Internet Travel With Context
August 8 to August 29, 2019
Read all about it! The quest for America's best pizza yields unique styles from coast to coast. Bats on a plane and snakes in a hotel bed. The half-million things wrong with Berlin's still-unopened new airport. United makes stroopwafels popular nationwide. Why is Marriott holding out on Denver Airport? And much more.

Pizza Quest: In Search of American Pies

We take pizza pretty seriously here at Joe Sent Me. Earlier this year, Ralph Raffio offered up a column on ten great pizza places in major hub cities. And I've written extensively about pizza in Rome, the world capital of what is now the global food phenomenon. But full marks to The Wall Street Journal for a remarkable series it has dubbed Pizza Quest. Over three full pages of the print edition, writer Eleanore Park and other contributors offer a nationwide look at the state of pizza in America. It also has details on ten unique pies around the nation, including the so-called Detroit Zoo pie (above) created by Buddy's on Conant Street in Detroit. Also featured: the remarkable tomato pie at Sarcone's Bakery in Philadelphia; the Greek-inspired New England style offered up at Tilton House of Pizza in Tilton, New Hampshire; and the cracker-crusted Midwest-style pie featured at Maria's Pizza in Milwaukee. Also covered: a half-dozen "vanguard" pizza makers, including Sarah Minnich of Lovely's Fifty Fifty in Portland, Oregon; the legendary Chris Bianco of Phoenix and California; and Josey Baker in San Francisco. By the way, great pizza--and great regional styles--in America is crimping the chain-pizza purveyors. Pizza Hut announced last week that it may close as many as 500 sit-down restaurants and concentrate on takeaway and delivery.

Airport Report: Berlin, Belfast and Denver

After 15 years of Sturm und Drang to plan and build, Berlin Brandenburg Airport was weeks away from opening in June, 2012. Then German authorities found fault with the fire-suppression systems. Then another problem and another and another. Seven years later, the airport opening is still at least a year away and the BBC reports that there were actually 550,000 faults turned up by various regulatory bodies. Deutsche Welle says, however, that the airport, now with a second terminal, too, will open "on schedule" in October, 2020. But, uh, don't count your airports before they hatch. ... The glass-winged 519-room Westin Hotel at Denver International Airport was all the rage when it opened in 2015. It was even pitched as the future of airport lodging. Now, however, the city auditor says Marriott, Westin's parent firm, is holding out on Denver, which owns the airport and the hotel. The auditor insists that the city should demand Marriott "comply with Denver law and the terms of its lease" and turn over information about its profitability. The auditor separately reported that the airport transit center and hotel cost $719 million, about $47 million over budget. ... Things are not quite as dicey at Belfast International Airport in Northern Ireland. But the Belfast Telegraph wants you to know that one of the airport's restaurants, Sip & Stone (above), is awful, expensive and oddly un-Irish. "Why in the name of all that's British or Irish would a Belfast airport, gateway to the world and Ireland, not stock Thompson's Irish Breakfast tea?" the reviewer asked.

Flight Log: Bats and Smoke and Delays, Oh My!

It's been a tough few weeks on the road, what with a potential strike at London/Heathrow, disruptive demonstrations at Hong Kong International and brutal thunderstorms along the East Coast. But it could have been worse. You could have been on one of these flights.
      AIR CANADA FLIGHT 758: A 12-year-old was forced to remove her hijab before being allowed to board the flight from San Francisco to Toronto/Pearson. The young woman had cleared security, but an Air Canada employee then demanded she remove her head scarf anyway.
      ALASKA AIRLINES FLIGHT 1949: Passengers on the 85-minute LAX-to-SFO nonstop were delayed around 250 minutes. They were delayed on departure more than an hour, then endured more than three hours on the tarmac on arrival. It seemed like the flight crew "gave up" after they could not find a gate at SFO, one passenger said.
      AMERICAN AIRLINES FLIGHT 2460: A disruptive passenger was removed from the DFW-LAX flight in handcuffs lashed to a wheelchair.
      BRITISH AIRWAYS FLIGHT 422: Smoke filled the cabin of the Airbus A321 as the flight from London/Heathrow approached Valencia, Spain. Passengers panicked. BA later blamed the smoke on a "technical issue." So it wasn't a planned feature then ...
      SPIRIT AIRLINES FLIGHT 876: A bat emerged from an overhead bin and flew around the cabin on the flight from Charlotte to Newark. Spirit said passengers were not charged extra for the aerial display.
      UNITED AIRLINES FLIGHT 162: Both the captain and first officer were arrested before the departure of the Glasgow-Newark flight. The 61-year-old pilot was later charged with alcohol-related offenses. The first officer was released without charge.

Tight Connections ... Quick Hits on the News

      Snakes on a ... hotel bed A woman woke up in an East Memphis Hampton Inn hotel and found a snake slithering in her bed.
      Some like it hot(ter) With global temperatures breaking records all summer and scientists warning of global warming, have you wondered how much hotter your hometown is in 2019 than it was when you were born? The New York Times has an interactive warming chart for your community--and offers some dire future predictions, too.
      United made you love it. Stroopwafels are a beloved Dutch pastry long unknown to most Americans. But if CNBC is to be believed, United Airlines stocking stroopwafels as an in-flight snack has created a U.S. boomlet. No surprise since it worked for Biscoff speculoos, another Low Country biscuit first brought to U.S. attention by an airline.
      Maybe switch to tea ... A photo of a moldy in-room coffee pot went viral on Reddit and has led to awful takes on the cleanliness of hotel coffeemakers.