Articles Los Angeles

Fires change nothing, everything

california_fires_forest_652669_l.jpgWithout the hot Santa Ana winds pushing the blaze, crews have been able to surround the fires and have them now almost 95% contained in the Los Angeles area and 65% contained in the San Diego area.

Cooler weather helped the firefighters, but word in the weather world is that the dry, hot winds are going to return in the next few days, meaning that fighting fires in the Southwest may become just as difficult and dangerous as it was five days ago.

The fires will affect the city, and travel to the city, for some time. The fires did not and probably will not threaten many of the popular travel destinations in central Los Angeles, but they represent another shock and drain on resources that normally would have gone to the down and out on skid row or the homeless centers in Inglewood instead of those whose houses were taken and lives were altered by a sudden shift in the winds and monumentally bad luck.

Disasters change the perspective of a city and change the character of a place, even if it’s just temporarily. For some, the fires mean little disruption of daily life at all. The freeways through town were never shut down; Disneyland is still standing. Your trip to Los Angeles will probably not be affected. But for a growing number of residents, the end of the wildfires means that the work begins again. At Los Angeles Logue, our thoughts are with them.

Articles Croatia

Statistics belie plane truth in Croatia

Statistics tell us that flying is one of the safest modes of travel. Your chances of being killed in a plane hover around 1 in 11 million. The chances of being killed in a car are about 1 in 5,000. Maybe now we know why the disparity is so great.

On October 13th, as Tereza Batur, 21, was driving her Volkswagon Passat near Sinj, Croatia, a plane swooped out of the sky and struck the moving car. Reports differ as to whether the plane landed on top of the car or struck it from the side, but either way, we have a clear case of a pilot trying to boost the statistical safety advantage that planes enjoy over cars.

Actually, the Supercab plane was thrown off its route by high winds and ended up trying to land on the two lane road in lieu of the runway. Batur and her companion were unhurt and the pilot suffered minor head injuries. The accident destroyed both the plane and the car.

From the International Herald Tribune.

Edinburgh Travel Tips

Sample Some Haggis in Edinburgh

haggisLet’s face it – Scotland isn’t exactly known for its cuisine, at least historically speaking. While there are some chefs these days that are doing more than just the usual meat and potatoes fare, Edinburgh probably isn’t the place to go for a food-centric holiday.

Unless, of course, you’re in the mood for some haggis.

Haggis is one of those legendary foods that often trotted out in conversations with the culinarily squeamish, but there’s very little reason it should be any more unappetizing than any other sausage. Of course, what’s the old joke about sausage? You don’t want to know how it’s made. Well, if you’re among that lot, you’ll want to look away, because you’re about to learn how haggis is made.

In most recipes, the innards of the haggis consist of the heart, liver and lungs of a sheep, minced together with onion, oatmeal, suet and spices. The entire mixture is then stuffed inside a sheep’s stomach (or a more modern sausage casing) and then boiled for about an hour. The end result is a large brownish sausage-looking thing, which is sliced into and shared. And though it might not sound very appetizing, unless you’re strictly an herbivore – give it a try. You only live once, right?

Edinburgh Travel Tips

Come to BootsnAll’s Annual Holiday Party

Travel enthusiasts are always looking for places where their wandering ways don’t make them stick out like a sore thumb – so if you’re in the neighborhood of the U.S. Pacific Northwest in early December, we’ve got just the spot for you:

WHAT: BootsnAll Holiday Party
WHEN: Saturday, December 1, 2007 from 7pm until 11pm
WHERE: Lucky Labrador Beer Hall, 1945 NW Quimby St., Portland OR 97209

This is a great opportunity to be surrounded by other travel nutters who love not just Edinburgh but all corners of the world. Members of BootsnAll come from all over to help us celebrate every year, and it’s always a great time. Plus, this year we’re adding to the fun by giving away some cool prizes – including a $500 voucher for an air ticket. Yes, just by showing up you get a shot at winning a free airline ticket. What’s not to love about that?

For more information, see our Holiday Party post. We hope to see you there!

Articles Croatia

Reasons you should be in Croatia right now


The Zagreb Film Festival runs all this week, October 21-27, featuring the best films of 2007 from Russia, Serbia, New Zealand, Israel, and of course, Croatia.

Like Cannes and Sundance, the festival features primarily art films and cerebral comedies, unlike Cannes and Sundance, the festival’s mascot is a Superman clone with pink briefs and cape.

The film festival takes place every October at the Student Centre in downtown Zagreb, this year with 11 feature films, 15 short films and 12 to 14 documentaries. Audience voters decide the Audience VIP award to one film and a jury of Croatian filmmakers decide the winners of the “Golden Pram” award, which comes with a cash prize, in each category.

Get there before Autumn Leaves

Autumn in Croatia got some good press recently attracted some attention now that Jelenje, on the interior of Croatia is attracting visitors with its colorful fall foliage and beautiful scenery. The region has become popular enough that the first travel guide for the region was published this year and a heritage museum highlighting the regions’ unique history and culture.

Upcoming books on the region include a specialized guidebook for cyclists and literature on the area’s extensive hiking and mountain climbing opportunities. The most popular outdoor recreation in the region is highlighted, including the Rjecina River and the mountain house on Hahlic.

As the seasonal travel that dominates Croatia’s summer spreads out to the rest of the year, Jelenje could become a prime fall destination for travelers from around the world. Autumn airfares are the best deals and if the weather cooperates, you can still spend a few days of your vacation in the sun on one of Croatia’s beaches or islands.

