great meal on your plate. There were many generations of us under one roof and my grandmother always cooked for us. My mother later took over that role, so I always thought this was a female job. I realized it was going to be the opposite during my apprenticeship. Anyhow, this is where my passion comes from.

Kavita Meelu: My parents were farmers in India and food was always my connection to that culture. When I moved to Berlin, I decided to leave the world of advertising and follow my dream: to work with food. The first thing I did was to establish Mother’s Mother, a dinner club that celebrates food made by mothers and grandmothers all over the world. I want to encourage people to share their stories and recipes so that they won’t be forgotten.

What is contemporary eating for you?

KM: This is something I think about a lot. Today, young people, even though many are still living at home, spend half their salary on food. I think the reason is that we used to have this social eating experience with the family at home and now we have to look for it outside of the house. It is a simple human need and this is why communal dining tables, sharing plates and restaurants where the kitchen is located directly next to the dining rooms are becoming so popular.

Do you still enjoy cooking outside of work?

JPN: After 24 years of working as a chef around the world, I decided to settle down in France. My wife doesn’t cook and I guess my cooking is the reason she married me (laughs). But honestly, when I come home in the evening, I prepare a meal for us. Since I am teaching more than cooking now, I enjoy the time in the kitchen – smelling and touching fresh ingredients.

KM: Nowadays, we don’t have many tangible things, we spend so much time in front of a computer. So, for me, it is relaxing to cook at home for my family and friends. I don’t do it as often as I like, though; I tend to eat out more.

cooking class

Mr. Naquin, what exactly do you teach at the Institut Paul Bocuse?

JPN: The Institut has two facets: hotel and restaurant management, and culinary arts. I teach culinary arts, and we educate students in practical and theoretical matters, like finance, management and cooking. The education lasts 3 to 4 years for a bachelor’s (honors) degree – 5 for a master’s degree. The remarkable thing is that 33 % of our alumni start their own business within 4 years of their graduation.

SINGAPORE | ASIA

SINGAPORE | ASIA - ITB ASIA

Singapore

ITB Berlin's Asian sister

In 2008, ITB Berlin established its sister tourism trade show in Singapore. Each year, ITB Asia opens its gates in October, catering to the growing tourism needs of Asia, a continent that is a new frontier for the global travel industry. Since its launch, ITB Asia has proved a great success, becoming a leading B2B trade show for the Asian travel market. Many NTOs and state tourism authorities have been keen to take advantage of its popularity to introduce the region’s new or established destinations.

As a business and knowledge platform for the travel industry, it continues to grow in both size and format. In 2015, ITB Asia hosted 750 exhibitors in an area of 15,000 square meters. The sheer scope of the show left a lasting impression with all of its 9,650 visitors from over 100 countries.

There is good reason why ITB Berlin chose Singapore as the location for its sister travel trade show. It is a global center for commerce and finance. It is also a regional transportation hub, with good connections to India and China, as well being less than six hours of flight away from all other Asian countries. It is, without a doubt, the pearl in the center of South East Asia.

Director meets Executive Director

Asia meets Europe. Singapore meets Berlin. Director meets Executive Director. They work hand in hand, share a passion for business and both have a deep interest in the smallest state in South East Asia.

Dr. Martin Buck and Katrina Leung

Dr. Martin Buck (left)
The man from Stuttgart has been with Messe Berlin since 2003. He is currently Senior Vice President of Travel and Logistics, as well as Director of Messe Berlin Singapore, roles that give him responsibility for both ITB Berlin and ITB Asia. The fan of Singapore loves to travel and – in his free time – enjoys running, cycling, and motorbikes.
www.itb-berlin.com

Katrina Leung (right)
She has held the position of Executive Director of ITB Asia since 2014. The native Filipina studied business management with a minor in international business and has many years of experience in the conference sector. She enjoys kickboxing workouts and traveling around the world.
www.itb-asia.com

What is so special about Singapore?

Katrina Leung: I’ve grown to love Singapore because of the seamless way it merges the city center and the suburbs. You have easy access to the bustling city and its main business districts, yet, at the same time, one is near residential areas where the pace is much more relaxed.

Martin Buck: Singapore is one of those urban spaces with features that best represent a city of the future. The government regulates certain infrastructures in a way that you won’t find in the Western world. In addition, many seminal themes have been realized in Singapore, for example, ‘smart city’.

Can Singapore be recommended as a vacation destination?

MB: Absolutely, Singapore is definitely worth visiting because the city has a modern, comfortable infrastructure and is quite futuristic. On top of this, it’s the ideal starting point for all other South East Asian countries.

KL: It’s a steel jungle with a warm heart. Whether it’s for business or pleasure, Singapore is well worth a visit! ITB Asia has been taking place in Singapore since 2008.

What was the reason for establishing an international tourism trade show in Asia?

MB: In Germany, we have had one of the world’s largest travel markets for decades. We were world champion travelers for a long time, but nowadays the market is only developing in small steps. In Asia, the situation is different. They are in the early phase of the market cycle. People are just starting to generate disposable income with which the travel demand from Asian countries grows in double digits annually. We wanted to participate in this growth and tried to enter the exhibition business with the world’s best-known tourism fair brand.

What difference is there between spending a day at ITB Berlin and at ITB Asia?

KL: ITB Berlin, with its 50- year history, is the epitome of what ITB Asia wants to become one day. As the World’s Leading Travel Trade Show, its size and scope is impressive and is unmatched in the industry. ITB Asia has become the leading travel trade show in the region and is becoming a 2nd ITB Berlin in its own right.

MB: In some ways there is no difference. The Singaporeans are characterized by a serious work ethic. They are very reliable, professional and sometimes slightly bureaucratic. One could say that they are the Prussians of Asia (laughs).

