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Golf in a Remote and Breathtaking Part of the World



An Andean condor, one of the world’s largest flying birds, occasionally sails beneath the snowy peak of the Lanín volcano, swoops through a valley and over the fairway at El Desafío Mountain Resort in Patagonia’s northwest region.

Pumas, foxes and wild boars sometimes make their way near the course too, said Alfredo Bauer, who pauses his round of golf whenever he sees animals roaming. Mr. Bauer, 64, from Buenos Aires, built his vacation home at El Desafío, a private golf and polo community about 10 miles outside San Martín de los Andes, a city in Argentina’s Neuquén Province. “It’s still so pure here,” he said. “It’s my favorite place in the world.” El Desafío and the nearby Chapelco Golf & Resort are attracting international golfers seeking to connect with nature and play on courses with stunning views.

Designed by the Hall of Fame golfers Jack Nicklaus and Greg Norman, these courses have been integrated with the terrain and vegetation, taking a minimalist approach to highlight the pristine surroundings. Nongolfers have gravitated there too, building houses and working with landscape designers to preserve the native wildlife.

San Martín de los Andes is known as the gateway to Patagonia. It lies on the banks of Lago Lácar, one of the many glacial lakes in the district, and borders Lanín National Park, Chapelco Ski Resort and the Patagonian steppe, the largest desert in Argentina. With its many mountain rivers and streams, the region is also known for its fly-fishing.

Desafío executives said the city attracted tourists, mostly from Argentina, Brazil and Chile. They come for events like Tetra Chapelco, a tetrathlon, and the Fiesta Nacional del Montañés, a festival featuring competitive wood chopping.

Chapelco Golf & Resort, a residential and vacation development, hotel, and golfing community named after the nearby Chapelco mountain, opened for play in 2004. Jack Nicklaus and his son Jack Nicklaus II designed its 18-hole course, which was the first to bring the city major golf notoriety. This was the farthest south the PGA Tour Latinoamérica had ever traveled when it hosted the Neuquén Argentina Classic in 2018 and 2019, and it was selected because, according to the PGA, it’s “one of the most beautiful golf venues in Latin America.”

Across National Route 40 is El Desafío. Claudio Hirsch, its founding director, said he quit his Buenos Aires banking job in 1999 and began scouting land to buy in Patagonia. After founding Argentina’s National Parks Foundation in 2002, he came across an opportunity to purchase a 2,500-acre site on a tree-covered mountain four miles from San Martín de los Andes’ airport, which made it accessible despite its remote location. Its landscape could make “tears of joy fall from your face,” he said.

The ecological aspect was an important pillar of the development, maximizing natural areas to ensure the preservation of wildlife. “It was ambitious,” Mr. Hirsch said. “To build what we did on that mountain, it was an amazing thing.”

In 2008, the Dallas-based private equity firm Hicks Trans American Partners joined the project as developers. “We tried to develop a community that would have the best of Patagonia,” said Marcos Clutterbuck, director at El Desafío and partner at Hicks Trans American Partners. Its plans included a real estate development, a golf course, polo fields, equestrian facilities and a nature reserve.

The developers asked Mr. Norman, who had experience with mountain courses, to lead the golf course design team.

He said his vision was for every hole to have an open view of the mountains, volcano or steppe, with houses allowed on only one fairway side to not obstruct the view. Mr. Norman’s team incorporated the topography into the design and created wide corridors that all players could enjoy, but still challenging from the pro tees. “It’s worth the journey all the way to Patagonia,” Mr. Norman said of the course.

The partners said they believed in an eco-friendly approach, using organic liquids instead of chemical fertilizers to treat the greens. They built an irrigation system propelled by gravity, not pumps, that traveled from a reservoir at the mountaintop, to streams and then into pipes.

The first nine holes were completed in 2015, and executives hoped the final nine would be completed in five years.

Jorge Peralta of Patagonia Golf, who has organized golf tours in Argentina for 20 years, said that some of his clients returned to Patagonia to play golf because of the scenery, activities and climate. The golfing season, he said, runs through the Southern Hemisphere’s warmer months of November through March and peaks in January, when there is daylight from about 6 a.m. until 9 p.m. “Golfers are always chasing the sun,” he said.

The lots at El Desafío were placed so as to not disturb the natural habitat. While each buyer chose an architect, the houses are largely modern in design and built primarily with stone and wood siding. There are 240 lots, about two-thirds of which are sold, Mr. Clutterbuck said. Lots start at half an acre, from about $60,000 to $130,000, depending on size.

These Andes golfing communities do not appeal only to lovers of the sport.

“This place is paradise,” said Alicia Sujoy, an architect from Buenos Aires, who vacationed at Chapelco Golf in 2009. Captivated by the area’s wildness, she bought land at El Desafío in 2012. By 2013, she celebrated Christmas in her new home there.

“Here you can find solitude,” she said.

