From Saudi Arabia to Frank Gehry

Finished Building : Exterior

We’re inundated daily with news reports from everywhere. After a while it mostly becomes repeat or spin.  Ruth prefers to get her daily fix on-line while I still prefer print journalism. This past week I have read several articles that caused both shock & awe.   I’m still thinking about them.  Share time.

According to Variety, “YouTube has 90 million daily views in Saudi Arabia, the highest average consumption in the world–and only 1% of the content is in Arabic.”  This apparently means that either English is widespread there or Arabians are content to just look at pop videos without understanding them.  It also means, I assume, that the people of Saudi Arabia are fascinated by YouTube’s content.  Why?  And what does this mean for their future?

Being a traveler, I wondered if, like YouTube, I’m now welcomed in the holy city of Makkah. Putting in Mecca as my final destination, I checked 3 popular travel bookers–Travelocity, Expedia, and Priceline.  Two of the 3 told me this couldn’t be done, the other diverted me to Jeddah, 54 miles to the east.  I checked Wikipedia and read that Makkah/Mecca’s population is 2,000,000 but that this can swell to 15,000,000.   I also read, “Mecca has become one of the most cosmopolitan and diverse cities in the Muslim world” but that non-Muslims remain prohibited from entering it.  Diverse?

Shock #2 was much closer to home.  “With a population of 258,000 Richland, Pasco, and Kennewick made up the nation’s fastest-growing metro area from 2010 to 2011 with a population increase of 4.3 percent….”  Why?  The Oregonian front page source article  explained that every year $3 billion of federal money pours into Washington State’s Tri-Cities for the clean-up of the nearby Hanford nuclear waste site.  Oh.  RPK has become a scientific research community, a farming/ food center, and it has an exploding wine-making industry.  True, but.  A couple of years ago Ruth & I went there to explore its wineries and couldn’t find a single one that welcomed visitors. We go through the Tri-Cities to get to other places.  I don’t know of a single tourist attraction in any of them.

In last Sunday’s New York Times Book Review, Joshua Hammer in TRAVEL discussed To the River, an entire book about the River Ouse in Sussex, Great Britain.  I was shocked to learn that this is where “Virginia Woolf drowned herself in March 1941.”  Woolf put on her Wellington boots and a hat and disappeared into the Ouse.  Wikipedia devotes hundreds of words to this 52 mile-long-river with information like, “There was an upturn in commercial traffic from 1925, when the sugar beet factory at Queen Adelaide near Ely was opened” but makes no mention of the famous writer’s dramatic death.  I guess I’ll have to track down Olivia Laing’s To the River.

My friends at Emporis sent me an on-line news release to let me know that its 2011 architecture award for best new skyscraper went to 8 Spruce Street, New York City.  Frank Gehry’s first skyscraper has 76 floors and wowed the jury with its “magnificent undulating stainless steel facade.”   To see it is one of 3 reasons why I’m heading to New York in 2013.



About roadsrus

Since the beginning, I've had to avoid writing about the downside of travel in order to sell more than 100 articles. Just because something negative happened doesn't mean your trip was ruined. But tell that to publishers who are into 5-star cruise and tropical beach fantasies. I want to tell what happened on my way to the beach, and it may not have been all that pleasant. My number one rule of the road's disaster is tomorrow's great story. My travel experiences have appeared in about twenty magazines and newspapers. I've been in all 50 states more than once and more than 50 countries. Ruth and I love to travel internationally--Japan, Canada, China, Argentina, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, etc. Within the next 2 years we will have visited all of the European countries. But our favorite destination is Australia. Ruth and I have been there 9 times. I've written a book about Australia's Outback, ALONE NEAR ALICE, which is available through both Amazon & Barnes & Noble. My first fictional work, MOVING FORWARD, GETTING NOWHERE, has recently been posted on Amazon. It's a contemporary, hopefully funny re-telling of The Odyssey. View all posts by roadsrus

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