ITB Asia

How has ITB Asia changed since 2008?

KL: Innovation is the lifeblood of our event. We’ve always listened to industry stakeholders and the years of continuous dialog mean that ITB Asia is much more sophisticated nowadays when it comes to content and our ability to match participants via networking. We are more efficient and productive, compared to how we were in the past.

What does the future of ITB Asia look like in terms of innovation, change and growth?

KL: I believe that ITB Asia will continue to be at the forefront of market trendsetting in the region. Looking at specific aspects of the event, I believe that technology, and the globalization and digitalization of everything, will play a key role in how our event evolves.

MB: I see the future in all three aspects as positive. We adapt to the realities of the market and ask all ‘game changers’ who have new products to speak at the travel congress that we run in parallel. It is through them that new content is produced.

Is Messe Berlin planning to include further locations for ITB?

MB: As Franz Beckenbauer likes to say: “We will see”.

PERTH | AUSTRALIA

PERTH | AUSTRALIA - PRESERVATION OF ABORIGINAL AUSTRALIA

ITB50 Australia title

A timeless culture

Australia, the so-called ‘Red Continent’, is a popular place among tourists and adventurers. There are numerous attractions that distinguish it from other destinations, including the Great Barrier Reef and the vast Outback, both of which are home to some impressive flora and fauna. Australia has much more to offer, though, including the rich cultural heritage of its Aboriginal people, who have been present on the continent for more than 50,000 years, which makes theirs the oldest culture on our planet.

Tourism makes a valid contribution to the preservation of this indigenous culture. Places like Uluru (Ayers Rock) and Kata Tjuta (The Olgas) in the Western Desert are very spiritual locations for Aboriginal Australians. Visitors can almost feel the history of the people captured in the aura surrounding the magnificent red rock formations.

Nowadays, there are many Aboriginal tour guides and excellent tourism businesses across the country. These guides, with knowledge that has been passed down through the generations, can take you on Aboriginal trails that reach into rarely explored areas. One can really see and learn how the Aborigines acted in harmony with the land and survived by respecting its possible bounty. Out on a trail, sitting by a fire, eating food sourced from the bush around you, one can drift as far away as possible from the everyday stress of urban life. It is here, in the heartland of the Aboriginal people, where you get a real sense of Australia, not to mention the feeling of what being a genuine traveler is all about.

Aboriginal tour guide meets social worker

This is a meeting between two women from different backgrounds who both are committed to Aboriginal culture. Robyn Mungulu is part of the growing Aboriginal tourism industry that showcases the diversity of Aboriginal cultures across Australia. Elke Kaiser is a social worker who loves Aboriginal art and is very involved in helping children.

Robyn Mungulu and Elke Kaiser

Robyn Mungulu (left)
Robyn Mungulu comes from the far north of Western Australia on the Kimberley coast and belongs to the Worrorra people, who have lived in Australia for more than 50,000 years. She works as the senior tour guide in her family business, Wandjina Tours, which hosts visitors and shows them remote locations that have special Aboriginal cultural features and rock art. On top of this, she is also an accomplished artist, selling her paintings to visitors from all over the world.
www.wandjinatours.com.au

Elke Kaiser (right)
She came to Melbourne more than 20 years ago as an exchange student, married a local, and has lived there ever since. The Berlin native studied social work and has been involved in various projects in that field, including child protection.

Where does culture fit into your life?

Robyn Mungulu: Let me answer with the words of Donny Woolagoodja, my uncle and co-founder of Wandjina Tours: “For us to share our past, present and future with the visitors makes us proud, our old people are happy to know that we are on our land and keeping the culture alive. It is important for us to walk into the future and provide a sustainable cultural presence for our younger people that embraces our heritage and our ways and keeps them alive.”

Elke Kaiser: I have lived in Australia for more than 20 years, I met my Australian husband here and I love it, but I still feel connected to the culture of Berlin. I was probably a bit too old by the time I left Berlin, so I’ve really never lost the sense of that being my home. I have my cultural roots in Germany – that’s something a person never loses, because it links strongly to your own history.

Are travelers aware of the Aboriginal culture?

RM: Some might not know much about our culture yet. On my tours, however, I have experienced a lot of interest in the history of the Aborigines. The tourists are keen to know about our ancestry and our historical way of life. My message to them is to care for the environment and to not destroy nature.

EK: When I reflect on my journeys throughout the world, I remember how hard it has been to get in touch with the original people of a country. I am happy that this is changing. Here in Australia, I sometimes notice a lack of sensitivity and appreciation, though, when travelers climb Ayers Rock, the sacred mountain of the Aborigines, which shows a lack of respect for its cultural importance.

How do you help Australia keep its ancient culture alive?

RM: I am happy to share culture and traditions with visitors through my work and I think I am keeping our culture alive because of it. Visitors from all over the world love to spend time with my colleagues and me, hearing the stories and learning about the old ways and how the world has changed for us and what our future holds.

As a social worker, what is your relationship with the Aboriginal people?

EK: I completed my social work degree in Australia. After initially working at a crisis center, I was then employed by the Department for Child Protection, which is involved in Aboriginal well-being. I do work with the so-called ‘Stolen Generations’, which relates to a period in the past when Aboriginal children were taken away from their families and then brought up in institutions or fostered by white families.

Aborinal art

What role does art play in your life?

RM: It helps me to express myself on a personal level. It helps to keep the history of my ancestors alive. Moreover, there is a community of artists which I belong to that profits from selling the art, something which benefits us all.

EK: For Aboriginal children, it is also important to learn to paint and to follow in the footsteps of many before them who once painted on rock. My husband’s wedding present to me was an Aboriginal piece of art, a big canvas. I love it!

Could tourism be a tool against poverty?