She spends winters and summers there in the 4,062-square-foot sustainable solar-power house she designed using local materials. It has floor-to-ceiling windows with views of the mountains, volcano and steppe. She does not play golf, but the course is her favorite walk, and she takes advantage of the private 1,500-acre reserve, which remains untouched from construction, and, executives said, is reachable only by foot, bike or horseback.

Ms. Sujoy spends most days in her garden, where, under the counsel of the landscape designer Karina Querejeta, she had hundreds of nonnative ponderosa pines removed and planted about 300 indigenous trees. Ms. Querejeta, who has lived in the region her whole life, has clients with houses at El Desafío and Chapelco Golf, and often favors rugged gardens that can support the stress of wind, sun and snow.

“We need strong plants: tough, rustic and resistant, but with color,” she said. “Perfect for Patagonia.”

In a recent phone interview from his Buenos Aires home, Mr. Bauer, who, like other Argentines, has been barred from travel by the government because of the coronavirus pandemic, said he was “absolutely desperate” to return to El Desafío and, more specifically, its fifth hole, which is tucked into the mountain. His house is directly above the green, an ideal space to work during the pandemic.

“The moment this travel ban is lifted, I’m getting in my car and driving to Patagonia,” he said.

By: Allie Lazar
Title: Golf in a Remote and Breathtaking Part of the World
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Published Date: Fri, 11 Sep 2020 09:00:45 +0000

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What could you order from Ansett Airlines’ inflight bar in the early 1970s?




People have always liked to drink on board flights, especially people from Australia. Therefore, it should be no surprise to anyone that there was an inflight bar offering in the 1970s.

Ansett Airlines were a major player in the Australian domestic market up until their demise in September 2001. For many years, there were two domestic airlines, Trans-Australia Airlines (TAA) and Ansett.

Ansett’s Inflight Bar

At the time, Ansett operated Boeing 727s, Douglas DC-9s and Fokker F27 Friendships on domestic routes in the country. Airline tickets were quite expensive, with tariffs agreed upon by both airlines thanks to Australia’s weird two-airline policy at the time.

While tickets were expensive and food complimentary, you still had to pay for a drink at the bar. Here is an inflight bar menu from the era, showing the drinks available and their prices.

Clearly the pricing is astounding by today’s standards – 30 cents for a beer? I’ll have thirty-three please! I like how Australian gin is 35c while the imported gin is just 5c more. Which would you choose?

You can tell it is from another era as you can buy cigarettes on board. These price up at 45c, a far cry from the extortionate prices people in the west pay these days for a smoke!

Overall Thoughts

The on board offering is pretty comprehensive for internal flights, and I imagine you’d be hard pressed not to find something you might like. In those times, all payments would have been by cash as well, which would have meant a lot of coinage being handled on board.

Of course, things haven’t changed too much over the years. On many airlines you pay for your drinks just as they did back in the 1970s. Shame the prices aren’t the same of course!

Did you ever buy drinks on board flights from the inflight bar back in the day? Do you still? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.

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Featured image by Daniel Tanner on via Wikimedia Commons.
Menu image by Ikara on Australian Frequent Flyer.

By: The Flight Detective
Title: What could you order from Ansett Airlines’ inflight bar in the early 1970s?
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Published Date: Thu, 19 Nov 2020 15:03:14 +0000

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These Shrimp Leave the Safety of Water and Walk on Land. But Why?




The shrimp stop swimming at dusk and gather near the river’s edge. After sunset, they begin to climb out of the water. Then they march. All night long, the inch-long crustaceans parade along the rocks.

The parading shrimp of northeastern Thailand have inspired legends, dances and even a statue. (Locals also eat them.) During the rainy season, between late August and early October, tourists crowd the riverbanks with flashlights to watch the shrimp walk.

Watcharapong Hongjamrassilp first learned about the parading shrimp, and the hundred thousand or more tourists who come each year to see them, about 20 years ago. When he started studying biology, he returned to the topic. “I realized that we know nothing about this,” he said: What species are they? Why and how do they leave the safety of the water to walk upstream on dry land? Where are they going?

Mr. Hongjamrassilp, a graduate student at the University of California, Los Angeles, decided to answer those questions himself. His findings appeared this month in the Journal of Zoology.

Working with wildlife center staff members, Mr. Hongjamrassilp staked out nine sites along a river in Thailand’s Ubon Ratchathani province. They found shrimp parading at two of the sites — a stretch of rapids, and a low dam.

The videos they recorded revealed that the shrimp paraded from sundown to sunup. They traveled up to 65 feet upstream. Some individual shrimp stayed out of the water for 10 minutes or more.

“I was so surprised,” Mr. Hongjamrassilp said, “because I never thought that a shrimp can walk that long.” Staying in the river’s splash zone may help them keep their gills wet, so they can keep taking in oxygen. He also observed that the shells of the shrimp seem to trap a little water around their gills, like a reverse dive helmet.

