Historic Scottish fountain flows again

A 469-year-old fountain believed to have run with wine for Scotland's Bonnie Prince Charlie is being cranked up again.

Linlithgow Fountain, built in the courtyard of Linlithgow Palace by King James V in 1538, has been renovated to reverse the damage by harsh chemicals used in the 1930s to kill algae. The Historic Scotland organization, which undertook the restoration, said water will flow through the fountain each Sunday from July 1 to Aug. 26.

For those whose history is a bit fuzzy, Bonnie Prince Charlie was the icon of 18th-century Jacobites who wanted to put him on the throne of Scotland, freeing the nation from the shackles of the ruling English crown. After all, they reasoned, he was a descendant of the Stuarts, a clan descended from the almost mythical Scottish hero Robert the Bruce. And the English were ... well, they were the hated English.

The movement had a few problems. For one, Charles Edward Stuart Louis John Casimir Silvester Maria Stuart, born in Rome in 1720, was not much of a hands-on guy as uprisings go. He spent only 12 months of his 68 years in Scotland, living a big chunk of the final 20 in Rome as the Duke of Albany. For another, any overt sign of allegiance to him could be punishable by death. Quite a deterrent.

As the BBC describes the fountain, "The Renaissance era structure is shaped like a huge crown. The water runs into the first of three tiers of stone bowls, then flows out of eight spouts set into carved figures of mythical beasts, then out of the second bowl through spouts from carved human heads. ... It is an opportunity to get a little closer to what the palace would have been like when it was a favourite residence of Scottish kings and queens. It is said to have famously run with wine to celebrate the arrival of Bonnie Prince Charlie in Linlithgow in 1745."

The fountain was built to demonstrate the importance of the Scottish monarchy, and to prove to Henry VIII that Scotland's young king was as grand and powerful as any of the crowned heads of Europe. It is nearly a century older than the famous "Diana" fountain at Bolsover Castle in South Yorkshire, which depicts the goddess of hunting.


Linlithgow Palace
Historic Scotland
The cleaner of the Scottish crown

Storms interrupt postings

To Our Readers:

A series of vicious thunderstorms that killed one person on Wednesday and left tens of thousands of homes and businesses without power affected this site as well.

Postings we planned for Wednesday and Thursday have been delayed while we rebuild part of the database.

We'll get back online with new material as quickly as possible.

Thanks for your patience.


Persian Gulf will be QE2's final berth

If you always wanted to sail on the luxurious Cunard Line ship Queen Elizabeth 2, you missed your opportunity.

However, if you merely wanted to try out the ambiance of the QE2, you can always head for the Persian Gulf emirate of Dubai. That's where the famous ship is headed, for use as a luxury hotel.

The ship, purchased for $118 million by the state-owned development company Dubai World, will be anchored at the Palm Jumeirah, a man-made island off the coast that is a mind-boggling project.

The ship, which was launched by Queen Elizabeth herself in September 1967, is the longest-serving cruise liner in Cunard's 168-year history and was the line's longest-serving flagship. It has completed 25 round-the-world cruises, has crossed the Atlantic more than 800 times and has carried more than 2.5 million passengers.

The Palm Jumeirah, which is 1½ times the size of New York's Central Park, is part of Dubai's plan to become a global tourism and business hub. The QE2 will be refurbished to recreate the original interior and will include a museum celebrating its history.

The QE2 will make its 29th, and final, visit to Sydney, Australia, on Feb. 24 next year, the same day Cunard's newest superliner, the Queen Victoria, will visit Sydney on its maiden world cruise.


• VIDEO: Watch the QEII set out from Sydney harbor
Cunard Lines
The Queen Victoria

Finger Lakes cleaning up tourists' act

With grape power comes grape responsibility.

An increase in boorish behavior on the part of some Finger Lakes winery tourists has led to the Safe Group Wine Tours Initiative.

It's a cooperative effort of the Keuka, Cayuga and Seneca wine trails. Taking a page from the rules of soccer, tour groups who exhibit intoxicated and/or disruptive behavior will get yellow-card warnings. Repeat offenders will get red cards that will deny the company or groups admittance to any of the 50 or so participating wineries.

As tourism increases throughout this slice of New York's wine country, chauffered vehicles have become more popular so visitors can visit more winery tasting rooms without worrying about driving. Conversely, more groups and individuals have overdone that freedom, leading to instances of verbal abuse of tasting room staff, public urination and other raucous behavior.

According to the wineries, overindulgence comes mainly from drinking on commercial vehicles, not from visiting tasting rooms. State law allows open bottles in livery vehicles.

Some tour groups prohibit consumption of any alcoholic beverages in limos or buses. Some even warn customers in advance that disruptive behavior will result in their immediately being dropped off the tour.