RM: I think it could benefit those people financially who give us their artwork to sell. I also think that, when we share our culture and everything related to it, tourists come to understand who we really are, which – in its own way – could also be considered a form of wealth.

SINT MICHIEL | CURAÇAO

SINT MICHIEL | CURAÇAO - DIVING IN PARADISE

ITB50 Curacao - Diving

Dive into the blue

Curaçao is about 444 square kilometers in size and is part of the ABC islands (Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao), that are located in the Caribbean Sea of Venezuela. Interestingly, while much of its past is reflected on land, for example, the bright colonial houses on the streets of Willemstad, its future lies very much in the blue waters surrounding the island. Curaçao is quickly becoming one of the best places on the planet for scuba diving. There is a reason why it has won a Scuba Diving Magazine’s Reader’s Choice Award as it offers arguably the best shore dives in the world and the snorkeling is breathtaking. Overall, it has 40 different dive areas, which cover 65 individual sites – each one allowing divers to immerse themselves in the natural wonders of the Caribbean.

Curaçao has many stories to tell, one of which concerns ‘Blue Curaçao’, the famous liqueur. The Spaniards, who first arrived in 1499, thought that the island’s conditions were perfect for growing their deliciously juicy ‘Valencia Orange’. However, they were wrong, the blazing sun and the extremely dry climate badly affected the Valencias they planted. The trees, which grew wild, instead bore a fruit that was a bitter sibling of its sweeter Spanish sister. It was inedible, but luckily turned out to be ideal for the production of liqueur. The ultimate result was ‘Blue Curaçao’ – the drink that is now enjoyed all over the world, which also comes in a red, green, yellow or its original colorless version.

In 1634, the island passed from Spanish to Dutch hands. They established the capital Willemstad and turned it into a very important trading post – often dealing in that terrible cargo of those times – slaves. Curaçao eventually became a fully-fledged Dutch colony in 1795. This relationship has endured and on the 10th of October, 2010, the island obtained the status of constituent country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Diving instructor meets diving enthusiast

When two diving enthusiasts meet, it is actions rather than words that are the main connection – put on the diving suit, don the oxygen tank, flippers and mask and head off into the sea. This is how it went when Parwane Ehrari and Harald Weinrich completed the underwater handover of the ITB Buddy Bear against a backdrop of the stunning seas of Curaçao.

Harald Weinrich and Parwane Ehrari

Harald Weinrich (left)
The diving instructor has enjoyed an underwater life for more than 25 years. He knows the waters surrounding Curaçao like the back of both hands and has used this knowledge to publish a diver’s travel guide for Curaçao in German.
Originally from the former Eastern Germany, he has established two diving schools on the island since arriving in 1998.
www.curacao-divers.com

Parwane Ehrari (right)
Her Iranian name means butterfly, which suits her, because she likes to fly all over the world. She mostly visits the sea to indulge in her real passion – diving. She came to this pursuit while working in various locations worldwide following her tourism studies.

Willemstad

Ms. Ehrari, being part Dutch, do you feel hat influence on the island?

Parwane Ehrari: My mother is Dutch, and she and her friends have always raved about the ABC islands, so I always wanted to visit at some point in the future. The Dutch influence is plain to see, for instance, in the facades of the houses in Willemstad. There is a great combination of this influence and the typical Caribbean flair.

Mr. Weinrich, what led to your emigration to Curaçao in 1998?

Harald Weinrich: I was born in the former German Democratic Republic and always wanted to be as far away from there as possible, but preferably somewhere warm. The choice to move to Curaçao was more of a coincidence, but I am comfortable and happy here.

What is life like in paradise?

HW: It’s sunny and relaxed. I start my day just as I would in Germany, with a cup of coffee. Then I drive over to my dive shop ‘Curaçao Divers’, greet my colleagues and take care of our customers. Wherever in the world you are, you have to work, but the Caribbean flair, paired with the Dutch and American influence, makes it easy to do it here.

What makes Curaçao such a unique diving experience?

PE: What I really like about diving here is how quickly you come across interesting things and animals, and you don’t have to dive deep to see them. I even have seen black and yellow sea horses under water.

HW: Yes, for one, it is the healthy reefs that we still have here, but it is also the individual diving conditions. Experienced divers, for example, can go diving 24 hours a day and don’t have to adhere to fixed times. The beach dives are also an additional advantage; a part of the family can stay at the beach while the other is able to start a dive there.

So what is there to see in terms of diving on this island?

HW: There are so many beautiful diving sites and you can dive around the entire island. There are shallow and deep sites, there is a beautiful coral reef and there are loads of small, rather than large fish, not to mention plenty of turtles and sea horses.

PE: I think it’s great that there is an intact coral reef. I found the coral world here very fascinating. The purple tube coral, which I was able to see, as well as the angler fish, left a deep impression on me.These were real highlights, as well as the double reed Porto Mari.

Which location is still not checked off your must-dive list?

HW: Definitely, there are still some diving sites I would like to explore, but on top of the list is a diving safari with sharks in the Galapagos Islands.

CATANIA | ITALY

CATANIA | SICILY - TEATRO MASSIMO BELLINI

Teatro Massimimo Bellini

A theater with real atmosphere

The Teatro Massimo Bellini, opened in 1890, is an opera house in Catania, Sicily, the birthplace of the famous composer Vincenzo Bellini. Throughout its existence, almost all of Bellini’s compositions have been performed there. Many famous opera singers have graced the theater’s stage, including Maria Callas. As part of Bellini’s 150th birthday celebrations, she performed in ‘Norma’, the first opera ever staged by the theater.

The interior of the Teatro Massimo Bellini consists of red velvet, gilded stucco and a magnificent ceiling fresco by the Florentine artist Ernesto Bellandi. The auditorium has 1,200 seats and breathtaking acoustics, which make visiting the opera a unique experience.