Articles Croatia

Are land mines still dangerous?

During the Croatian War of Independence, nearly two million land mines were laid down in the countryside by both sides in an effort to shore up their territory. Armies used land mines extensively throughout the former Yugoslavia during the 1990’s to compensate for their lack of infantry. With land mines placed along undefended front lines, fewer men were needed to defend and control territory. That tactic, however, left Croatia with one of the worst mine problems in Europe.

Mines are no longer much of a problem today. There has not been an injury caused by a mine in over a year. Although they do limit the places you can explore on their own, most mined areas have been identified and blockaded from tourists. Meanwhile, a massive education program with signs marking dangerous areas has led to a sharp drop in injuries and casualties over the last several years. The proliferation of signs has caused a bit of a struggle between the Croatian Mine Action Center and Zdenko Mcic, the Croatian minister of tourism, ensues over where to place the 13,000 signs warning of mines. Mcic would like the signs limited to only the places in which mines are present because the signs hurt Croatia’s image, but the program’s success is hard to argue with. Mines killed 101 people from 1998-2006, but there has not been a casualty caused by a mine in Croatia since April 2006.

Edinburgh Travel Tips

Edinburgh Hogmanay

hogmanayEdinburgh in winter might sound like it would be dreary, but it’s decidedly not. And one of the main reasons is that one of the city’s best festivals takes place at New Year’s – it’s Hogmanay in Edinburgh.

Hogmanay, which means “last day of the year” in Scots, is usually at least a two-day holiday covering December 31 and January 1, and it can even stretch into January 2 as well. Historically speaking, it’s a pagan celebration, and during the reformation it was celebrated in secret. Since the end of the 17th century, however, it’s been back out in public and these days it’s one of the best reasons to visit Edinburgh in the winter.

Adding Edinburgh to your round the world trip

Some towns in Scotland participate in certain Hogmanay customs – like swinging big balls of fire around at midnight in a race around the town or blessing the household with a burning juniper branch – but if you’re looking for an all-night party to ring in the new year, then you’ll want to book yourself a room in Edinburgh.

Articles Croatia

10 Croatia “Fun Facts”


Everyone loves little bits of trivia. You can commit them to memory for small-talk at parties, or use them to bring up your upcoming vacation among friends and coworkers. (“Your dog likes chasing tennis balls? That’s interesting because I’m going to Croatia and Croatian Goran Ivanisevic won Wimbledon in 2001 playing tennis.”) Here are 10 little and not-so little known facts about Croatia. Use them wisely.

1. Dubrovnik, (an independent state at the time) was the very first nation to formally recognize the United States as a nation when it declared independence from Great Britain.

2. The White House was built out of Croatian stone, from the island of Brac. This same stone had been used to build Diocletian’s Palace in Split.

Articles Croatia

RyanAir pulls a fast one

ryanair_airport_plane_1096264_l.jpgThe blogs were abuzz last summer when RyanAir, the Irish no-frills, low-fare airline announced service to Istria from London’s Stansted Airport. This would not only allow travelers to get from the U.K. into northern Croatia for next to nothing, but it would also provide a link for Croatian businesses to establish relationships with London clients.

Recently however, RyanAir announced that it will be withdrawing its flights connecting Croatia with London at the end of October, and in fact canceling all flights out of Stansted Airport because of an increase in the travel tarif from 6 to 11 British pounds. Controversy comes with the fact that RyanAir received half a million pounds for five years of their flights and under the terms of the contract are not required to return any of it, despite only completing one year of the contract.

RyanAir’s year round flights to Pula three times a week was expected to extend the tourist season and bring in more money to Croatia’s economy. Losing flights like this would really pull the rug out from under Istria’s tourism industry, except that RyanAir’s typical clientele lack the purchasing power to drive any real upswing in the economy. Not only that, but the tourism infrastructure of Pula and Zadar are not equipped to host any more travelers than they already receive.

Most airlines serve Croatia during the high-traffic summer months and then send their fleet elsewhere sometime in the fall. Airlines experience 80-90% occupancy during the April through October busy season; winter brings about 70% occupancy to the flights.

RyanAir will be transferring its fleet to compete in the high-profit Spain market with British Airline Easy Jet.

The very hurt-sounding Nacional magazine has the full-story on RyanAir’s break-up with Croatia.

Edinburgh Places to Go

St. Giles Cathedral

gilesSt. Giles Cathedral is not only Edinburgh’s most important church, it’s also the most important church in all of Scotland. It’s also sometimes called the High Kirk of Scotland, and is considered the place where the Presbyterian church was founded.

The church is dedicated to St. Giles, the patron saint of cripples and lepers, and the oldest parts of the structure dates from the early 12th century. John Knox, the founder of the Scottish Protestant Reformation and the Church of Scotland, preached at St. Giles from 1560 until his death in 1572, which is what helps to give the cathedral its current status as Scotland’s most important church. A statue of Knox is inside the church near the west end.

There are several interesting stained glass windows in St. Giles Cathedral, although the windows from the medieval era did not survive. Most of the windows worth mentioning are from the 19th and 20th centuries and depict both religious scenes and also non-religious things – like Scotland’s favorite poet, Robert Burns. The church’s organ is also worth noting, although it’s a recent addition (1992), because of the glass panel in the back that lets you see the instrument’s inner workings.