Finger Lakes Wine Tours (private and public)
Dowd's Guide to American Wine Trails
Finger Lakes Wine Center at Sonnenberg
New York Wine & Culinary Center


Chicago bound? Track down pizza-flavored beer

"The greatest invention in the history of mankind is beer. Oh, I grant you that the wheel was also a fine invention, but the wheel does not go nearly as well with pizza."
-- Dave Barry

Beer and pizza go together as naturally as, well, pizza and beer. That led a creative Illinois real estate broker to try combining the two tastes. And, he succeeded.

Tom Seefurth of Campton Hills, a Chicago suburb, has been a longtime home brewer. In his quest for the perfect pizza-flavored beer, he began adding tomatoes, oregano, garlic and basil to one batch. The result is something he calls Mamma Mia Pizza Beer.

Walter Payton's Roundhouse in nearby Aurora has agreed to serve the pizza beer as long as the supply lasts. No word on what happens when it's gone.


Chicago-style pizza
Chicago cuisine

Act quickly if you want to tour Guinness in Dublin

Take a guided your of Dublin and one of the first things to be pointed out is the historic Guinness Brewery at St. James Gate, where beer has been brewed for 250 years.

If you haven't taken the official interior tour or at least seen the complex yet, better move fast. International conglomerate Diageo, which owns Guinness, is considering closing the brewery, reports the Financial Times of London.

Diageo is engaged in an "assessment of its investment options for its brewing operations in Dublin, Dundalk and Kilkenny to enhance the long-term competitiveness and sustainability of the business in Ireland," the article said, quoting the company.

David Gosnell, managing director of Diageo Global Supply, said, "Everything is on the table," including the possible closure of the historic brewery but added no final decision was likely before "well into 2008." The 56-acre Dublin site could be worth between $600 million and $700 million if sold.


Doublin Tourism Central
Dublin Tourism: Kids Go Free


It's getting easier to get a cold one in Montana

It hasn't been a snap to get beer or wine at a restaurant in Montana. There are only 304 cabaret beer and wine licenses available in the entire state.

That, however, is about to change. The state legislature has created 165 new cabaret licenses. They differ from conventional all-beverage and beer and wine licenses by not allowing business owners to put in electronic gambling machines.

How great is consumer demand for such options? Mike Hampton, owner of Bullman's Wood Fired Pizza in Helena, told the Helena Independent Record, "We probably get 20 people a day that ask if we have beer. Some will leave (after learning the restaurant can’t sell beer), some, not a lot of people, will take the pizza home. Some will eat here and grumble.”

To qualify, a restaurant may not have a sit-down bar, and can serve beer and wine only to people eating meals at tables. At least 65% of the restaurant’s income must come from food, and it can be open only from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. People must apply by July 6. If a city has more restaurant applications than available licenses, a lottery will be held in late July.

If you're traveling through Montana, here's a checklist of where the additional licenses will be awarded, according to the Liquor Control Division, Montana Department of Revenue:

Billings: 21 current restaurant beer and wine licenses and will get 21 more after July 1 for a total of 42.
Bozeman: 14 current licenses, 10 new licenses after July 1 for a total of 24.
Butte: 10 current licenses, although only one is being used, 10 new licenses after July 1 for a total of 20.
Great Falls: 16 current licenses, 16 more after July 1 for a total of 32.
Helena: 10 current licenses, eight more after July 1 for a total of 18.
Kalispell: 11 current licenses, 10 more after July 1 for a total of 21.
Missoula: 17 licenses now (although it should be 14), 11 more after July 1 for a total of 28. Missoula has more licenses than it should because the allocations were based on census estimates and have been adjusted for the actual census.
Whitefish: 10 licenses now, eight more after July 1 for a total of 18.


The Official Montana Website
State Travel Information
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks


At Hyatts, the house is on the wine

The house wine at Hyatt Hotels & Resorts now is the house wine.

Canvas, a new signature wine brand, has been developed in partnership with Folio Fine Wine Partners, a Napa Valley company owned by the Michael Mondavi family. It was unveiled this week at a tasting hosted by Mondavi at the Grand Hyatt New York.

The wine will be offered in cabernet sauvignon 2004, merlot 2005 and chardonnay 2005 styles. The varietals now are available at restaurants, bars and in-room dining at all Hyatt, Grand Hyatt, Hyatt Regency and Hyatt Resorts in the United States. Hyatt Place and Hyatt Summerfield Suites properties will begin serving Canvas wines later this year.


Swiss open world's longest land tunnel

Crowds in rain gear brace weather to cheer on new rail service.

Folks who like to visit the shortest, the highest, the deepest or other "est" places will be heading to Switzerland now that the world's longest land tunnel has been opened there.