The exuberant city of Catania has plenty to offer besides the opera house. It has a lively fish market, where the merchants loudly advertise their daily catch. There is also the baroque cathedral, which features the Vincenzo Bellini monument. Other highlights of the city include the chapel of Holy Agatha and Mount Etna, one of the largest volcanoes in the world.

Soprano meets choir singer

The two passionate singers are connected by their love of classical music. They spoke about opera, but not wanting to miss the opportunity to take advantage of the legendary acoustics of the Teatro Massimo Bellini, they exercised their obvious talent by singing some songs.

Grazia Alessi and Eva Funk-Ritter

Grazia Alessi (left)
She was born in Germany but grew up in Sicily. The brass band in her small village provided the inspiration for her musical career. After attending the academy of music, she joined the Teatro Massimo Bellini choir, where she is a soprano now.
www.teatromassimobellini.it

Eva Funk-Ritter (right)
Now residing in Berlin, she grew up amid lemon tree orchards in southern Germany. A lover of the Italian way of life, including opera, she sings in the Berliner Cappella choir. She enjoys sporting activities and relaxing in the sauna.
www.berliner-cappella.de

Do you like the Teatro Massimo Bellini, Ms. Funk-Ritter?

Eva Funk-Ritter: When I saw it from the outside for the first time, I thought: ‘impressive, big and different’. It reminded me of the Teatro Nacional in Panama City, because it has that similar neoclassical Baroque style. Inside, the rooms are very gorgeous. I would love to sing here on a regular basis, or even better, listen to all the professionals who sing here.

How come you have a passion for singing?

EFR: Singing is in my family’s blood. We always sang together at birthdays, at Christmas, before sleeping, etc. My father was a piano/organ player and I began to sing in his choir ‘professionally’ when I was 11 years old.

Ms. Alessi, was coming to the Teatro Massimo Bellini a significant step in your career?

Grazia Alessi: I came here in 1990, and it was very important to have permanent employment as an opera singer. My dad did not want me to become an opera singer, because you have to invest almost as much money in your training as you get back for your singing. Even when you are a professional, you have to pay for tuition so that you can continuously improve as an artist. During my vacation, I often took master classes, some of them in Germany.

Which famous opera singers have you performed with?

GA: Oh, I have performed with many renowned singers, for example, Leo Nucci and Gena Dimitrowa.

Teatro Massimo Bellini

Why is this opera house so special compared to others?

EFR: In principle, it is the same as those in other cities – very classical in its style and construction. When you stand on stage as an artist, though, it is very interesting. It is regal, aesthetically outstanding, and has brilliant acoustics.For me, it is a very fitting representation of the opera house style.

GA: It is not only operas that are performed here, but also concerts by soloists and much more.

Do Bellini’s pieces play an important role these days?

GA: They play a very significant role in the life of the theater. It isn’t only the music pieces; Bellini’s presence can be felt in nearly every room. It is great to know that this theater was built to honor his magnificence as an artist.

Does the opera house fit into the cityscape of Catania?

GA: It has the southern style, very Sicilian – so, yes, it has a very harmonious relationship with the city’s architecture, particularly because of the piazza in front of it. In the beginning, it took me a while to get used to the dark paint on the exterior, but someone told me that it is the original shade that has been used over and over again.

KOZHIKODE | INDIA

KOZHIKODE | INDIA - CSR – CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY

Kids on bikes

Responsibility from the heart

The southern Indian state of Kerala is well-known for its stunning backwaters and beautiful traditional house boats, its wildlife sanctuaries, its long coconut tree-lined beaches, Ayurveda retreats, home stays, tea and spice farms, temples as well as its art and traditional dances.

One place in Kerala well worth a visit is Kozhikode, formerly known as Calicut, until it was renamed to its original Malayalam name in 1998. It is the state’s third largest city, with an illustrious history as a major trading hub, which came to be known as the ‘City of Spices’. Arab merchants were commercially connected with the region from as early as the 7th century. They were followed by Chinese traders, Portuguese Dutch and British colonists, until India’s independence in 1947. The religious diversity that grew out of that period in the past is still reflected in the vast number of Hindus, Christians and Muslims that frequent its numerous beautiful temples, churches and mosques.

The heart of this vibrant city is Manachira Square – once the courtyard of the Zamorin Ruler’s palace. Not far from the city, lush green nature with waterfalls and unexploited serene beaches invites the visitors. Kappad Beach, with its old lighthouse, is a wonderful escape not far from the center. It is also the place where Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama first set foot on Indian soil.

CSR representative meets community activist

Both interviewees share a deep commitment to business with social responsibility. To this end, they are promoting sustainable, meaningful practices as the future basis for tourism.

Rika Jean-François and Prasanth Nair

Rika Jean-François (left)
Ms. Jean-François from Berlin is ITB Berlin’s Corporate Social Responsibility Representative and is committed to responsible tourism, which includes the protection of the environment, wildlife, heritage and culture. It also covers respect for human rights, gender equality and the fight against child exploitation in tourism. She speaks five languages and – as a social anthropologist – enjoys all kinds of ethnic art and music.
www.itb-berlin.com/csr

Prasanth Nair (right)
Mr. Nair is the District Collector and District Magistrate of the Calicut District Administration. Corporate social responsibility is a substantial part of his job. His personal commitment to social engagement has seen him initiate various projects, including a campaign titled ‘Compassionate Kozhikode’ which aims to bring government agencies and citizens to volunteer to make the city an inspirational destination for them to live in – and invite others to visit. In his spare time, he enjoys scriptwriting, painting and photography.
www.compassionatekozhikode.in

Ms. Jean-Francois, what is ITB Berlin’s perception of corporate social responsibility?