DNA analysis from captured shrimp showed that nearly all belonged to the species Macrobrachium dienbienphuense, part of a genus of shrimp that live mostly or fully in freshwater. Many Macrobrachiumspecies spend part of their lives migrating upstream to their preferred habitats.

Most parading shrimp that Mr. Hongjamrassilp captured were young. Observations and lab experiments showed that these shrimp probably leave the water when the flow becomes too strong for them. Larger adult shrimp can handle a stronger current without washing away, so they’re less likely to leave the water.

Walking on land is dangerous for the little shrimp, even under cover of darkness. Predators including frogs, snakes and large spiders lurk nearby, Mr. Hongjamrassilp says. “Literally, they wait to eat them along the river.”

And the shrimp can survive on land for only so long. If the parading crustaceans lose their way, they may dry out and die before they get back to the river. A few times, Mr. Hongjamrassilp came across groups of lost shrimp dead on the rocks, their once-translucent bodies baked pink.

Yet most navigate upstream successfully, and scientists have spotted other freshwater shrimp around the world performing similar feats, scaling dams and even climbing waterfalls.

Leaving the water when the swimming gets tough may have helped these animals spread to new habitats over their evolutionary history, Mr. Hongjamrassilp said. Today, the number of parading shrimp in Thailand seems to be declining. He thinks tourist activity may be a factor, and learning more about the shrimp might help protect them.

The study’s authors made “some really excellent observations,” said Alan Covich, an ecologist at the University of Georgia who was not involved in the research. But understanding why the Ubon Ratchathani shrimp move upstream, and how far they travel, will require more research, he said.

“The most surprising thing to me was that it attracted so many tourists,” Dr. Covich said. He doesn’t know of any other example of people gathering to appreciate a crustacean in quite the same way.

“We have crayfish festivals, we have all kinds of things,” Dr. Covich said, “but generally it’s people eating them, not watching them move.”

By: Elizabeth Preston
Title: These Shrimp Leave the Safety of Water and Walk on Land. But Why?
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Published Date: Wed, 18 Nov 2020 17:02:07 +0000

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Will Aer Lingus launch transatlantic flights from Manchester?




There are reports that Aer Lingus have applied for 1,500 slots at Manchester Airport for the Summer 2021 season. This will allow the airline to base four aircraft there and service flights to the United States.

At present, there have been no press releases from the airline stating what is going on. Even so, it probably makes sense for the Irish airline to do this in the current market.

Aer Lingus And Manchester

From what is known, there will be three Airbus A321LRs and an A330 based at Manchester. These will operate non-stop services to New York JFK, Boston, Chicago and Orlando, and the season starts on 28 March 2021.

With Thomas Cook having gone out of business, there is likely space for another competitor. New York and Orlando will see competition from Virgin Atlantic, while the other two routes have no airline flying at the moment.

Aer Lingus has been connecting passengers over Dublin very successfully from the UK regions for a while now. Due to this, they will have visibility on traffic patterns, potential yields and more, making this an informed decision.

I imagine they also hope to cream off some of the connecting traffic that routes through London Heathrow on British Airways and Amsterdam on KLM among others. It would prove to be quite successful.

Transatlantic Joint Venture Approval

The US Department of Transport has tentatively given its approval for Aer Lingus to join the oneworld transatlantic joint business. This is operated by American Airlines, British Airways, Iberia and Finnair.

These airlines coordinate schedules and pricing, share revenues and expenses. For the consumer, it means more choice – those making a booking on British Airways across the Atlantic will also see options on American Airlines on the BA web site as one example.

Theoretically, it would allow people seeking flights on the British Airways web site to automatically be given options to fly non-stop with Aer Lingus, along with the Manchester-London Heathrow-US city connecting itinerary.

Whether Aer Lingus will join the oneworld alliance, even in a oneworld connect capacity remains to be seen. Frequent flyers would welcome it, especially those in Ireland.

Overall Thoughts

No doubt the boffins have been working behind the scenes to see if the business case for transatlantic flights from Manchester stack up. As things have proceeded as far as a slot application, I would guess chances are good that it will go ahead.

Either way, let’s see if this happens and if it does, whether Aer Lingus will stay for the long haul. If they can make more money elsewhere, they’ll up sticks and leave. Regardless, it is an interesting development in European aviation.

What do you think of Aer Lingus starting transatlantic services from Manchester? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.

To never miss a post, follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
All my flight and lounge reviews are indexed here so check them out!

Featured image by N509FZ via Wikimedia Commons.
Aer Lingus A321neo LR by Pitmanaaron via Wikimedia Commons.
Business class cabin via One Mile At A Time.

By: The Flight Detective
Title: Will Aer Lingus launch transatlantic flights from Manchester?
Sourced From:
Published Date: Wed, 18 Nov 2020 18:03:48 +0000

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