The Loetschberg Base Tunnel, a 21-mile-long rail link under the Alps, took eight years to build and cost $3.5 billion. The new link is expected to cut the train time between Germany and Italy from 3 1/2 hours to just under two, with speeds up to 150 mph. Freight trains will be able to travel at speeds up to 100 mph.

The new tunnel deposed the 16.4-mile Kahhoda Tunnel in Japan as the world's longest, but it won't hold its title for long. The 36-mile Gotthard Tunnel, which will be the world's longest when completed in 2017, is being dug parallel to the Loetschberg Tunnel.

The longest land-and-underwater tunnels in the world are the 32-mile Seikan Tunnel in Japan and the 31-mile Channel Tunnel connecting France and England.


How to Travel by Train in Europe
European Train fares, Timetables
Accessible Rail Travel


McDonald's Japan has new pricing scheme

McDonald's of Japan, which runs 3,800 fast-food restaurants there, has come up with a plan U.S. city dwellers probably hope isn't exported to the States.

The company plans to introduce a new pricing policy in the next few weeks that would eliminate uniform pricing and charge higher prices in urban areas rather than in rural ones.

Prices will climb 3 to 5% in Tokyo, Osaks and other large cities because, say company officials, of higher payroll and operating costs.

Conversely, it will reduce prices 2 to 3% in rural area where operating costs are lower.


Specialized Japanese restaurants
Fast Food in Japan
Bringing Restaurants From Abroad to Japan

Turkish cultural conversion plan makes waves

The European City of Culture program has been around since the late Melina Mercouri, the ex-actress who became Greece's minister of culture, proposed the idea.

Since then, cities given the year-long designation to showcase their culture to the world have used it to improve their cultural institutions and benefit from the economic influx of money from tourists and trade groups. This year is Luxembourg's turn.

Istanbul, which has received the 2010 designation, is preparing in numerous ways, but one in particular was revealed today: turning school buildings into hotels or social facilities.

"The Istanbul Directorate of National Education has initiated action to create an inventory of historical buildings in the city. The goal is to make use of the resources in hand. The most important part of the project is to open the historical buildings to the public in the shape of hotels and social facilities under the build-operate-transfer model. An inventory of 154 historical buildings in Istanbul has been made. Half of these buildings are schools," reported the English-language Turkish Daily News.

"The project consists of a few stages. Resource allocation from cultural funds of municipalities for historical artifacts, education of personnel for restoration of buildings, ground survey of buildings are among these stages,” said Ata Özer, director of national education.

A six-person committee formed by his office made the building inventory which now goes to the Ministry of Education for sign-off. The most prominent is that of Istanbul College (seen here).

Directors of some schools housed in historical buildings are uneasy about the latest development.

“A similar project was undertaken four years ago," said Şahin Yılmaz, chairman of Istanbul College's graduates union. "We publicly announced the project with Kabataş and Vefa high schools and it was stopped because of a lack of financial resources. But we are always on the watch. We know the historical significance of our building and preserve it very well. We won't let it be used for any other purpose.”


Istanbul City Guide
History of Istanbul
European City of Culture Program


Minnesota State Fair going full strength

If you're planning on visiting the Minnesota State Fair but lamenting it sells only 3.2% "near beer," relax. Things have changed.

Fair officials have announced they will allow full-strength beer at the August event in response to fairgoers' complaints about paying full-beer prices for half-strength beer.

Officials say they don't expect problems with drunkenness, and point out that strong beer is already available at other Minnesota events including Taste of Minnesota, the Basilica Block Party, and at the Metrodome.


State Fair Web Site
North Star: State's Official Web SIte
Explore Minnesota

Seattle Art Museum has TASTE

The recently revamped Seattle Art Museum is bragging about its good taste.

Not just in its multi-million dollar expansion that increased gallery space by 70%, but also about a new restaurant named TASTE.

The museum, located in the center of downtown near the hsitoric Pike Place Market, now offers a restaurant that operates not only during the facility's normal hours, but after hours as well for the public at large.

Part of the restaurant is the Private Dining Room which houses an installation by local artist Jeffry Mitchell. It is an all-white environment that includes wall painting, decorative shelving, and the artist's ceramic sculptures.

TASTE's menu includes both large and small plates, including something called "Flights & Bites," which pairs wines of the Pacific Northwest with complementary bites of current dishes. When possible, TASTE management notes, "we will be sourcing all meat and poultry from North America. And, being kind to the ocean by adhering to the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch Program and serving species from sustainable fisheries."


Seattle Convention & Visitors Bureau
• Seattle.net -- A Guide to the City
• Sight-Seeing Tours
Side Trips From Seattle

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