Rika Jean-François: For ITB Berlin, CSR is not a trendy topic but a social necessity. We have to be aware of our industry’s responsibility to society and this requires a holistic approach from all tourism stakeholders. ITB Berlin wants to provide a platform to tourism development that respects and protects the world’s nature and fosters human dignity, security and justice.

Mr. Nair, what does CSR mean to you?

Prasanth Nair: I agree with Rika, CSR isn’t a fashion nor does it mean temporary involvement – it’s just a duty. The term CSR is sometimes misused. I would like to see activity with compassion coming from within the teams of a company. Social responsibility should become part of everybody’s way of life. And this mode of behavior should not be displayed for self-promotion but should support the causes in a discreet and enabling manner.

Mr. Nair, what social initiatives are you initiating?

PN: We try to do small things, to address basic human issues and create a better place to live through real community participation and individual compassion. For example, with the help of Kozhikode’s restaurant owners, we introduced ‘Operation Sulaimani / Food with Dignity’ to feed people who cannot afford a meal. ‘Compassionate Kozhikode’ is the large umbrella project of all these activities. It deals with the basic requirements of every individual human being:hunger, shelter, mobility, and so on. We try to find solutions with dignity.

Which was your first social project related to tourism?

PN: I was once involved in a resettlement of tribal families, and it was clear, there were health and nutrition issues in the community. We provided a small holiday resort for the community to take over. As owners of this tourism project, they soon earned enough money to safeguard their nutrition, thus health improved and business even expanded. In the meantime, the younger generation was trained in tourism and it goes on in a sustainable way.

Can tourism help to foster peace and understanding?

RJF: As Mr. Nair just described, if we support communities through initial participatory intervention, which enables the people to take charge themselves, and promote a non-exploitative, environmentally friendly and fair sharing tourism, we can help to create better places. Tourism can be a strong vehicle for positive change, tearing down barriers in our minds.

PN: It is the fear of the unknown that makes enemies. Tourism is one way to get to know the other person, get to know the good things. You will discover that they are just like you! We need to focus on these positive experiences and tourism will bring peace and prosperity. I am not exaggerating when I say that ITB Berlin, as a platform for responsible tourism, co-promoting the compassionate element in humans, can transform the world!

AXOS - CRETE | GREECE

AXOS – CRETE | GREECE - ORGANIC FOOD

Crete

We love local

Axos in Crete is a small, idyllic mountain village of 727 inhabitants in the province of Mylopotamos. It is located on the northern side of Mount Psiloriti and, according to archaeological findings, has a history that dates back to pre-Roman times. Besides its historical significance, Axos is famous for its rich flora and fauna. Orange trees, carob trees, field maple and countless Cretan herbs and plants grow there. For nature lovers there is the added bonus of searching for fossils amongst the magnificent caves, gorges and plateaus.

Crete is also well-known for its hospitality and traditional woven products. The customs and cuisine of the region are particularly important to the inhabitants. This is something Kleio Dafermou is well aware of. Since 1980, Ms. Dafermou and her family have been serving indigenous dishes to Axos locals and tourists alike at their tavern. They offer traditional Raki, homemade organic wine produced in the village, and fresh home-cooked food. All items on the menu are organic and sourced from local fields and meadows. A particular specialty is ‘Tyropitakia’, delicious cheese puff triangles, that taste even better when eaten while listening to the tavern’s Cretan music. The tavern also has traditional dancing on the ‘menu’, with guests learning the steps from helpful locals.

Things that are taken for granted in small tourist destinations like Axos are becoming a trend in big cities such as Berlin. Nowadays people want to know where their food comes from and how it is produced. This is the reason why farmer’s markets are experiencing a real growth in popularity. Not only are they a great place to meet people from the neighborhood, but they are also perfect for learning more about the produce from the farmers themselves.

Tavern owner meets farmer's market manager

Both women are full of energy and enthusiasm and are linked to each other via their love for local produce. Ms. Dühn is the founder of the ‘Die Dicke Linda’ (‘Fat Linda’) farmer’s market in Berlin, while Ms. Dafermou has been the beloved host at her Taverna Dafermo in Axos, Crete for over 40 years.

Kleio Dafermou and Theresa Dühn

Kleio Dafermou (left)
The heart and soul of Taverna Dafermou was born in Crete in a small village in the district of Iraklion. She has been married since the age of 17 and has two adult children and five grandchildren. She has dedicated the last 40 years to making sure tourists feel at home in Crete, providing them with unforgettable cultural and gastronomical experiences.
Tel.: +30 2831061337

Theresa Dühn (right)
Ms. Dühn was born and raised on a farm in the region of Lusatia, located about one hour outside of Berlin. She founded the farmer’s market, ‘Die Dicke Linda’ (‘Fat Linda’), with the sole purpose of bringing locally sourced produce to her district in Berlin and by doing so create a social hub for people in her neighborhood.
www.dicke-linda-markt.de

What is your connection to local food?

Kleio Dafermou: I married very early and my husband’s father had a little tavern in the center of of Axos since 1966. Initially, I started working there, but since 1980, we have had our own big tavern, located at the end of the village. We offer our guests 100 % local and organic food which is something they have always asked for, no matter where they are from. People look for the best and they know they can find it at our place.

Theresa Dühn: I live at Kranholdplatz in Neukölln, a district of Berlin. I often used to think when I was looking down from my balcony onto the square below that it would be an ideal place for a farmer’s market. I am from the countryside and I missed knowing the origin of the produce I bought. For this reason, I founded the ‘Fat Linda’ farmer’s market in 2014 which takes place every fortnight from Easter until October. It’s a place where you can talk directly to the farmers – and your neighbors!

Axos Place

Ms. Dafermou, please describe your typical day.

KD: On busy days, we have up to 3 groups of people for lunch and then move on to our typical Cretan night. With the help of other women from my village, I start preparing the food at 6 am – a typical menu is cheese puff triangles, bean soup, salad, tzatziki, souvlaki, rice and potatoes. When the groups leave after lunch, we start preparing for the evening. We have food and Cretan music and dances until 10:30 pm, and then we clean up and have dinner ourselves. We eat and laugh, and it feels like a big family coming together. I go to bed at 1 am, ready to get up again the next day at 6 am.

How important is tourism to your district/village?

KD: Tourism is giving life to Axos, we probably wouldn’t exist without it. I have to say though, that I can see a change in tourism. We used to have lots of travelers coming to our village that had money to spend. Nowadays, our guests sometimes share a plate of food, so I guess they have less money than some years ago.

TD: There are many nationalities here in Neukölln; it is quite a colorful neighborhood, which is very popular among tourists. The ‘Fat Linda’ farmer’s market is a kind of meeting point for the families living here, but also for tourists that are looking for a special Berlin experience. This development is great because I think tourism can push local food.

What exactly is the ‘Fat Linda’?

TD: ‘Fat Linda’ is a very popular type of German potato which plays a particularly big role in organic agriculture in this country. It was Potato of the Year in 2007, for this reason the name fits our market perfectly.

KD: That is funny! On Crete, we don’t have names for potatoes.

What are your hopes for the future?

TD: It would be great if the market could take place every week and become an established meeting place for both residents and tourists. I also hope that the trend of people eating consciously and being interested in where their food comes from continues.

MADRID | SPAIN

MADRID | SPAIN - WORLD TOURISM ORGANIZATION (UNWTO)

Flags

Travel with your conscience

We humans love to travel. In 2015, a record 1,2 billion overnight guests stayed in destinations in all corners of the world. It is predicted that that number will increase to 1.8 billion by 2030.

That is a lot of international tourists. These days, however, these travelers pack their conscience with them when they go abroad. It isn’t just about accessibility and discovery anymore, but equally about applying the principles of responsibility and sustainability that are so relevant to the world we currently live in. This is because we humans have never been more aware of our effect on the planet – we know how our actions can impact host societies and their environment. So, the question is – and it is the most important one facing anyone who takes a trip to somewhere they are considered a welcomed guest – do we want to be positive travelers or negative ones?

It is the responsibility of Madrid-based UNWTO to make sure that we are the former. This United Nations agency is responsible for the promotion of responsible, sustainable, and universally accessible tourism. Its work is structured around two main pillars: competitiveness and sustainability.

As far as the former is concerned, the promotion of safe and seamless travel is a priority, which it hopes to achieve by enhancing the role of technology in tourism and the support of destinations that are more competitive in terms of product development and human capital.

As for the latter, the organization works hand in hand with destinations to promote and implement policies that monitor and protect natural resources and advance social policies in tourism, such as accessibility or gender equality.

UNWTO’s membership includes 157 countries, 6 associate members and over 480 affiliate members that represent the private sector, educational institutions, tourism associations and local tourism authorities. If there is one thing they all know, people want to see the world, but they want to see a world that is cared for by all the people who live and move in it.

Secretary general meets urban planner

UNWTO is a very compact UN agency and the staff know each other very well. But it isn’t only work that connects them, they tend to mix socially as well. A highlight of this is Prof. Dr. Rifai’s annual private garden party, which is an absolute must on the social calendar. This event brings everyone closer because, in the words of Prof. Rifai: “Tourism is about people and at UNWTO we are like a family.”

Prof. Dr. Taleb Rifai and Sascha Stange

Prof. Taleb Rifai (left)
After working as a Professor of Architecture, Planning and Urban Design at the University of Jordan in the 70s, Mr. Rifai went into politics. During his time as the Minister of Tourism and Antiquities in Jordan, Petra was turned into a national park and recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage site. He has been the Secretary General of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) in Madrid since 2010.
www2.unwto.org

Sascha Stange (right)
Born in Berlin, Sascha Stange studied urban and regional planning. During his studies, he spent one year as an Erasmus student in Madrid and later also completed an internship at the UNTWO. After working as a tour guide and animator, he returned to the UNTWO in 2012. He is currently there as a specialist for mountain and urban tourism in the Destination Management & Quality Program.

Why did you want to work in the tourism industry and specifically at the UNWTO?

Taleb Rifai: I am originally a university professor who ended up in politics holding one of the most interesting positions available, that of Minister of Tourism and Antiquities, in my country, Jordan. In my role as Minister, I worked closely with UNWTO, and life brought me the opportunity to serve at this institution.

Sascha Stange: As a child, I loved driving through Berlin in the back seat of my parents’ car. In my imagination, I was developing Berlin into a nicer and more spectacular city which – in the Eastern parts especially – still had quite a few scars from WWII. It was this that led me to study urban planning. Seeing Berlin develop into one of the most successful destinations for city tourism also no doubt had a lasting impact on me. I did my Erasmus year in Madrid and always called it my second home. Since UNWTO is based in Madrid, the opportunity was there for me to use my knowledge in city planning in the field of tourism. It was the perfect setting.

One of your focuses is using technology to change tourism, please explain how and why?

TR: The impact of technology in the sector and ensuring growth and sustainability go hand in hand. Technology changes the way we plan our trip, the way we move, the way we experience a destination, and the way we recall that experience. But the impact goes way beyond the travel cycle. Technology has changed business models and opened immense opportunities to promote a more responsible and sustainable sector, where growth and resource management work in tandem. That said, we must work harder to harness the full power of technology in tourism, namely in facilitating travel, in promoting smart destinations and in advancing connectivity and accessibility to tourism for all.

Is there something each of us can do while traveling to foster responsible and sustainable tourism?

SaS: Of course, and it actually starts before you even leave your home country. To avoid any inappropriate or offensive behavior, get familiar with your chosen destination and learn about the local culture, traditions, manners, and also laws. Be tolerant and respectful of diversity and you will no doubt be more readily welcomed by local people than you would be if you insist on having your own views and habits. Respect human rights and understand that any form of exploitation is against the principles of responsible and sustainable tourism. Help preserve natural environments and protect cultural resources, for example, don’t buy goods and products made from endangered plants or animals, as well as items that may be of value in cultural terms to the local community. And last but not least, try to contribute to the economic development of the place that you are in by purchasing local food, goods and handicrafts.

TR: In fact, each of us has the responsibility to foster responsible and sustainable tourism every time we travel. As we generally say, one billion international tourists traveling internationally every year means one billion opportunities to promote sustainable tourism.

BANDOS ISLAND | MALDIVES

BANDOS ISLAND | MALDIVES - HONEYMOON DESTINATION

Maldives

Candelit dinner between coconut palms

In 1972, four young men set foot on the white beaches of an uninhabited coconut plantation island called ‘Vihamanafushi’ and began creating the most popular island resort in the Maldives – the ‘Kurumba Maldives’. They built 30 rooms, using coral stone walls, coconut timbers, and palms for their roofs. Guests could only reach the island by jumping into the surf from a boat because there was no jetty. Home-cooked meals were offered in a canteen or there was a simple barbecue on the beach. The conditions were hardly a definition of what one would call the ultimate island destination. They were, though, the humble beginnings of one of the most successful stories ever in the history of tourism.

Today, Kurumba Maldives is a jewel in the Maldives tourist crown, and that means a lot, considering just what a stunning destination this small group of islands in the Indian Ocean is. The Maldives are a sun-drench paradise offering every available modern comfort, but with one extra that places it above many other destinations – the choice of tranquility.

It is this privacy, which is there if one wants it, along with high-end luxury that makes the Maldives a favorite among those who have been struck by Cupid’s arrow. The love-struck, be they free-spirited couples, the engaged, recently-married honeymooners, or life-long soul partners, are all drawn by the chance to share in an intimate experience in one of the most romantic settings on the planet.
So, if the thought of candlelit dinners on the soft beach, strolling hand in hand under a blanket of sparkling stars, snorkeling in crystal waters brimming with over 1,000 species of fish, or lazing in the arms of a lover in a hammock swinging gently between the palms, is your idea of romantic heaven, then the Maldives are your kind of destination – now and forever.

Honeymooners meet Debuty Tourism Minister

Being the 2016 Official Partner Country of ITB Berlin, the Maldives Minister of Tourism and his team have been busy with the preparations for ITB Berlin, including planning some special activities to promote the islands. Meanwhile, Raphaela and Vasco Krause Pereira were being given a wonderfully warm welcome on the islands at the Maldives’ Bandos Island Resort, where they were spending their belated honeymoon.

Raphaela & Vasco Krause Pereira and Hussain Lirar

Raphaela & Vasco Krause Pereira (middle and left)
The newlywed couple has spent many years working in tourism. Their eyes first met when they were employed on a cruise ship – he was a bartender and she was the cruise manager’s assistant. They both speak German, Portuguese, English, Spanish, Italian and French, which comes in handy for work-related or private journeys, such as their belated honeymoon trip to the Maldives.
www.raphaelaswelt.wordpress.com

Hussain Lirar (right)
The Debuty Minister of Tourism for the Maldives is pleased with how his country has developed as a tourist destination over the years. He has been working hard recently to make sure the Maldives take the opportunity to build on their success while they are the 2016 Official Partner Country of ITB Berlin. This has involved arranging special activities planned to promote the Visit Maldives Year 2016 campaign at the World’s Leading Travel Trade Show®.
www.visitmaldives.com

How long have the Maldives been an exhibitor at ITB Berlin?

Hussain Lirar: The Maldives first exhibited at ITB Berlin in 1984. Our participation at the World’s Leading Travel Trade Show® has always played an important role in promoting our islands as a destination that ranks amongst the world’s top destinations.

The Maldives are the 2016 Official Partner Country of ITB Berlin. How important is that for the country?

HL: The Maldives are marking this year as ‘Visit Maldives 2016 Year’ and a special part of this campaign is to join with ITB Berlin as its Official Partner Country. ITB Berlin is the biggest travel and tourism event in the world, so it will provide us with the opportunity to promote our campaign to a huge audience. This is even more the case on this occasion, because ITB Berlin is celebrating its golden jubilee, so our partnership will also send a very significant message to the tourism industry worldwide.

As a couple, you are connected to each other, but do you also have a connection to ITB Berlin?

Raphaela Krause Pereira: ITB Berlin is where I kind of discovered my passion for tourism. I worked at various booths as a student and also looked for other jobs there. This year, we plan to attend the fair again to catch up with old friends, who now work in many different countries. To us, ITB Berlin is like an alumni reunion.

Ms. Krause Pereira, you two have a personal love story involving the Maldives?

RKP: We have worked together for five years in different places all over the world. The only period during that time that we couldn’t be together was when I was employed in the Maldives, because Vasco was not able to find work there. He was not only longing for me during this time, but also envied me a bit for being able to take part in so many diving sessions. Still, I was also longing for him, and this yearning only grew when I had to spend so much time with newlywed couples. So, I hadn’t even managed to work there for a year before I was back with him.

Why, in your opinion, is the island group the No.1 destination for people on honeymoon?

RKP: The Maldives focus on elements that suit couples. You can choose a sunset cruise, or a sandbank picnic, or a candlelit dinner on the beach. Plus, you have this great weather all year round, the warm water, and tranquility, all of which invite you to relax and get closer to your partner, even when you have already known your partner for years.

HL: According to the 2015 Maldives visitor survey, 15 % of international tourists visited the Maldives for their honeymoon. I believe it is because of the beauty and the privacy, which make it a very romantic setting. We also have people who come here and renew their wedding vows.

What here is different from other places in the world that you have visited?

RKP: You never get the feeling of being in a place full of tourists. On the beach, we were nearly always alone, which was very pleasant for stressed metropolitans like us. Not that it is boring in the Maldives, because there are so many great excursions on offer. For example, we snorkeled with whale sharks, a truly unforgettable experience!

HL: The main purpose of visiting the Maldives is to rest and relax (three quarters), as well as visiting for the great diving and snorkelling opportunities (one quarter). They are simply a world-class destination.

Beach
SHARJAH | EMIRATE OF SHARJAH

SHARJAH | EMIRATE OF SHARJAH - THE HEART OF SHARJAH PROJECT

Sharjah

Back to the future

Sharjah is booming. The 2015 Arab Tourism Capital is the third largest of the seven emirates that form the United Arab Emirates. It is a constitutional monarchy and has been ruled by Sheikh Sultan III bin Muhammad Al-Qasimi since 1972.

The emirate is rapidly becoming a Middle East hotspot like its neighbors Dubai and Abu Dhabi. In terms of tourism, it is easy to see why this is the case. Art lovers, for instance, certainly get their money’s worth in Sharjah. It has 22 museums and offers a broad range of contemporary art. Many cultural programs and events are taking place there, including the Sharjah Biennial, which is organized by the Sharjah Art Foundation.

Besides culture, Sharjah is very popular among water enthusiasts, who – under perennial sunshine – can take advantage of the warm seas of the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. For nature lovers, the Mangrove and Alhafeya Protected Area in Khor Kalba is home to rare bird species and endangered marine animals.

As if that is not enough, for those interested in history, there is ‘Heart of Sharjah’ in the center of Sharjah City, which is the largest heritage project in the Gulf region. Spread over 35,000 square meters, the five-phase, 15-year historical restoration project aims to revive traditional heritage areas and bring back the feeling of the 1950s. Buildings erected in recent decades are being partly replaced by others that showcase the original architecture of the region. Currently in phase one, this ambitious project is scheduled for completion by 2025.

Project manager meets archaeologist

In their work, these two men strive to reconstruct the past and make it visible for posterity. ‘Heart of Sharjah’, in contrast to many other archaeological ventures, makes history tangible because it does not take place in an isolated location, but rather in the center of the city. This means it is far more accessible to visitors from a commercial and cultural perspective than many other archaeological projects.

Ahmed Obaid Al Qaseer and Julian Daum

Ahmed Obaid Al Qaseer (left)
With a BA in Business Information Technology from Dubai Men’s College and over a decade of experience in business management and development, Mr. Ahmed Obaid Al Qaseer has been the Chief Operating Officer of the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq) since 2011. His duties include overseeing the Authority’s operations, the progress of its projects and the development of Sharjah’s tourist destinations.
www.heartofsharjah.ae

Julian Daum (right)
After completing his history studies, Julian Daum was looking for a field where he could apply his knowledge in a practical sense and archaeology turned out to be the answer. He now works at an archaeology office in Berlin and supports a team in Torbulok, Tajikistan, that is excavating a presumably Hellenistic
http://gepris.dfg.de/gepris/projekt/240144108

What is the ‘Heart of Sharjah’ project?

Ahmed Obaid Al Qaseer: The ‘Heart of Sharjah’ is a cultural heritage site that is being restored to reflect what Sharjah looked like in the 1950s. It will feature diverse commercial, cultural and residential projects, including a boutique hotel, restaurants, shops, art galleries, markets, archaeological sites, museums, play areas, and offices. Many of these will be housed in renovated older or ancient houses, weaving Sharjah’s modern life into its history, as well as safeguarding its national historical character.

Can you tell us about your archaeological project in Tajikistan, Mr. Daum?

Julian Daum: In 2011, a large limestone basin was found in Torbulok, a small village in Southwestern Tajikistan, which indicated that the site could have been a Hellenistic sanctuary in the past. With the help of project funding from the German Research Society, the temple there has been under excavation since 2013.

What are the goals of both these projects?

AOAQ: As our region heads into a new millennium, there is a danger of leaving behind the essence of our past culture, and that is what we seek to capture. We want to preserve our area for the generations that follow us, and as a result give our children and grandchildren an understanding of how their forefathers lived.

JD: For us, it is not only about the restoration of a heritage site, but also about the exploration of a long gone era and its rituals and cults. We are using modern methods to answer questions such as: Did the rituals practiced here during the Hellenistic period follow Greek or indigenous traditions? Or was hybrid-forming, meaning a fusion of different traditions, already happening back then?

Do the two projects have an influence on tourism?

AOAQ: There have been around 80,000 visitors since we started ‘Heart of Sharjah’ and we anticipate that, as public awareness of the project spreads and other components are completed, the number will increase by 12 % or more every year in the coming years. The area is currently being considered for a UNESCO award, so this will help.

JD: Our excavation site could not be considered a regular type of tourist attraction and really is only of interest to archaeology enthusiasts. Generally, Tajikistan has yet to put in place any real tourist infrastructure. For example, there is no road to Torbulok, so tourists would have a hard time reaching our excavation anyway.

Why should I visit Sharjah as a tourist, Ahmed Obaid Al Qaseer?

AOAQ: Sharjah is rich in history and culture, a land with a wealth of assets, warm and friendly people, and year-round sunshine. The emirate positions itself as a cosmopolitan city that preserves Arab cultural heritage and traditions through a range of activities that include events for popularizing arts and literature, tourism development, restoration of archaeological monuments, and infrastructural developments that symbolize our traditional values.

Weaving loom